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Loose Ends

By MaxCale

Romance

Water Baby & August Rush

"If you don't calm down I'm gonna punch you," Ricky told Ben with irritation as he placed several basket orders in the waiting area of the cooler. Ben had been jumpy and nervous all morning and it was wearing on Ricky's last nerve.

"I can't help it," he whined as he placed several baskets down as well. "How do you think the talk between them is going?" Ricky rolled his eyes.

"How should I know!"

"Well, do you think it's going good or bad?" he pressed. Ricky glared at him as he walked out of the cooler to finish organizing the paperwork for the pickup.

"Ben, you know their past history and Adrian's attitude. Take a guess." Ben suddenly paled causing Ricky to look slightly alarmed.

"You don't think Amy would hit her do you?" Ricky rolled his eyes again and walked away. He had more important things to think about. He was spending the afternoon with Amy and John and then taking Amy out to dinner tonight. Tonight would make or break their relationship. The last thing he wanted to be focused on was his ex-girlfriend and he was immensely thankful when his shift ended. He showered and changed into beach gear in record time and drove to his mom's to pick up John. He'd already told her about his and Amy's plans so she had him dressed in little swimmers and sandals after his morning nap so he would already be dressed for the beach; she even put sunscreen on him before Ricky arrived. After he buckled John in his seat he sent Amy a text saying he was on his way. When he arrived at her house she came walking out the door just as he was driving up. She was wearing a yellow sundress, sandals, and a hat with a butterfly in it and she was carrying a beach bag. Ricky smiled, happy to be spending the afternoon with her. She climbed into the passenger seat and they were off.

Ricky parked and they headed down to the sand. Amy was carrying her beach bag and the one Ricky had prepared while he was carrying John. As it was John's first trip to the beach he was once again swiveling his head around trying to see everything at once, causing his parents to laugh. They settled on a spot close to the restrooms and Amy spread out the blanket Ricky had packed in his beach bag. They set John down to remove their shoes and outerwear but Amy had to stop after removing her sandals to chase John as he had decided to waddle away and chase a seagull. She scooped him up and walked back towards the blanket and had to force herself not to drool as she saw Ricky sitting on the blanket, shirtless, rubbing sunscreen on himself. Thankfully John was squirming to get down and explore and Amy was forced to focus on her toddler instead of his daddy for several moments. She sat down on the blanket with him in her lap and removed his shoes. She had just taken a tube of baby sunscreen out of her bag when Ricky's voice stopped her.

"Mom already put sunscreen on him before we came to get you." Amy nodded and dropped the tube back in her bag.

"So do we wanna walk on the beach for a bit first or play in the water first?" she asked.

"Let's play in the water first. It'll tire him out faster." Amy nodded in agreement and then sat John down on the blanket so she could stand up and remove her sundress. When she did Ricky's mouth fell open for several moments before two guys several feet away from her wolf whistled and Ricky turned his head to glare at them. Amy was wearing a yellow bikini that molded to her curves perfectly. The top was a solid piece with a little bow in the center, strictly for decoration, and the bottom had a gold ring at each side that rested on her hip. Ricky hadn't seen Amy in any state of undress since their night at band camp and she had definitely acquired a few curves in all the right places since then. Her stomach was also flat and toned. No one would ever guess that she'd been pregnant at one point; there wasn't a single stretch mark on her. John tried to waddle away again so Ricky scooped him up and sat him in between his legs, locking his ankles and raising his thighs to form a sort of playpen for him. Amy placed her sundress in her beach bag, unaware that the wolf whistles she'd heard had been directed at her or that Ricky was ogling her. She turned around and Ricky quickly diverted his eyes down to John so she wouldn't catch him staring.

"Ready?" she asked, standing back up. He nodded and stood up, taking John by his left hand while Amy took his right. Together the little family slowly made their way down to the water. John found the water absolutely fascinating. The closer they got the water's edge the more he leaned forward trying to free his hands from his parents'. They finally let go and let him play in the water at the water's edge until he was used to the taste of the salt water. They both knew how much John liked to splash during his bath and silently agreed to let John decide when he wanted to go further out into the water. As expected, John decided to splash in the water and Amy giggled when John sputtered and looked shocked, not expecting the water to be salty. He recovered quickly and within minutes was happily splashing around, ecstatic to watch his footprints continually being washed away by the ebb and flow of the ocean. He turned to his mother with a smile on his face.

