Chapter 5 – Next Step

Ian had come back a few hours earlier and both Lip and Fiona had studied him closely looking for new bruises before asking him what happened.

“It’s over.”

That was it, that’s all he said, before heading up to his room to wait for dinner. They decided to leave him alone with his own thoughts for a while focusing instead on what to do next. Sure Ian had left Mickey but they both knew that wouldn’t be the end of it, from what they knew of Mickey he really wasn’t the type to take rejection well.

“So what now?” Lip knew it wasn’t fair to look to Fiona for all the answers all the time, it wasn’t like she was that much older than he was, but he didn’t know where to even start this time.

“I don’t know Lip, this is sorta new territory for all of us, for all the shitty relationships we’ve all had none of us have ever dealt with someone like Mickey before. Part of me just wants to pull him out of school and make him quit his job and keep him with me all day long where I can keep an eye on him and make sure he stays safe.” Yeah, Gallaghers had their fair share of interesting relationships just look at Frank and Monica for god’s sake, hell they even had a few violent ones peppered in here and there, but none of them had ever dealt with something on this scale before. The Milkovich family wasn’t just violent; they were the professional kind of violent.

“Yeah I know what you mean, but we can’t do that and you know it. I’ll keep watch over him at school and we really need the money his job brings in so we’ll have to come up with something for while he’s there too. I mean Kash already knows about Ian and Mickey so maybe we could get him to help out. I know the little perv is a coward but he could at least give us a call if something goes down at the store, or even keep Mickey out of the place I mean it is his place right.” Not that he really thought Kash would be a big help, hell his wife had bigger balls than he did.

“Won’t hurt to bring it up I guess, we’ll go there tomorrow morning before you have to get to school and figure it out on that end. I’ll have Steve take Ian to school instead of letting him walk then you can meet him there after we’re done. After that you walk with him every day until this blows over, I don’t want him alone for very long, no telling what Mickey will do.” That was beyond true, while they had always known Mickey or hell all the Milkovich clan were kind of psycho, they had never guessed Mickey was this messed up.

“What about the others?” The more people in the know for now the better off Ian would be, they needed help, protection from the Milkovich’s wasn’t something two people could pull off. While Steve already knew about it, he didn’t KNOW about it yet, not really. Hearing and seeing were two very different things in this case.

“What about them?” God he loved his sister, but sometimes the bigger picture just totally eluded her.

“What the hell are we gonna tell them Fi? Deb and Carl might still be young but they’re not stupid they’ll notice all the changes we’ll be making to the day to day of the Gallagher way, not to mention when Ian comes down to dinner his face is gonna totally give it away that something is a little off here.” The last thing they needed was for the others to start making a big fuss over Ian’s new look. His brother was already on shaky ground, he needed everything to go back to normal again if he was ever going to get back to normal himself.

“Okay so we’ll meet them outside when Steve gets them back here and we’ll lay it out for them.” Sounded like a plan, only one more thing to decide.

“What about Vee and Kev? They’re here almost every day, hell they’re practically family, do we tell them to?” While he loved Vee and Kev like family there weren’t the best in a real down and dirty fight. One on one they did alright, but going against the well armed professional thugs like Mickey and his psycho relatives was something else all together. He didn’t even think they owned any actual weapons, a lot like them they just had things that could be used as weapons in a pinch. Telling them might do more harm than good.

He knew this had the potential to completely blow up in their faces here, Mickey went totally ape shit when Ian had just told him about their twisted little relationship. How would he react to the entire Gallagher clan both blood and honorary members knowing and uniting against him. He wasn’t stupid he knew Mickey was going to try to get Ian back, one way or another, he was just worried what shape that attempt would take and something told him having more people in the know would either be the best thing for Ian or the worst. Unfortunately only time would tell which one though.

“We tell ’em. I’ll text Steve and tell him to text me when they’re on their way, when he does you go get Vee and Kev and bring them over we’ll tell them all together then we’ll all have dinner here.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Now he only hoped that it worked.

Fiona stood out in her front yard trying to stay calm. Steve and the kids were only a few minutes out and Lip would be back with her friends soon and she was going over what was to come in her mind over and over again. She was second guessing everything! Should she tell them all out here so Ian wouldn’t overhear them? But what if she did that and someone else overheard instead? Were Carl and Debbie too young for this drama? But what if she left them out of it and something happened while they were around and it caught them totally off guard?

Finally the car pulled up just as Lip, Kev, and Vee were walking through the gate leaving her with no more time to agonize and making her just react, like usual.

