Eddie savored his days off. He loved his job, he loved his team, and of course, he loved his son. But being able to sit at home while Chris was at school and just nap, or watch tv, or read – perfect. The days didn’t happen all that often. Usually, his time off was during the evening or overnight, when all he can do is make a hasty dinner and put Christopher to bed before he crashed himself.
After dropping Chris off at school, he’d stopped at his favorite coffee shop for an Americano and a muffin before heading back home. He considered texting Buck to see if he wanted to hang out, but he decided against it. Surely, he had better things to do on his day off than hang out with him. (he had no idea how wrong he was, of course.) When he got inside, he kicked his shoes off, dropping his keys and wallet on the table by the door before wandering into the kitchen. He took a seat at the small table by the refrigerator, looking down at his drink and fiddling with the sleeve on the cup. The silence was overwhelming. He was so used to the noise – of Chris laughing at some video on his tablet, or yelling excitedly as he was playing legos, or giggling while Buck tickled him on the couch.
Wait. When did Buck show up?
Eddie shook his head. Maybe days off weren’t all they were cracked up to be.
He groaned as he stood up, abandoning his drink on the table and going into the dining room. The table before him was messy, with plates from last night's dinner still sitting with half-eaten pizza at one end and some of Christopher's papers from school and some mail scattered at the other end. Might as well clean, right? Eddie grabbed the plates and took them to the kitchen, dropping the food into the trash before loading the plates into the dishwasher. He returned to the table and gathered the mail, straightening it in his hands; bill, bill, bill, invitation to an event at Chris' school, bill. He deposited the letters onto the table by the front door to take care of later. At least they were neat. All that were left were the drawings of Christopher's. He smiled fondly as he began to look through them. He must have emptied his backpack before school that morning. He does that sometimes, when his folder gets too full - he'll just discard its contents onto whatever surface is nearby before moving on.
The first picture he picked up was of a pumpkin with a long vine. Chris was so excited about Halloween. He was going to be Superman this year, insisting that he wanted to be the superhero because “you and Buck call me Superman all the time, I wanna actually be him now!” He laid the drawing down, moving to the next. It appeared to be a ladder truck, a very sloppy ‘118’ written on the side, with stick figures in the window. One figure stood outside the truck, giving a wave. Written in big block letters was ‘DAD’, with a big arrow pointing to the little stick figure. Eddie smiled, feeling a warmth spread through him. He loved catching these glimpses into Christopher’s world. He wasn’t always there to see every little thing, so seeing these drawings was like seeing the little pieces he does miss.
He pulled the seat in front of him out and moved around to sit down, putting that drawing on top of the previous on the table. The next one was a simple one. Two figures, both in firefighting uniforms. They were a bit more detailed than stick figures; one had brown hair, brown eyes, and stubble while the other had blonde hair, blue eyes, and a familiar red mark above his eye. In between the two was a kid with curly brown hair and red glasses, holding their hands. It was a cute picture, with a smiley face in the corner and a teacher’s note, “beautiful picture Christopher!”
And it pulled every last drop of oxygen out of Eddie’s body.
Because at the bottom of the drawing, in Christopher’s undeniable blocky writing, it said, “MY TWO DADS”.
Eddie clutched the drawing in his left hand, feeling the paper crumple a bit under his fingers. He had a white-knuckle grip on the edge of the table while it felt like his heart was beating against the front of his throat. Finally, he dropped the paper to the table, but he still stared at it.
Christopher’s two dads.
Is that really what he saw?
Is that how he saw Buck?
And was Eddie really all that surprised?
Buck loved Chris in ways only a parent really could, honestly. He would do anything for the kid, and Eddie knew that. He would pick him up from school when Eddie or Carla couldn’t. He came over and made some of his “Famous Buckley Chicken Soup” when Chris was sick with the flu, completely disregarding the fact that he could get sick (he did). He stayed up all night researching adaptive skateboarding so Chris could skateboard, and he came into the firehouse the next day, bags under his bloodshot eyes but so damn excited to show Eddie what he’d found. When he heard that Chris was going to sleepaway camp for two whole weeks, Eddie could see the sudden worry that gripped him. He knew instantly, because it was the same worry that he felt when Chris asked him if he could go. When Eddie thinks back to Buck’s devastated expression outside that hospital, after the tsunami, he recognized what that pain was. In the moment, of course, all he was thinking about was Christopher. But when it was all over and Chris was safe, and Eddie remembered the ragged breathing, the wild, teary eyes, the shaking – it wasn’t just fear of telling Eddie what happened. It was the fear that he’d lost his child.
His own child.
And that’s when it clicked.
