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Family Unit

Chapter Text

Hen is enjoying the quietness of her house on her day off. It’s Wednesday afternoon, Karen is working, Denny is at school and Nia is at daycare. It’s raining outside, and the couch is calling her name. She lays down and reaches for the family tablet to cast the latest Nailed It! episode to the TV.

She turns on the tablet and unlocks it with the easy password they chose so the kids can use it to play. The background is a picture of Denny reading a story to Nia, Karen cried when they found them like that.

Hen is looking for Netflix on the sea of apps when a notification catches her attention. It’s from Slack, they only have that one so Denny can talk with his friends. The notification is a video from Chris, he must have sent it yesterday and is coming through now.

Denny and Chris are going through a Star Wars phase and for their respective birthdays, they both asked for theme-related Legos. They send each other videos of their constructions and missions they put the characters through. She has witnessed her son recording himself playing more times than she can count, making voices and the sound effects, it’s ridiculously cute.

Hen gets curious, she has never seen Chris’ stories and plays the video. It starts with Chris hitting the recording button and making sure the tablet is steady, tongue sticking out in concentration. Chris moves back and his surroundings come into view. Hmm. That’s Buck’s apartment. After the 24h shift they had yesterday, they spent the evening together too? Uhh, she’s gonna tease them on their codependency so hard tomorrow.

On the screen, Chris sits on the floor in front of the coffee table where his spaceship is on display. The tablet must be on the other end of the same table, Hen guesses. Behind Chris, there’s Buck sleeping on the couch, laying on his back.

Christopher explains Denny the setup, with a low voice not to disturb Buck. The kid recreates some made-up scene, making noises and improvising dialogue, just as Denny does. The story is actually interesting, and Hen lets herself be taken on the journey by Chris.

Some minutes on the video, Eddie appears on camera, glass of water in his hand. He doesn’t notice the tablet recording as he sets the glass on the table and ruffles Chris’ hair, who thanks his dad. Eddie moves to the couch where Buck is still asleep and shakes his leg lightly. His soft voice can be heard over Chris’ story, “Buck, dinner will be ready in twenty.” They are so domestic is not funny anymore.

Buck doesn’t open his eyes, he just grunts. Eddie’s answering snort is full of fondness. He shakes his leg again, “Wake up, sleepyhead.” Buck mumbles something that sounds a lot like “five more minutes” and reaches for Eddie’s arm, tugging it towards him. Eddie rolls his eyes but lets himself be pulled in. Buck makes room for Eddie and both of them end up cramped on the couch, Eddie laying on his side with his back to the backrest and Buck on his side facing Eddie, legs tangled together.

And that’s it, this is ridiculous. They are so oblivious and dumb and cute is painful. This is no bro behavior. And Hen is about to take a screenshot as proof when, on the screen, Buck makes himself smaller in Eddie’s arms, tucking his head on his friend’s neck. Hen stops midmovement, her breath catching in her throat at the enamored look on Eddie’s eyes. Taking a screenshot feels wrong. 

Eddie pulls Buck closer while Christopher seems unfazed by the men behind him, only throwing an amused smile at his dad, and keeps playing with his Legos. When Eddie starts combing his fingers through Buck’s hair, Hen feels like she’s intruded enough and pauses the video. She locks the tablet, Netflix's long forgotten.

Her heart swells in her chest with pride. The impulsive kid she met years ago, who didn’t know how to find a place for himself, is long gone. She remembers how, in the beginning, Buck tried to find any kind of physical connection wishing it could fulfill the emptiness he felt. When Abby came, he fell headfirst, craving that feeling of belonging, of having someone. When she left, the confidence and stability he had built broke into pieces. Luckily, Maddie came back to his life and Eddie appeared, bringing Chris with him, and by that time, the team had become a family, and Buck bounced back. He was happier, feeling part of something.

And then, one disaster after another crushed him. His family was the only thing keeping him alive and strong enough to fight back. So, when Bobby didn’t let him back, he was broken and desperate and the impulsive kid in him reappeared, putting at risk his bond with his family in order to get them back. Eventually, they talked and fixed their issues, but Buck was still cautious. You could see it in his eyes, the fear of being abandoned, left behind.

