Duck opened an eye. He'd heard knocking. Again. He got up, smiled as he heard Dan spread into his space. Duck knew that as annoying as this was, not getting up wasn't an option. He'd started locking things up tight when the Watch news first broke, before he got up the nerve to talk to Dan. It didn't come natural on Wilby.
He reached the door and pulled it wide, looking into the night. No cars. He scratched the back of his neck while he gave 'em time to start giggling or egging each other on, for the rustle of clothing as they shifted. He didn't hear anything of the sort. He closed the door. No need to freeze his nipples. He went back to bed.
Duck sat up and got out of his bed. This was getting old, this knocking, and he was a bit worried. This wasn't boys being boys. They just weren't focused enough. This time he turned on the light; it was late enough that it was only a little early for breakfast. He opened the door, more carefully this time, the fourth of the night.
"What?" He knelt, looking down and scanning outside, wondering when towels became funny. Then he noticed the face in the bundle and picked it up, bringing the baby to his chest.
"Duck?" Dan stood just at the bottom of the stairs, belted into his robe over sleep pants.
Duck turned and looked up from the sleeping baby. The sleeping newborn. "Call the station. Ask for Buddy." This had become the code, one that had the advantage of not feeding the gossip mill, that this was an investigation. Buddy wanted those and Duck didn't question him.
"First thing. Never question a professional in his line of expertise." Might be strange advice for a baby, but it was the truest thing Duck knew. Questioning if someone was a professional was a whole 'nother matter. It was only commonsense. Buddy was a good cop. Now, a baby was outside of Duck's skills. There wasn't a safe place to put it down, and he wasn't taking chances it would wake up. "Dan."
Duck smiled as he looked up. "There'll be some diapers I've never used as rags in the attic, up to looking for them?"
Duck heard that babies liked motion, and he was good at that. Better than trying to sit and having that set it off. "Too bad you didn't come color coded." The blanket was a cheap towel, carefully wrapped and he thought brand-new. Striped. He drifted around the front room, eyes on the baby's face.
Buddy's quiet rapatap startled Duck, and his armful started to squirm. "Buddy!"
"Dan called," he stopped with his hand still on the doorknob, taking in the baby. Buddy stepped the rest of the way in, closing the door and locking it. He got out his notebook.
"Found some." Dan set down the cloth and took a clothesbasket towards the washer. The outer ones needed cleaned of deceased spiders and what, but the inner ones would do until then.
Buddy took Duck's statement, mindful of volume and cadence. "Well, I suppose that's everything we need right now. I'll need to call the hospital, get someone with a babyseat over here."
"We could call Doris." Doris was a nurse, and she gave the safety lectures.
Buddy thought that over. Her place was closer. He gestured to Duck's phone and got a nod.
The baby squirmed within its tight bundle, opened its eyes and BAWLED.
"Hope you're wet because I don't have any food." Duck grinned as Dan cleared the coffeetable and got some paper towels and the garbagepail. Duck started untucking the towel to get his answer. "Unless you want the honors?"
Buddy looked at the cloth diapers. "Know what you're doing?"
"Part wrapping, part cleaning." It'd been years since he'd changed his cousin's , but it wasn't rebuilding a transmission. Under the towel was a second towel, then a formerly clean tee. "That's your evidence." It didn't smell too bad, considering it was a dirty diaper. Duck got her cleaned and into a diaper. "Dan, were there pins?" It was rather much to hope for, those likely got used and used once he was out of diapers until they rusted.
Dan handed him some bandage hooks. Duck smiled, then rewrapped the little girl in her outer towel. "How'd that not get drenched?"
"Sanitary napkin." Buddy ziplocked the evidence bag. He'd need larger ones from the squad for the shirt and the inner towel. He was certainly foisting all three on the hospital, their storage was better for this sort of thing.
The knob rattled and an annoyed knock rapped until Dan got the door. "You called me." She swept into the room and her demeanor shifted as she approached the baby. "Oh, you are a sweet one." She started to unwrap the towel.
"I just changed her." Duck understood the baby needed examined, tests, but didn't think his living room was the place, or that Doris had everything she needed.
"Oh." She looked at the table, the plastic bag with its notations, the shirt folded and wrinkled in a telltale way, the towel much like the one the baby was wrapped in. "Better planned than some abandonments."
