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I Promise the Next 18 Years

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School will teach you how to divide imaginary numbers, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, even ROYGBIV, but they always leave out the important things. How to balance a checkbook-what even is a checkbook? How to build a home with those you care for-all i remember from school was females ripping each others hair out. I was never taught about health insurance, I didn’t even realize a deductible is something you have to pay before insurance will aide you. And why is health insurance, house insurance, and auto insurance all completely different!? These things I classify as the need to know to Adult, but sadly schools don’t teach us these things. I graduated from high school and immediately started working, no college for me because money is something I did not have nor did I have an understanding of loans-other than they are the devils' work.

 

A young adult trying to make it on her own, drowning as I was forced to learn so much in such a little amount of time. All those failures led me here, to a … odd job in Austin and a wonderful boyfriend of ten months. After six years of failing as an adult, I was finally getting my life together. Twenty-Five-year-old finally managing her finances properly, no more phone calls to mom about how to fix the garbage disposal, things were finally looking up.

 

Until they weren’t.

 

I’d been working behind the scenes for Achievement Hunter for a year now as … well, basically a personal assistant for everyone in Achievement Hunter. Two months after being hired I finally worked up the courage to talk to my now boyfriend outside a work setting and it was worth it. I was comfortable and happy as the new year began when I realized my period was late and I hadn’t been feeling too great. I should have been more worried when I walked into the doctor's office this morning but I wasn’t, I didn’t think I had a reason to be. I wasn’t the most active of people but I did engage in physical activity despite being slightly overweight. I ate pretty healthily most the time, salads and fruits being my favorite go to’s after the dreadful food I would eat at lunch. Ryan and I almost always used protection and I was on the pill. Why should I worry if I was relatively healthy?

 

In retrospect, high school did teach me safe sex-I remember that day being very scarring as our 80-year-old health teacher explained condoms and STD’s. I shivered at the memory. The one thing school had taught me and I hadn’t even bothered to look back on it, so maybe it didn’t matter what they taught me in the end. When my OBGYN walked in after the tests instead of my primary care physician I should have known what she was going to say but I was confused at the change in doctoral support. There were no secrets between my OBGYN and I-could there really be with someone who knew parts of you that so few do? So, when she handed me the news in a form of congratulations I should have played along. I’d always dreamed of a day when I’d become a wife and a mother but when the news fell from her thin lips my heart plummeted and I fought back tears.

 

How could this have happened? We always used protection! Except the one night we didn’t, his birthday had snuck up on me and I had wanted things to be perfect. Our condom supply was out but I was on the pill so it didn’t really matter. Idiot me! Did I forget my own mother had the IUD implant when she got pregnant with me? I wasn’t against abortion except in my own case, as a woman who had been sexually assaulted I didn’t believe rape was enough reason to sanctify murder. This baby was going to happen and I had no idea what the next step was as I sat weeping in my car outside stage 4. How could I raise a child in a tiny one bedroom apartment? I forgot to let my dog out to poop sometimes! My face was hot with the exertion of crying as my shaking hands pulled out my phone and did the only thing that ever made sense.

 

I called mom.

 

Moms, the answer when no one else had one, taught me everything the school system couldn’t. How could I be that person for someone else? Such responsibility, commitment, and in my mind I’d be doing this all alone. Telling Ryan hadn’t even crossed my mind as my mother answered the phone on the fourth ring.

 

“Hey baby squirrel!” my mother’s cheerful voice should have calmed me but it didn’t.

 

“Mama,” I tried to sound strong but my voice was thick with tears and I hiccuped midway through the word.

 

“Melissa, calm down baby girl and tell me what's going on?” she turned on a dime from cheerful to full mom alert. How could she do it so easily? How hard would it be for me to learn?

 

“Mama I messed up.” I wept into the phone my free hand gripping the steering wheel as I gritted my teeth, angry at myself for what was happening. I only had myself to blame, Ryan had voiced his concerns and I brushed him off.

 

“Did something happen at work?” I shook my head no, though she couldn’t see it she continued on as I cried into the speaker on the phone. “Something with Ryan?” another moment of silence before she continued on. “Your apartment?” I could hear her running out of options in her voice but I was struggling to say it. “You need money?”

 

“I’m pregnant, mama,” I whispered into the phone. Her silence spoke volumes, I knew my mother well, inside she was ecstatic to finally become a grandmother but my state of unease gave her pause for concern.

 

“How far …” she trailed off trying to rid herself of the excitement, knowing I needed her composed for the hell I was putting myself through.

 

“About a month.”

 

“Does Ryan know?” she was calming down but now I had fresh tears to cry as more panic pulled out my heart so heavily I thought i might slide from my chest.

 

“He’s gonna leave me! I haven’t told him! We never-He never-” I was becoming hysterical.

 

“Melissa stop!” My mother’s voice was harsh and demanding as she tried to break through to me. I tried to force the tears to stop but I end up choking on them instead. I placed my cold hands on my flaming cheeks and closed my eyes as my mother shushed in my ear.

 

“I think … I think I am calm.” I whispered as my heart rate began to slow from the erratic beating.

 

“Your not, your voice is quivering.”

 

“Quivering? Big word for you mama.” I joked easing some of the tension in my shoulders.

 

“Alright smartass!” mama and I laughed and more tears began to fall. “Mel, baby girl you need to calm down. You are going to clean yourself up, finish your work day, and talk to Ryan.”

 

“What if he leaves me, mom?” I sounded so vulnerable, I can’t remember ever being so weak. Of course, I had but right now the memories failed to surface.

 

“You don’t need a man to raise a child if I can do it alone, so can you.”

 

“But mama I can’t do that to another child! The questions, the empty spot needing to be filled by a father figure…” I know the truth hurt my mother, she’d always done her best being both mother and father but she always had to field questions from my brother and I.

 

“You won’t be alone, you got me and your brother, you are never alone. But right now you are overthinking things, you need to talk to Ryan before you start living the single life again.”

 

“I love him … I don’t think,” my voice cracked with the heartbreak of my words. “I don’t want to lose him.”

 

“Something tells me you won’t. I don’t know him as you do but I like to think I know him well enough to know he isn’t going to abandon you.”

 

“I don’t even know if he wants kids!”

 

“I think he’s the type of man who won't let you do this alone.”

 

I spent the next ten minutes in the car, my mom talking me down as i try to relax enough to get through the rest of the workday. I pulled a tissue out of my glove box and whipped my tears, my eyes were still red and puffy but a cold cloth would help with that if I could get inside without anyone noticing. When I finally entered the building the main room was in the middle of recording so it was easy enough for me to slip into the laddie's room and get that cold cloth.

