One of her suitcase wheels squeaked.
As she approached the Gallagher house, the shouting from inside got louder, Fiona screaming at Carl for something or other while Liam cried and the other Gallagher children argued with each other about something.
Ian’s voice rose over the others for a moment, prompting a lull just as she wheeled onto the Gallagher property; and as she stared up at the ramshackle house, the shouting started again, Debbie screeching at her brothers while they argued back.
The girl stood at the front gate dragged her bottom lip through her teeth nervously, staring at the house as she tried to decide what to do - whether to knock, or wait, or just leave the loud but clearly happy family - but she was not left waiting long. The decision was made for her when Debbie let out a shrill noise of frustration and stormed out of the front door.
The youngest Gallagher girl stopped in her tracks when she was faced with the nervous red head stood at the gate.
“Who’re you?” Debbie’s voice carried, and was loud enough in the lull her exit had created that the other Gallagher children heard her and filed out rapidly, Carl wielding the baseball bat.
They all seemed to visibly relax when they took in the girl - with the exception of Ian, who seemed to get more tense while the girl zeroed in on him, her expression searching, verging on desperate - and Fiona called out to her, voice tired but joking.
“What, has Carl supposedly got you pregnant now?” The girl looked a little confused, before speaking up.
“Uh…no? I- no, that’s not why I’m here. You’re the Gallaghers, right?” She looked almost hopeful; and Fiona frowned at the girl.
“If you’re debt collectin’ Frank’s not here.” The strange red head shook her head quickly.
“No, I’m not- that’s not it either. I’m-” Ian cut over her; and she looked immensely relieved to have him do so.
“You’re Felicity. Flick; that’s your nickname.” She nodded quickly, and Fiona frowned at him, the eldest Gallagher girl having been rendered thoroughly confused.
“Ian…?” She asked; and he swallowed before continuing.
“We’ve been writing letters to each other. Since I found out Frank’s not actually my dad.” Fiona’s expression didn’t change.
“So…your pen pal has turned up on our doorstep?” Ian just frowned at Flick; and she spoke up carefully.
“I’ve been looking for Ian - uh, and the rest of you, I guess - since I was eleven. It was sort of ironic that he found me first.” She risked a smile, and the hard lines to Ian’s expression softened with the look; while Fiona’s frustration was increasing.
“Can someone please just explain to me what’s goin’ on?” Felicity took the initiative to speak up, expression open and honest and holding a familiar stubborn edge.
“I’m your sister. Ian’s twin, to be exact.” The confidence in her stance and expression slipped somewhat with the silence that followed her admission; and she shuffled her feet before concluding.
“And I don’t have anywhere else to go.” The Gallagher children all stared at her for a moment; before Fiona sighed.
“Well, come on in then. We’ll talk and then find you somewhere to sleep.”
“So you ran away?” Fiona handed Flick a cup of coffee, and the teenager smiled gratefully as she took it.
“Sort of, I guess. My case worker said if I could find any biological relatives and get a parent or guardian to say they’ll take care of me then I’ll be okay; out of the system, and whatever. But I didn’t tell the group home I was locked up in where I was going. Just sort of…left in the middle of the night.” She winced, sipping from her coffee, and Fiona sighed.
“You ain’t got adoptive parents or somethin’? Anyone else who could take care of you?” The teenager shook her head, staring into her cup.
“They both died in a car crash when I was eleven. I’ve been in foster care since then, since they didn’t have any living relatives. I didn’t know I was adopted until they died; and then I was being tossed between foster families so much I didn’t really get a chance to look for you. Ian writing to me was sort of a lucky break.” She smiled weakly, glancing back at her twin; and he returned the look, while Fiona looked between the two of them.
“Yeah, still waitin’ on an explanation as to that. How’d you find her? How d’you even know about her if Frank and Monica gave her away after you two were born?” Ian shrugged a shoulder, looking back at his eldest sister.
“When I found out Frank’s not my dad I dug up my birth certificate with Lip, went looking for hospital records. The nurse we talked to slipped us Monica’s notes from the night I was born; it was written out that she had twins. There’s a pretty low amount of girls born on my birthday called Felicity, so.” He shrugged again; and Fiona sighed, running her fingers back through her hair.
“Right.” She mumbled; before nodding to herself and getting to her feet.
