Chapter 7 – Sinking Deeper Still

Fiona didn’t know what to do, she came home from a day working in a glorified strip club disguised as a restaurant getting her ass pinched by rowdy drunks to find Vee in her kitchen trying to keep Ian from losing what blood he had left in him. At first she’d gone off thinking that Mickey had tried to kill Ian for leaving him, but Vee said that while Ian looked bad and probably felt worse his injuries were mainly superficial. This beating was meant to punish not kill.

“What do we do Fi?” She wished not for the first time since this whole shit show started that there was someone else they could look to for answers, because she was fresh out.

She was so far out of her depth with this, things like this just hadn’t ever come up within the family before. The closest thing to an abusive relationship they had ever seen was Frank and Monica, but they had abused each other and it was mostly verbal mudslinging and drug fueled uncoordinated slap fights.

“I don’t know Lip, plan B I guess.” Which had better fucking work since there was no plan C.

“Go to Terry.” It was the only thing left to do, someone had to reign Mickey in and his father was the only one that could do that. Owing Terry a favor, while simultaneously outing Ian to him wasn’t ideal but it was starting to look like protecting Ian from Terry would be a hell of a lot easier than trying to keep Mickey off his back.

“No.” Looking over towards Ian, preparing to comfort him if the pain was getting too much, she saw raw panic in his eyes. “Don’t go to Terry, big mistake, don’t go to Terry.”

“Ian look I know that Terry is a scary guy, but we can at least keep him off your ass while he keeps Mickey on a leash.” And God knew someone needed to put a leash on that son of a bitch, and a muzzle, and might as well neuter him for effect during this little mental fantasy.

“No, Terry is afraid of Mickey, he’ll tell him. Don’t go to Terry, you’ll just make it worse.” The very idea of worse seemed to make him shake in his seat, and no wonder if this was getting off light in the world of Milkovich.

“Okay Ian, we’ll think of something else, I promise we won’t go to Terry.”

But if Terry wasn’t an option what was left? Terry was the biggest baddest son of a bitch to ever stalk the mean streets they called home. He was the crazy bastard that even the crazies avoided, and if he was afraid of his own son, this man who wasn’t afraid of anything or anyone, what did that make Mickey? Worse?

The cops? As if. All of Southie knew how useless they were, hell half of them were on the take and the other half were just too damn lazy to be crooked. Tony might have been an option if it was anyone other than the Milkovich family. Not to mention the shit going down right now wasn’t even illegal, unless you wanted to press charges for assault and be labeled a whiney snitching bitch for the rest of your days.

Kash was useless as a stop gap, the coward couldn’t even protect himself from Mickey let alone Ian. Ian would have to quit his job, and they really needed the money he brought in, he helped them through some of the tighter parts of the month. Maybe Kev could hire him on at the Alibi, have him bus tables or something, she knew he would look out for her baby brother at least.

No, it looked like the only thing left to do was circle the wagons and look after Ian themselves. They could do this, they were Gallaghers they could do anything! Right now though what they had to do was put Ian to bed and let him get some sleep. Tomorrow they would figure this shit out.

Lip stood outside the Milkovich house and waited for Mandy to come out, he texted her that they needed to talk and talk they would, about her psycho brother. If they couldn’t go to Terry for protection they at least needed to go to someone for advice. Someone used to dealing with Mickey on a regular basis. Someone who cared about Ian enough to maybe bend the rules a little, if not break them.

“What do you want to talk about Lip?” Looking up he found Mandy standing on her front porch waiting for him to speak his peace. Taking a deep breath he opened his mouth and hoped that in doing so he wouldn’t make things even worse for his brother all over again. He knew Mandy told Mickey about their last conversation, but he also knew that there was a way to maybe get around that this time. All he had to do was play on the one soft spot she had.

“Ian needs your help.” This wasn’t about Lip trying to get information about her family, this was about her best friend being in a world of pain. This was about the one person they both loved with all their might. Before when he asked Mickey hadn’t really hurt Ian yet, he was just starting up with his brother, this was an entirely new situation. He hoped he didn’t make things even worse by trying this route again but he really didn’t see another way through here. 

“I’m listening.”

“Look I know you told Mickey about the last time you and I talked and I get it, but I really need your help here. You know Mickey better than anyone, please tell me what we need to do to make this right because everything I try just seems to make it worse.” He couldn’t fuck this up again, Ian wouldn’t survive it and if Ian didn’t survive than none of them would.

“Jesus, you fucking Gallaghers. Hold on a minute.” She opened the door just enough to stick her hand inside to grab her coat. “Follow me fuckhead, we can’t have this talk anywhere near the house.” Following behind her as she led him towards a shitty little park nearby he got caught in the sway of her hips. Damn, Mandy had a great ass.

