All I Want - Chapter 4 - sandrashaine (2024)

Chapter Text

This is bullsh*t.

Mickey frustratedly slammed the book closed against the table and sighed heavily. He stared at the written material as if it committed a personal crime against him for a minute before he fixed his posture and breathed heavily again.

Motherf*cking Ian.

What the f*ck is wrong with Ian? His mind cannot comprehend what he just read.

Mickey has decided to read Ian’s books since he’s gonna be in New York tomorrow and it took him four days total to finish the two. Mickey has never read something that fast in his life unless it was information regarding drug and gun deals.

None of Ian’s two books ended on a good note. Both the main characters in the novels did not end up together. Summers With You ended with the main characters- Finn and Mason-going on separate paths despite growing up together because they realized that being with each other would never lead them to achieve their goals and complete happiness which Mickey thinks is bullsh*t.

Ian’s second book hits close to Mickey. The main characters- Noah and Matthew- realized that they had to end their relationship because of Matthew's father. Matthew realizes that he is aware that she is no longer safe in his home and is resolved to leave right away since he doesn't want to discover what her father is capable of doing and knows that if she returns inside, even for a single night, she will be inviting her father's outrage (Matthew's father was a hom*ophobic, abusive prick just like f*cking Terry). They spent their last day together and Michael went away, somewhere far where his father could never reach him. It ended with Noah sending emails, texting, and calling Matthew every day but the other never replies or answers. A year later, Noah had moved on and received a package from Matthew along with a letter. It was never pointed out what was in the package was or what was in the letter, but f*ck, if he ever saw Ian he will annoy the sh*t out of him to answer his question about the end of this book.

Mickey sees his resemblance from Matthew. They both have good-for-nothing, sh*tty, hom*ophobic fathers, yet only one of them managed to escape. Mickey thinks that he'd never be truly away from Terry as long as that f*cker lives. He'd still have that constant fear and alert for danger inside him as long as the other lives. He's trying to free himself… he really does. But it was hard especially if you've been chained there from the start and only managed to be freed recently. And it was Ian- his escape, his freedom.

Matthew managed to be free from his father at the expense of losing Noah. Mickey hadn't managed to do both- he still felt stuck at times, feeling the chains that were no longer there, and his freedom was away from him. He was relieved that at least in this story, the other managed to achieve something that he still has yet to achieve.

It defeats Mickey that both of these books remind him of their relationship. And just like theirs, none of it ended with the main characters together.

Is Ian writing about us? Mickey wondered. No, nuh-uh, there may be similarities but surely not, right?

Nope. It was too obvious.

Why did he keep writing stories like this? Did he not meet anyone after they broke up? Somehow, this idea made Mickey rejoice silently- the thought of Ian still having not moved on and still lingering on the thought of being with him gave Mickey a glint of hope.

But he would not be so sure. Maybe Ian really just likes writing unhappy endings or endings where both characters have to take separate ways for their own development and happiness. Maybe.

He’ll get his answers once he steps in New York.

Mickey then looked at the manuscript sitting at his table. Ah, another problem.

It was Friday. All his things were packed in a duffle bag for his trip to New York City tomorrow afternoon- it wasn’t much, he doesn’t have a lot to pack anyway- he just double-checked (he triple-checked it, actually) all the necessary documents he has to have as a parolee or else his ass was going back to prison if he missed even just one paper. He’s glad that it took him less than a few weeks to complete all the documents he needs to New York, most parolees get theirs signed after a month or two- he doesn’t know how his P.O. managed to get all the documents gathered and signed in less than two weeks but he f*cking did it and he’s happy with it.

Mickey grabbed the bundle of paper on the table. It was the manuscript he was given almost two weeks ago. He has read its contents and it took him almost a week to finish. Not because it was hard to read or he took his time searching words in the dictionary or because it didn’t have a compelling story but because it was too emotionally heavy.

If he ever met the writer of this manuscript, he wanted to know what kind of life he had to write this kind of story. He made a mental reminder to ask this question during his first meeting with the writer which is scheduled three weeks from now.

Mickey flipped the pages and stared at the story description.

Hawkins Smith seems to be at the height of his dreams- he got into a military academy and is one step near his dreams of becoming a military officer. He even developed a romantic relationship with the bitter, rough around the edges, but caring fellow cadet Marcus Meyers.

Hawkings is having the time of his life when his life becomes slowly unfulfilling as he slowly goes under after the death of his mother.

It follows the journey of Hawkins Smith as he asks the question: Will you love me again?

For its title, he thought it was a romance with a sad ending but it’s not.

Will You Love Me Again? Its title and description were deceiving but would make sense once you have read the entire story. Mickey thinks that the writer and the publisher will definitely market this as a romantic story, even though it isn’t really- in a traditional sense.

The moment he finished reading the manuscript he did not feel anything. He felt empty, like a void, and it scared him because it’s been years since the last time he felt that feeling and this story managed to bring that back.

For the first time in seven months, he didn’t have any idea how he’d do a book cover design. All his ideas and plans were scrapped. It felt lackluster. None of the designs he tried to make were capturing the vibe and the feel this story emits. None of it was able to capture what he felt after he read the story- all of it felt too much or just not enough.

The main character, Hawkins Smith, reminded him of Ian in a lot of ways.

He knows Ian struggled with his masculinity and sexuality as a gay man in the southside. Hawkins struggled with similar issues at West Point where all men were expected to act, show, and demonstrate a certain type of masculinity as someone who will soon serve the country. Hawkins struggled from his transition as a gay teenager to adulthood in West Point. Hawkins was seen as someone easy to go along with and hardworking, just like Ian. Hawkins, just like Ian, had the support of his family to pursue his dreams and help him the moment he felt not like himself. Hawkins' own expectations alongside his family’s, society, personal grief, and the establishment’s pressure contribute to the main character's mental health decline.

He read Hawk break up with Marcus because he struggled to comprehend that someone can love and still choose to be with him despite his breakdowns and descend to madness. The main character felt that he did not deserve that kind of affection, care, and love from someone. He has a distorted view of himself and others and the world that prevents him from connecting with people around him.

Mickey wondered if this was what Ian felt during that time. He wondered if that’s what Ian thought when he broke up with him. But who knows, this is a fictional story- Mickey couldn’t testify how accurate this book was in depicting the internal feelings and struggles of people with mental illness- after all, they were the only ones who could judge and decide.

Hawkins later struggled with his mental health and was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Nothing helped him feel better- his loved ones offered no comfort to him no matter how they showed it. The main character described it as feeling trapped whenever people look at him- their words of comfort and love felt like nothing to him but a cage that suffocates him.

The main character felt isolated from the world. He broke up with his boyfriend Marcus. He pushed his family away. It shows how mental illness robs Hawkins of autonomy and agency. Mickey remembered a few lines from it.

Hawk looked at the mirror, hating what he saw, and not recognizing himself but a stranger instead. The stranger in the mirror was looking back at him with empty eyes- he felt too much but he felt like a void at the same time

He looked at himself once again in the mirror. He hated it. He hates how he looks. He hates how his voice sounds. He hates how he acts. It doesn't feel like him and he's scared that it will never go away. He's scared that he'll be the stranger in the mirror and he'll never be able to live his life as himself.

The story ended when Hawkins was finally out of the psychiatric hospital, feeling hopeful that he’d learn to accept and love himself again. Mickey thinks that the question ‘will you love me again?’ was Hawk’s question to himself. And once he did, someday, he’d ask it to his loved ones.

It was a love story, Mickey concluded. But not the typical romantic bullsh*t people like, where there's a significant other- no, it was a love story between yourself. A love story between Hawkins and himself. A question whether he'll be able to accept his new self and love it the same way he used to love himself.

He stared at the manuscript once again before he decided to flip it close and put it in his duffle bag. He’ll think again tomorrow, hoping that a good, fitting idea will pop up into his head. He has a long day ahead tomorrow after all. But before that, he has decided to use red as the main color for the book cover.

-

It was 5PM when Mickey got off the bus. It didn't take him a while to find his sister who was sitting lazily at one of the benches with sunglasses on.

“Welcome to New York, assface!” Mandy greeted as he stood up from her seat. She was sporting a new hairstyle. She’s back with her natural jet-black hair but with blonde under dye. It seems like she’s not done with her blonde phase yet.

Mandy went for a tight hug and Mickey didn’t resist. It’s been four years since he has seen his sister alright. This bitch didn’t even bother visiting him- only prison calls. “I’m starving. Let’s get on the road.”

When they got inside the jeep and Mandy was driving a few minutes in the road, she played Welcome to New York by Taylor Swift.

“Oh, f*ck, you did not!”

She was grooving from the sound with a sly smile on her face. “I listened to this the first time I went here. It’s a rite of passage, brother!”

“f*cking Taylor Swift, really, Mands?”

“Oh, shut up. Don’t act like you don’t listen to her. I noticed how you tap your feet whenever hers and Lady Gaga’s song were playing, Mick- God, how come I didn’t notice how gay you were back then?”

“I did not!” Mickey denied firmly. Though he wasn’t sure if he really didn’t.

After about 30 minutes, they got their Chinese takeout and went up to Mandy’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. It wasn’t huge. Just a bit bigger than his apartment in the Southside. It’s a one bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and a living room big enough for a pull-out couch, a coffee table, and flat-screen T.V.

"How are you paying your apartment by the way? No way you're gonna pay full price if your ass is in here for three months."

"Nah. I threatened the landlord to give me 200 bucks off rent for 3 months."

He didn’t do anything illegal, he wouldn’t risk being thrown back into the can. He’s been building his life, slowly, and in peace. He used his butterfly knife, he didn’t pull out his Glock. He threatened that f*cker that he’d tell his wife that he’s been visiting the massage house at Cermac twice a week for a happy hour and the asshole complied immediately. He, of course, had to pay those 3 months in advance and had to pull some cash from his savings. God, it’s weird to think that he’s one of those people who had savings.

