Everyone knows the lore: when it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, it happens on the seventeenth anniversary of birth. Sometimes it appears before then, a faint rash or stain that bides its time until said seventeenth birthday, finally clearing some time that day. Some time. Very rarely is it there first thing in the morning, but it’s always visible, bright and shiny, by midnight.
If it appears at all. Some people don’t get it, some people get three. Fiona, who has a name on each arm, only one of which she’s shared with the family, says it’s just the luck of the draw. Lip’s still trying to find some scientific explanation for this thing that’s been happening for centuries, and Debbie’s counting down the damn days until she turns seventeen.
And you’re … indifferent. It’s not that you don’t want to know who your soul mate is, it’s just that you don’t think it will matter. You’re a gay sixteen year old living in south Chicago; the chances of you knowing your soul mate, or finding him anytime soon, are slimmer than slim. Tomorrow, a name will appear and that will be that.
Hopefully. Okay, so indifferent isn’t exactly the case because Jesus Christ you desperately want a name. You don’t want to be one of those people who don’t get a name. You’ve met some of those people, and sure a few of them are happy and healthy and living their fucking lives, but others aren’t.
You want a name. Whose name it is doesn’t even matter, you just want a name.
A name, for you and you alone. No one else will be able to see it, no one else will know who it is, just you and the owner of said name, and that’s just beautiful.
You’ve looked everywhere, though - arms, legs, back, shoulders, stomach, ass - and nothing. No splotchy marks, no dark spots, nothing. Three hours until you turn seventeen, and so far not a hint of a name. And it’s not like you’re hanging out to know what name you’re going to get, you just … you really want a name.
“It’ll come,” Fiona tells you when she catches you staring at her arms. You can’t see either name, but know the one on her right forearm is a simple V that only she and Veronica can see. They were born to be best friends.
You figure you might get Mandy’s name, or maybe Lip’s as a platonic soul mate, and that’s cool and everything, but it’s not what you’re after. You wants a lover, a boyfriend, a soul mate to cherish in every way possible.
You’re a fucking hopeless romantic, and it’s dumb as fuck.
When you wake up the next morning, there’s this burning, itching feeling on your chest, right over your heart, and though it’s kinda totally cliché, you hope like fuck it’s the name. His name. Whatever that name might be.
But you don’t look, because Debbie bursts in only moments later, demanding to know if you’ve got it yet.
You grin. “Cool it, Debs, I only just woke up.”
“So? It might be there. I’m not asking what it is, I just wanna know if you’ve got it yet. Have you even looked?”
“No, but you’ll be the first to know about it when I do, okay?” You give her an assuring look and gently shove her away until she gets the hint.
She leaves, and you self-consciously rub at your chest. Looking down, all you see is the t-shirt you slept in the night before. Looking down, all you want to see is the t-shirt you slept in the night before, because the name is there, you fucking know it, and as relieved as you are to have a name, you’re suddenly terrified to find out who it might be. Who it might not be.
So you have a crush. A really, really intense crush. Who fucking doesn’t?
You rub at the spot again, estimating the size of the itch and what kind of name could fit in there.
It’s got to be a long name. Or maybe a short name, but large writing? A nickname? All Fiona got for Veronica was a V, which makes sense, but how the hell are you supposed to figure something like that out?
You’re not. That’s all there is to it. You’re not supposed to figure it out, and you just won’t look. At least not until you’ve got four cups of coffee in you, a little bit of weed, and a pep talk from Mandy. Yeah, that should do it.
You roll your eyes, and without anymore hesitation, you pull off your shirt and look down.
There, in dark, elegant letters, clear as fucking day, is the name of your soul mate.
“Fuck love,” he said, one night last summer. You’re sitting against the couch, high on excellent fucking weed and weak-ass bear, with Mandy passed out behind you.
You shrugged. “It’s probably okay if you find the right person.”
“You believe in that soul mate bullshit?”
“Maybe.” You smirked, not at all surprised he was one of the many sceptics.
Mickey fucking Milkovich.
You stand outside his house, fuming. Sure, it’s a fucking great match for your libido because the guy is hot and you’ve been secretly wanting to fuck him for years. Every time he opens his mouth with some smartass comment, every time he beats you at Mario Kart, every time he flips you off with that smirk that you like to believe is somewhat flirting, you’ve wanted to take him to his room and fuck him senseless.
But he’s Mandy’s brother. He’s also probably not gay. You’ve never actually seen him with a girl, but he knows damn well what you’re into, and hasn’t once even hinted at being into guys. Even with his homophobic dad dead and buried, he’s still playing it straight, so to speak. Has been forever. At least since the day he turned seventeen.
