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just to love you

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Working a Saturday night shift was never Buck's idea of a good time, but at least Eddie was there with him – and they would have most of Sunday off, which was a good thing.

Chimney was off for the night, so the last people he was expecting to see at dinner were Chimney and Maddie, but after they returned from a call-out, there they were, dishing food out for them. Buck spotted his sister, instantly realised she knew what he'd done, and tried to disappear into the locker room.

"No," Bobby said, catching his elbow and dragging him towards the stairs. "Come on."

Buck glanced over at Eddie helplessly, who simply shrugged and followed them to the stairs. Once they reached the top, Maddie planted her hands on her hips and gave him a fierce look.

"Is there something you want to tell me?"

Hen, who'd been chatting away happily with the rest of the team, immediately made a beeline for them.

He had no idea what she knew, and so he said innocently, "What?"

"A very handsome man came in, told you that he was in love with you, and dragged you out of the bar," she said accusingly – and while she didn't notice the look that passed between Bobby, Hen and Chimney, Buck did, and Eddie most certainly did as well.

So Buck told her exactly what he and Eddie had agreed upon – "Eddie bailed me out of the date because I didn't want to go. He made a big scene, and then we went and got burgers and saw a movie."

Her brow furrowed, and she glanced over at Eddie, who smiled sweetly at her. "But you… you… why didn't you just tell me you didn't want to go?"

"I did," he replied gently. "But you wouldn't take no for an answer, and I know you really wanted me to meet someone… and I just don't want to. I'm sorry."

Maddie stared at him, totally confused, and then whispered, "Are you in love with Eddie?"

"No," he lied. "He was supposed to send me a text and bail me out, and he decided to mess with me instead."

"Yup," Eddie said proudly. "Sorry, Maddie. I couldn’t resist."

Buck noticed another confused look pass between Chimney, Hen and Bobby, but ignored it.

Suddenly, Maddie whacked his arm, and then hissed, "You were very convincing!"

"I'm sorry," he said again. "I'm really sorry. He was a nice guy, but I knew right away we weren't going to click."

"God, you two are so annoying," she complained, collapsing into a seat at the table. "Eddie, I thought you were better than this."

"I would never miss an opportunity to mess with Buck," Eddie said as he went to the fridge. "Ever. It was great."

"You're setting a bad example for Christopher, you know."

"In Eddie's defence, he didn't bring Christopher to the bar," Buck said, and ducked when she lobbed a bread roll at him.

"That's so unlike you," Hen said to Buck, a twinkle in her eyes. "This guy might've been perfect for you."

Buck shook his head. "After Eddie turned up, he suggested we have a threesome," he replied dryly. "That's when I knew for sure we weren't going to hit it off."

"Oh god," Maddie groaned, rubbing her forehead. "I really suck at this."

"But your heart is in the right place," Chimney said loyally. "Maybe we just leave Buck alone for now."

"Yeah, maybe," she said, sinking into a seat at the table. "Okay. No more dates – I'll let you handle that yourself."

"Thanks," Buck replied with a smile. "Someone will come along."

Eddie, who was pouring a glass of water, looked over at him with a smile.

"Anyway, that's not why we stopped by," Chimney said, but then acquiesced, "Well, it's not the only reason. Maddie has decided that she wants to have one last big birthday bash before the baby arrives, and so we're doing it next weekend, at our usual spot – bring your best singing voices, because it's a karaoke night."

"Count us in," Hen said enthusiastically. "Karen and I haven't had a night out in months."

"We'll be there as well," Bobby replied. "You know Athena will never miss a chance to perform."

"Good. Buck? Eddie?" Maddie asked, turning to look at Eddie, who nodded at her with a smile.

"I'll make sure Buck doesn't sing Eye of the Tiger," he promised.

"Thank god for that," she replied with relief.

Offended, Buck said, "I don't just sing Eye of the Tiger, Eddie. I perform it. It's an experience."

"And not one any of us want to sit through again," Bobby said dryly.

"I can't believe you guys."

 


 

"So… they're together, right?" Chimney murmured to Hen, who nodded emphatically.

"Yep, Bobby said he saw them holding hands. Are you going to tell Maddie?"

Chimney turned his eyes to where Maddie was sitting with Buck – he had an arm around her shoulders, and she was leaning against him with an affectionate smile on her face. "I mean, I really want to, but… they're obviously keeping it a secret for a reason. And they must think we have no idea."

"Eddie," she said quietly. "Buck will be protecting Eddie."

Chimney cast his eyes towards Eddie, who was chatting with Bobby and a few other members of the team. "He might still be coming to terms with it, you think?"

"Maybe, but Eddie is pretty adaptable, and he's definitely been a lot happier this week," she replied. "I can't blame them for wanting to ease into things and not draw too much attention."

"I tried to tell her that Buck had feelings for Eddie," he murmured, watching as Eddie wandered across the room to sit beside Buck, who cast him an affectionate smile. "But she didn't believe me."

"She's not around them all the time like we are," Hen pointed out.

"That's true. I thought Buck would've told her if he had feelings for him; they talk about everything else."

"Maybe our Buckaroo is growing up."

Maddie was distracted, on her phone, still leaning against Buck, but Buck and Eddie only had eyes for each other. Chimney watched them and then murmured, "I mean I'm happy for them, but god they're annoying."

She laughed. "You're the one who's marrying into the family. I still maintain a level of distance."

"Yeah, yeah."

 


 

On Sunday morning, once their shift was finished, Buck followed Eddie home. They were both only operating on limited sleep, and so Eddie arranged for his Abuela to keep Christopher until the early afternoon so they could get some rest.

By the time Christopher arrived home, they'd napped, made out, showered and eaten lunch. Christopher was a whirlwind of activity, and as soon as he'd set foot inside the house, he was begging Buck to see if the rock tumbler had finished its first cycle.

They trooped out to the garage, where the machine had been running for a week. Eddie grabbed a bucket and strainer while Buck dismantled it, and Christopher leaned over Buck's shoulder, brimming with excitement as Buck poured the rocks and sludge into the strainer. He rinsed the rocks off with water, revealing bright and colourful gemstones.

"Wow!" Christopher gasped. "Look, Dad!"

"I know, that's really cool," Eddie said appreciatively, grabbing a flashlight from the bench and kneeling down, shining the light so they could better see the gemstones. "Do you have the identification book?"

Christopher fumbled for it on the bench, and passed it to Eddie. Buck lay the stones out on a towel and picked through them. "That's black agate," he said, holding it up for Christopher to examine. "And this one is rose quartz."

"Amethyst," Eddie said, nudging a small purple rock to Buck. "And this one is a tiger's eye."

Christopher reached for a sparkly black rock in the shape of a heart. "What's this one?"

Buck consulted the guide. "Uh… goldstone, I think."

Christopher turned it over in his hands, nodding, before handing it to Eddie and leaning in to whisper in his ear, "You should give it to Buck."

