“When you warned me that the family was big I didn’t think you meant anything like this Abuela,” Buck says his eyes widening as they make their way into the banquet hall the hot Texas air is already making Buck sweat and being in a room with this many people isn’t going to help matters.
“Ah should have believed me, when I said big, I meant big, we have cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd, 4th”
“99th seven times removed” Eddie jokes interrupting his Abuela rolling his eyes “Plus all their kids and spouses”
Calls of ‘Edmundo’ seems to erupt all over the place and Buck’s heart clenches at the instant smile it brings out in his boyfriend’s face.
Eddie starts talking in rapid Spanish to people that come up and greet him pulling him and Chris into hugs and saying stuff Buck has no hope in hell of knowing.
Abuela is pulled away instantly as well being absorbed into the crowd, Josephina was lost to the crowd before they’d even stepped foot in the building.
Buck feels himself being wrapped into a hug from behind and when they loosen their grip, he turns on the spot inspecting who it was, and he breaks out into a huge smile “Mrs Diaz” Buck beams.
“How many times Buck, your family now it’s either Helena or ‘Suegra’ I’m so happy you could make it” She beams at him.
“Like we’d miss it” Buck waves her off “Oh Happy Birthday! We got you a gift, but Eddie wanted to give you it in private so it’s in the car”
“A wise choice, I’ve been pulled from pillar to post since this thing started, I’ve barely had time to have a single drink let alone open presents” She chuckles “I’ve been married to Ramone for so long now it’s hard to picture a time when my birthday parties weren’t as chaotically good as they are now, the first time my birthday rolled around and all these family members came out the woodwork I was overwhelmed so if you need some air at any point don’t hesitate to grab me and we’ll make our escape together,” She tells him her hand resting on his cheek before she surprises him and leans forward kissing him on the opposite cheek.
“Now where is my baby?” She asks looking around, Buck joins her and his stomach sinks when he realises the crowd have swallowed up Eddie and Christopher.
He spots the glint of silver on the floor a few feet and a couple of dozen people away, and he points out Christopher to Helena.
She beams and pulls him along fighting her way through the crowd who seem to part for her without question most people patting her on the back as she goes.
Buck’s already way in over his head.
“Buck” Ramone nods and gives him a tentative smile and honestly, that’s the most Buck can expect from the man, Eddie told him his father struggled to understand why he fell in love with Buck but Eddie had come out to his father over a year ago and the two speak but it’s tentative at best, his father has agreed Eddie’s happy with Buck and although he admits freely he’d rather Eddie settle down with a woman who can be a mother to Christopher he can’t deny how happy Eddie is and that’s enough for him no matter how begrudging the acceptance is Buck’s just happy his father didn’t disown him.
It’s not long before Buck’s pulled away by Eddie’s sisters unsure who is who they’re all so similar, they’ve got the same Texas drawl and Buck can’t help but beam when they smile at him because that smile is the same as their brothers.
He’s saved by Christopher who runs into his legs and Buck leans down to pick the little dude up and spin him around automatically, making Chris laugh like he always does.
“What’s up buddy?”
“Can you get me some food from the buffet?” Chris asks through a yawn and Buck honestly isn’t surprised the kid was too excited to sleep on the plane even with Josephina and Isabel telling him stories on the plane to keep him entertained.
Buck turns to excuse himself from Eddie’s sisters but they just wave him away before he can say anything and he busies himself in helping Chris get food and gets some for himself as well, by the time they’d moved down the buffet line they both had two plates piled high.
He looks around for somewhere to sit but every one of the tables was overflowing with both people and food, Chris pulls on his leg and he looks down nodding.
“I saw picnic tables outside” Chris smiles and honestly Buck doesn’t think he can love the kid as much as he did then.
Picking Chris up and juggling two plates was hard especially when trying to fight through the crowd, he keeps an eye out for Eddie but doesn’t see him anywhere so he fights his way out of the party which is practically impossible as it’s outside as well, it’s not as crowded out here as inside but still quite a few people.
Chris points out an empty picnic table and they set off towards it Buck can’t help the relieved sigh as he sits down and he actually has the space to just wiggle about the air although still hot cools the sweat on his skin now that he’s not surrounded by people.
“I feel like that sometimes too” Christopher smiles digging into his food.
“Feel like what buddy?”
“Hot and crowded? I forget sometimes how big of a family Daddy has” He says through a mouthful of food and Buck can’t help the smile of endearment that fights its way onto his face.
“I think it would be fine if I had your dad with me, but he sort of got swallowed by the crowd as soon as we came in huh?”
“It’s cause he’s not around people don’t get to see him much, my mom used to feel the same way you did when we came to family parties, you get used to them” Chris shrugs.
“Eye spy with my little eye something beginning with a tickle monster” Comes from behind them and before Buck even lookup Chris is giggling away like a mad man being tickled by a younger dude who’s all broad shoulders and expressive eyebrows.
“Carlos” Christopher snorts out through his laugh, Chris is quick to jump out of his seat and hug the new arrival.
“Hey man, you must be Buck” the man… Carlos tells him, he offers his hand and Buck takes it automatically and shakes.
