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try to break it down

Title: You Can Observe A Lot By Watching
Author: custardpringle
Fandom/Pairing: Wilby Wonderful- Duck/Dan.
Category: THIS IS MPREG. Don't say you weren't warned.
Length: under 3000 words
Rating: PG-13
Notes: kalpurna wanted Duck/Dan mpreg for Christmas. This is Duck/Dan mpreg, but otherwise bears no resemblance whatsoever to what she had in mind. These things happen.
Betaed by nos4a2no9 and the_antichris, who deserve massive thanks.

Summary: The last time Dan Jarvis disappeared, everyone knew exactly why, because Duck wasn't around either for a good three days.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Buddy French is a police officer. According to the motto on the side of his car, this means it's his job "to serve and to protect" the people of Wilby. He prefers to put it a little differently: his job is to know when things go wrong, find out how, and fix 'em.

Unfortunately, right now, he hasn't got the faintest idea what's wrong to begin with.

The last time Dan Jarvis disappeared-- almost a year ago, now-- the entire island knew exactly why, because Duck wasn't around either for a good three days. People who hadn't figured it out on their own found out anyway, because Irene spent those three days in her usual booth and sulked loudly to anyone who came near her until Emily snapped, out of nowhere, "Irene, why the hell can't you just let 'em be happy for once?" Which shocked her into (relative) silence for nearly a week.

This time, though, it isn't obvious at all-- Dan could be on the mainland for all Buddy knows. And Buddy knows plenty-- the facts just don't seem to add up no matter how hard he tries to make them.

----------

Fact: Last week, when Buddy walked into the video store, he made straight for the shelves and called out "Hey, Dan, how're you doing?" without actually looking over to the counter.

"He's fine, far as I know." A girl's voice, about as un-Dan-like as it could be, and when Buddy stopped and turned around it was Emily Anderson waving at him from behind the cash register. "Hi, Officer French."

Buddy smiled briefly back at her. "Hey, Emily." He still wasn't quite sure how to behave around her, but she didn't seem to resent what had happened-- or, more accurately, what hadn't happened-- between him and her mother, and for that he was profoundly grateful. "Where's Mr. Jarvis?"

"Mainland." She shrugged. "Doctor's appointment, I think. No big deal."

"Huh." He looked at her a moment longer, nodded, and files that away, turning back to browse along the row of DVD cases.

"Hey, y'need help finding something?" Emily asked after a little while-- long enough to have already made it clear that he did.

"Sure," Buddy admitted. "Something I can watch with Carol. Thought we'd have a nice night in." For once.

"Explosions and actual plot, huh?" Emily grinned cheekily up at him.

"Actually--" Buddy grinned back-- "You wouldn't believe it, but Carol's the one that likes the big explosions."

"If you say so." Emily chewed her lip thoughtfully. "The Bourne Identity, maybe?"

He'd never seen it. "Sounds fine."

----------

Fact: Five days ago, Buddy finally remembered to return the movie-- it'd turned out to be a pretty good choice-- and when he went back into the store, it was Emily behind the counter again instead of Dan. She waved at him silently, but this time her expression was a little blank, thoughts clearly elsewhere.

"Hi there." Buddy dropped the movie on the counter between them. "Dan still on the mainland, or what?"

"I don't know," Emily said, a little shrilly-- clearly this was what had been bothering her. She grabbed the DVD case and turned around to the cabinet behind her, talking determinedly to the B drawer as she filed the disc away. "The day after he left, he called the diner and asked if I could work here a while longer. Didn't say till when. And I haven't seen him since then."

Which was damned strange for Dan Jarvis, who'd hardly missed a day in this store since he came to Wilby-- except that one day he'd apparently spent trying to kill himself. And those three after he'd gotten out of the hospital, of course. But before, and since-- it was unheard-of.

"Huh." Buddy ran a thumb over his lips, thinking. "I'll ask around, okay?" he offered at last, hoping he sounded reassuring. "But I figure he's just sick. Happens to the best of us."

"Thanks," Emily said, and swallowed hard.

----------

Fact: Four days ago, a hand grabbed at Buddy's arm on the sidewalk on Main, and when he turned around he was only half surprised to find that hand attached to Irene. "I told you so," she said without preface.

Buddy yanked his arm away. "You tell me a hell of a lot of things," he said patiently. "Which one's this?"

"About the Watch," she snapped back, giving the distinct impression that she was being patient with him. "Those people down there, they were using drugs. Still are, I'll bet, and I can prove it to ya."