Buck heard him clearly, his eyes flicking to Eddie, who was grinning. "Okay," Eddie whispered back. "I will."

~

Christopher decided which rocks he wanted to put through another cycle, and they set the machine up again and left it. Christopher had only kept a rose quartz, and set it on the table to admire while they ate dinner. They'd decided to put the heart-shaped rock through again, hoping it would be even prettier after another cycle.

Once they'd eaten and watched a National Geographic documentary about African wildlife, Eddie put Christopher to bed. Buck tidied up the house, switching off the lights, and was brushing his teeth in the bathroom when strong arms wrapped around his stomach and lips pressed against the back of his neck.

"Hey," he said, leaning back against Eddie. "He's asleep?"

"Tucked up with the quartz on the bedside table." Eddie kissed him again, and then slotted in beside him at the mirror. "I'll just brush my teeth."

Buck nodded, rinsing his mouth out with water before stepping aside. While Eddie brushed his teeth, he couldn't help but slide his hands up and down his back, just to feel the muscles rippling beneath his fingers. Eddie watched him in the mirror with raised eyebrows, and Buck leaned in to drop a kiss to the exposed skin at the neck of his t-shirt.

Eddie leaned against him, grinning around his toothbrush, and when Buck's fingers tickled the skin near his waist, he shivered, arching into his touch. Buck nuzzled against the back of his neck with his nose, sliding his hand under his shirt and around to his stomach, splaying his hand across his firm abdominal muscles.

Eddie spat out a mouthful of toothpaste, rinsed his mouth out and then turned around in Buck's arms, leaning in for a minty kiss. Buck obliged him, one hand still under his shirt, the other working its way into the waistband of his sweats and down to the smooth curve of his ass. He grabbed a handful, and Eddie snorted with laughter against his lips.

"Bed," Buck murmured.

"Mmmhmm," Eddie agreed enthusiastically.

They managed to part long enough to retreat to the bedroom, but it was there that Buck finally managed to divest Eddie of his shirt and push him down onto the bed. They kissed languidly, unhurried – the best kisses. In addition to having the best face of anyone on the planet, Eddie was the giver of the best kisses. Buck just wanted to kiss him all over, and so he did, trailing his lips all over Eddie's body, finding new places to explore, new things to discover. Eddie shivered beneath him every so often, and Buck wondered if anyone had ever spent as much time as he had mapping out every single inch of perfectly smooth skin.

Eddie finally dragged him up so they could kiss again and moved them so that Buck was on his back on the bed, and Eddie was leaning over him. He propped himself up on his elbow, gazing down at him with dark, serious eyes, and said, "I really do love you."

Buck couldn't help but beam, and then joked, "Are you sure you're not just saying that because you're in a sex haze?"

"No. I would never say it if I didn't mean it," Eddie said seriously.

"Oh," he replied, suddenly nervous. "And I just said it when I was drunk."

"That's how I knew you meant it." Eddie rested his chin on Buck's shoulder. "This isn't just sex; it's not… me using you for anything. When I told you that I was in love with you, I meant every word of it. You and I want the same things, you know… and I just want you to be with Christopher and me. If that's what you want," he clarified.

Buck nodded, practically on the verge of tears. "That's all I've ever wanted."

"Really?" Eddie asked uncertainly. "Are you sure that… you want us? I mean… you could meet someone else, a girl or another guy, and have a family, and…"

"You are the only person I want," he replied simply.

"But… I have baggage, and…"

"And I don't?"

"You don't have kids."

Buck let out a laugh. "Eddie, in case you haven't noticed, you have the greatest kind in the world, who I love. With all my heart."

Eddie swallowed hard, his eyes shining. "You do?"

"Yes."

"I might disappoint you."

"I might disappoint you."

They gave each other a long look. Eddie finally cleared his throat, wiped his eyes and said, "You're the only person who's ever really been there for me… in every single way. You've never judged me for anything, even though I've fucked up… it's like you're the only person who sees me for who I am."

Buck cupped his face. "Eds, you're the only person who sees me."

"That's because I love you," he practically mumbled. "And I want to be with you."

"I love you too," Buck whispered, and leaned in to kiss him. "I love you, Eddie. I love you so much."

Eddie was smiling, relieved, returning his kisses eagerly. "I'm so lucky," he said, a little hoarsely. "Sometimes I think I don't deserve it."

"Typical Eddie," Buck teased, and he laughed. "You're allowed to be happy."

"I know," he replied, and kissed him again.

~

Their work week passed by mostly uneventfully. Buck noticed Hen and Chimney watching them a little more closely than usual but ignored it, pretending as though nothing had changed – even though everything was different, and so much better.

He and Eddie had the Thursday off, so after dropping Christopher at school, and then spending a lazy morning in bed together, they decided to venture out for some lunch. They headed to Buck's favourite burger place, and as they walked down the street, Eddie slipped his hand into Buck's, a contented smile on his face.

"We should go camping again soon," Buck suggested. "We could head north, maybe."

"Or out into the desert."

"I hate the desert."

Eddie glanced at him with surprise. "You do? I love it. I'll have to take you to Texas with me one day."

"No, I prefer the ocean," Buck replied as they stepped through the front door of the busy restaurant. "I like to watch the sea."

"Says the man who went through a tsunami," Eddie teased.

"Well, as your son says, they're really not that big of a deal," Buck shot back, leading him to a table in the back.

They placed their orders with the waitress – a couple of beers, burgers, fries and onion rings – and while they waited for their food, their feet tangled together under the table.

"So we need to think about telling people, I guess," Eddie said reluctantly. "But I'm kinda liking the fact that nobody knows."

"Yeah, me too, but I should tell Maddie soon." Buck rested his head on his hand. "I'm worried she'll try to set me up again."

"She just wants you to be happy." Eddie paused, and then said, "Will she be happy if you're with me? Does Maddie like me? Do I need to wow her or something?"

He laughed. "Yeah, she likes you – of course she likes you. Why wouldn't she?"

"I don't know; I just… we haven't spent much time together."

"Well, that's because you're all over me," Buck pointed out. "You picked the Buckley you liked the most, and it was me."

Eddie grinned. "Yeah, I guess so. Still, she's your most important family member and I feel like I need to step up if I want to date you."

"Okay, well, I don't need to get Maddie's permission to date anyone," Buck pointed out, as their beers were placed in front of them. "She's not the boss of me."

Eddie made a face. "She kinda is, Buck. You value her opinion more than anyone. If she didn't like me… would that be a deal-breaker for you?"

Buck shook his head. "When it comes to you, there are no deal-breakers."

Looking reassured, Eddie ducked his head. "Okay."

Buck had a sip of beer, and then said, "What about you? You've got your parents to think about. They're going to hate this."

"Yep, but I don't care."

"Are you sure about that?"

