The problem that Mickey had wasn't that he wasn't careful, it was just that sometimes he forgot the minor details. For instance, he was so busy trying to keep his sister from finding out that he had any sort of relationship with Gallagher, that he forgot the ins and outs of her relationship with the redhead. And more to the point, he forgot what he was and wasn't supposed to know.

So when Mandy skipped out of her room all dressed up with a goofy smile on her face that Mickey was sure had to make her make-up crack somehow, or at least it would be logical if it did, Mickey forgets what he is and isn't supposed to know. Mandy grins while she does a stupid little twirl and he can tell from that that the dress is new, but he knows she stole it because the thing looks like I cost actual money.

"You need to put more fucking clothes on," Mickey tells her instead of saying she looks nice, but he thinks she probably hears it anyway. "Where the fuck are you going?" He doesn't know why he asks, normally he wouldn't. He puts it down to the fact that he's a little bit high.

Mandy doesn't so much as blink at the question, she didn't think him asking was weird at all.

"Got a date with Ian," she says, sliding her feet into heels that will probably make her feel like less of a midget standing next to Gallagher. Mickey doesn't get to do that though, he just has to deal with the fact he's short; but at the same time, he'd never admit that he sort of loves how much taller than him Ian is.

"Are you nervous?" he asks her when she starts fluffing up the back of her hair and tugging at the hem of the dress. He knows he sounds incredulous, but he can't help it.

She glares at him for about half a second before her face crumples and she nods.

"Why the fuck are you nervous?" he asks, his tone harsh because he thinks for a moment that maybe he's jealous that she gets to be nervous about going out with Ian and he's never going to get to do that. No, Mickey gets nervous about someone catching them, about the important shit. He never gets to worry about the little stuff and sometimes he lets himself sort of hate that before he slams all of those shitty, faggy thoughts back into a box and locks it tight shut. "It's not even like it's a real date."

And that's where Mickey makes his mistake. With the word 'real'. Because Mickey isn't supposed to know that. He isn't supposed to know that Mandy and Ian are only fake dating and that in fact the guy Mandy fucks rather loudly in her bedroom sometimes is never the redhead and is often his brother. Mickey's supposed to think that her and Ian are some amazing happy couple and that they're destined to work out because that's what he sometimes hears Mandy say to no one in particular, like she's convincing herself or something.

Mandy stares at him and it's a few minutes until he realises what the hell he has actually just said wrong. "What did you just say?" she asks him and then he realises and he can feel his face shut down as his brain flies into panic mode.

And it's another minute of Mickey's insides frantically twisting and untwisting until he thinks he's going to be sick and then he's thinking that maybe, Mandy won't jump to the conclusion that is the truth. So he forces himself to relax back into the couch and shrug, "It's not like he's your actual boyfriend, is it?"

"Of course he is," she says, looking a little frantic herself, like maybe she thinks Mickey would react badly to knowing that Mandy only has a fake boyfriend. Or maybe she thinks that he's trying to find out the reason Ian isn't interested in dating her for real and then he can beat Ian up for being a fag. "Why wouldn't he be?"

And Mickey knows he should just shrug and walk away then, that maybe he should leave the conversation there. He even gets as far as standing up, but for some reason he can't help but toss the comment over his shoulder. He knows they're the only ones in the house, so it's okay, it's not like anyone can hear him say the words other than Mandy.

"Maybe because Gallagher's gay," he says as he walks past her towards his room and he can hear her gasp behind him and can practically feel her stare as she watches him walk away. He thinks he can still feel it even when he slams the door and throws himself down onto his bed.

He doesn't know why he said that. Except he thinks maybe he does because there's that thing that always twists in his gut when he sees Mandy and Ian acting all boyfriend and girlfriend-y. That thing that he never wants to name because then he thinks maybe he'll have to own up to something. He lets himself think about it then, when he's lying there and he can hear Mandy talking to Ian outside of his door, probably telling the redhead in some dramatic, hysterical way that Mickey knows. He wonders what Ian would say in response.

He thinks about it and he knows in under a second what that feeling is. He thinks he's always known. He knows he's always known. He just never wanted to name it. He never wanted to acknowledge the fact he was jealous of his baby sister for getting to fake date Ian. For getting to take Ian out on dates when all Mickey can do is sneak Gallagher into his bedroom sometimes or fuck him in the dugouts or the backroom of the store.

He hates that he has a name for it, hates that that feeling even exists. But it's there and he can't change it.

Ian doesn't say anything about Mickey maybe letting on to Mandy what's going on and Mickey thinks maybe his sister didn't tell him. It's the day after and he knows that Mandy didn't tell him when he realises that Gallagher can't keep his mouth shut for half a fucking second, even less time if he knows that he has something he really wants to say. Questions, much like secrets, seem to burn a hole in Ian's brain.