You glare at the Milkovich house. Fucking Mickey.
Fucking Mickey is older than you.
Fucking Mickey is over a year older than you.
Fucking Mickey fucking knows.
You think back, try to remember when Mickey turned seventeen, but you can’t. You have no clue. It could be one of many nights he hung around with you and Mandy, drinking and getting high, or it could be another night entirely, one where you didn’t see him. You have a vague memory of knowing it was his birthday recently, and being distracted by his lips sucking on a joint, but that was his eighteenth.
Mickey is eighteen. Mickey is fucking eighteen years old, and has known who his soul mate is for over a goddamn year now.
You want to hit him. Not for the first time - because fuck this guy knows how to push your buttons with nothing but a look - you really want to hit him. But you play it cool, because there has to be a reason he’s never said anything. Maybe he’s still unsure about his sexuality. Maybe he’s waiting until you get your mark. Maybe he’s not sure you’ll be happy with your mark.
Maybe he never got a mark.
Maybe you weren’t his mark.
Your heart, right beneath his name, literally fucking hurts at the idea. It’s been known to happen, and the thought of Mickey being your soul mate while you’re not his? It’s so fucking painful that you have to force breaths for a few minutes, wait it out, try to calm yourself down.
It’s a crush. You’ve had it hot for this guy for ages. Just because he’s your soul mate doesn’t mean you’re suddenly in love with him.
But it does prove you’ve been almost in love with him for a long time, even if you always refused to admit it.
“Fuck love,” you mutter to yourself.
You frown. Maybe Mickey’s just not into you. It’s a shitty thought, but one you have to consider. The lore is known to be one hundred percent correct when names match, but sometimes it takes time. You wonder if that’s why Fiona, Lip, and Mandy have never told you who their soul mates are. Maybe they’re just as scared about it as you are. Maybe they know their soul mates, too.
Fiona had given you that look when you went down for breakfast, that concerned look that said she wanted to ask but wouldn’t mention it unless you brought it up first. You didn’t. You were still in too much shock.
Carl, however, didn’t have that much subtlety. “Did ya get it?”
“Get what?” You stared down at your plate and picked at your eggs.
“Duh. Your name.”
You glanced up to see him, Debbie, and Fiona all staring at you. Fiona quickly looked away when you met her gaze, but Debbie continued to stare, despite your promise to let her know. The promise you’ve already broken.
Car nodded thoughtfully, and then grinned. “When I get mine, I’m gonna tell every hot girl I see that it’s her name, just to see if she’ll put out.”
Fiona snorted into her coffee while Debbie smacked him upside the head.
With a huff into the cold air, you make your way up to the door of the Milkovich house, because whether Mickey’s still in the closet, waiting for you to make the first move, or unsure about your feelings on the situation, you can’t avoid him forever.
He’s your soul mate, after all.
You head inside without knocking, and Mandy loops her arms around your neck the moment you’re in the living room.
“Happy Birthday, birthday boy!”
You smile. “Thanks, Mands.”
“You had a good morning? The Gallagher clan spoil you rotten?”
“As much as they were financially able to,” you say, grinning. “They all chipped in and got me this watch.”
“Cool. Hey, I got ya something, too. A few things actually.”
“Hush. You’re my best friend, it’s my job to spoil you.” She gestures to a box on the couch. “Now, in here we have your three favourite movies, a bag of incredibly decent weed, and a bottle of the Kash and Grab’s finest and cheapest vodka. There’s also way too many Doritos in the kitchen, whole lot of beer, and the number for the closest pizza delivery place. You’re welcome.”
“This is too much,” you tell her, but you’re grinning like an idiot.
She shrugs and pulls a small, messily wrapped package out of her back pocket. “There’s also this. It’s kinda lame, but I know you’re into that kind of thing.”
“I’m into lame things?”
“Well you’re into my brother, so -”
“Dude.” You scan the house for Mickey, but Mandy just grins.
“He’s at the store, relax.”
“Whatever. You said you wouldn’t bring that up again.”
“I wouldn’t have to if you weren’t so obvious.”
With a glare, you yank the gift out of her hands. Mandy just smirks and waits for you to unwrap it. Inside is a silver Zippo lighter, the kind you’ve wanted for ages, and it’s perfect. You smile at her, all her teasing forgotten.
“Thanks, Mandy. I love it.”
