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grow a love so free

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The apartment is quiet when Jamie wakes. He turns toward the other side of the bed, reaches over to find the space that Tyler usually occupies empty and cold. He listens for the telltale signs of Ava crying through the baby monitor, but there’s nothing. Throwing the blankets off of him, he flips on the lamp on the nightstand and winces at the harsh light. The clock on his phone reads 6:52 AM and he groans at being awake so early on a Saturday. At ten months, Ava sleeps through the night for, maybe, half the week and Jamie had been hopeful that he and Tyler would have a rare morning together – time to wake up slowly with his arms wrapped around his boyfriend, kiss him slowly and trade lazy handjobs before they started their day.

The hallway is quiet when Jamie steps out, no sounds of Tyler feeding Ava breakfast in the kitchen or them playing in the living room. Cash and Gerry perk up when he sticks his head into the living room, Marshall slower to respond behind them. Jamie sighs and heads for the front door, Cash weaving between his legs in his haste to get to where their leashes are hung. He clips all of them and holds on for dear life as the tug him out the front door.

By the time they get back, the apartment is still silent, and Jamie feeds the boys before finally going in search of his boyfriend and daughter. The only option left is Ava’s nursery, and he pushes the door as quietly and slowly as possible.

Jamie fights every urge to burst out in laughter as he takes in the sight, and also quashes a wave of love so intense that it steals his breath away. He takes in Ava in her crib, fast asleep, and then his boyfriend. Tyler’s dead to the world on the floor, his fingers threaded through the slats of Ava’s crib enough that he can hold her hand. Ava’s grip is tight, and Jamie can’t imagine how the position could possibly be comfortable for Tyler, but he knows that their daughter has had Tyler wrapped around her finger since the day she was born – even before they had known that Tyler was her other dad.

Jamie stands there and takes in the sight of the two most important people in his life and tries to fathom how he got so lucky.

He crouches down next to Tyler, pushes a stray curl off of his forehead and lets the backs of his fingers drift across his cheek and along his beard. Tyler stirs, leaning into the touch, and slowly blinks his eyes open. When he notices Jamie his smile is soft, something fond and lovely and meant only for Jamie.

“Hey.” He tells him, his voice croaky and rough.

“Hey yourself.” Jamie echoes, running his fingers down to Tyler’s neck. “Want to tell me why you’re asleep on the floor?”

He watches as Tyler turns to check on Ava and his smile changes, this time to something slightly awed and wholly devoted that Jamie has come to recognize as his Ava Smile.

“Little One didn’t want to stay asleep. I gave her a bottle and tried to put her back in the crib, but she kept reaching for me.”

“So, your solution was to lay down on the floor? You could’ve brought her to our room.”

“Didn’t want to wake you up.”

“Hmm.” Jamie hums, and Tyler laughs when he stretches out on the floor next to him, laying on his side with his head propped up on his elbow so he can watch both of them. Tyler scoots closer to Jamie, but still close enough to Ava that he doesn’t have to let go. “Your shoulder is going to hate you if you don’t let go soon.”

“Mmm, worth it.” Tyler mumbles, pressing his face into Jamie’s shoulder.

Jamie knows that his own body won’t like it if he stays on the floor for too long, but that doesn’t stop him from dropping an arm across Tyler’s waist and settling in.

Yeah, he thinks, absolutely worth it.