This is random, like most of my stuff is. But I had it in my head and decided to write it down. Hope you enjoy and I hope it isn't too OOC, but I guess in some places it sort of could be. Just try to bear in mind that Mickey does have the capacity to break and to be nice in there somewhere :L
Mickey's mum used to have this friend, he never learnt her name at the time even though he learnt later on that her name was Monica Gallagher. Saying that Monica and Mickey's mum were friends though was probably a bit of an exaggeration, they liked to get high together. That was more accurate. But when he was five Mickey just saw it as them being friends. Mickey thought that was good, because his Dad said he wasn't supposed to have friends, friends were for losers. Friends made you weak. It was only supposed to be about family. But being five, Mickey thought that if his mummy had a friend then he was allowed one too. That made sense to him then.
It was the middle of the day and Mickey held his mum's hand tight in his own as she led him into an unfamiliar house. It smelt different than Mickey's house did, which he'd later learn to mean it didn't smell overwhelmingly of meth and ball sweat. The house they were in then was cluttered, but it was pretty clean. It was a controlled sort of chaos. There were no empty cans littering the floor, no cigarette butts crushed into the carpet. Mickey thought it was nice, it felt like a home, it made him smile a little.
"Mick, mummy's going to talk to her friend for a while," his mum said, crouching down to his level once they were inside the house. They were standing in the kitchen and there was a woman that he didn't know in front of him, smiling. He supposed that had to be his mum's friend. He smiled back at her because that was only polite, right? And his mum always told him to be nice and polite, but his Dad yelled at him when he was, so Mickey only smiled when he was alone with his mum. He didn't do it in front of his Dad. Even being just five Mickey knew what things not to do, what things would cause him to be pitched across the living room.
Mickey thought he was smart like that. His mum was always telling him he was smart. "You're my smart boy, Mickey, my smartest little boy." And that made Mickey feel good, because he liked her thinking he was special. Mandy was special, she was the only girl and Mickey loved her because she was all fragile and red-faced, bundled up in Mickey's baby clothes because they couldn't afford new ones. She'd sit in front of the TV with Mickey, clutching his fingers in her tiny hands, like she was silently asking him to protect her. She only did that when their Dad was in the room, because Mandy was only little, but she knew when to be afraid as well. Mickey loved Mandy, loved to teach her how to draw and to make her smile and laugh. She was his little sister, his mum said it was his job to look after Mandy, so because Mickey was her smart boy, her good boy, he took that job seriously. He was going to protect Mandy. He was going to be the best big brother in the world.
He'd told her so. He'd promised and Mickey didn't break promises, especially not pinkie-promises.
"Why don't you go play with Ian," the woman Mickey didn't know suggested, motioning him through into the other room and Mickey willingly went, because he was the good boy. He found a kid sitting on the couch, looking so small it was like he was going to be swallowed up by the cushions. He was scrawny and small, freckles splattered across his face and his hair was bright red. Mickey thought it looked like fire, he thought it looked like it was shining.
It made him smile.
The kid, Ian, grinned when he saw Mickey. He grinned like Mandy would grin at Mickey, so wide that it was like his face was threatening to be split in two by the expression. He was definitely shining when he smiled like that. And it was impossible for Mickey not to smile back. It was like he was being pulled in, reeled closer by that smile and by the red hair and even by the freckles. He couldn't remember taking the first step, but all of a sudden he was jumping onto the couch next to Ian, making him laugh because he bounced about a bit.
"I'm Mickey," he announced proudly, thinking that this boy Ian was probably about Mandy's age. He was as small as her. He reached out because he didn't know how to stop himself and because he was only five and he really wanted to reach out and touch that hair, to see what it felt like. It was soft, softer than he thought it would be. He ran his fingers through Ian's fringe and Ian didn't look surprised in the slightest, he just watched Mickey with amazingly wide eyes and Mickey thought he looked really special like that. Red hair must mean he was special. "It looks like fire," he announced, touching Ian's hair one last time and then pulling his hand back, "Red's my favourite colour."