Growing up, they never had enough. Every cash that’s coming in will be spent in less than an hour- to pay the bills, to buy food, to the clothes and shoes they need because the soles have holes that could not be covered by masking tape and the clothes were too small, and bail money, of course. And then there’s Terry and his uncles and older cousins who would rather spent the extra money on hiring whor*s to f*ck when it could be use to buy a cough syrup or anything they deemed necessary at that time. It was never enough. It was all meant to be spent one way or another.

Now, he’s been putting away money that he didn’t spend. He’s been saving up to buy his own supplies and gadgets just like they had at the studio. He heard that freelance artists get to earn more money. And in that way, he wouldn’t be stuck making book covers and book art only, he’ll get to do other types as well. It's not a lot, the money he saves, but at least he gets to save a few dollars every once in a while.

The first four months were the hardest, he was living paycheck to paycheck. He never got to save any from his salary, that's why he sometimes goes along with Joey in his runs- just as a look out, nothing complicated. He had to pay rent, buy appliances and necessary stuff, and buy a new article of clothing because his brothers already claimed most of his decent clothes.

Truth to be told, if his Samaritan PO didn't teach him how to do taxes and other adult sh*ts, he wouldn't last with his job. He would've definitely joined Joey in running guns and selling drugs and threatening laundromat owners on giving him money.

“How are the others back there?”

“You don't contact them?”

“I do, dipsh*t. But those f*ckers doesn't reply. They think I betray the family by leaving Southside. Those dramatic bitches.”

“They're doing good, I guess… Iggy and Colin are trying to go straight, but you know, they deal sometimes because they only earn much. Joey, on the other hand, takes pride in managing Terry's business. Managing and doing all the runs and deals along with Lou. Iggy’s now staying at his baby mama’s house for a year and Colin’s renting an apartment with his girlfriend. It’s only Joey who lives in the house now, well, along with our cousins and half-siblings.”

Though sometimes he have to pull some money from his savings because Iggy had to buy baby supplies for his child and he didn’t have extra money on him (working construction and dealing part-time could only get you much) or when Colin had to pay the gas bill or water bill in their apartment and there’s no money lying around. All together, it was better that it was Joey who was managing the family business rather than their cousins, because if not, most of them would probably be inside the Cook County Jail by now. Hell, at least Joey has half a brain cell to manage and run it.

Terry’s been inside the can for almost 3 years now and, surprisingly, his brothers tried to live a somewhat legal life, yet they still do drug runs occasionally because they didn’t earn enough because no one would hire them because of their long record in juvie and in jail. It was his cousins and half siblings who wanted to continue Terry’s business.

“So, where do you work here now?”

“Random House,” said Mickey as he chewed his noodles. “Gonna draw there for three months. Might be quicker if they approve of my work immediately. Might be longer if they did not. Who knows,” he shrugged.

“How ‘bout you? Still gargling man balls?”

Mandy grabbed a crumpled tissue from the desk and threw it on Mickey’s face. “f*ck you! No, I’m working on something new now.”

“Good for you.”

“Yeah,” Mandy nodded and she swallowed her dumpling. “I met him at the job, y’know - while I was still escorting - he needed someone to cover his gay ass from his family, so he hired me. I was like the third girl he hired because the first two couldn’t lie or go along with the story he’s making up and his parents ended up liking me because they like the sob story of a poor girl from Chicago working in NYC, those rich f*cks have an org*sm at it, I swear.”

“Have you mentioned that all of your siblings went to jail? They might have blown their load if you did.”

They both giggled at their jokes.

“So, yeah, we went on a few more dates after that then he kinda offered me a way out as part of his PA crew because he’s scared that his parents or siblings will see me with another guy and will destroy his whole straight act, so….” Mandy shrugged.

“Hm, what’s his job?”

“Fashion stylist.”

“Fashion styli- like that one of the most gay ass jobs out there. How f*ck they didn’t notice?”

Mandy raised her eyebrow as she smirked. “Their gaydar is broken as f*ck. So, uh, that’s it. I’ve been working for him for three months now.”

Proud is an understatement. Mickey was happy for her. She’s no longer his younger sister he used to protect before. She managed to form her own life out of the Southside and live comfortably. Once she saw a way out, she took it and never hesitated. Just like how she never hesitates to get out of the Southside.

“Enough about me. How are you now? You seeing someone?”

Mickey shook his head. “Too busy.”

Mandy looked at her as though she was reading him. Scanning. Not believing his answer. “You miss Ian?”

“The f*ck you asking for?” It came out sounding more defensive than he'd like.

“He’s single for a long time now,” Mandy continued. “I didn't like his last ex. Didn't feel a good vibe.”

“He okay?”

Mandy nodded. “Doing better. You wanna see him?”

“I don't know.”

Mandy handed him a paper. “Here’s his address. But currently, he's not there. He’s somewhere in f*cksville, USA doing god knows what.”

“You’re annoying as f*ck, still,” Mickey glanced at the paper before he crumpled it and threw it at Mandy’s face.

“l definitely understand if you'll come back to him,” said Mandy teasingly in a matter-of-fact tone. “Have you seen him right now? You definitely did- you googled him for sure. His body is definitely much better than-”

“Bitch, are you honestly mind-f*cking Ian in front of me?”

Mandy smacked him hard in the head. “No sh*t, dipsh*t. That's like f*cking a sibling. Ian's like a brother to me. Can't believe I used to wanna f*ck him before I found out that he’s gay, but could you blame me? He's a gentleman.”

Mickey rolled his eyes and Mandy's grin widened.

“Are you dating anyone right now?” Mickey asked, changing the topic because he felt uncomfortable talking about him and Ian. Especially him, because he felt like a loser who hasn't moved on from his ex after four years when the redhead had seemed to be in multiple relationships after him for the past years already.

Maybe he needed to get laid, Mickey thought. After all, it's been almost a month since he had an actual dick in his.

“Psh. No,” Mandy snorted. “I am done with it. It's either I was cheated on or used for my body or psychos were all over me. After Kenyatta I don't try anymore. It's not because of him, or whatever. But I already accepted the fact that maybe it's not for me- the whole relationship thing. It's rare to find a decent partner. If I wanna get laid, I have my toys or tinder or men at clubs and bars for it. I don't date anymore.”

Mickey nodded because he felt the same.

He definitely agrees with Mandy about how rare it is to find a decent partner, especially for someone who grew up in the Milkovich household. It's either you understand it or you don't, and most people don't even if they're from the South Side.

Maybe being in a relationship isn't for them. They're a Milkovich after all. It's rare for someone like them to settle with someone and find comfort and peace in it.

“So, where d’you wanna go before you come back as a slave to capitalism on Monday?”

-

f*ck it.

Mickey has never felt so far from Ian.

Standing in front of a red brick, 16-story building made him feel little. Looking at the pristine building, clean streets, people walking wearing clothes and shoes that costs the same, or more, as his monthly salary- talking to their phones about their boring jobs, where they should go to spend their holiday, whether to give f*cking Jane a BMW or a one week cruise trip around Europe for her 21st birthday, or how the shoes they've been waiting for months is already sold out and the next drop wouldn't be for another month.

f*ck .

These are normal people's problems. No- these are rich people problems- everything he's hearing around himself as he stands tall in front of Ian's apartment building.

They never had a problem like this. They always make fun of people like this.

Is Ian one of them, now, as well?

He never felt so far. Until now, his problem consists of whether who among his brothers or cousins are going back to jail for the nth time, or who the f*ck almost OD'ed, or who almost got caught by pigs because of their own stupidity, or is his money's enough to last for this month and did he save any? Was their good-for-nothing sperm-donor was high enough or drunk enough not to beat any of them for making minor noise in the house, or if there's enough money for the heater or they have to still sh*t again, or if there's food in the fridge for them, or if Sanchez would pay the cocaine that Mickey sold him during lunch, or if anyone paid the water bill so that he could shower after two three days, or if anyone paid the electric bill so there could be power in their house, or whether or if he hid himself enough not to make anyone in his family suspicious of him liking dick up in his ass. Those were their, or his, problems living in the South Side.

Nothing like this hippie sh*t.

He knows Ian's not here, Mandy said so. He's out of the country for work. Yet, Mickey's body and mind betrayed him. The moment Mandy wrote down Ian's address, he went out and got on the subway even though it was his first time going to this part of the city and he didn't know the road and directions very well. He even wonders how he managed no to get lost while on his way.

Nonetheless, he still wanted to check where he lives and if he's doing well. He knows his mind won't be put into ease until he sees it for himself- whether Ian's here or not (but preferably, with Ian here).

The place is well.

Everything looks fine.

So Ian must be doing great. And Mickey's content with that.

Mickey resigned himself and started walking away.

-

During the weekends, Mickey spent the rest of his days unpacking his sh*t (Well, he unpacks for 15 minutes, just the essentials, then gave up because why the hell would he unpack if he’s gonna take it and use it eventually.) and going on random places in NYC with Mandy. Mandy insisted on it, she reasoned that he had to explore the city because he’s gonna be here only for three months and no one knows if he’ll ever get the chance to be back- at least not until he finishes his parole. They visited Central Park, which for Mickey he doesn’t get the appeal because it looks like a normal park. Sure, it looks nice, but there’s nothing special to it. Mickey doesn’t like the Town Square though, it’s too crowded for him (or maybe only that day but who cares) and it looks prettier in photos, he reckons. But he did enjoy watching broadway musicals, he and Mandy watched Moulin Rouge and he finds the actor who plays Christian hot.

When Monday comes, it’s time to be back as a slave to capitalism and Mickey groans at the thought. Sometimes he thinks running drugs and selling illegal drugs are way better because it’s less work than working legally, but he’s trying to go clean now so he really cannot do anything but to complain.