"Mommy! Go bye bye!" he said while pointing to his most recent pair of footprints being washed away by the ocean. He started to wade out further and Ricky held John by the waist so the force of the water wouldn't knock him over. Ricky needn't have worried because John was enjoying being pushed and pulled by the water. He squirmed to go further out and Ricky and Amy waded out into the ocean a little further, laughing as they watched their son splashing about with glee. Ricky began floating around in a small circle with John lying on his chest and John squealed with delight. After about the third circle John looked around for Amy, who was standing in water a little higher than waist deep just smiling at her boys.

"Come, mommy!" he called and before Ricky could catch him, John swam off his chest in the direction of Amy and promptly went under. Amy's heart stopped and she shot forward towards John but Ricky had grabbed him and brought him back to the surface not two seconds after going under. John sputtered for a couple of seconds before he started laughing. Amy and Ricky both breathed a sigh of relief.

"Again!" They looked at their son in disbelief before looking at each other. They moved a little closer to shore and helped John doggie paddle back and forth between them instead, allowing him to briefly go under the water if he wanted to, which he did. After exactly four minutes of assisting John in going back and forth between them he figured out how to doggie paddle on his own, not going underwater once. To say his parents were surprised would be an understatement. Amy was the first to recover.

"You're swimming all by yourself, John! Aren't you just the smartest little boy ever!" she told her son with a smile. Ricky took in the sight of Amy smiling, happiness written all over her face, as she held out her arms underwater to receive their son, who was paddling towards her all on his own while laughing and seared the image into his memory. "Okay, buddy. Swim back to daddy." John turned himself around and swam towards his father, still laughing and smiling. Ricky held out his arms underwater as well and John swam right into them. Ricky scooped up his son and gave him a kiss on the cheek. John accepted the kiss but moments later he was squirming to get down and swim around some more. Ricky looked at Amy and saw her smiling back at him. They had one pretty awesome kid. Amy noticed the smell of a dirty diaper when John reached her again so she scooped him up.

"Someone needs a diaper change," she told Ricky and they headed back towards their blanket. As with their trip to the zoo, as soon as John realized they were leaving the water he started fussing. "I know, baby. But someone has a smelly diaper." Amy reached into Ricky's beach bag for John's beach towel and quickly patted him dry. Ricky quickly patted himself dry as well and then held out his hands for John so Amy could dry herself off. He grabbed a clean diaper and a small pack of wipes out of the bag along with a dry pair of shorts. Amy put her sandals and sundress back on, much to Ricky's dismay, and then held out her hands for John and the supplies Ricky was holding. While she went to change John's diaper Ricky took out a few beach toys he'd packed for John, two water bottles for he and Amy, and John's sippie cup, filled with water. When Amy returned with John she put his sun hat on his head and she and Ricky played in the sand with him for a little while. John had just as much fun scooping sand into his little orange bucket with his matching orange shovel as he did in the water. Amy watched her son contentedly as he scooped up some sand with his shovel and turned towards his daddy. Ricky wasn't sure what John wanted him to.

"Bowl, daddy," John said when he realized his daddy didn't know what he wanted him to do. Amy giggled and Ricky quickly cupped his hands. John smiled and dumped his shovel of sand into Ricky's hands. He took another shovel full of sand and walked closer to Amy. Having just watched Ricky Amy knew to cup her hands and John dumped the sand into her hands with a smile.

"Glad to know he likes to share," Ricky said with a chuckle, which Amy returned. A seagull landed nearby with a screech, catching John's attention.

"Birdy!" he said while pointing at it. He started to walk over to it but Amy, being closer to John and the bird, put her arm around his waist and pulled him to her.

"That's a dirty birdy, John. We don't touch dirty birdies, okay?"

"Okay." Amy sighed with relief, glad her son was still young enough that he accepted whatever she told him without too many questions or much of a fuss. She was not looking forward to those dreaded terrible two's. The bird quickly lost interest in them and flew away. John yawned, signaling that it was nap time. Ricky packed up their things and carried both bags back to the car while Amy carried John. She buckled him in his seat while he loaded the bags into the trunk. John was just starting to nod off when they arrived back at Ricky's apartment. Amy carried him inside and put him in his crib; he'd have a bath later.

"So how'd your talk with Adrian go?" Ricky asked her, bringing two more bottles of water, some apples slices, and a small bowl of peanut butter to the coffee table. Amy joined him on the couch.

