They'd fought and clawed and battled all season long, but try as they might, the Bruins hadn't been able to win a second consecutive Cup. Which fucking sucked, yeah, but it would have sucked a whole lot more if they hadn't won the year before. It's hard to repeat, after all, and managing to make it all the way back from their Cup hangover had been a pretty damn good accomplishment in itself.
Tyler doesn't go back home to Brampton after the season's over; he'll go back up for a little while at some point, yeah, but most of the guys are staying in town and he wants to stay too. Besides, Boston kinda feels like home to him now, even more than his parents' house in Brampton does. His mom doesn't give up trying to convince him otherwise until he's saying goodbye to her at the airport, though, and then when she hugs him goodbye, she tells him pointedly to behave himself this summer.
"I'm too young to be a grandmother," she laughs, then tells him she loves him one more time and goes to check in for her flight. Which, whatever. Tyler knows that he'd been irresponsible last summer, yeah, but he hadn't fucked his way through Boston's female population like most people seem to think. He'd only slept with three different girls -- or was it four? Probably four. Either way, it definitely wasn't that many.
And it wasn't like he'd left a trail of broken hearts in his wake, either. He'd even kinda sorta dated one of the girls, Sarah, for like a month until he'd realized that he wanted to focus on hockey right now and wasn't ready for a relationship, and she wanted something real. But they'd stayed in touch for a while afterwards, until she seemingly dropped off the face of the earth around the start of the season. It had been kinda weird, but Tyler hadn't had time to really worry about it. It wasn't like it was his problem, anyway.
After his parents leave, Tyler mopes around his apartment for a day or two, refusing to turn on his TV (because he's not ready to watch anything hockey-related yet, even if he is dealing with being knocked out of the playoffs in May much better than even he had expected himself to) before he lets Marshy convince him that going out to a club and getting shitfaced is a totally awesome idea. Marshy gets drunker than he does, and when Tyler hauls his drunk ass to a cab he decides it's easier to give the driver his address instead of both his and Marshy's. It's not like it'll be the first time Brad's crashed at his place.
Tyler's woken up way too early the next morning by a pounding on the front door that matches the pounding in his head. He shoves Marshy off of him -- he's not sure how Marshy got there, actually, considering he'd left him passed out on the couch, but whatever -- pulls on the first pair of jeans he finds on the floor, and goes to answer the door. A girl with a stroller and a large bag on her shoulder is standing in the hallway. It takes Tyler a minute to place her, and when he does he's overcome by a strange feeling that something here's not quite adding up.
"Sarah,” he says. “Long time no see.” She nods, but doesn’t say anything.
She looks different. Her hair's dark brown, not blonde like he remembers, and she looks like she’s stressed out. Probably has something to do with the baby she's got with her, he thinks. "Do you want to come in?" he adds a moment later, because his mother raised him to be polite and it's not like she's a salesperson or a Jehovah's Witness or someone. He actually knows her...or did, at least.
She nods. "Yeah. We need to talk," she says seriously.
Uh oh, Tyler thinks.
The baby’s a girl, it turns out. Her name’s Molly, she’s ten weeks old...and she’s Tyler’s kid, according to Sarah.
“Wait. Seriously?” he asks, before he can stop himself.
“I wouldn’t lie to you, Tyler,” she says icily, then sighs. “I didn’t mean to get pregnant, you know. And I never wanted you to know about her.” So that’s why you stopped answering my texts, Tyler thinks, but doesn’t say anything. “But...” she trails off. She sounds like she’s about to cry.
“But?” he asks, waiting for her to continue.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Sarah says quietly. “I thought I could, but I can’t. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to put her up for adoption, but since I put your name down on the birth certificate as her father I need you to sign off on it.”
“You can’t do that!” Tyler says quickly. “I don’t want my kid being raised by some stranger,” he adds. She looks at him disbelievingly.
“What, are you going to raise her?” she snorts. “Yeah, okay.”
Tyler knows that he should say no. He’s only twenty, he’s gone half of the time during the fall and winter, he has no one around who knows anything about babies, and his mom is probably going to kill him when she finds out about this. Letting Sarah put the baby up for adoption is the smart thing to do, really. But...he can’t bring himself to let her do that.