Mickey took the subway from Mandy’s place to the Random House’s headquarters which happened to be on Broadway.

Mickey would be lying if he said that he wasn’t nervous, because he is.

He was not nervous when he took the job six months prior because, well, it’s on the Southside. He works with people that were born and raised there, maybe except Stacy because she’s the only one acting hippie-yuppie, and it’s a small studio with five people.

But this .

This is a 52-story building with thousands of employees. Even though he’s not technically an employee, he still works for them.

Mickey went straight to the lobby, as Alex instructed. He told his name and got his temporary ID from them. The building has white, orange, and brown interior, there are hints of black and other colors, too. There’s bookshelves, everywhere in the building, in various styles.

One of the employees welcomed him and toured him quickly around the building so that he knows where are the cafeterias, pantry room, different types of offices and rooms, and especially, the editing and design office which is located on the 10th floor.

Random House has many illustrators and designers that Mickey wondered why they outsource illustrators and designers because, surely, someone from this 50-something artist here can design the cover they want, right?

“Sometimes, the writer and the other departments don't like any of the design that’s why they outsource people,” says Raj, an artist they outsource just like Mickey. It turns out that outsourcing artists and designers is a thing they do as a last resort if the writers and who knows who (Mickey doesn’t know who gets to decide aside from the author) don't like the designs made. But on rare occasions, some writers tend to prefer outsourcing artists, though Raj says that this is only applicable to successful and famous writers because it tends to be more costly, that’s why most writers tend to have their book covers designed by the inhouse artists.

He saw them the other day, the people deciding whether a book cover was good enough for the book. It was when he passed by the conference room and he saw three girls holding about four books in their arms. The titles were all the same but the book covers were all different. And then they were followed by about a dozen more people he didn't know. Mickey guesses they were going to decide which of the book covers will be deemed good enough for publication or if they need to outsource it.

Mickey wondered if his project was one of the book covers they'll pick from. Or maybe it was solely his work. Sometimes he feels like an idiot for accepting this (he doesn't have a choice, he knows) because there was no information given to him and Alex literally just said: “Read the manuscript and get to designing and illustrating,” just like when they were training him when he was new on the job.

He thought that he'll get a chance to have a meeting with Charles Morgan and his writer once he got here but he saw neither of them. He wasn't even given any word from them. They just gave him a company tour during his first day and that's it.

The office itself is divided from book cover artists and designers to book illustrators (who designs illustrated books) to children’s book illustrators and designers.

Mickey likes the cafeteria, especially when he found out that it’s actually a buffet. He stopped having breakfast at Mandy’s and started eating his breakfast, lunch, and snacks in the office because the people in the kitchen certainly know how to cook and in his 4 days of working here he hasn't seen a dish served twice yet and he will enjoy this benefit and fill his plate to the brim of foods he wanted to eat. Damn. He feels like he'll miss this once he get back to the South Side because Alex’s studio only has free coffee.

“You comin’ this Saturday?” Ella asked him, peeking from her desk which is parallel to his.

Mickey shrugged. “I don’t know. What’s with this Saturday?”

“It’s one of the big bosses' birthdays. Charles from the Editorial department. He always invites everyone from the editorial department, our department, then the marketing and publicity people as well, then his writers as well.”

Something pinged in Mickey’s ears. “His writers?”

“Yeah, his writers, y’know, the writers and authors who work with him?” Ella responded.

“You should definitely go. He’s the editor of the book you’re working on, right? His parties are always amazing. God, I wish rich people were this real.”

-

“Oooh, look what we got here!” Said Mandy when he saw Mickey styling himself in front of the full body mirror in the living room.

It’s not an unnatural occurrence. Mickey sleeps on the pull-out couch in the living room as she only has one bedroom and there’s no way in hell that she’ll share it with his brother like they were five. It's a typical scenario that she sees Mickey fixing himself in the mirror, but this is different- Mickey was putting in extra time with the hair wax and his clothes are definitely much better compared to his normal work attire. His black pants are way fitter and he's wearing a navy blue buttoned up shirt.

“I thought it’s a company birthday party?”

“It is.”

“Then why are you dressed like that?”

“Dressed like what?”

“Like you’re pretty-ing yourself up.”

“I’m not!”

“You are,” Mandy continued teasing. “You found a cute guy to bang?”

“I. Am. Not,” Mickey glared at her. “So, I'm gonna go now. I’ll probably be home by one, I guess, if they don’t have sh*tty alcohol.”

Mickey grabbed his wallet and keys and left the apartment. He took the cab to the Brix Club.

It’s now or never , he told himself.

-

“Hey, have you thought about going back to college?” Ian asked as he drove to Brix Club where Charles’ 42nd birthday would be celebrated.

Technically, it’s not his birthday yet. It’ll be tomorrow but he will celebrate it with his husband and their children. This celebration is more of a company celebration. Just to treat his co-workers. Even though Ian’s not an actual employee of Random House, he has been invited to Charles’ birthday and other company parties and events just because Charles is his editor and they publish his books.

Lip stayed silent for several seconds from the other line, so Ian continued speaking. “You’ve been sober for 10 months now, man. You only got, like, a year left.”

“I don’t think they’ll want me back,” Lip answered. “Also, it’s hard to return if you’ve been expelled.”

Lip was expelled from college almost two years ago due to alcoholism and destruction of property, though the latter was the one written in his records. They tried to plead with the university board to let him stay, that he’ll be in rehab and regularly attend AA, just so they wouldn’t expel him but, in the end, they did. Lip still went to rehab and he stayed there for four months and then he regularly attended AA after that, and he still does.

Currently, Lip has been working in a garage while knitting sweaters and scarves and renovating the Gallagher house at the same time. Ian almost doesn’t want to not let Lip work and makes him focus on his recovery instead but decides not to. It’s good that Lip has something stable to do regularly. The first five months of recovery were the hardest, so Lip did a lot of things- discovering hobbies just to stop himself from grabbing and buying alcohol. With a kid in the house, he did a lot of baking that ended badly and then knitting which ended successfully. Ian thinks that half of Franny’s clothes now were knitted by Lip. Then recently, he started renovating the Gallagher house with Debbie who just finished her vocational course in welding. Ian’s been sending them money to pay the bills and help with the house renovation. As far as Ian knows, they’re done fixing the walls and are currently doing the creaking floors and stairs.

“I don’t know, man,” Lip sighed. Ian could imagine his older brother licking his lips nervously while looking at the ceiling. “It’s hard to get back once you’re expelled.”

“Then apply to other colleges. There’s a lot there in Chicago, if not then there’s a lot of universities here in New York as well,” Ian insisted.

He may be annoying his brother but could you blame him? Lip wasn’t supposed to get stuck in the ghetto. Among the six of them, it was clear since they were young that Lip would be the one to be successful and make it out of the Southside. He had the brightest future of them all. Lip just happened to make bad decisions most of the time.

“It’s pretty expensive and I don’t think I can get a scholarship anym-”

“Hey, I’ll help, alright? You don’t have to think about money. We don’t have to think of that anymore. And if you’re thinking about the money then there’s community college.”

If there was one thing that Ian was grateful for, it was Charles who convinced him to write and publish his work, and his therapist Dr. Johnson who told him to write his feelings instead. It was because of them he managed to get out of Chicago and live comfortably.

He heard Lip exhale deeply. “I don’t think I can accept your money if I am going back to school, man. You’ve been helping us a lot.”

“If our situation is reversed, will you do it for me?”

“What?”

“If you are in my shoes and I’m in yours, will you help me through college?”

“Of course. Definitely.”

“Then don’t be an asshole and accept my help,” Ian replied. “Just because I am younger than you doesn’t mean I cannot help you. And I want to help you.”

Lip stayed silent from the other line.

They’ve had this conversation several times by now. He might be an annoying little sh*t, but he thinks that Lip’s pride is going to be his downfall. His brother thinks that he can manage perfectly fine when Ian can see him falling apart. Even now that he’s managing it, Ian can still see Lip struggling- may it be on getting another beer or mourning the life he could have by now if only he wasn’t expelled.

“Just think about it, alright?” said Ian. “Don’t let Carl catch up on you, though. You might graduate college at the same time.”

They both laughed at that.

Carl has been doing well. After he got out of juvie, he did some illegal sh*t that almost killed him for months before he went straight with the help of Fiona’s ex-boyfriend Sean. Then, he went back to school and because of his ex-girlfriend’s cop dad, he decided that he wanted to enter the military in the future. Currently, Carl’s in his last year of high school and is in ROTC just like Ian used to be. He’s been eyeing to enter West Point after he graduates from high school and Lip has been helping him to get his grades up.

“Alright, alright… I’ll think about it,” Lip replied. “Greet Charlie for me, asshole.”

“I will. I have to go now, anyway.” And they said their goodbyes.

Ian got out of his car. Truth be told, he doesn’t want to go tonight because he and Oona just landed this afternoon from their event in London. They stayed there for three days- and went to several libraries to sign books and answer some questions. It was exhausting but he enjoyed it nonetheless. Once he got home, he just left his suitcase and duffle bag on the floor and went to sleep immediately. It was already late when he woke up and he almost forgot that today was Charles’ birthday if not only he did not read Oona’s text message reminding him.

Ian settled on an expensive bottle of champagne and whiskey as a birthday gift for Charles. He couldn’t think of any gift for the guy, really. It’s not like Charles needed or wanted something, he always got to have what he wanted or needed, for that matter. So, Ian chose alcohol since he’s aware enough that Charles and his husband enjoy drinking and collecting bottles occasionally.

Ian doesn’t plan on staying long, mainly because his body and mind want to get back to bed and sleep until Monday comes. He figures he’ll stay there for an hour before he dips out.

Ian was welcomed with loud upbeat music and blinking lights. A few more steps in, he saw people dancing in the middle of the dance floor. People dancing and mingling on their tables with their drinks in hand. He saw people in their respective booths as well.

