Hen hasn’t known Buck for long, but she likes to think she at least understands him. Somewhat.
What she doesn’t understand is what he just told her.
“You lived in Texas?”
“Yeah, I mean that’s where we were before LA,” Buck answers innocently enough.
“Why Texas?” Hen asks and Buck looks at her funny.
“It’s where we went after I left the Navy. To catch our bearings.”
Who’s this ‘we’? Wait.
“Navy?” Hen looks at Buck like he has six heads. “You were in the Navy?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, SEALs. About eight years.”
“You were a Navy SEAL?” Hen asks again, slowly this time, because she can’t be hearing this right. Buck’s like a golden retriever.
“Yeah. You okay, Hen?” Buck chuckles and pats her shoulder as he walks away to head upstairs to the loft.
“He just said that right?” Hen asks Chimney as he walks up next to her.
It doesn’t fit, it doesn’t.
Until it does, two weeks later, when Buck does a rope rescue they definitely didn’t learn at the academy.
Hen likes to think she’s intelligent. Hell, she knows she is. But something about Buck still evades her and she wants to know what it is.
“Hey, Buck. We were gonna go get drinks after shift, do you want to join us?” She nudges Chimney and he nods enthusiastically.
“Oh, I would, but I can’t after work. Maybe we can schedule something else?” Buck asks hopefully and Hen nods.
“Sure, I’ll see if we can get a sitter for Denny and I’ll bring Karen.”
“Great! I can’t wait to meet her.” Buck bounds down the stairs and Hen turns to Chimney from where he’s shoveling food into his mouth.
“That was weird right?”
“Maybe he doesn’t drink.” Chimney shrugs but Hen doesn’t think that’s it.
“He would’ve said that. Bobby’s already told him he’s sober so wouldn’t Buck have said ‘oh hey, me too’?”
“Maybe. What’s your deal with him?”
“Nothing. We just don’t know much about him,” Hen says after a moment.
“Hey. We know he’s great at his job, if a little reckless, the rest will come with time.” Chimney pats her shoulder encouragingly.
“You aren’t curious?”
“Oh, I am. But you’re doing enough snooping for the both of us.”
Hen resents that, because she’s not snooping. She’s not.
But she is curious.
Luckily, for her, she doesn’t have to ask Buck about his family, because it shows up one day in the form of a cute little boy with curly blonde hair.
“Papa!” A young voice shouts and they all turn toward the bay door where they see the young boy walk in on crutches, followed by a woman who’s smiling at him, who looks vaguely familiar.
“Christopher!” Buck shouts as he runs towards the boy and lifts him up in a huge hug. “What are you doing here?”
“Aunt Maddie said we could come surprise you cause I got an ‘A’ on my test!”
“You did? Good job, Superman.”
“She also said we could get ice cream,” The boy, Christopher, stage whispers. Buck laughs and then mock glares at the woman, Maddie.
“She did? Well you still have to eat your dinner tonight.”
“I will, Papa.”
At that Buck smiles and sets Christopher down as he turns towards everyone. He smiles a little sheepishly and then introduces them.
“This is my son Christopher and my sister Maddie.”
“Hi,” Hen shakes Maddie’s hand and then smiles at Christopher. “Hi, Christopher. I’m Hen.”
“I know! My Papa talks about everyone here.”
“You’re adorable. I’m gonna have to see baby photos of you Buckaroo because I don’t believe it,” Hen teases.
Buck laughs as his cheeks turn red and then Chris and Maddie are walking away with Bobby as Chimney stares after Maddie.
“Quit it,” Hen elbows him and Chimney just shrugs.
“Did you know he was a dad?” Hen asks and Chimney shakes his head. Hen looks on as Christopher tells Buck about his day and she smiles. “It looks good on him.”
Hen has never seen Buck so jittery, and that’s saying something. Ever since he found out the address of the accident, he’s been quiet, checking his phone constantly, and worrying his lip between his teeth.
The truck has barely pulled to a stop before Buck is running out.
A woman, Shannon, steps out of the house and into Buck’s arms.
“Buck! It’s my mom, she fell, and…”
“Hey, hey. It’s alright, we’ll take care of her.” Buck calms Shannon down and then she nods and heads into the house with the rest of them following.
“Janet? It’s Buck,” Buck crouches down next to the woman on the ground, who, while in pain, looks at him and smiles.
Chimney and Hen load Janet into the ambulance and Shannon goes to grab her car.
“Christopher,” Shannon says quietly.
“I’ll tell Maddie. Call me once you know what’s going on. I can bring him if you need me to.”