"Okay." Buddy took a deep breath. "What is it now?"

"That Walter MacDonald. Duck," Irene sneered. "Been going around all day with the dopiest grin you'll ever see. If he ain't high on something, my name ain't--"

"Okay," Buddy said hastily, holding up a hand to quiet her. "Irene, I don't think that's exactly proof."

"Then what would be?" she demanded, squinting up at him suspiciously. "I hear it was you talked the mayor outta publishing that list. How do I know one of those names wasn't yours?"

Buddy closed his eyes and wished, fervently and uselessly, for the paving stone under her feet to vanish. "Just because a man is happy, Irene--"

She turned to walk away, shooting one last vicious glance over her shoulder. "I tell you, Buddy French, I ain't never seen a sober man grinning like that."

----------

Fact: Buddy has been asking questions around Wilby, in a quiet unofficial kind of way.

And fact: nobody at all has seen Dan Jarvis since he went to the mainland ten days ago. Duck has, presumably, and Duck is apparently still around, but he's managed somehow not to be around Buddy for the last few days. All Buddy knows is that-- whatever's happened to Dan-- it can't be that bad, because by all accounts Duck's been in the best of spirits lately. Better, even. Grinning from ear-to-ear, people say, distracted by something, walking around town whistling.

But, when questioned, he apparently refuses to tell anyone why.

So Buddy calls Carol, and Carol makes skeptical noises and I'm-too-busy noises and then agrees to call Duck and lie to him. Just a bit.

----------

It works just fine, and Buddy is sitting on the front steps of what used to be the Millers' house when a familiarly battered green pickup rattles to a halt in the driveway. Duck climbs out-- not just whistling but actually singing under his breath, it sounds like-- and starts rummaging through the back, not seeming to notice that anyone else is there.

Buddy stays quiet, waiting until Duck turns around, and then waves cheerily. "Hi, there."

The smile wavers, and Duck stops in his tracks. "Hey, uh, Buddy." His eyes dart off to one side, back towards the truck. "Carol called, said the kitchen needed repainting."

"The kitchen's fine. Not my favorite shade of blue, though." Buddy straightens up a little, looks him in the eye. "Duck, we've gotta talk."

The corner of Duck's mouth quirks up. "Lemme guess. No one's seen Dan in two weeks, and half of Wilby thinks I'm on drugs. Already heard it."

He nods. "Something like that, yeah."

"Yeah. Um. About that." Duck takes a single step back towards his truck, pauses, and all of a sudden ducks his head and grins brilliantly, shaking his head at some private joke. Then he looks back up at Buddy, snapping back into the present, and his face is utterly sober again. "Not now, okay? If-- when anyone knows, it'll be you, Buddy. Just-- not now."

"How about Emily? Or Sandra?" Buddy glances down at his hands, folded in his lap. "They say you won't talk to them either, Duck, Emily's so worried she's nearly crying. You've gotta tell them, whatever this is."

Duck swallows hard. "Shit," he breathes, so quietly that Buddy almost can't hear. "I didn't know. I didn't think--" He pauses and takes a deep breath.

In the thirty-odd years they've known each other, this is the closest Buddy's ever seen Duck to incoherence. He sits in silence and waits.

"It's a mess, Buddy," Duck says at last, but that half-smile is back and threatening to grow. Seeing it, Buddy can almost get how people might think he's high. "It's wonderful, it's amazing, but it's still a mess. And we don't know how the hell to tell people."

"I find," Buddy suggests, utterly mystified, "that the easiest way to say these kinda things is to just say them."

Duck watches him for a long moment, then nods once. "Then I guess you'd better come talk to Dan yourself."

----------

Duck and Dan live just barely inside the town limits, in a small house that can be easily identified by its meticulous and perpetually fresh paint job. The instant Duck pulls to a halt in front of it, Buddy can almost see his attention shift towards the house-- or, probably more accurately, towards Dan. In a way, it's a relief; he's secondary now, feeling like a guest instead of a threat.

The front door squeaks just a bit as Duck unlocks it and waves Buddy in. It's dimmer inside, and his eyes are still adjusting when a tall figure comes into the living room from the other end. "Hey--" Dan begins, and then he registers Buddy's presence and his face hardens and closes up, the half-formed smile vanishing in an instant. "Oh. Officer French." Something falls out of his hand with a soft thump-- an old paperback, Buddy sees, the cover too worn to recognize from this distance.

"It's okay," Duck says softly from somewhere behind him. The door squeaks again and clicks gently closed. "I brought him."