“No, I’ll take her,” he says decisively. “She’s mine, right?” Sarah nods slowly. “So she’s my responsibility then.”
“God, Tyler, she’s not a dog! She’s a person, who’s going to depend on you for everything for at least the next eighteen years. That’s a long time. Do you really think you can handle that?” She’s talking to him like he’s a little kid who doesn’t know what he’s talking about now, and it’s all Tyler can do not to roll his eyes at her.
“I’ll figure it out!” he answers. “Her being with me or my mom is a lot fucking better than her being in foster care.”
Sarah throws her hands up in the air. “Fine. Fine. You win. She is your daughter, after all, so you can take her instead. Do me a favor, though?” she asks.
“Anything,” he says.
“Don’t...don’t try and contact me,” she says. “If I really want to see her, I know how to reach you, but...I don’t think I will. Okay?” Tyler nods; he doesn’t know what to say to that, anyway. She stands up and moves towards the front door, then pauses with her hand on the doorknob. “Her birth certificate’s in the diaper bag,” she adds, then opens the door and walks out, leaving Tyler alone with a sleeping baby he has no idea how to take care of.
He peeks in the stroller a few minutes after Sarah leaves, but the baby -- Molly, he reminds himself -- almost doesn’t look real to him. She kinda looks like those baby dolls he remembers his sisters having when they were younger. She’s quiet, too. If it weren’t for the barely visible rise and fall of her chest, he’d probably wonder if she was even breathing. But since he doesn’t think he’s ready to deal with a crying baby quite yet, he leaves her be and wanders into the kitchen to make coffee.
When Tyler goes to check on the baby again twenty minutes later, he stops dead in his tracks when he sees Marshy standing next to the stroller with the baby in his arms, making silly faces at her. He opens his mouth to say something, but can’t seem to find any words. Marshy smiles when he sees him standing there.
“There’s a baby here,” he says. Tyler nods. “Whose is she?”
“Mine, apparently,” Tyler sighs. Marshy’s eyes widen, but he doesn’t drop the baby or anything dumb like that like Tyler probably would have if the situation had been reversed.
“No shit?” Marshy asks. “Huh. She’s cute, bro. What’s her name? And how in the hell did she get here? Cause she wasn’t here last night...right?”
Tyler sits down on the couch, cup of coffee still in hand. From here he was a clear view of Marshy and the baby and thinks she looks happy; he can’t quite tell, but he’s taking the fact that she’s not crying or even whimpering as a positive sign. “Um. Molly, apparently. And her mom brought her to me this morning when you were still asleep cause she was going to put her up for adoption and needed my signature, but I just...I couldn’t let her do that.” Tyler rubs his eyes and groans, “I’m a fucking idiot, aren’t I?”
“Nah,” Marshy reassures him. “You’re not a fucking idiot. I would have done the same thing if it were my baby,” he adds. Which, honestly? Doesn’t really do anything but help prove Tyler’s point about how he’s an idiot, but he takes a sip of his coffee instead of pointing that out. He doesn’t want to piss off the guy holding his daughter, after all.
It doesn’t take long for Tyler to realize that Marshy’s...pretty good with babies, weirdly enough. A million times better than he is, anyway. The first time he holds Molly, he nearly drops her (she’s just so tiny and squirmy, okay), but when Marshy holds her he looks like he’s been holding babies his entire life or something. Marshy also knows how to burp her, Tyler learns after they give Molly the bottle of formula that was in the diaper bag along with a few diapers and a change of clothes. She drifts off to sleep again after she’s been fed and changed.
“You should order a crib and a car seat and stuff online,” Marshy tells him.
“Uh...why?” Tyler asks confusedly. He’d been thinking about asking Marshy to watch her while he went to Toys R Us or something and bought what she needed. It had seemed like a good plan to him, but when he tells Marshy that he just laughs at him.
“Because it’ll be all over the fucking internet in an hour if you go buy that shit yourself,” Marshy says, like it’s obvious. Which is probably is, actually, but Tyler’s brain isn’t really working how he wants it to right now.
“Good idea,” Tyler says, because it is. Then he adds, “I should get pink stuff for her cause she’s a girl and girls like pink shit, right?”