Eddie nodded. "I know I was to blame for a lot of what happened with Shannon, but they have to shoulder some of it as well. She left because they were so goddamn overbearing and exhausting. They're the reason I had to leave El Paso – they're the reason we're here, because we just had to get away from them. So they don't get a say in my life, and who I'm in love with. I'm on your team," he said firmly. "And I have your back, and you have mine. That's what a successful partnership is, right? Supporting each other. They're not coming between me and someone I love ever again."

Buck reached across the table to take his hand. "As long as you're sure."

"Yeah, I'm sure." Eddie paused, and then added, "Meeting you was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I think Abuela and Pepa have been… subtly nudging me in your direction pretty much since I introduced you to them. Christopher thinks the sun rises and sets with you, and… I just needed to get over my own hang-ups and realise that you are the person who makes me happy, so… I'm going with my gut."

Buck grinned. "Me too. It's always been you. And apparently Abuela and Pepa knew about this long before we did."

"Well, Pepa's been making cracks about how you're my unofficial life partner for months now," Eddie said, "but… this has been building for a while, Buck. I just didn't realise you were feeling the same way until you got completely hammered on tequila and told me."

"What do you mean, it's been building for a while?" Buck asked curiously.

Eddie lifted his shoulders, and said, "I mean… when I realised what you'd gone through to save Christopher, I started thinking about you differently. It hit me that you went through all that because you love him, not just out of duty to me, or… anything like that. And then… when the lawsuit happened—"

"We don't—"

"No, just, let me finish. We said communication was important," he teased, and Buck let out a chuckle. "When that happened, Pepa said to me that I was acting like you'd broken my heart, and that really pissed me off. Because… she was right. I was so angry, and… part of it was because I was angry at myself for… trusting someone again, completely, and having them leave."

Buck winced, pulling his hand away from Eddie, and covering his face. "Jesus, I didn't know, I just—"

"No, I'm not asking you to say sorry or anything like that – we're so past this," Eddie reassured him. "I'm just saying that… I should've talked to you instead of bottling shit up. I shouldn't have let the lawsuit keep me away – I should've come to your place and talked to you. There's a lot of stuff I should've done that I didn't, because of everything else… and I regret that, now. But my point is that when we made up, I decided that I'm not letting anything like that happen with you again. I won't let us get our wires crossed anymore. You're too fucking important to Christopher and me, Buck."

There was a lump in his throat. "I am sorry."

"I'm sorry too, but it really doesn't matter anymore – it was stupid, and we both fucked up, but… we're here now. And I love you," he said emphatically. "A year ago, I never would've thought we'd be here, but… I'm so happy we are. I'm really glad we got drunk together and you told me how much you loved me, because… I never would've made the first move. Fuck, I'd probably still be in denial."

"I think you would've figured it out," Buck replied, taking his hand again, and threading their fingers together. "And I think you're a lot braver than you give yourself credit for."

"Well, we never have to find out," Eddie said, as the waitress arrived with their food. "Because tequila is your Achilles' heel."

"Somehow, I feel like you're going to use that information against me," Buck said suspiciously.

Eddie smirked, and crunched on a fry. "Maybe."

 


 

"Why are we here?" Josh asked Maddie disdainfully, following her into the dingy burger joint.

"Because I have a craving, and Buck told me about this place and that their cheesy fries are amazing," she replied, leading him over to a booth.

He was a little concerned she wouldn't fit into it, but there was still an inch between her swollen belly and the table. Maddie reached for the menus eagerly, rubbing a hand over her stomach absentmindedly as she examined the options.

Josh was indulging her. This kind of eatery was not his favourite, but Maddie was his favourite and if she wanted greasy burgers, that was fine by him.

They ordered, and gossiped, and drank cokes with too much ice, and then dug into their food as soon as it arrived. Maddie immediately dipped a pickle in the cheesy sauce and polished it off with a look of bliss, before picking up her burger with both hands and taking a huge bite out of it.

"You know the thing I like the most about you is how classy you are," Josh remarked, gesturing to her with a French fry.

"Thank you," she said through a mouthful of food.

He was just about to take a bite of his own burger when he spotted a familiar figure crossing the bar, and was about to call out to Buck when he realised that he wasn't alone. Buck slid into a seat across from an incredibly handsome guy, sitting for only a second before immediately leaning across the table to kiss him tenderly. The gorgeous man gave Buck an affectionate look and took his hand, playing with his fingers.

His jaw dropped, and Maddie paused mid-bite, her brows knitting together in confusion. "What's wrong?"

Josh leaned in and said conspiratorially, "Your brother is here, and he's not alone."

"Oh?" Maddie set her burger down and turned to look. "Oh, that's just Eddie," she said, making a move as if to stand, but Josh grabbed her hand and held her in place. "What?"

"Look," he whispered.

Buck was leaning across the table again, a huge smile on his face. Eddie reached out to touch his cheek affectionately, and trailed his fingers over Buck's birthmark.

They watched in awe as the two leaned in to kiss each other, before Buck leapt to his feet and pulled Eddie up as well, sliding an arm around his shoulders. He left a tip on the table and led Eddie to the exit on the other side of the bar, holding the door open for him as they departed.

Maddie turned to Josh with her jaw hanging open. "Well," she said, stunned. "Okay."

"That's why he ditched Pete."

"Yeah." A look of misery suddenly crossed her face. "Oh god, he only said yes because he didn't want to hurt my feelings. And probably because Eddie wants to keep things quiet."

"It's okay," Josh reassured her. "Don't worry – you didn't do anything wrong."

"I pushed him, and pushed him—"

"He told you he'd signed up for Tinder, and you were trying to help," he said patiently.

Maddie gave him a tearful look. "Why wouldn't he tell me about Eddie?"

He shrugged. "You know what it's like, when you're with someone new and it's exciting, and you're all loved up… they're in that happy bubble. I'm guessing they want to keep it that way for a little longer. I'm sure he'll tell you soon, okay? At least now you know, and you can stop worrying."

Some of her tension seemed to ease. "Yeah," she agreed. "You're right. Oh my god, Buck and Eddie. Buck and Eddie! This is so amazing. I wonder if Chim knows?"

 


 

By the time Saturday night rolled around, they'd hardly spent a night apart. Eddie and Christopher had grown very accustomed to having Buck at their house, and any murmuring by Buck about how he should probably head home was met with protests until he agreed to stay – pretending as though he was struggling with the decision. Eddie could see right through him.

They walked into Maddie's party together, but Buck made a beeline for Athena and the karaoke book, and Eddie went to the bar to order them a couple of beers. The plan was that they were going to stay until around eleven, at which time they'd make their escape and head back to the loft for some quality time together.

Eddie sat at a table with Hen and Karen, watching as Buck argued with Athena and Bobby about song choices. Athena finally affixed him with one of her most stern glares, but Buck simply flashed her an impish grin and jogged over to take a seat beside Eddie, bumping him with his shoulder.

