Chapter 4 – Family Concern
Lip woke up early the next day but Ian was already gone. A part of him was relieved, he didn’t want to see Ian before he had this conversation with Fiona. If he did he might just grab Fi’s baseball bat and go find himself a Milkovich instead.
Walking downstairs he helped his sister get all the younger kids ready for school the whole time trying to decide what to say. When it was finally just him, Fiona, and Steve he sat at the counter while she cleaned up the breakfast mess.
“Get a move on Lip or you’ll be late for school.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going today. We need to talk Fi.”
He watched her head snap back to look at him and horror fill her eyes.
“Please, just tell me you didn’t get Karen pregnant.” Well that explained the look.
“No, no , nothing like that. We need to talk about Ian.”
“What about him?”
Glancing at Steve he thought about asking him to leave but then decided against it. The older guy might have some good ideas on how to handle this.
“I know we’ve never actually talked about it but you know Ian’s gay right?”
“Yeah, so what? Did someone find out? Is someone hassling him? Ian! Come down here!” He watched the thought of someone messing with Ian make his sister turn into a fierce warrior and was glad. They were gonna need that fire soon enough.
“He’s not up there Fiona. He already left. Ian’s been seeing this guy who’s like so deep in the closet he couldn’t find the door if he wanted to. Ian told me about it to ask my advice on something and when this guy found out I knew he… Well he beat the crap out of Ian for telling me.”
“He did what? Who is this guy, do you know his name? Is Ian okay? He didn’t hurt him to bad did he?” Her concern made this so much easier but it was still hard to keep his anger out of his voice when he thought of what Mickey had done to his brother.
“Ian wouldn’t talk to me about it but he had a black eye and a split lip like the guy hit him and uh there were all these bruises around his neck like the guy choked him or something. He waited until he thought everyone would be asleep before he came home last night and he left before we woke up this morning. I don’t know what to do Fi, I don’t want to make things worse but I’m worried for him.”
As he described Ian’s injuries Fiona had clenched her fists tighter and tighter in rage until the end when he thought she must be cutting into her palm with her nails by now. A glance at Steve showed him just as concerned and angry as the rest of them. The guy really was an honorary Gallagher.
“Do you know who this guy is?”
“Yeah, but after I tell you, you can’t tell anyone. Just my knowing got Ian hurt this bad I don’t want this guy thinking that his message didn’t take and that Ian’s still going around telling the rest of his family.”
That was his main concern when talking to Fiona about this not that she wouldn’t know what to do, but that they would all do the wrong thing and get Ian hurt even more. Just asking Mandy vague questions about Mickey in general had gotten his brother hurt he didn’t want to be the cause of anything else happening to him.
“I got it Lip now tell me.”
“You’ve got to be shitting me. How the hell did Ian end up with that homophobic prick?”
“It’s a long story that has to do with Ian’s last boyfriend. What happened was …”
Fiona listened throughout the entire story of Ian’s love life of late and could barely keep from getting sick. Her baby brother went from one highly inappropriate relationship to another and she’d never even noticed.
She’d always sort of left Ian to his own devices. He’d always done better that way. He was the one who almost never got into trouble, the one she never had to worry about and now she realized she was wrong to think that. He was the one she should have been worrying about the most.
He was the one who’d needed her and she failed him.
After a few hours they decided that Steve would take Liam and go pick up Debbie and Carl. He would keep the kids away from the house for a few hours so she and Lip could try and talk some sense into Ian. If that didn’t work then they would gather all their courage and go to the source. Mickey.
Ian got home just after three when the house should have been a madhouse making it easy for him to slip in unnoticed and straight to his room. What he found instead was Fiona and Lip sitting in the kitchen waiting for him.
“Sit down Ian we need to talk.”
Seeing his brothers injuries in the harsh light of day make Lip sick. The bruises had all darkened and stood out against his pale skin making him look hopefully worse than he felt. Because if he felt as he looked he couldn’t help but wince at that thought. Looking over at Fiona he saw her on the verge of tears and knew they had to start this talk now or risk neither of them being in the right frame of mind to do it.
“You need help Ian.”
“Look man this isn’t some chickflick movie of the week where I point out you need help and you deny it. Then I say you’re in a bad situation and you make excuses for Mickey. We’re just not gonna do that okay. You are a smart guy, I should know I taught you most everything you know, and you know that this isn’t right. You know that what’s happening between you and Mickey is abuse and you know that you need to leave this relationship.
“Now that we’ve covered everything you already know let’s move on to the things you might have missed. Fiona and I know you, inside and out, and we love you. Debbie, Carl, and Liam love you more than anything. You’re the big brother who knows about all that outdoors-y camping crap and who helps them with their feelings. So since math isn’t really your strongest subject I’ll break it down to basics for you. That’s five siblings who love you unconditionally and who want you around for a very long time versus one prick of a boyfriend who makes it where you feel the need to sneak around and hide bruises from us. Now that we’ve done the math and laid it all out for you, now you tell us what comes next.”
Fiona waited until he was done before she jumped him with her two cents worth.
“If you decide to leave Mickey I will buy more baseball bats and we’ll stand guard until he goes away. We’ll have your back no matter what until you can walk out that door without fear of a Milkovich coming at you. We will stick with you through all of it. If you decide to stay with Mickey then Lip and I will hound you everyday until you change your mind and start seeing yourself for who you really are. A bright, funny, courageous, handsome guy who deserves way better than someone who hurts him. Before you decide though do me a favor and think about it like this for a minute. What if it was Debbie whose boyfriend decided she was just some punching bag huh? What would you do then?”
Ian tried to stop crying but he couldn’t he knew they were waiting in the other room for him to tell them he was leaving Mickey but he didn’t know if he could. Beyond the fact that Mickey scared him, and what he thought Mickey would do to him if he left, he kind of thought he might just be in love with the son of a bitch. Now the only thing he had to decide was, was the love he thought he felt worth the pain he was in? Decision made he got up, brushed the tears from his face and walked out of the house to go face Mickey… one last time.
Their cards laid out on the table they both got up and walked into the livingroom giving Ian the space he needed to know that this decision was his to make. They would be there for him no matter what. As long as he knew that then this was a productive day, no matter what he decided. The sound of the back door closing had them both jumping up and racing to the kitchen. Ian was gone. Looking at each other they tried not to freak out. He would be back, they knew that, he always came back. Always.
Mickey was in his room when Gallagher opened the door and stepped inside. He hadn’t seen him since his lesson and he had to admit those bruises showed up even better than he’d thought they would against his pale flesh.
“What do you want Gallagher? You here for a little make up sex?”
“It’s over Mickey.” Those words stopped him dead in his tracks.
“What the hell you talking about over? What’s over?” He better not be saying what he thought he was.
“We’re over Mickey. I deserve better than this Mickey, better than you. We’re done.”
With that Gallagher just turned and left. He could have stopped him if he really wanted to, easily really, but he just let him go. He didn’t really know what to do here. No one had ever walked out on him before. Ever. Looking up as the door opened again he found Mandy standing in the doorway staring at him.
“Happy now Mick?”
She left just as quickly as she’d come leaving him sitting there. Alone. No, no way this was not over, not by a long shot. He was as happy as he’d ever been with Gallagher and he would get him back. They would be happy again. Together.