"Alright I guess," she told him, eating an apple slice. Ricky smirked, remembering Ben's fear from earlier.

"It didn't come to blows or anything did it?" Amy turned to give him a look or irritation but he could tell by the look in her eyes she wasn't annoyed with him.

"No. We spent most of the time talking about what it's like to be a working teen mom still in high school." She took a drink from her water bottle.

"Feel free to tell me the conversation's none of my business but I'm curios. What kind of things did she ask you and what'd you tell her?" he asked, taking an apple slice from the plate and swiping it in the peanut butter.

"Well she basically asked me what it's like to be a working teen mom, like I said. I just told her a little about what it was like for me."

"So all the other stuff's dealt with and in the past?" Amy nodded.

"I told her that even though I showed up to share some of my experiences with her, we weren't friends and won't be 'til she changes her ways." Amy took an apple slice and swiped it in the peanut butter. Ricky nodded in understanding and agreement. "I've got a question for you."

"What's that?" Ricky replied, taking a drink from his water bottle.

"Do I need to dress up for this dinner tonight or are you taking me someplace casual?" Ricky smiled smugly.

"If you're tryna figure out where I'm taking you I'm not giving you any hints," he told her, the smile still on his face. Amy rolled her eyes.

"I figured it was gonna be a surprise when you didn't tell me where you wanted to take me. What I need to know is how dressed up do I need to be so I'm not under or overdressed for wherever we're going." Understanding came over Ricky's face but was quickly replaced by a smile.

"Just wear something nice. It doesn't have to be too dressy," he admitted. Amy nodded and ate another apple slice.

"So how was work?" Ricky chuckled, getting Amy's attention and she raised an eyebrow at his questioningly.

"Ben was jumpy all morning worrying about how your talk with Adrian was going. It was kinda irritating." Amy chuckled and shook her head.

"Ben really worries too much. If he's not careful he's gonna be a nervous wreck once his baby's here." Ricky laughed and nodded in agreement.

"So what'd you do last night?" Amy leaned her head slightly to the left and sighed contentedly.

"I took a bubble bath," she told him with a smile. Ricky started to imagine Amy naked in the bathtub but quickly stopped that train of thought and instead chuckled at the expression on Amy's face.

"What?"

"Sorry. It's just that you look awfully happy and nostalgic about a bubble bath." Amy tucked some of her hair behind her left ear and turned to face him.

"Taking a nice, long bubble bath is a rare treat for me." At Ricky's look of surprise she continued. "During the week after John's down for the night I've got things to tidy up or finish around the house before I can get ready for bed and by then it's usually kinda late to just relax in the tub for a while. But since I knew I'd be able to sleep in a little bit this morning I took the time to relax and unwind with a bubble bath. Everybody needs a little 'me' time." Ricky tried to hold back a laugh. "And just what is so funny now?"

"Sorry. It's just….you said a little 'me' time." Amy looked at him confused and her eyes told him she needed an explanation. Ricky actually blushed when he realized Amy expected him to spell it out and his blush made her determined to find out what he was talking about.

"And?"

"You remember. All the girls. No guys. The entire weekend." He was desperately trying not to say the word out loud and he inwardly breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Amy put all the pieces together.

"Not like that!" Amy had a look of disgust on her face but the fact she was blushing let him know she was more embarrassed than appalled that he'd thought she was doing that in the tub. Ricky couldn't help but laugh again.

"You're the one who said 'me' time."

"Yeah, not 'just say me' time." They caught each other's eye and shared a laugh. "Oh man," Amy said while leaning her head against the back of the couch. "So do you wanna watch a movie?"

"Sure. What do you wanna watch?" Ricky asked, getting up to browse his DVD collection. Amy came over to join him and looked over the titles. She smiled when she saw the movie she wanted to watch. She pulled it off the shelf and showed it to Ricky. He smiled when he saw it. Ricky popped in the movie while Amy got comfortable on the couch. Ricky joined her and hit play on the remote. He got more comfortable on the couch as the opening score of August Rush began. They watched the movie in companionable silence. They reached the part where August explains why he doesn't wanna be adopted when Ricky heard Amy sniffle. He glanced at her and saw her turn her head to wipe away a tear and paused the movie, concerned.

"What's wrong, Amy?" She shook her head.

"It's stupid."

"Not if you're crying about it. Talk to me." His tone wasn't harsh but Amy knew his tone meant he wasn't going to stop asking her until he got a straight answer.

