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Fatherhood

Chapter Text

They are just coming off a 24-hour shift; the sun is just peeking over the horizon; and Buck is making his way to his jeep just as his phone rings. He is heading home to take a nap before heading to Eddie's so they can pick Christopher up from school and go to the park together. They had planned it last week when Christopher had gotten 100% on a math test.

Today was the last day of school before Christmas break; the holiday just a week away now; and they were all going to be busy up until the day of, so this was the only chance for another week and Buck knew Christopher had worked so hard not to whine about having to wait the first week, there was no way he'd survive if he had to wait another week; he was only seven.

He slides into the driver seat and waves to Eddie as the older man began pulling his own truck from the spot next to him in the lot; and answered his phone without looking at the caller ID. "Hello?"

"Hello, I am trying to reach Evan Buckley."

"This is him."

"Oh, good." The female voice said over the line. "My name is Maggie, I'm a nurse at Cedar-Sinai. Your name and number were left by a patient of ours early this morning."

Buck frowned, his first thought going towards Maddie; but why would his sister be at the hospital and not have called him if something was wrong? "Can I ask who the patient is?"

"I was actually told to ask for you to come down to the hospital and everything will be explained."

His frown deepened and he had to stifle a yawn but nodded. "Yeah, yeah. I can be there in twenty minutes."

"Thank you, Mr. Buckley." The nurse - Maggie - said. "When you get here head for the maternity ward and then ask for Maggie at the reception desk."

"Yeah, okay. Thank you." Buck hung up; tossed his phone onto the passenger seat and started his car - and then froze.

Maternity ward?

What. The. Fuck?

He doesn't remember pulling out of the parking lot; doesn't remember turning left towards the hospital instead of right towards his apartment - his sister's apartment really; doesn't remember parking in the hospital lot or making his way towards the building. Doesn't remember asking the main desk for directions to the maternity ward; getting on the elevator and reaching the correct floor or making his way towards the ward.

He does remember reaching the reception desk at the maternity ward and asking for Maggie. He tapped his finger tips on the counter while he waited for the nurse sitting behind the desk grab the phone and call for the nurse he had asked for. Five minutes later found a blonde woman stepping through the doors and making her way towards him.

"Mr. Buckley?"

Buck nodded and she smiled at him.

"I'm Maggie, thank you for coming down." She turned sideways. "If you could follow me, the doctor and social worker can explain everything to you."

Buck opened his mouth to ask what needed to be explained but then snapped his lips closed and nodded. He followed the nurse back through the ward doors and down the hall and into an office room. A doctor was sitting behind the desk and he stood when the nurse and Buck entered the room. Buck's eyes roamed over the doctor in his white coat; a dark blue dress shirt tucked into black slacks. His salt and pepper hair was short; his green eyes bright as he looked back at Buck.

"Mr. Buckley I assume?"

"Uh, just Buck." Buck cleared his throat. "Everyone calls me Buck."

The doctor nodded motioned for the empty seat in front of his desk. "Well, I'm Dr. Callies. Please, take a seat."

Buck moved to do just that and as he sat down he finally noticed the last person in the room. The second seat in front of the doctor's desk was occupied by a middle aged woman with auburn hair that rested neatly at her shoulders; wearing a black knee length dress. She smiled at him as he finally caught her eye.

"Buck." She smiled as he nodded at her. "My name is Caroline Reed, I work for the hospital as a social worker. I am called in when a child is involved."

Buck nodded again and swallowed, tossing his attention from the doctor to the social worker. His head was swimming, he still had no idea what was going on but at the same time he felt like maybe he was cluing in on what was going on. He was in the hospital; in the maternity ward; talking to a doctor and a social worker - which only meant one thing. The main question was...

Which one of his many Buck 1.0 hookups just gave birth to his child?

Then he flinched. That couldn't be right. All his Buck 1.0 hookups had been through an app; used usernames. None of those women would have known his real name - unless they saw him on television the few times while working and his name would have been plastered for all to see. But that wouldn't explain them knowing his phone number.

Besides the math didn't add up. It was the end of December which meant the child would have been conceived between the months of March and April. He hadn't hooked up with an app date since January; hadn't been with anyone until recently; since March when he watched his last relationship walk through an airport gate because there was no way this was Taylor or Ali - the math really didn't add up for either of them to have given birth to a child - his child - when he's only been with either of them in the last two months.

There was only one option.

"Mr. Buckley? Buck?"

Buck blinked a few times and shook his head before focusing back to the doctor. "Sorry."

Dr. Callies gave him a simple smile as he leaned forward in his chair and leaned his elbows on his desk. "I was saying, this is a little unusual for this hospital. We've had woman leave their children because they knew they couldn't care for them, or didn't want them, but we've never had someone leave a name and number with a note saying the name on the paper was the father."

Buck swallowed, "So, um. The woman... she uh, she what, gave birth this morning and then just left?"

"She came in three days ago," Dr. Callies clarified, "She left this morning without the child."

Nodding Buck shifted in his chair, pulling his phone out of his pocket just to have something to do with his hands. "Okay, so like, what happens now?"

"We take a DNA swab from your mouth to do a paternity test," Dr. Callies nodded towards someone behind Buck before turning his attention back to the blond. "It's procedure to make sure you are the child's father."

"If I'm not?"

"Then I will be taking the child with me," Caroline Reed said from his right. "She will be placed with a foster family while we try and find the mother."

Okay, so at least now he knew he may have a daughter.

"And," Buck swallowed again and turned his attention to the social worker. "And if I am her father?"

Caroline smiled at him, "Then you will be able to take your daughter home, but we will still be working with the police to find the mother. She technically just abandoned her child."

"Right," Buck tapped his fingers on his phone. "Can I.. I mean am I allowed..." He looked back at the doctor. "Am I allowed to know the mother's name? That may help in knowing if it's actually someone I know or... or someone just claiming I'm the father, right? Someone used my identity to catfish women earlier this year, this could have something to do with it."

He almost hoped it was true. How the hell was he going to be a father to an infant? He still practically acted like a child himself and he was twenty-six years old! If it turned out to be true, he really had no idea what he was going to do. He had Maddie back in his life, but he couldn't ask her to help him raise his child. She already had to raise him when they were just kids. She was in her late thirties and didn't have any children of her own; for all Buck knew what that she didn't want children because she had had to practically be a teen - child? - mother to her own baby brother; why would she want to help raise her niece now too?

And then there was his job. Could he be a single father and a firefighter? Sure Eddie did it, but his best friend also had other help; other family around. He had Carla and his aunt and his grandmother; he had Buck even though they've only known each other three months. They were thick as thieves already. It had taken only a day for them to become friends (he is totally ignoring his behavior on their first 8-hour shift where he acting like a total dick towards Eddie); and only a week before meeting Christopher that suddenly Buck and Eddie were working seamless together and hanging out two or three times a week outside of work - always with Christopher.

If Eddie could be the greatest single father to the best kid Buck has ever met and be the badass firefighter that everyone knows he is even just three months into the job; could Buck? Even if he was only half as good at fatherhood as Eddie, he may be okay.

The doctor looked at the social worker before nodding and turning his attention back to Buck.

"Her name was Abigail Clark."

Chapter Text

He doesn't remember how long he has been sitting in Dr. Callies's office. The doctor had left for an emergency shortly after the nurse had taken the swab of Buck's mouth for the paternity test. He had been left to himself once both the nurse and doctor had left the room; the social worker had stayed but she seemed busy shuffling through paperwork in her lap and Buck had been grateful to not have to talk for a little while longer.

He knew that the paternity test was going to come back he was the father. There was no other way. Why would Abby leave his name and number for them if he wasn't? Would she really do something like that to him? He didn't want to believe she would; even if she had ghosted him for the last eight months. He had called and texted her for almost three weeks before he had given up; at least in contacting her.

She was making it perfectly clear she wasn't coming back; Buck's head knew that but his heart still held hope. At least it did until recently; obviously since he had hooked up with Taylor Kelly and was now dating Ali; and God what was Ali going to say about this? They had only been seeing each other two months; not even fully dating. Ali traveled for work; they hooked up when she was in town. In the two months since they had gotten together Buck had only seen her three times; the rest was all over the phone with FaceTime and text when they both had the time. It was a lot like another relationship he once had.

He really had no idea what he was doing with anything. Abby had been his first major - can you really call it major if it only lasted two months? - relationship in over two years. None of his high school girlfriends stuck around longer then a few weeks; the one girlfriend he had during his single year of college had dumped him as soon as she learned he had been expelled - that relationship had lasted almost seven months at least.

It hadn't been until four years later when he had dropped out of the Navy SEALs training and had traveled to South America when he was twenty-three where he met his longest relationship. He had been bartending in one of the many beach resort bars along the coast of Peru when they met. Buck had been working alone all day - both his co-workers calling out sick - when someone had cleared their throat to gain his attention. When Buck had looked up time had seemed to freeze as his blue eyes met the brilliant green of the man in front of him.

Lincoln.

Buck had never really taken the time to look at other guys before. Sure he knew they were just as attractive as woman and he wasn't apposed to hooking up with another man; he was open to the idea since playing spin the bottle at a party in his one year of college - before he started dating Stacy - and the bottle had stopped on the boy across from him - Tyler... or he remembered he liked to be called TK.

It had just been a simple kiss; a press of lips.

And then later found them making out on the back deck of the house well into the night. Buck didn't see TK again after that night and he had been okay with that because two days later he met Stacy and they were together until he fucked up his future and she dropped him for his roommate.

But Lincoln had been different. At first Buck didn't think it would be. A simple hookup with a beautiful dark skinned man. Lincoln had been muscular; so much more then Buck had been at the time; even more then him now almost three years later. The man's green eyes were so bright and full of life; his hair braided back to the nape of his neck.

The man had stuck around for the rest of Buck's shift; flirting with him. When the evening shifters had shown up Buck was barely clocked out before being dragged down the beach to a little bungalow where he was well acquainted in the art of blowjobs - both given and received; rimming and fingering - again both given and received after Lincoln had quickly discovered the only thing Buck had ever done with another man was make out. Lincoln had been delighted to be the one to teach Buck everything; and then fuck him within an inch of his life until the sun was peeking over the water announcing a new day.

Buck had thought that was going to be the end of it; he would never see the other man again. He would wake up alone; or wake up and be told to get lost; just like every other partner he'd ever taken to bed since he left Pennsylvania at the age of nineteen. But when he was woken to a hand stroking him, his body instantly reacted and everything was a blur from there.

Lincoln would wait for him after every shift in the late afternoons for the next year. Then one day he wasn't. Buck had been sad and angry; he knew he had fallen in love with the man - his first true love. It had taken four days of not seeing Lincoln that it became clear to Buck that they were truly over - so really he didn't understand why he clung so hard to Abby when they had only been together two months compared to the year he had had with Lincoln.

Buck had learned four months later when a letter arrived that Lincoln had returned home stateside after the death of his father; and then had enlisted in the Marines like his father wanted him too; a last wish from his dying father. Buck had been angry but he understood. His whole childhood had been trying to please parents who didn't care about him. It took three months before Buck had written back and from there they turned into penpals. When Buck finally returned stateside and had picked Los Angeles - it totally did not have anything to do with the fact that Lincoln was from San Diego.

Though it was a benefit that over the next two years whenever Lincoln was home they would hook up for a night or two before going their separate ways once more. And then Buck met Abby and thought she could be the one - and had stopped his fun with Lincoln. Now even a year later he has only heard from Lincoln once when the man had sent him a text wishing him happy birthday at the end of June. He had thought about contacting him back and asking to hookup but he had stopped himself - and now he was with Ali so it didn't matter.

Buck was brought out of his thoughts when a hand landed on his arm and squeezed. Blinking, he turned his head to look into the chocolate brown eyes of his best friend. He blinked again and looked around the office. The doctor was still missing and now the social worker was gone; Eddie occupying the chair she had been sitting in however long ago. Another squeeze to his arm brought his attention once again back to the other man.

"Eddie? Uh, what...? What are you doing here?"

Eddie gave him an easy smile as his hand not currently resting around Buck's forearm reached over and he tapped a knuckle on the screen of Buck's phone that was still clutched in Buck's hands in his lap. "You texted me."

Buck frowned and looked down at his phone. Sure enough his texts were open and Eddie's name was glaring at him from the top of the screen. His eyes shifted down to the messages.

From Buck: can you come to cedar-sinai?

From Eddie: Is everything okay?
From Eddie: Buck?
From Eddie: Please answer me dude
From Eddie: Do I have to call Maddie?

From Buck: no!

From Eddie: I'll call Chim to call Maddie... I need her number.

From Buck: no! I... fuck okay, I just need someone else here, I'm freaking out.
From Buck: maddie'll just freak me out more

From Eddie: Were you in an accident driving home?
From Eddie: Wait... Maddie's apartment is in the opposite direction, why are you over there?

From Buck: I wish I was at this point
From Buck: god no I don't, sorry

From Eddie: Buck? Talk to me, man

From Buck: please just meet me here, head to the maternity ward and ask for nurse maggie; she'll bring you to me
From Buck: I'll explain when you get here

From Eddie: Yeah, okay. I'm on my way, 25 minutes.

Buck blinked and took a deep breath, "Oh." He doesn't even remember texting all that with his best friend.

Eddie chuckled and squeezed Buck's arm again. "Yeah, oh." He shifted his chair so his left knee was pressed into Buck's right; grounding the younger man. "So, care to explain why we're sitting in a doctor's office in the maternity ward. What, someone knock you up?"

The bubble of laughter from Eddie's obvious attempt at a joke was a little loud and maybe just slightly hysterical for a split second before he groaned. Buck closed his eyes and folded his body forward; resting his elbows on his knees; he dropped his phone into his lap and pressed the palms of his hands into his closed eyes.

"Abby..." He took a shaky breath and started again. "Abby gave birth three days ago and left my name and number for the doctors."

Eddie frowned as he shifted again; bringing his hand up to wrap around Buck's wrist and gently pulling his arm away from his face. Buck straightened up, his other hand dropping back into his lap. Eddie didn't release his wrist. "Okay so my horrible attempt at a joke wasn't too far off base..."

Buck snorted and turned his attention to watching Eddie's hand wrapped around his wrist. He twisted his arm around and Eddie released him but before he could pull his hand away, Buck clasped his hand into Eddie's; entwining their fingers together. He bit his bottom lip as he waited for Eddie to pull away now; but instead he just got a squeeze to his hand as Eddie settled his hand more firmly into Buck's.

"So Abby?"

Buck nodded, "I guess she came home to have the baby but had no plans of staying or even talking to me. She left this morning without the baby."

"Are you sure it's yours? I mean..." Eddie flinched at what Buck may be thinking he was saying.

Buck sighed. "Unless she was cheating on me, which I doubt; the math adds up to when we were together."

"Okay," Eddie nodded. "So then... congrats?"

That made Buck laugh again as he looked up at his best friend and finally smiled. "Thanks, I guess."

Eddie snorted and shook his head, a smile playing at his own lips. "You know what I mean."

"Yeah, yeah I do." Buck sighed and the smile dropped from his face as his eyes went blank; staring at nothing over Eddie's shoulder. His next words were just a whisper but Eddie heard him loud and clear. "How the fuck am I going to raise a child? I can't even take care of myself."

"You'll make it work."

"Eddie, I don't even have my own place." Buck's voice hitched. "I am crashing in my sister's spare room after moving out of my exes apartment. Before that I lived with a bunch of guys who worked odd jobs at odd hours and partied way to fucking much; I'd know, I was one of them."

"Buck..."

"Fuck! I'm twenty-six years old and have no idea what I'm doing!"

The squeeze of his hand made him focus on his friend again.

Eddie smiled at him. "First do you really think any new parent knows what the fuck they're doing at any age? I was twenty-two when Christopher was born and had a shotgun wedding to a woman I loved but wasn't in love with. Second you have a support system that is going to be willing to help. You have your sister and the 118. You have me."

Buck smiled again.

Eddie continued, "You are going to have people fighting to the front of the line to help you. I know because you help all of us without asking or expecting anything in return." Eddie shook their hands. "Fuck, man, you barely know me and you helped when I was drowning in paperwork for Christopher. You introduced me to Carla and wouldn't even take the simple thank you I threw at you. You have people, you just need to ask and we'll be there."

Before Buck could respond the door opened and both the doctor and social worker entered the room once again. Dr. Callies gave both men a quick nod as he sat down behind his desk; the social worker stood to the side of the desk after Eddie went to move to allow her to have the chair back and she waved him off. Buck looked at the doctor and knew what the man was going to say before he even opened his mouth.

"Congratulations Mr. Buckley, you're the father."

Chapter Text

Buck sat the pen down on the edge of the desk and looked down at the birth certificate with a frown.

"Everything okay?" Dr. Callies looked over at him.