Everyone looked at Duck.
"It's not abandonment if someone is waiting in the rushes."
"What, Duck?" Buddy's hand started for his notebook, then realized he'd not washed his hands.
"I didn't look down the first few knocks." Burning turds stank. He'd been focused on the woods. Duck tried to figure out how long it took for him to finally see the baby. "She was waiting."
"The mother." Stubborn. A man would have given up, tried elsewhere when he was so slow on the uptake. It was fall. Two towels wouldn't have been enough for long, but she was pink. "She had to come back, then try again later, three times."
"I'll have to search once it's light." It almost was, but the thin grey and fog was worse than night would be. Once it burned off. Buddy turned to Doris. "Can you take Baby Jane here to the hospital?"
"Not Jane." Duck was stubborn too. Got it from his mother. "McDonald. Baby MacDonald, until she's got a given one. Not unheard for that to take a day or two."
Buddy realized that this wasn't up for discussion. "We need to keep things quiet for this little girl."
Doris nodded. "Let's go get you weighed and checked out." She went out to her car and settled the baby into the back facing safety seat. Three men watched her drive away. Buddy stepped down from the porch and got the evidence bags out of his squad.
"Do you have a problem with this?" Duck didn't turn, didn't want to see Dan if he did have a problem.
"Only with anyone that gets in our way."
Duck did turn then. He kissed Dan right on his wry grin.
Buddy passed them to seal away the tee and the towel, wrote out the labels and washed his hands. Done, he stepped back out, grabbed the police tape and wandered into the woods.
It was not as simple as Duck wished to believe, that early morning, though the hospital did resist making out her birth certificate as Baby Doe. They filed the paperwork under X, requiring someone 'in the know' to find it.
Wilby being Wilby, Duck was allowed to visit her at the hospital, and the wheels of justice spun full-tilt.
"She was born on my land, and I'm not scorning that and her mother's placing her with me." Duck was frustrated. Buddy had found the birthing spot, which had been tidied nicely all considering. All the Islanders were accounted for. Duck had reburied the placenta deeper and closer to a tree. They kept asking the same questions. He figured this meant they were open to being convinced. They had to question, he knew that. They should have asked these questions of Irene's father. Hell, his own father.
He'd named her, not that it was recorded anywhere, or that he spoke it except with Dan or whispered to her.
"You're an unmarried man."
That was new. "You'd agree if I was married?"
"It would be a step."
"Could I have a few minutes?" The magistrate nodded, and Duck passed Dan reaching for him.
Dan stood and followed.
"This isn't--" He stopped, and got on one knee. "Would you marry me?" Dan's divorce papers had finalized, and two Mounties had gotten married in their dress reds, neither a woman.
"Yes? Yes!" Duck stopped half-way to a flag planting kiss.
Dan carried through to a soft press of lips, that got a little wet like any landing. He pulled away and squared Duck's clothes again.
"Thanks." Duck stood there, looking at Dan. Remembering the meeting, he turned and strode back through the door.
"So, how's one get a marriage license?"
"I'm not rushing in, just that it's not been something for me before." He couldn't look at Dan now. He'd get giddy. "I would have proposed. This is just a timeline change, which happens often enough when it comes to babies."
"Noted. I'm going to forward this paperwork for final decision. The clerk will help you with the requirements for your license." She closed the file. "Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Both of you."
The same clerk that made out their license, the same one that explained what was needed to get the license, performed the ceremony. Afterwards, Emily came up to them outside and told them they were to come to Iggy's. Now.
The got there and looked at the decorations. "Sandra."
"Duck, I wanted to. Dan, you only get remarried once, hear me? Emily made the cake."
She herded them into the dining room. "Now, I want you two to cut this so we can get pictures."
Deena smiled over a camera that declaimed Carol.
Dan grinned at Duck. Duck kissed him soundly, thoroughly. Then they cut the cake and Deena took more pictures.
Sandra had rearranged the tables to clear a space for a tiny dancefloor. "Go on, pick a song to dance to." It was a strange sort of reception, the diner still open for business and the music sans vocals.
"Congratulations, you're fathers." The magistrate looked between Walter MacDonald and Daniel Jarvis. Doris brought in the baby.