They both get drafted to different teams. Ryan didn't except them to go to the same team unless maybe Anaheim or the Flyers but he wasn't really interested in being stuck in those organizations. He's not exactly thrilled that he's a Predator but it's not as bad as it could be. There building something, or so he hopes. Becoming a free agent can take awhile and he's sure if he requested a trade the day after the draft he'd be the next Eric Lindros.
Zach looks really good in a Devils uniform, like really good. Like a future Stanley Cup champion. He smiles all day and Ryan can't help but listen in on his interviews when he should be doing his open with the Nashville press.
Most of there summer is spent training and spending as much time together before there possible departure to the NHL. Zach doesn't seem to excited for training camp, deciding himself he won't make the Devils the year after they won a Stanley Cup. Ryan's got high hopes he makes the team but really thinks Zach's got a higher chance if he's honest.
"They don't need me there going to want to let me develop. That's how this works; get drafted, train all summer, hope your big enough the next season to make the cut." Zach tells him one night when there shooting pucks at his parents garage, still hearing Zach's brothers loud heavy metal music inside thought the crack in the window upstairs.
"Yeah but your Zach Parise son of JP Parise they'll want you."
"Yeah and your son of Bob Suter. Your 'Miracle on Ice' blood. Your an American hero's baby."
"I wouldn't go that far." Ryan says shoving Zach a little, who just smirks and keeps going.
"Every American hockey player wishes they had your dad. If my dad wasn't so cool is want your dad."
"Your so modest." Ryan snorts
"Whatever. I'm just saying you've got a pretty good shot of being something when you play for a organization that has 5 players on their team that actually have recognizable names. Where as I was drafted to a team that's already amazing and just wants me for the future."
After that Ryan tries to convince Zach the whole summer that he'll make the team. Even when there playing street hockey he lets Zach deke by him every time to score until he can tell Zach is catching on.
Zach doesn't make the team just like he thought but he definitely seems a little more confident after that. Ryan still likes to believe he has to do with it.
The summer after the lock out doesn't seem as exciting as it really ends up to be. Both Zach and Ryan know this is going to be their years to make their teams, they've even heard the rumours of how likely it is that it's finally true. Zach goes to Jersey for a good chunk of the summer to find someplace to live and spend sometime with some of his teammates. Ryan forgoes all this and stay back in Minnesota to spend some time with his family before he joins the Preds, hoping to bring a Stanley Cup to the music city and make something out of his career.
But when Zach comes home for a week or two at the start of August something in their friendship changes to a bit more then friends.
There watching some crappy movie late at night on Ryan's basement couch after a long day of training at the gym together when Zach kind of just leans his head on Ryan's shoulder. It's a little to romantic for there friendship, the only other time Ryan remembers something like this happening was when they fell asleep on the bus and woke up to Zach drooling all over him. He looks over at Zach whose making himself even more comfortable and tries to think of what to even say.
"Tired?" He asks smirking slightly when Zach's only reply is nodding into Ryan's shoulder.
Ryan's just about to reach for the remote and stop the movie and offer Zach a ride home when Zach says "Can I just sleep here? I'll even crash on the couch no biggy."
Ryan's a little stunned at that because the only time Zach's ever stayed at his parents house with him was the time he forgot his keys and didn't want to wake his parents breaking his bedroom window.
"Yeah sure. If you want I'll crash out here with you so you don't get lonely. There the pull out couch and all."
Zach nods but doesn't make any motion to move so Ryan gets up and pulls out the pull out bed. He runs up stairs and grabs some extra blankets and pillows and then heads back down the stairs still so confused to what's happening or what he's doing.
They sleep just fine, Zach on the pull out and Ryan on the couch. When he wakes up its really hot and he can hear his mom making breakfast upstairs and then he peeks over to Zach who looks,
Pretty damn adorable.
Their just friends but when you spend a lot of time with the same person sometimes you have those thought. Ryan's never thought he was gay, has had lots of sex with girls over the summers back in high school but look at Zach all curled on his side sucking on the corner of a blanket shirtless and just so calm and perfect it really does something to Ryan.
Being the legal age to drink is definitely a plus for the summer.
Or so you would think.
It doesn't end up that way however.
Zach and Ryan are still, well Zach and Ryan. Their still both acting to chicken shit to talk about all the weird moments they had last summer, longing stares, cuddling in more then friends ways. The thing is though Ryan's kind of messed up on that part. He didn't mean to he just kind of kissed Shea Weber one night. He swears to everyone it didn't mean anything and that he's straight, well except for his mega thing for Zach.
Zach on the other hand has been preparing since he got on the plane home to Minnesota what he's going to say to Ryan. How he's going to admit after the last 6 years that he's been in love with Ryan and hope Ryan fells the same.