He didn't really have as much excuse as Mickey had done, but since he was only a little kid Mickey didn't say anything, didn't complain at all when Ian reached out and touched his hair. He grinned and touched Mickey's hair with his tiny fingers. "Black," he said, seeming proud of himself, like he thought this was some sort of game and he was winning.
Mickey couldn't stop himself from smiling back. "Not as special as yours tho," he said, messing up the word special only a little bit, because Mickey still had a little bit of trouble pronouncing some words, but he was the smart boy. He was his mother's good boy, so he didn't let himself look fazed at all. He'd master it eventually, learn all the big words, because he was the smart boy, the good boy. He'd do it, he would.
Ian just kept on smiling and then he was showing Mickey the paper he was colouring on. It was just from one of those kid's colouring books, torn out, the edge of the paper ragged and tattered. Mickey found himself smiling because Ian wasn't colouring the tiger in like Mandy did. He wasn't scribbling aimlessly. He was being so careful, so precise it made Mickey sort of proud for no real reason, but he didn't need a reason at that age. It just was.
He took the crayon that Ian offered him and they sat colouring like that, sort of awkwardly, but carefully. Mickey liked colouring carefully. Careful was good. And when they were done, Mickey wrapped his fingers around Ian's and controlled the crayon so that they were writing. Because Mickey was a smart boy, he was the good boy and he already knew how to write. He knew how to spell, sort of. He wasn't good with names really, but he was only five so he thought it was allowed. Controlling Ian's hand he wrote 'Ean and Mickey' at the bottom of the paper under the tiger and it made him stupidly happy when Ian grinned at him really wide.
They sat there for a little while, neither of them really saying anything and then Mickey remembered what he had in his pocket. It was his favourite thing in the world, Jell-O. He'd taken the last pot of Jell-O before his brother could eat it, because he didn't think it was stealing if it had been bought for Mickey in the first place. Mickey loved Jell-O, loved it more than most things. He liked Mandy more than he liked Jell-O obviously, because she was his baby sister. But Mickey still didn't like to share it with her. He was allowed to be selfish with his Jell-O. It was his treat for being the good boy, the smart boy.
Mickey took the lid off the Jell-O and held it out to Ian. "It's my favourite," he said, completely serious because Mickey thought this was important. He was supposed to be nice and polite and he was supposed to be honest; and he could be because his Dad wasn't here to tell him off. "You're my favourite too though, so that means you can have it." And that was Mickey's logic. There wasn't anything wrong with sharing if he was simply putting his favourite things together.
And he'd already decided that Ian was his favourite thing. Because he had red hair and Mickey loved the colour red and he coloured carefully which Mickey always loved, he grinned really wide which made Mickey smile and he smelt like oranges, which was Mickey's favourite fruit. It was as simple as that to a five year old Mickey. If that many of his favourite things, that many of the things he liked were all associated with one person, well then that meant that Ian had to be his favourite thing, didn't it? That was just logical. To Mickey at least.
Ian took the Jell-O carefully and stuck his finger into the pot, hooking it a little bit because they didn't have a spoon and then awkwardly got some into his mouth. Not a lot though, it kept slipping out of his grip. Mickey shook his head and tipped the pot a little, showed him how to slurp it and Ian's rewarding grin made him feel all funny inside because it just did.
They shared the Jell-O and were almost done when Mickey's mum came into the room with her friend and her friend, who was Ian's mum obviously, because they looked sort of similar, she grabbed a camera off a table and told them to smile. And Mickey did because it was the polite thing to do and he was the good boy. He smiled and Ian was already smiling anyway, so that was fine. They were both sitting there, close together, the picture resting between them and their fingers all slimy and Jell-O covered.
"We're friends now," Mickey told Ian even though maybe Ian was too young to understand what that meant because he was only three, but it didn't matter. It only made sense to Mickey to have his favourite thing be his only friend, then Ian would be his favourite friend. That made sense. Perfect sense. So Mickey thought it would be a good idea to tell him that.
Ian just nodded and they both knew it was time for Mickey to go, because his mum was motioning to him, holding her hand out. Mickey wiped his on his shorts so that he didn't get his mum's hand all gross and slimy and then slipped it into his. But before he could go, Ian tugged on his sleeve and held out the picture that they had been colouring.