Lately, he’s been lighter, more confident, and carefree, as if that fear of ending up alone had diluted. Hen had noticed it, and she thought the reason was Maddie’s pregnancy, consolidating his sister’s presence in his life. But she was wrong. It’s not the prospect of being an uncle, of having a kid of his own blood to take care of and love unconditionally. It may be part of it, of course, but not the main reason. Buck looks settled because he is. He has found his own family, his unit. He belongs with Eddie and Chris, and even if they haven’t defined their relationship or made it public, Hen knows they have found their place in each other and she can’t be happier for them, for Buck.

Chapter Text

Carla lets herself into the Diaz house early in the morning, she’s taking Christopher to school today. A few times a week, Eddie works either too early or until too late, so she’s in charge of dropping him off, and she loves it. Chris, unlike his dad, is such a morning person. He is always cheerful, talking animatedly about his new interests or the latest book he’s reading. There’s no better way to start the day than with Christopher Diaz.

There’s sound coming from the kitchen, Eddie is probably preparing Chris’ lunchbox. He had a long shift yesterday that ended late at night and Carla knows that even if Eddie is going to spend the morning sleeping, he will wake up with Chris and go through their morning routine together, his son always goes first.

That’s why, when Carla steps into the kitchen she can’t contain the smile at the sight of Evan Buckley preparing breakfast. “Hey, Buckaroo.”

Buck turns his head, smiling at her, “Good morning, Carla!”

“Where’s your boy?”

“He’s packing his backpack.”

Carla smirks, “I meant the other one.”

“Oh…” Buck blushes, “He- he’s sleeping, we had a tough call last night.”

“Mmh” So that means Buck spent the night, but the couch doesn’t look slept in like it used to when Buck crashed here before. She wouldn’t be surprised he slept in Eddie’s bed, these two crossed the line of friendly intimacy long ago, even if they haven’t taken the final step yet. This dance of them is getting old, but she will respect their rhythm, no matter how damn slow it is.

Right then, Chris comes in and fills the kitchen with his energy. He starts talking a mile a minute while eating the breakfast Buck has prepared for him. Carla sits at the table with him and listens to his stories. Buck engages with them while preparing three cups of coffee.

Eventually, a sleepy Eddie comes into the kitchen, his hair all messy and his eyes barely open. He drops a kiss on Chris’ hair and smiles at Carla, not saying a word. He crosses the kitchen to where Buck is standing offering him a steaming mug.

Eddie takes it from his grasp and instead of stepping back, he steps into Buck’s space, hiding his face in the other man’s neck. Buck moves his hand to Eddie’s hair, carding his fingers through it, earning a pleased hum from his friend.

Carla purses her lips, trying so hard not to smile or make a remark. They are so cute is infuriating.

A few seconds later, Eddie steps back from the embrace and joins them at the table, sipping his coffee in silence, his eyes closed most of the time. He listens to his son and tries to participate in the conversation, but his brain hasn’t caught up yet. Buck is moving effortlessly around the kitchen, preparing Chris’ lunchbox while chatting with him.

Carla can’t but observe them. Eddie is not a morning person at all, she has witnessed it more times than she can count. He won’t say a word until the caffeine has kicked in, he moves his body on autopilot. However, when Chris is there, he fights his own body and goes through their routine without a problem, he talks and moves as if he had been awake for hours. He does it for his son and is further proof of the great dad he is.

But when Buck is here, Eddie lets himself wake up naturally. Because he blindly trusts Buck with his son.

Eddie is very protective of Christopher, few people can brag about Eddie leaving his son in their care. And even with those people, Eddie is on alert, his senses tuned to his kid’s wellbeing. But when Chris is with Buck, Eddie lets himself relax. And if that’s not the most heart-warming thought ever, knowing Eddie has found someone to ease the weight on his shoulders, to share the responsibilities and joy of raising a happy and healthy kid.

Buck puts the lunchbox in Chris’ backpack and moves to stand behind Eddie’s chair. As Eddie leans back, resting his head against his stomach, Buck places his hands on Eddie’s chest. Eddie, more awake than before but still offline, lifts his left hand and grabs Buck’s right arm. Buck taps twice on Eddie’s chest with his left index finger. Eddie taps once on Buck’s arm with his index and then once with his thumb. Buck gives an answering tap with his index again and moves his hands away, lingering to squeeze Eddie’s shoulders, and steps back, clapping his hands, “Come on, kid. Time for school.”