"What are you singing?" he asked, sliding a beer across.

"Well, apparently I'm not allowed to do Eye of the Tiger," Buck said disdainfully, "which I think is a joke, so I'll be performing More Than a Feeling instead. And everyone can enjoy my air guitar."

"Buck, you need to expand your taste in music a little," Karen said from across the table. "Try some R&B, and relax."

Buck shook his head. "Nope. I know what I like." His hand dropped under the table and slid along Eddie's inner thigh.

Eddie smirked and sipped his beer.

~

Two hours and one god-awful rendition of Boston's More Than a Feeling later, almost everyone was up and dancing – except for Eddie, secure in his seat, watching Buck with a smile. He was the life of the party, and he was reminded again just how much everyone loved him. Buck was fun. When he was happy, it simply poured out of him and seemingly affected everyone around him.

Buck was like the sun; he shone so bright. Eddie loved him.

Maybe he'd had one too many beers, he realised, suddenly feeling a little sloppy. He'd have to reign it in so he wouldn't ruin their night together.

Deciding to switch to water, he was about to stand when a very pregnant Maddie slipped into the spare seat beside him, one hand on her belly. She set down a glass of water, let out a breath and said, "Eddie, do not tell Chimney this – I mean it – but I shouldn't have worn these shoes."

He laughed, glancing down at the tight sandals on her swollen feet. "I'm guessing he told you not to."

"He did, and I ignored him because these go with my outfit." Maddie pushed her hair off her face and fanned herself. "It's hot in here, right?"

"Yeah, it's a bit stuffy," he agreed. "Buck's going to be drenched with sweat when he finally gets off the dancefloor."

"Whenever that may be," she laughed. "He really likes eighties music."

"He likes pretty much everything, I've discovered."

"Yeah, he is pretty easy-going." Maddie had a sip of water, and then said, "I'm guessing you know that… probably better than anyone, right?"

A little confused, he said, "Yeah, well… I spend most of my time with him."

"I know." Maddie smiled at him. "Listen, I'm just going to come right out and say that I saw you guys making out at Buck's favourite burger place."

He closed his eyes briefly. "Oh."

"Yeah. I guess that story about you… stealing him away from Pete was actually kinda true?"

He nodded, embarrassed. "Yeah… sorry."

"It's okay. Listen, I'm sorry I kept trying to set him up while he was with you. And I haven't said anything to anyone – and I won't; it's not my place. I just wanted to let you know that I won't try to set him up anymore."

Eddie let out a laugh. "Okay. That'd be great."

She leaned in and said confidentially, "I'm pretty sure he's had a crush on you since you first met, because he hasn't stopped talking about you since."

He glanced over at Buck, who was dancing with Hen and Karen, and then said with a chuckle, "My aunt would probably tell you the same thing about me."

Maddie nudged him with her shoulder. "It's okay, you know. Take your time. I promise I'll stay right out of it."

"I know you were only trying to help," he reassured her. "We haven't been together that long."

She smiled warmly at him. "I'm really happy he's found someone. I was worried – I mean, I know it doesn't matter, and at the end of the day if he wanted to stay single, that's fine, but… he's got so much to give. He would be such a good husband and father, like… I know how much he loves Christopher. I can't even imagine him as an uncle, or with his own kids… he'd be so good at it."

Eddie nodded slowly. "Yeah, he would," he said, as visions of Buck with babies flashed through his head. "I'd like to see that."

"No pressure," she said, holding up her hands. "You take your time."

"Thanks. Hey, there is something… you could do for me? It would be messing with him a bit, but ultimately I think he'd like it."

"What's that?"

 


 

They'd planned that Eddie would leave first, so as not to arouse suspicion, and so he said his goodbyes around eleven and made a hasty exit. Almost as soon as he was gone, Maddie was at Buck's side, her arm around his waist.

"So," she said brightly. "I have someone new for you."

Alarmed, he replied, "No, we talked about this. I don't want to be set up."

"You'll really like him. He's such a nice guy. Super cute, super handsome, funny, sweet – a total catch, Buck."

He sighed, trying to figure out how to extract himself from another bad date. "Listen, I really can't," he said bluntly, feeling guilty when Maddie's eyebrows flew up. "It's not – Maddie, I love you, but I just don't want to date anyone right now. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and if someone good comes along, then so be it. But I'm just not interested in another blind date."

She eyed him; her lips pressed together tightly, and then said, "Okay. Fine. If that's what you want."

"That's what I want."

"Fine." She patted his back and then pulled away from him, pointedly turning her head to the side – pouting in only the way that she could, that was guaranteed to make him crumble.

Buck had to leave to meet Eddie, but she'd played him like a fiddle. "Maddie, please," he said desperately. "I'm sure he's a nice guy."

"He is."

"But I just… I can't, I just—"

"Meet him for a drink," she said, raising her eyebrows at him. "One drink."

Groaning, he threw his head back. "Do I have to?"

"Please. For me – if this one doesn't work out, then I'll leave you alone. I'll never set you up with anyone again, I promise."

She'd said similar things before, but this time, he'd hold her to it. "You promise?"

She crossed her heart. "Yep. I swear on Chim's life."

"Hey, what?" Chimney said from the other side of the table, confused.

~

Buck made his escape, and took an Uber to the loft. When he entered, soft music was playing on his record player, the lights were dimmed, and Eddie was waiting for him – shirt unbuttoned, holding a glass of wine.

A trapped breath escaped Buck's lips, and he closed and locked the door, dumping his phone, keys and wallet on the table near the door and crossing the floor to greet him with a kiss.

"Hey," Eddie murmured against his lips, swaying back and forth. "Hey, handsome."

"Hi," Buck whispered, slipping his hands under his gaping shirt and sliding them across his smooth chest. "God, you look good."

"So do you." Eddie downed a mouthful of wine and undid the first two buttons of Buck's shirt, leaning in to press a kiss to the first patch of exposed skin he bared. "So nice."

Buck's chest rose and fell as Eddie undid the next button, his lips trailing downwards. Buck rested his hands on Eddie's shoulders, closing his eyes as each button was undone, his shirt was pulled open and off, and Eddie manoeuvred him so his back was to the counter, leaning in to kiss his nipples before tilting his head up and finding his lips.

"Eddie," Buck murmured against his lips. "God, you're so fucking hot."

Eddie let out a low, rumbling chuckle. "Am I?"

"Yep." Buck smoothed his hands against Eddie's face, pressing soft kisses to his eyelids, cheeks, nose and forehead, before finding his lips again.

"Bed," Eddie whispered, setting the wine glass down on the kitchen island. "Let's go to bed."

Buck nodded, kissing him again, and then took him by the hand and led him to the stairs. Eddie smacked his butt playfully, grinning at him, and Buck pushed him up against the wall and kissed him hungrily.