 

“I just need to make it through the day” I took a deep breath and went into work mode. I could get so easily lost in my work, it always brought a smile to my face. I had earbuds in and was typing away on an excel sheet the upcoming schedule of game releases in no time. A rambunctious song to led me through the keys, I was finally relaxed. The music in my ears was too loud for me to hear my coworkers calling my name or our door open until a hand on my shoulder made me jump out of my chair. I yanked out my earbuds and turned to see Trevor smiling at me.

 

“How was the appointment?” he asked with genuine concern but with his busy schedule I could see the wheels turning and his next question already formulating.

 

“What do you need Trevor?” I laughed instead of answering him. I was afraid I would have another panic attack if I mentioned it.

 

“Can you do a lunch run?” he smiled sheepishly.

 

“Sure thing! What does everyone want?” When he rubbed the back of his neck I knew he hadn’t even asked them yet. “I got it.” I rolled my eyes and headed to the main room.

 

The usual people were about, some engrossed in their computers others talking about one thing or another. When I opened the door Gavin jumped in surprise and Michael laughed.

 

“What do you losers want for lunch?”

 

“Oh you know what we want,” Michael said in a low voice and I knew he was going to make me go to McDonald's. He always wanted McDonald's when I was doing the lunch run because they faithfully got everyone's order right except my own.

 

“How about tacos?” I tried.

 

“I’m in the mood for a big mac.” Michael smirked.

 

I sighed and began to go around the room recording everyone’s order, though at this point I think I had memorized their favored meals out the most frequented establishments. When I got to Lindsay I had already added nuggets by Lindsay’s name, she smiled blaming the pregnancy. I stumbled stepped as I looked at her realizing this would be me in a few months, I tried not to think on it but uncertainty had my eyes getting glossy again so I quickly moved towards Ryan.

 

“Usual?” I asked softly. When his eyes met mine he knew something was off, neither of us was really much for PDA but he placed a comforting hand on my forearm anyway, as if that could help.

 

“Everything alright?” his voice was low, trying not to draw too much attention to us or the conversation we had started.

 

“Honestly,”I gave a forced smile. “I’m having a rough day.” He gave me that look that said he understood and I gasped out a chuckled, if only he truly knew. “Can you come over tonight?”

 

He pondered a moment, thinking over his schedule. One thing I loved is he never made a promise without thinking it over, he wasn’t going to promise something he couldn’t do. While most of the time his promises came a little late if he made a promise he kept it. “I should be able to.”

 

“Okay,” I sighed, closed my eyes and smiled. Putting on my best waitress voice I could I smiled at him. “What can I get you?”

 

“Ew, I’m gonna be sick.” Michael groaned making me laugh more.

 

“So no Big Mac then?” I teased only for him to throw a moonball in my direction.

 


 

I was nervous, I hadn’t been this nervous since our first date. I remember thinking about all the dates I’d ever been on, all of them had wanted sex after dinner and I had been worried Ryan would want the same. Dinner conversation came easily with him and he had been the perfect gentleman easing my anxiety and at the end of the night all he had wanted was a kiss goodnight and I was the one left wanting more. Tonight was much like that, I had come home and immediately started baking and cooking. Mama always said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach and the statement rang true with Ryan. Brownies in the oven, chicken alfredo in the pot, I was pacing between the kitchen and my living room trying to figure out what to say and how to say it.

 

I went to change my outfit, I had a lovely green sundress that always made me smile and Ryan had voice his appreciation of it once. But then I looked down at the nonexistent baby bump and convinced my paranoid mind that he’d know right away. Instead, I slipped on Rooster Teeth sweats and a baggy Achievement Hunter t-shirt. I returned to the kitchen and just stared at the food as if it held the secrets to life in the white sauce.

 

When I heard the key turn in my lock my heart rate began to speed again, why was I so afraid? Ryan had never been cruel or frightening towards me, the worst he would do is leave me. He walked in with a twelve pack of diet coke smiling.

 

“Hi!”

 

I wanted to laugh at his Diet Coke problem or giggle at his usual hello but instead, word vomit racked me. I needed the tension out of me, clear the air. Put the information out their so I would have done my own part.

 

“I’m pregnant!” I blurted.

 

Ryan snorted on the coke in his hand and began coughing as he tried to clear his throat from the onslaught of dark liquid. I grabbed a napkin and handed it to him before taking a step back as if he needed me as far away as possible. He cleaned himself up and sat down at my kitchen bar, remaining silent. I didn't know what to do, I know he needed to process what I had just said but I was impatient by nature. When he didn't immediately respond dread filled me and I needed fresh air.

 

“I'm going to take Sammy out to go potty,” I whispered and moved towards the hook with my dogs' leash on it. I thought he'd stop me, say something to reassure me or grab me and pull me close because he always did. When he didn't my skeptical mind ran with it.

 

Sammy whimpered at my feet as I sat on a bench in the courtyard of the complex. He knew something was wrong, he loveable guy just help right now.wanted to make me happy. He jumped onto the bench beside me and placed his head in my lap. I pet him but my mind was preventing me from actually acknowledging the canine.

 

Ryan was going to leave me. He never hesitates when he knows I'm distressed.

 

I felt cold tears slip down my hot face before Sammy moved to kiss them away. I pushed him down on to the ground, his comfort wouldn't help right now.

 

"Go potty!” I snapped.

 

He moved towards the grass slowly, like he was the cause of my turmoil. I would snuggle him later, right now I needed the silence.

 

"Hey, neighbor!”

 

I turned my head to see one of my neighbors in workout clothes and jogging towards me. We had a few casual conversations nothing really noteworthy. I gave a forced smile and waved I thought that conveyed my lack of desire to talk but he stopped right in front of me.

 

“I saw your boyfriend heading up to your apartment on my way out for my run, he looked excited.” he tried to make small talk.

 

“He thought he was coming over for good news and instead he got news … no one was expecting.” I sighed.

 

“Is that why your moping?” when I said nothing he got the hint it was none of his business. “Sorry, didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable just thought some company might fix that frown.”

 

“I’m afraid I am not in the best place to make conversation.”

 

“How about a joke?” he offered, I nodded hesitantly. “What’s the difference between snowman and snowwomen?”

 

“What?” I asked

 

“Snowballs.”

 

It was a terrible joke but I needed it, the small amount of humor gave me the courage I needed to re-enter my apartment. I unclasped Sammy’s leash and entered the kitchen to see Ryan scraping the chicken alfredo back into the pot. He looked up and me and gave me a sad smile.

 

“It got cold, I’m reheating it so we can eat,” he spoke softly, afraid breaking the silence would break me.

 

“You’re staying for dinner?” the skepticism and hope in my voice came out like a child afraid of hope.

 

“We need to talk about …” he gestured to me and then lightened the mood. “And I got a whiff of the treats you are harboring in your oven.”