“Is this gonna be another ‘Gallagher emergency’?” Kev demanded good naturedly using air quotes to get his point across, causing Vee to elbow him in the stomach.

“Shut up Kev. Whatever it is Fi we are totally here for you one hundred percent, aren’t we Kev?” Her tone left nothing to the imagination about what would happen if he gave the wrong answer, sometimes he looked at the relationship Kev and Vee had and wished she could find something as stable as that. She loved Steve, but sometimes being with him only added to the stress in her life.

“Yes, honey, you’re right as always.”

“Thanks for the support guys, let’s go inside and have a seat in the living room and I’ll explain everything.” Helping get the kids herded would help her to get her thoughts straight before they had to really talk.

Getting everyone settled she made sure that Deb and Carl were both near Lip and Steve since they both already knew most if not all of what she was about to say she reasoned they would be the least reactive, so the least likely to scare them with their outbursts. Standing in front of everyone she began her little speech. She kind of wished she had more time to practice it but time was one of the few things they didn’t have a lot of right then. If they didn’t get things moving fast then Mickey would be able to sneak past them and get to Ian and that could not happen, she wasn’t sure they would be able to separate the two of them a second time.

“Alright I don’t know how many of you already figured this out for yourselves but Ian is well…” She couldn’t say it, she just couldn’t make herself out her own brother without his permission even if it was for his own good. Fortunately Lip had no such problems.

“Ian’s gay.”

No one said anything at first, not even Carl or Debbie who just looked at each other like they were having a silent conversation. Most likely that conversation consisted mostly of I told you so or inappropriate dick questions.

“Fi I hope you didn’t call us over here psyching us all up for that bombshell, cause gotta tell you less of a bomb and more of a fourth of july popper.” Kev was as usual taking everything in stride. She couldn’t tell if he really had already known or if he just didn’t care enough to have a reaction at the revelation. Out of everyone in the neighborhood Kev had to be the most easy going of the lot and the least judgemental.

“Yeah honey, I hope you and Ian know we don’t care about something like that.” Vee almost sounded hurt at the idea that they thought she would actually care about something like that.

“Oh, we know that, and that’s not why you’re here, that was just me making sure you all knew that before we got to the problem.”

“What problem?” Now Vee sounded less hurt and more worried bordering on scared. If Ian being gay was the warm up then the acutal problem had to be a doozy and they all knew it, and in this neighborhood being gay brought a whole host of problems some worse than others but all of them the kind best avoided if possible.

“Ian’s ex-boyfriend, well one of his ex-boyfriends anyway.” Thankfully Lip chimed in again when she got tongue tied. Together they might just be able to get through this entire thing.

“What about him? Is he being a dick cause if he is Kev will totally kick his adolescent ass, won’t you honey.” Vee, always willing to lend out her honey in times of need, was patting Kev’s knee in solidarity.

“Yes, dear.” And Kev, always willing to agree with Vee.

“Unfortunately it’s not that simple, and Kev before you commit to that you might want to ask who Ian’s ex is.” If it had been some little punk like Roger Spikey then she would have been able to handle it herself, she could be intimidating when she needed to be.

“What’s the big, as long as it’s not someone like Mickey Milkovich we’ll totally be fine.”

“Funny you should mention Mickey cause… well -” She didn’t even have to finish, they all got it right off.

“No fucking way, Mickey “homo hater” Milkovich is in reality a fucking homo!” Kev was on his feet now, finally finding a topic he could get excited about. 

“Sit the fuck down Kev, I got the feeling there’s more to this story than just that. Not that being in a relationship with that dirty white boy isn’t enough of a reason to call a get together. I thought Ian would have better taste, though I suppose his options are a bit limited at the moment.” Watching Vee’s face scrunch up at the idea of fucking Mickey Milkovich was funny enough to help ease her anxiety a little, if she was being honest she had thought the same thing when Lip first told her about it, but after hearing about his other love choices she wasn’t sure how to feel about it now.

“Alright I’ll sit down, no need to hit me, but I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow this is the juiciest piece of info to ever cross the threshold of the Alibi.” Kev was one of the biggest gossips around and finding out something like this must be making his day. Too bad she couldn’t let him use it, them knowing to help protect Ian was one thing but if it was spread around to everyone then they were all dead and as soon as Kev’s brain clicked back on then he would realize that too. People didn’t fear that family for no reason, they had the rep and the power to back the threat their name laid out.

“NO!” She and Lip started yelling at the same time.

