The ringing phone blared in Mandy's ears. Lip's cock was no longer in her mouth as she was pulled backward out of her dream. Her bed's scent of sex and cigarettes began filling her senses and she started to feel herself wake up. She hadn't opened her eyes yet, there was a chance she could go back to sleep if only the fucking phone would stop ringing.


"Get the phone!" She yelled, squeezing her eyes shut. She tried to slip back into her dream of Lip.


"Mickey, get the motherfucking phone!" She yelled louder. The ringing stopped. She pressed her cheek into her pillow and tried to feel Lip in her mouth again. She tried concentrating her mind on the minute details, his small port wine birthmark just above where his pubic hair started to thicken. The way his erect cock always leaned slightly to the right when she pulled his boxers down…


Goddammit. Someone had better be dead. She peaked one eye open at the clock next to her bed. Who the hell would be calling at the crack of noon on a Saturday?


She pushed herself out of bed and stomped down the hallway into the kitchen. Mickey's bedroom door was closed as usual, but she assumed he was home. Asshole. He never answers the fucking phone.


The phone seemed to get louder and more insistent every time it rang. She grabbed the receiver and hoped to hear about some dead relative that left her millions. Nothing short of that would be worth prematurely ending her dream.

"What?" She said. There was a sleepy rasp in her voice, making it deeper than usual. Lip always said her morning voice made him hot.

"Why doesn't he love me?"

The man's voice on the other side of the phone sounded far away. Distant and uneasy. Mandy shook her head, and pushed her stringy hair from her eyes.

"Lip?" She never thought of Lip as being particularly sensitive. She assumed he was asking about Frank. Although why Lip gave two shits about his deadbeat alcoholic father, she didn't know.

"No, Mandy – it's Ian."

She inhaled deeply. Oh. Now it all made sense. Ian. The other Gallagher man in Mandy's life.

"Why doesn't he love me?" His voice wavered, but he didn't sound like he was crying. He didn't sound drunk, either.

"Ian…you know it's not that simple…" She said. She turned towards Mickey's bedroom door and heard Svetlana yelling at him in Russian.

"I don't know what the fuck you're saying! English, dammit!" Mickey said. There was a banging noise from behind the door and Mandy assumed it was Svetlana throwing something at Mickey. She did that a lot.

"It's that simple for me, Mandy." Ian said, bringing her back to their phone conversation. "I told him I loved him and I knew he loved me and he kicked the shit out of me."

Mandy growled under her breath. She thought she recognized her brother's handiwork all over Ian's face at school but she wasn't positive until then.

"My brother's….complicated…" she replied.

"You know I don't fucking speak Russian you dumb bitch!" Just after Mickey's shout finished, Mandy heard the sound of someone getting slapped. She again assumed Svetlana was the one doing the slapping. Mickey wasn't the best guy, but he wasn't about to hit a pregnant woman.

"Yeah, complicated." Ian said. "You mean completely closeted." His voice sounded like the tide, coming in and out in waves.

Mandy didn't know what to say. She didn't care that her brother was gay, or that he was fucking her best friend, or that her best friend happened to be the brother of her on-again, off-again boyfriend. It all felt normal – since it was undoubtedly the least fucked up thing about her life.

"Ian…why does your voice sound like that?" It was all she could think to say. There was a long pause and she twirled the phone cord around her fingers.

"I took something."

Mandy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, no shit. What did you take?"

"I dunno…E I think. I've been tripping balls for the last 45 minutes."

She sighed heavily. Of course he'd do that without her and of course he'd think of Mickey instead of all the other dick in the world. Shit, even Kash would be a better choice at this point.

"Are you ok?" She asked, leaning against the wall.

"Oh, yeah. I'm totally fine." He laughed. "I enlisted."

She rolled her eyes. Here we go again. "Yeah, sure you did."

"I did, Mandy. I'm getting the fuck out of here." He laughed again, it wasn't a natural laugh. It was the kind of forced laughter only ecstasy supplied.

"Ian, you're only 17…" She replied, unconcerned.

"Lucky for me, I have an older brother. I swiped Lip's ID, Mandy. Everything is done. Just wanted to have one last roll before I'm government property." He sounded high, but completely serious.

"You fucking can't, Ian! Don't do this! Because of Mickey, you're going to go over to Iraq or some other towelhead shitbox and get blown up? Are you fucking kidding me?!" She tried keeping her voice down but the panic was setting in.

"It's already done, Mandy. They allow fags in the army now, ha ha. I signed the paperwork yesterday. The bus leaves for basic leaves in a couple hours. I need to get the fuck out of here. Away from Chicago, away from Frank, away from…Mick. I just need out."

"What did Lip say?" Her voice was starting to tremble. Her fingers were turning red from wrapped the cord so tightly around them.

"Didn't tell him. Didn't tell him, or Fiona. I'm just another mouth to feed at home. This is for the best."

She felt the fearful tears well up in her eyes and she pushed them back. Her voice choked in her throat.

"Ian, please don't go…"

"Too late, buttercup." He said, sounding cheerful. "I'll text or e-mail when I can. Please don't tell them where I am. I'll let them know when I'm ready; by the time they find out, they won't be mad anymore."

"You know I won't tell." She said. If she knew one thing, she certainly knew how to keep a secret.

"Not even Mickey. Promise?" He sounded sure of his decision, but sad.


"Talk to you later." She heard him hang up but she stood there still leaning against the wall with the phone in her hand.