“There’s an inscription on the back,” she says, bouncing slightly on her toes.
You frown and turn it over, and sure enough.
Whatever our souls are made of,
His and mine are the same.
Actual fucking goose bumps form on your skin, and your voice comes out breathless. “Wow.”
Mandy stares intently at you. “You like it, right?”
You do like it. You can’t help yourself. Whether or not this thing with Mickey being your soul mate is an actual thing, this is amazing. You do like sappy, gooey, romantic stuff like this, and the fact that this quote fits so well with your lifestyle just …
“Mandy … thank you.”
She hugs you again, real quick. “Don’t mention it.”
The front door opens before you can reply, and you shove the lighter into your back pocket as Mickey walks in. His hair’s slicked back, his cheeks are rosy from the cold, and even bundled up he looks amazing. He pauses at the sight of you … well, of you and Mandy, but his gaze definitely lingers on you a little longer than necessary.
Finally, “Hey, douchebags.”
“Hey, dickwad, you get the milk?”
Mandy moves to take the milk from him, then heads for the kitchen. “Cool, thanks. Oh, and say happy birthday to Ian. It’s the big one-seven today!”
Mickey stares at you and you stare right back, furiously trying to look challenging, to force him to admit it with just a look, but you’re pretty sure you’re just coming off curious. Because you are curious. A crush is a crush. Wanting to fuck is wanting to fuck. The occasional deep conversation is nothing more than stupid talk while high.
At least that’s what you’ve been convincing yourself these last few months.
Being soul mates, though.
“That’s what they say.”
Mickey says nothing. You say nothing. Mandy makes a shit-ton of noise in the kitchen.
He finally turns away and shrugs off his jacket. “Any plans?”
You follow his suit and take off your coat and scarf. “You know, the usual - drink, smoke, watch movies. Nothing exciting.”
“Huh. You uh, you get your name yet?”
He’s still got his back to you. You stare at it for a long moment before answering. “Yep.”
He turns back to you, thumbs his lip, waits, then sighs. “Right. Well, have a good one.”
He leaves, heads straight for his bedroom and quietly closes the door behind him. The mark on your chest burns like fire.
Mickey sat next to you at the table and poured himself a shot. “What’re we playing?”
“Ian and I are playing pennies. You’re not playing anything.”
“Bullshit, let me play.”
Mandy glared while Mickey just stared back, but you were secretly thrilled. You’ve been checking the guy out for over a year now, and there’s no way in hell you’re going to tell him to fuck off if he wants to hang out.
“Go. Away. Right. Now.” Mandy said, shoving him with each word.
Mickey smirked and finally looked at you. “What about you, Gallagher, you want me to leave?”
It took everything you had to keep from begging him to stay, but you just shrugged. “Drink games are always more fun with more people, Mands.”
“Traitor!” she said, turning her glare on to you.
You just smirked, sharing it briefly with Mickey, as he rubbed at the spot over his heart.
You didn’t see Mickey for a whole two weeks after that night, but that night alone made it okay - drinking and smoking and laughing, teasing Mandy and teasing each other and being given the opportunity to stare at him up close, and silently sharing a joint once Mandy passed out on the couch.
After those two weeks, Mickey was around more often. Every couple of days he would make a point to hang out with you and Mandy until you-and-Mandy became you-and-Mandy-and-Mickey. He was still Mandy’s brother, not exactly your friend, but it was just natural for him to be there.
And you know, you just fucking know, that all this happened not long after he turned seventeen.
You can’t stop touching the lighter - slipping your fingers over it in your pocket, pulling it to light over and over again, rubbing your thumb over the lettering on the back …
It’s just a lighter with a sappy inscription, but it’s so much more. It fucking speaks to you, and that might be the drugs talking, but you don’t care. This lighter, this gift, is currently the most important thing you own. You’ve found out who your soul mate is, and the entire situation blows your mind, but this lighter, this inscription, calms you.
You read over it again:
Whatever our souls are made of,
His and mine are the same.
You wonder if it’s true, if your soul is the same as Mickey’s, if your soul is the other half of his, if your soul is supposed to just connect to his in a way that it’s not with any other. That’s the whole idea of a soul mate, after all, so by rights, yes. Your soul and Mickey’s soul are meant to be.
The idea makes you dizzy and sick with all kinds of feelings you’re not willing to look into just yet. It’s only mid-afternoon and you’re high as fuck; you can’t deal with those kinds of thoughts right now, those kinds of feelings. They all rush through you at lightening speed, and you can’t keep up.
