try explaining a life bundled with episodes of this –
swallowing mud, swallowing glass, the smell of blood on the first four knuckles. (...)
sorry about the blood in your mouth. i wish it was mine.


Ian's hands are on Mickey's thighs, spreading them open, his bangs tickling Mickey's stomach. Ian's breath is hot, his fingertips ice-cold; Mickey's foot itches. He watches the pink mouth disappear from the angle he's laying at, closes his eyes and focuses on the wet heat.

He's done this before. Once, an older dude, not by much. He came home smelling like salty skin and sweat and told his brothers he couldn't remember the girl's name.

"I won't tell anyone," Ian mutters when he replaces his mouth with his hand, his voice wheezy and deeper than Mickey remembers.

Mickey doesn't say a word, just watches him watch him right back, and suddenly he forgets to be afraid.


The second time is easier, less awkward fingering and more teeth in his shoulder and bruises on his waist, fucking the way he fights, hard and fast and bloody, Ian's hand over his mouth to keep him quiet and his free hand wrapped around his dick. Mickey has nothing to do with his own hands so he presses them against the steel wall, and they turn cold with the frost, but everywhere else he's sweating like a pig.

Afterwards, Ian struggles his pants back on, and Mickey's hands are shaking, and he's frozen all over. He already regrets texting Ian, already regrets letting it happen a second time, and then there'll be a third, a fourth. He knows the drill. He knows the inevitability. He may have failed every class but Mickey gets how shit works, understands it.

Ian tries to kiss him again, and Mickey jerks away before he can. Ian's eyes go dark and his lips go thin but he doesn't try anymore.


"Mandy's in the kitchen –"

"I don't fucking care." Mickey's hands on his hips might be pressing too tight, but Ian doesn't complain, doesn't say a word. He fumbles with Ian's jeans, swears at the rusty zipper, a tell-tale sign of hand-me-downs.

Ian struggles to help but Mickey can feel his impatience. "Hurry up."

"Shut the fuck up, Gallagher."

Mandy drops a plate or something in the other room and Ian makes the dumbest noise, a breathy yelp, and he falls awkwardly half-on top of Mickey. After a couple seconds of complete silence, Ian starts laughing, practically giggling, his face buried in the sheets.

"Fuck, shut up." Mickey shoves Ian off of him, corners of his lips twitching despite himself, sliding his hand under the waistband of his jeans. Ian's half-hard already; everything gets tight underneath Mickey's fingers.

"Sorry." Ian's still grinning like a shit, and Mickey hates him a whole lot for nothing. There's something like guilt in his stomach but he ignores it, pushes away, because fuck it, Mandy's fucked enough guys. She can let Mickey have this one.


"Shit, come on." It's Mickey's tongue on his neck that's causing the stuttered breath and wheezy words, but Mickey's not gonna stop; the buzz from the beers he had earlier feels heavier with the combination of pot going to his head. Ian says Fiona's at work with the kid and Lip's at Karen's, and the rest of the infantile rats are at sleepovers.

He hauls Ian up onto the dining room table and tries to undo his belt but can't work it. Ian's higher than a kite, higher than Mickey's ever seen him, and his glassy eyes and doped-up smile make him so much more agreeable this way. He looks fucking hot, something Mickey would say out loud if he were just a bit more drunk.

"I'm just gonna –" Ian starts, fumbling for a condom in his back pocket. Mickey takes it from him before he can do anything, before he can move, finally getting his jeans undone and tugging them as far as he can get them.

"My turn."

Ian makes a dumb, girly whine and wraps his legs around Mickey's waist, digs his fingernails into his shoulders. "Fuck, I've never actually –"

"Then you'll learn, actually."


Ian has a dumb face when he's sad, and Mickey's only ever seen him sad once, so he only has this to go on. He assumes it to be true; Ian looks scared, he's shaking, he's terrified of something Mickey can't even understand, more than just bruising fists. Ian can handle a gun. He's scared shitless over something else.

Mickey shows up to the store in 20 minutes, like he said he would. He doesn't go back on promises, not to people he gives half a shit about, not to Ian.