They had been spending the last twenty odd minutes going over paperwork and answering questions. Now that they knew without a shadow of a doubt that Buck was the father of the abandoned little girl; he suddenly felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. Now here he was filling out the last article of paperwork needed before he could take his daughter home. When they had started this portion of the day; Eddie had excused himself and stepped out of the room to give them some privacy. Buck was grateful but also upset because he was sure there were things he was missing throughout the conversation that Eddie could have picked up and relied back to him again later; but he also didn't feel right asking the older man to stay when he had already taken him away from home after the 24-hour shift.

Buck looked up at the doctor. "I don't have a name for her. I just learned about her like two hours ago, how am I suppose to pick a name already?"

Dr. Callies nodded before looking over Buck shoulder and motioning someone inside after there was a knock at the door. "Maybe meeting her will help."

Buck's eyes widened as he turned in his seat to watch nurse Maggie enter the room - a little pink bundle in her arms. She walked right up to him with a smile and helped Buck take the infant into his own arms. He cradled the baby - his daughter - in his arms; against his chest; and just stared down at her. It only took a second before her eyes cracked open to show brilliantly bright blue eyes that looked straight back up at him.

Buck relaxed and smiled down at the little girl in his arms; the rest of the occupants in the room faded away as he adjusted the baby more securely in the nook of his left arm so he could bring his right hand up to stroke a finger down her face. Her nose scrunched up and he was sure she was about to let out a cry but then she settled back down and closed her eyes again.

After a few minutes Buck grabbed his phone that had still been in his lap and did what he did best when he needed answers - he researched on the internet.

Ten minutes later he looked up when there was a flash to find Eddie standing above him and slightly to the side; his phone in hand. Eddie looked sheepishly at him and shrugged before turning his attention back to his phone for a second then turned his attention back to Buck and his now sleeping baby girl. Buck looked down at his phone as it dinged with a new message. He opened it up and found the photo of him staring lovely down at the little girl in his arms as she slept.

He smiled as he saved the photo and whispered. "Thanks, Eds."

Eddie crouched down at his side and placed one hand on Buck's knee; the other going to lay across the baby's capped head; his voice just as low. "She's beautiful."

"She is," Buck nodded and looked up and around. "Where did Dr. Callies and Mrs. Reed go again?"

Eddie chuckled. "They figured they'd give you some time alone with your daughter and to figure out a name."

"Oh, I got one."

"Yeah? You gonna share?"

Buck smiled, "Not until I introduce her to everyone at the same time."

Eddie chuckled again and nodded. "Okay, have your secrets then."

"A guy's gotta have something to himself," Buck laughed and then sobered as he looked back down at his daughter. "So uh, now I gotta figure out how I'm suppose to get her home."

"Already taken care of."

Buck looked back at Eddie and raised a brow. "How?"

"That's why I left earlier, had some phone calls to make." Eddie flashed him a smile. "I called my Abuela to pick up Christopher from school and bring him home, he's not going to be happy but he'll understand that something important has happened."

Buck frowned. "But I don't want to disappoint Superman. He's been so good all week waiting for today."

"I know, nobody likes disappointing their kids. It sucks." Eddie tapped his fingers against Buck's knee. "But you'll get use to it as she gets older. Sometimes you have too. Can't always be the fun parent; especially when you're doing the work of both the mother and father."

Buck sighed. "Yeah, I know. Still don't like it."

"Agreed."

"So you said phone calls, as in more then one?"

"Yes," Eddie nodded. "So don't get mad but I called Bobby."

Buck scrunched up his nose with a frown. "Why?"

"Because you need some time off to settle into role of fatherhood, Buckley." Eddie scoffed like it was obvious; and really Buck knew that it was, he just still wasn't thinking straight. "He is going to fill out whatever paperwork is needed for you to get paternity leave but right now; he and Athena are going shopping."

"Shopping?"

"Shopping!" Eddie nodded. "You need a car seat. They don't let you leave with a baby unless you have one. Then there are clothes and diapers and wipes and bottles. A crib, formula cause for obvious reasons; unless you really are hiding some sort of secret from all of us; you can't breastfeed her."

Buck smirked. "I don't know, I could probably try."

And then they both broke out in quiet laughter; watchful not to wake the sleeping baby.

An hour later found them with nurse Maggie outside next to his jeep with Bobby and Athena; as soon as they had met up Athena had commandeered the infant from Buck's arms. Bobby and Eddie showed Buck how to connect the car seat properly while nurse Maggie overlooked the installation. They had put the car seat in and showed him how it was detachable from the base; then took it all back out to allow Buck to install it himself to make sure he knew how.

He smiled brightly when he installed it correctly the first time to the praise and clap on the shoulder from Bobby.

Once that was settled Athena was the one that showed Buck how to properly settle and buckle in the newborn. From there Buck slowly made his way home with Bobby in the passenger seat; he didn't want to drive alone with his little girl in the backseat. Eddie and Athena followed behind in their own cars. They all pulled into the parking lot of Maddie's gated complex a half hour later. Bobby and Eddie carried things into the apartment while Athena once again commandeered the baby with the car seat and followed Buck into the apartment.

Buck was both relieved and a little worried that Maddie was at work. Relieved because that meant he could get things in order and settled before she returned home; but worried because she would be coming home to an apartment full of baby items and a newborn niece she still had no idea she suddenly had.

Ever since he had learned early this morning that he was a father; had a three day old daughter; Buck had been scared of what it meant. He had never cared for anyone but himself before in his life. He was the baby in his family; eight years younger then his sister; she had practically been the one to raise him for the first ten years of his life because their parents couldn't care less. She had left the moment she was eighteen to attend college; she was done raising someone else's child; ready to start her own family.

She had married Doug; and yeah sure none of them noticed just how evil he was and that was something Buck would never forgive himself for. When he was nineteen and had been expelled from college Buck had ran to Maddie for help; had asked her to leave with him, travel the world with him. She had agreed but when it came time to leave she had changed her mind; now Buck understood it wasn't her mind that had changed; it was Doug's fists that had done it for her.

Maddie never had any kids of her own with Doug; What if she came home and told him to leave because she didn't want to have to even help raise another person's child?

"Stop overthinking," Eddie whispered in his ear.

Buck jumped at the sudden voice and looked around. He was standing in the middle of his sister's apartment with bags lining the couch. Athena had taken the baby out of the carrier and was rocking her gently while Bobby was dragging in a large box. Eddie squeezed his bicep before going to help Bobby with the box. Buck double checked that Athena was good with the infant before turning to the other two men.

"Need help?"

"This is the crib," Bobby stopped and looked up. "We should probably get it up to your room to assemble it because it'll be harder to get up the stairs then."

"Right," Buck nodded and looked up the stairs before turning his attention back to Bobby and Eddie. "My room is the first on the left from the stairs so not very far."

Bobby nodded and together he and Eddie managed to get the crib box up the stairs and into Buck's bedroom. Buck had ran to the kitchen for the toolbox he had put there when he had moved in with Maddie last month before following them upstairs. Buck had never assembled a crib before but thankfully both Bobby and Eddie were parents and knew the general instructions - so he wasn't so affronted when they ushered him back downstairs to help Athena sort through the other items.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs he found Athena at the kitchen sink hand washing bottles, nipples and pacifiers. With a quick glance he found his daughter in a little bouncy chair on the kitchen counter next to the woman. His sidled up next to Athena; in front of the bouncy chair and stared down at his girl. Her eyes were open and she was just looking around her. He smiled down at her.

"Eddie says you're keeping her name a secret."

Buck snorted. "Only for a day or two. I want to have the whole team meet her together; officially. Today doesn't count for you three."

Athena hummed and nodded.

"Thank you."

Athena stopped washing the bottle in her hands and turned to look at the younger man next to her. He was watching her with a half smile on his face; but she could also see fear rolling in his eyes. "It's what family does for each other Buckaroo. Now making her a bottle isn't too hard. We didn't get you a bottle warmer; figured you could have a late baby shower and allow people to help you get anything else you need."

Buck opened his mouth to protest but Athena flicked water at him.

"Save it, mister."

Buck laughed as he wiped at his face with his hand. "Okay, okay,"

"Now, introducing this little one to the family, why not family dinner Sunday?"

Buck nodded. "Yeah, that would work."

"Good. Now lets see your bottle making skills because I am sure this little lady is getting hungry."

Chapter Text

Buck glanced at the clock on the stove and took a deep breath as he paced back and forth; bouncing his baby in his arms as she cried her eyes out. It had been a few hours since Bobby and Athena had left after the crib had been assembled and they helped show Buck everything he needed to know on how to properly make a bottle for the baby; and how best to feed and burp her; how to change her diaper and wrap her in a blanket. Buck had soaked it all up and well after they had left he was still nervous but felt like he would be okay; and it helped that he knew everyone was just a phone call away if he needed them.

Eddie had left an hour later and only because he needed to go home to Christopher; but had promised to call Buck just before Christopher's bedtime so that they could FaceTime and Christopher would be able to see the reason why the park didn't happen. Buck already planned on changing that Sunday; they would just be adding his little girl into the mix. He figured after three days cooped up learning to be a father he would be antsy and want to get out to do something.

He knew Maddie was just getting off work so within the next fifteen to twenty minutes she would be walking in the door to the surprise still crying away in his arms. They had fed and changed her and gotten her settled to sleep in her crib before everyone else had left. She had woken almost an hour ago and Buck had gone through the checklist again - change; feed; burp; change again. Now he was rocking her because clearly it was something else. He was ready to call Bobby for help but knowing Maddie would be home before Bobby get there; Buck sighed and looked down at his little girl again.

"Nobody told me about this part." Buck mumbled. "When you've done everything and it's still not enough."

He continued his slow pacing from the kitchen into the living room and back as he softly bounced the infant in his arms.

"Okay, little one." Buck whispered and slightly adjusted her in his arms. "Aunt Maddie is almost home and she'll be able to help. Oh God, I hope she'll help."

"Help with what?"

Buck spun around a little too fast and cursed. He didn't even hear the front door open. His eyes were wide as he watched Maddie take in the screaming infant in his arms.

"Buck?"

"So..."

"Did you steal a baby from a call?" Maddie huffed as she tossed her purse on the counter and stepped up to him, carefully taking the infant from the blond.

Buck allowed her to and watched as she adjusted the baby higher into her arms and lightly patted her butt as she rocked her gently in place. The cries began to settle down and Maddie looked back at her brother for answers. Buck opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out.

"Buck... whose baby is this?"

Buck's shoulders slouched as he leaned back again the counter behind him. "Mine."

Maddie stopped rocking and the cries grew so she started moving again. Her gaze dropped down to the infant in her arms as she really looked at the child. The blue eyes; the strawberry blond wisps of hair on top of her head. Finally she looked back at her brother with unshed tears in her eyes.

"How?"

"Abby." Buck grimaced as he knew he needed to explain. "She uh, never told me. She gave birth three days ago... and left my name for the hospital this morning."

"She left?" Maddie's voice cracked. "She left your child at the hospital!?"

Buck nodded. "I got the call this morning right as I got off work."

"Why didn't you call me?"

"You were at work."

Maddie huffed, "You know that wouldn't have mattered. I would have left work so you weren't alone learning you're a father to a newborn!"

"I wasn't alone." Buck shrugged.

"The doctors don't count."

Buck chuckled and ran a hand through his hair. "No. No, um... I apparently unconsciously texted Eddie to meet me at the hospital and he threatened to call you cause he thought I was in an accident. But he showed up. He helped me."

"He still should have called me then." Maddie mumbled as she looked back down at her niece again.

"Probably but I was freaking out. He called Bobby; he and Athena went shopping for me."

Maddie looked around her apartment, finally seeing the neatly stacked onsies on the counter; and the boxes of diapers and wipes; the bottles next to the sink with formula cans; and the bouncy chair now on the dining room table.

"So I'm the fourth person to learn I have a niece."

"I'm sorry."

Maddie shook her head, "No. No, I understand. You're probably still trying to wrap your head around this and you've had a few hours now, right?"

Buck nodded, biting at his bottom lip.

"Buck, what's wrong?"

"I..."

Maddie tilted her head as she watch her brother. Something was bothering him and she wanted to know what. She turned and sat down on the couch; readjusting her now sleeping niece in her arms once again. Buck slowly made his way over to the couch and sat down at the opposite end.

"If you want us to leave, I understand."

"What?" Maddie scrunched up her nose in confusion. "Why would I want you to leave? Buck?"

Buck shrugged again. "You didn't exactly sign up for this; having your kid brother and his newborn daughter living with you when you moved in. I wasn't even suppose to be living here with you."

"Evan." Maddie shifted so she could face her brother. "First off you didn't sign up to suddenly become a single father overnight like this, did you?"

Buck shook his head.

"And second, why would I make you leave and do this on your own? You're not alone. I want to help; she is my niece after all."

Buck laughed then. "Yeah, that's pretty much what Eddie said too."

Maddie quirked an eyebrow. "He said he wanted to help because she's his niece?"

The laughter got louder when Maddie joined in and they startled the baby but Maddie continued to rock and settle her back down.

"No, God, no." Buck's laughter died down as he scratched at the side of his face. "He basically said that I wasn't alone, all I needed to do was ask for help."

Maddie nodded, "He's right." Then she sighed. "So she really just gave birth and left? Didn't even leave a letter for you or anything?"

"Nope. When I first got the call I was starting to think it had just been one of my many hookups before her." Buck leaned back against the couch and just watched his sister cuddle his daughter. "I think it's when they told me it had been Abby that I zoned out and texted Eddie. I don't even remember texting him and then he was there."

"He's a good friend for you."

Buck smiled, "The best."

Maddie smiled back, "Maybe more?"

"What?" His smile faltered. "Maddie he's married."

"Didn't you tell me she left him like two years ago?"

"She's back," Buck mumbled. "I think they're going to try again."

"I'm sorry."

Buck shook his head. "Besides I just found out I have a daughter. My focus needs to be on her now."

"Right," Maddie smiled again. "Does she have a name?"

"She does," Buck sighed and scrubbed at his face. "And I realize I can't keep it a secret from you like I am the 118. I wanted to tell them all at the same time but that's not happening until Sunday and we can't go around for three days just calling her 'the baby'."

"Okay... so?"

With a smile, Buck looked back at his sister.

Chapter Text

Buck and Maddie spent a few hours talking about what the future was not going to hold for Buck and his daughter while Maddie cuddled the little girl. They had only gone to their own rooms for the night when Eddie had FaceTime'd Buck so that Christopher could meet the infant. The conversation only lasted fifteen minutes (in which Buck pretended not to slip up and tell Christopher her name while Eddie was right there, dammit!)

Then Buck fed and changed the baby one last time for the night while Eddie tucked Christopher into bed. Buck sat on his head; his back against the head rest as the baby sucked down her dinner; both listening as Eddie read Christopher his bedtime story over the line. It had taken almost twenty minutes and three whole chapters before Eddie had announced that Christopher was finally asleep. Buck grunted in acknowledgement as he settled a sleeping baby into her crib as well.

Buck and Eddie stayed on the line talking for another thirty-five minutes before a yawn from the younger man had Eddie chuckling and telling him to get some sleep. Buck just nodded; said goodnight; and hung up. He crawled into bed and knew he was only going to get a few hours of sleep before his daughter would be waking him up.

He was up twice in the night to feed; change; and settle his daughter back into sleep.

The next two days were pretty much the same. He and Maddie had breakfast before she went off to work; leaving Buck to spend the day in the apartment with the infant; learning a routine that worked for them. Buck hated not being at work with his friends but he also knew he needed this time to get a routine down and bond with his daughter.

Around noon on Friday found Bobby showing up with lunch for the pair; and the paternity leave paperwork that Buck needed to sign for work. Bobby also helped Buck make a list of items he still needed for the baby - taking a picture to send to Athena of the list while Buck was occupied making another bottle for his little girl. Then Bobby was leaving to return to work.

Over the two days Buck had gotten many texts from everyone congratulating him on his sudden shift into fatherhood. He and Maddie had created a group chat for the family so he could send everyone photos of the infant - Buck did not know about the 118 group chat that included all three shifts from the firehouse that also learned of his daughter and was updated with photos.

When Sunday rolled around Buck and Maddie - who was off work for the day - found themselves taking the baby and Christopher - who had been dropped off by Eddie before his shift - to the park. It wasn't the same; Eddie was suppose to be with them; but Christopher was excited to be spending time with Buck and the baby; he even liked Maddie as soon as he met her that morning.

It made Buck happy that even after only knowing Eddie and Christopher for three months; the older man trusted Buck enough to allow him to take the man's son on a day trip without him. Buck also knew that he trusted Eddie enough that if the rolls were reversed he knew he'd allow Eddie to take his daughter without him around - and she was only a week old.

When they had reached the park Buck and Maddie found a bench in the shade to sit; placing the car seat between their feet as the infant slept. Christopher went back and forth between playing alone; playing with other children; and leaning against Buck's legs for a break. Buck and Maddie both made sure to get plenty of videos and photos for Eddie.

One of the photos had just been the baby's tiny fingers wrapped around Christopher's fist after she had woken up and he had reached into the car seat to pat her stomach during one of his rest periods. That photo had made it's way into the group chat for everyone to see.