It was all familiar. After all, he had worked in a club before, albeit underaged and illegally. He and Lip used to sneak into clubs and bars as well because there were days when they didn’t wanna see Frank at the Alibi.

Ian walked towards the VIP section of the club where Charles and the entire party were located. All of the VIP booths were booked by Charles since there were about a hundred people invited to his celebration every year. It’s not the whole building but the departments they worked closely with.

There, he saw Charles chatting lively with his co-workers.

“Hey!”

“Oh, there you are, darlin’!” Charles greeted with a big smile plastered on his face and they proceeded for a hug.

After all these years Charles still surprises Ian. His ability to be scary, strict, and perfectionist at work separates well from his sweet and sassy nature. He didn't want to admit it, but he was incredibly intimidated by the guy, at first. Especially after he googled who he was the day he gave his business card to him.

Ian could still feel the nervousness when he first submitted his draft to Charles. He sent it via mail. It took Charles almost four weeks to reply other than “Thanks! I've received your draft. Will get back to you after I review it,” and he thought that his story was so bad he would never hear from the older guy again. It turns out that it usually takes that long, or even longer.

“Happy birthday, old man,” Ian greeted teasingly, then he handed him the bag of whiskey and champagne.

“You shouldn't have bothered,” said Charles as he accepted the bag. Then pointed at him with a glare, “And don't you dare call me an old man again, or else I'll shove your manuscript up to your ass you'll never want to write again.”

Ian chuckled at the threat. “Uh-huh, sure, old man."

Charles hit him in the arm. “You're only allowed to call me old when I'm retired! I'm 43, not 83, for Pete's sake.”

Ian laughed at the older man’s threat, then they were approached by other people- greeting Ian with their “It’s been a while! It’s good to see you!” Ian knew them but he doesn’t work with them often. They were editors as well, with the other two being the head of the marketing and publicity team.

Ian, then, excused himself to go to the bathroom. He feels the need to splash some water, preferably cold, into his face to freshen up and wake himself up. He doesn't know if he’s the only one who became too sleepy after a long flight. Given that he already had his sleep, it still wasn’t enough.

Ian walked through the dance floor. People dancing, talking, mingling, and grinding onto one another. Some people are sitting by the bar, watching the dance floor, or talking to the person beside them.

When he passed the crowded dance floor, the lights became less flickery as the light on the hallway, that leads to the bathroom, was plain white light. Though still not as bright as a normal house light would.

Ian felt he’d seen a ghost when a familiar face greeted him. His heart beat fast. He started questioning himself if this was real or his hallucination or if it was because he was still too sleepy.

Maybe is it a dream? But it’s impossible. He felt the light pain from Charles when he hit his arm. He wouldn’t deny that he missed the guy, he dreamt of him sometimes. Memories came flushing whenever he heard a familiar sound or saw someone with a similar figure as him.

“Missed me?”

f*ck. Him.

There's co*ckiness and confidence in Mickey's voice which he doesn't use a lot. Sure, he's always confident about whatever the f*ck he's saying even when they're kids. But this… whatever this is- Mickey doesn't use it a lot except when he wants to get laid.

But again, this is different from that. Or is it? Maybe not hearing that specific tone with that specific delivery and that specific voice for almost four years is doing wonders in Ian's mind.

Mickey's looking at him with a smirk on his face and sultry eyes.

Ian's speechless and that makes him wanna smack himself in the head. He wanted to move his body but it was like he was planted on the tiled floor.

Mickey's right in front of him, only a few steps away, Ian repeated to himself.

He doesn't know how to react. A huge part of himself wanted to go up to him and pull him for a kiss or a tight hug, showing Mickey how much he missed him- how much he craved him. But the other part of himself wanted to run away because he hurt Mickey. He broke up with him right before he went into Cook County, not to add he only visited him during his first few months inside.

Does Mickey still want him despite everything he has done before? Hopefully, yes- with how Mickey's looking at him with that smug smile.

Ian, then, tried to convince himself to not be a hypocrite because Mickey might be harboring negative feelings against him. Because he would be if he were in Mickey’s position.

“Mickey…”

“f*ck, c'mere.”

And it was like he was conditioned to move his body quickly at the guy’s whim. Ian walked up towards him and the next thing he knew his body moved towards the older guy like a magnet and they slit their lips against each other.

He felt relief and rush at the same time. It felt like a new drug hit after a long time of withdrawal. Addicting. Much more addicting.

“You're here…” said Ian, unsure if his eyes were betraying him. But the kiss felt real. It felt like Mickey.

“No, I'm your hallucination, Firecrotch.”

“What?”

Mickey hit him lightly in the head. “I'm real, Red. Are you high?”

Ian shook his head. He couldn't even remember the last time he smoked a joint even though he had a stash in his bedside drawer. “What are you doing here? Mandy said you're on parole and you couldn't leave Chicago.”

“Work sh*t- that's why I'm here. How are you doin', man?" Mickey asked. He knows he's good, Mandy told him so. But he wanted to hear it from Ian as well.

"I've been good... Been going to therapy for almost three years now. Have been stable for the better part of it as well. I've had a few depressing episodes and hypomania, and I'm fortunate enough not to escalate to a full-blown manic." Too many words, he's fumbling his words. Ian wasn't sure what Mickey thought of him.

Jesus Christ, Ian, you just had his tongue on your throat, he scolded himself.

"How are you? I heard from Mandy you are doing well as an artist." Ian added.

"My P.O. hooked me up on this gig. I should've guessed why- his son owns and manages the place. He's such a bitch as well, kept on bugging me to do this. Besides, it pays well."

"Are you seeing someone?"

Ian felt like he was sitting on the edge, silently praying that Mickey would say no. He heard himself from the back of his, saying again that he just had Mickey's tongue on him, that Mickey still looked at him the same way it had been 4 years ago. It never fails Ian to feel alive, to feel the fire and passion and all those intense feelings to either wanna hide from or dive straight it, the thrill that he only feels with him, that gentleness coming from such a thug that no one makes him feel- there Ian realize, it's Mickey or no one at all. It's either Mickey or settle with someone who feels mediocre at best.

Mickey looked at him like he asked him a stupid, dumb question. He knows he did, but he just had to make sure.

Mickey moves closer to him then holds the collar of the jacket he's wearing and then he looks at him in the eye. "You're under my skin, man. What can I do?"

f*ck.

f*ck. f*ck. f*ck.

Ian’s legs and insides felt like a puddle of jelly, ready to collapse and worship Mickey at any cost- he just needed to say a word and Ian would do it without a doubt. Ian promised himself, there and then, that he would not waste this chance he got.

He was a dumb teenager in a dumb situation in a f*cked up neighborhood. They kept on breaking up, leaving, only to come back to each other's arms only a few weeks or months later. This isn't the second chance- they've had plenty of those in their teenage years. But Ian was determined to make this their last chance, and he hoped Mickey as well.

“Can I kiss you again?”

This moment still felt surreal in Ian's head. Sure, he doesn't have Mickey-centered daydreaming that happens that often but it still happens and he just wanted to make sure that it wasn't his mind playing tricks with him.

He wanted to feel it again just to be sure.

Mickey didn't answer. Instead, he pulled Ian in by the nape and they kissed again. This time it was passionate and soft and warm. All the things Ian felt whenever he was kissing Mickey.

Ian grabbed him by the waist, feeling it through his palms. Brushing his tongue to Mickey’s lower lip and when Mickey opened his mouth slightly, he didn't hesitate to enter his tongue in. Tongue on tongue, the kiss became heated. Ian pulled Mickey's body closer to him, grinding his hips.

f*ck. He never felt this good in years.

When they stopped to breathe some air, Ian almost whined at the loss of Mickey’s lips against him.

Mickey caressed his cheeks and then lightly tapped it. “C'mon, Red. I don't think they would appreciate us disappearing without a word.”

“Look at you, being a good coworker,” Ian said teasingly.

“Shut the f*ck up before I shove you on the floor,” Mickey threatened, rubbing his eyebrows, and Ian chuckled. He completely forgot the reason why he was on his way to the restroom.

“Where are your co-workers?”

“Them.” He saw Mickey pointing at the people at Random House.

“No sh*t. We work in the same company.”

“Well, not technically. They hired our art studio and the studio sent me here. It’s commission-based.”

“We’re the same, then. I am not directly under them, but my editor is. I can jump from one publishing house to another, but they have the best contract deals. And it is one of the biggest in the industry, so I would not trade that for anything.”

When they went back to the group, Mickey didn't leave Ian's side. Not that he could with Ian's arm wrapped around his waist as though he would run.

Ian had the lightest beer they had, taking minute sips every ten minutes. Mickey had whatever they had on tap. He couldn't be stressed about what type of beer he wanted. Kev never asked him that before and they always had cheap beer in the house. He never got to explore other beer options for the lack of money.

Ian saw Charles looking at him with a teasing grin. Oona has knitted brows.

Mickey couldn’t take his eyes off Ian. He sees how much he has changed over the years, and how much he has grown. His jaw is more pronounced and his body is way leaner. Ian always had a lean body, except for the year he was on a spiral because of his bipolar disorder- not eating enough and taking several drugs offered to him at the White Swallow and at the Fairy Tale, and when he started his meds regimen for his disease, it’s still affected his appetite until he got used to it, and Mickey never saw Ian get used to it. But he’s glad that Ian seems to be doing fine, managing himself and all that.

Mickey also sees that Ian’s fashion sense has evolved. No longer wearing Lip’s hand-me-downs (Of course, he’s got money now, so why would he?). He’s wearing black pants with a white sleeveless turtleneck top and a leather jacket paired with black leather shoes. Mickey never thought that he would see Ian wearing a sleeveless top that wasn’t a tank top.

“I thought you weren’t into dating,” Charles said teasingly as he approached the two along with Oona.