 

“I kind of expect you to be gone when I got back and a break-up text to follow soon after,” I confessed sitting at the kitchen bar.

 

“The baby doesn’t change our relationship, the same way you won’t change the relationship I have with our child.” he filled two plates up with the reheated pasta and came to sit beside me. He was choosing his words carefully, giving me comfort without having to lay his intentions out. “I came here thinking you’d finally made a decision about the house we were looking at and I will admit-i’m still processing the information.”

 

“I don’t want to do this alone.” my voice cracked as tears spilled from my eyes again. I thought I would have run out by now but apparently, that wasn’t possible at present time.

 

“No matter what happens between us or anything else, I promise to be by your side until this kid grows into an adult. You are stuck with me for the next eighteen years.”

 

“What if-” I started only for Ryan to cover my mouth with his hand.

 

“You have a terrible habit, you over worry and stress over things you have no control over. Right now I say we enjoy this mean you no doubt cried over and try to enjoy tonight.” he removed his hand and began eating.

 

“Ry, I love you. Not just cause-”

 

“You can stop at I love you,” he smirked and took a bite. “How far along are we?” He used ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ no doubt trying to quell any of unease I felt without repeating himself over and over again.

 

“Date of conception is no doubt your birthday, sir.” I giggle and picked up my fork. My appetite had finally reemerged. He smiled as his eyes went to a far-off place no doubt bring the memory to his mind's eyes.

 

“What a great birthday that was.” he sighed.

 

“Dork.” I nudge him with my shoulder feeling like my typical self for the first time since I heard the news.

 

“Hey, Mel?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

@MelWhoFell tweeted 3 weeks ago

Coming this September …

 

I was proud of the image, a GameCube with three controllers. The black controller was plugged into Player One to represent Ryan, the silver in Player Two for me, and the orange controller was not yet plugged in. My childhood was filled with GameCube play. It felt like the perfect image for me to use for an announcement.

 

We hadn't told our coworkers, I'd convinced Ryan it would be hilarious to see their reactions.

 

"The community is always the last to know, let's flip the script and tell them first.'’

 

He didn't think it would be as amusing as I did but he let me proceed. He was particularly fond of the image I'd found. Before posting the announcement I had about 179 followers, Ryan retweeted me with a cute little "Baby Haywood loading” message and my follower count shot straight up. I had retweets, comments. and DM's like crazy when I woke up the next day.

 

People's comments ranged from enthused to confusion-not many angry but those were still mixed in. Most didn't know Ryan was seeing anyone while others didn't know we were trying. I didn't respond to anything, I figured Ryan would discuss the matter on Off Topic today.

 

When we entered the office we were essentially assaulted by the whole office.

 

"You fucks,” Michael said over all the voices. Ryan just shrugged.

 

"Maybe next time you want McDonald's you'll send someone else,” I smirked.

 

"Watch it Melissa, might have to moonball you once the little one comes out.” Michael threatened, I hoped he was playing.

 

"How long have you known?”

 

"Is it a boy or a girl?”

 

"So, are you guys going finally going to get a place together? Get married?”

 

The last question made me stumble as we walked into the main room. I looked to Ryan, he knew I was feeling insecure about getting pregnant without having already met the questions standards.

 

"We actually started looking for a place together before we got pregnant.” Ryan ignored the second part of the question, no one mentioned it.

 

The fact that he kept using terms like 'we’ instead of 'she’ or ‘Mel’ made me feel so much better. I wasn't alone, this wasn't my mistake. This was our unforeseen accident and we were going to make me most of it. After finding out about the baby Ryan confessed to me he hadn't really thought about children but he felt happy with the predicament. I confessed I'd always wanted children but assured him I didn't do this on purpose. He hadn't accused me of entrapment, he blamed himself as much as he blamed me.

 

"We get to see the baby in a couple weeks.” I smiled to Lindsay who'd probably be almost finished with her pregnancy by then.

 

"What are you hoping for?” Jack asked.

 

“It doesn't matter to me, as long as they are healthy I will be happy,” Ryan answered.

 

"I've always wanted a little girl but being an older sister myself, I'd like a son.”

 

Conversations broke off then and I went to talk to Lindsay for some tips and advice.

 

"My mom says should try to calm as possible during the whole thing. She said if I'm calm I will have a calm baby.” I explained.

 

"Iris pretty chill.” Lindsay shrugged but nodded in agreeance. “Kids are pretty cool, but messy.”

 

"That's one of my worries, I have a weak stomach. I vomit just picking up Sammy's poop.”

 

"You'll get over that quick.” Geoff pipped up.

 

"Didn't you eat shit?” I asked, silencing Geoff.

 

Ryan did end up discussing on our baby on the podcast. He told them the truth, we weren't trying but we were happy. Told them it was still earlier so we still had time to learn everything necessary.

 

"-and we've got time to baby proof everything.”

 

"let me know how that goes.” Michael laughed.

 

Three weeks later a new announcement needed to be made.

 

@MelWhoFell retweeted 1hrs ago

     @Ryanthetwit tweeted 2hrs ago

         Correction babies

 

Below the same image with a fourth blue GameCube controller unplugged besides the third. Twins nestled within my womb. Can I stress now?

Chapter Text

I was antsy, I couldn't sit still. The baby shower was  just a few days ago and there was nothing left for me to do. I was impatient-but everyone knew that about me, what they hadn't expected was the restlessness. I was getting so much done at work because it distracted me from the impending birth of me children that they decided to teach me something new. I sat with a different editor each day for an hour learning how to edit videos.

 

While the new hobby was good for occupying my time at work, I'd come home and pace. My mind would wander to me what ifs, what did I forget, the negatives, and so on. I couldn't not think about it, even playing video games only helped so much. Ryan would get home to our new place every night with dinner ready and everything exactly where it should be. He knew I was going crazy and tried to help however he could, but he didn't understand my impatiens.

 

"I just want to meet them!” I complained to him one night while he was streaming. The game was immersive and had hooked me but a stay comment in chat brought me back to reality.

 

“I swear I will lock you in the bedroom.” Ryan warned jokingly. “That’s all we talked about all day.”

 

“That’s kind of what you talk about at a baby shower, honey.” I sighed into his shoulder. “You can’t tell me your not ready to meet them. I know you’re tired of me waking you up in the morning with my vomiting.”

 

“It's not so much the getting woken up part, I just feel so helpless listening and not being able to help.” he confessed.

 

“Well, not much longer now.” I sighed and rubbed my protruding stomach my eyes following the motions as if I had no control over my own limbs. One of Ryan’s hands came to rest on top of mine, bringing me out of my haze.

 

“I am excited, but sharing you with two newborns will be taxing.” he informed me sincerely.

