His bunk was empty. Cleared of all signs that he'd ever been there. The window wasn't lined with hygiene products, he didn't have books stacked into the corners. He'd given them all to Mickey, just because Mickey needed them more than he would.
Parole was granted, sort of. He already met with the judge, knowing well enough that she would say yes, even when she told him he'd get a letter about it, confirming it after he met with her once more.
Ian Gallagher was a free man, and he was utterly miserable because of it.
Parole meant freedom, it meant leaving Mickey inside for another 2 to 5 years. Mickey once again selflessly sacrificed his life, turned himself in, got tossed in jail, just to be with him. As he'd done so for nearly their entire relationship.
One thing he knew; he didn't deserve Mickey. Not one bit.
Now it was goodbye. He was set to meet with the judge and walk out a free man. Bad part was, he couldn't even visit Mickey in prison because he was a felon. He could call, write, but no face to face for at least three years.
The thought to throw his parole was still on his mind as he gave their cell another look around. The almost sweet way Mickey asked him, just as desperate for them to remain together as he was. But then that selflessness kicked in and Mickey took the words back.
"Wrap it up Gallagher!" The guard yelled, tapping on the door.
Ian pushed all those thoughts from his mind because there was nothing he could do about it now. It was all set in motion, he was free. The only thing left was the only moment he'd ever been truly afraid.
And that was saying goodbye to Mickey.
"All set?" Mickey asked, moving off his bunk to stand.
Ian nodded, turning towards him. "Yeah, I'm leaving everything I've ever wanted in here." Their eyes met and he could see how wet Mickey's were.
"Thought we said no romcom shit."
Ian laughed, pulling Mickey by the jumpsuit bunched around his hips. "You did, I didn't."
Mickey gripped Ian's side's, hard. "Guess this is it, huh?" His heart hurt when Ian nodded sadly and it took everything he had not to beg him to stay. "No more dealing with me and my hygiene issues, hmm?"
Ian's eyes watered while he smiled. Out of all those times Mickey left, he never cried. Not until now.
"No more solitary for either of us."
Mickey held his face, angling it up as his thumb stroked over his jaw like it always did. "It'll be over before you know it. Get out, see your family and that baby. Get some normal and wait you better be waitin for me when I get released."
"Fuck." Ian gasped, moving forward until their heads pressed together and he could no longer hold the tears back. "I hate this, so fucking much."
"Me too." Mickey whispered.
The guard knocked on the door again.
"Drop a line when you can, yeah?" Mickey asked, his voice wavering even as he played it off. "I love you Ian."
"I love you too." Ian cried softly, sliding his hands up his back until he could cradle Mickey's face. He brushed over his cheekbones, then his jaw, his lips. After licking his own, he bent the rest of the way down and kissed him.
Tattooed hands made their way into his hair, pulling him close. They kissed as deeply, as slowly as they possibly could. Saying goodbye.
"Come on Gallagher. We can't be late." The guard opened the door, giving them sympathetic looks.
Ian pulled back, tipped Mickey's head down and kissed his forehead. "I'll be waitin for you. Try and be good."
"Take care Gallagher." Mickey forced a smile and stepped away.
Ian moved to the door, wrists held out for the guard to link them. Just a precaution, like it always was. When the door slammed shut, his heart ached. Pounding painfully the further away he got.
"No congrats then?" The guard asked.
Ian shook his head as they walked further away. "No, it's really not."
They came to the first set of locked doors and the panic started. This was wrong. Leaving Mickey was always wrong. It just took him too fucking long to realize he'd been an idiot.
But not this time. This time he knew better. This time he knew what he had to do.
"Hey Williams?" Ian addressed the guard by his last name.
"Yeah?" Williams stopped walking, turning a little.
"I just want to warn you, I'm about to hit you." Ian said calmly, nearly smiling when his eyebrows rose in disbelief. "I'm askin you not to stop me. It won't be a hard hit at all but I have to."