“‘Course.” Buck smiles and Shannon kisses his cheek as she drives away after the ambulance.
“Friend of yours?” Hen asks as they put their things away.
“Yeah. She’s Christopher’s mom.”
“Oh. Oh. Really?”
“Yep,” Buck laughs. “She moved here to take care of her mom and we followed.”
“That’s good you two stayed friends,” Hen comments.
“Oh, no we’re - ”
“Invite her to the barbeque next month. If everything’s okay with her mom. Family’s family.” Bobby pats Buck on the shoulder and Buck smiles.
“Sure, Cap. She’d like that.”
Hen loves their monthly get togethers. It’s rare that they all have a Saturday off, so when it happens they get together as a group. Denny loves getting to see Harry and now Christopher so she can’t complain.
Buck arrives with Christopher, Maddie, and Shannon. Maddie makes a beeline for Chimney and Hen secretly hopes they work out.
“Hen!” Buck comes up and hugs her and she smiles. “This is Shannon, Christopher’s mom.”
“Hi,” Hen shakes her hand. “Sorry we didn’t get a chance...”
“No, thank you for all you did for my mom.”
That seems to be all Buck needs because he bounds away to where the kids are playing.
Hen chuckles. “Has he always been like that?”
“A big kid himself? Yeah.”
“It’s great that you two are such good friends. My ex and I – ”
“Oh, no. We’re not…”
“Momma! Aunt Maddie’s here!” Christopher yells and Shannon smiles apologetically and goes to hug Maddie.
“It’s nice they’re all so friendly,” Karen says as she sneaks up behind her.
“It is,” Hen responds as she kisses Karen.
She can’t help but wonder if she’s missing something though. That’s the second time one of them has started to correct her.
“Will they be at the cookout?” Karen asks after a moment of watching Denny and Christopher whispering with their heads together.
“If Buck hasn’t said anything yet, I will.”
The one eighteen’s annual summer cookout brings the entire station together, the shifts lining up so the B and C shifts catch the beginning and the end.
They sell hamburgers and hotdogs, the kids have a lemonade stand going, along with some activities for families. It’s a way to bring their families and the community together and Hen loves it.
She’s busy helping the kids with the lemonade stand when Buck comes over, smiling, absolutely in his element.
“Hen!” Buck crows. “Want me to take over? I think I saw Denny by the face paint.”
“You know what? That would be great, thanks.”
Hen’s just about to step around the stand when they both pause at Christopher’s shout.
Buck whips his head around so fast Hen is afraid he’s going to get whiplash.
Christopher walks over to a man, who bends down and scoops him up, hugging him tightly. That’s when Hen notices the Army fatigues he’s wearing and duffle bag that he dropped on the ground.
Hen looks at Buck and notices he has tears in his eyes. He turns to Maddie and Shannon who are both filming this, with hands over their mouths, and the same tears in their eyes.
“Did you two know about this?” Buck asks them incredulously.
Shannon and Maddie both shrug but they have a twinkle in their eyes that makes Hen laugh.
Before Buck can say anything else, Christopher calls for him.
“Papa!” Christopher waves at him and it breaks Buck out of his stupor. He strides over quickly and engulfs both of them in a hug.
Hen can hear the whispered ‘Eddie’ and then Buck is kissing the man, Eddie, and Hen knows. This is Buck’s partner, not Shannon, and it wasn’t long distance so much as Eddie was deployed.
After they break apart everyone claps and Buck smiles sheepishly at everyone. Christopher stays close to them as Buck brings Eddie around and introduces him to everyone.
“So...this is what you were trying to say at Bobby’s?” Hen asks Shannon after she stops filming and walks over to the lemonade stand.
“Yeah. Eddie and I had Christopher young, and we were not meant to be married. We got divorced pretty soon after he was born and then Eddie left for his first tour. He came home with Buck and they’ve been together ever since.”
“Impressive? Yeah, Eddie’s stubborn.”
Hen can’t help it, she laughs, loudly. “Yeah, well Buck is like a golden retriever, I’m sure he just wore him down.”
“That’s exactly what happened,” Eddie says as he comes up to them. He smiles at Hen and then he hugs Shannon.
Hen raises an eyebrow at Buck. “So, you’re married?”
“Yes,” Buck squeaks and Hen chuckles.
“I’m happy for you.”
“Thank you, Hen,” Buck breathes out. “Eddie, come meet Hen.”
“Hen, this is my husband, Eddie.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Hen shakes his hand and Eddie responds in kind.
“I hear you’d like baby pictures of Evan,” Eddie says cheekily while Buck squawks and Shannon laughs.
“Oh, I think we’re going to be fast friends.”