The air around them, that so usual air, is stagnant, lingering. It's weighted by their severed, frequent exhaled and separate thoughts, separate worlds completely, and the sheer brokenness of it all.

And it's always like this—on the brink of conversation, thick with hesitant wonder as their bare shoulders brush of should I say. Even to Mickey, gruff and silent as he tilts his head back against his tarnished headboard. He sighs smoky breaths, releasing them after lengthy, exhausted takes from a shared cigarette.

Ian is warm and painfully alive beside him, waist high in Mickey's bed's single sheet and accepting the smoke as it's passed his way. Flaming hair plasters to his neck, adhered by perspiration from the recent act of sex. His eyes catch Mickey's, a sincere blue that wracks him with a shiver, for the shortest of instants.

Not short enough.

Those sincere blue eyes, they tell of Ian's perpetual mirth and persistent affection and personal acceptance and all the things that make Mickey wince with envy and mask it as disgust. Because he knows he'll live and die a south side bum, insignificant, forgotten, and, goddamn it, that hurts. Hurts enough to sting his weary eyes with late-night tears and terrify him senseless.

He'll live and die a south side bum, never displaying who he is.

And he's jealous.

He's jealous that Ian gets to leave, gets to begin his own life and leave a real fucking mark on the world. Jealous that Ian will make something of himself.

When the sudden but predictable thud of slammed front doors wafts from down the hall and Ian stands and dresses, fixes Mickey with that sincere, blue-eyed stare, they don't say a word. The air around them, that so usual air, is stagnant, lingering—should I say, should I say—before Ian shuts the door behind him.


p.s. Feedback is appreciated.