Somehow they made it up the stairs, shedding their clothing as they went. Buck ended up on his knees on the edge of the bed, kissing his way across Eddie's chest, and stomach, before dropping his head and taking him into his mouth. Eddie hissed, tipping his head back as he slid his hands across Buck's back and into his hair.

"Jesus, Buck," he groaned.

Buck pulled away with a pop and looked up at him with hooded eyes, licking his lips. "You taste good."

Eddie leaned in to kiss him, pushing him down onto the bed and sliding on top of him eagerly. Gone was any previous hesitation about sex – Eddie was all in, and Buck couldn't get enough of him. Kissing and sucking was a great appetiser, but Buck wanted the main course, and when Eddie finally pushed inside him slowly and exquisitely, he was begging for it.

"God, you feel great," Eddie groaned, lifting Buck's leg so it was on his shoulder. "And you look fucking amazing."

He nodded, gripping the sheets, letting out a breath. "We should've been doing this from day one."

Eddie laughed, leaning in to kiss him. "I never would've gotten any work done," he teased, and twisted his hips to make Buck gasp. "You good?"

He nodded, reaching up to wrap a hand around Eddie's bicep. "Yeah, man, what are you waiting for?"

Eddie's eyes lit up, and he began to move his hips in earnest, and Buck lost the ability to maintain rational thoughts.

~

In the morning, Buck opened his eyes to find Eddie already awake and smiling at him. "Morning," Buck said groggily, leaning in for a kiss.

"Morning." Eddie smiled at him, pulling the blankets up a little higher. "So… I think you broke me."

"Oh no. Again?"

"Yeah, it's becoming a habit of yours."

"Oh darn," Buck said ruefully. "Well, I guess we'll just have to stop sleeping together."

"It's probably the safest bet," Eddie agreed ruefully, slipping an arm over Buck's chest, resting his head on his shoulder. "You're not working Wednesday, right? I could get a sitter for Christopher and we could go out for dinner."

Buck nodded, and then remembered his deal with Maddie. "Oh shit."

"What?"

"Maddie… is setting me up again," he admitted reluctantly. "And I told her I'd go this one last time."

Eddie let out an unhappy huff of breath. "Really?"

"Yeah, I know, I know. I promise – this time, I'll act like a total dick, and he'll end it so fast."

He laughed. "You were going to do that last time."

"This time, definitely. I promise. You could wait for me here?"

"No, you'll just come to my place after." Eddie nuzzled his nose. "I'll wait up for you."

Buck kissed him apologetically. "I'm sorry, Eds."

"It's okay; it's really okay. She just cares about you." Eddie's hand was slipping lower under the blanket. "You better not fall in love with this guy."

"No chance of that," Buck murmured, and flipped Eddie so he was on his back, sliding on top. "Absolutely no chance of that, at all."

 


 

They collected Christopher, and decided to take him out for lunch. Eddie listened with a smile on his face as Buck and Christopher chatted to each other eagerly in the car, as though it'd been longer than twenty-four hours since they'd last seen each other. The hot topic of conversation over lunch was how the rocks were going to look – and if Eddie was really honest, as much as he loved Buck, and he loved that Christopher and Buck had these little projects they could geek out over together, the rock puns were getting old, fast.

By the time they arrived home, the enthusiasm for rocks was at an all-time high. Eddie pulled into the driveway, and no sooner was the car door open than Buck exclaimed, "Let's rock and roll!"

"Oh god," Eddie groaned.

Christopher was practically vibrating with excitement, and they simply left Eddie to collect everything out of the car and went into the garage without him. Shaking his head, he dumped Christopher's bag inside the house before wandering out to join them. They'd already emptied the tumbler and rinsed off the rocks, and were examining them individually.

"Look!" Christopher exclaimed – the rocks were practically gleaming, and looked so much better than after the first cycle.

"Wow," Buck murmured, picking through them one by one. "Eddie, look at this. They look great."

"That's really cool," he said appreciatively, kneeling down beside them. "Are you going to do another cycle?"

Buck and Christopher exchanged a look. "One more," Buck suggested. "But I think some of these are probably good as they are right now."

"Okay," Christopher agreed, taking the amethyst out of the collection and passing it to Eddie. "This one. And this one," he said, adding the heart-shaped rock to his collection. "That's yours, Dad."

"Thank you, buddy," Eddie replied, glancing at Buck, who was scrutinising the remaining rocks and consulting the guide.

Christopher looked up at him and mouthed, 'For Buck.'

Eddie nodded, patting his back. 'Okay.'

 


 

On Wednesday, Buck changed into his date clothes at work, ignoring Hen and Chimney's raised eyebrows. Eddie had already left, calling goodbye to everyone as he jogged out to his car.

"Buck, if you didn't want to go on another date," Chimney said as he closed his locker door, "you could just say no."

"Maddie will understand, you know," Hen said gently. "Has your sister got something over your head?"

He laughed. "No, but Chim can attest to the fact that she can pout like a champion when she wants to."

Chimney winced. "Yeah, it's a talent, that's for sure. But listen – I can tell her that you decided not to go, if you don't want to face the trembling lower lip of doom."

He shook his head, buttoning his shirt. "This is the last one. I told her if it doesn't work out, she has to stop setting me up and she agreed."

"Wasn't that what she said last time?" Hen asked skeptically.

"Yeah, but… this time, she's actually going to do it," Buck said confidently. "It's okay. Whoever this guy is, I'll let him down gently."

They exchanged a look, but he had his back to them, holding a tie against his shirt thoughtfully.

Chimney finally said, "She just wants you to be happy, but… you are happy, right?"

Surprised, Buck met his eyes in the mirror and replied, "Yeah, I am – but I'll do this for her, one last time."

Chimney nodded, glancing at Hen, who sighed and said, "Okay, Buckaroo – but a tie is way too formal, all right? Ditch it."

He laughed, balling it up and tossing it in his locker. "Okay. Done."

~

Buck entered the bar right on time, and with some semblance of a plan – act like a total dick. It would go against his very nature, but he was determined to leave as quickly as possible. He was supposed to be looking for someone tall, dark and handsome, which eliminated about half of the men in the bar. He guessed Maddie had shown his prospective date a picture of him, and so he went to the bar and ordered a drink.

He was looking at his phone, wondering why Eddie hadn't responded to his texts, when someone settled into the empty stool beside him. "Come here often?" a husky voice asked.

Ugh, a pick-up line. Buck sighed, rolling his eyes, and turned to them sharply – only to immediately begin to stutter. "Eddie!"

Eddie laughed at him, totally amused. "Gotcha."

"What are you doing here? Don't you think she'll realise something is up if you chase off someone else?" he hissed, and protested with a muffled grunt when Eddie leaned in to kiss him.

Eddie pulled away, cupped his face with both hands and said, "I'm your date, Buck. I'm not chasing anyone off – it's you and me."