Buck had already changed his phone's background picture to one of Christopher sitting on the couch that morning holding his daughter in his lap. It had been the first thing Christopher had asked to do when Eddie had dropped him off before they left for the park.

And then Christopher was asking Buck to swing with him. They left Maddie on the bench to watch her niece and made their way over to the swings. Buck sat down and lifted Christopher into his lap; wrapping one arm around the boys waist and the other held onto the metal chain of the swing.

"Okay, Superman," Buck began pushing with his feet to get them moving. "How high do you wanna go?"

"Super high!" Christopher giggled as he rested the back of his head against Buck's chest.

"Copy that." Buck smiled as he looked out and back at Maddie. Her phone was out so Buck knew she was getting more videos and photos for Eddie.

After about ten minutes on the swing Christopher was bored and wanted to do something else. For the next hour and a half he dragged Buck around the playground; not like Buck was complaining any. He was happy to be spending this time with the little boy; even picturing doing this with his own daughter in a few short years.

By lunchtime they decided to head to a little café. They still had a few hours before Eddie would be off work and picking Christopher up. They were suppose to be at the Grant-Nash house an hour after their shift ended for a finally family BBQ before the holidays kept them all busy with work until the new year.

"Hey, Bucky?"

Buck took a bite of his own BLT sandwich and looked to his left at Christopher; and laughed. Christopher had ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with ranch to dip it in; and the boy had more ranch on his face then what had probably made it into his mouth with his sandwich.

"What's up, Superman?" Buck handed over a napkin to the boy.

"Can we go see my dad at work?" Christopher wiped at his mouth and looked up at Buck.

Buck tilted his head as he thought about it, checking his watch. "If we finish up our lunch I don't see why not."

"Yay!" Christopher picked up his sandwich and took another huge bite.

Maddie laughed as she continued to eat her own BLT sandwich; her niece tucked into her arms. Once they were finished Buck took Christopher into the café for the bathroom to clean the boy up. When they returned outside Buck had a large box of donuts.

"We ready to go?" He asked his sister as she picked up the car seat now with his daughter buckled back inside.

Maddie nodded and they made their way to the jeep. The normal twenty-five minute drive to the station from their location took them forty minutes because of traffic. When they pulled into the parking lot Buck saw that the bay was empty; they were out on a call. They just headed to the loft to sit and wait, sitting down to talk with Marsha Grayson; a woman who was usually from B-shift but she had volunteered to cover Buck's shifts for the next six weeks while he was out.

As soon as she saw the baby Marsha was begging to hold her. Buck didn't hesitate to allow her to take the baby from the car seat. He didn't know Marsha very well but he did know that she had five boys between the ages of thirteen and three; and had really wanted a daughter but never got one.

It wasn't long before the trucks were pulling back into the bay and everyone were jumping out and pulling off their turnout gear. It was Christopher's shout of "Daddy!" that got them all climbing the stairs to greet the four newcomers. Hen instantly found Marsha holding the infant and took over the cuddles.

Buck leaned against the railing with Eddie next to him as they watched everyone take turns passing the one week old so that everyone could see and hold her.

"I don't think you're getting her back any time soon." Eddie laughed.

Buck smiled. "That's okay so long I do get her back when it's time to leave."

"Any luck with the apartment hunting?"

"Nope." Buck sighed. "Any luck deciding what you're going to do about Shannon?"

"I think I'm going to let her see him." Eddie frowned. "I found out from Abuela yesterday that it's what Christopher asked for from Santa in his letter."

"Damn, yeah." Buck looked at his friend. "That's a good thing though right?"

Eddie shrugged. "What if after she decides she's not ready to be his mom again and just leaves?"

"It'll suck but he'll still have you. And us." Buck rested his hand on Eddie's shoulder and squeezed. "And you'll have an answer for what you asked me last night."

Eddie nodded. "Yeah, I guess."

"Okay so," Buck squeezed his shoulder once more before removing his hand and looking back at the group cooing over his daughter. "Bobby and Athena are planning this family dinner into a baby shower aren't they."

"Um..."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Buck laughed. "I had a feeling when Bobby insisted I make a list of what I still needed for her."

"Just act surprised when you get there today." Eddie was laughing too before he pushed off the railing; bumping his shoulder against Buck's. "We've been scrambling to pull this thing together in two days."

"Yeah, yeah. No worries, I will."

Chapter Text

A couple hours later found Buck pulling up to the Grant-Nash house with Maddie in the passenger seat and his daughter crying in the backseat. She had just woken up from her nap halfway from the house. Buck jumped out of the jeep and opened the back door to unhook the car seat from the base.

"It's okay, Baby." Buck hushed her as he lifted the car seat out of the jeep as Maddie grabbed the baby bag.

She continued to cry as they made their way up the walkway; just as they reached the door it was pulled open and Athena was standing there; a sympathetic smile on her lips.

"We thought we could hear crying." She chuckled as they entered the house.

"Sorry," Buck grimaced. "She woke from her nap."

"It's okay, Buckaroo." Athena reached for the car seat. "Let me take her and get her changed. You can make her a bottle if she's ready for a feeding and then you can sit down and enjoy the evening."

"Everyone is here to celebrate her." Bobby came up the stairs from the living room. "Everything okay?"

"She's just cranky, I guess." Buck smiled at his Captain and then turned to his sister. "Bobby, this is Maddie."

"It's nice to finally meet you, Maddie." Bobby shook the brunette's hand.

"Same." Maddie smiled at the older man. "Buck's told me a lot about all of you. Made me happy that he found people who really care for him."

Buck and Maddie then followed Bobby further into the house while Athena detoured to the bedroom with the baby. Buck was suddenly surrounded by his team as they all hugged him and once again congratulated him; even though most of them had already seen him earlier in the day at the firehouse. He made sure to introduce Maddie to those she had still yet to meet.

He found himself with a lap full of Christopher when he sat down next to Eddie on the couch; looking around at the pink and white streamers and balloons everywhere. He had laughed when he saw the banner above the fireplace the announced 'IT'S A GIRL!'. It was all very simple but Buck loved it all the same.

The kitchen table was covered in platters of food and the counter in the kitchen was covered in pitchers of tea, water and juices. There were also beers for the adults; in which Michael had instantly handed one over to Buck once he had sat down. Buck also noticed an extra table tucked into the corner of the room covered with gift bags and wrapped boxes.

"Thank you all for this," Buck looked around at everyone as they sat around the living room together. "Seriously, you didn't have to do any of this."

"Yes we did." Hen announced as she came out of the kitchen with drinks for herself and Karen.

Athena had returned with the baby and had instantly had to surrender the newborn to Karen; who was now refusing to give up holding her. Her claims were that everyone had gotten to cuddle the new baby earlier at the firehouse; it was her turn and to leave her alone.

"So do we finally get her name?" Chimney asked. "We know Maddie and Eddie know."

"Yeah, it's not fair." Hen added. "We can't just keep calling her 'the baby', so come on Buckaroo."

Buck laughed and leaned back against the fireplace where he was now standing between the kitchen and living room. Many of them where standing around with him; plates of food in hand. May had taken the boys outside to run off some energy.

He nodded as he took a sip of his second beer. "I'm surprised none of you caught Christopher saying it earlier."

"He what now?" Athena looked between Buck and the boys running around in the back garden.

"I didn't hear him say anything." Chimney was confused and looked at Hen.

Hen just shrugged. "I didn't either."

Eddie laughed. "Buck, you need to just tell them. It's been hard not saying anything for three days already."

"Okay, okay." Buck was still laughing. "Her name is Kira Madeleine."

"Aww!" Karen gushed as she bounced the little girl in her hands. "You named her after your sister, that's so sweet."

Buck shrugged and scrunched up his nose. "Sort of." He looked at his sister and she just smiled at him. "Her given name is Maddie; but Kira Maddie didn't really sound... it didn't flow but I still wanted to honor her somehow."

"I cried." Maddie added. "I didn't care that it wasn't exactly my name; it's still perfect."

Bobby nodded. "It's a really good name."

Buck smiled. "I loved it when I saw the name. Kira means 'beam of light' and she kind of is in my life now."

The group spend most of the late afternoon and evening just talking and enjoying each other's company. Buck kept an eye on his daughter the whole evening and whoever was holding her at the time. At one point Michael and even May had gotten a hold of her; then all three boys had asked to hold her. They were all sat down on the couch and given turns holding the little girl in their laps.

Pictures and videos were taken from all around; Buck chuckled when he watched from over Eddie's shoulder as the older man changed his own phone's background picture to one of Christopher holding Kira in his lap. When Eddie looked at him; a question swimming in his eyes; Buck just held up his own phone with the similar background photo from earlier that morning. Eddie snorted and shook his head.

It wasn't long before everyone was sitting around the living room once again but this time Buck was being handed gifts to open. Christopher was sitting to his right; Harry and Denny to his left. They had taken it upon themselves to help him open the gifts. Buck looked around to find Karen had once again commandeered his child.

He was given a stroller that the car seat was able to just snap into by Hen and Karen; the bottle warmer Athena had mentioned the first day was given by Chimney; a bassinet from Maddie; a baby bathtub from May; a noise machine from Michael; a changing table from Athena and Bobby; a monitor set from Eddie; and a bunch of odds and ends of clothes, toys, diapers, wipes, bottles and whatever else they decided to get from many other crewmates from the 118.

Then there was a pink llama stuffy from Christopher that Buck instantly knew would become Kira's favorite to as she grew older.

By the end of the night Buck had a lot more baby things then he ever thought he would ever have... or need for that matter. He had really underestimated all the stuff he would need for a baby. It had taken his jeep and Eddie's truck to get everything back to Maddie's apartment. Eddie helped him unload everything while Maddie entertained Christopher and Kira.

"I can come by after work tomorrow night and help set some of this up?" Eddie asked as he buckled Christopher back into his booster in his truck and turned back to Buck; who had followed them back out into the parking lot.

"Are you sure?" Buck ran a hand through his curls. "I don't want Christopher to have to sit here bored or anything."

Eddie shook his head and closed the truck door after Christopher said goodnight to Buck. "He's going to be spending the night at his cousin's tomorrow. It'll just be me, if you want the help."

Buck smiled. "I'll order Chinese and we can make a night of it?"

"Sounds good," Eddie patted Buck's stomach as he passed to step around the truck and get into the driver's seat. "See you tomorrow."

"Yeah, tomorrow." Buck stepped away.

He watched as Eddie left the parking lot before heading back to the apartment. Kira was already fed and changed and placed in her crib in his room; the monitor from Eddie was the only thing they had set up when they had returned home from the party. Maddie had the tablet that showed the crib in Buck's room on the kitchen counter as she sorted through the clothes and toys and Buck joined her.

Chapter Text

Two days after the impromptu family dinner turned baby shower was Christmas! He knew the whole crew had the day off; their shift had drawn the holiday which he knew meant they'd be working Christmas next year. He was okay with that; that was a year away. Right now with his little girl only a little over a week old and only two days from being around a group of people with her; Buck was happy to just lounge around with his sister and daughter and nobody else. He knew that Bobby and Athena were having a sort of get together that Hen, Karen and Denny would be attending; he also knew that Chimney would be joining he and Maddie at least for dinner tonight. Eddie was the one Buck wasn't too sure on his plans with Christopher other then finally allowing Shannon to see her son for the first time in over two years.

"That is just adorable!" Maddie squealed as Buck came down the stairs with Kira in his arms.

Buck looked up and saw his sister holding up her phone and he stopped at the bottom stair; smiling. He knew that she was talking about the reindeer onesie he had tucked the little girl in.

"Where did that come from?" Maddie asked as she lowered her phone and also took in Buck's holiday sweater.

Buck continued down the last step and headed for the kitchen to make a bottle. "It was in one of the gift bags from the 118. Card said it was from Jimenez from C-shift." He settled Kira into the bouncy chair that was a permeate fixture on the kitchen island now that they had a bassinet for the living room. "There was also a snowman and an elf."

"Oh my God, so photo shoot after breakfast?" Maddie clapped her hands together and looked at him all wide eyed.

Buck chuckled as he grabbed a bottle and went through the now second nature motion of measuring out formula. Buck could hear more photos being taken and then his phone dinged in his pocket. He instantly knew their group chat had gotten a photo of Kira in her reindeer outfit. He also knew he would be saving the photo to his phone and sharing it on Instagram like a dozen of other photos he's shared in the last week since finding out he was a father.

By the time breakfast had been cooked and eaten; and Kira had had her bottle and been burped; Maddie was running upstairs and returning to the kitchen with the other Christmas outfits; as well as a few other cute ones from the changing table that was also a three drawer dresser that Eddie had in fact shown up just last night to help put it together over pizza and beer. Buck had been surprised as it had been Christmas Eve but Eddie had let Christopher stay with his cousins for the night.

"So have you thought about childcare once you're paternity leave is up?" Maddie asked as she had Kira in another outfit for her little Christmas photo shoot.

Buck scrubbed at his face with a sigh. "No. I've been busy trying to apartment hunt."

"Apartment hunt?" Maddie looked over at him sitting at the table. "What do you mean?"

"Mads," Buck chuckled. "This is a two bedroom, your spare room..."

"Your room."

"Your spare room," Buck started again. "is getting overrun. Never thought a baby needed so much. She's going to need her own room."

"Buck, she's only a week old."

"I wasn't suppose to be here that long anyway," Buck shifted in his chair and looked up at his sister. "Even without her suddenly throwing my life sideways; I told you I'd be out of here by the new year. I was looking before she came into my life; now I'm just looking for a two bedroom instead of one."

Maddie frowned and sat her phone down from where she had been taking pictures. "You know I don't mind you staying as long as you like, right?"

"Yeah, I know." Buck nodded. "It's just..."

"Just what, Evan?"

Buck sighed and leaned forward, resting his arms on the table in front of him. "I'm twenty-six and have never actually lived alone where I owned or rented myself. I lived with our parents; when I left home I couch hopped for months before I started traveling; then I was renting rooms from whoever, wherever I stopped. Even when in the SEALs training I was in a bunk with dozens of others. For the year in South America I shared a house with two other bartenders; even here in LA." Buck made a fist with his hands on the table. "I practically lived in a frat house until Abby; then lived in her apartment, yeah I was alone cause she left but it wasn't my apartment, I was paying rent but it was still her name on the lease; spent a week at Chimney's and now I'm here."

Maddie sighed and sat down next to her brother; resting her hand on his forearm. "Evan, you're welcome to stay as long as you need here. I understand you want your own space; I won't fault you for that. But I like having you around; I like having my niece around even more."

That got a chuckle out of Buck. "Oh so you just want me around so you can have all the baby cuddles you want at the drop of a hat."

"Of course," Maddie shrugged and stood back up, returning to where Kira was making noises about being buckled up in her bouncy chair for too long. "Why else would I want you around."

"Love you too, sis."

They laughed as Maddie lifted Kira from the chair and settled her into her arms. "Okay, so I think she's over the photo shoot, we'll just have to pick it up later."

Buck nodded as he stood after seeing the time. "So what are we having for lunch?"

"Just make some sandwiches; we'll be having a little bigger dinner later."

Buck glanced at Maddie as he headed for the fridge. "It's just the two of us and Chimney; surely we don't need that big of a dinner."

"Relax; it's just going to be Chinese food and Chimney is bringing it over. You don't have to cook."

"Not like I'd know how anyway." Buck mumbled as he turned back to the fridge.

The snort of laughter from behind him had him smiling. He knew both of them were rather useless in the kitchen when it came to cooking; they could make simple things like sandwiches or pasta but really that was it. Since joining the 118 Buck had been getting lessons from Bobby but they had only covered breakfast foods. buck thought maybe after the new year he would ask Bobby to move on to something more.

Chapter Text

Buck was just coming down the stairs with the baby monitor in hand; he had used the bathroom and settled Kira into her crib after dinner; when there was a knock at the door. Chimney had shown up almost two hours ago with the Chinese food like Maddie had said and the three of them had eaten while they chatted. Buck had been surprised when Maddie had told him that Chimney was going to be joining them for dinner. He knew that Maddie had been upset with herself for overreacting about the tree that Chimney had bought for her; but it now sat in the living room with the little amount of ornaments they were able to buy last minute the day before.

Buck understood her not wanting to celebrate or even decorate for the holiday; he had gotten the story out of his sister the night before while they had been decorating the tree. Buck had just hugged his sister and told her that he would do everything in his power to keep her protected. He had asked her to talk to Athena about a restraining order but Maddie had instantly shook her head no at the idea; because then Doug would know where she was. Buck didn't voice that it had been almost two months since she had shown up in LA and that it was totally possible that Doug already knew. He himself didn't want to think about the fact that Doug could be just down the street or anything; so he kept it to himself.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs Buck pulled the door open and opened his mouth in shock.

"Bucky!" Christopher crashed into his legs for a hug.

Buck brought his hands down to the little boy's back and patted but his eyes never left the smiling face of his friend. "Hey, Superman. Eddie.. what?"