Ian smiled shyly. “Charles, this is Mickey… Mickey, Charles,” Ian introduced them.

Oona gave Charles a quick knowing look that didn’t pass Ian. When their eyes locked, Ian raised his eyebrows, basically asking Oona what was up with her and Charles. She just gave a small smile and tilted her head.

“I’m Oona,” she offered her hand to Mickey. She’s tan, small, and obviously Southeast Asian. “I basically schedule and manage all of Ian’s sh*t and negotiate things on his behalf sometimes.”

“Mickey,” he replied shortly and they shook their hands briefly.

Charles has a suspiciously wide grin on his face. It’s either his already drunk or there’s something going on in his mind that Ian doesn’t know if he should be terrified or nervous or intrigued.

“Your Ian’s Mickey,” he said as if it’s a fact, that it’s always been that way. “You are that Mickey, are you? You are his Mickey.”

Mickey looked at Ian, confused. “Uh, yes…? I guess.” He doesn’t know what kind of stories Ian told them about him, but by the looks of the two (who seemed tipsy, in Mickey’s opinion) he doesn’t know if it’s good or not. He doesn’t trust the way people look at him most of the time, especially now, because it seems like these two are hiding something and they are not good at it.

“I am here temporarily though. I am currently doing a book under you,” Mickey added.

“Nice,” Ian said proudly. “What book?”

“It’s called Will-”

“I am pretty sure you are doing a great job, Mickey,” said Charles, interrupting Ian. He held Mickey’s both hands and the younger guy felt how soft his hands were. He obviously doesn’t do any hard labor. Mickey’s sure as heck that this guy has never done any household chores or even changed a light bulb in his life.

To be honest, Mickey’s a bit creeped out by how wide the grin on this guy’s face was. He wanted to pull his hands away but he felt like it would be rude (Since when did he care if he was rude or not? Ha!) and might do something to embarrass Ian so he suppressed his urge to yank the older man’s hands off of him and put on a fake smile.

“Well, actually-”

“If you have any questions you can pop by at my office any time,” Charles added.

Mickey nodded. He was really weirded out.

“Alright, Charlie, it’s time to go now,” said Oona while Ian removed Charles' hands from Mickey’s. “Your husband’s here.”

“Hey, Luke,” Ian greeted a man with dirty blonde hair, an inch or two taller than Ian, with crooked teeth but he was handsome nonetheless. “I think he drank a lot.”

The guy has this edgy yet clean look, but Mickey thinks it’s probably because of the teeth. And to be honest, it makes him more appealing. His edgy look contrasts the soft look Charles has. He seemed familiar to Mickey as well, he just could not pinpoint where and when.

Luke, as called Ian the guy, assisted Charles by the waist, cooing and calling him darling as they left the club.

“I’m gonna hit the dance floor. Don’t worry about me getting home, Steph offered me a ride with them,” said Oona then she tapped Ian on the cheeks before she left their vision. “Enjoy the night, you two!”

“So, he’s gay?”

Ian nodded. “They’ve been married for years now, with two kids. Why?”

“Nah, I thought he’s just British, that’s all.”

Ian chuckled. “That’s what I thought, too, that he's just European or something.”

“His husband looks familiar.”

“You have probably seen him on TV. He’s a celebrity chef. He had his own cooking show before and was on masterchef for like half a decade.”

They spent the night together, talking about random stuff like what’s currently going on in the other Gallaghers’ lives in Canaryville. They talked about how Mandy went to NYC because she never really talked about it to Mickey. Ian said that she came here shortly after he moved. Mandy escaped from Kenyatta after two months in Indiana and went back to Chicago where she joined an escort agency that provides housing for her along with healthcare and all other sh*ts. She just has to go on dates, look pretty, and flatter the guys. They met again two months after Ian came back from the mental institution because Mandy called for help when she accidentally killed a guy who forced himself onto her. They have kept hanging out since. When Ian moved to New York, he asked Mandy to come and she did not refuse. They lived together at Ian’s current apartment for almost a year before Mandy rented her own.

Ian was always there for her. He even defended her from his sh*thead older brother. Ian was the only person constant in Mickey and Mandy’s life who was there for them- the only one who made them feel loved and taken care of aside from their deceased mother. The only ones who adored and admired them like they were not from a horrible family.

Ian has done a lot of things for Mandy and Mickey since the beginning of their friendship, even if he did not realize those as well. Mickey understands it all. He felt it sometimes, too, like Ian was too good for him or anyone. Mickey used to think that if Ian decided to break up with him, which he did, he would just accept it without a fight because he knew that there would be someone who could love and take care of Ian better than he did.

But now…

Now that the man was with him after 4 years of being apart, he didn’t want to be away from him anymore. He’d do anything to be with Ian because the pain and loneliness without him felt worse than anything he had felt in his life.

It might be selfish of him, but he didn’t want Ian away from him anymore. Mickey decided to allow himself to be selfish, just this once, to have the only good thing he had in his life be his again.

-

It happened fast- the way they went out of the club and left their colleagues without saying anything, hopping onto Ian’s black Camaro and then driving towards his apartment building which was 20-minute drive away from the club. Once they were in the elevator they started making out like teenagers, hands roaming at each other’s bodies. Mickey quickly removed Ian’s jacket, removing his top from being tucked into his pants, and touching the man’s lean stomach. Ian’s hands were unbuttoning Mickey’s shirt as fast as he could while kissing and licking the man’s cheek, jaw, and neck. The elevator ride up to the 16th floor never felt this slow in his life.

Once the elevator opened, they quickly unattached themselves from one another and walked fast toward Ian’s unit. Mickey kisses Ian sloppily as the guy tries to punch his code to the door. Luckily, doing this for almost two years, Ian could punch his code even with his eyes closed.

Ian opened the door successfully and quickly pushed Mickey inside without breaking the kiss. They removed their shoes and socks as fast as they could. Mickey was about to unfasten Ian’s belt but the guy uttered, “Bedroom. Upstairs,” whilst breathing heavily.

Once they were in Ian’s bedroom, they quickly unfastened each other’s belts, and boy, they were hard. Ian quickly removed his top and then removed Mickey’s shirt. He kissed the guy deeply once again and then kisses traveled to Mickey’s earlobe and gave it a few wet kisses and licks. “You’re so hot, Mick.”

His kisses traveled down to Mickey’s jaw and neck, licking and sucking the guy’s pale and soft skin, leaving red and purple marks all over the man’s shoulder and neck. Ian spent a good minute on Mickey's chest, licking and sucking the guy’s nipples. Mickey was heaving heavily, mouth agape, and moaning.

Ian’s hands were quick to pull down Mickey’s pants along with his boxers and he got onto his knees and started stroking the guy, kissing Mickey’s stomach further down to his member. Ian gave the head and the length a few licks before he opened his mouth and started sucking Mickey off. He felt Mickey’s hand on his head, gripping his hair tightly and pushing it further down to his. Ian did and tried to take the entirety of Mickey’s co*ck into his mouth, bobbing his head and gripping the base as he jerked the part he couldn’t fit into his mouth, twirling his tongue into the slit of the co*ck’s head every once in a while.

“f*ck. No one sucks this co*ck better than- ahh - you.”

Ian was looking up to Mickey the entire time he was sucking him off. He saw how Mickey’s chest, neck, and face reddened because of the sensation. He saw how Mickey took a gulp and closed his eyes whenever Ian licked the slit of his co*ck. His hands were on Mickey’s ass the entire time he was sucking him off, massaging the fat cheeks of his ass, brushing his fingers every once in a while to Mickey’s crack.

When he felt Mickey start shaking, he pulled himself off to Mickey’s co*ck and stood up. He pulled Mickey into a kiss quickly. Mickey’s tongue was into his immediately, tasting his own precum in his mouth.

Mickey’s hand was onto Ian’s bulge and Ian quickly pulled down his own pants along with his boxers.

Ian manhandled Mickey and threw him onto the bed as he pushed his pants off of his feet and went to the nightstand, pulled out the lube and condoms, and threw them onto the bed beside Mickey.

Mickey was looking at him with hooded eyes as he licked his lip.

Ian went to Mickey’s top, spreading the guy’s legs around him as he kissed him. Mickey wrapped his arms around Ian’s upper body, his hands placed on the back of Ian’s head. Ian expertly opened the lube and put a dollop into his fingers. His hands traveled to Mickey’s hole, pressing his middle finger into Mickey’s rim playfully.

“Just f*cking put it in me, man, please,” Mickey whines.

Ian smiled at the guy as he went to kiss him again, it was wet and sloppy. He pushed his middle finger inside Mickey’s hole, fingering it slowly and he felt Mickey’s legs tighten around his waist, forcing Ian to lean into Mickey more. Ian continued to kiss and finger Mickey until all of his three fingers were sliding easily into his hole.

“Get the f*ck in me.”

“You’re as impatient as ever.”

“f*ck you, I am not,” said Mickey as he get a hold of the condom and quickly tear the packaging with his teeth and put it into Ian. “If I am then we would be f*cking into the club’s bathroom.”

Ian couldn’t help but smile widely. “Of course, you are.”

“f*ck you, just get in me.”

“I will, baby, I will.”

Once Ian smeared lube into his dick, he didn’t waste any second and placed Mickey’s legs into his shoulders and started sinking into him.

“f*ck, god…”

Ian holds Mickey’s waist as he thrusts slowly inside Mickey, peppering Mickey’s neck with wet kisses. “f*ckin’ tight, Mick… Your ass is perfect as always.”

Mickey loves the way Ian’s huge co*ck fills him inch by inch, the heat of it inside him. He couldn’t help but moan and grip Ian’s as the man’s thrust got faster and harder with each thrust. His hips were rocking into him like a mad man and Mickey loved every second of it. “Fuuuck.”

Ian's body tenses as he continues to thrust harder and faster, his mouth gaping as he gasps for air. He feels Mickey clenching around him, writhing under him and holding onto him- nails deep in his back.