“Hey numbnuts, if you’re done checking out my ass back there you might want to hurry it up a bit. I don’t got all night.” Shaking his head to clear his mind from the gutter his thoughts had fallen into he got down to business,

“Just what the fuck is going on with your brother and mine? And while we’re at it just what the fuck is up with your brother full out?” He knew the hit was coming before she even turned towards him, she was a Milkovich, nothing with that family came without some violence attached, not even conversations.

“Fuck you Gallagher, that’s my brother you’re talking about so watch your mouth!”

“Alright, sorry, but after what your brother did to mine today I think I’m allowed to be a little pissed at him don’t you?” The way she shuffled away and refused to meet his eyes told him not only that she knew he was right, but that she already knew about what happened to Ian or maybe even had known what was coming before it happened and hadn’t warned any of them. “So tell me, what’s his deal? And why hasn’t Terry set him straight yet? I thought he would have put a stop to this mess long before now.” Hell they had all thought Terry would step in by now, they had even come up with plans for what to do when Terry showed up looking for his pound of flesh from Ian. Only Terry never came.

Sitting on the swing next to hers he gave her time to gather her thoughts, lighting up his cigarette before offering her one as a good will gesture or some shit, while he wanted to shout at her to tell him already he didn’t want to rush her and miss something important. The more he understood Mickey the safer he could make things for Ian.

“Mickey is complicated alright. He was the sweetest fucking kid, but Terry doesn’t exactly like people who are thought of as sweet so over the years Mickey learned how to act the part of the tough guy, but that’s all it was, an act.”

“So what changed him?” Cause sweet kid or not, the thug he was now wasn’t an act.

“Terry changed him. About two years ago our dad came home early from a run, the deal had gone belly up or something and he found Mickey in bed with some boy he’d been hooking up with. Terry was furious, he got so mad he beat that kid half to death and had my other brothers dump him off at the hospital while he had a little talk with Mickey. He beat Micky senseless, though he didn’t do as much damage to him as he did that guy he caught him with. It was a near thing but he managed to pull back a bit when he was laying into him. I swear if Mickey hadn’t been his son he would have killed him then and there, but we Milkoviches have a code in our family, no matter what you don’t spill your own blood. So instead Terry goes out and comes back with this Russian skank from some whorehouse disguised as a massage parlor across town, he tells Mickey that she’s going to fuck the faggot out of him, and as far as Terry was concerned that’s exactly what she did.

“About six months after that Terry must have seen something that made him think his whore cure hadn’t been enough because he started sending Mickey out on suicide runs. He sent him to deal with the lowest of the fucking low, real scum, all with the hope that one of them would pop this little teenage thug and swipe the merch. No such luck, a few tried of course but you know Mickey he wasn’t having any of that and no matter the odds he always seemed to come out on top. Eventually Terry got tired of waiting for Mick to drop dead so he up and rushed him one day when he came out for breakfast, just knocked the table over and tackled him. I swear he was planning to beat him to death.” She sounded so shook just thinking about that fight, it must have been a hell of a sight to still make her so choked up about it all.

“So what happened, how is Mickey still running around these mean streets of ours if Terry was so dead set on killing him?” It was common knowledge that if Terry Milkovich wanted you dead you were better off doing the deed yourself and saving him the trouble of doing it for you, cause when he got his hands on someone it was over before it even really started. So how was Mickey still alive and well?

“Mickey won the fight. I don’t remember much about that day really. I remember dad flipping the table and getting Mickey pinned under him, I remember him beating him so hard I could hear every hit from across the room. I remember trying to pull Terry off only for him to swing back and knock me across the face hard enough for me to taste blood and skid across the floor a bit. After that all I remember is looking up to see Mickey covered in blood standing over a downed Terry with a pistol in his hand pointed square at Terry’s head.”

“Holy shit.” Sure they had some knock down drag out fights in his house, but no one had ever really tried to kill each other. Not really.

“I begged him to put it down, not out of any feeling for our father but because a murder rap would be a bit hard to dodge with so much blood all over both of them. After a minute Mickey listened and just walked out of the house, he was gone for a few hours and when he walked back in he was a new man. He stood right in front of Terry with the coldest eyes I had ever seen and laid down the new law, he was in charge now and if our father didn’t like it he was up for a round two any time, but he made sure we all knew what the ending would look like if it came down to that. Terry sat there silent through the whole fucking thing, never opened his mouth once, and when Mickey was done telling him how it was Terry just smiled and said it’s about fucking time son, I had my old man ousted long before he reached my age

Since then Mickey has ruled our little family. He decides on the runs, he splits the profits, he is the final say in all things Milkovich. Terry still acts like he’s cock of the walk, says he likes the way people shake just from the sound of his voice or the mention of his name. It’s not like Mickey cares what outsiders think of him so he lets it pass, but it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Terry isn’t in charge of squat anymore.” Huh, so Ian was right, going to Terry really wouldn’t help. Well that was one less option open to them, fuck.