Dan's eyes, wide and hunted-looking, shift to look over Buddy's shoulder, doubtless meeting Duck's gaze. There's a few seconds where everyone is absolutely still and silent, and then Dan's shoulders slump a bit and he nods. "You're right," he tells Duck, and Buddy doesn't know whether to be freaked or jealous that they can have that whole conversation, say so many clearly important things, in only seven words.

"You can sit, y'know." There's a bit of a smile in Duck's voice, and his hand shoves gently at Buddy's shoulder. "Want a beer?"

"Sure." Buddy moves forward automatically, turning towards the sofa at first, and then thinks better of it and drops into a faded red armchair instead.

Duck vanishes into the kitchen without making the same offer to Dan, and Buddy's confused for a second; then he remembers that these two men apparently know each other so well they hardly need to talk any more. He stares straight ahead, not sure who or what to look at.

Finally, Dan moves, stooping to pick up his book and set it carefully on the table by the phone and then sitting down opposite Buddy. He's smiling again, but it's clearly forced, and his eyes keep darting back to the kitchen where they can hear Duck rummaging through the fridge. There's something a little off about how he's sitting, something about his hands, and it niggles at the back of Buddy's mind-- but still, things don't quite add up.

Duck comes back after a minute with a can of beer and hands it to Buddy, who says "Thanks," and takes it and looks at it until he realizes that's not what God made beer for, pops the tab, and takes a long swallow. It's cold going down his throat, but not at all soothing.

In the meantime, Duck has moved over to stand behind the sofa. His free hand is gripping the sofa back, almost but not quite brushing Dan's shoulder.

"Look, Dan," Buddy begins at last, making himself meet the other man's eyes. "I don't know what's going on, but I want to help, okay? You've gotta trust me with this."

"I know." Dan swallows hard but holds Buddy's gaze for a few seconds before his eyes drop to the wood floor. "I don't-- You won't understand," he says, suddenly defensive.

Buddy takes another sip of his beer. "Try me."

"He has to know," Duck murmurs, so soft that Buddy suspects he wasn't meant to hear it, and moves his thumb to brush lightly over Dan's hair for a second. Buddy glances away reflexively and feels even more like an intruder.

"I've been sick for a couple weeks," Dan says after a long moment, and Buddy's attention snaps back to him. "Cramps. Upset stomach. I mean, we thought I was sick--" what, vomiting's a sign of good health? "-- so I went to a doctor last week."

"On the mainland," Duck clarifies. "No use giving Irene more to play with." He grins, and Dan snorts and shakes his head, and Buddy smiles with them-- and for a second they're all in on the joke, everything's normal, everything makes sense; but only for a second.

"So this doctor," Dan continues, "had a look at me. He ruled out food poisoning, and then allergies, and then a virus, which didn't leave much."

"What's wrong, then?" Buddy asks, because that's clearly what he's supposed to do at this point. He can't help feeling that he should know this already, that there's enough evidence to support a conclusion, but what that conclusion is he can't imagine.

"Nothing's wrong," Dan corrects vehemently, and grins-- the biggest smile Buddy's ever seen on the man, although it's still a little shaky and Dan's eyes are dark with-- what? Nerves. Fear, even. "It's--" Dan pauses and takes a breath, visibly steeling himself. "I'm pregnant," he blurts.

That's all? "Congratulations," Buddy says fervently, starting to relax. "That's--" And then he realizes exactly what Dan just said, and what he just said, and his mouth falls open.

"--fucked up," Duck finishes for him, cheerfully enough. "We know."

Buddy tries to comprehend, and immediately wishes he hadn't, because he's never thought about something like this and it's not made any more pleasant by the fact that it's happened to someone he knows. He resorts to taking a long swallow of beer, then another; it tastes familiarly bitter, and he badly needs familiarity all of a sudden. Then he thinks shit, Dan Jarvis is pregnant all over again, and his hands start shaking so badly that he has to set the can down on the floor or risk spilling it. Once slumped over, he stays that way, closing his eyes and rubbing at his temples to keep back the inevitable headache.

And in the next instant, it all clicks-- everything weird and inexplicable Duck MacDonald and Dan Jarvis have done in the past two weeks makes perfect sense in the right context. Even down to the way Dan is sitting, hands folded across his belly instead of in his lap. If Dan were a woman, Buddy could've figured this out without even needing to talk to them.

Then again, if Dan were a woman, he would've avoided just about everything that happened a year ago and that's going to happen now, and that's the last piece of the puzzle: why Buddy needed to know this, why he needed to be the first to know.