They fuck hard and fast and dirty with Mickey groaning out Ian's name into the redhead's shoulder, teeth clamped down over flesh so that even Ian can't hear when he's saying. But he thinks maybe Ian knows anyway. In fact, he's positive Ian knows.

It's the middle of the day and the entire house is empty except for them. Mickey knows, because he checked it would be in a really inconspicuous way. Mickey can be sneaky like that. He's sort of proud of that fact. And he's told Ian that the house will be empty until about four when Mandy comes home from Brenda's, but as soon as he's done panting, as soon as he's got his breath, Ian stands up anyway and starts looking pulling on his boxers.

Mickey doesn't know why he feels like all of a sudden it should be different. Maybe it's because he's finally realised that now he has a name for that feeling inside of him. Maybe it's because if he's jealous, he knows he has to care and if he has to admit he cares even to himself then he might as well get something out of it; like having Gallagher actually stick around for more than five minutes after they fuck.

"Wait," the word tastes weird on his tongue because it's actually an honest word. He closes his fingers around Ian's wrist and they both look down at where they're touching like they're surprised. Like they haven't touched in far more intimate ways. Except maybe they haven't, because that feels far more intimate, far more possessive than Ian having his dick up Mickey's ass. Mickey can't explain how, it just does.

"Mick, I really don't have the energy to go another round," Ian says and he looks like he almost regrets that he's saying that, like he's thinking that maybe he wants to have the energy. But that's not what Mickey wants. Sure, okay, he wouldn't complain if Ian wanted to go again, but it's not the first thing on his mind right then. Which is weird. The thoughts in his head feel alien, but he can't shake them.

He thinks maybe it's the jealousy, giving it a name is doing weird things to him.

Mickey just shakes his head because he doesn't know how to explain to Ian what he wants, he doesn't have the words for that. So he just tugs sharply on Ian's wrist until he falls on the bed in an awkward sort of lurch. He can see the frown on the redhead's face and he doesn't know how to get rid of it, so he hastily presses his mouth against Ian's own. He doesn't know why he chooses then to finally do it, doesn't know what makes him, but he thinks maybe it's because there's a strange sort of fear when he thinks of Ian leaving him.

He doesn't want him to. And he's not going to admit that, except maybe the kiss is doing just that.

It only takes a heartbeat for Ian to respond, his fingers digging almost painfully into Mickey's forearm, like he's afraid to let go. And maybe he is. Ian's other hand slides into Mickey's hair, gently teasing the strands and Mickey smiles against Ian's mouth because the redhead can't see it then. He can maybe see it, but Mickey hopes he's too distracted by having a tongue in his mouth to really think too much about it.

Mickey rests a hand over Ian's chest, the other one lying on the bed beside Gallagher, holding Mickey up so that he can be the one that's controlling this. He lays a hand on Ian's chest, right over his heart and counts his heartbeats. He decides then that he wants to own every single one of those beats and he doesn't know if Ian will let him, doesn't even know how to express that that's what he wants to do. But he wants to anyway.

He knows that's stupid, but he can't help it.

When they pull apart, Mickey feels like a thousand things have been said and there's a small smile on Ian's face like he understands it all and a sharp retort on Mickey's tongue because right then he's panicking a little bit. His hand's still on Ian's chest and Ian's fingers are still in Mickey's hair and Mickey's about to say something, he doesn't know what, but then the door bangs open.

Mandy stares at them for a second, registering what she's seeing and Mickey knows he should be panicking, knows he should be running and maybe he is freaking out a little bit inside. But more than that, there's that jealousy again, bubbling up inside of him and threatening to choke him and he arches his fingers, digging them into Ian's chest, drawing the redhead's attention away from Mandy and to him again.

"You're fucking my boyfriend?" Mandy asks and she sounds hurt and Mickey feels back because he can't really focus on that. All he can focus on is the slightly erratic beat of Ian's heart under his palm and the way that the redhead is staring at him like he's waiting for Mickey to lash out or bolt, probably both at once.

"Fake boyfriend," Mickey says, putting emphasis on that because he has to make that clear. Hell, that's what started all of this. "And yeah."

And he knows from the way that the look in Ian's eyes changes when Mickey glances down at him, from the way Ian's entire body seems to relax that Gallagher knows what thoughts are in Mickey's head. That he knows that he isn't going to bolt for some stupid reason that really all boils down to some bullshit feelings he can't help.

He knows that Ian knows, but what Mickey doesn't know is why that all of a sudden, it doesn't bother him. Because it should, he knows it really actually should. But it doesn't.