Carla refuses to contain her smile this time. That silent communication she just witnessed, that tapping thing, that’s too much. That level of understanding takes years to reach, even for actual couples. She raises her eyebrow at Eddie and fixes him with a pointed look. Eddie shrugs his shoulders, playing dumb, but the blush covering his cheeks betrays him. Carla laughs and leaves him alone (for today at least), “Let’s go, Chris.”  

 

 

Chapter Text

Once every three months, the 118 organizes a school visit to the station. Fire safety is very important and should be learned at a young age to avoid accidents and develop the right instinct to react properly in case anything happens.

Bobby takes it very seriously, he has a speech memorized, a PowerPoint May helped him prepare with pictures he takes on calls and a demonstration on how to put out kitchen fires. Hen says he goes a bit too far, but when teaching fire safety, there’s no such thing as going too far.

Then his firefighters show the kids around the station and the trucks and give away pamphlets and smoke detectors. They put on their best smiles and answer every question the kids throw their way, at least those that are appropriate for ten-year-old kids. They don’t mind the visits, but they don’t love them. Even if you like kids, having dozens of super excited children running around and touching everything can be very exhausting.

This time, though, the school visit is received with more enthusiasm than usual. Eddie had arranged it with Chris’ school a few weeks back, so the team is very excited to have Chris around. Bobby can’t contain his amusement at Eddie’s nervous pacing the whole morning nor at Buck’s rambling of how much Chris has been looking forward to the visit.

When the class gets there, Eddie goes with Bobby to welcome the teacher, Mrs. Parker. Bobby is explaining how the visit is going to work when a commotion catches their attention.

The kids are laughing around Buck, Chris by his side looking at him with a bright smile. Bobby shakes his head and notices Eddie staring at them with soft wistful eyes.

“I’ll take it from here,” Bobby says startling Eddie, who apparently has forgotten Bobby and the teacher are also there.

When Eddie doesn’t move, Bobby nudges his head towards Buck and Chris, and with an amused tone he insists, “Go.”

Eddie nods and goes with them, Chris shrieking with laughter as his dad grabs him from behind and spins him in the air.

“They make a cute family,” Mrs. Parker says.

“They do,” Bobby can’t but agree, Eddie and Chris are very cute.

 

The presentation goes smoothly, the kids seem interested and ask clever questions. They move towards the kitchen fire extinction demonstration and it’s a big success. Bobby can proudly say the kids in this class know now how to extinguish burning oil.

His part is done, it’s time for his firefighters to show the kids around. Bobby joins Mrs. Parker on the railing, from where she’s supervising her class.

“Thanks for having us today, Captain. The demonstration was very educational,” she says with a sweet smile.

“Oh, thank you. I’m always happy to teach fire safety to the younger generations.” Hen can laugh at him all she wants, but this is very important to him.

“Well, I think the kids learned a lot today. I knew it would be a great experience for them when Eddie suggested the visit.”

Bobby smiles, thinking of how nervous Eddie was this morning. “He was very excited to have Chris with us today.”

“I can see that,” she moves her head to where Eddie and Buck are showing Chris and other kids the fire hose, “he is a great dad. And he is very lucky to have Buck.” Bobby tilts his head in confusion. It’s true, Eddie is lucky to have Buck, but he wasn’t expecting Chris’ teacher to say so. Just like he wasn’t expecting her to know Buck and even less for them to be on a first-name basis.

Curiosity gets the best of him when he asks, “Do you know Buck?”

Mrs. Parker nods, looking at him, “Yeah, he picks up Chris a few times a week and he always finds the time to come to the school’s events.” Mrs. Parker, unaware of Bobby’s raised eyebrows, adds, “His cupcakes were a success last bake sale.”  

Bobby hums and falls silent, not knowing what to do with this newfound information. He turns his attention to his firefighters downstairs thinking the conversation is over, but after a few seconds of silence, Mrs. Parker, with a wistful tone, says, “It’s not easy to find a partner who wants to be so involved in your kid’s life.”

And all of a sudden, all the pieces rearrange in Bobby’s head, creating a nitid picture.

