Mickey's stride is determined for all of about two paces. He's having one of those trains of thought as he walks that seems to take forever, but in reality takes about a second. Frank needs to die. It's for the best. Frank will tell someone what he saw. It'll be all over fucking South Side, Mickey's dad will find out and then Mickey's as good as dead anyway. Kill or be killed. So why is he hesitating?

Mickey looks up and sees Frank stumbling around the corner, knows this is his chance, that his brothers are waiting to pummel a "rapist" to a bloody pulp on his say-so anyway, but he stops, lowers the gun. Tears are stinging his eyes and he's not entirely sure why.

Actually he does know why. It is most likely because he knows that if he does do this, those eyes - those deep green eyes that he last saw looking at him with such sadness, such…. fucking heartbreak – will never look at him again. Those long fingers will never touch him again. They'll never be fucking close again. Only as close as prison visiting glass will allow and Gallagher won't visit him anyway, not after this.

In a rush of shock, Mickey realises it's not about Frank anyway. It's not about his dad. It's about Gallagher. It's about how it felt when he told him that lie, the look on his face as Mickey walked away. It fucking hurt. It still fucking hurts. If he killed Frank he'd lose Gallagher forever.

No, not Gallagher. Ian.

Ian. Mickey tries out the word in his head. "Ian." He mouths it.

Mickey knows now, he's not prepared to give him up. He just needs some distance. Some time to think. He's fucked for life anyway, one more stint in juvie won't hurt.

When the cops pull up by the alley, it's almost a relief. The whole matter taken out of Mickey's hands. He pinches the tears from his eyes, drops the gun in the trash can and, this time decided, takes steps towards them.

"Hey officer!" Mickey hears his voice, somehow disassociated from his body. As he moves towards the nearest cop, he is gearing his body to throw the punch that will land him back in jail, his muscles tensing and coiling ready to swing.

He says two more words then, fucking ridiculous, guaranteed to get him arrested even without the punch and as he says them, "Oink, oink!" moves that tiniest fraction nearer, and pulls his arm back, he is suddenly pushed backwards.

"Sorry officer! He didn't mean it. He's just having a bad day." Mickey hears Ian's voice, loud and insistent, in the dark, yet still somehow flat.

He hears the cops muttering something. Something's going on, but they're not arresting him. What? What the fuck?

"What the fuck, Gallagher?"

Ian pushes Mickey, practically frog-marches him, towards the corner where Frank disappeared moments before, getting him away from the cops before he starts to talk.

Mickey thinks again how much the younger boy is so much taller and, hell, even stronger than he used to be, how it seemed to happen overnight, how much Mickey likes it. He fights to stop the smile that is threatening to form on his lips.

"Don't 'what the fuck' me, Mickey. What the hell are you thinking? You're gonna hit a cop? Are you completely insane?"

The anger in Ian's voice, his demeanour, makes Mickey stumble backwards a little. "I wasn't… I… I came here for Frank-"

"Oh don't talk crazy, Mickey. You weren't going to shoot Frank. Even you're not that stupid." Mickey's tongue snakes out of his mouth, his smug, fake grin appearing on his face, even though he knows Ian can see right through it.

"I meant what I said before. We don't have to be ashamed of what we're doing. I know I'm not. But if you are? If you're really so ashamed of me that you need to be in fucking prison to get away from me, then I'll call 911 right now, tell them you assaulted me. Okay?"

Mickey's head snaps up. "What? I haven't fucking assaulted you?"

"What if I said I love you?" Ian leans right in towards Mickey's face, his expression set, eyes fixed on Mickey's. Mickey can only see freckles as the words seep into his brain. He pushes Ian away. Not with very much force though and Ian barely wobbles.

"I love you, Mickey." Ian says again.

"Shut the fuck up, Gallagher." Mickey frowns, hands clenching into fists by his sides.

"Why? You wanna hit me for telling you that I love you? Huh? Sure you don't want to tell me again that I'm nothing but a warm mouth to you, Milkovich? Come on. Tell me again, because that made my fucking day."

Ian is taunting him, but there is no humour, just anger and sadness. Mickey clenches his eyes shut, then opens them again, but in that fraction of a second when his lids were closed, he could see Ian's expression right before Mickey left him at the Kash 'n' Grab. The pain. It makes him angry, at himself, at the situation. When he looks at Ian's face now, all he wants to do is kiss him. Instead, he hits him.

Ian stumbles backwards into the alley, but manages to right himself, adjusting his jaw as he stands. He laughs mirthlessly at Mickey. Mickey swings again, aiming at Ian's gut and when Ian doubles over, Mickey takes another shot at his face, backing him up against the wall.

Both of them are breathing hard as Mickey advances towards Ian, who suddenly doesn't look as tall. Ian's face is fearful now, but he pulls himself up, gives a little chuckle and says "Wow, Mickey. Why don't you tell me how you really feel?"

Mickey gets up as close as he can, nose to nose with Ian, hands still clenched into tight fists. "You have no idea how I really feel." And then he kisses him. Hard.

It's all teeth and tongues and moaning. Ian is grabbing Mickey's shirt and Mickey's hands are in Ian's hair, but Mickey wants to leave Ian with no doubt about his feelings this time. He doesn't even take his lips from Ian's even when he slides his hands down the hard body and fumbles a little until he finds what he's looking for – the Gallaghers' phone.

He presses some buttons and only when he starts speaking does the surprise register on Ian's face.

"Yes, I need the police. There's been an assault." Mickey gives the location of where they are, ends the call and places the phone back into Ian's hand, letting their skin touch for longer than necessary, before looking up and meeting Ian's eyes.

"I'm not ashamed."