If it was one thing that Roy Earle, Stefan Bekowsky and Cole Phelps hated it was the fact that they couldn’t afford their own place in this day and age, and had to stick together to live comfortably- or have a roof over their head period. Granted, they all had their own reasons to stay put, but it sucked, and they all had no issue admitting it.
The admittedly giant loft was Roy’s late grandmother’s, and since she had hated Roy’s father and therefore disowned his mother, she had skipped over one full generation and given everything to Roy, her only grandchild.
Stefan had been the first Roy had contacted to share the place and help him out with the work, since everyone else in the LAPD hated him while Stefan was plain indifferent.
Stefan had accepted because a matter of days after Roy had extended him the offer, he had walked in on his girlfriend sleeping with some other guy in his own bed and wanted out as soon as possible.
But they needed one more person. And so the new detective on the block, Cole, came along. Weirdly enough, his apartment had burned down two days prior to Stefan’s discovery, so Stefan and Roy had claimed it was some sort of divine intervention and invited him to the new place. Not that any of them believed in divine intervention. It was really just dumb luck and desperation.
Cole didn’t really care for Roy, but he needed a place to stay and only counted Stefan, their boss Gordon- their neighbor in the complex, no less, and another detective, Herschel, among his only friends there. So it all worked out.
There were, of course, pet peeves with living together. Roy brought home different women and men countless times. Eighty percent of those times Cole and Stefan were the ones that caught her leaving early in the morning. It made things unbearably awkward. The other twenty percent of the time when he brought women home, Roy came out of his room first and made the other two come up with some excuse for his leaving. They very rarely saw any one paramour more than twice.
Stefan left garbage and dirty laundry everywhere.
Cole- well, he was just too much of a perfect housemate to the point it worried the other two. He was clean, he was quiet, his things were always unrealistically neat, he cleaned constantly. He was bad in the best way.
It had almost come to blows several times between either or all of them, but they made it work.
Then came the night when everything changed.
They all had the next few hours off was a surprise to all because they were all in the living room, doing their own thing but comfortably. Cole was sketching in his drawing pad, Stefan was channel surfing and Roy was playing a solo round of darts in the far corner. They were in the middle of a conversation about a new case involving a dope fiend when there was a knock at the door.
One of Roy’s darts missed the board and embedded itself in the wall and he turned, waiting. There was silence after the first knock. “If it was Leary or one of the guys they would’ve knocked again or yelled by now…”
“Yeah. It’s ten P.M, who could this even be?” Stefan asked.
“We could just get the door,” Cole suggested as he rose to his feet.
“If it’s some creep you’re shooting him,” Roy countered.
“Right, because a creep would knock,” Cole shot back. He went to the front door and opened it. He merely blinked at the empty space at eye level. “Must’ve been-“ there was a wail from just below his eyeline, and he looked down to find a crying baby in a tiny carseat set up in front of the door. “Uh… guys?!”
Roy and Stefan flanked them, then looked down. “The fuck, Phelps?” Roy demanded.
Cole shot him a warning look, then glanced back at the baby. There was a folded pieces of paper tucked between the infant and the seat. He told the others as much and bent down to take it. He unfolded it and gave it a once over.
Stefan scratched his ear. “A note? Who just drops a baby on a doorstep and leaves a note?”
“People have abandoned their kids on doorstops of cops and firehouses for years,” Cole countered. He read the note. “Or, in this case, the kid’s mother…” he read in silence, and then, “because the baby is apparently Roy’s, too. Her name’s Annabelle.”
“What?” the other two hissed.
Roy grabbed the note out of Cole’s hands and took his turn to read it. “Holy shit… holy fuckin’ shit,” Roy breathed after a while. “Signed it ‘Candy.’ Which one was Candy?” he muttered. “Why does it matter, it’s most likely not even mine-“
Stefan arched an eyebrow. “Candy? You actually screwed a girl named Candy-“
“It obviously isn’t her real name-“
Stefan rolled his eyes, then looked back at the baby. He knelt down, flinching when the girl seemed to cry harder. “Easy, kiddo.”
Funnily enough, the sentiment was enough to calm her- at least for a few moments.
Stefan studied her for a moment. “She has your eyes, Roy,” he pointed out. “Pretty damn hard thing to deny.”
“Shh, we shouldn’t swear in front of her,” Cole pointed out.
“She’s a baby, it’s not gonna learn anything yet!” Stefan objected.
“Guys, shut the fuck up,” Roy ordered. He turned around and paced around the entryway.
Cole sighed heavily. At least Stefan hadn’t cursed in his response.
Roy was about to continue, then stopped short as he seemed to remember something. “Oh, that was Candy. I think… I don’t know, shit… What do we do?”
“We take it to Leary, that’s what we do,” Cole replied.
“Then let’s go,” Roy insisted.
“We should wait ‘til the morning.”
“Fuck no, we’re getting this thing out of here now.”