She thinks the three of them are a family, a cute one to put it in her words.

And they are.

Buck and Eddie are not just work partners, they are life partners, and they are basically raising Chris together. Bobby has never thought about it that way, but now he can’t unsee it.

He’s not blind, he’s always known Buck and Eddie had a special bond, that Buck has felt a magnetic pull towards Eddie since almost the day they met, and it only grew stronger when he met Chris. The boy is not subtle, his love for the Diaz boys is obvious to everyone around him. Sometimes Bobby is scared Buck will get his heart broken again. He fears the day Eddie meets someone and inevitably pulls away from Buck, taking Chris with him.

He feels a bit ridiculous now really. He’s always been proud of his observational skills, of being able to read the people closest to him. And yet, he hasn’t seen the obvious, the Diaz boys rely on Buck as much as he does.

Maybe this protectiveness he feels towards Buck has refrained him from being objective. He has always seen their relationship from Buck’s point of view, feeling proud of how wholeheartedly Buck devoted himself to Chris, how he moves mountains to make Eddie’s life easier. Buck is happier when he’s with them. His smile is blinding every time he talks about Chris, his eyes fill with pride every time Eddie trusts him with Chris.

But now that he thinks of it, it goes both ways.

While Buck is an open book, Eddie’s more difficult to read. Maybe that’s why Bobby has never given too much thought to the subtle changes in Eddie’s behaviour until now.

Like how Eddie’s mood is lighter when he’s with Buck, he’s more open and carefree. Or how he reaches for Buck, bumping their shoulders together when they walk or clapping his shoulder in support or before parting ways. When they are not standing next to each other, Eddie’s eyes always search for Buck, and once he’s located him Eddie keeps darting looks every few seconds to make sure he’s still there as if knowing where Buck is, anchored him. Not to mention how much he relies on Buck with Chris. Eddie doesn’t hesitate to ask him for help and always makes sure Buck knows he wants him there and trusts him with Chris.

There’s no need to be concerned for Buck’s future anymore, he has found his people, his family.

Bobby looks downstairs, where Chris is perched on Buck’s hip, Eddie helping him into his turnout coat. The sound of their combined laughter fills the station, reaching him, and Bobby feels relieved.  

His boy is going to be okay.

 

Chapter Text

They are on the second half of a long 24h shift. These last few hours have been pretty quiet (not that they are going to say that out loud).

Chim is on one of the couches reading a book. Or at least trying to, his eyelids growing heavier by the minute. The silence filling the station doesn’t help with his increasing drowsiness.

Most of the crew are trying to get some sleep in the bunk room, but Chim has been meaning to finish this book for weeks now and he's only three chapters from the end. So here he is, fighting the urge to close the book and take a nap.

The only ones upstairs with him are Eddie and Buck who are on the other couch. They are seated impossibly close. Buck is engrossed in his phone, probably reading articles and learning information he will later share with them. And Eddie is fast asleep, his arms crossed in front of him and his head resting on Buck’s shoulder. Chim would take a photo, but they have dozens of them in that position already.

Chim is really considering closing his eyes for a bit when a phone ringing startles him. He turns his head towards his friends. It’s not Buck’s cause he puts down his phone on his lap, so it must be Eddie’s, who doesn’t seem disturbed by the sound.

The ringtone is muffled by something, Chim stares curiously as Buck without hesitation pats Eddie’s pants and takes his phone out of his pocket. Eddie only shifts a little, but he doesn’t open his eyes, his head still resting against Buck’s shoulder as Buck takes the call.

“Hey, buddy,” Buck answers the phone with a quiet voice, as a wide smile takes over his face, the one he always wears when he talks about Chris or with him.

“He’s asleep,” Buck says to Chris, and Chim can’t take his eyes off the scene in front of him. “We had a long day, and he was tired,” Buck continues.

Eddie rearranges his position, lowering a bit on the couch to change the angle of his neck, but doesn’t open his eyes, although his breathing is less profound now. He’s probably awake now.

Buck must’ve noticed it too, cause his eyes flash with mischief, and in a stage whisper, he says, “Don’t tell him I said this, but I think he’s getting old.”