"I just wonder if that could've been John."

"What?" he asked, having no clue what she was talking about.

"When Donovan and Leon backed out of the adoption I was afraid that I'd have to leave John with an adoption agency and hope he found a good home. I wonder if he would've held out hope that I'd come back for him or just hate me for giving him up." To say Ricky was floored would be the understatement of the year. To him this was a great movie with great music. Even though he'd seen it before John was born and had watched it several times since then, he never really gave that much thought to the fact August always knew his parents wanted him and that his mother never wanted to give up her baby, just like Amy hadn't wanted to. She was really crying now and Ricky didn't hesitate. He put down the remote and pulled Amy to him. He turned so his back was against the armrest. He bent his left leg and placed his right foot on the floor so Amy could lie against him. She laid on her side and cried into his shirt while Ricky wrapped her in his arms and just held her. When her tears quieted to sniffles she spoke.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Ruining the movie. I really like it it's just that this kinda hit me out of the blue. I have no clue why." Ricky chuckled.

"I think you do." She arched her head back so she could look at him.

"What do you mean?"

"Amy, you had a baby with a guy you barely knew and considered adoption simply because you wanted your baby to have the best life possible and didn't think you could give it to him, period, even though deep down what you really wanted was to keep your baby. I get why you can imagine John being in August's shoes. But John isn't August, Amy. Your baby boy is safe and sound and right here with you. Besides, you refused to accept anything less than an open adoption so even if John had been adopted you would still be a part of his life and he'd grow up understanding you didn't give him up for selfish reasons. He'd never hate you." He kissed her forehead and she laid back against his chest; Ricky continued to hold her. She was lost in thought for several minutes before she sat up. She gave Ricky a small smile.

"I think I'm okay to watch the rest of the movie." Amy sat up all the way and Ricky did likewise. He retrieved the remote and was about to hit the play button. "Ricky?" He gave her his full attention. She smiled and kissed his cheek. "Thank you." He smiled back.

"Anytime." He hit the play button. Amy snuggled up next to him and laid her head on his shoulder and Ricky put this arm around her. They stayed like that for the rest of the movie. Surprisingly neither one of them felt awkward about it. Somehow it just felt…..right. The movie ended just as John woke up from his nap and decided to make his presence known.

"Mommy! Daddy!" he called out. Amy was carrying their snack dishes to the sink so Ricky went into the bedroom to get him. John needed a diaper change so Ricky decided to go ahead and give him a bath to clean up from the beach. After his bath Ricky and Amy spent a couple of hours just playing on the floor with John and his toys. Ricky and Amy each took a couple of pictures of their happy little boy with his mommy and daddy, respectively. Before they knew it 4:00 had rolled around and Ricky went into the bedroom to grab John's overnight bag. Amy began picking up the toys with John's 'help'. Ricky talked logistics about their dinner 'date' while they finished picking up John's toys.

"So we'll drop John at my mom's then I'll drop you off to shower and get all dolled up." He and Amy shared a brief smile before he continued. "I'll head back here and do the same then I'll come pick you up about 7:00."

"Sounds good."

"Ready to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house, buddy?" Ricky asked his son while zipping up his jacket.

"Yeah!" Ricky chuckled because he figured John would've said that regardless of where he was going. He carried John downstairs, Amy walking ahead of him. He buckled John into his car seat and gave him a stuffed turtle to play with before climbing into the driver's seat and heading to his mom's. John happily babbled away in the backseat during the short drive. Ricky got out and carried John and his overnight bag to the door while Amy stayed in the car. Margaret heard him drive up and opened the door before he could knock on it.

"Give me my grandbaby," she said with a smile while holding out her arms for John. John reached for her as well and Ricky quickly deposited John into his mother's arms before handing her his overnight bag.

"Thanks again for doing this, mom."

"No problem. You kids just enjoy the night off." She turned to John. "Say bye bye, John," she told him while waving. John just smiled and waved as well. Ricky placed a kiss on his son's forehead and then headed back to the car. Margaret waved them off and then went back into the house. The drive over to Amy's house was mostly quiet; the only sounds in the car the ones coming from the smooth jazz station on the radio. When he pulled into the driveway Amy opened the door to climb out.

"See you in a couple hours," Ricky told her with a smile.

"See you in a bit," she replied with a smile of her own. Ricky waited until Amy had closed the kitchen door behind her before heading back to his apartment to get ready for his night out with her. Please let everything go according to plan.

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