 

It was then I remembered he was still streaming so I gave a soft smile and nudged his shoulder instead of kissing him for reassurance. It would be a transition, almost all our free time was spent together and now we’d have no free time to spare. Lindsay had told me I wasn’t going to lose as much sleep as I anticipated but when we told everyone we were having twins she wished me luck, laughed, and walked away. We’d read several books, received more advice then we knew what to do with but I was beginning to understand that no matter how ready you were for children, you were nowhere near ready enough.

 

I skimmed over some of the comments, finding I peeked their curiosity by mentioning the baby shower. They wanted stories but I didn’t have anything to wild to report.

 

“I can’t think of a non dull story about the baby shower, Ryan?” I looked to him as he continued playing his game.

 

“Other than Jack pestering us about getting married at the baby shower? It was pretty tame considering the chaos that ensues at work.”

 

Severals moments of silence past before Ryan perked up and I knew he’d thought of something.

 

“Watching Gavin eat baby food was hilarious.” he smirked and I groaned.

 

“No it wasn’t! He vomited all over my mom and Meg.”

 

One of the games my mother decided to play was the blind baby food game and Gavin, who had a bad gag reflex was forced into play before he knew what he was agreeing to.

 

“Him and Meg still won.”

 

“Because Meg carried them.” I countered.

 

“Someone's got to.” he looked over to me and down to my belly again and I gave him a warm smile at his double meaning.

 

“Only for you.”

Chapter Text

Down to the wire, the twins were due yesterday but apparently, they were protesting. It was too much fun bouncing on my bladder and making me miserable. Then there was Ryan, my loveable asshole was in no way affected by our children's tardiness, or at least he wasn’t making me aware of how he was feeling. I was nervous but ready, I finally felt ready-like we could do this but the twins seemed to disagree.

I was hot but the comfort of Ryan’s arms around me as we watched some cooking show on the television was too perfect to pass up. I lay across his chest while he sat on the small portion of the couch I allowed him. Sammy took up space on the back on the couch, his head resting on the top of Ryan’s shoulder. It was our temporary normal, so domestic. I could picture us in a few months from now in the same position a baby resting on his other side and one on my hip. As I pictured the scene a content smile spread across my lips and I fell asleep.

When I woke up it was from intense pain and wetness between my legs. Ryan was standing by the television cords in hand like he was rewiring everything. As sleep left me I have slowly left me I was beginning to realize I was in labor.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Ryan said softly as he heard me stand.

“Ryan stop,” my tone was firm and low causing him to look at me concerned. “Go get the diaper bag and the keys. It's time.”

He relaxed, we’d had a couple false calls so he’d assumed this was the same as every other time. That is until he looked to the wet spot on our couch and then back to me as I tried not to let the pain affect me.

I knew I needed to not lose my shit, everyone had told me if I remain calm during pregnancy the kids would be calmer during their development as well. But my boyfriend's lack of emotion was starting to piss me off! Why the hell didn’t he care? Why was he so laid back as he helped me in the car and checked me into the hospital?

It wasn’t until my doctor entered the room and informed us the twins had positioned themselves dangerously that I began to notice the worry in Ryan’s face. The only way for our children to survive past birth would be to perform a C-Section.

“Rye? Are you alright?” I asked him as he stood, pale-faced in silence.

“I should be asking you that?” he gave a fake smile to mask his worry.

It wasn’t until I woke up after surgery he confessed he’d been scared. I didn’t blame him after he told me the doctors had expressed concern about the amount of blood loss. I had slept for two hours after I had given birth, I don’t really remember waking up. All I remembered was a little pink bundle being placed in my arms and looking up to see a blue bundle in Ryan’s arms.

“Morning sleepy head.”

“Hi, how are they?” I asked as I looking into the sleeping face of our Abigail.

“They’ve been mostly sleeping, Nathaniel fell asleep almost immediately but Abigail was up long enough to meet her Godparents.”

“Gavin and Meg are here?” We’d asked them to be our daughters' Godparents, mostly because I wanted as many strong women in my daughter's life that I could get. We’d also asked Geoff to be our son’s Godfather considering he was one of the major supports during our whole relationship even more once we’d announced our pregnancy.

“They were but they stepped out to go pick you up a cheeseburger.” he smiled at me with a knowing look.

“Why?” I asked confused.

“When you came out of surgery you kept demanding one.”

“I did?” he nodded in affirmation. “Well, I am hungry.”

“They should be back soon. Geoff was here too but he had work things he had to do, he said he’d be back as soon as he could.”

Ryan let me hold my daughter for as long as I wanted before exchanging the little girl for our son so I could meet him. It was strange to think these little bundles had both been living inside me and were now thrust into existence. I thought I knew fear but all the fear I’d experienced was child's play compared to all the horrible things that ran through my head at the behest of Nathaniel and Abigail.

“You did well.” Ryan pressed a kiss to my temple and sat beside me on the bed.

“We did good, you may not have carried them but you put up with me and I think that task was harder.”

“No kidding.” I nudged him but we both smiled brighter.

“This is our family now.”

“Don’t go getting awestruck on me just yet, I haven’t seen you change a diaper yet.”

Chapter Text

Ryan had gone back to work last week after my reassurances that I could handle the kids myself and I could. I was just tired more often than not which meant I hadn’t spent much time with him and my paranoia was spiking. His promise that had once convinced me of his dedication to our kids and me now seem more like a countdown timer. He promised me eighteen years but now that the children were here the timer had started and it was only a matter of time before both he and the children left me. This way of thinking had put me into a depressed and bipolar state, that was easily masked behind the transition into motherhood.

I pulled into a parking spot and pulled down the visor to make sure I didn’t look like I felt. Turning around I found Abigail sound asleep and Nathaniel’s eyes cursorily looking around. I got out, pulled out the stroller placing first Nathaniel in the front seat before walking around the car and putting Abigail in the back seat. I threw the diaper bag under the stroller and locked the car, bracing myself for the flock of people who’d swarm to meet the kids. As I got near the door Trevor and Barbara met me there and opened the door for me.

“Thanks.” I smiled warmly.

“As these Ryan’s spawn?” Trevor asked. I tied not to let the comment get to me, I was just being moody but Ryan didn’t carry the kids yet everyone had referred to them as his instead of ours.

“Abigail,” I motioned to the sleeping child closest to me. “Nathaniel.” I pointed to the baby putting his hands in his mouth. “Stop.” I pulled his hand from his mouth, he had developed the habit and made his skin raw.

I watched as Trevor eyed each of the kids separately and then Barbara used a baby voice and mumbled nonwords at my kids. The two walked with me all the way to the main office and opened the door for me again before heading off on their own. As I entered the room went silent, as I looked around the Jones’ seemed to be the only ones missing.