All he could hear were the groans, the moans, the whines, and their skins slapping onto one another, producing wet and obscene sounds- f*ck, they've never been this loud before.

It's like they've been starved.

It's like getting their fix after long hours of withdrawal.

It's addicting. It's glorifying. It feels so f*cking great, so f*cking good that they could do this for the whole day, or forever.

He buried his face on Mickey's neck. Pulling out slower then slamming back in with all he has- one, two, three. “f*ck, Ian!”

Mickey loves the slow drag in his walls, the feeling of Ian suddenly going back in with such vigor. It feels like his soul is going out of his body the more Ian does it. And he f*cking wants that- Ian f*cking his consciousness out of him.

“Mick, mick, mick,” Ian moaned like a mantra.

They were both moaning and breathing heavily. Ian’s big hand was holding the back of his leg firmly and sensually while the other kept on caressing his head lovingly. He was looking into Mickey with such pleasure, admiration, longingness, and love.

“f*cking- ah , f*ck- harder,” Mickey groaned.

Ian kept thrusting harder and harder. They kissed wetly, their mouths attached to each other as they moaned and groaned, until they both came, not thinking about who came first.

Ian plopped down to Mickey, kissing his cheeks and neck, whispering admiration as they rested. “You did so good, Mick.”

Mickey lets him, relishing from afterglow, letting himself drown in the attention and sweetness that he only got from Ian.

When Ian finally got up, he went to the bathroom and came back with his co*ck clean. He had a damp towel on hand and cleaned Mickey as well. If they were still teenagers in the South Side, he would’ve grabbed the towel from Ian and cleaned himself. He remembers Ian always insisting on doing it for him, just wanting him to rest and sink into the afterglow. But they weren’t teenagers and they were not in the South Side anymore. They both have grown up and matured. Mickey finally lets himself enjoy what he wants without any shame. And he wanted Ian to do it, he felt good whenever Ian cleaned him.

Ian put on a boxer and went out and Mickey just watched him. A minute later, he came back with two bottles of water and two snack bars.

They drank the water and ate the snacks. They sat on the bed in peace, with Mickey’s back plastered on Ian’s chest.

Ian felt a pang of pain when Mickey suddenly turned and punched him in the chest. “Aw! What the f*ck’s that for?”

“You f*ckin’ stopped visiting me,” said Mickey calmly as he sat properly and grabbed the pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his pants from the floor.

Ian felt guilty as he sat properly to match Mickey. He watched him light up the stick and took a hit before he decided to speak.

“A lot happened after you went in the can,” said Ian. “And it’s hard to see you there.”

That’s true. It was nothing like juvie where Mickey would be gone for months. It was a prison-the Cook County Jail. He knew that Mickey would stay here for a long time no matter how good he was inside. Good behavior wouldn’t get him far inside. It’s a 15-year sentence after all.

Ian stretched his hands toward the nicotine stick and Mickey handed it to him. He took a hit, feeling the smoke get into his lungs. He doesn’t smoke that much compared to when he was younger but sometimes he craves the nicotine high he gets from cigarettes.

They were too silent. Mickey wasn’t saying anything. The air was too thick and Ian felt he should say something.

“Uh… Months after you went inside, I went back into the psych hospital. I stayed there longer this time.”

Mickey looked at him, puzzled. Looking for answers.

“I jumped off of Lake Michigan… Turns out it wasn’t a great day for night swimming,” he tried to play it off as humor.

“Why the f*ck did you do that?”

Ian passed back the cigarette to Mickey. He, then, shrugs. “I don’t know… I feel like it. Like it was the only option I had at the time.” I felt nothing, and nothing was not worth living for.

He thought about visiting Mickey time and time again in those four years they were apart. He did, at first, when he was like a zombie being dragged every day. But after the last major stunt he did, he just felt too ashamed to visit Mickey. He remembered how Mickey cared for and nursed him when he was just recently diagnosed, making sure he ate well and took his meds on time, providing vitamins that none of his siblings cared about, googled what are good and not good foods and drinks for his med.

Mickey was there. Mickey was the only one there.

He would not blame his siblings. They had Monica as a precedent of a bipolar person for f*ck’s sake. But it does not mean that they could all just try to treat and care for him like they used to do with Monica. Because in their minds, even if they hadn’t realized it, they think that Ian would stay off his meds and will f*ck off from their lives just like their Mom. He hated it.

Mickey, once again, punched him in the biceps. “What the f*ck, Mick!” Ian tried to massage the part, seeing the redness due to the force.

“Don’t you f*cking do that again or anything similar to that, Gallagher,” there’s firmness in his voice as though he was threatening him, but Ian also recognized fear and anxiety in it. “If you think of doing anything like that, I swear to god I will drown you myself. There’s f*cking lake near your place and it would be so easy to drown you, motherf*cker.”

Ian felt his stomach turn and his heart warms up as a smile slowly creeps into his face. He looked at Mickey tenderly.

Oh, Mickey.

Ian leaned it and pecked a kiss into the other guy’s lips. “I won’t do anything like that again, I promise.”

“You better be, Red.”

“Mm-hm.”

Ian leaned it to kiss Mickey once again, this time slow and passionate. An apology- an apology for pulling a stunt like that, an apology for not visiting while he was in jail, an apology for not visiting after he got out. “I missed you.”

“Miss ya too, pretty face. Turns out there are not many redheads inside the can.”

“Nah, I'm limited edition. I am rare to find.”

“Turns out there’s only one of you so far.”

“And it will stay that way.” Ian couldn’t stop kissing him. It is better than any drug he had taken over the past years- always. He grabbed him by the sides and pulled him closer to himself.

When Ian managed to stop himself, he stared earnestly into Mickey’s eyes. “I’m sorry, y’know, for everything… For breaking up with you, for stopping on visiting you, for forcing you to come out. I’m sorry for doing that to you.”

It was meeting regularly with Dr. Johnson for seven months at that time when he started opening up. During those sessions, he opened up about how horrible he felt about what happened between Mickey and him, and once he started talking he never stopped. Probably because he felt comfortable with the idea of having a therapist and he started to feel comfortable confiding in the doctor. He never rushed Ian, even if there were times during their first few sessions when Ian would mostly stay quiet. Ian’s previous therapist (or counselor was it? Ian forgot) when he was first sent to the psych ward, somewhat urged, maybe to force him a bit, to talk- it was three days before he received his formal diagnosis.

Ian later learned himself that maybe it wasn’t what he was trying to do, for Mickey to come out publicly to the whole neighborhood, but rather he wanted anyone who’s not Lip or his family to know that they were a thing. Because during that time, Ian wasn’t certain where he stand with Mickey if they were friends to regularly f*ck each other or something more. Ian also wasn’t comfortable with the idea of Mandy not knowing what was going on between him and her brother.

Maybe, if Mandy knew at that time what they were to each other, then maybe he wouldn’t do any of that to Mickey.

Maybe he wouldn’t tell Mickey he’d live if he kept himself in the closet. Just maybe…

Mickey stayed silent and Ian continued. “My mind wasn’t in the right place during that time and you know that. It wasn’t an excuse. But thank you for staying with me during those months. If you hadn’t, I don’t know what would happen to me. I know Fiona and Lip and my siblings care for me, but you’re the only one who’s by my side almost 24/7. And you never looked at me differently. You never compared me to Monica. Thank you.”

Mickey shifted in the bed, clearly uncomfortable with the topic. Ian looked down to hide his face, embarrassed that he was only saying all of this after four years. Then he felt Mickey’s hands on his cheeks, prompting him to look into the guy. “Hey, you have nothing to be sorry for. Yeah, it was sh*tty to come out during that situation. But I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to. And I’m tired of being in the closet, anyway. I hated Terry even more, especially after you left, not because of what happened, but because I felt like he still had a chain on me and I was forced to stay locked. When I found you at the club after that, I started to feel much better. I said it before and I’m saying it again, what you and I have makes me free.”

Mickey understood everything. Staying in prison does that to you. He has nothing to do except join prison programs, lay off at the prison backyard, play poker, and secretly smuggle drugs. The rest of his time was spent thinking and thinking and thinking. Yes, he felt alone and a bit lonely since Ian stopped visiting but he would never expect him to keep on doing that knowing he’ll be there for years. Hell, he thought that he’d be out early after eight years, not four. He just got used to Ian visiting him every month when he was in juvie.

Even if Ian stopped visiting him six months after he got locked up, he may have felt alone but he never felt chained anymore. Being with Ian made him more open, and made him feel like himself, and that made him feel free whenever he was with the guy. He never had to conceal anything with Ian because the guy accepted everything he said and did and he looked at him with such admiration every time that he never saw anyone except his mother.

Mickey, then, looked at Ian teasingly.

“Ready for another round or do you need a minute, firecrotch?”

Ian palms his butt cheeks, caressing it. Ian’s kisses traveled down to Mickey’s throat and neck, licking the marks he left there not long ago before sucking on a milky, clean spot. While doing that, his hands worked to position Mickey properly into the bed to be on his back so that he’ll have more access to his ass. Once he does, his finger slowly works its way inside Mickey’s hole which is still slick from all the lube they used minutes before.

“What do you think, Mick?” And Mickey’s moan was an answer to that.

-

Ian woke up early in the morning. It has become an automatic body response to him as he develops his routine. He automatically wakes up in the morning no matter how tired he is, even if he had a drink and passed out (which happens only a few times), no matter how late he sleeps, and even if he’s still jet lagged. He sometimes hates it, especially if he only had gotten a few hours of sleep and was extremely tired the night prior, but he couldn’t blame his body- it got used to it. It also serves as a constant reminder to take his morning meds.

But this morning is different from the usual morning he spent since he moved here.

He’s with someone, in his bed.

He felt the other person’s hand holding his arm firmly. It had a familiar warmth he hadn’t felt in a while.