Eddie slaps Buck’s thigh, startling a laugh out of him, “Oh no! He heard me, Chris,” Buck whines as if that hadn’t been his intention. Chim can hear the boy’s laugh from the other side of the call, widening Buck’s smile. Eddie hasn’t moved, except for the hand now loosely gripping Buck’s thigh. His eyes are still closed, but his face is softer, and his lips have turned up in a fond smile.

These two are so damn frustrating. How can they not see what’s in front of them?

Buck is so immersed in his conversation with Chris he doesn’t notice Chim is right there. So he keeps watching them, he wasn’t very concentrated on his book anyway.

When Chris’ laugh has calmed down, Buck asks, “Did you finish your homework?”

Chim can only hear Buck’s part of the conversation so he doesn’t know what Chris has said to prompt a cheerful, “Oh, that sounds fun!” from Buck.

There’s a pause in which Buck’s smile turns even more softer, and it doesn’t leave his face when he says, “Of course, I’ll help you. When is it due?”

Chim manages not to shake his head at Buck’s easy readiness to help Chris, it’s sickeningly adorable.

“Okay, we can work on it this weekend. Dad and I have Saturday off.” Of course, Buck will spend the weekend with the Diaz boys. Maddie always teases Buck about it, hoping to get some information out of him about this thing with Eddie. Only friends he claims every time.

Buck scrunches his nose and says, “We’ll see…”

That’s when Eddie, who’s still in the same position, taps Buck’s thigh with his index finger. Buck turns his head slightly towards Eddie and says, “Hey, Chris, dad wants to talk to you.”

Chim rolls his eyes, their silent communication is so irritating. Only friends my ass.

“Good night, buddy. I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you.”

Eddie extends the hand that’s not on Buck’s thigh, waiting for the phone. Once Buck passes it to him, he brings it to his ear, and still with his eyes closed and his head on Buck’s shoulder, he says, “Hi, mijo.”

Buck lets his head rest on the back of the couch and closes his eyes, to give Eddie some sort of privacy to talk with Chris.

The thing is Chim loves to tease them, to make them blush with pointed questions, and to talk about their obliviousness with Hen and Maddie and Josh and Karen and with anybody willing to rant with him really. It’s all in good fun. He loves them both and wants them to be happy, that’s why it’s so frustrating to see them wasting their time, missing out on what they could be.

But there’s something about the scene playing out in front of him that makes him realize he’s got it all wrong. Because Buck and Eddie are already there, they are a family.

Why should he care about the details of their relationship when they have already found a home in each other?

Eddie has found in Buck a partner to share his highs and his lows with. With Buck’s help, he has learned to be proud of his achievements, of his efforts. And at the same time, to admit his limits, and to ask for help.

Eddie knows if something happens, if he loses his footing, Buck will be there to catch him, to catch Chris. That’s the kind of safety Eddie has always craved.

And Buck, whose past experiences have made him wary of the certainty of the love he receives, of the people in his life, has found his place in Eddie and Chris. Eddie and Chris, who time after time prove to Buck that they want him there without asking for anything in return, till the point where Buck doesn’t hesitate before joining them or making decisions for them.

Buck has been wandering around looking for stability and certainty and safety, and he has found it all in them.

Chim puts his focus back on the scene in front of him when Eddie sits up, lifting his head from Buck’s shoulder. Eddie darts a questioning glance at Buck before saying to Chris, “We’ll talk about that tomorrow, okay?”

Buck furrows his brow as Eddie says goodbye to Chris and ends the call. Eddie turns his head to look at Buck, and sighs, “What did you agree on?”

Buck jerks his head back, confused, “What? Nothing.”

“He said we’re taking him for ice-cream,” Eddie says, trying to sound stern, but the amused glint in his eyes betrays him.

Buck turns on his seat, bending the leg closer to Eddie under him, Eddie’s hand that was resting on his thigh is now at his ankle. “I said ‘we’ll see’,” putting emphasis on the last two words.

Eddie snorts, shaking his head, “He knows that’s a yes coming from you.” 

“I mean," Buck shrugs his shoulders sheepishly, "we could take him.”  

Eddie groans, “I can’t be the one who always says no. You need to back me up.”

“But I can’t," he whines. "He gives me those eyes!”

“You taught him that trick,” Eddie reproaches him. 

“Cause it works,” he retorts with a playful smirk.