“They are awake now, Barbara woke Abby up before we came in.” Conversations were resumed after that as everyone came to meet the kids for either the first or second time. Ryan came over and kissed my temple.

“How have they been today?” he asked focusing on me now that we had other suckers watching the kids for a moment.

“Fine,” I tried not to seem too detached but he was beginning to notice my abnormal behavior lately too. “Nath took a nap while I packed up the diaper bag and then Abby slept on the drive over here.”

“Maybe we could convince Geoff to watch them tonight and we can go out just the two of us?” he smiled but there was a sadness in his eyes that had me scared.

“I think everyone is going to see Michael and Lindsay’s new baby.” I was my scapegoat.

“What good are godparents if we can’t call in a favor every now and again?” he joked but I could tell he was determined to talk to me.

“Do we need to talk?” I asked him with a snippy tone.

“No, I just miss you.” he looked taken aback. “What is wrong?”

“Nothing, I’m just tried. I am sorry for snapping.” I let out a long sigh and while it wasn’t entirely a lie but it wasn’t the complete truth either.

“Mel, if something is bothering you-”

He was cut off but Gavin vomiting in the trash can by the door, Geoff was holding Nathaniel but Jack must have taken Abby from Gavin when he started gagging.

“What happened?” Ryan asked.

“She pooped and Gavin got a whiff,” Jack smirked. I stepped forward to take her and go change her diaper but Ryan beat me to it.

“Come here you.” Watching him step into the father roll made my heart swell, his eyes practically lit up as he swept her up in his arms in an exaggerated motion then the bag. With Ryan and Abby had gone I stepped over to Alfredo and Geoff to see my son nestled in Geoff’s arms.

“Makes you want another one, doesn’t it?” I teased Geoff.

“Fuck no!” he was quick to reply, Alfredo covered Nath’s ears dramatically. “At this point, I have more godchildren than I do actual kids.”

“Well, I wanted to ask Jack and Cati but… I’m teasing Geoff stop pouting.”

“How are things between you and Ryan? Kids change things,” he asked sounded concerned.

“We are fine.”

No one, not even me believed it.

“The only advice I have to give is to just communicate, you guys have always been good at that.”

“Ryan isn’t that problem,” I muttered under my breath.

“Ryan is always the problem.” Jack countered.

“Lies!” Ryan announced as he returned with a freshly changed Abigail.

“I was just defending you.” I smiled over to him and that gave him the security he needs from me.

“Oh, and did you ask Geoff to watch the kids tonight?”

“Rye, he’s probably-”

“I can, no problem.” Geoff smiled.

“Great, around seven sound good?” Ryan asked.

“Sure thing.”

“Great.” I smiled through gritted teeth.

 

“I just don’t understand why you don’t want to go out!” Ryan yelled at me from the hall outside our bedroom.

“I haven’t spent more than twenty minutes away from the kids since they were born, is it so hard to believe I don’t want to separate from them?!” I marched right over to him to yell at his face, ridiculous really when you consider he was taller than me and I had to look up to him.

“Bullshit! I know you well enough-”

“I’m afraid!” I snapped and tears started to fall. I threw the socks I’d been holding in my hands at his chest and retreated back into our room.

“Afraid of what?” his voice was soft as he followed me into the room.

“Before the kids were born you helped me through the haze of emotion by promising to stay by my side until they turned eighteen but now … now I just feel like its a promise to leave me. Then all of you will leave me at the same time and I will have nothing.”

“Even if that is how things work out, you will always be their mother and they will always love you.”

“You can’t promise that.”

“No but I can promise this if you have just waited until we got to the restaurant you would have seen that you will never be alone be alone again unless you want to.” he pulled one of those plastic balls you get from the 25¢ machine and inside was a delicate looking ring.

It was a sterling silver band with tiny jewels embedded halfway around the band, clearly, Ryan had remembered my allergy to certain metals. A teardrop diamond placed in the center of the band. It was simple but so were my tastes in jewelry. It took me a minute to process what was actually happening but Ryan looking deflated brought me to reality.

“We didn’t want to get married just because you got pregnant but several months into parenthood and I still love you.”

“We are getting married?” My voice spoke the disbelief.

“I mean that was my plan but you're kinda leaving me hanging.”

“Okay.”

“Yeah?” he asked instantly perking up.

“Yeah.”

He took the ring out of the plastic ball and placed it on my ring finger, though his presentation was lacking I could tell he’d choose the ring with extra care.

“I want to amend that promise, instead of the next 18 years, how about the rest of our lives?”

“You are so fucking smug.” I laughed and kissed him hard.

The kids crying broke us apart and had us heading to their room, we stayed until Geoff arrived.

Chapter Text

“Ryan, are you coming to bed?” I asked from the doorway to his office. His eyes were darting back and forth between his two screens but I knew he wasn’t streaming.

 

“Not yet.” he was distracted by whatever was on his screen. I pushed off the doorframe, coming to stand behind him and look over his shoulder at his screens.

 

One screen had a spreadsheet with all our expenses laid out with amounts and due dates if there was a due date and the other screen had our various income accounts. We each had our own credit card and savings account but we also had a shared credit card and savings account for bills. I looked back over to the spreadsheet to compare what we owe to what we had and with his calculations, it would seem we were in deep debt. I looked at each item on the spreadsheet; rent, electrical, water, baby supplies, nanny services, food-all things we couldn’t get rid of but then there were items we could put off like everything for the wedding.

 

I had my own list of headaches concerning the wedding, each item on my to-do list had its own list. I loved him, I wanted to be his wife but at this rate, I was beginning to think the wedding wasn’t worth it. There was too much planned and financially we couldn’t afford it, maybe we should just elope.

 

“Honey, we don’t have to have a wedding to get married,” I said softly. His blue eyes looked up to mine and I saw nothing but exhaustion and confusion. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, I hadn’t thought about him wanting a proper wedding as much as I did.

 

“Why?”

 

“You're sitting here at,” I looked at the clock on the computer. “Two in the morning trying to make the numbers more reasonable and you can’t. I am struggling to balance my time between being a mom, and planning this wedding. Maybe we wait a couple of years until things calm down or we can just elope and do something big and extravagant sometime down the road.” The sadness in his eyes hurt, just like me, words hurt me too. I wanted something all our friends and families could be there for too. “Just something to think about.”

 

I kissed his cheek and headed to bed, I was dead asleep when he finally crawled into bed I didn’t even stir. When I woke up he wasn’t in bed so I assumed he was taking care of the twins so I could shower before work. So I did just that and dressed for the day in jeans and a plain blouse. When I entered the twins' room I saw Ryan struggling to get Nathaniel into his day clothes while Abigail sat fully dressed. Smiling I came over and helped him get Nath into his pants.

 

“Good morning,” I smiled at him. “What time did you crawl into bed?”