"She didn't tell you we were coming over with dessert." Eddie held up a covered dish. "My Abuela made an extra pie when she heard we were stopping here after dinner." Then he held up a gift bag. "She also gave me this for Kira."

Buck cocked his head and squinted. "She bought a present for my daughter? She doesn't even know me."

Eddie stepped into the apartment as Buck finally moved out of the way to allow him entry. Christopher had since removed himself from Buck's legs and had made his way inside to say hello to Maddie and Chimney; and search for Kira if his frown and look into the empty bassinet was anything to go by.

"Yeah well, she kinda does from the way Christopher talks about you."

"You talk about him just as much, Dad." Christopher sighed and looked at Buck. "Where's Kira?"

Buck laughed at the look Eddie gave his son that clearly meant 'traitor' and turned his attention to Christopher. "She's upstairs sleeping, Bud. Sorry. Had I known you and you're dad were coming over I would have tried to keep her awake a little longer."

"Don't worry, Chris." Maddie smiled down at the boy. "She doesn't sleep for long. I'm sure you can help Buck feed her in a little while."

Christopher's eyes lit up. "Really?"

Buck nodded as he and Eddie headed for the kitchen. "Of course."

Chimney gladly took the pie from Eddie's hands and with Maddie's help began plating up slices for the five of them. Buck and Eddie had stopped at the counter; Buck picking Christopher up and seating him on one of the barstools, staying stood behind him so that Christopher could lean back into him and not fall. Eddie stood to the left of them and sat the gift bag on the counter, nodding for Buck to open it.

Buck smiled and pulled the tissue paper out of the bag; followed by a pink, yellow and white blanket. It was soft to the touch and Buck instantly knew...

"Did she make this?"

"Abuela makes baby blankets for all the kids in the family, as well as close friends." Eddie shrugged. "She had that one made for my cousin who everyone thought was having a girl but then ended up actually having a boy last month; so when she learned that my new friend just had a daughter, she had that ready to go to give to you."

"I still have mine, right Dad?"

"Of course, Mijo." Eddie ruffled his kids hair. "It's the blanket that sits at the end of your bed."

Buck ducked his head to cover the blush he knew was dusting his cheeks as he cradled the blanket in his hands. Sure he had plenty of blankets from the baby shower but none of them were hand made like this one. "Well, tell her thank you. It's beautiful and will be the only blanket in her crib once she's old enough to actually have something in the crib with her."

Eddie chuckled. "You can thank her yourself. She's inviting you and Kira to dinner as soon as possible."

"Really?"

"Yup!" Christopher nodded as he tilted his head back to look up at Buck. Buck had to move the blanket out of the way to look back down at the boy. "She wants to meet you."

"Well, I'd love to meet her too."

"Alright." Chimney clapped his hands together. "Dessert time."

"Yay!" Christopher instantly had fork in hand and shoveling pie into his mouth before anyone else could even grab their plates; making the four adults laugh.

An hour later found Eddie and Buck sitting in the living room with Christopher between them; Kira being held by them on Christopher lap while the boy fed the baby her bottle. Maddie and Chimney had stayed in the kitchen to talk; after getting a few photos of the men on the couch first. Buck loved that his sister was so photo happy because half the time he forgot about taking photos of his daughter; just living in the moments with her in his arms.

"Got any more apartment hunting done?" Eddie asked as he watched his son feed the baby with a smile.

Buck shifted slightly; making sure his hold on the back of Kira's head was firm. "Not really. I found a place but it's further from the station then I'd like. It would take another fifteen minute drive and that would be if there were no other cars on the road."

"Yeah, no way that's happening." Eddie chuckled.

"Exactly." Buck looked up at Eddie. "But Maddie and I already sort of talked about it. She's okay with me staying here longer and honestly it makes me feel better. It's one less thing I have to worry about so soon."

"What else do you need to worry about?"

"Childcare for when I return to work." Buck sighed and leaned further into the couch. "She's still so little. Even after my leave is up; she's only going to be two months old. Do I get a nanny or sign her up for daycare. If I go with daycare that's going to be super expensive. I'm not hurting for money or anything but I'm also not swimming in it, you know?"

Eddie nodded. "Yeah I get it."

Buck ran his free hand over his face. "I just don't know. Would I trust a nanny over a daycare though."

"Maybe just interview someone? See how you feel about it?" Eddie looked at his friend. "I may have someone that could help."

"Who?"

"My cousin Marti; Martina." Eddie pulled his phone from his pocket. "She's moving back to LA next month; did a lot of childcare courses in college actually. Don't know why I didn't think of her before."

"Not like I even thought about childcare for my own child until Maddie brought it up today." Buck huffed. "But seriously, if she's your family I already trust her."

"I'll shoot her a text. She's suppose to be flying in next week. I'll have her come over and meet you; up to you if she meets Kira right away. That way you two can see if you actually get alone." Eddie finally looked back up at the blond. "Did you just say you already trust her just because she's my family?"

Buck shrugged. "Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

Eddie opened his mouth to say something but what could he even say to that? So he closed his mouth and just smiled at his best friend before turning his attention back to his phone and shooting a text to his cousin.

It was another hour later when Eddie with a sleeping Christopher on his shoulder; were following Chimney out the door to head home. Buck closed and locked the door before turning back to his sister. Maddie was curled into the corner of the couch with Kira in her arms. He shook his head with a smile on his face as he joined her on the couch.

Chapter Text

"You okay?"

Buck looked up from where he was pacing in the kitchen. Maddie was looking at him with concern as she sat her purse down on the counter.

"Oh, uh, yeah."

Maddie nodded and looked at the time on her phone. "Okay, aren't you going to be late to Eddie's? You're driving over with him and Christopher to his grandmother's still right?"

"Yup." Buck popped the 'p' and ran his hands over the front of his jeans.

Maddie smiled at him in understanding and leaned her hip against the counter. It had been two weeks since Christmas and today he was joining the Diaz family dinner to officially meet Eddie's grandmother, aunt, and the cousin who had just moved back to town and would possibly be the nanny for Kira in the near future. Maddie had also heard that Shannon would be at the dinner. It was the first time Eddie was allowing her around anyone that wasn't Christopher since Christmas as well.

"You're nervous meeting them."

"What makes you say that?"

"Buck, you're practically hyperventilating in the kitchen." Maddie sighed. "It's going to be fine. Eddie and Christopher will be there to buffer you."

"Okay it's not just them though is it. Shannon is going to be there too."

Maddie nodded. "Yeah, okay and?"

"What if she doesn't like me?" Buck frowned. "She's Chris's mom, what if she doesn't like me and tells Eddie that I..."

"Stop, just stop." Maddie held her hand up. "She's been missing from her kids life for years. If anyone has any say over who Christopher spends time with and doesn't; it's Eddie, and only Eddie. Do you really think he would stop letting you hang out with his son just because his estranged wife says so?"

"No."

"Then shut up, grab your daughter and get out of here." Maddie huffed as she headed for the fridge. "I have a date with a bottle of wine and some romance movies."

Buck chuckled. "Okay, I'll text when I'm heading home." He kissed the side of her head as she passed him before heading for the living room to grab Kira who was already buckled into her car seat and the baby bag. He gave a little wave and headed out the door.

Thankfully he didn't get caught in too much traffic and was able to make it to Eddie's house around the time he was told to be there. He parked next to Eddie's truck and stepped out. As he rounded the jeep to get Kira from the back seat he heard the front door open behind him. As he pulled the car seat from the jeep he turned and smiled at Eddie standing on his porch; arms crossed over his chest.

"Hey,"

Eddie smiled back. "Hey, so would it be easier to take your jeep so we don't have to move the base?"

Buck glanced back at his jeep as he hit the lock on the key fob; he nodded as he turned back to his friend and headed for the porch. "Yeah, definitely. You can drive since I don't know where I'd be going."

Eddie stepped aside to allow Buck to enter the house first and followed him in with a chuckle. "I was told you don't let anyone drive your jeep; like it's a sacred thing or something."

"There have been a few people," Buck shrugged as he placed the car seat on the coffee table and turned to look at Eddie once again. "It's not sacred, it's just been in my possession since Maddie gave it to me when I was nineteen. It was her car first, maybe two years?" Buck tilted his head. "Three at most." He shrugged again and turned to pull Kira from the car seat as he heard Christopher's crutches coming down the hallway. "I needed out of Pennsylvania and had literally just crashed my bike; my arm was still in a cast and sling; so she gave me the keys and told me to go."

Buck missed the frown on Eddie's face as Christopher came into the living room and Buck's smile widened as he looked at the kid. "Hey, Superman!"

It had been a stressful two weeks since Christmas and this was actually the first time he had seen Christopher outside of a few FaceTime calls with Eddie. Something had definitely shifted in their friendship since Buck had learned he was a father and Eddie had been his first call for help. Now that he was currently off work; Eddie had seemed to make it a personal mission to call or text him daily just to check up on him; usually FaceTime'd when he had Christopher after work so that the seven year old could see Buck and Kira as well.

Buck had gotten the call three days ago from Eddie that his Abuela was having a welcome home dinner for Martina now that she was settled in town; and that she was also inviting Buck and Kira for the family to finally meet "Eddie's new friends".

"Bucky! I missed you!" Christopher crashed into Buck's legs at his usual speed but Buck was ready for the impact and barely moved; Kira still in his arms. Christopher looked up at him and smiled. "Can I hold her?"

"It's why I pulled her out of the car seat, Buddy." Buck smiled back down at the kid.

Christopher settled himself onto the couch and held his arms open for Buck to lay the baby on his lap. Buck knelt in front of him at the couch to keep one hand under Kira's head with Christopher's own hand; while he laid his other arm along Christopher's leg on the couch. Christopher instantly moved his free hand towards Kira's hand and she automatically wrapped her tiny fingers around his. Buck ignored the flash of Eddie's phone off to the side.

"So is Shannon meeting us here to drive with us?" He asked, not taking his eyes off his daughter.

"No, she's meeting us there." Eddie gently sat down next to his son and leaning back. "She's a bit nervous seeing Abuela and Pepa again even though they were one of the few who accepted her into the family instantly back then."

Buck nodded and finally tilted his head to look at his friend. "But that was before."

Eddie nodded. "Yeah, it was. They haven't said anything but I'm sure it'll be fine."

"She wants her own escape car." Buck smirked. "I would too if I was in her shoes, no offense."

"None taken." Eddie chuckled as he looked at Christopher. He knew his son was listening but also knew the kid was always so wrapped up in the baby that most conversations went in one ear and out the other. "Five minutes and then we should leave. If we're late Abuela will lay into me."

"You can always blame me," Buck laughed. "New baby and all. Don't they always say parents never get anywhere on time?"

Eddie snorted but nodded. "Yeah, it's still true when the kid is older, because they have their own attitudes." He smiled as Christopher giggled; he was definitely listening then. "But can't blame you, Abuela will just argue with me for blaming you in the first place. It's your first Diaz family dinner; you can do no wrong yet."

"Oh don't worry, I'll have the whole Diaz clan swooning from my Buckley charm in no time." Buck smiled up at Eddie. "Just look at how fast I got you and my favorite Diaz here." He nodded his head towards Christopher. "Only took me twenty-four hours; bet I could break that record today."

Eddie for his part tried not to laugh but the giggle from Christopher got him and soon they were all laughing. When they finally got control of themselves Eddie sighed and nodded to Buck that it was time they headed out. Buck stood and stretched his legs out as he took Kira back and buckled her back into her car seat. Eddie helped Christopher off the couch and get his shoes on before they all headed out the door.

Chapter Text

Buck could feel his nerves spiking once again as Eddie parked his jeep in the driveway of his Abuela's house. A hand on his shoulder made him slightly jump and he turned to look at his best friend.

Eddie was smiling at him. "Relax. They're going to love you." Eddie squeezed his shoulder. "Actually, they already do. It'll be fine. Just be yourself."

"Yeah Bucky, they love you cause we love you." Christopher piped up from the back seat.

Buck smiled and nodded. Eddie squeezed his shoulder again before removing his hand and climbing out of the car. Buck followed suit and together they gathered their children from the back seat. Eddie handed Christopher his crutches and the boy joined Buck on the other side of the car as Eddie pulled the portable bassinet from the trunk; then joined them before they all made their way towards the front door. Buck took a step back as they reached the door and slowly followed as Eddie just opened the door.

"Edmundo!" Pepa was the first to greet them at the door but instantly bent down to give a hug to Christopher as the boy entered before his father. "Christopher, te estás volviendo tan grande."

"Pepa!" Christopher smiled as he hugged his great aunt.

She let the boy go and stood up straight to look at her nephew and his friend who was standing nervously behind him. Christopher made his way further into the house in search of his grandmother. Eddie leaned the portable bassinet against the end table by the door and turned to Buck; placing his hand on his friend's lower back to push him slightly closer. Buck's hand on the car seat tightened as he smiled at Pepa.

"You must be the famous Buck!" Pepa smiled back at him. "Christopher has told us a lot about you."

Buck chuckled and his smile widened. "It's so nice to finally meet you."

Pepa stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him; turning her head to look at her nephew as he took a step away to give her room. "Él es mucho más lindo de lo que describiste, Edmundo."

Buck blushed as he caught exactly what Eddie's aunt said; knowing she probably didn't expect him to understand her. As she pulled away Buck just smiled again and turned to look at his best friend. "¿Entonces crees que soy lindo? Edmundo?"

Eddie's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open just as Pepa started laughing. Buck chuckled as he watched Eddie's face turn bright red; with a shake of his head. He turned his attention back to Pepa just ask another person came walking towards them.

"What are you all still standing at the door for?" The young girl stepped up next to Pepa and looked between them; her eyes stopping at Eddie. "Are you okay, Eddie?"

Eddie blinked and continued to look at his best friend. "You know Spanish?"

Buck shrugged. "I did tell you I lived in South America for a year as a bartender, right?" Then he turned to the young girl. He already knew who she was; and held out his hand. "You must be Martina."

The girl smiled brightly up at him; there was a good foot difference between them; and nodded enthusiastically as she took his hand. "You can call me Marti. So you're Buck, is that a nickname or...?"

"Yeah," Buck chuckled as he took his hand back. "My real name's Evan but if you want me to answer, it's Buck."

Marti nodded. "Duly noted. Same, call me Marti and we can be friends."

"Deal."

Finally the attention turned towards the car seat when Kira started making little noises. Marti squealed and clapped her hands together. "Oh my God, is this the little one Eddie said needed a nanny?"

Buck laughed and nodded. "Yeah, this is my daughter, Kira."

"Oh that is a precious name for a precious little girl." Pepa was also smiling as they all looked at the three week old.

"Can I hold her?" Marti looked back up at Buck.

"Of course." Buck followed Pepa and Marti further into the house; stopping in the living room to place the car seat down on the coffee table. He allowed Marti to unbuckle the baby and lift her out. He stood close but knew if he was going to trust Eddie's cousin with his newborn daughter; he had to let her show him she was capable. He hadn't been lying to Eddie at Christmas when he said he already trusted the young girl just because she was Eddie's family; but that didn't mean he wasn't going to be cautious and wary at first.

It wasn't long before Pepa and Marti were practically glued together cooing over the baby while Buck just smiled at them. Soon enough Christopher was back with a juice box and Isabel was right behind him. Buck stepped to the side to officially meet her; bending down for a hug as she held her arms out to him. He was surprised by the kiss to his cheek just before pulling away and his smile brightened once again. Then Isabel was crowding in with the other women.

Buck ruffled Christopher's hair as the boy sat on the couch. Christopher smiled up at him with the straw from his juice box between his teeth. Buck smiled back down at him before turning his attention back to Eddie; the older man had still yet to leave the doorway and was now frowning down at his phone. With one last glance at the women to see that Pepa was now holding Kira; Buck made his way back over to his friend.

"Everything okay?" Buck saddled up to Eddie's side and kept his voice low.

Eddie looked up and around; seeing everyone else was occupied for the moment; before he turned his frown to the blond next to him. "Shannon's not coming."

Buck tilted his head and looked down at Eddie's phone; in turn Eddie tilted the phone for Buck to see the message from his wife that had just came through a few minutes ago. "She had a last minute client meeting?"

Eddie sighed and scratched at his forehead. "Honestly, I don't know but this is the second time since Christmas that she's cancelled last minute."

"Really?" Buck frowned. "What happened last time?"

"She was going to join Christopher and Carla at the park last week but called it off and used the same excuse; so honestly I have no idea." Eddie sighed again and shoved his phone into his pocket. "She's seriously showing me she's not wanting to actually be here for him still."

Buck clapped Eddie on the shoulder and squeezed. "I'm sorry, Eds."

Eddie shook his head and leaned into Buck. "I'll call and talk to her tomorrow. For now though Abuela and Pepa have stolen your kid."

Buck turned his attention and found the women had disappeared from the living room; but be could hear them in the kitchen. With a laugh he turned away from Eddie and followed the older man towards the kitchen. Christopher was still sitting on the couch with his juice box and watching cartoons. They both ruffled Christopher's hair as they passed but continued into the kitchen to join the women. Buck was eager to see if he could help with anything to do with dinner.