You turn to Mandy, decide it’s time for that pep talk.
“What name did you get?” you ask, and that definitely wasn’t what you were planning to say.
She smiles, dopey and relaxed. “You’ve never asked me that before.”
“Yeah, well, it’s personal, you know?”
“Mhmm.” She takes another long drag of the joint and passes it to you. And says nothing.
“Well? What did you get?”
You take a hit, then put the smoke out on the ashtray on the coffee table. “I don’t know any guys called Alex.”
Mandy smiles again. “I don’t know any girls called Alex.”
You blink a few times. “Well. That’s something you’ve never told me before!”
She giggles. “Yeah, didn’t see the point in bringing it up if my soul mate was gonna be a dude, you know? But … Alex is totally a unisex name.”
“Yeah it is.”
“So I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.”
You stare at her until she turns to look at you. “Are you scared?”
“Nope.” She leans close, smile brighter than you’ve ever seen it before. “I’m really fucking excited.”
She heads into the kitchen for more food and you stare at the writing on your lighter again. Excited. Mandy’s excited about a complete fucking stranger being her soul mate. She won’t even know who this person is until she meets an Alex with Mandy written on them somewhere, but she’s excited to meet whoever he or she might be, and to fall in love with them, to make a future with them. You’ve already met your soul mate, you’ve been hard for him for years now, and you’re too …
Something. You’re too angry, confused, thrilled, hurt, scared to say anything to him. He’s your soul mate. Mickey Milkovich is your soul mate. And you need to grow some fucking balls and tell him that you know. That it’s time to stop hiding. That he should have told you months and months ago.
Mickey enters the lounge, offering you the perfect opportunity. You stare at him - his eyes, his lips, his neck. You watch as he sits right next to you on the floor, thigh pressed up against your own, eyes flicking quick glances at you. You stare and stare, until he’s snapping his fingers in your face.
“How wasted are you, man?”
You blink a few times, and then look at his chest, his heart, where you’re pretty damn sure your name is. You think about unbuttoning your shirt, showing him your heart and his name - maybe tugging at his tee, seeing your name on his heart, waiting for the catch of breath that would follow, the anxiety that would flood his face, the unsure glance he would throw Mandy before storming out of the room.
And you can’t do it. The thought alone sobers you up to the extent that you almost get it. He’s scared - even more so than you - and you can’t force this upon him. Hell, the universe forced it upon him enough for you when it tattooed your name on him.
Your body flushes and more something pools in the pit of your stomach. You desperately, desperately want to see your name on his chest.
“Ian?” he says, voice soft.
You blink a few times because suddenly you’re fighting tears. “You should have told me,” you whisper.
“What?” His voice is low and cautious, but his gaze flickers to your heart and you know he knows exactly what you’re talking about.
“You should have told me. Why didn’t you tell me?”
He looks away, clenching his jaw. And then he shrugs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.”
“You don’t …” Everything inside of you feels like it’s falling, like it’s simply leaving you to settle in a puddle at your feet. You pull yourself together and stand. “I have to go.”
“Wait, what?” Mandy hurries out of the kitchen, beer spilling out of her bottle.
“Yeah, uh, I said I’d do dinner with the family, you know? Lip’s coming home for it, so … uh, I’ll come back after.”
“Make sure you do.”
“Yeah, I will.”
Mickey stands. “And bring more beer. You two piss heads have already finished the twelve pack I brought home.”
That’s it. That’s all he says to you. He has your name branded on his skin, over his heart, and that’s all he says to you.
“What’s it like?” Mickey asked, smoke dangling precariously from his fingers.
“What’s what like?”
“Being out? Having everyone know?”
Surprised didn’t cover it, but you were drunk on peach schnapps - the only alcohol Mandy could find - so you didn’t think about it too much. You just shrugged.
“I mean, it’s cool now, you know? Everyone’s pretty much over it, so it just doesn’t matter anymore. It just … is.”
Mickey just nodded. Moments passed, seconds, minutes, maybe hours. You blew out a long stream of smoke.
“What’s it like?” you asked, and he slowly raised his eyebrows in response. “Knowing the name of your soul mate.”
He stared at you for a long time before responding. “Terrifying.”
You stumble into your kitchen, relief flooding you at the sight of Fiona and only Fiona.
“That’s the name I got. Mickey Milkovich.”
Her eyes widen. “Holy shit!”
She stares at you for a long time and you stare right back, letting her shock settle while yours rears its ugly head all over again. But then Fiona smiles.
“Mickey Milkovich, huh?”