 

“Late,” he sounded just as tired as he looked.

 

“I didn’t mean to upset you last night,” I said softly as we set Nathaniel down fully dressed.

 

“You made valid points and I know you wanted something extravagant but you are right, right now that's not a wise decision. But we can talk more about it tonight,” he promised and gave me a quick kiss before he left to go shower.





 

 

 

I was sitting at my desk working on the schedule for RTX when Barbara approached my desk about two weeks after Ryan and I had announced we weren’t having a wedding. She looked stressed instead of her normally cheery self.

 

“Everything okay?” I removed my earbuds and asked.

 

“Are you busy?”

 

“I just need to finish this by the end of the week.”

 

“Can you do Always Open?”

 

“Uh …” I tried to remember what time Always Open-ended filming, I needed to relieve the nanny by four today. “I need to talk to Ryan to see if he can leave early.” She looked confused so I elaborated. “Our nanny has to leave by four, she has a test tonight.”

 

“Oh, just let me know.”

 

Thankfully I knew Ryan’s schedule and knew that the Hunters didn’t have much planned for the rest of the day and he agreed to switch with me. He would be missing out on a Let’s Play he’d really wanted to be a part of but that meant he could stream it at home instead. I was rarely in content, I preferred the work I did where viewers couldn’t comment on my personality or things I said.

 

I sent a slack to Barbara and immediately she responded asking me to come to set early so makeup could get me dolled up. I didn’t wear makeup often, I didn’t see a need for it most days. If I was wearing it that usually meant I wasn’t feeling like the normal me. However, I understood the need for it, especially with the lights from the set so did as I was told.

 

Always Open had a reputation for being all about sex and relationships which made it a little difficult to get most to volunteer to be on. I think Ryan had been on once but he told me it wasn’t too bad. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad, the worst we got was a question asking us about losing our virginity so I didn’t have to bring up the fact that I’d only ever been with Ryan.

 

“... it seems all your first experiences were terrible,” I said over the top of my drink. It had alcohol and other things in it but it tasted exactly like bananas.

 

“Yours wasn’t?”

 

“No, I mean it was a little weird at first but my partner had had sex with other people before we ever got together and knew what he was doing. I’m not saying it was all sunshine and rainbows like a fantasy from some shitty teen romance movie but it wasn’t bad either.”

 

“None of the confused fumbling about?” Mariel clarified.

 

“Exactly! He knew it was my first time and took extra care.”

 

It wrapped up shortly after that and I said my goodbyes to the Always Open crew and headed back towards the AH Office but I was intercepted by Trevor who needed me to sit in on a meeting for him. I was tired but Trevor promised to let me go home tomorrow early today and tomorrow if went to the meeting for him.

 

What I thought was Trevor’s meeting turned out to be a trick. I entered the room he told me to enter and found a simple, tacky sleeveless ivory dress that stopped mid-thigh and a note that stated to change and head to the RT Podcast set to film something. Suspiciously I obeyed dressing in the sluty dress and keeping my converse before heading to the set. Instead of the normal set, I found the whole company, including Ryan and our children standing under the RT logo with Gus. Ryan was wearing jeans, a dress shirt, and a necktie while our kids were dressed in their formal attire.

 

“What’s going on?” I asked.

 

“You guys canceled your wedding so we thought we’d give you one for free the RT way.” Lindsay hugged me and pushed me towards Ryan.

 

It wasn’t the wedding we would have planned, and I would have never substituted the RT logo for an altar but it worked. Gus married us in a very RT way and I could finally call Ryan my husband.

Chapter Text

“Ryan! Wake up!” I shook him vigorously trying to wake my husband. Not really fair considering I’d gone to bed well he stayed up streaming last night and trying to coax our toddlers into bed. I was just so excited and I wanted to share my excitement with him. I began kissing his cheeks and chin smiling and earning a deep timbered chuckle from the slowly waking man.

 

“What do you want you awful woman?” he teased and finally opened his eyes.

 

“I thrust my phone in front of his face giggling. “Watch this with me.”

 

“Are you serious? You woke me up to watch…” his eyes were still bleary and he couldn’t read what was on the screen.

 

“It's the new Borderlands 3 trailer.”

 

He took my phone and locked the screen before rolling over my phone still in his hands. I laid atop him trying to retrieve my phone. Borderlands 2 was my all time favorite game, the whole series I could play for the rest of my life. While he enjoyed the game too, he didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I did.

 

“Ryan. give me back my phone.” I whined into his ear, reaching under the blanket in search of my phone. He rolled back over wrapping his arms around me, nuzzling into my side and kissing my neck. “If you watch the trailer with me I will take care of your morning wood.”

 

“Since when do we bribe each other with sexual favors?”

 

“Since you stole my phone and happiness.”

 

“You’re being overdramatic,” he turned my head to face him and gave a gentle kiss. “I purpose we cuddle here until the children wake us up and you can watch the trailer with Jeremy once we get to work.”

 

“Fuck that! I am not waiting that long to watch it.”

 

I tried to struggle out of his hold and reach for my Kindle on the nightstand to watch the trailer but he held me tightly. Grabbing my own hands when he saw what I was reaching out for, trying to stop me. He was rather playful this morning and I was enjoying it but I was desperate to watch the trailer.

 

“Ryan.”

 

“Usually when you say my name like that we are naked.” he teased.

 

“Keep this up and you won’t see me naked again until our children have children.”

 

“You’re ridiculous.” he chuckled into my hair and I couldn’t help smiling. I was ridiculous but I humored him when he got this excited about things.

 

“You couldn’t indulge me for three minutes? How many times do I pretend to know exactly what you're talking about when you get some new gadget?”

 

“Ugh, fine.” he pulled my phone out and held it in front of our faces. He unlocked my phone, inputted the password and played the video. I was practically vibrating with excitement until the video ended and I realized I wouldn’t be able to play the game until September.

 

“Can I go back to bed now?”

 

“Daddy?” a little voice called from the and I laughed knowing Ryan was going to get the extra moments of sleep.

 

***

 

“What’s with Mel today?” Gavin asked Ryan as I sat in Geoff’s chair running updates on his computer.

 

“She’s waiting for Jeremy to get here, so they can share in each other's excitement.” Ryan rolled his eyes.

 

“It’ would be nice to talk to someone as eager as me, instead of making me feel like a hassle,” I growled at Ryan.

 

“I watched the video didn’t I?”

 

“After I practically begged you.”

 

“What are you on about?”

 

“The Borderlands 3 trailer.”

 

“It was so good!” Jeremy said walking into the room.

 

“Thank you! Someone who understands!”

 

“There you go, go talk to Jeremy and leave me in peace.” Ryan joked.

 

“What’s his deal?” Jeremy asked.

