Buck seems different. There’s more of an air to him. He seems happier, if that’s even possible - he is the human embodiment of a golden retriever after all. Here he comes now, skipping up the stairs. Yes, actually skipping. How that boy has that much energy, Hen will never know.
“What’s got you in such a good mood?” Hen asks.
“Oh-um, nothing. Can’t a guy just be happy? Just- just because?” Buck responded, turning to walk into the kitchen.
Once he was out of ear-shot, Hen turned to Chim and they shared a look.
“He skipped. People don’t just wake up on a Monday , of all days, and skip into work. That’s a bit much, even for Buck. What’s up with him? Do you think he’s seeing someone?,” Chim whispered to Hen.
It did seem odd. “Maybe… I’ll go try and get some information out of him,” she whispered back.
Buck’s response had seemed border-line defensive. What was going on, Hen wondered. Maybe he just got laid or something. She didn’t think he would ever revert back to Buck 1.0, but maybe he- no. No, he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t just throw all of that progress away. He has grown up since that point in his life. Maybe he was seriously seeing someone? Maybe with all the time he got off from the fire engine explosion, he finally moved on from Abby. Hen never really liked Abby that much, so she would be happy if Buck finally closed that chapter, for good. Whatever it was, Hen was determined to figure out exactly what gave Buck that… dare she say, glow?
She followed him into the kitchen, where she could interrogate him, one-on-one.
“So… what’s her name?” Hen asks casually.
“What? Whose name?” Buck asked, caught off guard. He was looking around, trying to figure out who Hen was talking about.
“The girl you’re seeing? The girl that’s got you so happy recently? Is she someone special, Buckaroo?” Hen said with a slightly teasing tone.
“Um… I’m not discussing my personal relations with you, especially not at work.” Buck said. He seemed almost nervous.
“Ahah! So you are seeing someone!”
“Keep your voice down!” Buck said, hushing Hen. He glanced around them to make sure no one was listening. “... Ok. Fine… I might be seeing someone. But that’s all I’m saying!”
“No! Now you have to tell me!” Hen whined, yet managing to still keep her voice down.
“If I tell you any more, you have to promise not to blab my business to the rest of the station. Not even Chim. Promise?” he whispered, lifting his pinky warily.
“Oh my god. Promise!” she replied eagerly, as she hooked her pinky with his. Chimney would have to wait for details. Albeit excited, Hen is not one to break a pinky promise. “Now spill! Where did you meet her?”
Buck paled slightly. He looked unsure about his decision to divulge Hen in the details of his love life. The young man took a deep breath. “Well…”
Oh no. Why does he look so scared? Was it bad? He didn’t meet someone at some seedy strip club or something, right? Or off of one of those cringey dating apps? Could this person be a bad influence on their Buckaroo? Could this turn out to be worse than Buck 1.0? She might have to break their pinky promise if that was the case. She couldn’t stand by and watch him revert to that version of himself. He’d come so far. She especially couldn’t stand by if this person was hurting Buck in any way. She loved the kid like a brother. Hen pushed those thoughts aside and waited for him to continue.
“I met-” Buck’s voice was cut off by the alarm blaring.
Before she could say anything, he saw his chance to get out of this awkward conversation, jogged off and started descending the stairs.
“We are not done here Buckley!” Hen shouted after him, earning a chuckle from the man and some eyes from her other colleagues.
She had to admit, it was a pretty slow day. They had returned from a call about an hour ago. Chim was talking with Bobby as he made lunch for the crew.
She found Buck sprawled out on the couch, texting someone. The grown man was sitting there, giggling like a little school girl. He must be texting his special someone. Now was the perfect time to figure out more.
“You texting your girl?” She asked with an arched brow, pushing his legs aside so she could sit down.
Buck startled, fumbling with his phone in an effort to lock it, “What?”
“Buck, you’re smiling like an idiot. I literally heard you giggle. There’s no hiding it now.”
He let out an amused sigh, “... I’m guessing you want to finish our conversation from earlier then?”
“Uh, duh! Where’d you guys meet? Oh! What’s her name? I want to know everything” Hen asked, she was way too excited about this.
“Shh! Quiet down! This stays between us, remember?”
Why was he being so secretive, Hen thought to herself. She made a motion to signal that her lips were “zipped.”
“Okay…” He took another breath. Oh god, it has to be some low-life he met off of craigslist or something. He wouldn’t be this anxious over somebody normal, right?
“ His name is Eddie.” He paused, trying to gauge her reaction.