You don’t like her tone. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She shrugs. Grabbing the pot of coffee, she sits at the table and gestures for you to do the same. “You tell me. You’re the one with his name on you.”
“Yeah, but …” But nothing. You don’t know how to finish that.
“C’mon, Ian. Mandy’s dragged him to enough Gallagher parties for me to see the way you look at him.”
“He’s hot, so what?”
“So you’re really complaining about him being your soul mate?”
And there it is. Confirmation from someone else that Mickey Milkovich is, in fact, your soul mate. It makes your heartbeat way too fast, and you have to take a few deeps breaths to keep yourself going, to keep the weed and beer from taking over.
“He’s eighteen,” you tell her, and that’s what the whole thing really comes down to. That’s why your voice shakes when you say it. “He’s eighteen. He’s known for over a year now that his name would appear on my skin, and he never warned me. He’s knows all this time that I’m his soul mate, and he never said anything!”
“Are you really surprised?”
“Yes! I’m his soul mate, he should have told me.”
Fiona leans back in her chair. “Really? Mickey Milkovich, son of the biggest homophobe piece of shit on this side of Chicago, should have told you he was gay and destined to be with you?”
“I … yes.”
“Ian, be reasonable.” She leans forward to cover your hand with her own. “He’s not out and proud like you. He’s … he’s probably scared shitless.”
You look at Fiona, and she’s giving you that look again, that caring, kind look that makes her the perfect person to have raised you.
“You don’t think I should be angry?”
“I think you’re perfectly justified to be angry and confused and every other feeling that comes with finding out who your soul mate is,” she says, “I just also think you need to see this from his point of view. Can you imagine getting your mark first, and trying to tell Mickey Milkovich that he was your soul mate?”
You can imagine, and you can imagine the fist to the face that would have followed.
“That’s different. He knows I’m gay.”
“Yeah, but nobody knows he’s gay.”
Fiona’s words hit you hard, and you’re still angry as hell, but you maybe kind of get it.
“Sometimes I wish my mom was dead.” You said it even though you knew you shouldn’t. You said it after only one beer instead of the usual eight. You said it to Mickey, even though you knew he didn’t care.
He frowned at you. “That’s pretty fucked up.”
“Yeah. So is she.”
And the thing is, you know that had you said this to Mandy she would have told you how lucky you were to have a mom who was at least around now and then. That you were lucky to have a mom who cared enough to visit occasionally. That you were lucky to have a mom who left instead of sticking around to fuck you up.
It didn’t matter how contradictory her words were, as far as Mandy was concerned, you were lucky to have a mom.
But somehow you knew you could say this to Mickey, and the only reason he might have punched you in the face for it was if he thought you were being too gay.
“I just think our lives would be easier if she was gone. For good, you know?”
He nods. “I don’t even wanna think what my life would be like if Terry was still around.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Man, you have no idea.”
You almost wish you were still wasted when you get back to Mickey and Mandy’s place, because you’re going to do it, you’re going to confront him, you’re going to show Mickey his name permanently etched over your heart.
You open the door and walk inside. There’s no one there, but you can hear music coming from Mandy’s room. You head that way, and stop right in front of Mickey’s door. You open it before you can talk yourself out of it, and try so fucking hard to ignore the way his room smells so intimately of him.
He’s pacing, but stops at the sight of you. “Gallagher.”
“Really? Can’t even call your soul mate by his first name?”
He flinches, and you almost feel bad, but why didn’t he tell you? Why couldn’t he had just said something? Why doesn’t he care?
That last thought sends more anger coursing through you. He knows it’s your birthday, your seventeenth, and he knows you believe in this stuff. And he hasn’t said anything. Not a damn thing. Gay or not, does he actually hate you that much that he can’t stand the truth of the matter? The truth being that he’s meant to be with you?
“Ian, look -”
“No. You look.” You step closer, surprised he doesn’t try to move away. “You should have said something! You’ve known for over a year now, why didn’t you say anything?”
“It wasn’t my place.”
“Wasn’t your place? You’re my soul mate, how could it not be your place.”
He scoffs and looks away. “Please. Would you have even believed me if I had told you? It would have sounded like utter bullshit and you know it.”
He has a point, and he wouldn’t have even been able to show you his mark, it wouldn’t have been visible to you until today. Not only that, but he’s right - it wasn’t his place. Finding out who your soul mate is, that’s a private and personal thing. If someone doesn’t want to share, then even the nosiest of people don’t pry.
Swallowing, you try a different tactic.