 

“I woke him up to watch the trailer with me this morning and he didn’t get to go back to sleep because Abigail had an accident in her bed.”

 

I made sure Geoff’s update was running and moved to the other side of the room to chat with Jeremy. I sat on the couch and him in his chair while the others in the room completely ignored us.

 

“Is it just me or does Zane resemble Handsome Jack.”

 

“Shut up about Handsome Jack,” Ryan grumbled knowing my fascination with the fictional character.

 

“Now that you mention it,” Jeremy turned to his computer and pulled up a picture of Zane and Handsome Jack putting them side by side. “He looked like he could be his grandpa.”

 

“Silver fox.” I smiled knowing it pissed Ryan off.  “FL4K seems to be the only one with a completely new ability tree.”

 

“I don’t know, Amara seems like Brick but her siren skills should make it interesting.” Jeremy pondered.

 

“Just based off the trailer I think I’m going to try FL4K, I kind of figure you want to try out Moze.”

 

“I’m going to beat the game with all of them more than likely, the question is which one to start with.”

 

The remainder of the missing hunters entered the room shortly after Jeremy and I finished our conversation to record a video and I left it be. I’d have to make today up to Ryan, I was a brat today. I sent him a text around three before I left work for the day.

 

Heading to the grocery store, making steak for dinner as an apology for my behavior today.

 

His response was a simple ‘I love you’ and I knew he’d be smiling for the rest of the day. Walking down the isle of the store I picked up a cheese platter thinking I would need to do some sucking up. Until I beat the new Borderlands game that’s all he was going to hear from me and he was going to get fed up so I should remind him now all the reasons we adored each other. I even made plans to put the kids to bed early so we could have some adult fun time.

Chapter Text

I was listening to Off Topic live as I sat in the office alone, everyone else was out of the office or had gone to the goodbye party. I was too busy to attend the party and I wasn’t feeling very social today. Listening to Ryan and Michael agree that they were both done having kids just pissed me off, I wanted one more and apparently so did Lindsay. I had only had one pregnancy, I at least wanted to go through it one more time but I had always wanted three kids.

 

As I was listening to them talk a great struck me, one I would share with Lindsay the next time I saw her. As luck would have it I say her Monday morning first thing, I caught her alone in the kitchen and set the seed.

 

“So I hear you have the same dilemma as me, your husband won’t let you have any more kids.”

 

“You two?”

 

“I want one more but Ryan says no.”

 

“I wanted to try to convince Michael of two more.”

 

“I have an idea,” I smirked mischievously.

 

“Do share.”

 

If anyone walked in right they’d instantly know we were scheming as we sat at the kitchen table, cups in our hands as we whispered to each other. “I don’t know about Michael but Ryan is easily swayed by friendly competition. If we make it game to see who can get pregnant first...”

 

“That alone won’t work.” Lindsay sighed, her excitement fading.

 

“You can pull in logic or something else that might encourage him. You guys only have girls, you can spin the tale of wanting a son.”

 

“I’ll give it a shot, got nothing to lose.” She paused a minute pondering something and then looked at me curiously. “You have one of each, what are you going to do to convince Ryan?”

 

“He’s a sucker for logic … I’m going to beg and make promises I’ll have no choice but to keep.” I sighed.

 

“Good luck” she smiled.

 

“You too.”

 

***

 

“Abby, Nath, wash up for dinner,” I called to the four years olds who were in the living room, watching Little Einsteins, my favorite show at their age.

 

I set the table and placed the food down before entering the living room and shutting the television off. I moved into the bathroom to see Abby drying her hands on the towel and Nath rubbing soap in.

 

“Remember what mommy asked you guys to do earlier?”

 

“Be on our best behavior.” Nath recited back smiling proudly.

 

“And we will get extra dessert.” Abby giggled.

 

“That’s right.”

 

I kissed their foreheads and exited the bathroom just in time for the front door to open for Ryan. He seemed a little distracted but he dropped his keys in the bowl on the table by the door, hung his backpack on the coat rack and kicked his shoes off. He looked up and saw me, his face morphed into a smile and he made his way over to me, kissing me sweetly.

 

“You left work early.” he pointed out.

 

“Did you not read your text message? The babysitter got sick, I had to come home.” I pulled out my phone and realized the problem. “Oops.” I showed him the typed out text message that I hadn’t sent.

 

“It's alright.”

 

“Daddy’s home!” Nath cheered and soon the kids were running over, stopping just before him. Normally they would jump at him hugging him or knocking him off balance but they waited patiently for him to hug them.

 

“Dinner’s ready,” I instructed them. They all followed me into the kitchen and we ate dinner, it was fun and playful but the kids were on their best behavior. They didn’t fight or refuse to eat their vegetables, they were little angels. After we finished eating they even helped bring the dishes to the sink before heading into the living room to play with their toys.

 

“You have got to tell me what you did to make them behave.”

 

“I told them mommy and daddy had some things to do tonight and we needed them to be good. I also promised they could have an ice cream sundae for dessert.”

 

“We have things to do?”

 

“I want some alone time to talk once we get the kids to bed, they’ve agreed to go to bed early.”

 

“Yeah?” he asked disbelievingly. “We will see.”

 

An hour later the kids had brushed their teeth, put on the pj’s and climbed into bed. Ryan and I kissed each child goodnight before heading to our own room to get ready for bed and talk. I threw on one of his t-shirts and boyshorts and sat on the bed watching him undress and put on a pair of sleep pants.

 

“So what did you want to talk about?”

 

“The Jones have challenged us to a friendly competition, well Lindsay did and soon enough Michael will join.”

 

“Should I be scared?”

 

“We want to see who can get their wife pregnant first.” I held my breath and curled my toes as I spoke worried for his reaction but he just laughed.

 

“I’m going to pass on this and I know Michael is feeling the same.”

 

“Ry, please? I was robbed, I had two kids in one go so now I will never know if the pregnancies are easier after the first. I just want one more.”

 

“We have one of each, the teams are perfectly balanced right now no matter how you split it. Kids versus adults, girls versus boys, one of each. Besides childcare is expensive enough for just Abby and Nath.”

 

“I’ll see if I can work from home and if not I will find a work from home job so we will only need babysitters for date nights and things like that.”

 

“You will quit your job? You love working.”

 

“Not as much as I love our kids and if that’s what it takes to convince you for one last child then I will do it.”

 

“You want another baby that badly?” he looked pained, like the idea of me giving up something I loved for something else I loved was entirely his fault.

 

“Yes, I do. One more is all I want and I promise you that will be it, besides it would be nice to have a planned pregnancy instead of a surprise..”

 

“It worked out though,” he smirked. “I will think about it but I not promising anything.”

 

“It’s okay, this is the most progress I’ve made and I will take it.”

 

“But for the record, I would never ask you to give up your career for our children.”