"Favourite," he said, the word a little mangled, but recognisable, "Friend."
Mickey grinned at him and took the picture, letting go of his mum's hand so that he could fold it up neatly and put it into his pocket. "Bye Ian," he waved as his mum led him out of the door and he felt happy that Ian waved back at him. That was good, that meant Ian liked him too. They were friends. Favourite friends. That was good. That was right.
On the walk back, Mickey's mum seemed a lot more carefree, happy and later on when he was older he would realise that that meant she'd been high. But he didn't know that then, didn't know what that meant. He just liked that his mum was smiling. She didn't smile when they got home though, when they walked through the door and his Dad started yelling. Mickey ran, feeling a little guilty that he was leaving his mum on her own, but her mum was a grown-up, so she would be fine.
He ran and crawled under his bed, the place he always went when his Dad was yelling, when he didn't want to face him and just wanted to pretend none of it was real. He crawled under there, only just fitting and put his hand into his pocket to feel the picture there, still folded up and precious feeling. It was special. It made Mickey feel special. He sort of wanted to show it to Mandy, but she was only little and she wouldn't understand how special it was, how favourite it was. So Mickey didn't, but he was also smart enough to know that his Dad wouldn't like it. He was smart enough to hide it. He should probably have thrown it away, because it would only make his Dad angry. But he didn't. Instead he stuck it to the slats on the underside of his bed, so that he could lie there and look at it.
The tiger was red and black, because they hadn't had an orange. Red for Ian, black for Mickey. It was them. It was their favourite. Mickey loved it. It was Mickey's special thing, his special picture and he wasn't going to let his Dad get his favourite thing. Not ever. Even at five Mickey knew that, he knew the things he never wanted to give up and now the picture had joined the list of Mandy, Snickers bars and Jell-O.
Mickey thought that picture made everything all right and it did. It helped him feel better when his mum ran away, when she just left them because she didn't want to deal with his Dad anymore. Mickey was six, six that day and he stayed under the bed for a long time, only coming out to pee and to eat. He stayed under there and stared at the picture, running his fingers over the tiger, tracing the red and the black, the Mickey and the Ian that were interwoven together now. He didn't cry, because that was something he'd only ever done in front of his mum, but his mum was gone now, so he didn't cry.
Years later he knew that he wasn't his mum's special boy after all. He wasn't her smart boy, he wasn't her good boy, he was nothing. He was the left behind boy, the unwanted one. He was Mickey Milkovich and he was nothing, because even his own mother didn't want him. So from then on Mickey didn't have favourite things, because it only got taken away from him. People always ate his Jell-O and his Snickers bars because his mum wasn't there to tell them off anymore. His mum had been his favourite parent, but she was gone. And he didn't think red was such a good colour anymore, not after his Dad had cut a line across his arm and made him bleed. Red was blood, red was pain, red was everything he didn't want to happen.
So Mickey didn't have favourites. He didn't see Ian again after that one time, not until years later, until Mickey had forgotten all about Ian being his favourite anything. He forgot about it all, didn't even remember when Ian became his favourite thing again. He didn't put the connection together, not even when Mickey got shot while eating a Snickers bar, for Ian. Not even when he was yelling at someone over Jell-O, when Ian was there. Not even when he saw that red hair, the red hair that he loved, the red, his favourite colour. Not even then. He didn't make the connection. He just thought that thinking Ian was his favourite was all new and scary, because it hadn't ever happened before, Mickey had never had a favourite person who wasn't blood before.
Except he had.
Mickey only realised after he'd messed it up. After he'd ruined whatever they had had, with those horrible untrue words that had cut Mickey far deeper than they could ever have cut Ian. He only realised during one of his self-help sessions, when he coped with not having his favourite thing anymore by getting high off his ass. He only realised when he accidentally dropped his joint down the side of his bed, because he was already a little far gone off of vodka.