“I didn’t know you were gay.”
His entire body tenses at the word, but he remains calm. “Yeah, well, not many people do.”
“Does she know about me? About your mark?”
“I think she’s figured it out.”
“Jesus.” You head for the door then stalk back to him. “You could have - you could have said something!”
“Like what? ‘Oh, hey, Ian, according to the stars I’m gonna take it up the ass from you one day in the near future.’ Something like that?”
His words are mocking and stupid, but they still make your insides twist in a way you will never complain about. You stare at him, at his blush and the way he won’t meet your gaze.
“What the fuck do you want from me, Gallagher? Just because our names came up on each other doesn’t mean, shit, okay? You know as well as I do that soul mates don’t always end up together, so what the fuck ever.”
You grit your teeth and ignore his words. Sure, soul mates didn’t always end up together, but they were still soul mates. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
He raises his eyebrows. “This morning? I asked if you got your name and all you said was yes. You could have mentioned something about it being me.”
You scoff at his half-assed point. “I’m doing it now, aren’t I? I didn’t wait months like you did.”
“Whatever, man.” He turns away and grabs his smokes from the bed.
You try again. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know, because I don’t fucking believe in this shit.”
You close your eyes for a second, exhausted. “Then what the fuck am I even doing here? I might as well fucking go then.”
He shrugs. “Might as well.”
You wait, silently, desperately hoping he’ll take back his words, every single one of them, but he doesn’t. He stands right in front of you, playing with the disposable lighter in his hand, and staring you down. He doesn’t look away once, and that’s what makes you finally believe him.
You nod slowly, not thinking or feeling anything but numb and stupid. You turn away, hands shoved deep in your pockets, and don’t stop until Mickey’s voice halts you in your tracks.
You look at him, fearful, hopeful, terrified. “Don’t what?”
“Why do you even fool around with that old guy anyway?” Mickey asked, nudging your knee with his booted foot. He’s sitting at the other end of the couch, smoking and staring at you while you wait for Mandy to get out of the shower.
You only got out of ROTC not an hour ago, and you’re still in your training pants and a white tank. Ned had dropped you off in his fancy BMW, and the look on Mickey’s face at the sight of you with him sure had been something.
“What do you care?”
“Don’t. Just can’t figure out why you’d fuck around with someone who needs little blue pills to get it up.”
You smirked. “He’s nice.”
“Sure. Real nice. Especially the creeping on underage dudes part.”
“He’s not that bad,” you tried to explain. “He helps me with my advanced classes, buys me stuff …”
“Buys you stuff?”
“Yeah! He got me this really cool GPS unit I can wear on my wrist. I mean, we’re supposed to learn that stuff from maps and shit, but it’s still really cool. Really helpful.”
“Right. The army. You actually serious about that shit?”
You looked at him, at the way he purposely avoided eye contact. “Yeah, man. Can’t let Lip be the only Gallagher to make something out of himself, right?”
Mandy’s in the living room, seemingly waiting for you. “Hey, I got some NOS if you’re keen?”
You want to be angry with her, but you’re too confused, too worn out to do so. “Na, think I might just head home.”
You make it to the couch before she stops you. “You left this here before.” She holds out your lighter, the very one she just gave you that day.
You slowly take it from her, staring at the words, willing them to tell you just what the fuck you’re supposed to do here. You know what you want, who you want, but soul mate or not, Mickey couldn’t give you more than one word and it’s just not enough. Not when you’re so confused and let down and he’s had all fucking day to say something.
“For the record,” Mandy says, watching you stroke the inscription with your thumb, “getting it engraved was Mickey’s idea.”
Your head snaps up. “What?”
“Yeah. He went in on the gift with me, and then picked out the quote and everything.”
Whatever our souls are made of
His and mine are the same.
There’s a hitch in your breath when you look back at the words. When you look back at Mandy, she’s already on her way out.
“I’m gonna go. I got a lead on a girl called Alex who works at a salon a few blocks over.” She pauses at the door. “Try not to hold too much against him, okay? He … he’s trying, in the only way he knows how.”
She leaves without waiting for a reply, and you go straight back to staring at the words pressing into your thumb.
“You believe in all that soul mate bullshit?” he asked, not for the first time.
Lying on the old baseball field, stars bright above you, and smoke between your lips, you nodded. “Yeah, man.”
“Yeah? You think the stars or God or who the fuck ever decides who everyone ends up with?”
“Na, I just think they point you in the right direction. We still have to try and make it work, you know? Just because two people are soul mates doesn’t mean their relationship is going to be peaches and cream.”
