“He has a kid!” Buck exclaims in greeting as he all but jumps up the stairs to join them at the table, a plateful of banana pancakes sat waiting for him. “Who’s super adorable, by the way.” Dropping down into the empty seat, Buck picks up a pancake and bites into it hungrily.
Chimney snorts, shaking his head and resists the urge to roll his eyes. “Really? And he let you meet his kid?”
Buck’s grin is wide, a softness to it that isn’t usually there when the energetic younger man speaks of his latest ‘sexual conquests’. Although, as Buck keeps insisting, this new guy isn’t like the others.
Chimney isn’t convinced, as of yet. It’s only been a week.
“Hey!” Buck sounds only mildly offended, shovelling the rest of his pancake into his mouth. “I’m great with kids, they love me. Besides, Christopher – Eddie’s son – is probably the most down-to-earth kid I’ve ever met. He’s got CP, but he doesn’t let that stop him from doing what he wants. And-” Buck swallows down his mouthful with a large swig of orange juice, “he has the most wicked sense of humour.”
Hen glances over at him, calculating look in her eyes. Chimney doesn’t doubt that she’s already planning up a play-date for this guy’s son and her own. “How old is he?” she asks, causing Buck to grin wider.
“Seven. Though, I swear, he has the mind of a teenager.”
“Where’s his mother?” Chimney can’t help but ask.
Buck shrugs, looking mildly pained at the question but masking it quickly. “She’s no longer in the picture.”
“Well,” Chimney clears his throat, “don’t get too attached then. Kid’s already had one parent walk out on him; he doesn’t need you screwing him over too.”
The frown that takes over Buck’s expression is dark and angry, lips turned downwards and he glares at Chimney. Hurt is evident in his eyes, a cutting betrayal that almost makes Chimney feel guilty for his words – he doesn’t take them back, though, because they all know what Buck’s like; his track record with hook-ups isn’t one to be admired.
“I’m not going to screw him over.” Buck’s voice is steady, low, almost a growl. “I’m serious about this relationship.”
“You met him last week, Buck.” Hen reminds him, her tone gentler than Chimney’s had been.
Buck turns his glare on her at that. “How long did you know Karen before you realised you wanted to be all in?” he counters, pushing back his chair and standing from the table before Hen has a chance to do much more than gape up at him. “Look, I know I’ve not had the best of luck in relationships in the past but this isn’t just a fling. I really like Eddie, and Christopher already means the world to me. For once, could you all just have a little bit of faith in me?”
With that, he storms off, probably to blow some steam off with a workout.
The table is silent for a minute or two, everyone taking a moment to process what’s just gone down.
It’s Hen that speaks up first, after draining the rest of her juice. “Maybe we were a bit harsh on him…” Chimney just hums, attention back on his breakfast. He’s not convinced that Buck’s being entirely honest with them; whether about his intentions or even if this guy he’s found is actually real. It all seems a little too perfect to him.
“So, Buck,” Hen slides up next to him as he leans against the counter, “Valentine’s Day. You got big plans for tonight?”
It’s been about a month now since Buck started dating this Eddie guy and, whilst none of the team have met him yet, Buck’s seemed happier than ever before. He doesn’t even flirt with people on calls anymore, something that took them all by surprise.
Buck chuckles, a small smile playing on his face as he turns to look her way. “No, we haven’t got anything planned.”
“What, no big date? No fancy meal out?” Athena chimes in, coming to join them. Even she’s been subjected to Buck’s constant, love-sick ramblings. “I thought you’d have been going all out tonight.”
Buck shakes his head. “Well, I’ve not really celebrated Valentine’s Day before and Eddie said he wasn’t that bothered about doing anything special. We’re just going to rent a few movies and order take-out.”
“What about his kid?”
“Ah, Christopher is spending the night with Eddie’s abuela.”
Hen smirks, nudging her shoulder against Buck’s. “Ooh, so you’ll have the house to yourselves. Take it from someone with a kid, that means you’re getting lucky.”
Buck’s brows furrow together in that adorable way that they always do when he learns something new. “Really?” Hen can’t help the laugh that escapes her.
Athena nods, hand landing heavily on Buck’s shoulder. “Oh, yeah. Definitely.”
“Oh…” Buck doesn’t look as smug as Hen had expected him to and she pauses, head tilted as she looks at him through squinted eyes.
“Wait…you two have…” she gestures vaguely with her hands, “y’know?”
Buck pulls his lower lip between his teeth, face flushing as he stares down at an invisible spot on the floor. “Uh, no?”
She slaps his arm, stepping back. “No way! You haven’t even slept with him yet? But you’ve been dating for a month! You don’t usually wait longer than a day to jump someone’s bones.”
Buck scoffs, but can’t exactly deny the accusation. He looks up, eyes oddly earnest. “I told you, I don’t want to fuck this up. Besides, Eddie hasn’t dated anyone in years, not since his ex left. I didn’t want to rush him into anything, no matter how badly I might want to…y’know?”