When he gets off the plane there's already texts from Ryan asking when they can meet up. They haven't had a lot of time together, when Jersey was in Nashville they had morning practice then the game and then back on a plane and when Nashville came to Jersey Ryan got suckered by his team to go drinking while Zach was to scared to get caught by his captain and wouldn't come meet up with them.
Zach chickens out pretty quick on saying anything to Ryan and things go back to normal pretty fast. They spend a lot of time partying with old friends from Minnesota and then training when they aren't hung over. They do plan to do something with Vanek at one point but he bails last minute and so it's just Ryan and Zach for dinner and Ryan swears it felt like a first date with how awkward it got.
It's when there out at some frat party, both hammered and have been separated that Zach finds out about Ryan and Shea. All he hears is that they kissed, doesn't stay long enough to find out that's all that actually happened and goes storming over to Ryan and flips out on him for cheating on him while Ryan's so confused and plastered to know what the bells happening and then Zach's storming off to God knows where.
The next day Ryan has the worst hangover he's had since Dan Hamius made him do a keg stand for his birthday. He doesn't want to move from his bed but he also smells coffee and should figure out why Zach was yelling so much last night.
He's half way down the stairs when he hears Zach talking to his mother in the kitchen. He's not even sure how Zach was standing long enough to get over to his house let alone talking so much after how much they both drank last night. He isn't sure now if he should go the rest of the way down the stairs because what if Zach hates him now even though he's still not sure what he really did. He says fuck it though when his mom mentions making some eggs and finishes the flight of stairs.
"Oh good morning Ryan I see your finally up." His mom greats and then turns back to her eggs. Zach smiles but he looks kind of sad so Ryan just grabs some coffee and sits down beside him to wait to figure out what the jells going on.
They sit in silence for what seems like forever when Zach finally says something. Well more like whispers.
"Sorry about last night I was really drunk." He whispers looking down at his lap.
"I'll be honest I don't really remember what happened except for the screaming part." Ryan tells him honestly. It seems to help though because Zach laughs and shoves him a bit and calls him a light weight and they go back to their usual way of things.
Summer goes by pretty fast after that. August is spent just how July was and then it's September and Zach's got his ticket back to New Jersey and Ryan to Nashville. On their last day home they go to a drive in, not really caring about the movie just wanting a way to say good bye. They lie on top of the car and Ryan's sure Zach's staring at the stars instead of remotely caring about the movie but he doesn't care. Whatever makes the kid happy.
Ryan drops him off but walks him to the door to try and sneak a goodbye huge. When he leans in though Zach grabs his face and kisses him, soft and slow and just like in those romance movies and Ryan kisses back and pushes him up against the front door. They kiss until they need to break apart to breathe and then Ryan's kissing down his neck until Zach stops him.
"Wait, what about Shea?"
"Shea Weber! Aren't you afraid he'll find out your cheating on him!"
"Im not with Shea. We kissed one time when we were drunk I didn't mean anything. If we're being honest I was practicing for kissing you." Ryan says and the last part makes Zach feel funny, like he's that important Ryan needed to make sure he was good enough of a kisser to be with him.
Zach drags him inside after. And Ryan doesn't leave till the morning, almost misses his flight.
"Bailey this is your uncle Zach."
It's weird to see a child that's part Ryan and part Shea. He looks way to southern for a one year old. Zach doesn't say of this though, just crouches down and says hi to the little boy. He seems kind of shy but he probably doesn't remember Zach from when he was down their during the season, still just a crying 5 month old who ruined what would have been a pretty good one night stand between him and Ryan.
He can hear Shea and Kovi still unloading the car, Ilya packing way to much for a weekend in Nashville. He's still shocked he convinced him to come, knowing he probably would have rather left for Russia sooner.
They haven't even really been together that long, started sleeping together a month after he came to the Devils and the Ilya officially asked him out right around the end of the regular season. Zach likes him, he's funny and charming and his accent isn't as bad as a lot of the other Russian NHL players. He isn't Ryan thought, no one will ever be.
After only an hour he's pretty sure Bailey hates him. Every time Ryan's left the room to use the bathroom or get a drink Bailey starts crying and Shea has to come watch him. He likes Ilya, keeps playing with his beard. It shouldn't bother Zach, the kids only one and doesn't know him that well but he's Ryan's kid and Zach wishes he was his and Ryan's kid.
The second day their there they go to some Brad Paisley concert baroque thing that is exactly as Nashville as he thought it would be. He spends most of it with Ryan trying his best not to be to flirty or to stare at the wedding ring on his finger. He can tell Ryan's happy but it's not really helping him much. He mentions something about his contract coming up soon however and Ryan looks a little frazzled after that. Like he didn't want Zach to bring it up.
When they get home later and the kids in bed and Shea and Ilya are drinking in the yard still, throwing a ball for the dogs to play with, Zach corners Ryan in the guest room, wanting to know why he wouldn't answer the contract question before.
"Why do you care so much? Your going to stay in New Jersey with Ilya and Zajac and Paul Martin and whoever else is left."