But Eddie doesn't budge, “You are telling him we’re not going.”

Buck slumps against the backrest “Why Eddie? Don’t do this to me,” pulling out his lower lip and batting his eyelashes.

Eddie scoffs, he crosses his arms and looks ahead, avoiding eye contact, “They don’t work on me anymore, Buckley.”

He resists for a few seconds, but when Eddie’s head slowly moves sideways, casting a glance at Buck, Chim knows he’s lost for good. 

Eddie sighs defeated, “We’ll see.”

Buck’s smile is blinding. He squeezes Eddie’s bicep, and triumphantly he says, “I’m paying.” He stands up and heads to the fridge, Eddie following him with his eyes.

Now that Buck isn’t there to draw his full attention, Eddie spots Chim on the other couch and does his best not to look surprised by his presence.

Chim hopes they don’t realize he’s been watching them this whole time. He clears his throat, and amused, he tells Eddie, “The Buckley’s eyes are killers.”

Eddie snorts, his voice full of fondness when he says, “Tell me about it.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Since Charlotte was born, they’ve been focusing on their bundle of joy, navigating the beautiful and scary world of parenthood and so their social life has been almost non-existent.

Two months after giving birth, Maddie finds herself strong enough to have dinner with her brother. Buck has been super attentive and caring with the three of them. He fell instantly in love with his niece and has been over lots of times, to visit them or for support, but they haven’t had proper bonding time for a while. So, she texts him.

Chim and I want to have you for dinner tomorrow

We need some adult interaction

19h sounds good?

ofc

we’ll be there

you want us to bring something?

Maddie stares at the phone. We? The other part of that plural is Eddie, obviously. Not that she minds Eddie joining them, he’s more than welcome, but she’s stunned how Buck automatically interpreted that the invitation was for both of them. Well, the more the merrier.

Is Chris coming too?

Bring some of those pies Chim likes please

yep 👍🏼

 

 

Maddie opens the door to Buck and Eddie standing shoulder to shoulder, Chris in front of them. She greets them with a kiss on Chris’ hair, a hug for Buck and accepting Eddie’s kiss on her cheek. The last one hands her a bottle of her favourite wine, “You look great, Maddie.”

“Thanks, Eddie. I’m starting to feel like myself again.” The last few months of the pregnancy were pretty hard, she couldn’t move from the bed, doctor orders. And then after giving birth, she was exhausted, it was a long labor and having a newborn at home is not exactly relaxing.

Chim has been great, he helped her with the frustration of being bedridden, held her during the long hours it took their daughter to come out, and it’s always the first one up when a cry wakes them up at night. She’s the happiest she’s been in years, building a family with the man who loves her and makes her feel safe.

As if her thoughts had called him, Chim appears with Charlotte in his arms. Buck goes straight to his niece, brightest smile on his face, and takes her from her dad’s clasp. “Here’s my pumpkin!”

“Hello to you too, Buckaroo,” Chim tries his best to sound offended, only to be betrayed by the smile on his face.

 

While they eat the conversation flows easily, Buck and Eddie catching Chim up on the craziest calls they’ve had since his paternal leave and the juiciest gossip. They talk about Hen working herself to the ground managing med school and work and about the floater filling his gap at the station.

Maddie laughs with their stories, enjoying the company, and feels a bit like herself again. Like a new version of herself, actually. With Charlotte between them, on the crib Athena gave them, and her family laughing around the table, she rejoices in the turn her life has taken. Some years ago, she was alone, scared and hurt, and now, she has a big loving family, supporting her and bringing joy into her life. Her heart swells with pride for what she has accomplished, for the strength she found to fight for herself.  

 

When the plates and fonts are almost empty and their stomachs are full, they clean the table and move to the couches to be more comfortable. Chris challenges Chim to a game of Mario kart, and Chim can’t say no, Chris is the only opponent on his level so it’s the only chance he has at winning. They both go to the guest room where he keeps the Wii.

Maddie sits on the armchair, Charlotte in her arms, while Buck takes the corner seat on the couch, the one closer to Maddie, and Eddie sits next to Buck on the couch, not leaving space between them.

“She’s very calm, she hasn’t cried at all.” Eddie comments, making Maddie look up from where she was gazing adoringly at her daughter.