Hen could feel her eyes widen. Oh. So this is why he was so nervous. She hadn’t realized that maybe Buck was something other than straight. She guessed that it did make some sense, he slept around a lot as Buck 1.0.
“Oh! … Eddie, huh. Where’d you meet this Eddie ?” She said, trying not to make a commotion about this news.
Buck let out a nervous laugh, “So… you’re just not gonna make a big scene about me, ya know, dating a guy? I don’t think I ever told you guys about my sexuality… ”
“No, but why would I make a scene? You’re still our Buck, aren’t you? I know how hard it can be to come out to someone.” She told him, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “I’m really happy for you, Buckaroo. Anyways, tell me more about your man! I want details!”
She could visibly see him relax. The idea of coming out must have been weighing pretty heavy on him. She’s been in his shoes before and she knows it’s not her job to make him uncomfortable about it in any way. Her job was to be a supportive friend. This guy must mean a lot to him because she could practically see his eyes light up as he began talking about Eddie.
“Well… we met at physical therapy…” He went on to talk about how Eddie was taking his son to physical therapy for his cerebral palsy when they first bumped into each other. It turned out that they coincidentally had their sessions on the same days. From there they exchanged numbers and eventually started seeing each other more and more. It had evolved from a few nice dinner dates out on the town to more casual meetings, like movie nights at home.
Hen had to admit it. Eddie seemed like an amazing guy. He was a single father and decorated war veteran, who now works at a local VA hospital. He sounded kind, funny, and from Buck’s description, quite handsome. She couldn’t wait to meet him one day. The way Buck has been talking about him, makes Hen wonder if maybe this was more serious than she initially thought.
“So, you guys met when you started PT… that means you’ve been seeing each other for at least a few months. You think this is serious?” Hen asked cautiously.
Buck had that nervous smile again. “I think so. I mean, he’s so great. And his kid is so great. Like when we’re together… I feel… I don’t know. I just feel happy. But like a version of happy I’ve never felt before. You know, the type of happiness that makes me skip into work,” he said with a laugh. “Does that make any sense?”
“Oh Buckaroo,” Hen said quietly. “I think you might be falling in love.”
She didn’t want to scare him with that comment, but she had felt a similar sensation when she started seeing Karen. She had found someone who could bring a smile to her face by just the mere thought of them, and now Buck has too. This was much better than a reprise of Buck 1.0.
“Oh my god,” Buck said, staring off in the distance, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “... I think you might be right. I think… I think I might love him,” he let out another laugh. “Is that crazy? I mean I have only known him for a few months, but I don’t know. This… this feels different than any other relationship I’ve been in.”
“It’s not crazy. When you know, you know. From what you’ve told me, he sounds like a great guy, who probably feels the same way towards you. I just hope one day… you’ll introduce us to him?” Hen asked with a smile.
“He is a great guy,” Buck said dreamily. “And of course I’ll introduce you guys. I just, didn’t want to do anything too fast, you know? Meeting you guys is like meeting the parents, except there’s way more than two of you.”
They both laughed at that. It was true. This unit is like a big family. A big family that is extremely protective of one another. And if this Eddie is the real deal, he’s got to pass inspection first.
It’s been almost a month since Buck told Hen about Eddie. If she thought he was a lot happier then, it was no match to how he was now. He was never this happy when he was with Abby, or any of his other relationships for that matter. She knew that this time it would be different. Eddie could very much be the one.
He had teased Chim and Bobby about seeing someone, but purposely left out the major details. That of course drove Chim, and Maddie by association, absolutely insane. They constantly berated Buck with questions. Practically begging him for even a crumb of information whenever they saw him. Bobby had remained calm about it, telling him that he knew they would be introduced when the time was right. Buck and Hen were making their morning coffee when he brought up the situation again.
“So I think what I’m gonna do- and I’ve already talked to Eddie about it and he’s on board, so don’t worry- is just take him as my ‘plus one’ to the next Grant-Nash family dinner. That way he can meet everyone at once. Kind of like, ripping off the band-aid,” Buck said, stirring a sickly amount of creamer into his coffee.
“Have you told him about us? This group can be a lot to handle when you jump in the deep end like that,” she said with a knowing smirk. “More importantly… have you told him how you take your coffee? Jesus, Buck. It amazes me how easily you stay in shape with all that sugar.”
“Ha ha. Yes, he knows. He makes fun of me about it because he takes his coffee black,” Buck said with a fake gag. “And yes, I have briefed him on how to survive dinner. No critiquing Athena’s cooking, don’t ask Chim about his nickname, and be ready for lots and lots of personal questions.” They both laughed about how accurate that was.