“NO! You can’t do that Kevin! The last time Mickey found out someone knew about him because of Ian is why we’re here now. Plus could you imagine what Mickey or better yet Terry would do to you if you started spreading that bit of gossip around. I don’t see them taking the fact that it’s true as a good enough reason not to beat your ass for saying it, do you?” That was enough to at least get his ass back on the sofa. She knew it would take him a little while to work his way through it himself, it always did, but eventually he would understand and keep his mouth shut.

“Why what happened?” She could all but see Vee’s big Gallagher loving heart already breaking in her eyes.

“He beat him Vee, really bad.” She was still pissed about that and wanted to take her bad to his fat head to show him why beating her baby brother wasn’t okay, but she knew it wouldn’t work out well for her if she did.

“Yeah and it was all because Mandy found out Ian had told me about it and I hadn’t even told anyone else either. You can’t breathe a word of this Kev.” Lip was staring at Kevin apparently trying to get his brain to work through sheer force of will. 

“Why the fuck are we even here?” She knew from his tone that he was already on the fence about opening his mouth about this and she already knew what would seal it forever.

“You’re here so you can help us keep an eye on Ian to help make sure this doesn’t happen again. He broke up with Mickey but something tells me this is far from over.” Without another word to them she yelled up the stairs. “Ian can you come down for a minute!”

Going back over to everyone else she sat on the coffee table in front of Debbie and Carl taking their hands in her own.

“Are you two doing alright with this?” If the blatant homophobia swirling around this cesspit had gotten to either of them she needed to know now so she could work on getting that corrected before either of them said anything unforgivable to Ian.

They both nodded, neither of them caring about Ian being gay, but both caring a great deal for Ian himself. She knew he was their superhero brother and they both looked up to him a lot.

“How can we help Ian?” Debbie was the one voicing the question but she knew Carl wanted to know too, that was just the way it worked with the two of them. Debbie would ask the questions and Carl would listen intently to the answers while giving off the impression he didn’t care at all. At his age reputation was everything and being seen as a softly who cared about anything especially family wasn’t cool.

“We’ll talk about it after dinner alright, we don’t want to talk about it in front of Ian right now, he’s still hurting and we don’t want to make it worse okay.”

“Okay.” She looked over at Carl to see him nodding his agreement eagerly, apparently his rep wasn’t more important to him than some things after all.

Hearing Ian on the stairs they all turned to greet him and froze in horror. This wasn’t the happy, enthusiastic, outgoing Ian they all knew and loved. This Ian was a man who’d been beaten down and didn’t look like he thought it was safe to get back up yet. Looking over at Kevin she saw her answer, he would keep quiet about Mickey, hell they’d all do anything to keep this from happening again.

“Ian it’s time for dinner could you help Carl and Debs get the table ready.” Watching him slowly shuffle towards the kitchen with the kids in tow broke her heart just when she thought there was nothing more to break.

 Dinner went about as well as could be expected, everyone avoided the topic of Mickey or Ian’s new look. By the time Ian very quietly asked to be excused everyone was extremely on edge from all the things they had yet to say. After they all heard the door to the boys room close everyone let it all out.

“That no good son of a -“

“Who the hell does Mickey think he is, he can’t just -“

“Poor baby, I just want to grab Ian and -“

“How do we help him Fiona?”

Fiona and Lip just waited for everyone to get it out of their systems, they didn’t even try to take over until all the yelling finally died down.

“Okay, so this is as far as we’ve gotten so far with the plan. Tomorrow morning before school Lip and I are going to see Kash to see if he’ll be any help with protecting Ian at work. Beyond that we never leave him alone. Lip will walk with him to and from school every day, when he can’t be with one of us for whatever reason we’ll send him to sit with Kev at the Alibi, if that’s alright.”

“Sure Fi, anything for Ian you know that.”

Everyone here loved Ian with all their heart, and now they were all going to protect him with all they had. She just hoped it would be enough.

Ian heard his family downstairs planning and scheming to keep him and Mickey apart, talking about bringing more and more people into it, even going to Kash for help like that would change anything. He could tell them that Kash was already in Mickey’s pocket but he couldn’t find the energy to make the words leave his throat and it wasn’t like they were asking him anything anyway. All he could think the entire time, wasn’t how embarrassed he would be when all these people found out his secret, no he was only silently counting to himself how many rules his family was about to break and silently prayed that he and Mickey never did get back together because he didn’t think he would survive the punishment for this. 

Hell he wasn’t even sure he would want to even if he could.

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