Sometimes Ian will lie awake at night with his boyfriend snoring softly into the pillow next to him and he'll hear a lower snore, one that rattled deep in the person's chest and that was born out of years of smoking shit probably a lot worse for you than cigarettes.
Sometimes he'll turn his face and press it against his boyfriend's neck and he won't smell expensive cologne or soap, but instead he'll be breathing in the smell of sweat and cigarette smoke and more often than not the tang of blood.
Sometimes he'll thrust into the body beneath him and hear low grunts and breathy exclamations of, "Gallagher," and of, "Fucking harder, come on!" He'll hear moans that sound like they've been punched out of the person's lungs and sometimes he'll even be picturing paler, dirty skin under his hands as he closes his fingers around his boyfriend's hips and thrusts forwards.
Sometimes he'll get confused and he'll think he can hear another laugh in the place of the one that really bursts out of the person in front of him.
Sometimes he'll get mixed up and breathe out, "Mick," when he's lying back with his eyes closed, a body moving above him in a steadily increasing rhythm. He's had a lot of break ups for that particular reason actually, which should worry him, because it proves the slip-up happens more often than he'd like.
Sometimes he'll stock the fridge with Jell-O for reasons he can't explain and get irrationally mad when someone eats it. He can't explain the anger there either. But if the Jell-O sits there for long enough, until it's reach it's sell-by-date or maybe one day before, he'll lock himself in the bathroom and gorge himself on it until he feels like he's about to throw up. He never could understand how someone could consume endless amounts of it like that.
Sometimes he'll find his tongue and his lips forming the pattern for old lines, like he's stuck in some sort of limbo where saying, "What are you going down for?" and "Liking what I like don't make me a bitch," were always the sort of things he would have thought up in the first place. Sometimes people actually buy it, will smile and laugh or start unbuckling his pants like they think the corniness of some of the stuff he comes out with his hot. But other times, if they know him a little better maybe, they can see right through the lie it all really is and they just frown at him and walk away. Sometimes they ask him what's wrong, but how the hell is he supposed to explain that one!
Sometimes he can't help but feel his heart stutter in his chest whenever anyone says, "Don't," and sometimes he manages to convince himself it never happened. That is until those times when the person never finishes their sentence, when they bite down on their next words and don't let them escape and then Ian just swallows down the bile and knocks back a shot, because not being able to deal with that is something that happens every damn time.
Sometimes he feels bad for all the slip-ups, for all the mistakes his tongue makes with names and words, for everything he does under the pretence of not thinking of another. Sometimes he wishes that he could go back and erase it all so that they'd never happen, so that there wouldn't be an ache in his chest where he thinks maybe the other half of his heart used to be. Other times though, he doesn't care at all. Other times he's past caring to the point when he doesn't feel anything even close to remorse when another person storms out offended because Ian groaned out the wrong name.
Sometimes it all gets too much, it all gets a little too obvious and sometimes someone calls him out on it. Sometimes someone will just snap and yell, "Why the fuck are you even here when you obviously want to be with him?" when Ian's slipped up one times to many with the same person.
Sometimes he'll actually think about following that advice, but only one time he actually does.
Sometimes then, he'll wonder how in hell it took him so long to get to that point. He wondered why it took him so long until he finally cracked and got on a flight, until he was back in Chicago and his feet were following that same path they'd beaten out all those years ago. He wondered why it had taken so long for him to be knocking on that door again, so casually like nothing had changed and like it hadn't been years.
Sometimes he wonders why Mickey never punched him in the face that day, because a part of Ian thinks he deserves it, for taking so long to realise. For taking so long to finally get it, when he should have known all along or at least a long time ago. There had been so many clues after all.
Sometimes he thinks about all the things that could have gone wrong when he'd turned up on Mickey's doorstep that day. He hadn't even known if Mickey was still living there. If he'd still been married. If he'd been a Dad. He hadn't known if Terry had been alive, in jail, around. He hadn't known any of it. He'd just knocked on the door and felt like everything just clicked into place the moment he saw Mickey. And Mickey had just stared at him, eyes widening and mouth open like he was trying to find the words.
Sometimes he still thinks about all the ways Mickey looked different from how he'd used to. He looked older, more lines around his eyes and his mouth, but he was still grubby and greasy, with his hair sticking up in random angles all over his head, gel encrusted into it.
