On the first day of school, Annabelle's first day of school ever, she wakes them up by crawling into their bed. Ray pulls his head up from where he was drooling on Walt's shoulder.
"I don't want to go to school," she tells him. "I'm sick."
"No you're not," Walt mumbles, face in the pillows.
"I am, daddy," she says, looking at Ray.
"Ask your dad," Ray says, then hides his head like a coward, because he hates being bad cop. Walt is so much better at it.
Walt pinches his hip under the covers then sits up. "You have to go to school, Annabelle," he says in his stern voice. Ray loves Walt's stern voice. It's weirdly hot.
There is an argument Ray avoids with his face in the pillow, because he doesn't want Annabelle to go to school either, where she'll meet bad influences and learn how to snort pixie sticks or something, and then Ray will have to be disappointed in her and that will suck. But he has to go to work. And Walt has to go to work. And she really has to go to school.
Ray wants to find out when the fuck he turned into a grown-up.
When they finally get out of bed, Annabelle's pouty and won't let Walt dress her, instead insisting Ray chooses, which means full camo, totally full camo, and if it's pink camo that's because Rudy sent it for her. Not Ray. Ray would never pick pink camo, no matter how adorable it is.
"Why is it you're her favourite dad?" Walt asks grumpily, glaring at his coffee cup.
"Because I'm fun awesome dad," Ray says. "And you're boring responsible dad who always ruins her fun."
Walt smacks him.
"Ow," Ray says feelingly, then, "I'm not getting laid tonight, am I?"
Ray's totally not getting laid tonight, and he'd dwell, he really would, but then there's a knock on the door, and jesus, Annabelle is never getting to school.
Brad and Nate are at the door, Nate looking pissy and Brad looking the way he does when he tries to look innocent. Someone should tell Brad his face doesn't work that way.
"We were in the neighbourhood," Brad says.
Nate rolls his eyes.
"You still can't take my kid," Ray says. "Brad, we've discussed this. I got dibs."
"I won't take her," Brad promises. "But she likes me better anyway."
"You're just jealous because Nate won't let you have his babies," Ray says.
"Seriously Ray, did you ever learn where babies come from?" Brad asks.
"Orphanages," Ray says decisively.
"Can we come in so I'm not late for work?" Nate asks.
Ray reluctantly lets them in. Then there's a screech of "Uncle Brad!" and a tiny little projectile beaming through the apartment and into Brad's arms. Brad totally is her favourite. It's the most depressing thing ever.
It throws them off schedule, so by the time Ray convinces Brad that he can't kidnap his kid for the purposes of dropping off at school or escaping the country, they have to speed out the door before Ray even gets a shower. Nate should just give in and have babies with Brad already. Or they should repeal DADT. One of those is a problem, Ray's sure. Whatever the problem is, it has become his problem, his jealous, baby-snatching problem.
They all do it together, because Ray has to reluctantly admit that maybe they're the clingy parents who have to give the kid a send-off on her first day of school. Annabelle takes a hug from Walt without complaint, but after about ten seconds of Ray's hug, she makes an annoyed sound.
"Daddy, let go," Annabelle says.
Ray squeezes tighter.
"Daddy," she whines. "You're embarrassing me."
Ray reels back, struck. He knows where she learned the word, because Walt is over being embarrassed by him but totally not over saying Ray is embarrassing, but still. She's not supposed to be embarrassed by him until she's a teenager. He's read the books Momma Person bought him, then made paper airplanes out of the pages. He knows what to expect.
Walt makes a smug noise behind him. Ray lets Annabelle flit forward to join the class, because he knows a lost cause when he sees it, then he spins around and points at Walt. "You," he says. "You turned my spawn against me."
Walt smiles angelically. Ray is not fooled.
"I don't know how you did it," he warns. "But I will find out."
Walt's smile turns into a full-on beam. Ray slumps. "My baby doesn't love me anymore," he mourns.
Walt's smile slips a couple of notches. "Want to go home for a quickie before we go to work?" he asks gently.
"Yeah," Ray mumbles.
Walt's hand slips to the small of his back, warm, before sliding down to squeeze his ass.
"I won't forget about this," Ray says, even though he probably will as soon as Walt starts taking his clothes off. It always works out that way.
"I know, honey," Walt says in his humouring voice, and squeezes his ass again.
It's already forgotten.