Ian fluttered his eyes open and moved his head sideways to look at the person sleeping soundly beside him.

He felt his heart stop.

Mickey was really here. He’s sleeping beside him.

Ian breathed hitches as he moved his free arm towards the guy, slowly and gently touching his jet-black hair that covered his face so that he could see him clearly without all that hair covering him.

He smiled widely as he continued to touch Mickey’s head gently. He feels giddy- euphoric, even. He wanted to pull Mickey into a hug and squish him within his arms, sniff him, and smell the familiar smell he misses.

f*ck. He’s really here.

Ian gently moved closer to Mickey to prevent the other from waking up. He knows Mickey doesn’t wake up early- he’s not sure if he still sleeps until the afternoon though, but he’s aware enough that prison could change your habit. And besides, Mickey has had a full-time job for several months now, that could alter his usual sleeping routine as well. After all, it’s been more than four years since the last time they had been in bed together.

Ian, then, moved his face closer to Mickey’s head, sniffling his hair- feeling Mickey’s hair against his lip. He then gently placed a kiss on his forehead.

He stared at Mickey long enough to remind himself why he woke up early, automatically, in the first place- to take his meds. He stood up from the bed against his will and went downstairs to the kitchen to drink his meds and then opened a cookie packet to go along with it. He never wanted to repeat what happened when he tried to take his meds on an empty stomach- one experience is enough to teach him a lesson.

After that, he immediately went back to bed. Stared at Mickey, admiring him for a few minutes before he decided to go back to sleep more.

-

Ian woke up around 9 AM with the guy still asleep.

He hugged him from behind, basically spooning him, then softly touched his arms and hands- playing with it. He hurried himself onto the guy's nape and inhaled the familiar scent he didn't realize he missed the most.

“Jesus, Gallagher, you’ll sniff the f*ck out of me.”

“You're awake,” said Ian way too enthusiastically.

Mickey looked him in the eye as creases formed on his lips, smiling at Ian. “How’s your head, lightweight? You drank way too many glasses than you’re supposed to last night.”

Ian shook his head happily. “I definitely feel better this morning.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Ian closed the gap between them and placed a kiss against Mickey.

f*ck . He missed his mouth against him.

Mickey placed his hands against the back of Ian's head, pushing the guy closer towards him. The soft kiss turned into a passionate, open mouth kiss.

When their lips separated from one another to breathe, Ian couldn't stop himself from smiling. It's been a while since he felt this good. It felt like everything was back in its right place. He felt complete .

“Good morning.”

“You're a f*cking dork.”

Ian giggled.

“I should go and make breakfast now,” said Ian when he realized it was 9:37 in the morning. He still has to go to Fiona's place before lunch to pick up his dog.

“The bathroom's there if you want to shower. You could borrow my clothes in the closet, or in the suitcase- those were the clean ones. Don't open the duffle bag, it's full of dirty clothes,” said Ian, and then he stood up from the bed. “Do you want me to put your clothes in the washer, or… ?”

Mickey snorted. After all these years, he still didn't know how to play things cool. If he had a tail, it would be wagging non-stop. “Jesus, Ian. Go make breakfast. I can take care of myself just fine.”

Okay.”

“Okay.”

“See you downstairs,” said Ian before he pecked a kiss on Mickey's lips and disappeared from the room.

Mickey playfully shook his head. It felt good to wake up next to Ian. He thought about this moment a lot- what would happen if they ever met again?

Four years was a long time, he wasn't sure how much Ian had changed. If Ian would be distant towards him. If things will be awkward. Sure, they were a bit awkward at the bar last night but after the sex and the conversation, it felt like everything was okay.

Mickey scanned the room. He really never had a chance to look around last night- everything was dark and all of his attention was on Ian.

It was the biggest room he stayed in- not that he ever stayed in big, fancy rooms aside from robbing the place. He saw the floor-to-ceiling glass door that opened to the balcony with the view of the Hudson River, and half of it was covered by black-out curtains, letting the other half brighten the room. On the bedside is a nightstand, and there’s a picture frame with all the Gallaghers with Kev and Vee and their children. There’s a pinboard as well with several pictures other pictures, Mickey’s attention was hooked on one certain picture: it was Ian with Mandy, Charles, Ian’s assistant (Mickey forgot her name), Charles’ celebrity chef husband (this time, with shorter, neater hair), a girl with a brown, curly haired that looked intimidating, and a brown, curly-haired guy, who looked like a f*cking cherub, standing too close to Ian for Mickey’s liking. Mickey glared at the guy’s face before he decided to remove his attention.

As Mickey stood up, he noticed a big dog bed across the room. Then, he looked at the door and saw a doggy door as well.

The f*ck? Is there a dog here? No one barked last night , thought Mickey. He decided to ignore the dog bed for now and decided to ask Ian later.

There are several posters plastered on the wall that Mickey guessed came from thrift shops, just like how Ian’s side of the wall in their shared room in Wallace Street was full of posters. There’s a fireplace parallel to the bed. There's a huge mirror on its left side and the closet door on its right. Judging from the size of the door, Mickey suspects that it's a walking closet. He, then, eyed the bathroom door beside it.

He opened Ian's suitcase and saw a variety of clothes. He smiled at the sight of Ian's clothes rolling the way how the military was taught to pack their clothes. One of the things he learned from ROTC. He settled on the first thing he saw, a striped red boxer shorts and a white shirt.

He went to the bathroom and saw a huge shower room and a big bathtub as well. Ian's personal products were scattered on the sink.

Mickey opened the drawer under the sink, saw clean towels and decided to take one before he proceeded to take a shower under hot water. And f*ck, it feels good to have a good water pressure and proper hot water (not scalding hot or warm).

When Mickey went out of the room freshly showered, he realized they were on the second flood. He never noticed they went upstairs last night- maybe he's had too much to drink or he's just really eager to be with Ian to notice. There are another two doors across the Hall. The first one he opened was a small bathroom with a sink and a toilet. The second door he saw seemed like a small office with a balcony. There’s a table placed near the floor-to-ceiling glass door (God, Ian does really love this type of door) that has a computer in it. There's also a printer and a standard bookshelves filled with books and bundles of bonded papers.

Mickey went downstairs and he heard that Ian was frying something in the kitchen from the sound of it. He first saw the living room with an L-shaped couch, a coffee table, and a flat-screen TV. There's a glass floor-to-ceiling door, again, with a pull-up bar attached on top, and it seems that the entire first floor's right side is surrounded by the balcony. The only difference with this one was it has a doggy door and there's a section on the right with dirt and grass. There was a treadmill and dumbbells on the side as well.

Ian, the ever-loving fitness freak. Mickey smiled at the thought of Ian exercising near the balcony, or in the balcony.

Then he started to wonder if Ian had tried to have sex against the floor-to-ceiling windows, or doors, or walls, in general.

On Mickey's left was a hallway with 4 doors- one that led to the balcony, again. Mickey went on to check the other rooms. The first two were bedrooms- both were smaller than Ian's room but still much bigger than any of the rooms in the Gallagher and Milkovich house. The last door is another bathroom with a shower and a tub.

Mickey then went to the kitchen and saw two plates with cheesy egg omelets, bacon slices, and banana pancakes.

Ian's back was facing him. His phone was against his ear and he was talking to someone on the phone. “Yes, Fi. I'll be there before lunch. After I'm done with breakfast, I'll pick her up immediately… Just prepare her baby bag so we'll be out fast… Tell Liam I have the lesbian chocolates he likes.”

Ian smiled at him when he saw him after he put all the dirty dishes he used in the sink. “Hi, I was about to call you.”

“Is that your bitch sister?”

“Yes, I have to go to her place before lunch to pick up my dog. I left her there since was gone for 3 days.”

Mickey nodded slightly and took a seat at the table. “What's a lesbian chocolate?”

“It's not really a lesbian chocolate but Kev called it lesbian chocolate before and we just went with it because it's funny. It's actually Leibniz chocolate, it's a cookie covered in chocolates kinda thing.”

“So, Fiona's here? And Liam?” Mickey asked as they started eating.

“Yeah, they live in Hell's Kitchen, just like Mandy. Fiona bought an apartment building and decided to live there with Liam- he now attends this fancy private school for gifted children. She tried it two years ago in Illinois and bought an apartment building and a laundromat near Patsy's but it didn't work. She got scammed and went borderline alcoholic before she picked herself up again. Then there's the legal battle because we decided to sue. Fiona won and decided to buy a building here instead and they've been here for like a year now.”

“So, three of you are here? Then why the hell the rest was still in the Southside?”

Ian gulped his food before he answered. “The house is under renovation. And I actually asked them if they wanna move out because it's better to buy a house as long as we have the money now rather than later. Then Debbie insisted on staying in the Gallagher house because, technically, we're all born there. And after a week-long debate, they stayed there. Lip and Debbie are working together to renovate the house… And you, how'd you get here?”

“I'm just here temporarily, man. I'm still on parole and I've got permission to be here for three months due to work. Your company outsourced me and forced me to fly here.”

“Mandy mentioned you're doing art for a living now. I never thought that it'd be this type. I thought you worked with museums or weddings.”

“No sh*t,” Mickey shrugged. “I'm doing book covers. This is the first project our studio had since we were mostly hired by self-published authors.”

“Do you enjoy it? Making book covers?”

Mickey stared at him for a while. “Yeah, I guess… I have really liked drawing since I was young. It's nice to use those fancy gadgets to draw and design.”

Ian smiled genuinely. “I'm happy for you, Mick, and I'm proud of you for doing what you like.”

“It's not really a big deal,” Mickey decided to play it off as he felt his cheeks getting warmer. This was the first time someone had said to him that they were proud of him. He was never proud of doing art as Terry called him pansy for it when he was a kid. He felt ashamed even more so when he realized that he'd been drawing Ian a lot when he was seventeen.

