“Go, we’ll be fine.”
“He’ll wake up in a few hours, but there’s a bottle in the refrigerator, just warm it up but not too hot- test it on-” Riza was dressed for a night out, standing in the doorway with her purse slung over her shoulder.
“On my wrist.” Roy was holding their sleeping infant on his shoulder.
She paused for a second. “You know on second thought, maybe I should just call Rebecca and cancel. I’m sure she would understand.”
“Riza.” Roy (unfairly) used his commanding voice on her before softening his features with a smile, “Tony and I will be fine. You need a break. Go out. It’s a beautiful summer night. Someone like you deserves to be out enjoying it. Besides,” he rubbed their son’s back gently while looking down at him, “I want to savor the alone time I can have with him while I can.”
She thought that was a low blow, however true it may have been, but Riza sighed in defeat. He was right- he wasn’t able to see his son like a normal parent would. The biggest secret they shared was now sleeping peacefully in his arms.
“We’re going to Christmas’ bar, so you can reach us there if you need anything.” She smiled softly, patting Anthony’s hair down, then looked up at him. “Thank you, Roy.”
“You’re the one doing me a favor. Now go, before Catalina thinks you’ve changed your mind.”
Riza looked both ways in the hallway through the open door she stood at, then kissed him quickly, to which he reciprocated in kind. “I love you both,” she whispered.
“We love you too,” he responded just as quietly before raising his voice again to a normal level. “Tell Madame I said hello.”
Roy stood in the hallway watching Riza leave. Once she was out of his line of vision, he closed the door to her apartment and proceeded to sit on her couch. The child in his arms began to move, and he adjusted him to look at the boy.
The baby’s eyes opened and looked up at him, the same brown as his mother, but his own unruly black hair sat atop his head.
“Do you know who I am? I don’t get to see you very often. Your mom and I can’t exactly keep you in the office every day.” The baby just made spit bubbles in response. “Although I can sure as hell try.”
Tony yawned, and Roy’s eyes lit up in awe.
“I will make sure you know who I am to you. You’ll know that I’m your father, and I will always be your father.” He used a finger to brush against the child’s cheek.
“No matter what anyone says, or what anyone makes us do. I will be there for you.”
Anthony began to scrunch his face in preparation for a cry. Roy blinked once before the sound of his son’s crying reverberated around the room.
“Hey, hey, buddy, it’s okay.” He adjusted him back to his shoulder and stood, swaying slightly to rock him. “Shh, shh… don’t make me look bad for your mom, or she’ll never go out again. She needs her break. We can do this, Tony.”
The crying seemed to get louder.
“Okay, come on Tony. What do you need?” He pat the baby on his bottom and felt...something there.
“I think we found the problem. Come on buddy. This shouldn’t be too hard.” Roy carried him to Riza’s bedroom where the crib and changing table were. He grabbed the cloth diaper and pins, and everything needed to clean up, and took a deep breath before starting his work.
“We’ve seen mom do this, right buddy? You trust your dad to- OHGODWHATTHEHELLISTHATSMELLHOW?!” Tony cried harder.
“Nonono! I didn’t mean that buddy, it’s okay. We just need to clean this up and- gah! The sooner we get this done the better we’ll both feel.”
He cleaned the baby up and breathed a sigh of relief as he reached for the diaper he had previously grabbed when a shot of pee went straight for his face. In his attempt to block, it hit his chest and arms. He frowned.
“Do you do this to your mother?” He noted the mild silence. “At least your crying stopped. That’s a win, right?” He finished cleaning up Tony and putting the diaper on before another incident could happen, not bothering with putting his son’s other clothes back on. “Wait right there.”
He took off his shirt as a lost cause, cleaned himself up quickly in the bathroom, then hurried back, picking up the child once more who yawned again, almost instantly going back to sleep.
“All of that fuss and you just fall asleep.” He grinned, “You really are my son.” He kissed the top of his head, “Don’t tell your mom or she’ll never let me live it down.”
He finally relaxed again on the couch.
The rest of the evening was more of the same, uneventful in the best of ways- he fed and burped him a couple of hours later as Riza had indicated.
He couldn’t stop staring, and refused to put him down.
Roy knew his night was coming close to an end, but as he lay on Riza’s couch, bare chested with his son laying atop of him, he whispered a lullaby he remembered from his childhood. One his mother would sing to him. He would pass on his mother’s words even if he didn’t quite understand the language it was in.
Roy dozed off as Anthony did the same.
When Riza arrived home, she smiled sadly at the scene before her.
This is what it should have been.
At least he could have these small moments. She only hoped he could have more.
Unfortunately, they both knew what this was, and when Roy heard her rustling as she knelt by them, he looked into her eyes with an almost pleading look before kissing his son’s head and handing him over to her.
He took one of his button down shirts he had left previously, kissed her with whispers of love and adoration and gratitude, then left to his own empty apartment, devoid of a semblance of home.