He straightens his back, leaving the beer can on the floor for now, and takes a deep breath; even so, his voice comes out shaky. "How'd it happen?"

"They don't know," Dan admits. "Not yet."

"Baby's fine, though," Duck adds. His grin is back in full force, now. "About two months along."

"And it's gonna start showing soon," Buddy says, thinking out loud, and Dan nods. Buddy sucks in another breath and clenches his fists until the tremors stop.

"I'll do my best," he says at last, glad to hear that his voice is finally holding steady. "It'll be ugly, you know that. But--" he licks his lips-- "you two do have friends here. Maybe more than you think."

Duck's relaxed a little, leaning forward with his arms braced on the back of the couch; he drops a quietly protective hand onto Dan's shoulder, but his eyes are still steadily fixed on Buddy. "I sure hope so." It sounds casual enough, but for the first time Buddy hears the glint of protective steel, and suddenly he can imagine all too well how it'll go when this shit hits the inevitable fan.

There'll be plenty of time, tonight, to go home and have the nervous breakdown this situation deserves. But fact: unlike most of Wilby, Buddy French knows what his job is. To serve and to protect. Everyone, even-- especially-- the world's only pregnant man.

He's damn well going to do it, too, and the hell with what anyone thinks.

.

END

(Linked from ds_noticeboard and wilbywednesday.)

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
isiscolo
Dec. 20th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Aw! This is adorable. And you didn't hear me saying that, because OMGMPREG. Telling the story through Buddy works really well.
custardpringle
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
.
isiscolo
Dec. 20th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry if you feel insulted by my comment. I meant it as a compliment.
custardpringle
Dec. 21st, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)
ZOMG NO. NO NO NOT AT ALL. *jumps up and down and flails and hugs you lots* I liked your comment! It made me happy! Just, you said you didn't hear me saying that so I gave you an icon of fingers in the ears.

♥ :D?
somewhatdeluded
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh man. I *love* this. You managed to avoid all the peripheral things that give MPREG its bad rap...this isn't at all sickly-sweet, just quiet and calm and perfect and...dare I say it? realistic. Using Buddy's POV lets you give some space to Duck and Dan, to move away from the confusion and emotional roller coaster of the pregnancy itself, and have something that's more about family and community and DuckAndDan and *Buddy*, and really, that's what I'm here for. *g*

I just...this is amazing, really. So much love. Very nicely done.
dragonwhishes
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
... This is the only Mpreg that I liked.

You go, girl.
custardpringle
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
. . . you see why you really don't want to grow up to be me?
dragonwhishes
Dec. 20th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
... I'm going to assume that you think your mind is a scary place?
mickeymvt
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
Oh. Wow. Wilby MPREG... different, but I like this, especaially with Buddy as the narrator.

I love Buddy's protectiveness at the end, too. I have a feeling that the second Irene says soemthing bad, he's going to go off on her.
custardpringle
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, Irene is in for it. *veg*
giglet
Dec. 21st, 2006 03:55 am (UTC)
Oh, I liked that a lot! Thank you!

And wow. Irene. Irene is going to have kittens! Maybe literally!
custardpringle
Dec. 21st, 2006 03:59 am (UTC)
OH GODS MENTAL IMAGE.
lipsum
Dec. 21st, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
Aww, yay Buddy!
kalpurna
Dec. 21st, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
AWWWW my sweet little pregnant DAN and omg Duck is SO HAPPY HE COULD PUKE and dude, BUDDY is the best friend ever. YAY YAY YAY! I'm so thrilled you wrote this! \o/ \o/ This is my favorite part:

That's all? "Congratulations," Buddy says fervently, starting to relax. "That's--" And then he realizes exactly what Dan just said, and what he just said, and his mouth falls open.

"--fucked up," Duck finishes for him, cheerfully enough. "We know."


YAYS. I'm so glad I decided to stop worrying and love mpreg.
custardpringle
Dec. 21st, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
YAYY SHE LIKES IT. My work is done. *bows*
(Anonymous)
Jan. 15th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
wow, what a great little story! -- tally
manasseh
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
why is this cute I don't understand mpreg shouldn't be cute like this :DDDDD
custardpringle
Jun. 26th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
. . . wtf when did you get here O_o
manasseh
Jun. 26th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
lol sneak attack comment
(Deleted comment)
peoriapeoria
May. 27th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
I'm just waiting for Irene to have a lightening bolt turnaround.

Possibly when the news vans show up.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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