“You should see her at night,” Eddie chuckles and Maddie adds, “do you want to hold her?”

“Um,” a bit unsure, “yeah, of course.” He stands up and goes over to where Maddie is seated and takes a smiling Charlotte from her arms. He goes back to his spot next to Buck.

Eddie smiles at the baby in his arms and offers his finger, Charlotte grabbing it immediately. Buck turns a bit toward his niece and makes faces at her, earning a small laugh from her. They are both in their own bubble, cooing over little Charlotte, Buck leaning on Eddie, his hand around his friend’s waist, and Maddie has to blink twice because for a second it wasn’t her brother and his best friend in front of her, but two partners who move around each other effortlessly, safely. And she shouldn’t be surprised, it has always been like this with these two. They act as a couple, and when Chris is with them, as parents. They are a family unit.

She doesn’t know the status of their relationship, as far as she knows, they are just friends. But she isn’t worried, she knows their futures are tangled, they just have their own rhythm. Thinking about their future, she can’t help but ask. “Have you ever thought about having more kids, Eddie?”

Eddie looks at her, his brows furrowing considering the question. Eventually, he says, “Ummm yeah,” his gaze flickers to Buck, his smile turning a touch more fond, private even, and looks back at Maddie, “I wouldn’t mind having another one at some point,” he adds softly, before turning his attention back to Charlotte.

Maddie’s breath catches in her throat at the open implication in Eddie’s words, at the love in his voice. And she almost forgets how to breathe when her brother lifts his head and stares at his friend, his gaze full of hope. There has to be more to them than what Buck has told her.

Eventually, Chim and Chris join them. Her boyfriend sits on the armrest and puts his arm around her shoulder. Chris climbs Buck’s lap and sits there. With a mischievous smirk, her brother asks, “Did you beat him?”

Chris beams proudly, “Of course!”

“Hey!” Chim protests when Eddie snorts.

“That’s my boy.” Buck says kissing the back of his head and then tickling him, making Chris squirm and giggle.

Right then, Maddie knows this is just a taste of how the Buckley reunions will be from now on. Her, with Chim and Charlotte, and Buck, with Chris and Eddie. The Diaz boys are a permanent fixture in her brother’s life, hence in hers. It’s time then to let them know they are welcomed into the Buckley family.

Chris is still on Buck’s lap, who has shifted a bit so Chris can get a closer look at Charlotte. Maddie says, “Chris, do you want to hold your cousin?”

Chris turns her attention to her and nods effusively. He then looks at his dad who moves Charlotte into his arms. Buck helps him position his arms so the baby is secure in his clasp and keeps his own arms around Chris’, to ensure Charlotte won’t fall.

Buck finds her eyes and raises his eyebrows, questioning her intentions. Maddie just smiles, hoping her eyes convey her acceptance of the people his brother has chosen as his family. It may do the trick, cause Buck’s expression changes, now loaded with relief and gratitude.

Buck turns his attention back to the kids on his lap. Charlotte is fascinated with Chris, giggling at the weird voices her cousin is making. Eddie has repositioned himself, his left arm is now wrapping Buck from behind, around his waist, and the other one has joined Buck’s in reinforcing Chris’ hold on the baby.  

Maddie leans back against her boyfriend and smiles contently, enjoying the sight in front of her. She looks at Chim and finds the same expression in his eyes, the earnest happiness for them. He winks at her as he takes her phone from her hands and takes a picture of the little family sitting on their couch, it’s a sight to remember.

Chapter Text

 

It’s just another Wednesday. They had a long shift the night before and they’ve spent the whole morning sleeping. It’s mid-afternoon now, but they don’t have the energy to do anything. So here they are, at Buck’s apartment laying on the couch, something playing on the TV.

Eddie is laying down on his back, his head propped against the armrest. Buck is sprawled on top of him, his head on Eddie’s chest facing the TV, his arm around Eddie’s waist, their legs tangled.

The sun casting its warm light through the windows, the voices playing on the TV, Eddie’s fingers in his hair, and Eddie’s steady heartbeat are heavy on Buck’s eyelids, slowly lulling him into a peaceful sleep. He has almost fallen into a dreamless sleep when his phone vibrates on the coffee table. 