Chapter Text

"So Buck, how long have you lived in Los Angeles?" Isabel looked at the blond as they all sat around the table enjoying the dinner she and her daughter had made for the small group.

Buck swallowed what was in his mouth and smiled. "Almost a full two years."

"Where are you originally from?" Pepa followed up.

"Hershey, Pennsylvania." Buck replied as he looked between both Isabel and Pepa. "Though I haven't been anywhere near there since I was nineteen."

"Oh dear, why?" Isabel asked.

"Abuela." Eddie whispered as he sat at the table next to his grandmother. "Why do I feel like this is an interrogation of a date?"

"Hush," Isabel swatted at her grandson while keeping her attention on the young man he had brought with him.

Buck chuckled as he looked at his friend sitting next to him; before leaning slightly forward so he could see Isabel from around Eddie's body. "I'm not exactly close with my family; save for my sister Maddie who lives here in LA as well."

"Where did you live between then and moving to LA?" That was Marti asking.

Buck took a sip from his glass of water before answering. "I did a lot of traveling. Backpacked through Europe; visited Russia and Australia. Then ended up in Peru for a year."

"Bartending in South America." Pepa smiled. "You learned a bit of Spanish there?"

Buck shrugged one shoulder. "It was mostly a touristy bar but there were still enough locals that circulated through that it was easier to learn Spanish then try and decipher what they wanted."

Eddie leaned back in his seat. "That makes sense."

"Any other secret languages you can speak that Eddie doesn't know about?" Marti laughed.

"I picked up a little Russian during the summer I was there; but not enough to really have a full conversation." Buck shrugged again. "Though I took four years of German in high school."

"Edmundo took German his freshman year." Pepa stated.

"You did?" Buck looked at his friend.

Eddie huffed a laugh. "I stopped after the one year. I kept slipping into Spanish so my sentences were a jumbled mess of English, German and Spanish."

"Clearly he can't speak more then two languages." Marti laughed.

Eddie glared at his cousin. "At least I didn't need to take Spanish in high school to learn my own native language."

Marti stuck her tongue out at Eddie and both he and Buck just started laughing. They both stopped when they saw Isabel giving them a glare; but when they both glanced at one another they couldn't help but snicker softly.

The rest of dinner was lightly the same. They enjoyed the meal while the women all asked Buck questions about his life; and Buck found himself answering everything they asked. He spoke of things from his life not even Maddie knew about; things he liked to pretend never happened. At the same time he got plenty of Eddie Diaz childhood stories - including learning that Eddie had two older sister Adriana and Sophia; and how Buck had not learned that fact from Eddie himself in their three month friendship he had no idea - and many were a little embarrassing for the older man if the blush and spluttering exclaims from the man were anything to go by.

All in all Buck had a great time and by the time they were buckling Christopher and Kira back into the car at the end of the night - along with plenty of leftovers for both of them from Isabel; she wouldn't let them leave without them - Buck had no idea why he had been nervous in the first place. The drive back to Eddie's had been in a comfortable silence. Buck jumped out of the still running car after Eddie and rounded to the back where Eddie was pulling his bag of leftovers out as Christopher's half asleep form leaned against his legs.

"So that wasn't so bad was it?" Eddie asked as he turned to look at Buck.

Buck shook his head with a smile. "No, it was great actually. You may have just dropped down to fourth place in my list of favorite Diaz's."

"Oh, ouch." Eddie placed his free hand over his heart. "I'm wounded. I was the first you met; that should make me number one by default."

"Sorry, Dad. I'm his favorite." Christopher sighed deeply and blinked up at them.

Buck laughed and lifted Christopher into his arms; the boy wrapped his arms around Buck's shoulders and laid his head against his neck. "He's got you there Eds. Nobody will be removing him as top favorite Diaz."

"I can live with that," Eddie smiled. "But really? Fourth?"

"Possibly fifth."

"Fifth!?"

Buck shrugged. "Your cousin is creeping up there. We set up lunch for the two of us in a few days to talk about Kira and exactly what I'd need from her."

Eddie sighed and leaned against the now closed trunk. "Am I just going to drop down in this favorites list every new Diaz you meet? Cause if that's what's going to happen you're not meeting my sisters or any more cousins."

Buck just laughed as he shifted Christopher onto his hip. Eddie laughed with him as he headed for the front door. On the porch Buck gave Christopher a hug before placing him back on his feet to head into the house. Eddie gave him a quick hug as they said goodbye and Buck jogged back to the jeep. As he jumped into the driver's seat he turned to check on Kira; she was still sound asleep. Buck had learned just after the baby shower that silent car rides instantly put her to sleep; even when she was trying for a screaming match - thank you Bobby and Athena for that advice!

Buck gave a last wave to Eddie as the man was still standing in his doorway watching before he pulled out of the driveway to head home. He shot off a text to Maddie to let her know he and Kira would be home very shortly. When he got home and inside it was to find Maddie still curled up on the couch and watching Love, Actually.

"How was it?" She asked; her eyes never leaving the t.v.

"Great. They loved me." Buck sat the car seat in front of her and chuckled as Maddie instantly dove to carefully pluck her niece from the restraints and settle the three week old into her arms still sound asleep.

"Knew they would." Maddie returned to her movie.

"Yeah, yeah." Buck shoved the leftovers into the fridge before grabbing a wine glass from the cupboard and pouring himself a glass of the red wine sitting on the counter. "You need a refill?"

"No, I've already been through a bottle."

Buck snorted as he took a sip and then joined his sister and daughter on the couch; sinking down into the cushions and propping his feet on the coffee table. It didn't take long for silence to rain over them as they both focused on the movie playing.

Chapter Text

Buck looked down at the text on his phone for the fourth time since it had came through an hour ago. His frown deepened as he leaned back against the counter; gripping the edge of the counter at his side with his free hand. He knew sooner or later this was going to happen; but he wasn't expecting just a text. He and Ali had only been "dating" for three months now; but really he hasn't seen her in a month; days before he learned about his daughter. They had texted and talked on the phone a few times but he had never brought Kira up. He wanted to wait until they were face to face. Clearly he hadn't thought about the fact that since learning about Kira he had been splashing photo all over his Instagram; his Instagram that Ali followed. He should have known eventually she would be calling to ask; not just getting a text that things were officially over between them. It sucked but he also found himself not hurting too much about it.

They hadn't been together long - okay and he completely feels the irony about his relationships between Ali and Abby. He and Abby had only been together officially two months (three if anyone counted the month of just talking over the phone before even meeting); and yet he had spent half a year pining away for the woman he knew wasn't coming back. Yet with Ali they had also officially been together three months and he was actually okay with the break up. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Ali had given him the time (or at least the text) to show her intent of breaking up with him instead of ghosting him for months like Abby had.

"Everything okay?" Maddie asked as she came into the kitchen.

Buck looked up at his sister and cleared his throat; shoving his phone into his pocket. "Yeah, just a text from Ali."

"Oh is she coming into town again?"

"No, she is heading to New York; last minute meeting or something."

Maddie frowned as she grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. "Have you talked to her about Kira yet?"

"No." Buck straightened up and scrubbed a hand over his face. "I wanted to talk to her in person."

"You might just have to talk to her over the phone and get it over with."

"Yeah, probably." Buck gave his sister a small smile. "You heading to work then?"

Maddie nodded. "Any plans for you and my niece?"

"I am meeting Eddie's cousin Marti for lunch; and then Bobby's invited me over for an early dinner once he and Athena are both off work. I think he's officially moved in with her now that they're engaged."

"Well that's good!"

"Yeah, it is."

Maddie grabbed her purse off the table and headed for the door. "Okay, have a good day!"

"You too!" Buck shouted back as she closed the door behind her.

Buck grabbed his tablet and the baby monitor off the kitchen counter; and watched the monitor to check on Kira sleeping in her crib as he settled down onto the couch. He was going to do more research for his own apartment. Though he and Maddie had talked about them staying with her for as long as they needed; Buck was ready to have his own place; have a place for his daughter to have all her milestones in that was theirs.

An hour later he was answering a text from Eddie - the older man still sent his daily texts checking up - when Kira started crying. Buck was instantly off the couch and bounding up the stairs to his room. He picked her up out of the crib and gently bounced her as he turned towards the changing table. He had quickly learned that as soon as the baby was awake from a nap or night time that the first thing to do was to change her diaper - and outfit if needed. Second then was feeding.

He still had a few hours before he needed to meet up with Marti so he changed and fed Kira before placing her in the baby rocker that sat at the end of the couch. It had been something he had bought himself the day before after doing more research of baby items. It was different then the bouncy chair; this one was motorized. Once she was settled and gently rocking; Buck sat down on the corner of the couch closest; he could just reach over the arm and change the settings if needed. He returned to his apartment hunt.

When his alarm when off later he sighed and locked his tablet. He had many different apartments tabbed to look at again later. He went through the motions of getting himself and Kira ready at the same time. He gave her a bath - another way he was told would calm and relax a baby; this one thanks to Hen; and then he showered himself as he had stayed in his sweats from early morning. Once they were both ready and Buck had triple checked that he had everything needed in her baby bag; he needed double because if his lunch with Marti went longer he was going to have to head straight to the Grant-Nash house from there.

"Let's hope the combination of the bath and this car ride will keep you relaxed enough to maybe sleep through lunch." Buck mumbled as he clipped the car seat into it's base and sat the baby bag (plus a second bag just in case) on the floor.

Kira was just content to play with the toys hanging from the handle of the car seat and sucking on her pacifier.

Buck was a little late to the diner they were meeting at due to the traffic but when he realized he was going to he had shot a text off to the younger woman so she didn't think she was getting stood up when he had hit a red light. When he finally entered the diner with a thankfully sleeping baby; Buck instantly saw Marti waiting for him. He quickly joined her at the booth near the back of the diner; placing the car seat in the corner of the seat before sliding in next to it himself.

"Hey!" Marti smiled as she leaned over the table to peer at Kira in the carrier.

"Hey," Buck smiled. "Thanks for having lunch with me."

Marti sat back in her booth. "Well thanks for considering me a viable option as a nanny."

Buck chuckled as he leaned back. "To be honest that has more to do with you being Eddie's cousin. I trust him with my life; with my daughters completely. If he says I can trust you, I already do."

"That's good to know." Marti smiled. "So, this is just a 'get to know me' sort of thing right? More so then at dinner at my Abuela's was?"

"Yes," Buck nodded. "Eddie told me you went to college for childcare; what made you decide to go this route when Eddie called you instead of a daycare?"

"Honestly I hadn't." Marti shrugged. "When I got that text from my cousin I was confused. I knew he had moved to LA a few months ago but I had no idea he had such a close friend he would help like this. I was confused but intrigued; figured I should at least give this option a possible chance cause what if it was the best thing, you know?"

Buck laughed. "Yeah, understandable."

"Besides the best part of getting to know you and watching that cutie?" Marti smirked and Buck was reminded a lot of Eddie. "I can tell you so many embarrassing stories of Edmundo."

"Oh, you're hired." Buck grinned as he leaned his arms on the table between them. "Please tell me everything."

Chapter Text

Buck pulled the jeep into his usual spot and put the car in park; turning the engine off. Kira was whimpering in the backseat and Buck felt so bad. They had just gotten done with her one month check up with her doctor... and then she had to cry through a meeting with Caroline Reed. Buck was still reeling from that himself. They had talked to Abby... who apparently had no intentions of raisin a child at her age and wanted no contact with Buck about said child. Buck could understand not wanting to talk to him; clearly she had already ghosted him eight months - what was another eighteen years?

He just didn't understand parents who wanted nothing to do with their own children? Okay, so he did; his own parents didn't care about him; at least not in the way parents should. They were around at least; had clothed and fed him. Physically he had his parents; just not mentally or emotionally. He had given up on them by the time he had turned eighteen; hadn't seen or spoken to them since he was nineteen. There had been no point.

But Abby not wanting to be part of her only child's life? That he didn't understand.

A knock on his window brought him out of his thoughts as he jumped at the sudden noise. An amused looking Hen was staring back at him when he heard the door handle to the backdoor. With a smirk he hit the unlock button and instantly the door was opened and Hen and unbuckling Kira from her car seat. Buck opened his own door; remembering to pull the keys from the ignition and his phone from the cup holder as he stepped out of the car. By the time he had righted himself Hen was gone through the bay doors with Kira; and Eddie was jogging out of greet him. Buck locked his car and turned to his friend.

"Hen just stole your daughter." Eddie smirked as they met in the middle between the jeep and the building.

"Yeah, she didn't even say hi to me; just grabbed my child and ran." Buck laughed. "Glad she's not a stranger, she was gone faster then I could move."

They began walking side by side back to the building.

"How'd the appointment go?"

Buck nodded. "Good. She's at a healthy weight; got her first shot. It's why she was crying. Couldn't get her to settle and the car ride didn't seem to work this time."

"It happens." Eddie shrugged then dropped his voice. "And the meeting?"

"She wants nothing to do with her." Buck sighed. "Mrs. Reed suggested I get a lawyer to file for full custody in case..."

"She decides down the road she wants to just take her back from you?"

Buck nodded as they entered the building. "Exactly."

"I get it." Eddie scratched at the side of his head. "I made sure my divorce lawyer did the same thing."

"So you finally did it then?"

"Had too, she cancelled again the other night to have dinner with us and he just cried." Eddie said as they headed up to the loft where everyone was gushing over the baby. "He told me he doesn't want to see her again since she clearly doesn't want him."

"Fuck."

"Yeah."

"Mind if I steal him Saturday for a boys day? I'll see if Marti can watch Kira for a few hours."

"Yeah, he'll love a day with his Bucky." Eddie clapped him on the shoulder and squeezed. "Thanks man."

"Buck!" Bobby smiled at them as the two men ascended the stairs. "Everything alright?"

Buck nodded. "Yeah, just a doctor's appointment for her and thought we'd stop by for a visit."

"Hen won't share!" Chimney groused from where he sat next to Hen on the couch.

"It's a baby Chim; not a toy." Hen show back. "Not my fault I saw him pull into the lot before anyone else."

"Buck tell her..."

"Hen gets the baby cuddles, give it up Chim." Buck smirked. "You held her for hours at dinner last night. Payback."

"Wow." Eddie chuckled as he sat down on the couch next to Hen; who instantly handed Kira over when she reached for him.

Chimney just looked at them all. "Jerks. All of you."

Buck clapped him on the shoulder as he leaned between him and Hen over the back of the couch. "You'll live." Then he turned his attention to the others. "Hey, I was actually wondering if ya'll had plans Friday night?"

"Don't think so." Hen replied.

Eddie just shook his head and Buck turned to Chimney and Bobby. Chimney shrugged and Bobby answered in the negative.

"What about Athena and Karen?"

Once again he got negatives for being busy and he smiled.

"Awesome! A new restaurant is opening and I was wondering if we could all go? Like a team meal where none of us have to cook." Buck pointedly looked at Bobby.

"It's going to be packed on opening night." Eddie frowned. "Can you get a reservation for such a large group only four days away?"

Buck's smile brightened. "I know the owner so I've already got the reservation."

"You mean you actually know people outside of us?" Chimney laughed.

Buck mockingly glared at him. "I change my mind; you're uninvited and you don't get anymore baby cuddles from Kira."

"What!?" Chimney's eyes widened. "Buck... I..."

Buck laughed at the look on Chimney's face; everyone soon following suit. "Dude, seriously."

Chimney huffed. "Haha."

Buck sobered. "But yes I have friends outside of you guys. Savannah and I met in college and stayed in touch. Her wife Claire is the owner and they already have a table reserved for us. I just wasn't sure who would be busy or not."

"Of course Karen and I will be there Buckaroo; as long as we can get a sitter for Denny."

"I'm sure Athena would love to join us; May owes a night of babysitting, she can take Denny too."

"Yeah I will see if Marti will watch Christopher."

Buck nodded. "Marti is already going to have Kira cause Maddie's coming too." He turned to Bobby and Hen. "If May wants to come over the two of them could watch the boys and Kira at Maddie's for everyone?"

Bobby nodded. "I'm sure she'll be fine with that."

"Sounds good to me." Hen smiled.

Buck turned his attention back to Chimney. "Of course you're still invited, stop staring at me you creep."

Chimney snorted and shoved Buck away from him.

Ten minutes later the bell rang and everyone had to rush off. For once Bobby was the slowest as he had been the last one holding Kira; and he had to carefully hand her over as she had fallen asleep in his arms. Then Buck had to get her buckled back into her car seat and return home; hoping she didn't wake in that time.

Chapter Text

"Are you ready?" Buck asked as Maddie came down the stairs.

It was Friday night and the group were going out to dinner. Buck had dressed his best jeans and a navy blue button down shirt. It wasn't all that of a fancy restaurant; the second floor was a bar with a dance floor (something he had only mentioned to Maddie and Eddie).

"How does this look?"