Williams cursed. "Jesus, you're seriously doing this? You know you're free, right?"
"Yeah, but freedom is all about perspective. I need to stay here."
"If you do this, the warden is gonna lock your ass in solitary for like three months. You still won't be able to see him."
Ian smiled. "Three months is better than three years." He waited for Williams to try and stop him, or try and change his mind again. But he didn't. "Do me a favor yeah, when the solitary shit happens, keep it on the low if you can. Needs to be a surprise."
Williams scoffed. "Sentimental bastard, the both of ya." He turned to the side, giving him access to the right side of his face. "The left is my good side."
Ian grinned and balled up both linked fists. "Tell em I tried to run or grab your gun, give em a good story." When Williams nodded, Ian pulled back his fists and hit him hard enough to leave a bruise.
It just so happened another guard walked by and saw. Perfect. The alarm was sounded, more guards rushed over and Williams was on him, tackling him to the ground and the only thing Ian could do was smile.
One month later…
The door opened and he was let out of his cell in solitary. One month had been hell. No contact with anyone but the guards, no outside time. Just food. And more time with himself then he was comfortable with.
"You're a dumb son of a bitch Gallagher." A guard mumbled and linked his wrists. "You were practically out."
His parole was revoked and the judge tacked on his remaining time. Which meant he and Mickey would likely get out within weeks of each other. It was so fucking worth it.
Ian grinned because there was no way this asshole would understand. He didn't even talk as he was walked out of solitary and back into genpop.
That's when all the chatter started. Everyone was locked in their cells, waiting to go outside, or to work. And they all thought he was gone. Williams kept his word, making sure only a few guards knew he was still around.
A-20; their home sweet home for the next few years. Where they would bitch and moan at each other for dumb shit. Clicking pens or flossing too loudly to provoke a reaction from the other. They would even stab Chester a time or two just to get some time apart.
They would be together, just as they were meant to. They would take comfort within each other, indulge in their passion, their love. They would be together and that's all that mattered.
"Ready Gallagher?" Williams asked as he smiled and walked up to the door.
Ian grinned, his body shaking with anticipation. "How's he been?"
Williams frowned. "A miserable bastard."
Ian expected as much. When that door opened and Mickey saw him, he was likely to catch a punch before a kiss.
"Yeah, that makes two of us." Ian held his hands up and Williams uncuffed him.
"Open A-20." He yelled.
"Here we go." Ian whispered to himself as the door opened.
Mickey was facing the wall, not even bothering to move and look who was behind him. He probably thought it was his new cell mate. Ian smiled at Williams as he closed the door.
"No fucking snoring." Mickey barked, not moving.
"You know me Mick, I always snore." Ian smiled, his entire body tingling.
Mickey jumped, scrambling out of bed. Eyes wide, teary, mouth open in shock. "Ian?"
"Hey." Ian felt his eyes water as well because Mickey was fucking gorgeous. "Miss me?"
"What--" he started, but stopped. "How--"
Ian wanted to touch him. Kiss him and hold him and just be all over him.
"I decided that I was done leaving you. I've done that enough for a lifetime, don'tcha think?"
Mickey cursed, moving to grip Ian by the front of his suit. "You stupid bastard. You fuckin threw it all away, didn't you?" Ian didn't answer. So he shook him. "Fuckin answer me."
"Yeah, I did." Ian whispered, moving his hands up to cup his face, wiping the angry tears away with his thumbs.
"Why?" Mickey barked, shaking him again even when he knew why. "You're such an idiot. A stupid, giant, dumb fucking asshole who just blew away your future."
Ian leaned down, talking against his lips. "It was worth it."
Mickey pulled him down, kissing him as the tears fell. Holding him like he was sacred and precious. Ian held him back, feeling their tears mix together, swallowing cries and sobs and 'I love yous.'
After all the shit they've been through, after what he put Mickey through, it was about damn time for him to be selfless, to show Mickey that he loved him without a doubt.