Athena hums her approval, squeezing his shoulder lightly. “I think it’s safe to say, if he’s sending his kid off, that he’s ready for more.”
Hen nods, before laughing – apparently failing to conceal it with a cough since Buck frowns at her. “I guess you do have something special planned for tonight then.”
Buck snorts, worry still obvious in the way his hands are fidgeting by his sides. “I guess so.”
“You’re really cute.” the woman says, stepping closer to Buck as he attempts to put the hose back properly. Bobby watches from the side of the truck, adrenaline from the call finally seeping out of his bones and leaving a warm glow in its place with the knowledge that they managed to get the fire under control and nobody got hurt.
Buck laughs nervously, taking a small, barely noticeable, step back. “Uh, thanks?”
It’s strange. Normally Buck would be all over anybody flirting with him but lately he’s been avoiding these types of situations. Not that Bobby should complain; he’s glad he no longer has to threaten to fire the kid for stealing the truck.
Sure, Buck says he’s settled down now and he’s in a committed relationship, but Bobby isn’t sure how much he believes him. He’s not the only one, either. The rest of the team aren’t entirely convinced that this Eddie is real – and not just because nobody has met him yet. The guy just seems too perfect. There’s got to be a catch somewhere.
“Can I give you my number?” the woman asks, flicking her long, blonde hair over her shoulder and leaning closer again, completely oblivious to Buck’s discomfort. “I wouldn’t mind you dropping by to put something else out for me.”
It’s a terrible pick-up line, one that Buck would usually still fall for anyway. This time, though, Buck shakes his head as he pushes the hose back into the truck and closes it up.
“Sorry, I uh- I’m taken, I’m afraid.”
The woman looks crestfallen for all of a second before smiling once more. “Well, I hope she treats you right.” she practically leers, leaning in as she dances her fingertips up his arm.
Buck smirks then, straightening his back and groaning when his spine clicks loud enough for even Bobby to hear. “Oh, he definitely does.”
The look on the woman’s face is perfect, her mouth forming a shocked ‘o’ as she steps back, hand dropping to her side. She struggles for words, face flushing a deep red that definitely isn’t just a result of the hot summer sun, before giving up completely and muttering an awkward apology before leaving Buck where he stands.
“How come he gets all the women?” Chimney mutters as he walks by, sending a deadly glare Buck’s way. “Even with a fake boyfriend he’s got them falling at his feet.”
Bobby chuckles, not bothering to point out that Buck surely doesn’t gain anything from pretending to have a boyfriend, following Chimney as the team starts to pile back into the truck.
“You like flan?!” Chimney exclaims, looking at Bobby in disappointment.
Bobby glares up at him. “Good flan is the bomb!” he retaliates and, honestly, Chimney can’t even tell if he’s being serious anymore.
“Oh!” Buck burst out into laughter then, swaying back in his chair. Hen joins him, their laughter stealing Chimney’s attention back to the laptop they’re surrounding, Bobby’s cheesy profile picture smiling back at them through the screen. “You have an AOL email account still? It is literally like you were frozen in ember in 1995!”
“It’s amber not ember, you idiot.” Bobby says, arms crossed.
Buck waves his hand dismissively. “Who cares? Okay, you can never show this to a girl.” he says, pointing down at the laptop.
“Okay, this profile is a joke profile…” Buck explains. Chimney pulls back, Bobby’s slightly defensive tone reminding him that their captain really hasn’t been in the dating game at all recently – for reasons that definitely cause pause to their teasing. Maybe they shouldn’t be laughing at him. “…for a guy no one ever wants to go out with-”
Chimney clears his throat, successfully cutting Buck’s ramble off.
“Y’know what? Maybe, you, are not the right person he should be taking dating advice from, Buckaroo.” he says, taking to laptop from Buck and walking to Bobby’s other side to take the chair next to him.
Buck lifts his chin, eyes cold in a way they don’t usually witness often. “And why is that?” he asks, voice taking on an even more defensive tone than Bobby’s had earlier. It reminds Chimney of that breakfast blowout only a few months ago. “Because, last time I checked, I’m in a stable, monogamous relationship with an amazing man. He-” he casts his eyes around at everyone, “I’m the healthiest dater at this whole table!”
There’s a moment of silence, Hen looking up to meet Chimney’s eyes, his own disbelief mirrored in her face. Whilst Chimney may not have been sold on Buck’s relationship with Eddie in the beginning, or even a fair few weeks after it started, he has to admit that – four months down the line – it’s starting to seem more and more likely to be real. Especially after Buck has turned down every offer for a date from anybody on a call, even skipped some of their team nights out in favour of supposedly spending the night in with his boyfriend. That’s without mentioning his growing confidence, constant smiling and occasional (actually decent) relationship advice.
The kid’s really changed.
“Oh my God, he’s right.” Chimney complains, Bobby laughing besides him.
“The world has turned upside down.” Hen adds, smirking at Buck.
Throwing his orange peel at Buck, Chimney can’t help but laugh alongside Bobby, leaning back in his chair almost dangerously.