Mickey half-crawled under his bed, only half because he didn't really fit anymore. He reached out blindly, dragging stuff out, odd socks, dirty shirts, condom wrappers and an empty bottle of lube. Pieces of crumpled paper, a book that wasn't his and that he didn't want to acknowledge was Ian's. And finally, finally the joint. He found it again, dragged it out on top of a kind of dusty piece of paper, the crease lines still obvious in the sheet, the colours faded. It should have meant nothing to him, nothing at all. Except when he pulled it out, he ignored the joint completely, picking up the paper and staring at the tiger, at the red and the black, at the names carefully written underneath, "Ean and Mickey."
He stared at it, ran his fingers over the faded colour, the crumpled paper and he remembered all those times stuffed under his bed, staring at that picture because it made him feel better, because it made him smile and feel happy. He remembered his favourite thing, his favourite friend, his Ian. He remembered that even though he should have been two young for those memories to stick and he didn't know why he immediately felt better. Maybe it was because he always felt better looking at that picture, even if he shouldn't have now because he was older and he knew how stupid he was. Maybe it was because now the idea of Ian being his favourite person was less terrifying because he'd already told Ian once before and Ian had grinned, he'd loved it. He'd said that Mickey was his favourite too.
So Mickey clambered to his feet, kicking the rest of the stuff, even the joint back under his bed and carefully folding up the picture like he had done when he was five and tucking it into his back pocket, safe between his wallet and his ass. He felt sober now, even though he staggered a little bit still. He felt better, lighter, like the world had been lifted off his shoulders even if nobody would ever in their right mind trust Mickey to hold up anything.
He followed his feet, let them take him to the Kash and Grab, because it wasn't even late and he knew Ian was working. It was only the afternoon, which showed how bad Mickey had gotten being drunk at this time, but right then that didn't matter. He walked into the Kash and Grab and Ian was there behind the counter. He didn't even look away from ringing up some old lady's total and Mickey didn't say anything, just walked down the aisles until he found what he was looking for. By the time he'd done that, Ian was done with the person he was serving and he stared at Mickey, expression unreadable as he laid out what he'd picked up on the counter. Ian didn't look surprised at all, because really Mickey had only had put down some Jell-O and a Snickers bar.
He looked incredulous when Mickey walked over and locked the door though, because Mickey didn't need anyone walking in on this moment. Not this time. He could tell that Ian was getting pissed off, no doubt thinking Mickey wanted to fuck, which even Mickey wasn't stupid enough to expect after them not having spoken to each other for over a year. Not since he'd walked out to go kill Frank.
The expression turned confused though when Mickey pulled out his favourite picture and laid it out flat on the counter, smoothing out the crumples affectionately, carefully. It felt old and fragile and he wasn't going to rip it, he couldn't rip it, it would be like a tear in his soul. And he knew how gay that sounded, but this was the picture, the one that had kept him sane through his mum leaving. He couldn't let anything happen to it.
"Mick, what the hell?" Ian asked, looking at the picture and then back up at Mickey and Mickey honestly didn't blame him for being confused. He'd only been three at the time and that moment had probably meant nothing to his little infantile brain.
"These are my favourite things," Mickey told him, motioning to the stuff on the counter, "I don't have favourites, because favourites just fuck things up, but these are the three that I do have anyway."
He thought that fact that two of them were food probably didn't count.
Ian exhaled slowly and scrubbed a hand through his hair, obviously not understanding at all. "Mick, I'm working, so I don't know what you're high on, or what the point of this is, but can we just do it some other time?" he asked.
Mickey shook his head adamantly. "No, because otherwise I won't fucking say it," he said and then decided to just take the bullet by the horns, "These are my favourites and you have to do with every single fucking one of them, I associate Jell-O with you coming to visit me and Snickers with me being shot and you were never supposed to get involved with any of my favourite things."
Still confused, Ian decided to be offended. "Well it wasn't by choice," he said, a slight edge to his voice, but more than anything he sounded tired, "Sorry if it pisses you off, but I didn't do it on purpose."
"Yeah, I fucking know," Mickey snapped, because he'd forgotten by now to be polite and nice and kind, because that had been what his mother wanted him to be and his mother, his own mother had left him. So he wasn't going to be good for her, or smart for her, or polite for her. He wasn't going to be anything. Nothing at all. But that was fine, because he never had been anyway, not really. "But that's the point, you were involved with all my favourite things ages ago anyway."
