Sometimes, when it's too hot to go underneath the covers, they sit with their backs against the wall and pass a cigarette in between them, talking about everything and nothing, stealing kisses in between clouds of smoke. Ian tastes like bubblemint gum and there's a hint of booze on his breath. Mickey is close enough to see every freckle.

"Shit," Ian says, one of those times, a lopsided grin on his face and his eyes glassy with a pleasant buzz, "you're so fucking gay, man."

Mickey's too drunk to deny it so he slurs a little, "Fuck you," and kisses Ian again, his eyes wide open the entire time, counting the freckles until they start swimming in his gaze.

They pass out and Mickey wakes up at noon, his arm thrown over Ian's waist, his lips too close to his ear, the smell of alcohol and smoke on his bedsheets. Ian looks so tiny and small when he sleeps that Mickey is afraid to move. Afraid to breathe, touch, even stare for too long. The sun is coming in through the dirty window makes every rise-and-fall of Ian's chest outlined in dim, smoky light. He's almost too untouchable.

Mickey carefully scoots away from him, but he watches him sleep for an hour until he finally stirs, his eyelids fluttering and coming alive.

He doesn't move once, doesn't even breathe.

"Tell me something you've never told anyone." Ian's eyes are wide in the darkness, glittering in the yellow streetlight, shadows gathering on his face. "I've told you everything."

Mickey keeps quiet most of the time, but he always listens; he probably knows more about the Gallaghers than he ever wanted to. But he likes listening to Ian talk, likes the way his eyes light up and that dumb grin plays on his lips when he's excited, likes the crooked smirk and the vague hand gestures, likes to watch him speak and listen to his voice and maybe that's gay of him, but Mickey is giving up on being the alternative. "I don't have anything to say."

Ian wriggles closer. "Everyone has secrets."

Mickey closes his eyes and focuses on the beat-beating of his heart, the slow breaths in his lungs. Tries to think. He once took Mandy's favorite doll and burned it just to watch the plastic melt when he was a kid, but he also used to watch her sleep at night when he got scared. He used to steal money from his dad to buy weed until he actually got a job of his own. His brothers used to wake him up late at night to drink with him when he was twelve, laughing at him when he puked it all up and cried for the rest of the night.

"Tried to kill myself when I was fourteen."

Ian's breathing stops, and if Mickey listened close enough, he might have heard his heart falter, too. The silence is thick and the awkwardness is palpable, and Mickey doesn't know what to say so he says nothing.

"Why?" Ian asks, softly, his hand falling over Mickey's chest, probably feeling how rapid his heart is beating and how terrified he is just to speak.

Mickey thinks if he doesn't laugh he'll cry. "Thought I was gay." And he laughs.

Ian shifts even closer and doesn't laugh, doesn't ask anything else, but Mickey looks at him, his face covered in shadows, and hears it all.

"I don't have any more secrets," Mickey says, which is a lie, because he has so many that they fill him up until he can barely say a word, worried they'll spill from him, like how he feels when Ian walks in the room and how much he misses him when he's gone. How long those six months of juvie were without him there every day.

Ian nods, pressing a kiss to his shoulder, his eyes closed and his breathing slow and even in the darkness.

Mickey falls in love.


His eyes are wide open and the world is spinning around them, but Ian looks so steady and solid that Mickey feels safe, still and silent and full of life. His forehead slicked with sweat, he reaches out with one hand, catches Ian's fingers in his own and watches, fascinated, as they curl and fit together. Two halves of a whole. Mickey wonders when he realized he was gay.

Ian's lips are pressed into that dumb grin of his, and he squeezes tighter. "You're going to be okay."

The room is white, white, white, the hospital sheets white, and the only thing Mickey sees is his blood, scarlet upon the white. A wound he can't feel or see.

And Ian is still smiling, holding his hand, his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, his face so close that Mickey can smell him, as the blood pours out of him and he feels his eyes growing heavy and dead.

He wakes up in cold sweats.

Two weeks later he calls Ian, after fourteen days of ignoring his texts and calls, sitting in his bed and hoping he won't feel the blood on the sheets. Screaming without a sound.

Pressed up against Mickey's screen door, he takes Ian's hand and ignores his protests, wanting to fill those gaps in between his fingers. They push together like puzzle pieces, the last match. Ian doesn't say a word, but Mickey can feel his anger, like white-hot daggers pricking his skin.

He doesn't feel the blood at all.


Ian's eyes are wide and innocent and Mickey isn't scared, not at all. He wonders when he stopped being so scared. "I fucking love you, you know?" He whispers it in the hairbreadth of space between them, as if this makes it all the more true. Solidifies it, makes it real.

Ian's silence is thin. Breakable. Mickey waits for something momentous to occur, waits for the sun to set, for his heart to finally give in. Still he bravely meets Ian's gaze. Doesn't say a word.

Ian grins like an idiot.