 

He kissed me soft and slow and I smiled into, knowing that we would have sex tonight and maybe that was foreshadowing.

 

***

 

“He caved! How the hell? I’m still trying to convince Michael!” Lindsay seemed amazed.

 

“I honestly was surprised too, I don’t think it was anything I did if I’m honest.”

 

“It was completely you,” Ryan said from his desk where he sat. “You don’t ask me for much and never with that much conviction. But one more and we are done for good.”

 

“Sellout.” Michael tried to provoke him.

 

“Say what you will Michael, but we all will know soon enough that I can knock my wife up faster than you.” Ryan winked at Lindsay.

 

“Don’t help her!” Michael shouted.

 

‘Maybe now I do stand a chance of convincing him.” Lindsay whispered to me.

 

“So the game begins.” I laughed.

Chapter Text

“Bedtime kiddos,” I said softly picking Abby up in my arms.

 

“We aren’t tired.” she yawned out despite the fact her eyes had been closed a moment ago and she’d been snoring.

 

“I know but you have to go to school tomorrow.” I carried her upstairs, Ryan following behind me with Nath in his arms. We stopped in the hallway, I kissed Nath goodnight and Ryan kissed Abby before we each entered each of the kids' rooms.

 

I placed her in bed and covered her with the blankets. I kissed her softly and started to pull away but her little arms wrapped around my neck and held me in a hug. Little moments like this warmed my heart, I leaned in and hugged her tighter not letting go until her grip loosen.

 

“Mommy can you send daddy in?” she closed her eyes and was nearly asleep but I would do as she asked. Ryan would come in here anyway to tuck her in too just as I was going to go to Nath’s room.

 

“Sure.”

 

I leaned over and turned on her owl nightlight and left her room closing the door. I passed Ryan in the hall informing him she’d requested him tonight before entering Nath’s room. He was already asleep when I walked in, both kids were exhausted today. We’d all spent the entire day in the backyard, Ryan and I worked on building the playground my mother had bought them while the kids gardened and chased Sammy around the yard. Once we had it set up the kids wouldn’t get off, Ryan and I ordered pizza for dinner and we just sat in the backyard talking and watching them.

 

I kissed Nath’s forehead and left his room. Ryan hadn’t come out of Abby’s room yet but I headed downstairs to get the television setup. Geoff had gotten men hooked on Game of Throne a few years ago and Ryan had read the books so I quickly became addicted to the series. I read all the books and Ryan and I binged the whole show but now the new season was coming out we were determined to watch each episode as they come out.

 

When Ryan entered the living room I was coming back into the living room with a diet coke for him, a glass of wine for me and a bag of chips for us to share. He sat down on the couch, I placed the items on the coffee table and sat with my back leaning on him.

 

“Everything okay with Abby?” I asked as he picked up the remote.

 

“Yeah she just wanted a story but she fell asleep before I even finished the first page.”

 

We watched the episode in blissful silence both aware that afterwards, we were going to head upstairs and have sex. Since he’d agreed to have one more kid we’d had the same amount of sex but were allowing ourselves more time to perform. What we hadn’t expected was how much the day had worn on us.

 

“Mel, honey let’s get you to bed.” Ryan’s raspy tired voice woke me up from a sleep I hadn’t realized I’d fallen into.

 

“But the show.”

 

“We both are struggling to keep our eyes open.”

 

“What about sex?”

 

Ryan laughed hard against me, so much so that my body bounced against him. “We can have sex tomorrow night,” he said in between laughs. “Come on.”

 

We practically leaned on each other the whole way up the stairs, Ryan was right we were just as, if not more exhausted than the children were. I removed my pants and bra and climbed into bed, too tired to look for real pajamas, Ryan had a similar though getting into bed in just his underwear. I cuddled up close to him, all of a sudden feeling very close and clingy, needing him mentally. A wave of sadness hit me and I had no idea why.

 

“Mel, what’s wrong?”

 

“What?”

 

Ryan moved to sit up and bed and turned on the lamp on the bedside table. His hand swiped at my cheek and it was then I realized I was crying. I felt my face scrunch up in confusion and I wiped at my own face and found more.

 

“I don’t know,” I truly didn’t know why sadness was pulling at me. “I’m sad all of a sudden and I have no clue why.”

 

“Wow, you are really bummed we aren’t having sex aren’t you?” he joked making me laugh.

 

“I don’t know why I’m sad but the moment I do you will be there first to know,” I promised.

 

Ryan laid back down and held me tighter as we fell asleep.

 

It was late or early in the morning when I was woken up by mine and Ryan’s phones ringing. Ryan was up out of bed quicker than me and answered his phone, by the time I looked at mine the call had gone to voicemail. I didn’t recognize the phone number so I didn’t worry about it, I turned to Ryan whose face held the stoic face he used to mask how he was feeling.

 

“I’ll let her know and we will be there as soon as we can.” Ryan ended the call and sat on the bed looking for the words to say.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Your brother had an accident during training …”

 

“Ryan,” tears filled my eyes and I knew now why I had been sad. “Is my brother…”

 

“They are doing all they can. I'm going to pack us some bags and book a flight to California, are you able to call Meg and see if they can watch the kids? Geoff and Gavin are out of town.”

 

I nodded, no tears fell but they wanted to. I wasn’t in shock I don’t know why but I wasn’t but it was best to act before I dissolved into nothing. I grabbed my phone and called Meg but judging by the time, I doubt she’d answer at four in the morning. I was surprised when she picked up.

 

“I didn’t know if you’d answer,” I admitted.

 

“I have a hard time sleeping when Gavin is away sometimes. What’s up?”

 

“Can you watch the twins for a few days?”

 

“Days?”

 

“I have to go to California … there’s been an accident.” the tears finally fell but I was still holding on.

 

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

 

Ryan came back into the room with my suitcase and his backpack, phone in his hand as he looked for the next flight. I didn’t know what to say or do, I was frozen.

 

“Mommy?” my eyes snapped to the little boy sleepily rubbing his eyes in the doorway with his stuffed fox in his arms. That’s when I lost it, I couldn’t bare the thought that my kids would never get to see their cool uncle again.

 

“Baby go back to bed.” my voice cracked several times and I couldn’t bare it anymore. Ryan put his phone on the bed and went to get Nath back in bed. Meanwhile, I let grief overcome me as I beat up my pillow.

 

“Melissa, I need you to get dressed. Meg and our uber is here.”

 

Ryan had to physically pull me from the bed and dress me but I pulled my emotions back in for the car ride with the uber. Ryan, my perfect husband held me as long as he could but took care of all the things that needed to be done. I hadn’t felt like a child it such a long time but here and now I did, I knew Ryan would forgive me but right now all that mattered was my younger brother.