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Fatherhood

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They are just coming off a 24-hour shift; the sun is just peeking over the horizon; and Buck is making his way to his jeep just as his phone rings. He is heading home to take a nap before heading to Eddie's so they can pick Christopher up from school and go to the park together. They had planned it last week when Christopher had gotten 100% on a math test.

Today was the last day of school before Christmas break; the holiday just a week away now; and they were all going to be busy up until the day of, so this was the only chance for another week and Buck knew Christopher had worked so hard not to whine about having to wait the first week, there was no way he'd survive if he had to wait another week; he was only seven.

He slides into the driver seat and waves to Eddie as the older man began pulling his own truck from the spot next to him in the lot; and answered his phone without looking at the caller ID. "Hello?"

"Hello, I am trying to reach Evan Buckley."

"This is him."

"Oh, good." The female voice said over the line. "My name is Maggie, I'm a nurse at Cedar-Sinai. Your name and number were left by a patient of ours early this morning."

Buck frowned, his first thought going towards Maddie; but why would his sister be at the hospital and not have called him if something was wrong? "Can I ask who the patient is?"

"I was actually told to ask for you to come down to the hospital and everything will be explained."

His frown deepened and he had to stifle a yawn but nodded. "Yeah, yeah. I can be there in twenty minutes."

"Thank you, Mr. Buckley." The nurse - Maggie - said. "When you get here head for the maternity ward and then ask for Maggie at the reception desk."

"Yeah, okay. Thank you." Buck hung up; tossed his phone onto the passenger seat and started his car - and then froze.

Maternity ward?

What. The. Fuck?

He doesn't remember pulling out of the parking lot; doesn't remember turning left towards the hospital instead of right towards his apartment - his sister's apartment really; doesn't remember parking in the hospital lot or making his way towards the building. Doesn't remember asking the main desk for directions to the maternity ward; getting on the elevator and reaching the correct floor or making his way towards the ward.

He does remember reaching the reception desk at the maternity ward and asking for Maggie. He tapped his finger tips on the counter while he waited for the nurse sitting behind the desk grab the phone and call for the nurse he had asked for. Five minutes later found a blonde woman stepping through the doors and making her way towards him.

"Mr. Buckley?"

Buck nodded and she smiled at him.

"I'm Maggie, thank you for coming down." She turned sideways. "If you could follow me, the doctor and social worker can explain everything to you."

Buck opened his mouth to ask what needed to be explained but then snapped his lips closed and nodded. He followed the nurse back through the ward doors and down the hall and into an office room. A doctor was sitting behind the desk and he stood when the nurse and Buck entered the room. Buck's eyes roamed over the doctor in his white coat; a dark blue dress shirt tucked into black slacks. His salt and pepper hair was short; his green eyes bright as he looked back at Buck.

"Mr. Buckley I assume?"

"Uh, just Buck." Buck cleared his throat. "Everyone calls me Buck."

The doctor nodded motioned for the empty seat in front of his desk. "Well, I'm Dr. Callies. Please, take a seat."

Buck moved to do just that and as he sat down he finally noticed the last person in the room. The second seat in front of the doctor's desk was occupied by a middle aged woman with auburn hair that rested neatly at her shoulders; wearing a black knee length dress. She smiled at him as he finally caught her eye.

"Buck." She smiled as he nodded at her. "My name is Caroline Reed, I work for the hospital as a social worker. I am called in when a child is involved."

Buck nodded again and swallowed, tossing his attention from the doctor to the social worker. His head was swimming, he still had no idea what was going on but at the same time he felt like maybe he was cluing in on what was going on. He was in the hospital; in the maternity ward; talking to a doctor and a social worker - which only meant one thing. The main question was...

Which one of his many Buck 1.0 hookups just gave birth to his child?

Then he flinched. That couldn't be right. All his Buck 1.0 hookups had been through an app; used usernames. None of those women would have known his real name - unless they saw him on television the few times while working and his name would have been plastered for all to see. But that wouldn't explain them knowing his phone number.

Besides the math didn't add up. It was the end of December which meant the child would have been conceived between the months of March and April. He hadn't hooked up with an app date since January; hadn't been with anyone until recently; since March when he watched his last relationship walk through an airport gate because there was no way this was Taylor or Ali - the math really didn't add up for either of them to have given birth to a child - his child - when he's only been with either of them in the last two months.

There was only one option.

"Mr. Buckley? Buck?"

Buck blinked a few times and shook his head before focusing back to the doctor. "Sorry."

Dr. Callies gave him a simple smile as he leaned forward in his chair and leaned his elbows on his desk. "I was saying, this is a little unusual for this hospital. We've had woman leave their children because they knew they couldn't care for them, or didn't want them, but we've never had someone leave a name and number with a note saying the name on the paper was the father."

Buck swallowed, "So, um. The woman... she uh, she what, gave birth this morning and then just left?"

"She came in three days ago," Dr. Callies clarified, "She left this morning without the child."

Nodding Buck shifted in his chair, pulling his phone out of his pocket just to have something to do with his hands. "Okay, so like, what happens now?"

"We take a DNA swab from your mouth to do a paternity test," Dr. Callies nodded towards someone behind Buck before turning his attention back to the blond. "It's procedure to make sure you are the child's father."

"If I'm not?"

"Then I will be taking the child with me," Caroline Reed said from his right. "She will be placed with a foster family while we try and find the mother."

Okay, so at least now he knew he may have a daughter.

"And," Buck swallowed again and turned his attention to the social worker. "And if I am her father?"

Caroline smiled at him, "Then you will be able to take your daughter home, but we will still be working with the police to find the mother. She technically just abandoned her child."

"Right," Buck tapped his fingers on his phone. "Can I.. I mean am I allowed..." He looked back at the doctor. "Am I allowed to know the mother's name? That may help in knowing if it's actually someone I know or... or someone just claiming I'm the father, right? Someone used my identity to catfish women earlier this year, this could have something to do with it."

He almost hoped it was true. How the hell was he going to be a father to an infant? He still practically acted like a child himself and he was twenty-six years old! If it turned out to be true, he really had no idea what he was going to do. He had Maddie back in his life, but he couldn't ask her to help him raise his child. She already had to raise him when they were just kids. She was in her late thirties and didn't have any children of her own; for all Buck knew what that she didn't want children because she had had to practically be a teen - child? - mother to her own baby brother; why would she want to help raise her niece now too?

And then there was his job. Could he be a single father and a firefighter? Sure Eddie did it, but his best friend also had other help; other family around. He had Carla and his aunt and his grandmother; he had Buck even though they've only known each other three months. They were thick as thieves already. It had taken only a day for them to become friends (he is totally ignoring his behavior on their first 8-hour shift where he acting like a total dick towards Eddie); and only a week before meeting Christopher that suddenly Buck and Eddie were working seamless together and hanging out two or three times a week outside of work - always with Christopher.

If Eddie could be the greatest single father to the best kid Buck has ever met and be the badass firefighter that everyone knows he is even just three months into the job; could Buck? Even if he was only half as good at fatherhood as Eddie, he may be okay.

The doctor looked at the social worker before nodding and turning his attention back to Buck.

"Her name was Abigail Clark."