Sometimes he wondered if he should have maybe gone about their little reunion a bit better. He wondered if he should have done something other than just lurch forwards and slam his mouth against Mickey's. But then he thinks that there was probably no other way to do it, because the distance had been killing him too slowly for him to even notice until then and his mouth pressing against Mickey's had brought everything crashing down and it had been the only thing he'd ever wanted. He hadn't even known if Mickey would kiss back or if he'd push Ian off.
Sometimes he thinks about all the ways Mickey had never changed at all. He'd still been short and he'd always be pale. He still made that same noise in the back of his throat when their mouths pressed together and his tongue had still been hot and demanding in Ian's mouth. His grip had still been just a fraction too tight on Ian's waist and where they wound into his shirt to pull Ian closer still. He'd still smelt the same, tasted the same, felt the same.
Sometimes he still marvelled at the way it had all been so easy almost. At the way it had been like falling into old patterns, with Mickey coming apart under his hands and under his mouth. But it hadn't been easy at all when he thought about it, because it had taken so long to get to that point and it had hurt in more ways that Ian could ever count. Pushing into Mickey for that first time in a long time had made him feel like he was drowning and he didn't know how to respond to the needy, greedy way Mickey had been pushing up into him.
Sometimes he thinks about how it should have been obvious though, because nothing had ever quite been able to compete with fucking Mickey, kissing Mickey, touching Mickey, hearing Mickey, just being near Mickey. He was contagious and he was a drug and Ian had never been able to get enough and he didn't know how in hell he'd managed to last so long. It didn't make any sense, because he'd pressed his face into the side of Mickey's neck and breathed in and it had been the right smell and the right name had been on his lips and he'd been hearing all the correct sounds, seeing all the correct things on the body writhing underneath his. So shouldn't that have been the biggest clue of all?
Sometimes he thinks not being able to forget was the biggest sign that the universe could ever have given him.
Sometimes he thinks about how it was stupid they'd ever fallen apart, because he'd never said the words either, so how could he have expected Mickey to? Sometimes how he thinks about how it was a waste of years, a waste of time and sometimes he thinks of all the ways it could have gone wrong between them.
Sometimes he thought about all the ways it could still go wrong; because Lip didn't approve and Mandy was confused and the rest of his family didn't know any of the history at all, so they'd almost choked on their drinks the first time Ian had managed to persuade Mickey to come to dinner.
Sometimes he caught that look on Mickey's face that said the guy wanted to run. That said he wanted to bolt straight out the door because all of this was too much, too fast and he didn't know how to cope.
Sometimes Ian thought it said it all that Mickey never moved an inch. He never left.
Sometimes they argued, of course they did. But sometimes it was more than just petty things. Sometimes it was the past dragged up, old accusations thrown and blood spat out onto the floor with neither of them knowing who the hell had thrown the first punch.
Sometimes though, sometimes it was so perfect and slow and almost tender. Sometimes it was just them on the couch not even watching the TV playing in the background. Sometimes it was just Ian's fingers tracing patterns on Mickey's skin and Mickey falling asleep with his fingers slotted in the spaces between Ian's own and his face pressed into Ian's shoulder. Sometimes it was simple and easy and they just fit.
Sometimes when they kissed it was slow and sweet and almost surreal and sometimes it was hard and bloody and bordering on painful.
Sometimes they fucked fast and rough, with bruises blooming on skin and Mickey's ass only half on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it was slow and deep and Mickey's hands smoothed up and down Ian's spine the entire time like he didn't know what to do with them.
Sometimes they felt like teenagers again, laughing and getting high, doing pointless shit just because they could; and then sometimes their age really hit Ian. Like when he found Mickey's first grey hair and pulled it out with his fingers, sticking it to a piece of paper with tape and keeping it tucked in his bedside cabinet drawer like a secret.
Sometimes Ian would catch Mickey counting the freckles that dotted Ian's skin and sometimes he'd tease him about it just to see Mickey splutter out excuses and deny it, but sometimes he'd just feign sleep and let Mickey carry on tracing constellations out on his skin as he counted.
Sometimes Ian ate the last Jell-O just to piss Mickey off and would feel the need to remind him that they were over forty now, he shouldn't be so defensive over that stuff.
Sometimes Ian would catch Mickey's fingers with his own as they walked down the street, in full view of everyone, just to see if Mickey would pull away or if he'd roll his eyes and keep on walking.
Sometimes Ian would have to remind him that nobody cared, that nobody even looked twice at them as they walked down the street. That nobody would really even blink an eye if Ian kissed Mickey right there where he stood.