“Peaches and cream?”
“It’s a metaphor.”
He snorted. “A shitty one.”
“Whatever, dude, you asked.”
“Mmm.” He held out a hand for the joint in your mouth, and you passed it over, silently agreeing with yourself to never tell Mandy that her being too sick to come out was fucking awesome. “That makes sense, but, like, what if you don’t even like your soul mate?”
“I guess it happens, but …” You paused, turned your head on the hard grass to look at him, and half shrugged. “I think soul mates are meant to be, you know? I think there’s a reason for them.”
Mickey looked at you with those eyes that got real fucking deep when he was high, and blinked lazily a few times. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Don’t you?”
“I hope so.”
Everything goes in and out of focus for a moment, then you head back to Mickey’s room without another thought. You don’t stop to think, to consider, to weigh the pros and cons, because none of that matters. You’re going to come up with the same conclusion no matter what, and this way, it’s going to happen a hell of a lot quicker.
Mickey’s door is open, and his room empty, but a smashing sound comes from the bathroom to your right, and you frown. You don’t knock or let him know you’re coming in, you just walk down the hall and open the door, face set and ready to fight for what you want, what you need, what is yours.
Mickey stands in front of you, cradling his bloody hand.
“Jesus, Mick,” you breath, moving forward to take his hand in yours. He doesn’t pull away. “What the fuck, man?”
“Kinda punched the mirror.”
You look left, and so he did. You huff out a laugh. “You’re an idiot.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” He pulls his hand away and quickly wraps it in a ratty cloth. “The fuck you doing back here, Gallagher.”
“You’re gonna have to learn to call me Ian eventually. It is my name.” When he says nothing, you sigh and step forward. You grab Mandy’s homemade first aid kit from beneath the sink, and grab Mickey’s hand, tight. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“We already talked about this, Ian.”
You can’t help it, you smile like a fucking dope at your name from his mouth. “Yeah, how about the truth this time?”
“How about you fuck off.”
You roll your eyes. “Just give me a fucking answer, man! I just found out today that you’re my soul mate, and realising that you seem to hate the idea kinda sucks for me, okay?”
“Hate the idea? I was scared, okay? I was fucking scared.”
His whole body seems to slump with his words, and you don’t know how to reply. His blue eyes stare defiantly at you, and all you want to do is reach out and touch his face.
“Of what? Being outed?”
He scoffs. “Fuck you, man. You don’t know shit.”
“Then fucking explain it to me!”
“You! You’re so fucking … out there. You’re smart and nice and funny. You do well in school, and you make Mandy happy, and you’re gonna be a fucking officer in the army. You’re fucking perfect, okay? And I deal fucking drugs for a living.”
You’re pretty sure that the day you find out who your soul mate is shouldn’t be the angriest day of your life, but you don’t think you’ve ever been angrier. You take Mickey by the arms and shove him into the wall, crowding over him, hands on either side of his head so he can’t even consider leaving.
“You stupid shit.”
“We’ve already clarified that I’m dumb as fuck, Gallagher, now fuck off.”
“Not a fucking chance, Milkovich. Do you even fucking realise how in to you I’ve been these last two years? How fucking happy I am when Mandy can’t hang out and it’s just the two of us? How fucking hot I get just thinking about fucking you?”
You’re breathing heavily, and Mickey’s face is flushed in front of you.
He licks his lips. “Ian.”
You close your eyes and savour the sound, and you want more, more, more, so take it, you move closer, place your hands on his hips, and open your eyes. And his eyes - eyes that you’ve never seen so soft, so open - stare at you and they wait and they don’t back down, so you do it. You lean forward to kiss Mickey, press your lips to his, wait for the punch you’ve always expected but never comes.
Instead he presses harder, threads his fingers through your hair and pulls you into him. He licks into your mouth and breathes shaky breaths against you, and it’s most definitely the best fucking feeling of your life, the kind of feeling you want to relive over and over again. The kind of feeling you will absolutely never fucking forget.
Your hands slip beneath his shirt, finding hot, smooth skin, and he outright whimpers into your mouth. You pull away to smirk at him.
“Shut the fuck up, Gallagher.”
“Didn’t say anything.”
“Yeah, well, shut it before you fucking decide to.”
Your lean down and nose at his jaw, bite at his throat, fucking inhale every scent you can find on him, and he tilts his head back and just lets you, doesn’t put up any kind of fight. If anything, he grips your head tighter and leans into it, and it’s so fucking wonderful you slip a leg between his, eager to feel him. He’s sucks a breath in between his teeth as his body shudders and his dick presses hard against your thigh.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whispers.