He startles awake, blinking his eyes open, and before he can do anything Eddie stretches his arm out and grabs Buck’s phone. Without asking Buck, he unlocks it. A message from Maddie. Buck hums. Open it. Eddie does.

It’s a picture from when they went over to Chim and Maddie’s for dinner last week. Chris is on Buck’s lap, holding Charlotte, and Eddie is wrapped around them. Buck and Chris are looking at Charlotte, but Eddie is looking at them with a fond smile. Maddie had added a caption, ‘The Buckley-Diaz’.

“It’s a good picture,” he hears Eddie say, but Buck can’t pay attention to him, his mind focused on the picture. Is this how they look from the outside? Can everyone around them see it? And how could he not?

Deep down he has always known it, it has always felt right, but he has never put it into words until now. They are a family.

Their lives have merged so organically he hasn’t noticed it before. But it’s true, he can’t conceive his life without them anymore, they are part of him. When he’s with them, he doesn’t need anything else. Time could stop, and he wouldn’t notice. It should be scary, knowing that his whole world is in the hands of his Diaz boys, but it’s not. It’s safe and grounding, Buck trusts them with his heart. He trusts Eddie with it.

Eddie. He’s been in love with him for so long it’s like second nature now. And he knows Eddie feels something too. He’s not blind, he knows what the lingering touches and the charged glances mean. That the blind trust and the feeling of safety go both ways. They’ve been heading towards something more for a while, their relationship evolving and solidifying with every tap of their fingers, with every night spent together sharing a bed, with every we that has left their lips.

Eddie, who is holding him in his arms, watching him cautiously. He’s been quiet for too long.

He needs to do something, say something. Now that he has put it into words there's no going back. He needs to live this truth and that means to acknowledge what's going on between them. The slow pace they had silently agreed on it's not enough anymore.   

“We are a family,” the words leave his lips in a tentative whisper.

He feels Eddie’s body vibrate with a chuckle. Buck lifts his head from Eddie’s chest and looks at him in confusion. Eddie just smiles, “I know,” he says softly.

Buck places his open palm on Eddie’s chest to support himself as he stares at Eddie in awe. There’s no doubt in his eyes, no surprise. I know. Eddie had said so easily, so confident. For how long has Eddie known? How long has he been waiting for Buck to catch up?

Eddie places his hand on the back of Buck’s neck, grounding him. As if reading his thoughts, Eddie says, “You’ve been ours for a long time.”

Buck’s breath hitches. Eddie adds, “We love you, Buck. You belong with us.”

He needs to take the leap, Eddie will be there to catch him. “What does it mean for us? You and me,” he asks.

“Anything you want, Buck, I’ll take it.”

Buck’s hand closes in Eddie’s chest, gripping his shirt. He swallows, “I just want you, all of you.”

Eddie’s smile is blinding. He moves forward and with the hand on Buck’s neck, he brings them closer. They are inches apart, their lips brushing, Eddie whispers, “You have me.”

The angle is weird, the position uncomfortable, but none of that matters. Their lips meet in a gentle kiss, nothing complicated, just a soft press of lips at first. It’s simple and familiar, tastes like home.

Before it turns into something else, Eddie leans back. He places his hand on top of Buck’s on his chest. Holding Buck’s gaze, he says, “I love you,” each word marked with a tap of his finger.

Buck chuckles, soaring in love for this man. Eddie is staring at him, happiness softening his features. “I love you,” Buck answers, three taps on Eddie’s chest, consolidating the new silent message.

Eddie surges forward and captures Buck’s lips in his. The first kiss was soft and simple, sealing their decision of moving forward together. This kiss is different. This one is deeper, more urgent, catching up on all the times they held back. Buck gets lost in it, all his senses flooded by Eddie, nothing else matters, just them.

This is all he’s ever wanted, to belong, to share his life with someone. He found all that long ago, he just didn’t see it so clearly. And now he can’t stop repeating it in his head, they are a family, Eddie, Christopher and him. The Buckley-Diaz.

Time loses meaning, only they matter now, so when Eddie’s alarm goes off Buck pulls back startled, Eddie laughs at him. He turns off the alarm and steals a kiss.

Eddie's voice is hoarse when he says, “Come on, let’s go get our kid.”