Bewildered, Buck said, "You're my date."

"Yeah." He shrugged, embarrassed. "I asked Maddie to set it up. She saw us making out at your burger place."

"What? She did?" Buck's brain was struggling to catch up. "How? When? How did you do this?"

Eddie laughed, pressing another light kiss to his lips. "She talked to me at her party, and I asked her to set this up. Just so she'd at least be successful at it, once."

"Wow," Buck murmured, totally delighted. "Wow. Okay. Are we really going on a date?"

"Yep." Eddie slotted in beside him, and the bartender placed a beer in front of him. "I've got it," he said, passing over some cash, and then sliding his hand across Buck's shoulders. "Gotta treat you right."

"Are you about to romance me, Diaz?"

Eddie nodded, and when the bartender handed him his change, he dropped it into the tip jar. "Drink up, gorgeous. We've got a reservation."

Buck had sip, and then murmured, "Just so we're clear, I don't have sex on the first date."

Eddie laughed, and leaned in to whisper in his ear, "No, you don't even wait for the first date."

"Hey now," Buck protested, but relented when Eddie kissed him again.

~

They were booked into a cosy little Italian restaurant, and ordered a bottle of red wine and some pasta. Eddie reached over, tugged on Buck's open collar and said, "No tie?"

"Hen made me take it off; she didn't want me to impress the guy I was meeting," he replied, threading his fingers with Eddie's. "I wasn't gonna argue."

"No, better not."

"Hen and Chim tried to talk me out of coming. It would've been pretty funny if I'd ditched the date, gone to your house, and accidentally stood you up."

"Yeah, really funny. Glad you didn't." Eddie smiled at him, his eyes twinkling. Illuminated by candlelight he was somehow even more impossibly beautiful, and Buck thought to himself, I'm going to marry you one day.

They gazed at each other for a few moments in silence, holding hands across the table. Eddie's thumb stroked across his knuckles, and Buck said quietly, "I'm pretty sure Hen and Chim know about us."

"Bobby too," Eddie said, stroking his thumb. "But that's okay. I think we should tell Pepa and Abuela first, though. Maybe tomorrow, when you come for dinner?"

"If that's what you want, Eds. Are you sure you're okay with people knowing?"

Eddie nodded slowly. "Yeah, because it's you," he said, and cleared his throat. "This thing between us is… real, you know? Like… rest of our lives kind of a thing."

Buck grinned, ducking his head. "You think?"

"Yeah, I do… I wish I'd realised it sooner, but that's okay."

"We just had to be a little delicate," Buck murmured. "Take our time."

"Yeah, I think so too. You know… after Christopher, you're the most important person in my life. The second most important person in his life as well," Eddie said. "He was so happy when I told him that I was in love with you... I know my kid, and I know that he's been worried about me ever since Shannon died. And maybe in his own way, gently nudging me towards you."

Buck chuckled. "Christopher? Gently nudging? More like commanding, Eds. Let's face it."

"Yeah, maybe." Eddie reached into his pocket and retrieved a familiar black, sparkly, heart-shaped stone. "Maybe," he said, turning Buck's hand over and placing the stone in it, closing his fingers around it, "he might be onto something."

Buck nodded at him, filled with emotion. "Yeah. I keep telling you that he's a great kid. I don't know why you don't listen."

Eddie laughed, his face lighting up. "It's weird, until you came along, I never realised how awesome my kid is."

"That is weird. You should pay more attention." Buck leaned across the table and kissed him impulsively, before sitting back down and examining the rock in his hand. "Well, Eds. It's official. You've rocked my world."

Eddie snorted, shaking his head. "Okay, okay. Listen – here's what we're going to do, all right? We're going to tell everyone, but first, we're going to torture Hen and Chim just a little while longer."

"You're evil."

"Must've learned it from you." Eddie had a sip of wine, a cocky little grin on his face. "I think it'll be funny."

"You'll just have to work out how to keep your hands off me at work."

"I'm not the one with that problem, and we both know it." Eddie arched his eyebrows at him pointedly.

"Right." Buck turned the rock over in his hands, and then murmured, "So this is our first date, and you've already given me your heart."

"Oh god," Eddie groaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

Buck snickered, tucking the rock into his jacket pocket. "If this is our first date, Edmundo, we should get to know each other a little better. Tell me about yourself."

Eddie grinned. "Hobbies, interests, that sort of thing?"

"Sure." Buck reached across to play with his fingers again, gazing at him affectionately.

"Well, I like baseball. Do you want to come to a game with me sometime?"

"Baseball, huh? I think the uniforms are hot."

"Might have to try one on for you sometime," Eddie murmured, arching his eyebrows at Buck suggestively.

"Don't make promises you won't keep," Buck teased.

Eddie leaned forward and said seriously, "Buck, with you… if it's a promise, I'm gonna keep it."

Buck was filled with so much love for him he thought he might actually burst. He couldn't keep the stupid grin off his face, and downed the rest of his wine as their food arrived.

They ate in silence for a few moments, before Eddie finally said, "What about you? Hobbies, interests?"

"I'm really into rock tumbling," Buck said instantly, ignoring the snort of laughter from across the table. "And hanging out in meadows looking at the stars through a telescope. Also – and I'd appreciate you not spreading this around – I really like having sex with hot guys named Eddie."

Eddie guffawed, recovered and said, "What a coincidence! That's my name."

"Well, it's your lucky night, stud."

 


 

It was Eddie's lucky night indeed – as soon as they arrived at the loft, their clothes were off and they were racing up the stairs to the bed. He threw Buck down across it and slid on top of him, capturing his lips in an urgent kiss. The fact that he'd once been worried about having sex with another man now seemed so laughable – he barely remembered that version of himself.

The only person he wanted for the rest of his life was Buck.

Afterwards, he curled around him, nuzzling the back of his neck, only lifting his head when he heard a clink on the bedside table. The heart-shaped rock was sitting there, and Eddie reached for it, turning it over in his hand.

Buck murmured, "I just wanted to put it where I can see it. Your heart."

Eddie placed it back down, kissing his cheek, settling in behind him again. "You have my heart. That's just a rock," he whispered in his ear.

"It's more than that." Buck shifted so he was lying on his back, running his fingers across Eddie's forehead. "I've spent the last few years studying your face, you know. Memorising it. Every smile, every frown, every grimace, every affectionate look you give me – every expression. I thought I'd memorised them all, but I've never seen you look like this before. I can even see your dimples." He touched his cheek with a finger, and Eddie found himself blushing. "This is how you look when you're in love," Buck said softly. "I bet only Shannon has seen you look like this before."

He shook his head. "Not like this," he murmured. "This is different."

"Yeah, it is." Buck licked his lips, and let out a chuckle. "You chose me, huh? Right from the start."

"Yeah, I did – but you chose me as well."

