A/N: this is one of those stories i wrote that i just posted on my tumblr and nowhere else and i just thought i should upload it here for archiving purposes. this is obviously written before season 3 so disregard any discrepancies, this was kind of a hypothetical situation. anyway. i don't know if i'll ever write anything new honestly.

"It can't be that bad."

Mickey's palm is splayed across the part of Ian's back where he can feel individual knobs of his spine sticking out through his pale skin. He thinks about Ian in too-heavy armor, wonders if he's always going to look breakable. Ian's breath rises and falls and Mickey can feel it under his hand.

"Hmm?" Ian mumbles. He's tired and Mickey wants to stop but he can't.

"When you leave. Pretending to be into chicks." It can't be that bad. Maybe he'll close his eyes, imagine tufts of red hair in the gaps between his fingers, and it'll feel the same.

Ian laughs a little. "It is," he promises, like it's a joke, like Mickey isn't being fucking serious.

Mickey says, "Fuck you, Gallagher," in a voice without anger or malice, sort of a whisper into the space between their bodies. "Go to sleep."

Ian's breath slowly fades to a steady rhythm, and Mickey's hand moves on its own accord, revering the smooth skin and freckles all over Ian's back. He squirms closer and presses his nose into the shallow dip of his shoulder blade, breathes in something warm and flowery. He remembers that Ian shares shampoo with his sisters. He smells like a bag of Skittles sometimes.

Mickey doesn't say anything and he's awake the whole night, trying to sleep but thinking too much. He used to be told he didn't think enough and now he never stops.

Dad's first conviction was when he was sixteen (like father, like son). He beat the shit out of some homo down at the bar. No one knows if he was actually a fag, but Dad swears he was trying to flirt with 'em, so he shattered his wrist with a beer mug and kicked him on the ground until he stopped moving. He lived, but barely.

The jury ruled it as self-defense, because Dad had a lot of friends in high places, lots of witnesses that lied. Dad tells the story at family barbecues.

Mickey is a dead man walking. He knows it. Blood is blood, but nothing is stronger than hatred. Mickey's dad fucking hates faggots and Mickey did, too, until he grew up and realized that fucking girls made him want to puke.

And Ian wakes up that morning and he rolls over and groans low in his throat, and Mickey wakes up that morning and pushes his hand down the blankets and clumsily fumbles for Ian's cock, and while he's trying to jerk him off, lazily, to the beat of his shaky, sleepy breaths, Mickey's dad bursts through the door.

He doesn't say anything. Ian's ass is just barely exposed, the blanket is too small for the both of them. Mickey breathes out through his nose.

"What the fuck?"

Mickey is up and rushing into the small gap between his dad and the door before anything else is said. Ian is still half-hard and yanking his pants up, struggling to keep up to Mickey's pace, but Mickey's never run so fucking fast in his life.

His dad is yelling and screaming and Mickey imagines he can feel the ground shaking with the force of his steps, and nothing is going to stop him. Every faggot in the world could die and Dad still wouldn't be happy.

They run for miles and miles, block after block, before they lose him down by the corner with the Burger King across the street from Jiffy Lube. Ian doesn't say anything and Mickey is just listening to the sound of his breath coming in gasps. Ian says, "What do we do?" and Mickey says, "Shut the fuck up," and they tuck themselves in between the two dumpsters behind the sixth McDonald's they've seen.

Ian doesn't say anything else.

Mickey considers something like witness protection. He really does. Instead, Ian jerks him off behind the McDonald's and they don't make any good plans.

"We need to call someone." Ian isn't looking at him. Mickey doesn't get it, but he doesn't need to. He'd rather Ian never look at him again if it meant he could avoid pity and stupid fucking faggoty emotions.

"Call someone, then."

"Okay." Ian starts dialing and Mickey doesn't want to guess but he's probably going to have to deal with some awkward fucking car ride with Lip or Mandy or Lip and Mandy (even worse). Ian knows better than to take Mickey back to the Gallagher's, 'cause that'll be the first place Dad looks, if he even cares enough to look. Better to be safe than sorry. Mickey always winds up sorry.

Mickey can hear someone who sounds a lot like Lip on the other side of the phone. Ian tells him where they are, doesn't explain anything else. Sometimes Mickey is scared that too many people hold too many pieces of the puzzle. Too many people know too much.

When Ian hangs up, he finally looks at Mickey again and he says, "You'll be okay," in a way that is entirely too gay-sounding.

Mickey says, "Fuck off," and waves him off, but Ian still grins like a stupid fucking faggot all the same.

They take him to Sheila's, and Ian sticks around to make it less awkward for him, but Sheila doesn't ask many questions. She says, "Of course he can stay here!" with excited flourish, and Ian whispers in passing that she misses having Karen around enough to accept anyone. Mickey feels uneasy to be filling some sort of phantom place, but he doesn't ask any questions, either. He knows better than to bite the hand that feeds.

"It's not permanent," Ian says, settling himself next to Mickey on the bed that once belonged to Karen. Mickey is barely listening, wondering how many cum stains he's lying on. "Just until —"

Ian swallows and Mickey hears that perfectly. "Until what?" It's a challenge. He wants Ian to tell him how this could end without him ending up a bloody fucking casualty buried under a pile of snow, his teeth ripped out of his skull and his hands down at the bottom of one of the Great Lakes.

Ian's hands fumble to find the scar on the inside of Mickey's thigh. It doesn't hurt, but Mickey flinches anyways. Ian presses down and says, "Until you can go somewhere else."

His voice is full of promise and Mickey is scared to think about what it means. He tries to imagine some sort of domestic fucking paradise with Ian Gallagher, his family coming in and out all the time to take their Cheetos and shit. Mickey has never thought about it before.

Ian mumbles, "Sorry," like he never should have said anything, implied that this was more than what it is.

Mickey rolls over and slides his hand to the small of Ian's back, feels the wiry muscles beneath his pale skin, wonders if Ian's dreams of West Point are ever going to come true. Sometimes, Ian seems resigned to them never happening. Domestic fucking paradise.

"Yeah, yeah, fuck off," Mickey says, and doesn't look him in the eye, because he sort of wants that too. Just enough for it to matter. The days keep getting shorter and the nights feel like they'll never end.

This will never end. Mickey should've guessed it from the start.