He kisses you again, a messy tangle of too much tongue and teeth, and absolutely no finesse, and it’s fucking amazing. He ruts against you in tiny, restrained movements, and your own dick throbs with the realisation that he’s holding himself back. You groan into his mouth, not giving a fuck at how fucking needy you sound, and tug at his shirt.
“Off,” you mutter against his lips. “Wanna see.”
He grunts and wriggles around in the little room you’ve given him, yanks his shirt over his head, and there it is, your name in the same graceful lettering that’s on your chest. You breathe out slowly as you stare at it, at the Ian Gallagher perfectly branded into his heart, at the absolute promise that the guy in front of you is your soul mate.
He fidgets under your gaze, and grabs at your coat when you meet his gaze. You don’t waste any time in getting your jacket, hoodie, and shirt off, showing Mickey the still red mark over your own heart, and when he stares he really fucking stares, awe spreading over his face, jaw dropping.
You grin. “Yeah.”
He continues to gape, but his gaze moves from your heart to your shoulders, arms, stomach, nipples, and all it does is make you fucking harder for him, until you’re moving back into his space and kissing him again and again and again. You shove a knee back between his legs, grab his ass in your hands, and pull him against you, encourage him to ride your thigh.
And he fucking does, with no abandon, and you wish - you wish, you wish, you really fucking wish - that this wasn’t happening in the bathroom. But you’re too caught up in the moment, too hard to consider pulling away, to turned on by Mickey’s dick against your leg and your own dick against his hip to do anything but move with him.
It’s push and pull, hands everywhere, teeth biting and lips sucking. It’s messy and uncoordinated, but it doesn’t take long for a rhythm to hit, for Mickey to move this way when you go that way, and for an actual fucking shiver to run down your spine as he let’s out a litany of fucks and shits and don’t fucking stops.
You won’t stop. You don’t plan on ever stopping.
You move your hands into his jeans to grip his ass more firmly, to feel his skin against yours, and the unrestrained noise that slips from Mickey’s mouth makes your knees weak. You’re close and you’re needy and you want, so fucking much. You palm his ass, pull him closer, arrange the both of you so when you thrust against him next you’re feeling his cock against yours and it’s fucking magical.
“Ian, Ian, Jesus fuck.” His voice is so fucking wrecked that you want to cry.
“Yeah, Mick, yeah.”
He drives his hips into yours, meeting you thrust for thrust, gasping and keening every time your dick brushes his through your jeans, and you attach your mouth to his neck, suck hard, trying to distract yourself from the overwhelming feeling of Mickey. It doesn’t work, and you’re so close to coming in your pants, and you have to, have to, have to, bring Mickey with you, you have to make him come with you.
You slip your fingers between his cheeks, brush them against his dry hole, and he arches into you, comes hard and heavy against you, gives you the fucking permission you need to do the same.
When you lift your face out of his neck, Mickey won’t meet your gaze, so you start talking, voice quiet and breath hot against his face as you stay close and say everything you would never say if he wasn’t your soul mate.
“Mick, I’ve been watching you for years. Did you know that? Stealing glances whenever you’d bend over to pick something up, eyeing up your mouth when it turns red because the only alcohol we could find was red wine, outright fucking staring at you when you used to come out of the shower in just your towel.”
“Gallagher,” he says, voice a growl, but you keep going.
“You’re so fucking smart, Mick. You’re smart and your funny and you’re such a dork sometimes. You’re the only other person I trust Mandy with, you’re fucking amazing with numbers, and you make the best tacos around.”
You nose at his cheek, smile at how his have softened. “Yeah, tacos. You’re not dumb, Mick. You’re fucking amazing.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
You do, but only to kiss him again, softly, sweetly. When you pull back, he grazes his fingers against his name on your chest, and it warms beneath his touch.
“You’re really cool with this? With it being me?”
You reach for the forgotten first-aid kit, and gently, probably more gently than Mickey’s ever been handled in his entire fucking life - a thought that sends shots of pain right through you - you begin to clean his knuckles. You carefully pull out each sliver of glass, wipe away every smudge of blood, and politely ignore his hiss of pain at the antiseptic ointment.
Once finished, you let him go but don’t move away. You lift a hand to run your thumb over your name, and smile at him.
“Yeah, Mick, I’m cool with it. Whatever our souls are made of, yours and mine are the same.”