“I think she’s too young to care, man,” Marshy answers, but it’s not a no, exactly, so Tyler takes it as a yes and buys a pink car seat and a crib with pink and white bedding and couple of dresses for her, too, because he knows that one change of clothes isn’t enough. The fastest it can be delivered is the next day, which means that Molly’s gonna have to sleep in her stroller for the rest of the night. It sucks, but it’s not like he has another option. And it could be worse: she could have to sleep in a drawer like you see in cartoons sometimes. Now that would fucking blow.
Marshy goes out and buys some diapers and formula and baby food after lunch, brings it back to Tyler, and then leaves again. Tyler doesn’t hear from him again that day, or the next day...or the next day. It’s is probably not nearly as big as a deal as the little voice inside his head seems to think it is. He can handle Molly on his own, thank you very much; his first impression of her being a quiet baby turns out to be true, which makes it easier on him. Plus, she’s cute. Really cute, Tyler thinks proudly as he watches her sleep in her new crib. She has big brown eyes, which probably come from him since Sarah has blue ones, and she’s just so damn happy almost all of the time.
She’s definitely the awesomest baby Tyler’s ever known.
Marshy finally shows up again on the sixth day after Molly appeared in his life (not that Tyler was counting or anything). He’s brought more diapers, along with a Bruins onesie and a little white teddy bear in a pink dress.
“What?” Marshy says defensively when Tyler holds up the teddy bear and raises his eyebrows. “It’s cute, okay? And I thought Molly would like it.”
(She does, if the way she immediately stars chewing on the bear’s ear is any indication.)
Tyler’s about to ask Marshy why he didn’t text him or anything for nearly a fucking week when Marshy asks him if he’s called his mom and told her about Molly yet.
“Fuck,” Tyler groans. His mom is really, really going to kill him now, since he didn’t even think of telling her about her granddaughter for almost a week now.
“Thought so,” Marshy nods. “Call her now, bro. I’ll watch your baby for you.”
So Tyler does. It’s strange as hell to tell his mom over the phone that, hey, she has an eleven week old granddaughter that no one knew about until a few days ago, but she doesn’t cry, doesn’t threaten to kill him, and doesn’t make immediate plans to come to Boston and take care of the baby herself, so Tyler counts it as a win. She does demand pictures, though, so Tyler puts her in the Bruins onesie Marshy brought and takes a couple to email to her.
Marshy watches him quietly before asking, “So?”
“She’s not going to kill me,” Tyler answers. He picks Molly up and kisses her on the cheek, then hands Brad his phone. “Take a picture of us, bro. My mom wants one.” Marshy does as instructed, then takes Molly from Tyler’s arms and demands a picture of his own. Tyler takes it, then sends them all off to his mom. He gets a reply from his mom almost immediately, gushing about how cute she is and promising to spoil her rotten.
“See, I knew she’d love you as much as I do,” he tells Molly seriously.
Molly just coos at him.
Marshy comes over nearly every day after that, bringing something along for Molly more often than not. When Tyler tells him that he’s going to spoil her, Marshy laughs in his face.
“She’s my best bro’s baby. I think that means I’m allowed to spoil her.”
Tyler doesn’t argue, mostly because Molly really loves Marshy. Her face lights up whenever she sees him, and she babbles and coos until Marshy gives in and picks her up. He’s almost like a second dad to her, Tyler thinks one day as he watches Marshy toss her up in the air while making silly noises, trying to make her laugh without even seeming to care that Tyler just fed her so there’s a good chance she might puke all over his face, which would be nasty. (Hilarious, but really, really nasty.)
And it’s kinda strange just how much he likes that idea. The twisty feeling he gets in his stomach at the same time is even weirder, so he shoves it to the back of his mind and tries to forget he ever thought it. It doesn’t really work, though, because that same weird feeling he had in his stomach the first time he thought about it comes back every time he sees Marshy feed her. Or play with her. Or rock her to sleep. Or, well, every time he sees Marshy with Molly, honestly. It’s weird, and he tries not to think too hard about what that feeling might mean.
So of course his mom picks up on it immediately whenever she finally comes down to meet Molly, about a month after he first called her.