"Does that bother you? And I never said I was staying."
"Why wouldn't you?"
"Because I want a Stanley Cup. And Id I don't have one by the time I'm 30 I'm going to be pretty upset. Now answer my question."
"It doesn't bother me. I'm just saying that even if I left you wouldn't come with me."
"Come with me? No Bailey, no Shea-"
"I'm just saying that if I left Nashville Id like if you left New Jersey too." Ryan says before walking out of the room. Leaving Zach to contemplate the fact that Ryan would leave and abandon his son and his marriage for him.
Zach doesn't want to go to Pittsburgh. He doesn't.
He doesn't think Ryan wants to either but their being really indirect about this whole thing. Zach will say Detroit's offering 6mil for 10 years, Ryan will say he wants 12 years. New Jersey offer them 10mil for 5 years Ryan won't move to New Jersey.
The only team that will offer what they want is Pittsburgh, well and Philly but Ryan gave a hard no on that one.
Pittsburgh offers 7mil for 12 years.
"Should we take it?" Zach says on his Bluetooth while driving to the dentist.
"I don't want to play with Sidney Crosby."
"Do you think anyone does? We're running out of options Ry."
"What about Minnesota?"
That's the first time that was brought up.
A week later Zach's sitting in a car outside Ryan and Shea's house waiting for him. Ryan's inside kissing his son on the cheek and leaving his wedding ring on top of the divorce papers on the kitchen island before grabbing his bag and running out to the car. Getting in and driving as fast as he can without being arrested and then 50 minutes later hopping on a plane with Zach and falling asleep hand in hand to his new life.
13 years, 7.5 million.
Shea calls the next morning 9 times before either his phone dies or he gives up. Zach and Ryan are to busy unpacking at their gorgeous new plot of land. Zach can't stop smiling and giving Ryan sweet kisses when they brush past each other. Ryan's still got an engagement ring in his back pocket for later that night, finally getting the life he wanted since he was 20 years old.
The one thing he does do is put a picture of Bailey on the fridge but it's not just a random picture. It's one of him and Zach and Ryan when Zach visited back in 2010 when he was just five months. The night Zach admitted he still loved Ryan and they shouldn't have broken up because Ryan and Shea slept together when they were drunk. That even though Ryan got pregnant it shouldn't have mattered and they should be together. The same night Ryan and Zach were half way naked and Bailey started crying upstairs, ruining everything, waking up Shea and ending their one night stand.
Now he's hear and he's the assistant captain to the Minnesota Wild about to purpose to his best friend. 2 years can really change a person.
Minnesota is eliminated by the Blackhawks, again, for the third year in a row in May.
Zach wants to go away this year, the last few have been nice in their home town but frankly it'd be nice to get away for awhile. Especially after the year they've had.
"Yeah but I can't leave my mom." Ryan says when Zach starts bringing up vacation locations.
"Ryan it's been like 5 months she's fine. I know she is. And she has my mom and my mom knows better then anyone what it's like to lose her husband."
"Maybe in June."
"Maybe now." Zach retorts.
But of course Ryan won't buy into it and just goes back to what he was watching on TV.
For the next few weeks their stuck in Minnesota hearing all about trade rumours and firings and about how they aren't even a serious contender anymore. It's driving him insane and he'd love to just get away, even if it was just for a weekend. Ryan though seems pretty set on spending their summer catering to his mom and having a freaking barbecue ever other night. So Zach gives him one final offer.
He approached him right before bed, Ryan already tucked in reading his book, and lies down beside him to explain his scenario.
"Either your coming with me to Nashville for the weekend or I'm going by myself."
"Why the hell are we going to fucking Nashville Zach?"
"You've seen Bailey what once since we moved here? I want to go on a vacation and you don't want to do anything apparently so I'm going to go give your son some damn love from the both of us and you can either stay here and mop about are playoff failure or come with me."
Ryan's stunned by how straight forward Zach's being but then again a lot of things Zach does still stun him.
"I'll... I'll come but we're staying in a hotel and you'll pick up Bailey from Shea's and bring him back to the hotel so I don't have to hear a big speech on how I abandoned them."
"Deal." Zach says with a big smile and curls up to Ryan's side placing a kiss on his cheek.
So they go to Nashville and Zach somehow connives Shea to let him borrow Bailey for a few days. They take him swimming and watch lots of Disney movies and after the first night Zach can't stop thinking what it'd be like if he and Ryan had their own baby.
On the way back to Minnesota Zach brings it up.
"Well I'd like another one but first I wanna ask you something."
"Would I be stupid to fight to get some custody on Bailey?"
"Of course not. I'm sure Shea wouldn't mind he seems pretty stressed having him all the time by himself."
So by the end of the summer Bailey's got a schedule to go to both Nashville and Minnesota now. Zach couldn't be happier, and neither could Ryan. A perfect little family even if it took awhile to get it.