Sometimes Mickey seemed to forget himself and would press a kiss to Ian's cheek or play with his fingers across a restaurant table; but then sometimes Ian suspected he knew exactly what he was doing all along. Sometimes Mickey would even smile back at the waitress who always beamed at their interlocked fingers.
Sometimes Ian would ask Mickey to marry him just to watch Mickey choke on his drink and stumble. He made a game out of doing it, of seeing how many times and in what ways he could catch Mickey off guard. Sometimes he wondered if Mickey would ever say yes and sometimes he wondered if maybe he'd be the one to fall if it happened.
Sometimes Mickey would joke that Ian ought to like him more now, because he was older and greyer and almost qualified as one of those 'geriatric viagroids' that Ian had used to fuck. Then Ian would just feel the need to show Mickey how his dick worked just fine no matter his age and he'd feel the need to whisper promises into Mickey's skin, because he'd like Mickey no matter what he looked like, that just seemed to be the way it was always supposed to be. But every time he'd make some joke about if they were getting a little dog in a sweater vest then?
Sometimes it amused Ian how they'd lasted longer than any of Lip or Fiona's relationships, how arguably they were happier, but how neither of them ever really seemed to be able to take the pair of them seriously.
Sometimes Ian thumbs at the letters on Mickey's knuckles and thinks about the past and makes the comparisons, because all those years ago Mickey never would have let him do something so simple; but Mickey didn't even blink an eye at it anymore.
Sometimes when Mickey's asleep, Ian will search for those old scars that remind him so much of the grubby, Southside thug he fell in love with at sixteen. He'll run a finger over the faded bullet hole wound on Mickey's thigh and on the smattering of them on his ass. Sometimes Mickey will wake up and frown at him, other times he won't do anything more than snuffle in his sleep.
Sometimes Ian will come home and find Mickey and Mandy sitting on the couch and he'll smell weed in the air and see the glazed look in both their eyes and he'll remind them that they're getting a bit old to be doing that, because hell, they're practically pensioners now. Then Mickey will just flip him off, or sometimes maybe it will be Mandy and Ian will go over and take the joint from Mickey's fingers and suck sweet smoke into his lungs and for a moment, they'll all get to pretend they're young again.
Sometimes the words that Mandy told him once when she was drunk stick in his head, so that they swirl around his brain even when it's late at night and Mickey's snoring next to him, drooling on thepillow; "Yours is the type of love that will outlive the both of you." Sometimes he tried to think exactly what she could have meant, but other times he'll suppose he kind of always knew.
Sometimes Mickey's breathing will cut out in the middle of the night, just for a second, but Ian's become hyper vigilant to it and he'll smack a fist into Mickey's chest until his lungs drag in another breath and only then will Ian let out his own.
Sometimes he thinks about all the ways it could have ended and sometimes he thinks about all the ways it still could. Except, back then it was break-ups and now he knows it's only going to be death.
Sometimes he'll cry and mourn for something that hasn't even happened yet and sometimes selfishly he'll hope that he's the one that goes first, because he lived too long without Mickey and he doesn't want to do it again. But then, similarly, he thinks he's caused Mickey far too much pain already, so that isn't fair to want that.
"Sometimes I think about what would have happened if you'd never turned up on my doorstep that day," Mickey whispers to him one night in the dark, his fingers curling around Ian's and in the dim light, Ian can see his eyes shining with tears, because they buried Mandy two days ago and it's hitting home way too hard that they may not have that much time left; and Ian can't help but think again about all that time that they wasted apart.
"Sometimes I think there was never any chance of me not coming back to you," Ian whispers back to him and the honesty digs deep underneath his skin in a way that he can feel every time he breaths in and Mickey breathes out a ragged, "Yeah," and kisses Ian with salt on his lips and for a moment it takes Ian right back to that first kiss they shared, that was nothing more than a dry press of lips and had still made something how flair to life in Ian's belly. And he still gets that feeling, that warm sensation low down inside of him every time Mickey presses a kiss against his mouth.
Sometimes Ian tries to imagine a life without Mickey and he can't do it. He doesn't want to do it. And then sometimes he thinks that maybe they're just two people that were always meant to have intertwined lives. They were always two pieces of the same puzzle, always meant to be locked together no matter if one of them got lost for a while. Sometimes he thinks about how Ian and Mickey were always supposed to be IanandMickey.
Sometimes he knows they were never going to change the way everything ended up, the way it was always meant to be. Because sometimes he just knows that there will never be anything that means more to him than the way Mickey's fingers fit so perfectly in the spaces between Ian's own.
Sometimes. Every time.