Buck looked up from where he had been texting with Taylor Kelly and smiled. Maddie had curled her hair and was wearing an emerald green blouse and black slacks. Twenty minutes ago she had been wearing a light pink knee length dress but had decided it wasn't cute enough. Buck had a feeling his sister was finally building up the nerve to ask a certain firefighter paramedic on a proper date and was using tonight as an excuse to gauge his reaction to her all dressed up. He knew whatever she wore Chimney would still fancy her.

"So much better then the dress." Buck returned his attention to his phone as he felt it vibrate in his hand.

"Texting with Eddie?"

"What?" Buck looked at her confused but then realized he had been smiling. "Oh no, it's Taylor."

"Taylor?" Maddie scrunched up her nose as she checked her makeup at the kitchen counter. "That news reporter you hooked up with in a bar bathroom?"

"Thanks for reminding me." Buck huffed; typing out another response. "But yeah. We haven't talked since but she just saw Kira's pics on my Instagram and was congratulating me. Wants to meet her."

"Well that's..." Maddie headed for the door when there was a knock. "Good."

"Hi!" Marti smiled as Maddie opened the door. "You must be Buck's sister Maddie!"

Maddie smiled back and stepped to the side. "I am. You must be Marti; Kira's nanny."

"Not official yet." Marti laughed. "I think Buck said this was a trail run; that another girl will be here to watch some kids while I focus on Kira?"

"May is mine and Eddie's captain's step-daughter." Buck said as he entered the living room; still glued to his phone. "She owed them a night of babysitting and we figured it would be better to just have everyone here." He finally looked up with a smile. "Tomorrow is the real test; you'll be on your own then. Also, hi."

Marti bounced on the balls of her feet. "Hi! So where is my charge?"

"Upstairs sleeping." Buck replied as there was another knock at the door. Everyone was meeting there seeing as the kids were all going to be babysat at Maddie's (made it easier with Kira and all the junk needed to pack for a single outing with a one month old compared to three pre-teen boys). "I gave her a bath and fed her already so she should be good for a while."

"Hey." Hen smiled as she came into the apartment; followed by Karen and Denny.

It wasn't long before the Grant-Nash family and Eddie with Christopher had shown up. Introductions with Marti and the other boys and their parents were made; and then the adults were out the door secure in the knowledge that May and Marti had it under control for a few hours. Maddie had gotten a text from Chimney saying he was outside and sure enough he was just walking up to the gated entrance as they were exited. He just turned around and followed them back down the path to the lot.

They took two cars. Bobby drove himself, Athena, Hen and Karen; while Eddie drove himself, Buck, Maddie and Chimney. Buck had given Eddie the address and then shot it off in a text to Athena for Bobby.

When they reached the restaurant everyone followed Buck through the doors; they were in a short of foyer and had to step through another set of doors to the hostess podium. They had been right; the place was already packed. Buck smiled at the hostess and give his name and size of the party. She didn't even look at the reservation list and told them to follow her. They weaved their way towards a large table at the back of the restaurant.

"She didn't even look to see if he had a reservation." Chimney whispered; leaning closer to Bobby, Eddie and Athena as they followed the rest of the group.

"He did say he knew the owners." Athena shrugged. "This is more then just a restaurant though; I saw stairs in the foyer."

Eddie snickered. "It's also a dance club."

"Really?" Chimney's eyes lit up as he looked behind them.

"I said dance club; not karaoke." Eddie carefully shoved Chimney further ahead of him. "I think he's hoping to get some of us drunk enough to go up and dance."

Bobby shook his head but didn't say a word as they all reached their table.

Buck and Eddie held out the chairs for Karen and Hen; while Bobby and Chimney did the same for Athena and Maddie; respectfully. All four women smiled and took their seats. Chimney then sat down next to Maddie on her left; with Bobby to his left; while Buck and Eddie sat together between Maddie and Karen; Hen and Athena next to one another.

As soon as they were all seated the waiter appeared between Buck and Maddie. "Good evening and welcoming to Bella Mae's. Can I start you all off with some drinks?"

They quickly ordered two bottles of red wine for the table; Bobby ordered an iced tea for himself. Eddie had already ordered water; he was one of the designated driver's after all; but that didn't mean he couldn't have at least one glass of wine at the beginning of the meal. The waiter had left them to get their drinks and suddenly a woman with light brown hair and ocean blue eyes bounced up behind Buck.

"Evan Buckley!" She squealed quietly.

Buck turned and with a huge smile stood to wrap his arms around the girl. "Savannah!"

The girl - Savannah - hugged him back and when they pulled away she clasped her hands in his. "It's been so long." She then turned to the rest of the table. "Introduce me!"

Buck chuckled as he turned towards the table; taking a hand back from hers, he pointed around the table. "This is my sister Maddie, co-worker Chimney; it's a nickname." He snickered before continuing. "My captain Bobby and his wife Athena, co-worker Hen and her wife Karen, and my best friend and co-worker Eddie." Buck finished.

"Oh it's so amazing to meet you all!" Savannah bounced in her high heels. "I'm Savannah Reese-Carver. My wife Claire owns this beautiful place."

Everyone waved and said hello to Savannah before she turned back to Buck just as the waiter reappeared with their drinks.

"Okay so I need to go check on Claire but we need to catch up properly soon." She looked back at the table again. "And your meal is on us tonight." She quickly kissed his cheek and gave him one last hug before turning and weaving her way towards the kitchens.

Buck sat back down and turned his attention to the table. "What?"

"She's... bubbly." Maddie giggled.

Buck snorted and he grabbed his wine glass and took a sip. "Should have seen her in college. I thought my ADHD was bad. But Claire balances her out, calms her when needed."

"So they've been together since college?" Karen asked.

"Yeah," Buck nodded. "Met shortly after I uh... was expelled." He cleared his throat. "I was Savannah's man of honor at their wedding because she didn't have any other family or closer friends."

"No family?" Athena asked.

Buck frowned. "They didn't approve of her marrying Claire so they refused to attend. Claire's dad walked them both down the isle together."

That got annoyed noises from most of them and eye rolls from many. Buck just shrugged his shoulders and looked down at the menu sitting in front of him. Conversation continued on all sorts of topics between the eight of them as they decided what they each wanted to eat.

Chapter Text

Laughter filtered around the table. The group had been at the restaurant for a little over an hour now; enjoying their meal and drinks; telling stories and jokes. Maddie and Eddie were still pretty new to the group; having only both moved to Los Angeles a few months back; hell Chimney and Hen still questioned why they hadn't even known Buck had a sister until they had met her days after she had shown up on his doorstep. The boy had never shied away from talking about his person life before; but then they also realized as long as it wasn't about his family he was open about it.

So over the last hour Maddie had made it her mission to give the rest of the table stories of child Buck; most of them embarrassing; many of them sweet; a lot demanding photo evidence. Buck would retaliate with stories about Maddie's teenage years but he knew they weren't as good as her stories about him; and fewer. Eddie had joined in and talked a little about his childhood; growing up with two older sisters himself. Even others had joined in talking about their childhoods - Athena, Hen and Chimney were only children while Karen and Bobby each had a younger brother.

The night was going good - and Buck had only sent texts to check on Kira three times (after the third Eddie had rolled his eyes and taken Buck's phone from his hand and stuffed it into his pocket; ignoring the pout from the blond next to him as he did). Eddie didn't really blame him; he was a new father to a one month old and this was his first time away from her since learning about her. But this was also suppose to be a night for their team; their family; to just relax and know that their children were perfectly safe in the hands of their babysitters.

"Okay, now I totally understand your recklessness running into fires." Chimney laughed as Maddie had just finished telling a story of an eight year old Buck trying to jump off the roof of the garage wearing a blanket like a cape.

Buck's cheeks flushed as he shifted in his seat. "I'm not that reckless."

"You like to disregard Bobby's orders to leave the collapsing building more times then you don't." Hen smiled at him.

"Because there is always someone else to save," Buck huffed. "And I always come out unscathed."

There was a murmur around the table and Buck's cheeks grew redder.

Karen leaned forward. "I don't call it reckless; he's calculated. He knows the risks and weighs his options on if he can get to the victim and get them; and himself; out safely."

"That." Eddie pointed at Karen. "I've only worked side by side with him four months but I can see that."

"But he also disregards Bobby's orders every time." Chimney added.

Buck shrugs with a smirk as he looked at Eddie and Karen. "That's cause I could learn to take orders from my superiors. One of the many reasons I dropped out of SEALs training."

"One of many?" Athena laughed. "That sounds like a story, Buckaroo."

"One I will not be telling tonight." Buck smiled back at her as he picked up his wine glass. He had already had two glasses within the hour and he knew he needed to slow down or he would be getting drunk.

Talks continued as everyone finished their meals; debating if they wanted to order desserts. Eddie had excused himself from the table to head for the bathroom. They had moved on to talking about crazy calls they had gotten in the last year when Eddie finally returned; but he didn't sit back down. Buck looked up at the older man as Eddie placed his hand on his shoulder and leaned close to him.

"Hey so Marti called your phone while I was in the bathroom and I answered it."

Buck's eyes widened. "Is everything okay?"

Eddie nodded. "Yeah the kids are fine but a couple showed up asking for you and Maddie."

"Asking for us?" Maddie questioned from Buck's other side; they had gained the attention of the whole table now.

Eddie nodded and decided to take his seat; handing Buck his phone back. "I guess they followed the pizza delivery guy through the main gate."

"Did Marti or May get their names?" Athena asked, sitting up straighter in her chair; clearly going into police sergeant mode at the thought of a threat to their children.

"Phillip and Margaret." Eddie kept his eyes on Buck and Maddie. "Said they were there to see their grandchildren."

Buck froze and Maddie swore.

"Your parents?" Hen asked from across the table.

Maddie nodded as she too kept her eyes on her little brother. "I didn't even know they knew I was here. We've kept all pictures off social media."

Buck sighed. "Yeah but where else would you go when you left Hershey?" He looked at his sister but then whipped his head back towards Eddie. "Wait, did you say grandchildren? As in plural?"

"Yeah." Eddie tilted his head. "When May had asked they said their granddaughter Kira and... grandson Christopher."

"Why would they think Christopher was their grandson?" Chimney asked.

Buck opened his mouth but had no idea what to say so he snapped his jaw closed and shrugged. Maddie placed her hand on his bicep. "Your Instagram."

Buck looked at his sister questioningly. "You really think our parents have mastered the internet and can even use an app? They couldn't even understand a simple cell phone before I left home."

Maddie sighed. "That was six years ago Buck."

Buck shook his head and stood. "Doesn't matter, I need to get home and figure out how to make them leave."

Eddie and Maddie stood with him; as did Athena and Bobby.

"Are they dangerous?" Bobby asked before Athena could.

"What?" Maddie asked looking at the couple. "No."

Buck shook his head. "Maddie's right. They're harmless, didn't really care much for us as kids but they weren't abusive or anything." He turned to Eddie and was grateful when he saw Eddie already had his car keys in hand. He turned back to the rest of the table. "Sorry to turn the night short."

"Don't worry about it Buckaroo." Hen stood with Karen. "There will be more nights."

The group headed for the front of the restaurant; thankfully Buck spotted Savannah and Claire and excused himself to speak to them for a moment before joining the group back outside. They quickly climbed back into their vehicles and headed back to Maddie's apartment.

Chapter Text

Buck was out of the truck before Eddie had even parked; dodging out of the way of Bobby turning into the spot next to Eddie as he headed for the front gate. Chimney was quickly behind him when Maddie tried to follow but had stopped her; jumping out instead. He followed the blond through the gate and up the walkway towards the apartment door. Buck opened the door and only took a few steps in before he paused; Chimney stepped to his side to peer inside.

"Evan," Margaret Buckley stood from where she was sitting on the couch; her husband next to her also stood.

Buck ignored his parents for the time and turned towards where May was standing near the kitchen doorway. "Where are the kids?"

May nodded towards the stairs. "With Marti."

Buck nodded. "Mind going up there with her to keep the boys from running down when they hear their parents."

"Sure." May stepped closer and whispered to him. "Sorry we let them in. They offered up their IDs and their name matched and your dad had a picture of you guys when you were younger; you haven't changed..."

"It's okay." Buck smiled at her and softly shoved her towards the stairs. He waited until she had disappeared up the stairs and around the corner before turning his attention back to his parents. "What are you doing here?"

"We want to meet our grandchildren." Phillip stood to his full height; which was still a few inches shorter then his son. "We had to find out we had a grandson who looks to be seven or eight by your cousin Amelia showing us pictures she found online; and now have a newborn granddaughter."

Buck snorted as he turned his attention to the rest of the party entering the apartment. Maddie came to stand next to him; tucking herself between him and Chimney; while Eddie stood to his other side. Bobby, Athena, Hen and Karen stayed behind them.

"Where are the kids?" Karen asked.

"May and Marti have them upstairs." Buck answered before turning back to his parents. "First of all you only have a granddaughter. The grandson you think you have is my friend's son." Buck pointed his thumb at Eddie; who smiled and gave a little wave towards the Buckley's. "Second, what makes you think after six years of no contact that you showing up unannounced like this would get me to allow you to meet my daughter?"

Margaret sighed at looked at her son like he was inconveniencing them; a look Buck was all too familiar with from his childhood. "Evan, we have a right to see our children, and grandchildren."

"Maybe calling to ask first would have been the way to go."

"Would you have answered?" Margaret asked.

"Hell no," Buck gave a laugh. "And that would have clued you in on your idea that you have rights to my child."

"Do not speak to your mother like that, Evan." Phillip all but growled at his son.

"Or what?" Buck turned his attention back to his father.

"Okay, everyone calm down." Maddie spoke up as she placed her hand on her brother's arm. "Buck."

Buck looked down at his sister. "They're the ones that showed up unannounced."

"I know." Maddie stated and then turned to her parents. "Mom, Dad. You should have at least called me first."

"Maddie," Margaret finally turned to her daughter for the first time in the ten minutes they had all been standing there. "We didn't even get a call that you had left your husband. We found out when he called to ask us where you were."

Maddie flinched. "You haven't told him have you?"

"We didn't know at the time." Phillip replied. "He was the one that told us last month. And then Amelia showed us those photos a few days ago."

Buck felt Maddie's nails dig into his arm at their father's words and he silently cursed as he shifted closer to his sister; watching out of the corner of his eye as Chimney did the same from her other side. He knew that only Chimney and Eddie knew the truth; they had helped him move Maddie into her apartment; helped set up the whole security system and cameras. They may have not known the full extent; though at this point knowing his sister's feelings towards the other firefighter; Buck would put money that Chimney may even know more then he did about his sister's abusive husband at this point.

"Okay," Buck sighed and scrubbed his free hand over his eyes before turning his attention back to his apartment. "You need to leave. I'm not ready for you to meet my daughter. I haven't spoken to you in over six years, you waltzing in here demanding to meet her isn't the way to go about this."

"Evan..."

"His name is Buck."

Everyone's attention turned to the top of the stairs to find Christopher standing there; looking down at them all. May stepped around the corner.

"Sorry," She looked at Buck and Eddie guiltily. "I was helping Denny and Harry with something and he just snuck away."

"Mijo," Eddie spoke up. "Go back with May, I'll be up in a minute."

"But Dad..." Christopher sighed but listened and allowed May to usher him back down the hall and away from the conversation.

Buck looked between his parents. "Please just leave."

"Evan, please."

"He's asked you to leave." Athena finally spoke up from behind the siblings.

"And who are you?" Phillip asked as he looked at the rest of the people they had steadily been ignoring. "Who are any of you?"

"Our friends." Maddie stated.

"And family." Buck added with a smirk, knowing it would annoy his parents.

Phillip went to say something but Maddie cut him off.

"We'll have dinner tomorrow to talk." Maddie glanced at her brother; still holding his arm. "The four of us."

Buck internally groaned but knew he would do anything his sister told him too. "Fine."

Maddie nodded and looked back at their parents. "Dinner here tomorrow and we can talk."

Margaret smiled and nodded. "Okay."

Phillip nodded but didn't say a word. Maddie allowed them to hug her before they exited the apartment; Buck turned away and headed up the stairs without another word; instantly knowing Eddie had followed even if he hadn't heard the footsteps pounding up the stairs behind him.

He didn't say a word as they entered his room where the girls had the kids. Christopher smiled as they entered and Buck smiled back but instantly took Kira from Marti as she held her out to him. He sat down on the bed next to Christopher. Eddie spoke to May and Marti before joining them on the end of the bed. The girls took Denny and Harry back downstairs to their parents.

Chapter Text

Buck followed Christopher down the pathway towards the playground in the mid-morning sunshine. He had showed up at the Diaz household just after breakfast to find Marti already there babysitting Christopher. Eddie had picked up a shift from someone who needed the day off so he had already left for work. He had basically stepped into the house long enough to swap children with the younger woman. He had handed over Kira with all her things and collected Christopher with his backpack filled with Lego blocks and coloring supplies.