All the looks. The shoulders bumps and knee touches. The glances that lingered just a microsecond longer than expected. The insistences on staying late to help clean up after movie nights or game nights. The ungodly amount of time Buck spends with Eddie and Christopher, and the absolute loss that Eddie feels when he’s not there. The emptiness of his home when Buck wasn’t in it. The tug in his chest that only Buck’s smile could produce. The terror he feels when Buck pulls some stupid, life-threatening stunt that he definitely doesn’t have to pull while on the job, and the way his legs feel like Jell-O when he’s finally safe again.
Eddie loved Buck. And he’s pretty sure Buck loved him too.
And Christopher knew before either of them.
Eddie drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he waited for the doors to the school to open and the kids to begin pouring out. His nerves felt like they were on fire – every inch of his skin tingling with… what? Anticipation? Fear? Anxiety? Panic? He wasn’t sure. The drawing laid in the seat beside him and it was the singular thing on his mind, his attention continuously drawn back to it the moment his mind even kind of started drifting elsewhere. Thankfully (to Eddie’s delight) the school doors opened then, and children began making their way to their parents’ cars in the pick-up line. Eddie put on his blinkers and hopped out of his truck, scanning the sea of students for Chris’ tell-tale curls and smiling when he spotted them.
“Dad!” Christopher bounded toward him as fast as his little feet and crutches could take him, his backpack swinging from his elbow. Eddie knelt in front of him, his smile spreading even further across his face. Any nerves he had building up melted away the moment he saw Christopher’s beaming face.
“Hey there Superman!” He swept him up into a hug before settling him back down to the ground and placing a hand on his back. “How was school?”
“It was great!” Christopher all but yelled, “we got to see real live turtles today in science class!”
Christopher regaled Eddie with tales of his day at school as they got to the truck, and all the way home, the entire time with Eddie barely getting a word in (that’s usually how it went). Christopher had difficulty speaking sometimes, but the time spent in speech therapy the past few months had been a godsend and so Eddie never in a million years would want to quash his son’s animated stories.
Once they were settled in the house, with Christopher at one end of the dining room table with an after-school snack and Eddie at the other, the drawing in front of him, he finally clears his throat to speak,
“Yeah?” Chris looks up from his carrots, bits of ranch dressing falling from his lip. Eddie just grinned as he continued.
“Do you have any friends in your class that have two moms or two dads?”
Christopher nodded excitedly, hastily chewing what was left in his mouth and swallowing, “yeah! Anna! She has two mommies!”
“That’s awesome Bud.” Eddie nodded, and he had every intention of turning the drawing over and asking his son to explain it, but he suddenly froze. Did he want him to explain it? Did he want to draw any attention to it? Because if he asked him about it, if he asked him what he meant by him and Buck being his “two dads”, everything would become very real, very fast.
And Eddie didn’t know if he was ready for that.
“Daaaaaad!” Christopher’s drawn out groan obviously implied he had been trying to get his attention for at least a minute. “Why?”
“Oh,” Eddie shook his head and straightened up, flattening his hands over the face-down drawing in front of him, “just curious Bud.”
Thank god for Chris' trusting, gullible, 10-year-old mind that didn’t question Eddie's shoddy explanation for why he would ask such a random, off-the-wall question – Christopher just shrugged and returned to his carrots before asking if he can play on his tablet.
“Sure, go ahead.” He watched as Christopher stood and haphazardly carried his snack into the living room sans-crutches to sit at the coffee table where his tablet lay and he sighed. What the hell was he going to do now? He leaned back in his own seat and looked up the ceiling, as if searching for an answer in the outdated popcorn design.
Somewhere in between finding the drawing and picking up Christopher from school he had decided, definitely, for certain, that he was in love with his best friend. How could he not be? Evan Buckley fit his family in ways that, well, no one really ever has before. Shannon was Christopher’s mom, and that’s not something Eddie will ever take for granted, but she made it pretty clear that being a family was never something she really wanted. Their wedding was fast and cheap – not quite a shotgun but it might as well have been. They were only dating a short time before Eddie decided to enlist, and he was told he would be deployed pretty much immediately following Basic. So, with just three weeks until deployment, Eddie did what he thought was the respectable thing to do (if not maybe a little selfish) and he married her. He was going to be a young soldier at war and he wanted her to know he was fighting to come home, and if he was being honest – he wanted something to come home to. He was only in Afghanistan for about a month before he Skyped with Shannon and found out she was pregnant. But you know how the story goes – cold and distant war-torn veteran, burnt-out mother, and a disabled child with needs that the mother could no longer provide. It’s a recipe for an absolute fucking disaster.