“I’m Carlos, Edmundo is like my 4th cousin or something but we grew up together literally lived like five minutes away from each other so we were practically inseparable until he joined the army, he’s told me a lot about you though, I’m so proud of him thought I’d be the only one in the family who liked men, he says with a roll of his eyes. “With a family this size you’d think they’d be more of us” he jokes, and Buck can’t help but laugh at it.
“There you guys are,” Eddie says and Buck’s eyes snap to him like he always does “I’ve been looking for you everywhere sorry we got separated,” Eddie says leaning down to capture Buck’s lips in a kiss that’s hotter than any Texas night could ever hope of being. “Brought you a beer,” Eddie tells him passing it over before looking to Carlos the two beams at each other before Eddie pulls the younger man into a hug.
“Where did all these muscles come from?” Eddie questions giving Carlos a light punch on his biceps.
“Well you know it’s Texas what else is there to do besides working out?” Carlos jokes and Eddie snorts.
"You mean when your not shooting people or eating doughnuts" Eddie teases.
"I'm sorry isn't there a cat up a tree you need to go save?" Carlos fires back just as quickly.
“Touche, So, where’s this new boyfriend of yours?” Eddie questions looking around trying to find said boyfriend “A fireman too I always knew you wanted to date me, so you got the next best thing”
Carlos makes a gagging noise and Eddie lets out a full belly laugh, and Buck can’t help the beaming smile that comes on his face after hearing it.
“I’ll go find him and introduce you,” Carlos says punching Eddie on the arm before leaving to search for his boyfriend.
Eddie sits down heavily on the seat next to Buck and lets out a small sigh before leaning in to kiss him lightly on the lips.
“Everything okay?” Buck questions he’s surprised by how forward Eddie’s being they usually keep PDA to a minimum even in LA, but Buck had thought they wouldn’t be doing so much as holding hands in Texas.
“I’ve been asked more times in the last twenty minutes ‘What turned me’ than I hope to ever hear in my lifetime’ I swear the next person to ask me will probably end up being punched”
“I’m sorry,” Buck tells him grabbing his hand under the table.
“Don’t be I’m not ashamed of telling people I’m in love with you and that you and our son make me happy to be alive each and every day” Eddie tells him leaning in to give him a soft kiss the ends with a content sigh.
Eddie pulls Buck’s plate towards him looking at him with a questioning glance and Buck just rolls his eyes but nods at his boyfriend who wastes no time in eating.
Buck’s hand goes to his jacket pocket the sharp edges of the box digging into his hand reassures him, keeps him grounded and reminds him of what’s to come, the smile comes to his lips automatically.
“Buck” Chris asks and Buck shakes himself out of his wanderings and looks over at him.
“We’re here for ten days, right?” Christopher questions and continues when Buck nods “What are we going to be doing?
“I’ve not a clue, Chris this is yours and your dad’s turf if this was Hershey, Pennsylvania, New York or surf Beach in South America I would so know all the best places to go to, so that means you guys are the experts and I’m counting on you to show me what El Paso has to offer”
“I still can’t believe you lived in New York or South America” Eddie snorts “How the hell did you survive in New York it’s so expensive I went once with Shannon and vowed never to go back a pizza cost me like $40”
“Yeah it was crazy expensive, I was only there for a year or so then I decided to head on down to South America get all fit and join the Marines, glad I’m too emotional otherwise I’d have never met you” Buck snorts leaning forward to kiss Eddie, Eddie leans forward to meet him in the kiss but Buck veers off and steals the food off Eddie’s fork.
Christopher starts giggling at the pout his father gives him.
“El Paso is boring, the Zoo is really fun though, we’ve got a few museums that are fun, the Wyler Aerial Tramway is absolutely stunning and the drive up to it has some of the best views, you’re going to be so glad you bought that new camera,” Eddie tells him “I’m going to get us tickets for a show at the plaza theatre and there are a few amusement parks as well, I didn’t tell you guys the best part Carlos managed to get four days off from Austin PD so he’s gonna be joining us” Eddie beams.
“Are we going to be making time to actually spend with your family this trip or are you just going sightseeing and drinking with your cousin?” Buck laughs.
“Carlos can only get four days off we’re here for another six after he leaves I’ll see my family plenty” Eddie waves him off “Besides your deluded if you think my mother won’t force her way with us wherever we go and she’ll bring my father and my sisters will tag along, so will Abuela and Josephina”
“That’s what we came here for isn’t it?” Buck’s hand moves to rest on Eddie’s cheek a small smile in place.
“Hey Evan” a small voice comes from behind him and Buck’s blood runs cold his arm drops from Eddie’s face and the smile falls from his own face, he feels frozen to the spot “Long time no see”
Buck’s face inches around to stare at the man behind him who’s stood next to Carlos his hand on the small of his back “Tyler” Buck croaks out and Tyler gives him a small smile.
“You two know each other?” Carlos asks with a smile looking between them.
“Unfortunately,” Buck mutters finding the strength to stop his legs from being like jelly and standing, he rushes past Carlos and Tyler and heads for the banquet hall he’d left, wanting more than anything to be swallowed up by the crowd he was so eager to escape from not twenty minutes ago.