"Glad I threw in with you when I did, Diaz." Buck stroked his thumb across Eddie's eyebrows. "Never thought it would lead us here, but god, I'm glad it did."

"Me too," he whispered, and leaned in to kiss him again. "I'm so glad I picked LA instead of Chicago."

Buck murmured in agreement, and when they parted said, "It never would've lasted. You'd hate the winters. You're a warm weather kinda guy."

Eddie had to agree about that – the warm weather had been the deciding factor, and he thanked god for that. The warmth had brought him to Buck, who was the warmest, most vibrant person he'd ever met; who had brightened his life from their first awkward meeting, to the first time Christopher laid eyes on him and decided in an instant, This one, we'll have this one. Thanks.

His kid was never wrong. It'd just taken Eddie a little longer to arrive at the same conclusion, but now that he was here – yes. He would have this one, hopefully forever.

With that thought in mind, he kissed Buck again, lingering a little longer, and then pulled away to whisper in his ear, "I love you so much."

And Buck turned to him, beaming, and said, "I love you too, Eddie."

 


 

Buck had no sooner walked through Abuela's front door the next evening when he was accosted by the lady herself, who gestured for him to stoop to her level, and then cupped his face with her hands.

"How's my beautiful boy doing today?"

"Oh my god, Abuela," Eddie groaned from behind him. "Hello, your actual grandson and great-grandson are also here."

"Come in, come in," she said, wrapping one hand around Buck's arm and dragging him into the kitchen. "Tell me how you are. It's been weeks."

"Nice to know who the favourite is," Eddie grumbled from the living room, as Christopher let out a delighted giggle.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," he said with a laugh, casting a quick glance out at his playfully disgruntled boyfriend. "Christopher has brought his shiniest rocks to show you."

"Oh, have you?!" she exclaimed, abandoning him in an instant and hurrying back out to where Christopher was laying the rocks out on the coffee table. "Aren't they beautiful? Just lovely."

Eddie bustled into the kitchen, unloading the salads and guacamole they'd prepared at home, and while his Abuela was distracted, stole a kiss from Buck up against the refrigerator.

"Ah," Pepa said, startling them both. "Finally! Mama, come look. The boys are kissing."

"They are?!"

"Tia, my god," Eddie groaned, stepping away from Buck.

Pepa smirked, folding her arms across her chest. "We had hoped. We are happy, aren't we, mama?"

Abuela appeared in the doorway, clutching her hands to her heart. "Yes? Eddito, Buck?"

"Yes, Abuela," Eddie replied, reaching out to take Buck's hand. "Yes, he's my boyfriend now, you can stop worrying about me."

"Daddy's in love!" Christopher called from the living room.

"Your parents are not going to be happy," Pepa warned, and he nodded, exchanging a nervous look with Buck. "But we are on your side, always."

"Thank you, Tia," Eddie murmured, a little bashfully. "That means a lot to me."

"We're just so proud of you," Abuela added, reaching out to pull him in for a hug. "My beautiful grandson."

Buck smiled at them, leaning against the counter, but straightened up when Pepa sidled over to him and murmured, "I knew it, from the moment I saw you, I knew it."

"Pepa," Eddie groaned.

"No, I knew it. I knew it before anyone else." She tapped her forehead. "My Abuela always said I had a little bit of a gift."

"Oh, she did not," Abuela objected. "She was a born gossip, and she recognised that same talent in you."

"Then how did I know before the phone call that you'd broken your hip? I knew."

"It didn't do me much good at the time, Josephina," Abuela retorted.

Eddie dragged Buck out of the kitchen and away from the two bickering women. They joined Christopher in the living room, and Buck sank to his knees on the floor, examining the gemstones again. "I'm going to get some more refills," he said to Christopher, whose eyes lit up. "Maybe some fluorite or something like that – it's a bit softer, but we can polish it up nicely. And we should get a case or something for you to display them in."

"Yeah, like in a museum!"

"No," Eddie objected good-naturedly. "No, we'll figure something out, but not a museum display case, guys. They're just rocks."

"They're very pretty rocks," Buck said, holding the amethyst up to the light. "And I think you got lucky with this amethyst, kiddo. They're pretty rare – an actual, proper gemstone that's worth something. We'll hold onto this one."

"I want to take it show and tell," Christopher said to Eddie, who nodded.

"Here we go," Pepa called, carrying out chips and dip to the living room. "Everyone, dig in. We're eating with our hands tonight. Buck, we're making it extra spicy for you. You're one of the family now."

Buck cringed, and Eddie said loyally, "Maybe wait until we make it official, Pepa. Until he has a ring on his finger."

"I know you're joking," she warned him, "but don't you toy with my emotions with statements like that if you're not going to make them come true."

Eddie shrugged, slipping his arm around Buck's waist. "I wasn't actually joking," he said, sharing a smile with Buck. "Just so you know."

"Oh, Eddie," Abuela murmured. "I couldn't be more thrilled for you both."

 


 

Maddie walked into the station on Friday morning, loaded up with two boxes of doughnuts. Chimney immediately spotted her from the balcony and shouted, "You were supposed to call me from the car!"

"I can carry doughnuts, Chimney!"

"Here, let me help you," Bobby said, sweeping in from the side and taking the boxes out of her hands. "Maddie—"

"I know, I know," she chided him. "I know."

Bobby gallantly guided her up the stairs, passing the boxes of doughnuts to Chimney, and at the top she leaned against the railing breathlessly and said, "God, I'm about a thousand percent done with being pregnant."

"Not long to go," Chimney said, helping her to a chair. "Sit, sit."

"Where's Buck?" she asked as she took a seat, casting a look around the station.

"Not sure," Chimney replied, as Hen jogged up the stairs to greet her. "Have you seen Buck?"

"He and Eddie were in the locker room a while ago," she said, winking at Chimney before leaning over to kiss Maddie on the cheek. "Maybe they're still there. How are you feeling, Maddie?"

"Pretty tired," she admitted. "I'm only scheduled to do day shifts at the moment. I just can't keep my eyes open."

"Maybe you should think about going on maternity leave early," Hen suggested. "You really need to take care of yourself."

She nodded. "Maybe," she acquiesced, ignoring the way Chimney threw his hands up. He'd been suggesting the same thing for a few weeks, but it just hit differently coming from Hen.

"Here they are," Bobby said suddenly, as Buck and Eddie emerged from the locker rooms. "Buck! Your sister is here!"

Buck looked up at the balcony, tapping Eddie on the chest, and led him over to the stairs. Maddie couldn't help but beam when Buck arrived at the top, Eddie at his heels. "Did you have a nice date on Wednesday?" she asked him, raising her eyebrows.

"Oh yeah," Buck replied, his eyes sparkling. "Yeah, we really hit it off. We're seeing each other again tonight."

"What?" Hen hissed to Chimney, who looked confused.