"What do you mean?" Ian asked, obviously deciding to play along because maybe it would make Mickey go away faster or something.
Mickey pointed at the picture. "You coloured that," he said, smirking at the surprise on Ian's face, "Well you and me, when we were little, you were like three or something and my mum brought me to your house so that she could get high with Monica." He smoothed his thumb over the edge of the picture. "And you had red hair and smelt like oranges and you coloured inside the lines and liked Jell-O, which were all of my favourite things, so logically I decided that made you my favourite thing. And I told you that, I told you that you were my favourite thing."
Ian picked up the drawing and Mickey held his breath, waiting for some sort of reaction. But it wasn't the one that he was hoping for, not that he knew what he had been expecting. He hadn't been expecting much, maybe just a shrug, or a comment. But he didn't expect Ian's face to twist into one of anger and bitter disgust, he didn't expect for him to screw up the drawing and throw it across the store. He didn't expect that.
"You really resorting to making shit up to get laid now Mick?" he asked, the edge to his voice making Mickey want to flinch, but he didn't.
The retort of, "Fuck you," was right there on his lips, but he held it in, because he didn't want to think about it. He just wanted to wallow in the fact that the world hated him, that it was all against him because he wasn't ever going to be able to keep a hold on his favourite things.
He stared at Ian for a second, knowing that Ian couldn't understand why he wasn't saying anything, why he wasn't getting angry. Because that was what Mickey normally did. But this time, he didn't. He just turned and walked across the store to where the drawing was on the floor, crumpled up into a tight ball and sitting just underneath one of the shelves.
He crouched and picked it up, smoothing it out over his thigh to try and make the creases a little better. It didn't really help, but that didn't matter to him too much. It was still in one piece, it was still there and it was still calming in a completely stupid and ridiculous way. He stared at the tiger for a second and then straightened up, carefully folding it up and tucking it back into his pocket, putting it back where it was safe. He didn't even look at Ian when he let himself out of the store, he knew his calm would break if he did that, it would shatter just like all of the dreams he'd used to have as a child.
And Mickey didn't want it to be gone, because he'd never felt this calm in years. His mother leaving him had twisted him inside, had ruined him in a way that couldn't even be described. He was broken, he was in pieces, but a quite prominent piece of him, his favourite piece of him had always been stuck with that little redheaded boy in his memories, the one who'd been his favourite from the very first time he'd seen him.
Mickey didn't fit underneath his bed anymore, so when he got home he tacked the picture to his ceiling and lay on his bed staring up at it. Mandy tried to coax him to get up a few times, but he didn't, he didn't even say anything. He just stayed where he was, ate what she brought him and only moved when he really had to piss. He just stayed there and stared up at that picture, trying to find that part of him that had been something else, that had been the good boy, the smart boy. He hadn't tried to find that part of himself in a long time. He hadn't wanted to.
And when Gallagher turned up in his room a month or so later, Mickey was calmer, he felt different, he felt more like who he could have been rather than who his father had forced him to be. He felt like his mother's son, which was a though that tasted sour in his mouth, but being her son, her good boy, her smart boy, that was better than being Terry's anything. It was definitely better. And when Gallagher turned up, with an old picture clutched in his fist that showed two beaming children, miniature versions of themselves, when he stared at Mickey with wide, sorry eyes, with words and apologies on his lips, Mickey felt like the piece of him he'd been searching for had clicked into place finally.
He grabbed Ian's face between his hands and smashed their lips together, kissing him hard and unrelenting, trying to force every single emotion, every single thought that Mickey had ever wanted Gallagher to know about into the other boy, trying to make him understand it all with just a kiss. And he thought maybe Ian did with the way that he looked down at Mickey when they pulled apart, all dazed and wide-eyed still, flushed in a way that was as hot as fuck, his lips swollen and red. Red. Mickey's favourite colour.
Ian had always had Mickey's favourite things written all over him. But the smile that Ian granted him then, the smile that was so private, so special that it fucking shone, well that was definitely Mickey's favourite thing of all. Ian was definitely Mickey's favourite thing of all. And he thought maybe that favourites weren't such a bad thing after all, not when they were all in one place, not when they were all in one person.