Melky's quiet, leaning in the doorway with a fond smile on his face. Ryan's on the couch with Ryder sleeping in his lap. They'd started out watching Rookie of the Year (Ryder's choice, and by now Ryan's seen it so many times he can quote it verbatim) and as usual, the kid had fallen asleep halfway through. He'd finished it and let it roll over to the new episode of White Collar, volume low enough that it won't wake his boy.
“Yeah. Busy day, he's worn out. All the people, all the excitement. I'm surprised he was awake as long as he was. How about Melianny?”
“Asleep. But she'll be up again soon, no doubt.” Melky smiles, making his way to the couch and sitting next to Ryan. He leans over and puts the baby monitor on the coffee table before turning to Ryan, lightly stroking Ryder's hair before settling up against his boyfriend.
“Does it strike you that this is incredibly weird?”
“I wouldn't say weird.” Melky shrugs. “Maybe it's really fast, as we've told ourselves and eachother over and over again, but it works for us. Love at first sight, happens once in a 1000 years or something like that.”
Ryan grins. “Wonder if anyone would ever believe me if I told them you read L.M. Montgomery.”
“I'd just tell them I read it to the kids. And I do.”
“I think it's sweet.” Ryan murmurs, leaning in for a smooch. As kids are wont to do, Ryder yawned and blinked at his dad, patting his cheek and mumbling something unintelligible. “I think it's bed time. You gonna come up with us and say goodnight, Melky? Could read me and Ryder both a bedtime story.”
Ryder nods sleepy enthusiasm (he adores Melky, which has made all of this so much easier for Ryan to accept) and clings to Ryan's neck as they climb the stairs to the spare room. Ryan tucks Ryder in and settles on the the side of the bed while Melky grabs Anne of Green Gables and starts from the beginning. It's in Spanish, because while he's speaking English great his reading is still rocky, but that doesn't seem to matter, Ryder's been picking up Spanish quickly.
A few chapters and Ryder's out like a light. Ryan presses a kiss to his boy's cheek while Melky marks the place in the book and whispers something about how maybe the next time they skype, Ryan can read it to Ryder. He wraps an arm around Ryan's waist, hand squeezing at his hip as they creep out as quietly as they can and slip off to their own room.
As their routine dictates, Ryan takes the bathroom first to brush his teeth and wash his face. He watches Melky out of the corner of his eye as he does so. His boyfriend is leaning over Melianny's crib, a look of awe and wonder on his face. It's beautiful, really, and one of the driving forces in why he feels like such a jerk when he recalls how upset he'd been for the first few days after she was born.
He dries his face after he's washed it, flipping the wash cloth into the hamper before nudging his boyfriend towards the bathroom. Melky goes reluctantly, giving Melianny another look before he finally tears himself away. Ryan indulges himself, leaning down over the crib and brushing his fingers over her cheek before sliding into bed.
When Melky joins him, sprawled over Ryan's back like they usually sleep, Ryan cranes his head back for a kiss. “Life's pretty good, huh?”
“Definitely doesn't suck.”
They're up far too early for Ryan's tastes the next morning, but they have to get Ryder onto his plane and Melianny back to her mother and they have to have enough time to eat because Ryan always takes him out for pancakes before he goes home to Nicole. He's still rubbing the sleep from his eyes after dressing and leaving Melky to get himself and Melianny presentable. He can hear Ryder giggling downstairs and he follows the smell of coffee.
Maria hands him a mug of coffee and swats at his hand, telling him to leave her helper alone before turning back to the donuts Ryder is helping her to make. All he's really doing is (a bit messily) shaking powdered sugar over the fresh ones, careful to keep his hands away from them while they're still hot. Ryan obediently shrinks back to sit at the coffee table while he waits for his boyfriend, listening to the creaking overhead that tells him Melky's out of the bathroom and moving around their bedroom.
He's on his second mug of coffee when Melky finally makes an appearance, still sleepy eyed with Melianny cradled against his shoulder. He puts her car seat on the table and settles her in, kissing his mother's cheek when she passes by and stepping out of the way when she swats him and tells him to let her look at her granddaughter. Melky mumbles an affirmative and steals Ryan's mug for a drink before leaning in for a kiss.
“You ready? The pancakes are calling.” Ryan chuckles, rolling his eyes when Melky just grunts and keeps drinking coffee with his eyes closed. Ryan sends Ryder through the motions, tell Maria thank you, etc. He's a little proud when his boy hugs Maria tight all on his own.
They drop Melianny off first, Ryan and Ryder staying in the car but Ryder making sure to kiss Melianny on the cheek before Melky unstraps the carrier and takes her inside to Johana. The next stop is the airport and Melky goes inside with them. Ryan's skin is crawling because he hates this, he hates that he ever has to say goodbye to his boy and see him go and know that it will be weeks before he gets to see him in person, not just talk to him on the phone or see his face on the computer.
They eat at a diner near Ryder's terminal, all of them working their way through short stacks. Ryder's excited about everything but that's his default state. He's going home with yet another 32 jersey and a 32 t-shirt. There's more toys, more movies. Maybe he's overcompensating.
A cuff to the back of his head brings him out of his thoughts. He blinks and stares at Melky, who's pointing at Ryder who is staring at his father. “Um, what?”
“I said do I get to come see you again soon?” Ryder asks, and instead of sad, he looks optimistic.
“Yeah buddy, soon.”
“Melky and Melianny and Maria too?”
“Melky and Melianny and Maria too.” Ryan chuckles, leaning over and kissing his son's cheek, still sticky with syrup.
Their plates are empty and when he checks his phone, it's really almost past time for them to be getting Ryder onto his plane. He squares the check, gives the waitress an autograph when she asks and takes his son's hand as they walk through the airport, Melky alongside them pulling Ryder's suitcase. They check the baggage, escort him to his terminal. Ryan squats down and hugs him tightly, eyes stinging with tears but a smile on his face that falls the second Ryder takes the flight attendant's hand and disappears onto the plane.
Even knowing it's a direct flight, knowing that Ryder will be taken care of and that Nicole will be there to pick him up, it's always heartbreaking and terrifying to see his boy go.
He glances at Melky before staring at his shoes, sighing and nodding. Ryder won't be coming back out and there's no point in staying. They've got to get back to the house and get their gear before heading to the park. They stay a reasonable distance and Ryan says nothing at all, just pulls his hat down and shoves his hands in his pockets while they make their way back to temporary parking.
When they're in the safety of the truck, he finally gives in and wipes a hand over his eyes, hard and stinging. He takes a deep breath when he feels a warm hand against his neck, not looking up and just shaking his head.
“It's okay, Ryan. He'll be back. Next month we've got a week, you could see if Nicole will fly him out then. And you know she will.”
“I... yeah. But I can't keep asking people to help me.”
“Yes, you can, and you had damn well better. You want to see your boy, and everybody wants to help make sure that you can. Mama, she loves him, she doesn't mind babysitting and you know the other wives and girlfriends don't mind it either. Hell, even the other players. So take what everyone is more happy to give you and that you're lucky to be offered. Okay?” Melky's smiling, thumb brushing in a soothing rhythm over Ryan's jaw.
Ryan nods, leaning in for a kiss and resting their foreheads together. “Okay.”