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stay a while now, undress your colors

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The game is a mixture of pride and anxiety. Pride because his friends are being honored, his boyfriend is being honored. Anxiety because he feels like the worst father alive for having his boy visiting but having to push him off on a babysitter before and for the duration of the game. Not that Chelsea really counts as a babysitter, since she'd pretty much ordered Ryan to turn Ryder over. And Ryder hadn't even noticed his daddy's anxious face or the way that Cain had smacked Ryan upside the head for arguing with his wife. He'd just walked away holding onto Chelsea's hand, already asking for ice cream.

After the game, the second he's let loose, he's on his feet and looking for his son. He barrels into Melky without really noticing it's him, turns bright red and stammering an apology as his boyfriend waves him on. Blanco is pointing at him and laughing, which Ryan thinks is not a nice thing to do to someone who has taken you out for ice cream.

As if he's reading Ryan's mind, and he probably is, Cain points him in the right direction. Ryan manages a barely respectable thank you to Chelsea, blushes when she kisses his cheek and scoops his boy up, ruffling his hair. He runs the usual drill of questions and yes, Ryder swears he behaved himself and yes, he obeyed Mrs. Cain and no, he did not eat ice cream.

“Ryder.”

“I didn't! It was dip dots! Andandand I shared with Hartley!”

Ryan rolls his eyes and takes what he can get, shifting his attention to the field just as the lights are shutting off. As a parent, he's learned to pick his battles and he didn't actually forbid it. Midway through his mental self-justification, the first shell goes off, the night sky exploding with color. Ryder shrieks with delight and hugs Ryan's neck so hard it actually hurts a little.

These are the moments he lives for.

When the fireworks are over, Ryder's shifted off to Chelsea again for the time it takes Ryan to shower and change. He wanders to the player's lot with her, humming and jiggling a now drowsy Ryder. He deposits Ryder in the back seat of his truck, hugs her and thanks her for the millionth time because he just can't seem to help himself. Cain orders him to stop flirting with his wife.

A passing Blanco yet again points and laughs.

“YOU'RE A DEAD MAN BLANCO!”

Gregor's answer is maniacal laughter, cut short by the sight of Pagan and Romo walking very close together. He stalks away from Ryan with death in his eyes.

“You can't be left alone, can you?”

Ryan whips around, smiling sheepishly at Melky. “I uh...”

“Don't start.” Melky grins, waving his hand. “Angel and I, we know about your love affair. We are okay with it, just come home to the right people, yes?”

“I'm going home now. Jerk.”

“See you there. Bitch.”

***

Melky gets home first, mostly because he's a young guy with a very fast car that he's enjoying showing off in. Ryan takes his time and when he walks through the door, locking it behind him as per habit. The first thing he does is take Ryder up to put him to bed before he can wake up enough to argue, stopping for a minute at the bottom of the stairs so Ryder can say a sleepy good night to Maria.

Ryan settles next to his boy on the bed after tucking him in and turning on the nightlight. Every night since he was an infant, they've read Before I Go To Sleep to Ryder. Before it was both, or either one of them, and after the divorce it was whoever had him. On the nights that he can, he'll call to get a turn at it. Either way, Ryder always falls asleep halfway through. This time is no exception and after Ryan finishes, he just looks down at his boy, smiling. He leans down and presses a kiss to Ryder's temple before getting up, turning the light off and creeping out as quietly as he can.

He passes Maria in the hall and says goodnight, heading downstairs, comfortable in the knowledge that she's going to peek in on Ryder and make sure that Ryan hasn't completely traumatized his son. Her lack of faith in him is one of his new favorite things, right behind making Gregor Blanco weep like a little girl.

Melky's on the couch surfing through the DVR. Ryan sprawls out next to him, arm flung around his boyfriend's shoulders. “Your mom doesn't think I can put my own son to bed. Or take care of him for that matter.”

“Well how do we know you can? You're probably going to completely traumatize him, you monster.” Melky asks, settling on Despicable Me. He finally looks up, leaning in to kiss the corner of Ryan's mouth. “She likes you. And she likes Ryder. It's her way of showing that she cares.”

“Like that day we were both hungover and she was blaring Univision as loud as the television could go?”

“It builds character.”

“You are so full of shit.”

When Melky shushes him, Ryan obediently shuts his mouth and resists the temptation to quote the movie verbatim. It's a tenet of every successful relationship: do not overly annoy a partner with a very talented mouth. Ideally you shouldn't overly annoy any partner but the better they are with their tongue, the more you should try to behave yourself. Also never leave wet towels on the floor.

“Ryan?”

“Yes?”

“Stop thinking about what I can do with my tongue.”

“I'm not going to apologize for it.”

“Didn't ask you too. I'd just rather show you what I can do with it than have you thinking about it.” Melky smirks, grabbing Ryan's hand and pulling him up the stairs.

“Dude! My kid's asleep in this house, you creeper.”

“You're going to have to be very very quiet then, aren't you?”