Their conversation was once again cut short by the alarm blaring. They both took big swigs of their coffees before bounding down the stairs. Another day, they thought.
It was about mid-afternoon when they got another call. An elevator had crashed at a mall nearby. There was one person inside when the elevator fell from the eighth floor all the way down to street level. The doors wouldn’t budge and the person most likely needed medical assistance. A fall that far would have done some damage. When they reached the mall, a member of security escorted the team to the elevator in question.
“LAFD! How are you doing in there!” Bobby shouted out, as they reached the scene.
“... everything hurts.” a week voice called out. “I think my leg might be broken.”
Hen saw Buck’s head shoot up. His eyes were wide and the color drained from his face. “Buck? Buck, what’s up?”
He was quiet for a second more. “...Eddie,” he whispered.
He turned his head back to Hen, hushed, he said, “I recognize his voice. It’s Eddie in there.”
“No…” She couldn’t imagine what he must be feeling right now. It’s hard enough to see someone you love on a call, but having them trapped where you couldn’t even see their face, to know how they are? That’s a new level of hurt.
“Buck! C’mon, we gotta get these doors open!” Bobby called, prepping the necessary tools.
As Buck shook himself, probably in an effort to clear his head, and jogged towards the doors, they heard the voice speak again.
Bobby shot a look to Buck, as if to ask if he knew who was in there. Buck pressed an ear to the door in time to hear the voice croak out his name again.
“Eddie… I’m coming to get you. Don’t worry.” Buck responded, his voice sounding almost on the verge of tears. Bobby and Chim eyed him suspiciously until he addressed the situation.
“The person I’ve been seeing… it’s a guy…” Buck said with a sigh. The other men just blinked rapidly at him. “His name is Eddie. Any further questions can wait because the man I love is stuck in this elevator. Now can we get him out?! Please!” Buck basically shouted.
The two men snapped out their trance and joined Buck to start on the doors. Hen set up her medical supplies nearby so she was ready for when they retrieved Eddie.
She watched as the boys finally pried the doors open. Buck was the first one inside, kneeling beside Eddie, making sure he was okay to move. He then carried him out carefully to where Hen was, where she quickly checked his vitals and readied him for transport. She also noticed that her guess was right, he was very handsome, even with a few bumps and bruises.
They then wheeled him to the ambulance waiting outside. Buck turned to ask Bobby if he could go with them, but before any words came out, Bobby just waved him off.
“I’ll see you all back at the station. And get better quickly Eddie, you’ve got to be in good condition if you’re coming to the next family dinner,” Bobby said, turning back to the engine.
They all secured themselves in the ambulance, Chimney driving, Hen and Buck riding in the back with Eddie. Buck never stopped holding Eddie’s hand since the elevator doors opened. Hen thought it was sweet.
Eddie cleared his throat, turning to look Buck in the eyes, “Is it true…”
Hen pretended not to eavesdrop, but who is she kidding, she was way too invested in this relationship.
“... Is what true?” Buck asked quietly.
‘Oh my god’ Hen thought, remembering back to a couple minutes ago when Buck said that fateful word in regards to Eddie. She was definitely listening in now.
“Back at the scene… you said you loved me… is it true?” Eddie said quietly, whether it was because he was nervous or a result of just free-falling eight stories, Hen wasn’t sure. She looked at Buck, waiting on his response.
“I… yeah… I love you,” Buck replied. “I love you Edmundo Diaz,” Buck said, with more confidence.
‘YES!!’ thought Hen, practically squirming in her seat. ‘Wait… this is a two-way street.’
Eddie exhaled deeply, “Good, because I love you too.” She could see their hands further grip each other. “I love you Evan Buckley.”
“Not to ruin this beautiful moment… but we’re here,” Chimney called from the front, as they pulled up to the hospital.
“Do you want me to come with you babe?” Buck asked.
“I’ll be okay,” Eddie said with a smile. “Go back to work, I’m sure they have a ton of questions for you. Maybe you can bring Christopher by later,” he said with one last squeeze to Buck’s hand.
They all made it back in the ambulance. Chimney drove them back to the station, but Hen could see his head pretty much bubbling with questions. It was only a matter of time before the poor loverboy she was sat next to became flooded with them.
“This Eddie was your secret special someone?! When did this happen? Also, who is this so-called Christopher?” There it is. Chimney started rattling off about a thousand questions from his spot up front.
Hen looked over at Buck, who had a dumb-struck look of pure adoration across his face. He even started to answer Chim’s questions. Although, he was probably too in love to be annoyed.