It was suppose to originally be Marti coming over to Maddie's apartment to babysit and Eddie was going to drop Christopher off but after the disaster of his parents showing up unannounced last night; Buck didn't trust that they wouldn't do it again. He was already dreading having to suffer through a dinner with them tonight; he wouldn't put it past them showing up early in hoping to ambush their children into talking sooner; maybe seeing their granddaughter. Buck had been happy when Marti had told him once his parents had shown up she was already upstairs with Kira and had stayed when May ushered the boys up the stairs too. They had never actually gotten a glimpse of his daughter.

Once they had gone and the rest of the family had finally left almost an hour later; Maddie was worried with them being left alone now that she knew Doug knew where she was. Buck had to reassure her that he was there and wouldn't let Doug close if he did show up like their parents had. Both Chimney and Eddie had even offered to stay the night (Hen and Karen had offered to take Christopher for Eddie); but eventually Buck had them all convinced they would be fine for the night.

Buck had slept on the couch in the living room while Maddie slept in her room with Kira; door locked and blocked with a chair.

"Bucky, hurry up!" Christopher shouted from where he was already sitting on the swing.

Buck laughed as he jogged the rest of the way to the young boy. "Okay, Superman. You swinging alone this time?"

Christopher nodded and Buck dropped the kids backpack into the sand at his feet as he helped Christopher adjust himself in the seat and hold onto the chains. Buck knew not to push him too high. Christopher just giggled the whole time which kept Buck smiling. Over the course of two hours Christopher had him chasing him all over the playground from the swings to the monkey bars to the slides. He held him as Christopher "climbed" the monkey bars; and caught him at the bottom of the slides. Once he saw that Christopher was slowing down he knew it was time for a break.

"Okay, how about we head out for some lunch?" Buck asked as they rested a minute on a bench; Christopher leaning heavily into his side; his crutches dangling from his wrists in his lap.

Christopher looked up at him. "Pizza?"

Buck laughed and nodded. "Pizza for lunch sounds perfect."

"Yay!" Christopher cheered as he wiggled off the bench.

Buck grabbed up the backpack and followed Christopher back down the path towards the parking lot. Once they reached the jeep Buck helped Christopher into the backseat; and tossed the backpack onto the floorboards with Christopher's crutches. Once he knew Christopher was buckled into his booster that has been a staple for his jeep along with Kira's car seat; he closed the door and climbed into the driver's seat.

"Okay Bud, where we going?"

"That Pizza Place!"

Buck was going to open his mouth to say something as he put the jeep in drive and started pulling out of the parking lot; and then he laughed as he realized what Christopher was talking about. He turned right out of the parking lot when traffic allowed and headed for the restaurant - literally called That Pizza Place. It was a little away from where they currently at; he was sure there were at least five or six closer pizza places they could go to but today was about Christopher having fun so he was going to go wherever the little boy wanted.

It took a little over an hour so by the time they had parked and made their way inside both were starving. But it also meant they had just missed a good portion of the business men and women on their lunch runs. It wasn't long before they had their pizzas - shrimp and pesto for Buck; pepperoni with mushrooms and extra cheese for Christopher - and waters to drink; and they had decided to sit outside at a table instead of inside.

They had only taken a few bites when Buck decided to start the conversation he had talked with Eddie about having with the boy today. They had texted well into the night while Buck lounged on the couch about Buck taking Christopher for the day. Eddie had thought maybe his son would open up more about what was happening with his mom to Buck over his own dad; someone who was too close to the situation. Buck had only met Shannon once in passing between the dinner at Abuela's she had canceled and the lunch Buck had had with Marti; so he didn't really know her at all.

"So Bud," Buck wiped at his mouth and rested his arms on the table in front of him. "Your dad says you're angry at your mom."

Christopher sighed with a mouthful of pizza as he leaned back in his chair and chewed. Buck stayed quiet and allowed the boy to take his time and decide if he actually wanted to talk. Buck had taken another two bites of his own pizza before Christopher finally spoke; but with his own question.

"Why did that lady call you Evan?"

Buck snorted a laugh not expecting that question. "Well cause it's my name. My given name, like yours is Christopher but sometimes we call you Chris for short."

"But Buck isn't short for Evan."

"No," Buck chuckled and shook his head. "But it is short for my last name, Buckley."

Christopher tilted his head in thought. "But why do we call you Buck then?"

Buck took a sip of his water. "Well when I was going through the fire academy a few years ago there were three other Evan's also training so it made things easier for us knowing who was being talked too; to have nicknames. Buck was just more simple because there was another Evan with the same initials too and it just sort of stuck."

Christopher was silent for a moment as he went back to eating his pizza and at first Buck thought maybe that would be the end of it but soon enough the boy was asking another question.

"Were those people your parents?"

"They were." Buck nodded; turning his attention back to the boy.

"Why did you want them to leave?" Christopher looked up at him. "Do you not get along with them?"

Buck sighed, he should have known someone would ask him about that; he just wasn't expecting it to be a seven year old. He dropped his pizza back onto the plate and pushed it away; no longer hungry. He took a moment to gather his thoughts. It wasn't that bad of a story but did he really want to tell a seven year old that he just didn't want anything to do with his parents? He felt like he should be encouraging Christopher to want his mom in his life as long as possible; shouldn't he? Then he thought about it; had he had the chance as a kid to cut his parents out of his life to be happier; would he have?

He realized that yeah, he would have. Especially if he had got to live with Maddie; maybe he would have been able to get her away from Doug sooner.

"Growing up," Buck started, not really knowing what he was going to say. "I never really clicked with my parents. We lived in the same house but it was like we were just roommates."

"What's a roommate?"

Buck smiled. "They are a group of people who live together but aren't related; mostly. When you're older and go off to college you may rent an apartment with some friends. They would be your roommates then."

"Oh." Christopher tilted his head. "Are you and Maddie roommates?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say we are." Buck nodded then took another gulp of water before getting back to what he believed Christopher's questions were leading up too. "Not everyone gets along with their parents. I know you're angry with your mom but she's been trying right?"

Christopher shrugged and looked down at his hands in his lap. His voice was almost a whisper when he said, "She doesn't want me anymore."

"Why do you say that?" Another shrug had Buck scooting his chair closer to the boy. "Chris?"

The boy looked up and there were tears in his eyes. "Daddy tells me she's coming to see me and then she doesn't come and I know he's lying when he says she's had to cancel for work."

Buck frowned. They didn't actually know if it was lies, at least he didn't. Eddie hadn't told him as much and Eddie figured Christopher talking to him about this would be easier for the kid; why wouldn't he disclose if Shannon had come clean if she was calling off for something not actually work related?

"Look, Buddy." Buck leaned back in his chair and wrapped his arm around Christopher's shoulders. "I don't know everything about your mom but I know she loves you and still wants you. Her canceling to spend time with the most greatest kid in the world is on her, not you." He leaned a little closer. "Just know that whatever does happen, if she leaves, if you decide you don't want to see her anymore, whatever; your dad is going to be here for you always, so will I and Maddie, and everyone at the 118. You've got all of us in your corner, kid."

Christopher looked up at him and though there were unshed tears in his eyes he was smiling. "You have us too, Bucky. You should have dinner with your parents."

Well shit.

Chapter Text

He was sitting on the couch; his feet propped up on the edge of the coffee table in front of him; Kira laying over his legs; her tiny sock clad feet tucking into his abdomen. He had his arms bracketed on either side of her body; her tiny hands wrapped around his fingers. He had returned to the Diaz household with Christopher a little after three and relieved Marti from babysitting; telling her she was officially hired and they would sit down and figure out the best way to work out a schedule once he returned to work in two weeks time; once he had dealt with his parents. He knew Eddie was going to be home soon and he would have to leave back to Maddie's but he was trying to put it off. Christopher was in his room playing with his Lego blocks.

"Hey." Eddie's voice floated over Buck's head and he tilted his head against the back of the couch and smiled up at the older man.

"Hey!" He hadn't even heard the front door.

"Chris in his room?"

"Mmhmm."

Eddie took a few minutes to go check on his son while Buck stayed right on the couch with Kira. It wasn't long before he returned. "I wasn't expecting you to still be here. Figured Marti would be watching him again."

"Yup." Buck returned his attention to his daughter.

"Don't you have dinner with Maddie and your parents?"

"Yup."

Eddie came around the couch and sat down next to him; pressing into his side unconsciously. "Didn't you say it started at five?"

"Yup."

"Buck, it's five thirty." Eddie glanced at his watch. "And Maddie's is a twenty minute drive from here."

Buck turned his head to look at his best friend; Eddie's frown deepened. "I know."

With a sigh, Eddie placed his hand on Buck's arm. "Does Maddie know you're not going to show up?"

"She's called every five minutes for the last hour." Buck sighed as he looked back at Kira who was making little noises and slightly wiggling. "I think her last text was threatening to throw my sh-tuff out the door if I didn't get my butt there by six."

"She wouldn't actually do that would she?"

"No but mostly because I think now she knows Doug knows where she is, she's afraid to be alone." Buck waved Kira's arms around and a little giggle bubbled out of the girl's mouth causing both men to smile. "I'm just not ready to deal with them and Maddie pretty much made my decision for me last night when she set up this thing."

"Why didn't you say anything last night?"

"Because everyone else was there and I didn't want to start a fight." Buck shrugged. "Look they're not bad people, just bad parents. They were workaholics who left their kids home alone for days at a time as they traveled with childless friends and co-workers. I tried everything to get their attention from getting straight A's to playing baseball, soccer and football throughout school. The only time they seemed to even notice me was when I got hurt." He took a deep breath as he stared at his daughter and opened up about his childhood to Eddie. "I learned at an early age; I was probably four or five that when I would get hurt they seemed to care, even if only for an hour. So..."

"You were reckless."

"Yeah." Buck seemed to deflate and melt into the couch and Eddie's side more. "I would purposely fall off my bike, or skateboard, or out of a tree." He chuckled. "Jumped off the garage more then once. It wasn't until I was in middle school that I used sports to get hurt. I'd let the ball hit me in baseball instead of jumping out of the way; I'd make sure I was in the way of a tackle in football. I was sixteen when I finally gave up."

Eddie nodded. "That does make me understand you a little more now. Even the stories Maddie told at dinner last night didn't really say much like what you just did. But..." He but his bottom lip and changed tactics. "What do you want, Buck? With your parents?"

"Honestly?"

"Honestly." Eddie nodded.

Buck took a deep breath. "I don't know. I spent most of my childhood trying to get them to see me, to care. And then I just... I don't know decided it wasn't worth it anymore. But now..." He sighed and shifted carefully to not move Kira from her place balancing on his thighs too much. "They only showed up to meet their grandchild. They're not here for me, they're not even here for Maddie."

"Okay but she's your daughter. Whether they are in her life or not is up to you. Not them. Not Maddie." Eddie pressed into Buck's shoulder more. "And it should have been up to you on if you wanted to have dinner with them. I haven't know you or your sister that long but Maddie shouldn't have made that decision for you. I'd be mad at my sisters if one of them had tried that with me."

"Yeah but you actually talk to your parents still." Buck replied. "Sort of."

Eddie snorted. "Yeah, sort of." Buck had been with them a few times over the months when his parents had called and after a quick minute or two of conversation Eddie would hand the phone over to Christopher to talk to his grandparents; and Christopher was always the one to hang up the phone before handing it back to Eddie.

"How was work?"

"Boring actually." Eddie shifted on the couch so he could move his arm towards Kira. The little girl released her grip on her daddy's fingers to clutch at Eddie's. "Have either of you eaten since lunch?"

"Nope."

"Okay," Eddie nodded. "If you two are staying how about we order in takeout; that way you're not slaving over dinner and breakfast in the morning?"

That got a large laugh from Buck. "I knew it, you just keep me around for my mediocre cooking skills."

"That and for this cutie." Eddie smiled at Kira as she giggled cause her daddy was laughing.

"Well that's a given." Buck stated.

"Mmm." Eddie turned his attention to his friend. "Chinese or Italian?"

"Oh Palermo's!"

Eddie chuckled as he wiggled his fingers out of Kira's hand and stood from the couch. "Cannelloni pasta it is." He left to go check what his son wanted as he pulled his phone from his pocket to call and order their dinner; once again leaving Buck and Kira exactly where they were.

Chapter Text

He was doing up the clasp of his watch as he entered the kitchen only to freeze in the doorway with a fond expression and smile on his face. After spending the night on the couch with Kira in her portable bassinet next to him, Buck had been the first awake in the house; and seeing as his little girl was still asleep he had tried to take a quick shower before she woke and demanded his attention. Halfway through he could hear her wails over the water but before he could shut the water off and exit the shower a voice had called through the door telling him to finish; that she was fine. He listened as her wails quieted down before he continued with his shower.

That had been fifteen minutes ago. Now he was dried off and dressed; tying up of black leather band he wore on his left wrist and grabbing his watch as he exited the bathroom. When he had entered the living room the bassinet was empty and the baby bag that had been on the floor next to his gym bag was missing; now he saw it sitting on the kitchen table with half its contents spilled out.

In front of him he couldn't help but pull his phone from his pocket and quickly snap a picture or two of the scene in front of him. Christopher was sitting on the counter with his legs crossed; Eddie standing in front of him with Kira tucked into his arms. Christopher was holding the bottle of formula while Kira sucked down her breakfast. Christopher was beaming down at the baby and though he could only see the side of his face; Buck could tell Eddie was looking down at both Christopher and Kira with just as much fondness in his eyes and an easy smile as Buck was at the sight of them.

Buck cursed his sister for causing him to hide out at Eddie's for the night so he didn't have to deal with their parents because seeing this in front of him made his crush for his best friend come to the forefront of his mind. Now all he could think about was waking every morning to this when he knew it wasn't possible.

"Morning Buck!"

Buck blinked and looked up from his phone; where he had been posting the photo he had just taken to his Instagram. Then he smiled back at Christopher and Eddie. "Morning!" He tucked his phone away and clapped his hands together. "Are we waiting for me to make breakfast then?"

"Pancakes?" Christopher perked up as Eddie took the now empty bottle from his son.

Buck and Eddie both laughed as Buck headed around the counter to start grabbing the ingredients to make them the requested pancakes. "So why does it look like the baby bag threw up all over the table?"

"Oh." Eddie chuckled as he shifted Kira in his arms to his shoulder to burp her. "I couldn't find the wipes to change her diaper; main reason she woke Christopher and I up while you were showering."

Buck grimaced. "Sorry."

"Nah, you're fine." Eddie adjusted her once more to sit a little higher as he leaned against the counter. "Mornings were my favorite time with Christopher when he was little; when I was home on leave."

Eddie watched as Buck plucked his son from the counter to help him wash his hands; knowing Christopher was about to be Buck's sou chef. The first time this had happened was about a month into their friendship. Buck had come over for a movie night and it was late by the time Christopher was put to bed so Eddie suggest he spend the night. When he had woken the next morning it was to find Buck and Christopher already making breakfast together; and now it was just a staple for when Buck spent the night at the Diaz household.

"Well I give you permission to take over whenever you want." Buck laughed as he settled Christopher on a chair at his other side. "I knew babies were a lot of work and I may not act it but I'm exhausted. When she naps I try to get sleep myself but there is just too much to do."

Eddie nodded but didn't say anything as he finished burping the little girl before buckling her into the bouncy chair that he had bought for his own house so Buck didn't have to carry one around in his car with the bassinet and playpen. Once that was done he washed his hands and allowed Buck to put him to work cutting up fruit to go with their pancakes, bacon and toast. Just as he was finishing up the strawberries; adding them to the bowl with the blueberries and cantaloupe when the doorbell rang. He wiped off his hands with a dish towel as he went to answer it.

Buck had Christopher on his chair and was standing behind him; holding his hand around the spatula as Christopher did his best (with Buck's guiding hand) to flip the pancakes. He didn't think anything of it until Eddie returned to the kitchen.

"Buck."

"Yeah?" Buck looked over his shoulder and flinched as he saw Maddie standing next to Eddie. With a sigh he turned his attention back to Christopher and whispered something in his ear before helping him down off the chair and handed him his crutches.

"Chris why don't we let Buck and Maddie talk?" Eddie picked up the bouncy chair with Kira and followed his son out of the kitchen with a final look at the blond over Maddie's head.

Buck just nodded his thanks before turning off the stove and turning his attention back to his sister; crossing his arms over his chest but trying not to look like he was ready to be yelled at and need to protect himself.

"So you missed dinner." Maddie settled against the counter across from her brother.

"Maddie look," Buck sighed as he leaned back against the counter next to the stove. "I'm sorry."

"No." Maddie shook her head. "I'm sorry, Evan."

"What?"

Maddie frowned. "I shouldn't have forced a dinner with our parents on you like that."

"No you shouldn't have." Buck nodded. "But I shoulder have been adult enough to say no instead of hiding away at a friends house like some kid whose just ran away from home."

They both laughed at that and the most of the tension between them seemed to melt away. Buck uncrossed his arms and rested his palms on the counter at his sides.

"So how bad did it get that I didn't show up?"