And a disaster it was.
He did love her, he reasoned with himself. They had been good friends before dating, and for god’s sake, she gave him the best goddamn thing in his entire life – his son. But - and he couldn’t help the pang of guilt that he felt when he thought this - he never loved her the way he loves Buck. Buck filled this missing piece of his family that he didn’t realize needed filling. He thought he was perfectly content with him and Christopher making this new life for themselves, just them, in Los Angeles. But then Buck came along and made him realize he didn’t have to do it alone.
He didn’t want to do it alone.
Outside of Christopher, Buck was his entire world. His kindness and selflessness (that often got him into trouble), his compassion, his grand gestures. His striking blue eyes that turned grey when he was angry or sad, his (adorable, Eddie thought) birthmark over his left eye, his long legs and rippling muscles that threatened to tear through any shirt that was even slightly too tight – they were everything. Absolutely everything.
Goddamn it Buckley
It’s just Buck
I mean sure, you’re going to tell him that you’re in love with him but y’know.
His hand stalled just as he raised it to knock on Buck’s front door – did he ever knock before? He couldn’t remember the last time he knocked at Buck’s apartment. He usually just let himself in, either because he had a key or because Buck (stupidly) left it unlocked. As he pondered this, the door swung open from the inside, leaving Eddie with his hand raised –
“Uhm, I uh..” He stammered, not quite sure where to go from there. “Hi.” (Smooth, Diaz.)
“Hi?” Buck cocked his head, a confused grin playing at his lips leaving Eddie slightly weak. “Come in?”
Eddie just nodded and stepped past the taller man and into the apartment. He let out a long breath and approached the island, putting his hands up to hold on as he leaned against it. What the hell was he doing?
“Did you need something?” The voice behind him was quiet, inquisitive. He took a shaky breath and turned around. Buck was wearing loose, dark grey joggers and a plain white t-shirt. His hair was mussed instead of styled back neatly like it usually was, apparent that he caught him napping or something after their long shift earlier that day, and Eddie fought every urge in his body to capture the man in an embrace and press their lips together.
“Yeah-“ He choked it out, barely above a whisper.
“Eddie, is something wrong?” Worry replaced confusion and Buck took a few steps to close the distance between them. They now stood a couple of feet apart. “Did something happen?”
Eddie just shook his head, closing his eyes and flexing his hands at his sides – open and closed, open and closed, open and closed. He could do this.
“Buck. Evan,” he began, and he saw the confusion return in Buck’s face, but this time it was different. It was accompanied by something else, something new. “I’ve come to realize something recently that I uh, thought you should know.”
He took a step forward.
“You are…” He took a shaky breath, “you are everything to me. You sauntered your way into my family and you just fit and you belong there Evan. And I never want you to leave.”
It looked like about fifty different emotions passed across Buck’s face now – confusion, happiness, relief, love? Eddie stepped forward again, mere inches from the other man. He could feel his quickened breath against his cheek.
“Christopher wants you in our lives,” he pulled the folded up drawing out of his pocket and handed it to Buck, who inhaled sharply as he took in the drawing, a hand flying to his mouth in surprise.
“I know this is a lot,” Eddie cut him off. He had to finish. He had to get through this so that if Buck wanted him to just leave, he could. He could just leave and spare them both the embarrassment of an awkward conversation. “I know it’s sudden and just… a lot, but Evan… I lo-“ His breath hitched in his throat and he felt a lump forming. His wanted him so much. He wanted him to want him so much.
“I love you,” Eddie whispered, bringing his shaking hands to cover Bucks, whose were still gripping the drawing. “I love you so much.”
“Eddie.” Evan breathed out, like he had finally breathed after holding his breath for a year. Tears were gathering in his eyes as he finally looked up from the drawing. “Oh, Eds.”
He dropped the drawing on the counter beside them and brought his hands up to cup Eddie’s face, his fingers gently stroking his cheeks, and Eddie absolutely melted. His hands instinctively gripped Buck’s waist and brought him closer. They were completely together now, thigh to chest.
“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for one of us to grow a pair and say that,” Buck whispered with a laugh, bringing his forehead to rest against Eddie’s. “I love you. I love you. I love you.” It was is if he couldn’t believe he could finally say it. As if he was a balloon that was being deflated and could finally release the energy that had been pent up for so long.
“I love you.” He repeated again before bringing his lips against Eddie’s, soft and passionate, his hands still stroking his cheeks. It wasn’t fireworks. It wasn’t explosions. It wasn’t electricity coursing through them.
It was home. It was this is it. It was oh my god we were right. It was you are the one.