After all, no one said that they were proud of him without throwing a knife at him first.

“Have you ever had anyone?”

“Anyone?”

“Like a boyfriend?” Ian asked.

Mickey shrugged. “Not really. I mean, there's prison sh*t but you know how it is. I topped them to not be anybody's bitch. Then after I went out, it's mostly just back alley blow j*bs or hand jobs. Could not f*ck anyone, your dick destroyed my standards, man. Never really dated anyone since I got out of the can.”

Mickey tried to get laid. But after two encounters, he decided to settle for hand jobs and blow j*bs instead. He found those guys on Grindr and let's just say he didn't like how they felt inside him. It never really satisfied him.

“How about you?”

Ian looked at him as he finished his plate. “Three, but technically two since the other one was more of a friends-with-benefits situation.”

“Really?” Mickey never imagined Ian in a friends-with-benefits situation. Sure, they were technically in that zone before but, even before, Ian's been hinting that he wanted more from him. A label. An actual relationship.

Ian nodded. “The first one was a month after I got out of the psych hospital. A guy named Luke. We met at Lip's college, he's a student there. We lasted for two months because I just hated how he treated me like I'm f*cking invalid just because I've been in the psych ward twice.”

“And then the second one?” Mickey asked after Ian paused for a while. He noticed Ian seemed hesitant to talk about the next one.

“The second one was here in New York, Armand. We met through Charles because he's Charles’ son. We’re in a friends-with-benefits situation. We exclusively f*ck each other for a year.” Ian tried to be in a relationship with Armand but the guy rejected the idea. Armand told him that he thinks Ian wasn't actually looking for a boyfriend, but a stable company. Ian thought he was talking bullsh*t at first before he went on and actually agreed with the guy's opinion. That was what his therapist told him before, actually- he just decided to ignore him. “We're still friends and we talk occasionally. He's in Paris now attending culinary school.”

It was an effortless agreement they had. They could say to each other anytime if they wanted to continue it or not, and they did for a year. And even when Ian told Armand that he wanted to end their setup, it was basically dramatic and he just went, “Yeah, okay,” and they went on with their lives. They interact and hang out like they normally used to without kissing or f*cking and there was no sense of awkwardness or any sort of adjustment stage with them. That’s when Ian realized that maybe Armand was right- he wasn’t really looking for a romantic relationship, at least not with anyone.

“Is Adam the one in the picture on the board? The one with brown, curly hair.”

“Armand,” Ian corrected. “Yes, that was taken at a private gala last year. I brought Mandy with me as a plus-one.”

Mickey nodded way too calmly for his own liking. He didn't want to show that he was jealous, but he was. He didn't care about the other two, really, because those were short-lived relationships. What makes him feel jealous is Ian's previous situations that he's still close with. Not only were they still communicating, but he was working closely with the guy's father and they seemed pretty close after watching their interaction at the bar last night.

And he saw how the guy looked, and Mickey wouldn't deny that the guy was good-looking. He looked as tall as Ian. He and Mickey were total opposite because the guy looked like a f*cking cherub- an angel- with soft curly hair, green eyes, and a big smile in the picture. Mickey's aware he looks intimidating, primarily because he's always serious and frowning plus the knuckles tattoo.

Everything about Aaron screamed gentleness, class, and elegance. Like the guy wouldn’t hurt a f*cking fly and was the type to open a dog shelter for fun.

After all, he's the longest guy he's been with aside from him. Even though not as a boyfriend. Still, they were exclusive to each other.

Ian looked at Mickey and he couldn't read if he was jealous or just unimpressed. “We stopped because I started going out with Greg, my latest ex. We were together for three months then Monica died and he saw me have my hypomanic episode followed by the depressive episode and it pretty much scared him… So, he decided to cheat on me and then I called it off. I've been single ever since.”

“A guy cheated on you?”

Mickey sounded irked, a bit mad, like he was the one who went through the situation. “Yeah, but it’s not really a big deal. I was mad, but primarily because he didn’t break up with me and went on cheating instead.”

It wasn’t really a big deal. Ian couldn’t even say if he was heartbroken when the situation happened. The feeling was more similar to disappointment. If Greg had the balls to break up with him, even through text or whatever, he would just probably ask for a reason why and let the guy go. It’s not like he would cling to him.

“Have you tried to talk to Svet since you got out?” Ian asked, changing the topic. He knew Mickey and Svetlana got a divorce shortly after Mickey went to jail so that she could marry Vee, in order for her not to be deported and sent back to Russia.

“We’re divorced, man.”

“Yeah, but Yev-”

“The kid’s not mine,” Mickey replied sternly.

When Svetlana visited him in the prison, asking for a divorce, would agree without a doubt as long as they’ll have a talk about what will happen to the kid after. Svetlana said that there was a chance that he wasn’t the father. They took a paternity test to prove it, it was a long process to begin with. It took them roughly a month to get the result and Mickey was nervous. He didn’t know why but he was. He wasn’t sure how he'd react once he confirmed whether Yevgeny was his or not. When the result came in, it felt like a relief and discomfort at the same time. It was a relief because knowing the circ*mstance of how the kid was, or was, brought up was traumatic to him and it reminded him of that day when he looked at Svetlana’s bump and the first few weeks since Yevgeny was born. It was a relief because even before all of that, he wondered if the kid was actually his knowing they only did it once and knowing the Svetlana f*cked other guys before and after that day. It was a discomfort because after a while he started warming up to the kid and to the idea that he was a father. And it felt good whenever the kid cried and he was able to comfort him and make him stop crying. Mickey may never admit it, but he started loving the child.

Svetlana never stopped visiting him though, even after the divorce was finalized and she was married to Vee albeit temporarily. Mickey may be uneducated but he wasn’t an idiot. He suspected that maybe she felt bad for putting him in a forced marriage and insisting the child was his after all these months. She even put money in his commissary from time to time. Svet only stopped visiting him after six months. She told him that she’d be marrying a half-Russian dentist he met when he made a dentist appointment for Yev because there was nothing Vee could do to ease the toothache. They got along really well. She divorced V and then married the guy a month later.

Mickey was certain that she would not marry the prick if he wasn’t good to her and, especially, Yevgeny. The child was her first and foremost priority. If the guy ended up mistreating him, sure she’d be back to him or Kev and V, but it’s been years since they got married and moved to the North Side with the dentists and he never heard from her again.

“Oh.”

Ian couldn’t react much. He wasn’t aware of what happened around their divorce. Not that Svetlana would answer him without insulting him first and he wasn’t in the right mind during that time so he never bothered to ask.

Besides, after taking Yevgeny, Svetlana never trusted him again to be left alone with the child. Not his shtick only a few months after, trying to drown himself in Lake Michigan, only added to Svetlana's mistrust of his ability to take care of a child. When he finally got better, Svetlana started meeting the dentist she married soon after and they never saw each other again.

-

“Mickey, you're out?”

That was the first thing Fiona said to Mickey after they met. Ian welcomed himself inside the apartment as a labrador pup jumped into his arms, with its tails and whole body wiggling and tingling with excitement to see its beloved owner.

“Yeah, for four years now.”

Fiona eyed him, scanning, thinking why he was with Ian again. They were never close, Mickey was aware that Fiona never liked him but only tolerated him for Ian, she probably softened for a bit after Ian got diagnosed because he’d always been there for him more than anyone. But that’s it, Mickey is still aware of Fiona’s reservations about him and his relationship with Ian.

“Heard you're gay now,” said Mickey. It was something they talked about in the car on their way here, that Fiona has gotten herself a girlfriend for five months now. She seemed much happier and more peaceful with her girlfriend Mia than any of her ex-boyfriends, Ian commented earlier.

“I’ve kissed and made out with girls before you even came out of the closet. This just happened to be my first official relationship.”

Ian was talking to Liam animatedly, with the dog in his arms.

“Fiona, look!” Called Liam as he showed two packets of the Leibniz chocolate biscuits he called “lesbians.”

Mickey saw Fiona’s girlfriend. She was blond and plain but pretty. She also happened to be taller than Fiona, almost the same height as Ian.

They all went out as Fiona, her girlfriend Mia, and Liam basically had to go camping. They just waited for Ian to arrive to get the dog.

-

Mickey is staring at the dog. The dog stares back at Mickey. None of them were breaking eye contact. Mickey wanted to, but for some reason, he didn't- he doesn't want to lose to a damn dog.

The fury being was sitting tall with its posture, staring at the new, strange human in her home with her human. Ian's her. It's always been him and her. Sometimes Oona and Charles come but they are never part of their pack even though they are both a delight to have and give her all the attention, head and back scratches, belly rubs, delicious treats, and playtime that she clearly loves.

“I see you're getting to know each other,” said Ian, oblivious about the thick air around them that was coming from Mickey and Miss Choco. “Got you your slim jims,” said Ian as he handed the item onto Mickey's lap and sat down on the couch. “And here's yours, Missy.”

The black dog waves its tail in delight and she happily walks towards Ian, on her tippy toes, to receive the treat.

“Why the f*ck you named it Miss Choco?”

“It’s not me, it’s Franny. She insisted on the name and I kept it. I didn’t call her that though, always Missy. It’s Franny who calls her that.”

When the dog looks back at Mickey mid-chew, she eventually decides to hop onto Ian's lap and stares back again at Mickey as she happily chews her treats as though she is teasing Mickey that she was sitting in Ian's lap with her person loving it and Mickey's not.

And Mickey just wanted to yank it off of Ian because he sat on that lap first before that thing was even brought up to this world. He sat there multiple times. But of course, he wouldn't do that. He's not that childish. And he's not jealous, it's just a f*cking dog. He's really not.

Miss Choco continues asserting her dominance and her claim to her human. Whoever this stranger is, he must earn his place in her pack.

Oh, f*ck.

All I Want - Chapter 4 - sandrashaine (2024)
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