Mickey's bedroom door swung open and he rushed out. Svetlana was hot on his heels, still bitching at him in her half Russian/half English.

"Lazy son of bitch! I provide money to house! You no work!" she said.

"Shut up! Jesus Christ! Don't you ever shut up?" He shouted over his shoulder as he pulled the carton of orange juice out of the fridge. He took a long swig and replaced it.

"Disgusting pig! You make me sick!"

"Then leave, bitch! Go find some other idiot t'raise that thing. We don't even know it's mine. I'm the good guy who married your ass!" He punched the refrigerator as Svetlana turned from him and grabbed her coat. She dramatically swung it over her shoulders and stomped to the front door.

"I have appointment, I go. Maybe I no come back!" She glared at Mickey.

"Appointment? You suck cock for a living, don't get fancy. And please – do me that favor – don't come back! I don't give a rats' ass!" He shouted.

Svetlana narrowed her eyes on him, flicked him her middle digit and yelled something in Russian before leaving. When she slammed the door, three pictures fell off the living room wall.

"Crazy fucking Russkie bitch." Mickey said to himself. "What's with you?" He asked when he saw Mandy holding the phone. She didn't answer. She slammed the phone down and started yelling at him.

"You're an asshole. A complete asshole!" She grabbed an apple from the counter next to her and threw it at him as hard as she could. He quickly jumped out of the way and glared at her.

"What the fuck, Mandy? What crawled up your box and died? Jesus!" He threw his hands up in frustration.

"What did you do to Ian?!" She yelled, trying not to cry.

"Gallagher? I haven't seen him since I knocked him on his lily white ass." He tried waving her off.

"Oh yeah? Was that before or after he fucked you in yours, Mickey?" She snapped at him.

"The fuck did you just say, you skank?" Mickey got very still, very calm. His dark eyes bore holes in Mandy as he stared her down.

"You heard me just fine." She said taking a step towards him. "He's running away, Mickey. Running away because of you."

"The hell he is. He ain't leaving." A tone of concern came and went from Mickey's voice.

"I just talked to him, you dick. He's leaving." She spat at him.

"He's only 17, where would he go anyway? And furthermore, why should I give fuck?"

"Oh, he's only 17? Gosh, how could a kid from the South Side could ever get his hands on a fake fucking ID, you genius?!" She said, the sarcasm dripping from her words like venom.

Mickey leaned back against the refrigerator. He felt the bulge of his wallet in his back pocket; he had at least six fake IDs in there, one for each of the stolen credit cards. He knew exactly how easy it would have been for Ian to get one.

"If anything happens to him, it's your fault. No one's but yours." She said. She turned back for her bedroom, wishing she was wearing pants so she could storm out the front door.

"Where is he going?" Mickey asked before she could get a door between them. The rage had drained from his face and his expression was one of deep concern. It made Mandy angry to see him like that. So typically Mickey; not giving a shit about something until it's too late.

"Like I'd tell you." She said calmly. She opened her bedroom door and watched his face as she slammed it shut again. She flipped the lock and dove face first down onto her bed. She grabbed her pillow and gave one single sob into it. Ian was worth many more, of course. But she wasn't going to let Mickey hear them.

"Mandy? Tell me where he is." Mickey said, banging the palm of his hand on her door. He didn't receive a reply. He rushed back to his own bedroom and grabbed his cell phone. He dialed Ian's number and prepared to count the number of rings until the voicemail picked up, but it went straight to voicemail.

"Hey, it's Ian. You know what to do." The outgoing message said. Mickey began to sweat as he left Ian a message.

"Gallagher it's – Ian, it's Mick. Call me back." He clicked the call off and held it in his hand, as if staring at his own phone would magically make Ian call him back.

He flopped back on his bed and laid the phone on his chest. A few minutes went by and he called Ian again.

"Hey, it's Ian. You know what to do." BEEP.

"So, what the fuck? You don't call me back anymore, Gallagher?" Mickey growled into Ian's voicemail box.

A few minutes later:

"...You know what to do." BEEP

"I need to talk to you. Call me…please. Asshole." Mickey added that last bit to recover from the desperate tone of the rest of his message.

"Gallagher, Philip." The sergeant read the name on the clipboard.

A young man with short red hair stepped forward with an army-issued green duffel bag over his shoulder.

"They call me 'Lip', sir." He offered.

"Yeah, well you're just 'Gallagher' now, get on the bus." He nodded his head towards the bus behind him.

Ian took a deep breath and looked behind him before boarding. He needed to forget all about Mickey Milkovitch. All about his bullshit life. Lip would be pissed at him for using his name; Fiona would be really pissed at him for running away but he saw no other way to forget the pale skinned, raven haired closet-case that he loved. He exhaled, straightened his back and climbed on board the bus.

Somewhere in the depth of his duffel bag was his cellphone. He had turned it off but the voicemails were building up and up.

"Gallagher, where are you?"

"Hey, Ian – it's Lip. You aren't at work, where the hell are you?"

"Gallagher, it's Mick. Call me back, will you?"

"Ian, it's Fiona, next time you're going to miss dinner, please call me first. Where are you?"

"It's Mickey again. Don't make me come looking for you, Gallagher."

"Ian, it's Kev. Fiona said you didn't come home last night. Just call home so we know you're ok?"

"Gallagher. Call me."

"Sorry, the subscriber's mailbox is now full and unable to take new messages at this time. Goodbye."