A/N: and so i lost control of my life.
Ian visits on the second Friday of every month.
Mickey first realizes the pattern after the third visit, and by this point they're his salvation, little lulls of clarity that keep him sane for his entire sentence. He likes the predictability of knowing that at noon Ian will be waiting for him on the other side of the translucent plastic, every bit as excited to see him as the last time.
"How's Mandy doing?" is one of the first questions, after the awkward how-have-you-been's and have-you-kept-your-hands-to-yourself's.
Ian looks good every time and Mickey wishes he could reach and touch him, know that he's there, trace the lines on his face and count every freckle twice.
"She's fine. Wishes she could come, but —"
"The dyke guards." Mickey stares at Ian's fingers and wonders what they'd feel like in the spaces between his own. "That's what she said when dad was in prison. Think she's just too fuckin' pussy."
The best part is how Ian can hear the softness of his tone and see the fondness, and when he goes home he tells Mandy that Mickey says I love you even when he didn't. Because it's close enough, really, if you think about it.
On the second Friday of the second month, Ian says, "I miss having you around," which is close enough to I miss you without actually saying it. "I'm always so fucking bored."
Mickey thinks about saying, "I miss you too," but he doesn't. He's still not gay enough, or drunk enough.
Instead he says, "What the fuck, Gallagher, get a fucking life."
Inside, Mickey is afraid that Ian will get a life, and he'll stop visiting him, and Mickey will be left ready to fucking pound anyone who looks at him the wrong way.
Ian smiles all the same.
"I quit Kash's," Ian says first before Mickey can even begin the dumb pleasantries. "You're looking at a Wal-Mart cashier."
"Fucking gay," Mickey snorts, and Ian laughs too, in that way that he does that makes Mickey wish he wasn't so far away on the other side of the thin barrier. He fantasizes about what he'd do if he was free.
Ian pushes his forehead against the glass and lowers his voice, like he's telling a secret. "I heard he left Linda."
Mickey doesn't know why this terrifies him. Like, no fucking way would Ian go back to Kash after he fucking shot Mickey over a goddamn Snickers bar. No, it doesn't even scare him, it just pisses him the fuck off. "You heard that, huh?"
"Yeah." His voice drops again, and he adds, "But I haven't really talked to him since — you know."
Mickey brushes a finger along the healing scar on his leg. "Yeah."
This time, when Ian presses his hand to the glass, Mickey thinks about how close they are, but how far away it feels. He thinks about flattening his palm against the plastic and pretending he's somewhere else, and Ian is warm beside him, so warm that he can reach out and touch if he wanted.
"I can't believe he fucking shot me," Mickey says, just to break the silence.
"The time's almost up," someone says, and Ian is so distant now that Mickey wants to throw up.
There was a time that Mickey fell asleep with his fingers curled in Ian's hair, and when he woke up, Ian was gone, and it fucking hurt in a way that Mickey didn't know it could. He found himself wishing he'd wake up to a lazy smile and soft eyes. That's when he knew he was way too fucking gay for this shit, and he didn't let Ian sleep in his bed at all for like, a week, before he got too fucking lonely at night.
When Mickey is in juvie, he wants to roll over and push his hands underneath Ian's shirt and feel the baby-soft skin over the ridges of his ribcage. He wants to wake up next to Ian and it fucking scares the shit out of him.
He wants to push his face into Ian's shoulder and not feel like he's about to get burned for doing it.
"How long?" It's Ian's favorite question.
"I don't fucking know," is Mickey's favorite answer, and also the only one he knows how to give. "I should be out on good behavior, right?"
Ian grins then, toothy and wide and not mocking at all. "Have you been on good behavior?"
"Fuck you, Gallagher, yes I fucking have." It's true, really; Mickey's kept mostly to himself, too bored out of his shitty mind to even bother with the fucked-up kids here. He instead counted the days in terms of how-long-until-Ian-comes, and it was a good distraction, thinking about him.
"Really?" Ian says, and he sounds genuine, so Mickey rolls his shoulders in a way that means yeah, and Ian smiles big.
Lowering his voice, Mickey says, "Thanks to you, asshole. I don't know what I'd fucking do if you weren't — you know, visiting me, shit. My dad hasn't come in once."
Ian doesn't look surprised. "What about your brothers?"
Mickey thinks about it for a second. "Mike came by once, but only to ask me where I hid my goddamn pot, the motherfucker."
"Yeah, well." Ian isn't smiling anymore, and he's giving Mickey that look that he sometimes does when he's not very sober. "I don't get here enough but I miss you, man. A lot. A lot more than I should."
Mickey doesn't blink once. "Yeah, well, fuck you for making me miss you, too." Too far away, he thinks. He touches the glass with one hand, almost absently, and tries to count Ian's freckles.
"Sorry," Ian says, but he's not sorry at all.
Mickey gets to thirteen before he loses count.