After they get rid of the body (don’t ask) and find a place to stow the ambulance (definitely don’t ask), Ian and Mickey find themselves wandering the streets of the South Side. The adrenaline of the past few hours had lessened in intensity, but Ian still felt wired, remnants of his teenage antics reincarnated, refusing to leave.
“Where you goin’?” Mickey asks as Ian heads out of an alley, starts rounding the corner with purpose.
“You don’t remember this part?” Ian throws behind him, “covering your tracks?”
He slips on his mask, stands taller. He’s light on his feet, stride confident. He hears Mickey catch up to him, muttering something under his breath as he does.
“I’m glad you’re having a good time.” Mickey says, sarcastic. “But it’s getting late. Shouldn’t we go see that our families haven’t killed each other?”
“They’re fine.” Ian says, and when Mickey scoffs, Ian glances at him. “Seriously, Mick. We never have an evening to ourselves. I’m sure someone’s back home by now. If you’re worried about Liam.”
Mickey stiffens, starts to say I’m not worried about Liam, but can’t quite get the words out. Just clears his throat. Glances back at Ian and nods.
“Okay,” he says. “I guess you’re right. We could use some alone time.”
“Right?” Ian agrees, smiling under his mask. “When was the last time you just, like, went on a walk?”
“In prison.” Mickey returns.
And maybe it’s the mention of prison that slows Ian, makes him consider the events of the day, what they had done. But if Ian’s anything, he’s stubborn, and he forces himself to keep his head up.
“Look,” he says, pointing to a nearby food truck. “You hungry?”
The two fall into a familiar, comfortable silence while they eat, sitting on the table of a park bench. Ian’s starving; he eats two hot dogs and then helps himself to some of Mickey’s fries. If Mickey notices, he doesn’t protest. Eats slowly, stares out at the rusty, abandoned swing set a few yards in front of them. The summer sun has finally begun its descent, and in the evening light, the makeshift playground takes on an eerie glow.
“You ever do anything there?” Mickey asks, then, crumbling up his wrappers.
Ian follows his gaze, glances at the shoddy park.
“You mean, like, did I ever play there?”
Mickey shrugs. “Play there, push drugs there, I don’t give a shit. Just, you ever do anything there?”
Ian nods. “Yeah. Think Fiona took Lip and me a few times. Back when it was just the three of us, you know. Long time ago now.”
“What, why do you ask?” Ian says.
Mickey shakes his head. “Feel like I’ve never seen a kid there in my life, man.” He stands up. “That’s all.”
Ian stands too, tossing their wrappers in the nearest waste can. “Have to ask – you ever play there?”
“Hilarious, Gallagher.” Mickey says. “We still walking around, or can we go home now?”
Mickey, despite his grumbling, starts to settle into their evening together. He stuffs his hands in his cargo pants, adopts Ian’s easy stride. Moves closer to Ian so that their shoulders brush against each other.
There’s a lot for them to rediscover. Even before prison, they were home-centered people. Home being, of course, the nearness of each other, the places where one could be guaranteed to find the other. The Gallagher home, the Alibi, the baseball diamond.
But they were separated from each other for a number of years, in and out of each other’s lives, in and out of the prison system. For Mickey especially, there are streets of his neighborhood he does not recognize anymore.
“They tore that bar down?” He asks more than once as they walk, like on some sort mission from the historical society. Or, “shit, Ian, look at that place. You ever seen it before?”
And it’s in the rediscovering of their home – or, rather, in the uncovering of what had changed in their absences – that Ian and Mickey start to shed the remnants of their day.
It’s no secret that Mickey’s been wound tight since his family swarmed the Gallagher home, settling on both sides. It’s hard to pretend they’re not there, with their random gunshots and cursing and the smell of a seemingly eternal bonfire. Ian’s tense, too. Not just because he’s worried about Mickey, but out of worry for himself, too. Terry had tried to kill him, too.
But tonight, they’re walking.
“Used to have a crush on a guy who lived there.” Ian says, gesturing towards a house as they pass it. Mickey scoffs, nods, but doesn’t say anything. Takes a loose cigarette from his pocket and lights it.
“Romantic,” he mutters, finally, breathing out smoke. “Bet you had a lot of crushes, huh.”
Ian smirks, and glances over at Mickey. Mickey feels his gaze on him, glances over at Ian, too. He smiles back.
“We haven’t made it to your old place yet.” Ian says. “Had a big crush on a guy who lived there.”
Mickey falters for a moment. He drops his gaze. “Place is condemned.” He says, eyes trained on the sidewalk. “Remember?” Sticks his cigarette back in his mouth. “Ain’t nothing to see, anyway.”
Ian starts to speak, starts to reach towards Mickey, but his phone rings. Mickey stops walking, eyebrows raised slightly. You gonna get that?
“Yeah?” Ian answers without looking at the ID.
“Ian.” It’s Debbie. “I think you and Mickey better come home. Something’s happened.”