He and Marshy are sitting on the couch watching some movie when his mom walks in. Molly’s asleep on his shoulder, so he can’t get up and hug her, but Marshy jumps up almost immediately and goes over to shake his mom’s hand. He makes up an excuse to leave that Tyler knows is complete bullshit a few minutes later, but Tyler lets it go cause he promises to come back the next day.
Tyler’s mom watches him go with a strange look on her face, then turns to Tyler.“Let me see my granddaughter,” she says (demands), then plucks the sleeping baby off Tyler’s shoulder like she’s done it a thousand times before -- which she probably has, Tyler realizes, considering she has three children of her own -- and cradles her in her arms. She smiles as they watch Molly yawn, then settle into his mom’s arms and go back to sleep. “She’s beautiful.”
Tyler nods, because yeah. She is. “She’s a really good baby,” Tyler tells her. “She barely ever cries. And she likes people, too,” he adds.
His mom turns that strange, unreadable look on him for a few seconds, then says, “When you say she likes people, do you mean Brad?”
“She likes the doctor too?” Tyler tries. Which is partially true; she’d liked the doctor he took her to last week until it was time for her to get her shots. Then Molly had screamed and cried like he’d never heard her cry before. But whatever. His mom doesn’t need to know that part.
His mom hums. “Does Brad help you out with her a lot?”
“Yeah,” Tyler confirms. “He’s over here almost every day. He’s really good with her, too. I would have been fucked without him for a while.”
“Don’t curse around the baby,” his mom says immediately. “I’m glad you had someone to help you out,” she adds after a moment.
“Me too,” Tyler agrees. That odd twisty feeling in his stomach’s back.
He ignores it.
Having his mom around means Tyler gets to catch up on some of the sleep he’s been missing ever since Molly came into his life. It’s pretty sweet. He wakes up one morning to find his mom, his baby, and his wallet missing, but they reappear by the time he’s showered and dressed...along with a mountain of shopping bags. “Did you buy out the whole store?” he asks.
His mom just laughs at him.
One of the things his mom bought for Molly was a new teddy bear, a big gray one that’s nearly as big as she is, but she ignores it in favor of the white one Marshy brought her weeks ago.
“It is cute, I guess,” his mom says begrudgingly after two days of trying unsuccessfully to get Molly to take her new bear instead. “Kinda small, but cute. Where’d you get it from, anyway?”
“I have no idea,” Tyler admits. “Marshy got it for her.”
“Ah,” his mom nods. She takes a deep breath, then says, “I have to ask, does Brad know you’re in love with him?”
Tyler chokes on his Gatorade. “I’m not in love with Marshy!” he sputters. His mom just raises an eyebrow at him.
“Tyler, you’ve talked about three things since I got here -- Molly, hockey, and Brad. I know you love hockey, and it’s pretty clear you love Molly.” He nods; yeah, he loves hockey. Always has, since the first day he put on a pair of skates and held a stick in his hand. Hockey’s always been number one on his list of priorities...except sometime in the past six weeks or so, Molly took over the number one spot on that list, because Tyler loves her more than he could ever love hockey because she’s his.
“And so I’m pretty sure you love Brad, too,” his mom continues. Tyler wants to argue with her about this, he really does, but he doesn’t know what to say. What his mom just said makes sense in ways he doesn’t wanna think about, because love would definitely explain that weird feeling he gets in his stomach when the thinks of Marshy, too...
“Oh, God,” he finally says. His mom pats him on the back comfortingly.
“You should talk to him, you know.” Tyler shakes his head immediately; there is no way in hell he’s talking to Marshy about this. What in the fuck would he even say? Hey, bro, you’re totally awesome with my baby -- she totally loves you, and I think I do too? Yeah, that would go over well.
“No,” he says. “I’m not talking to him about...whatever this is. It’ll go away,” he says confidently, even though he doesn’t feel confident about it at all. His mom gives him a pitying look, but lets the subject drop.
Marshy comes over a few hours after his mom leaves to go back to Brampton, and it’s as awkward as fuck. Tyler can barely look Marshy in the eye without wanting to do something stupid, like kiss him or, even worse, turn into a sixteen year old girl and tell Marshy he loves him. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Molly’s cranky as hell -- she won’t eat, and she won’t stop whimpering. Not even Marshy can get her to smile.