“Leary’s not gonna-“
“He’ll know someone who will.”
Cole frowned, but when he saw even Stefan looked partially convinced, he frowned and sighed. “Fine, but let’s at least call him first before we do this,” he instructed, but Roy was already halfway out the door.
Stefan glanced from him to Cole, then back before he tossed his hands up and followed Roy.
Cole sighed, then picked up Annabelle. “God help you if you inherit his patience,” he told her quietly before he followed him.
“What the Hell do you mean ‘CPS can’t take him’?” Roy demanded. He glowered down at Gordon.
The man half expected his former boss was just messing with him after they had barged into his loft. It was almost 11 p.m after all, he wouldn’t like it either, but this was serious.
Even with such a dire situation going, the four of them were still in the loft after ten minutes, with Gordon was practically interrogating them about the events of the last few minutes.
Of course, Gordon had pointed out that getting the kid ‘out of Roy’s hair’ as Roy himself had put it was going to be harder than expected considering he was the father, Roy was less than thrilled.
The four of them had still tried to pool resources to figure out other means of guardianship that could work, but Gordon had ended up disproving a lot of them all over again.
Gordon had physically taken Annabelle from Stefan’s arms at one point and had taken to bouncing her on his knee as he spoke to them. “I mean what I said, Earle. Social workers aren’t exactly fond of dealing with the system when the biological father is around and capable, even if he’s an asshole. Point is, it’s only been a matter of hours, who knows what might change in the next day or so. Being a father might suit you.”
“I’m not its father.” Roy interrupted, “I can wait for bloodwork.”
Cole, Stefan and Gordon all shared a quick, exasperated look at his use of ‘it’ before they looked back at him.
Gordon frowned. “You really think that little Annabelle here isn’t yours? I mean, she has your-“
“Eyes, I know. They could just be blue. Coincidental. Not mine.”
Gordon sighed. “Look, we’ll look into it. Is this Candy name is the only clue you boys got? No address?”
“Nothing,” Cole answered.
“Hm,” Gordon nodded. After a beat, he adjusted Annabelle in his lap and sighed. “I can grant all of you a few days off if worse comes to worse, or you can get a babysitter or something. You have to figure this out.”
“So… we can’t just…”
Gordon sighed. “I have to get five hours of sleep if I have any hope of bringing down criminals tomorrow, boys. You need to go. I have faith in you.”
“We don’t…” Stefan muttered, and got an elbow to the ribs from Cole for his trouble.
Gordon went to hand the baby over to Stefan, then thought better of it and handed her to Cole.
The latter, to his credit, only looked panicked for a few moments before he took Annabelle and got a careful hold on her.
The redhead led them to his front door, then all but slammed it behind them.
“Well, at least there was a vote of confidence,” Stefan offered.
Cole grunted in agreement. “Right, so… next step is babyproofing our place?”
Roy scoffed. “Hell no. We’re still looking for a new way to get rid of it. I’m not dealing with this. Hey, you guys remember that one couple who’s kid was kidnapped last month? Think they’d wanna take-“
“No!” Cole and Stefan objected.
“Well then one of you are gonna get it when it’s hungry or has to pee or worse,”
And with that, they all seemed to realize that that was something they would have to worry about now.
“I call not being on baby duty the first three days…” Roy muttered.
“Oh, come on!” Stefan objected. Then, quietly, “… … Same.”
“I hate both of you,” Cole hissed, then turned his attention back to Annabelle and tried to mimic Gordon’s movements from before. “Well? What is it, huh? Are you hungry?”
“Please let it be hunger…” Stefan supplied.
Cole’s rocking seemed to calm the girl.
Roy scoffed again. “He’s a certified natural. Of course the Golden Boy’s a natural.”
“I am a father, you idiot,” Cole answered.
“Yeah, so get fathering,” Roy countered. He motioned at Annabelle again. “Then again, that didn’t go so well for you, huh?”
“What is wrong with you?” Cole asked. The whole situation with his soon-to-be-former wife was hardly a secret, but the fact that Roy took pride in bringing it up was infuriating.
“A lot, according to multiple sources.”
“I’m one of them,” Stefan chimed in.
Cole rolled his eyes. “Come on, let’s go. Something tells me we’re not gonna get any sleep so let’s get a good start on… whatever we need to do to make this work.” He walked to the door and nodded at it pointedly.
Stefan unlocked it, and they all went through it and filed into the living room. They all realized just how unequipped the place was for a baby.
“I’ll uh… call Marie about a crib,” Cole offered.
“Don’t bother. The kid’s gonna be here for a week tops,” Roy countered.
“And if she’s not?” Stefan asked.
“How the fuck should I know?”
Stefan sent a helpless look at Cole, who merely shrugged. “Right. One week. We can do this, right?” he asked, more rhetorically than anything.
Of course, his only responses were thousand yard stares.
They were going to die, he knew that much. ‘Death by caring for an infant’, he mused. What a way to go.