And there's Ian Gallagher, grin wide as Chicago and brandishing a fucking cake.

It's wordless, the dessert, no message described via frosting, and so is Ian—beside one ear he cradles that telephone but doesn't say a thing. Just smiles in that dumb way. Not the same, not nearly the same as far back then in a forever ago when Ian was small and stupid and sensitive. Now muscles thread in layered ropes and absent stubble litters his face. One thing that's remained the same, though, is that he's still dumb enough to visit a guy in juvie. And this smile is mirthful, almost mocking. He keeps it even as Mickey lifts the receiver to his ear to spit, "Holy hell, Gallagher."

In that next moment Ian laughs, all low chortles and calloused hands sailing through his hair and against his midsection. He tilts backward in his plastic chair, unabashed, and relents enough to explain, "I wanted to see your face."

This nonchalance makes Mickey unsure. Because since when was Gallagher so unguarded? and it makes him worry that this has actually become something.

Mickey can't tell if he said what he said as a general desire or because of the cake. He likes to think it both, and then Ian instigates a so one-sided conversation, using Mickey like a diary. But they both know he's listening.

He used to ramble, used to talk and talk about how Fiona's always working and when the hell did Debby get so old, trying so hard to eradicate the silence. He takes his time now, explaining how he's got this huge make-up test, how this amount of summer school classes may lead to redemption, West Point.

Mickey stares at his lively expression and sees everything he'll never be.

But then Ian tosses in, almost free of repercussions, an "I miss you" and the glare that paints Mickey's face his almost automatic.

The cake stands barely, leaning as if teetered and so sloppy in its very existence. Home-made, though last-minute, but nonetheless caring. Ian's never hidden that he cares, even as the tears sting due to the words that are a sudden slap and his fingertips hurry to his palms and the fingernails burrow but he wills don't cry, don'y cry, because of Mickey.

There comes another avalanche of husky, knowing chuckles, without even a ghost of sorrow. "Well. Until next time." Ian rises, satisfied, and shrugs once in a tacit goodbye.