“Oh, okay, laugh.” Buck tries to sound mad still but the proud grin on his face says otherwise. He plants his palms onto the table, meeting each of their gazes. “I am proof that real change it possible.”
Frankly, Chimney doesn’t have it in him to argue against that.
“Okay, that is a beautiful man.” Chimney says, eyes drifting over Buck’s shoulder.
Hen follow his gaze, eyes widening. “Where’s the lie? And I like girls…”
Buck turns around, looking to see what – or who – has caught their attention and his heart catches in his throat as his eyes land on none other than Eddie. His fucking boyfriend.
“What…” Buck doesn’t understand what he’s doing here, or why he’s currently shirtless and showing off the abs sculpted by god themselves as he puts on one of the 118 shirts.
Bobby must misunderstand his confusion, naturally, and starts to explain, “That’s Eddie Diaz. New recruit. Graduated top of his class just this week.”
Which, yeah, Buck already knew that. He’d cooked Eddie his favourite meal in celebration of the end of his exams. He’d been there when Eddie got his results, pulling him into a hug that lifted the older man off of his feet. He’d even shown just how proud of his man he was later that night…
“Guys over at station 6 were dying to have him but I convinced him to join us.”
Buck frowns, trying to understand whether Bobby knows that this is Eddie. His Eddie. But all three of his friends seem none the wiser.
“Why did he join us?”
Everyone laughs, assuming Buck’s simply jealous because now he’ll have competition for the calendar. In all honesty, Buck would be totally fine losing to Eddie; he sees no problem with having his hot-as-fuck boyfriend pinned to their kitchen wall for a whole month.
“He served multiple tours in Afghanistan as an army medic, guy’s got a silver star.” Bobby continues, and Buck is struggling not to start laughing because he already knows all of this. What he doesn’t know, is why his boyfriend is suddenly at his station. Working at his station, apparently. “C’mon, I’ll introduce you to him. He likes to be called ‘eight pack’.”
Buck snorts at that, following Bobby as he leads the three of them over to the locker room, fighting down a blush at the realisation that his boyfriend has told his boss the stupid nickname he’d given him one night after a few too many beers.
Hanging back as the others greet Eddie, Buck watches as Chimney compliments him on the silver star and Hen not-so-subtly checks him out with a low murmur of, “If only I liked guys.”
It’s only as Hen is stepping back from him that Eddie’s eyes wander, meeting Buck’s from where he stands in the doorway. Buck smiles, bright and warm, his chest constricting at the fond look he finds in Eddie’s gaze.
“Hey, you.” he says, pushing himself away from the door frame and taking a step forward. He misses the confused looks thrown his way from the others, eyes focused intently on Eddie.
Eddie laughs, well it’s more just a gust of breath as he smiles at Buck and closes the distance between them. “Hey.”
Buck’s at a loss for words, shaking his head minutely as Eddie reaches up and brushes a knuckle down the side of his face. Leaning into the touch, Buck tries to clear his thoughts out. “What are you doing here?”
“Working, babe.” Eddie smirks, and Buck wants nothing more than to kiss that smug look away.
“I didn’t know you were joining us.” he says instead, because it’s true. He’d known Eddie had been offered a place with station 6, like Bobby said, and he thought he’d taken it. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
Eddie breathes out, warm breathe hitting Buck’s face and leaving goosebumps in its wake. “I wanted to surprise you.”
A choked laugh escapes Buck and he leans down, resting his forehead against Eddie’s. Beautiful eyes blink up at him. “Consider me surprised.”
Eddie’s laugh is music to his ears, soft and sweet, seeping its way into Buck’s very being, weaving between his ribs and finally settling around his heart. Buck shakes his head gently, so unbelievably taken by this man in front of him, and gradually dips his head down, two fingers hooked underneath Eddie’s chin to tilt his face upwards and draw him into a loving kiss.
Lips part against his, the teasing swipe of a tongue, and Buck smiles into the kiss as he feels arms snake around his shoulders. They don’t deepen the kiss, both of them very aware of the audience – the surprisingly quiet audience – surrounding them, and pull away from one another only a minute later. There’s a light dusting of pink on Eddie’s cheeks and Buck feels a swell of pride, combing a hand through Eddie’s ridiculously fluffy hair and dropping a quick kiss to the top of his head.
Then, arm wrapped snuggly around his boyfriend’s waist, Buck turns to face his friends, trying (and failing) to conceal his amusement at the shocked expression on their faces.
“Are you kidding me?!”
Buck smirks, feeling unbelievably smug as he’s finally, finally able to shut down all their dismissive comments about his relationship; coming face to face with the very person they all had doubts about. The best part about it all is that Eddie is all too aware of the situation. How could he not be with Buck sulking after his shifts almost every week? So, like the wonderfully supportive boyfriend he is, he simply goes along with Buck’s one moment of glory.
“Guys,” he says, meeting each of their eyes and making sure they all know that he’s never going to let them live this moment down, “meet my boyfriend: Eddie Diaz.”