“Right! You two are gonna bunk in Lip’s room for tonight. Lip can sleep in Ian’s bed. Tomorrow we sort out papers, school; and we can look at getting the basement fixed up for you to stay in. Family’s family, and I’m not sendin’ you back to one of those group homes.” Flick looked like she didn’t know whether to be grateful or suspicious; and Fiona snorted, nodding in satisfaction.
“Don’t quite believe it? Yep. Definitely a Gallagher.”
Ian set an extra blanket down on the end of Lip’s bed, drawing a brief smile and a murmur of thanks from Flick; and he smiled back at her cautiously before shutting the door and dropping to sit on the other side of the bed.
For a moment they were both silent; and then Flick spoke up.
“This is really weird, isn’t it.” Ian snorted and nodded.
“Yeah, it is.” They both laughed quietly for a moment, before Felicity flopped back on top of the covers with a sigh. Ian only hesitated a moment before laying beside her.
When he spoke it was cautious, like he was testing the waters as to what was and wasn’t okay to talk about.
“What were your adopted parents like?” She turned her head to look at him; before turning her focus back to the ceiling.
“They were nice enough. I guess I loved them more when I thought they were my real parents; learning the people who raised you bought you from your parents sort of sucks.” She turned her head to look at him again, smiling a little.
“But they were nice. They always made sure I had what I needed, and they were good people.” Her voice softened, her eyes getting a liitle distant.
“I miss them. Not always, and not a lot, but…you know. They were my parents for eleven years. I get reminded of them, or remember little things they used to do when I was little.” She got the focus in her eyes back; and regarded Ian for a moment, before speaking quietly.
“Are Frank and Monica really terrible? I got to visit our grandmother before she was released and she died, when I had that week when I couldn’t write to you? She told me some stuff.” Ian studied her face, before sighing.
“Everything she told you is probably true. Fiona’s our guardian now, though, so you don’t really need to worry about Frank; and you know Monica took off again.” She nodded, something sympathetic edging into her expression; before it twisted into something sad.
“Do you think…do you think some of Monica’s tendency to just sort of lose it, do you think that could pass down genetically? Not the bipolar disorder, just…flipping like that.” Ian’s expression turned concerned, and Flick backtracked quickly.
“I’m not, like, depressed or anything. Or I was, but I’m not any more. I just…” She sighed, looking back up at the ceiling.
“I have this habit of losing my shit. Kneecaps are usually the things that end up suffering.” She glanced back at Ian; and for a moment he managed to hold his composure, before he cracked and let out a snort of amusement.
Flick scowled and smacked him on the arm, and he chuckled a moment longer before shaking his head.
“That’s sort of a Gallagher thing; you don’t need to worry.” She still looked irritated for a moment; but then she yawned, eyes scrunching shut while she clapped a hand over her mouth. When she finished she looked twice as tired as she had done before, and she blinked at him sleepily.
“You know I walked for twelve miles to get here.” Ian looked almost impressed, and she smiled at him, before her eyes slid shut.
“I’m going to sleep now.” She mumbled, and Ian grinned.
He regarded her curiously, though, when she cracked an eye open.
“Can you do me a favour?” Her voice was a whisper, and Ian frowned at her.
“Sure, what is it?” She smiled a little, and her eyes shut again.
“The morning my adoptive parents died, they left before I was even awake; just called a babysitter and left. Can you promise to be here when I wake up? So I don’t freak out or have a panic attack, or accidentally take out Carl’s kneecaps.” For a moment Ian just stared at her.
His twin sister. Flick, straight red hair messy around her face and shoulders, the last of her freckles sat across her nose and cheekbones.
Asking him to stay.
He thought about the Army, about running away from everything that had happened with Mickey.
He thought about his brothers and sisters, his recently discovered twin sister who had been worried there was something wrong with fighting instincts, who had walked twelve miles to find him, who was asking him not to disappear the way her adoptive parents had done the morning they died.
He thought about Mickey asking ‘don’t’, the very extent of what he could get out but still more than Ian had expected.
He circled back to Flick, eyes now open, watching him carefully.
“I promise.” A smile settled across her face as she shut her eyes again; and Ian settled on top of his own pillow, eyes sliding closed.
/Not for him./
/For Flick. Not him./