"You okay?" He hates that question. Hates that he became the one asking it.

Ian shoves him back against a shelf, hands on his wrists, nodding but not really meaning it. "Do you want to just…?"

Mickey does. He always does. He's never not in the mood, and Ian knows that, Ian knows he wouldn't say no if he just never asked. But his face is open and his eyes are wide and Mickey wants to say something, anything.

He doesn't say anything he should. "Yeah. Sure. Yeah."

Ian's hands slide into the shallow dip of Mickey's hips and he doesn't try to kiss him, doesn't even look like he wants to, and Mickey sort of wishes he'd just do it, get it over with, end the inevitable.


When it's over, Ian comes with an impressive amount of surprise on the floor of the dug-out, and Mickey takes a second before his face screws up and it hits him. Ian doesn't bother buttoning his pants, but he fixes his shirt anyway, watches him intently as Mickey tries to steady his hands and stay upright on his feet.

"I missed you," Ian says, stupidly, dumbly. "Don't do that shit again."

Mickey waves him off. "Yeah, yeah, fuck off." He missed him too. He won't say it. Ian shouldn't expect him to. "Mandy's gonna wonder where we are." There's the guilt again.

Ian makes a sort of pause, his hands on his belt. "Yeah." He stands around like he expects something to happen, but Mickey won't kiss him, and Mickey can't reload again this quickly, and it's late anyways. They're trying to make up for lost time, he knows it.

Six months is a shitload of time to try to fix things.


They've fucked face-to-face before, but this time Mickey has his eyes open, his chest open. Ian shifts above him, making the dumbest faces, his hand on Mickey's thigh, hitching it higher up to his shoulder.

It's slow compared to their usual pace, the frantic fucking in the storeroom or Mickey's bed with Mandy in the other room, fucking like they'll run out of time. Mickey digs his fingertips into Ian's shoulders and grunts his name stupidly, quietly. Ian doesn't say anything. Barely even opens his eyes.

"Hello, boys."


Ian tries to kiss him, again.

Mickey turns his head away, again.

This time Ian laughs at him. Says, "Fuck you."

Says, "I missed you," again. This time it was all Mickey's fault, all Mickey's doing. He did it again. He knew he would. Ian should've known he would.

"You know what this is."

It's Ian's dick pushing into his ass while Mickey bites his fist to keep quiet, Ian's hands in his hair, Ian's teeth and Ian's hands and Mickey's pastime. It's not love. It's not even like. It's not anything Mickey doesn't want it to be.

"I do. You don't."

The way Ian says it makes Mickey's entire body go red, makes the anger unfurl in his stomach like curling embers. "You don't know shit, Gallagher."

He does. Mickey doesn't. Mickey knows how to be scared. Mickey knows how to be alone. He knows how to fuck things up. Ian knows everything and Mickey feels like he's never stepped foot outside of his house.


Mickey tries to kiss him, after he slides out, spent and exhausted and sweaty and gross. Ian has a way of looking so tired, so tired.

It's his hollow eyes and red cheeks, redder than his hair, that Mickey stares at when Ian says, "Fuck you, Mickey," and turns his head away.


"You know what this is."

It's Mickey's lips at his jaw, biting the skin, nipping the curve of the bone. "What is it?" Because he doesn't know, never has, never has.

Ian has a hand on his cock and Mickey tries to remember the first time. Ian went slow and hard and long and it was cold enough for the blanket to still let in freezing drafts of air. The first time Mickey ever fucked him was the moment he knew he was doomed for life.

"I don't know," Ian admits, and laughs.

Mickey kisses him, starts at the corner of his mouth, soft and warm and dry. "Me neither." He knows it's something he didn't want. An inevitability. He knew it from the start.

Mickey knows how to be scared. Ian taught him that. Like running in the dark from something he can't see, like heartbeat against his ribcage, like car chases and gremlins in his closet. He knows how to feel like drowning. Ian didn't have to teach him a damn thing. There are still things that go bump in the night, still times where he feels like the monster under his bed will grab his dangling feet, and he'll never be a man the way Dad wants, never be a man at all.