Tyler wants to slam his head against a wall in frustration.
“Maybe I should just go,” Marshy says when Molly’s whimpers turn into full-blown tears.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Tyler says somewhat desperately. He really, really doesn’t want Marshy to leave -- it’s the last thing he wants to happen right now, actually -- but he doesn’t know how to say that without sounding weird. Marshy opens his mouth to say something, but Molly interrupts him with a scream. Tyler’s heart breaks at the sound; something’s wrong with his baby, and he has no idea how to make it better.
“Segs?” Marshy says hesitantly. “You okay?”
Tyler shakes his head. “Something’s wrong with her and I don’t know what to do to make it better...and I can’t even call my mom because I don’t think she’s home yet.”
“We can call my mom?” Marshy suggests. “She might know what to do.” Tyler nods frantically, and Marshy leaves the room to go call his mom.
“It’s going to be okay, sweetheart,” Tyler tells Molly as he waits for Marshy to come back, mostly for his own benefit cause he knows there’s no way she understands what he’s saying right now. He leans over the rail of her crib and brushes her sparse hair back from her forehead and realizes she feels warmer than normal at about the same time he hears Marshy come back in the room.
“My mom says it sounds like she’s coming down with something,” Marshy says.
“She feels warm,” Tyler agrees.
“Okay. Um, Do you have any baby tylenol?”
“In the kitchen.”
Marshy goes to grab it, and he’s back so fast Tyler thinks he must have run there and back. He picks Molly up and holds her steady as Marshy measures out the correct dosage and attempts to give it to her; she sputters and screams and kicks, but together they manage to get almost all of it down.
“My mom said it should kick in pretty quick and she’ll probably pass out when it does,” Marshy tells him. Tyler nods and mentally crosses his fingers; he doesn’t say anything like ‘I hope she’s right’ because he knows Marshy’s thinking the exact same thing. “Can I hold her for a bit?” Tyler passes her over wordlessly and follows them into the living room, where he slumps down on the couch and watches as Marshy paces back and forth with Molly against his shoulder, trying to lull her to sleep.
Marshy turns towards Tyler with a triumphant smile on his face after about twenty minutes. “She’s asleep,” he whispers.
Tyler sighs in relief. “God, I love you,” he says passionately. Marshy’s eyes widen as Tyler realizes what he said. “Uh. I love you as a bro. You know,” he says, trying to cover his tracks. Marshy rolls his eyes, but doesn’t say a word before he disappears back into the bedroom to put Molly in her crib. He reappears a minute later with a smile playing at the edges of his lips.
“You love me, huh?” he asks. Tyler drops his head back against the couch and closes his eyes with a groan.
“It’s just like, so good with Molly,” he admits. “You’re like -- you’re like another dad to her, and it’s awesome and she loves you a whole hell of a lot and I guess...um. I do too,” he finishes lamely. Marshy doesn’t say anything at first, which kinda freaks Tyler out. But when he opens his eyes and looks up, he sees Marshy...trying not to laugh at him, because he’s an asshole.
“Hey,” Tyler whines.
Marchy grins. “You sound like a fourteen year old girl, Segs,” he teases. Tyler feels his face heat up in embarrassment, but he waits for Marshy to continue because he looks like he has more to say, and Tyler’s really, really interested in hearing it. (He thinks, anyway.) “But, you know. I do too. I mean,” he says awkwardly.
“Yeah?” Tyler asks.
“Yeah,” Marshy nods.
“Then get your ass over here,” Tyler orders, since it’s not like they can go into his bedroom right now considering there’s a sleeping baby in there. But it’s okay, cause his couch is pretty comfy too -- at least, Marshy’s never complained about how uncomfortable it is all the times he’s crashed on it, anyway. When Marshy’s close enough for him to reach out and touch, Tyler pulls him down onto the couch next to him and kisses him.
It’s pretty fucking awesome.
When Tyler’s mom comes down to visit again just before training camp, there’s nothing left for her to buy for Molly with Tyler’s money cause Marshy’s already bought her everything she could ever want and then some.