“What about the whole gay thing?” Could they get Terry on their side using that as leverage? Maybe if they ignited enough rage in him over his son’s sexuality it would provoke another fight, and even if Mickey won that one too they could find a way to spin it in their favor. 

“Well, after Mickey took control he paid that Russian a visit, I don’t know what happened between them that day but Svetlana comes around every couple of months to talk to him about some kind of business thing so I figure they must have made peace or some shit. Not long after that he came home with some random guy, just marched him past us and into his room like it was nothing. A few weeks later he dragged the guy into the kitchen at breakfast, sat down at the table like it was a normal day and declared he was done with him. My father and brothers jumped him in seconds and beat him down pretty good, before they booted his ass out of the house they made sure he knew what would happen if he ever ran his mouth about whatever shit he saw in our house or whatever shit he got up to with Mickey. After him came another guy, then another, and another-”

“And now there’s Ian.” Great! There’s that Gallagher luck again, if they didn’t have bad luck they’d have no luck at all.

“Yes and no. Ian is different, if you had seen Mickey with the others you would know that to. If any of the other douchebags my brother banged on the regular had pulled the shit Ian has or even you have on his behalf he would have curb stomped them and walked off to find someone new to play with. I don’t know what it is about Ian but there’s something there that hasn’t been before.” She stood up throwing her now used up cigarette into the sand by their feet, she was apparently done talking.

“What like love or some kind of fairytale BS? He beat the shit out of him, twice. How is that love?” Love was supposed to lift you up or some, or so they say, not tear you down. How was what Mickey did to Ian in any way love?

“Not all love is good or kind Lip, you should know that better than most look at you and Karen. When Mickey loves someone, really loves them, he doesn’t hurt them because he wants to, he does it because he thinks he’s helping them learn from their mistakes. He’s trying to make them better or stronger, or whatever he thinks they need to be in order to be safe. I’m not saying it makes sense to anyone who isn’t him, but you asked me about him and now you know about as much as I do. Do what you want with it.” She started to walk back towards her house, he would have followed her and pestered her into explaining herself a bit more but getting past Mickey and Terry to get to her once was all the luck he had left. 

“Like what? What the fuck am I supposed to do for Ian now? How do I save him?” She hadn’t answered the most important question yet. Now he knew pretty much everything about Mickey, though he still needed to have a good think about most of it to see where it fit in with everything else he knew, but nothing about how to stop this train wreck before it completely ruined his brothers life.

“You don’t.” 

Mandy slowly walked back towards her house, alone, it seemed Lip had at least a little self preservation instinct in him after all. She thought for a minute there he might offer to walk her home or something. Instead he chose the wiser path for once and left her alone with her thoughts.

She had just betrayed Mickey. She had told an outsider intimate details of her brothers life, the brother who had always been there for her in one way or another her entire life. She broke the Milkovich code. Family first, fuck everyone else.

She did it for Ian. That sweet boy who showed her that she was worth more than what she could do for a boy with her body. The boy she would probably be a little bit in love with forever. 

She wasn’t sorry.

If Lip didn’t start backing off Ian was going to be the one to pay the price for it, but the boy just didn’t learn from hints. He needed the bigger picture, he needed reasons and fact, that was just how his mind worked, so that’s what she gave him. She knew he wouldn’t go spreading it around or anything, but she also knew that even without him telling everyone else he was eventually going to get in a fight with Mickey and some if not all of it was going to come out in the heat of the argument. 

After that Mickey would come looking for her, he would know she was the only one who could have snitched on him about his past to Lip and he would be right. When that happened she knew she would have two choices, run for it as far and as fast as she could and never look back or stand her ground and take her punishment like all the rest. Unlike the others she knew if she ran Mickey wouldn’t come after her, she was his sister and he loved her, but that wouldn’t make leaving any easier.

She wasn’t sure what she would do yet, so she just pushed the decision to the back of her mind, she would decide in the moment. Who knows maybe Lip would be the smart guy everyone always says he is and keep his mouth shut about this forever.

Mickey laid across his bed and thought about his day at work. As days went it was as productive as he could have hoped for, he knew Ian wasn’t ready to come crawling back yet, but he would be soon enough. He had the Gallagher pride that was hard to crack, but he would get him in the end, he always got his way in the end.

Ian had managed to surprise him with that hit of his, it was actually pretty damn strong and not something he had expected from the younger boy. Sure he was a southie born and raised and he came from a family who took the whole fighting Irish thing to heart, but he’d never really heard anything about Ian getting into fights with anyone, that was left to the rest of them.

Flexing his fingers he felt the tug and burn of his healing knuckles with pride, Ian had put up a good fight for such a scared little rabbit. Maybe after this all blew over and everyone was back in their proper place he and Ian would start fighting for real, just to keep things interesting. Oh yes, the future looked fucking bright indeed.

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