"He's pretty cute, right?" Maddie asked him, ignoring the others. Eddie was leaning against the balcony railing, his head lowered – clearly trying to hide a smile, but from where Hen and Chimney were standing, they couldn't see his expression.

"Really cute," Buck said, kneeling beside her and putting a hand on her belly. "Actually… exactly my type. How did you know?"

"You're my brother; I know what you like," she said confidently. "I'm so happy you hit it off."

"Who is this guy?" Chimney suddenly demanded. "Buck?"

"I'll introduce you at some point," he promised, rising to his feet again. "Eds, let's make coffee for everyone."

"Great to see you, Maddie," Eddie said, touching her shoulder briefly before following Buck into the kitchen.

Hen and Chimney were both speechless, but Bobby merely looked confused, his arms folded across his chest. "Have I missed something here?"

 


 

They decided to let them sweat it out a few more days, just to torture them a bit. Hen and Chimney had clearly made some sort of agreement that they wouldn't directly confront them about anything, but Buck overheard them whispering furiously a few times, trying to figure out who the mystery man in Buck's life was.

"I thought it was Eddie," he heard Chimney hiss. "But Maddie says she set him up with someone else, and they really hit it off."

"Maybe they were never together?" Hen wondered aloud. "I mean… we never did get confirmation. Maybe we just wanted it so much that we… thought it was happening, and it really wasn't?"

"I have no idea," Chimney replied. "They both seem happy? Man, I really thought they'd finally gotten together. I guess we were wrong."

Buck snuck away, equal parts amused and touched that they cared so much about their relationship. He filled Eddie in on the conversation when they had a moment alone together, and Eddie said, "Well, maybe we've tortured them long enough."

"I had no idea they were so invested in us as a couple."

Eddie gazed at him fondly. "I think they want you to be happy, and they know that I make you happy, so…"

"Not just me," Buck corrected. "We make each other happy, Eds."

"Right." Eddie cupped his cheek. "Okay. Let's go talk to Bobby."

Bobby gave them a knowing look when they stepped into his office, and when Buck said, "Cap, Eddie and I are dating," he'd simply chuckled, shaking his head with amusement.

"But I feel like you already knew that," Eddie added awkwardly.

"I had a fair idea." Bobby leaned back in his seat. "Do you really think I haven't seen what's been going on around here since you two first met? Guys, come on."

Buck glanced at Eddie, who said, "Well, neither of us planned it."

"No, but sometimes these things are meant to be. Imagine if I'd let you go to Station 6," he said to Eddie, who grimaced. "It could've been a whole different story."

Eddie glanced at Buck, his expression softening, and then said, "Somehow, I think I would've found him anyway."

~

After their meeting, Bobby followed them upstairs to where Hen and Chimney were lounging on the couches together. Buck had no sooner set foot on the landing when Hen said, "Come here, Buckaroo. Right now."

He exchanged a look with Eddie, and strolled over to her. "Yes, Henrietta?"

She held up a finger. "Don't. Do not. Who is this new man you've been seeing?"

"Well, he's gorgeous," Buck said, sitting down on the armrest of the chair closest to her. "Super handsome, funny – smart. Really smart. Really toned too – not super muscly, but like, strong. You know?"

Hen was grimacing, and Chimney was rolling his eyes. "What does he do?" she asked pointedly.

"He's a firefighter, just like me."

"A firefighter," Chimney repeated, confused. "How the hell did Maddie find a firefighter for you?"

"I'm not sure; she never said," he replied, as Eddie leaned on the balcony railing and listened with a grin on his face. "I can't wait to introduce you guys to him. I think you'll really hit it off."

"Wait, wait," Hen cut in, and for a second, he thought she'd figured it out, until she said, "You can't possibly be serious about this. Who is this guy? What station does he work for? Do we know him? I think we need to meet him."

"Yeah, if we're going to be brothers-in-law, don't I need to vet your boyfriends or something?" Chimney asked. "Make sure they're suitable? I can't have Maddie spending all her time worrying about who you're hooking up with."

"First of all, you don't need to vet this guy," Buck said, glancing at Eddie, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat. "He's one of the finest the LAFD has to offer."

Hen pursed her lips. "Is it that guy, Justin? From Lena's station?" she asked him. "He's like, the only person I can think of who fits the bill."

"No, he's got a girlfriend," Chimney replied. "Oh – is it Brad? Brad Davies, works with Tommy now? Big, tall guy?"

Buck shook his head. "Nope. A little closer to home. Need some more hints? Well, he's a decorated serviceman, has a couple of sexy arm tattoos, a truck he paid way too much money for…"

They both still looked stumped, and Buck was about to drop the final hint when Eddie groaned from behind them, "Holy shit, you guys, it's me! It's me! How much more does he need to say?"

Hen deflated instantly, slapping Chimney's arm. "I told you they were together!"

"Yeah, well, Maddie's the one who said Buck had this hot new guy; I don't know," Chimney protested. "And these two have been sneaking around this whole week pretending not to be together."

"It's been torture," Buck remarked, as Eddie wandered over to perch on his knee. He hooked his arms around his waist and said, "Actual torture."

Hen rolled her eyes, shaking her head good-naturedly. "You're both the worst."

"We know," Eddie replied. "But we couldn't resist."

"And Maddie knows," Chimney clarified.

"Yeah, she tricked me into going on a date with Eddie," Buck replied.

"Well, I asked her to trick Buck into it," Eddie added. "Just to mess with him a bit."

"Well, looks like it's a match made in heaven," Hen said dryly, and Chimney laughed. "Also, just so you know, Karen threatened to divorce me because I wouldn't stop complaining about this? You two, honestly, are the worst. And I say that with love, but you're the worst."

"The worst," Chimney agreed, and then admitted, "but I'm happy for you anyway. I can't believe Maddie kept this from me."

"I bet there's a lot you don't know. She's good at keeping a secret, my sister," he said, mostly to torture Chimney.

It worked. "What kind of secrets?" he asked suspiciously.

Buck mimed zipping his lips, and shrugged. "That's for you to find out." He hugged Eddie close, looking up at him with a smile.

Hen heaved a sigh, rising to her feet. "Karen is going to laugh her head off when I tell her about this," she muttered, wandering over to the kitchen, where Bobby was cutting up vegetables and chuckling to himself.

Chimney leaned in close to Buck and said, "When I marry your sister, I'm going to make you the flower girl."

Buck's eyes lit up. "Really?"

"He'd actually love that," Eddie said dryly. "I feel like you've walked into a trap."

"I'd be really good at it, Chim," Buck said eagerly, as Chimney stood and stomped over to the kitchen. "Super good at it. What kind of flowers?"

Scowling, Chimney gave him the finger in response.

Buck snickered, glancing up at Eddie, who smiled at him and said, "Hey, do you want to go on a date with me tomorrow night?"

"My schedule is wide open," Buck replied, and leaned in to kiss him firmly.

 

~the end~