"Dad didn't say anything but I'm pretty sure he was angry." Maddie sighed. "Mom just looked sad. I tried to explain things to them. Had you answered any of my texts you would have seem they started to tell you I understood and would try to talk to them for you."

Buck nodded and smiled at his sister. He understood his father's anger. Buck hadn't done what he was told once again. "I just don't know if I want them in my life, Mads. They showed up unannounced and just expected to see her like we're this close knit family or something. They didn't fly all this way across country for us Maddie; they came to see a grandchild they just learned about."

"I know."

"I understand it." He continued. "I do. She's their first and currently only grandchild and they aren't getting any younger."

"Neither are we."

Buck smirked. "I'll always be younger then you."

"Brat." Maddie laughed.

Buck sobered up and sighed; running his hand over his face. "I'll talk to them, I promise. Just on my time, okay?"

Maddie nodded quickly. "Okay." And then she was around the counter and hugging her brother.

Buck wrapped his arms around her shoulders and leaned down slightly. This was one thing he hated being so tall... or his sister being so short. He was a full foot taller ever since he had hit his major growth spurt at the age of sixteen. He loved hugs; he was a tactile guy, everyone knew it, and hugs were his favorite thing. He missed being able to tuck his head onto his sisters shoulder and just melt into the hug.

"You gonna stay for breakfast?" Buck asked as they pulled away from the hug.

"I can't," Maddie shook her head. "I'm already running late for work because I couldn't wait to talk to you since you didn't come home last night."

Buck flinched. "I'm sorry. I should have at least came home so you weren't alone."

"No, it's okay." Maddie grabbed his hand and squeezed. "I understood why and I was okay. I just didn't want you made at me all day."

"I wasn't mad."

"You were mad." Maddie kissed his cheek before pulling away and hiking her purse up onto her shoulder again. "Alright I'm off. Will I see you at home tonight?"

Buck nodded. "Buckley movie night?"

"You're making me dinner and I'm picking the movie." Maddie started heading out of the kitchen. "And I'm getting all the baby cuddles to myself."

Buck laughed and called back. "Deal."

Five minutes later the three boys were sitting around eating breakfast and Christopher was telling Eddie more about his day with Buck at the park. Eddie kept watching Buck after the visit from Maddie but he knew that Maddie had left with a smile on her face and a wave for he and Christopher so it couldn't have been so bad.

Chapter Text

Putting his car in park and turning the engine off; Buck took a deep breath and hopped out of the jeep; gym bag in hand. As he shut the door he turned to smile at Eddie as the older man came around his own truck parked next to him. It had been two weeks since the semi-disastrous weekend his parents had shown up unannounced. Buck had spent all of Sunday with Eddie and Christopher; having learned his parents had a flight out of town late that afternoon. He had returned home an hour before Maddie got off work to make her favorite dinner and have everything ready for their movie night.

Over the next two weeks Buck had Marti babysit Kira a few hours a couple times each week while he just did whatever: shopping, cleaning Maddie's apartment, apartment hunting (with Eddie or Maddie or Carla tagging along), etc. Buck was ready to have his own place for his little girl to grow up in but he was also not fully ready to leave Maddie on her own with Doug still out there. He knew she had a great security system and cameras set up; a lock on her bedroom door.

But now Buck was returning to work. He had left his six week old daughter in the capable hands of Marti Diaz that morning and she would be with her until he returned from work later that night.

"Let's go, Buckley!" Eddie laughed as he stepped into Buck's personal space and clapped him on the shoulder.

"Were you waiting for me?" Buck smile brightening as he bumped into Eddie's shoulder as they walked.

"Maybe." Eddie shrugged.

They entered the open bay doors together and headed for the locker room for Buck to get changed; greeting other members of the crew as they went; many of them welcoming him back and patting his back or shoulder as they passed. Once in the locker room Eddie leaned back against the doorframe with his arms crossed as Buck quickly got dressed.

"Was Chris mad I didn't come over Friday for movie night?" Buck lifted his head from where he sat on the bench adjusting the tie string on the leather band around his wrist after putting on his socks and lacing up his shoes.

"Nah," Eddie shook his head as he watched Buck fiddle with the strings. "He understood Kira had a fever. How's she doing?"

Buck nodded. "She was good halfway through the night. I just spent the weekend at home with her." He then stood and closed his locker door before turning back towards his friend. "I will honestly say if Maddie hadn't been there I probably would have rushed her to the ER."

"Thank God for sisters with a nursing degree, huh?" Eddie smirked as they exited the locker room and headed upstairs.

"Oh yeah." Buck chuckled. "Almost makes me want to never move out of her spare room. Almost."

They climbed the stairs together and as the kitchen came into view Buck was greeted by Bobby, Hen and Chimney all standing around the island counter; a box of cupcakes on the counter in front of them.

"About time!" Chimney sighed dramatically. "What took you so long?"

Hen elbowed the shorter man in the stomach.

"I mean, welcome back Buckaroo!" Chimney threw his hands in the air.

Buck laughed as he and Eddie joined them in the kitchen; Buck quickly moving around and hugging all three of them before leaning into the counter between Hen and Eddie.

"I bought cupcakes just for today!" Hen pulled the box closer to her and popped it open before pushing it towards Buck. "You get the first one."

Buck instantly went for the red velvet one he spotted in the middle of the box. He could tell it was a variety store bought package but there had only been one red velvet. He knew without a doubt that even if he hadn't been returning after six weeks away that Hen would have saved that cupcake just for him - Harris would have stolen it otherwise. The two of them were always fighting over anything red velvet that was brought into the station.

"So honestly, how is fatherhood going?" Bobby asked as the rest of them each picked a cupcake; Bobby had gone for a lemon flavored.

"Harder then I ever imagined but at the same time not?" Buck cocked his head to the side and then shrugged. "I haven't really had to do anything alone since I brought her home." He hip checked Eddie and smirked before looking at each of them. They had all helped him so much in the last six weeks. "Still in disbelief really."

"What that you're a dad?" Hen asked.

Buck nodded. "That and just the sheer amount of things needed for a baby." Everyone laughed. "I'm serious. Maddie's house looks like it's been turned into a baby store. Most of it's covering every surface and floor space in my room but it's everywhere in the living room and dining room table still too."

"And it'll never get any better as she gets older; the toys get bigger and louder." Hen squeezed his arm in sympathy.

Buck frowned. "Great."

"You're doing great, kid." Bobby nodded at him from across the counter. "And you've already said it; you're not alone."

"Right, you've got all of us Buckaroo." Chimney added.

"And I appreciate it more then any of you know." Buck smiled shyly. "I don't know if I've said it at all yet but thank you so fucking much."

"We're family." Eddie bumped his shoulder. "Remember."

"Exactly!" Chimney and Hen said at the same time.

And that was when the bell decided it was time for them to get to work. Buck smiled as he followed his team down to the bay to get into their turnout gear and then climb into the truck; settling in his seat right next to Eddie like always. The rest of the day was the same thing. Many calls throughout the day but nothing too serious; no serious injuries and no loses. All in all Buck's first day back was eventful but almost peaceful.

When he walked in the door that night it was to find Marti laying on the couch watching television; Kira wiggling in her motorized rocker. "Hey."

Marti looked up and smiled; sitting up on the couch. "Hey. She was great. A little hiccup around noon when I couldn't find her pacifier but she settled when I finally did."

Buck nodded as he headed for the kitchen to wash his hands and grab a bottle of water before returning to the living room. "Thanks for the updates throughout the day too. It helped."

"Of course." Marti nodded as she stood to stretch. "I understand new parents being worried. I can remember my mom leaving me with a babysitter for longer then a few hours and wanting updates."

"Well again, thank you." Buck smiled as he watched her put on her jacket and grab her purse and keys from the side table by the door. "Have a good night and I'll see you tomorrow."

Marti waved and she was out the door; leaving Buck alone with his daughter for an hour before Maddie got home. He down his bottle of water before stepping over to pluck his little girl from her rocker and get a few cuddles in before his sister came home and stole her like she always did. One day back at work and Buck already knew getting to come home to baby cuddles was going to help him a lot; now he understood why Maddie did it every night she came home from work herself.

Chapter Text

"I think this is a new record even for you, kiddo." Bobby sighed as he stood in front of Buck with his hands on his hips; frown crossing his face.

Buck looked up at his captain without even moving his head as Hen was cleaning a cut along his right jawline; her hand gently cupping the other side of his jaw to keep him from moving. Buck made a little whimper and frowned as he sat as still as he possibly could on the back bumper of the ambulance. He had just had a close call with a burning wood beam in the basement of a house that had caught fire because some stupid teenagers had decided to mess around with lighters and a newly installed carpet. They had watched the fresh fuzzies in the carpet go up in flames; a line of fire cascading from one end of the basement to the other until it reached the wall... and went up the fresh paint to catch the wooden ceiling on fire.

By the time the 118 had responded the house was almost gone and everyone but a single teenage girl had escaped. Buck and Eddie had been sent in to find and get her out. They had found her huddled in under the stairs and Eddie had taken to carry her out when she refused to move herself. Buck had been right behind them as they had rounded the stairs to ascend them. That was when one of the support beams had given out and had knocked into the side of Buck; knocking him to the ground. Thankfully he had been fast enough to roll himself before being pinned and had even been able to get himself up and out of the basement before Eddie had to come back for him.

When Hen and Eddie had grabbed him and ushered him to the truck he complied only because his head was hurting from the hit; even with the helmet. Eddie had to go and help finish putting out the fire so Buck had been left with Hen and then Bobby as the captain had come over to check on him. Buck had a few cuts and scraps along the right side of his face; thankfully no concussion as that had been the first thing Hen had checked for once he had been sitting. His left shoulder was killing him from where he had landed before rolling to his back and away from the burning beam; Hen had announced it not dislocated or broken but was going to be severely sore and he probably wouldn't be lifting anything for a few days.

"Four days," Hen shook her head. "You lasted at least two weeks when you first started before your first injury."

"Okay in my defense that injury hadn't been my fault." Buck pointed out. "And neither was this one. It easily could have been Eddie."

"And yet it was you." Eddie mumbled as he came to stand at Buck's side.

"Yes but it could have been you," Buck stated again finally turning his head to look up at Eddie. "Glad it wasn't, but it could have been."

"And you think we're glad it was you, Buckaroo?" Hen asked but didn't wait for an answer. "A few of these are going to need stitches."

"Can he survive a ride back to the station and then I'll take him in the truck?" Bobby asked.

Hen nodded. "Yeah I can just cover them with gauze." And that's exactly what she did.

The fire was out and everyone had packed up the trucks so by the time Buck was allowed to move he was being shoved up into the cab of the truck by Eddie; who then buckled him in because his left arm was immobilized by a temporary sling. Once they were back at the station Bobby helped him out of his turnout gear before lightly pushing him back out of the building; leaving Chimney in charge. They returned a little over two hours later and the trucks were missing. Buck had three stitches along his jawline and another four just above his right eye; and a proper sling to keep pressure off his shoulder.

Bobby sent him to rest on the couch while he started dinner for them and the crew when they returned. Buck played a few games on his phone to pass the time. Bobby had already talked to him about being the man behind for at least the week needed to rest his shoulder and as much as he hated it; Buck understood. He wouldn't be any help on calls one armed. Another four hours later he was home and Marti was gone for the night.

Maddie was home with dinner an hour later after she got a text from Chimney about Buck's injury. He allowed her to fuss and double check his stitches and shoulder before being bullied onto the couch with a plate of food.

"So how was your day?" Buck asked between bites.

Maddie took a sip of her wine. "It was good. I uh," She swallowed and looked down for a second before looking back up at her brother. "I filed for divorce."

Buck's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Yeah," Maddie nodded. "I think it's about time I fully move on with my life and... it's not like he doesn't know where I am. Mom already told us he did and it's been months with no word or sighting."

"That's true." Buck nodded slowly as he dropped his fork and grabbed his glass of water. "So any other plans on moving on with your new life?"

Maddie smiled and nodded again. "I asked Chimney out."

Buck was so glad he was not drinking his water yet as he coughed on air. "Um, okay. I guess I saw that coming, you two have practically been dating for weeks already."

"Well, I'm making it official. We're going out Sunday night after you guys get off your 24-hour shift."

"I'll be sure to have Kira and myself out of the house." Buck smirked; pointing towards his sister as she went to swat at him. "No hurting the already injured party, ma'am." Buck laughed as Maddie rolled her eyes but lowered her hand back to her fork. "And I'm not working that now. Harris and I swapped since I'll be man behind due to this." He slightly raised his bad shoulder. "I've got the next two days off and will be working his weekend next week instead."

"What are you going to do for two days while you're friends are all working?"

"Not all of them." Buck shrugged. "Taylor and I are hanging out Sunday."

"That's nice. So you guys are what, friends now?"

"I don't really know. We're going to lunch like we did last week when she wanted to meet Kira."

"Is Kira going with you this time too?"

"Yeah, why not?"

Maddie just shrugged as she finished her food and stood to take their dishes to the kitchen. Buck settled back into the couch with the remote and started flipping through channels to find them something to watch before they both went off to bed. He looked at the monitor to check on Kira upstairs; she was still sound asleep in her crib. Maddie returned with another glass of wine for herself and another glass of water for him.

Chapter Text

Buck didn't know what to do anymore. It was mid-afternoon and he has been home alone with Kira since his sister had gone to work early that morning; alone with his daughter who was currently screaming her head off as he tried his best to sooth her. Maddie had helped him change and feed her during breakfast earlier since he was currently down an arm. It was harder for him to really do anything at the moment. Kira had been settled in her motorized rocker when Maddie had said goodbye and breezed out the door; but an hour later all hell had broken loose.

She needed fed again; he had to do that with her still in her rocker but with it turned off. Then she needed changed again and that had been a real struggle; he had been smart and had just brought diapers and wipes downstairs along with the changing mat Carla had graciously bought him (he went out and bought a second to stash in his car with other supplies).

Wrestling a crying and wiggling baby out of her clothes and soiled diaper was one thing; doing it one armed was another. Buck had ended up ripping the sling over his head and tossing it somewhere behind him in the living room; and regretted it instantly when pain had shot through his shoulder and arm; but he bit into his lip and got his daughter cleaned up and into a clean diaper and clothes.

And then she threw up.

Buck was now laying propped up on the couch with Kira. He was shirtless because he was too tired to go upstairs and get a clean shirt; she was only in a diaper cause as soon as he had gotten her into a new onesie she had again needed a diaper change; so through the pain in his shoulder he had changed her again and just left her in just the diaper. Now they were both just settled and lounging on the couch; the tv was on low and something Buck wasn't even paying attention too; as Kira continued to cry - neither her pacifier or a bottle worked - and Buck was about ready to cry himself.

He knew he had people he could call but for once he wanted to prove he could do it himself; and it totally didn't have to do with the fact that everyone he knew to call were all currently at work or already had plans he didn't want to mess with. He knew that Marti wouldn't have had a problem; she was suppose to be here to babysit overnight but because of his accident she had the time off and she had been so happy cause her friends had invited her to a party; he wasn't about to ask her to cancel a second time.

He was just starting to close his eyes in hopes that Kira would cry herself to sleep so that he could sleep too when he heard a key in the lock of the door. His eyes popped open and he was about to call out to Maddie as the door opened; but it wasn't his sister walking through and Buck really did whine when he saw the older woman in police uniform.

Athena closed the door behind her and just looked down at Buck in sympathy. "Oh, Buckaroo." She sighed as she walked over and sat down on the coffee table in front of him.

"How?"

Athena smiled down at him. "You didn't convince Eddie everything was fine when he called you at lunch. He told Bobby and Bobby called me. I got off and picked up Maddie's key from her at the call center. She's going to have some words for you when she gets home."

Buck groaned and dropped his head back.

"Okay now tell me everything that's happened this morning."

So Buck told her everything. By the time he was done Athena was shaking her head and frowning at him.

"And where is the sling I was told you're suppose to be wearing?"

"Somewhere on the floor?"

Athena gave him a 'and why the hell is it there?' look before standing and stalking off in search of the offending thing. "Have you eaten today?"

"I had breakfast?"

"Why are all your answers in the form of a question; this isn't Jeopardy." Athena returned to the coffee table with the sling; sitting it down next to her. "So you haven't eaten since what seven? Eight this morning?"

Buck shrugged and refused to look the woman in the eye as she helped him sit up with Kira still on his chest. "I made sure Kira was fed." He whispered.

Athena carefully took Kira from his arms and took a moment to get her settled into the motorized rocker at the end of the couch and turned it on low. Kira was still whimpering but it was tampered down and almost non-existent as Athena also gave her a pacifier. She then turned her attention back to the blond pouting on the couch. She sighed as she sat back on the coffee table in front of him.

She gently grabbed Buck's chin and lifted his head to look at her. "You need to eat too. You're no good to her if you pass out or worse."

Buck just nodded and ignored the unshed tears he could feel in his eyes; blinking them away.

"Now, where the hell is your shirt?"

"She got sick and I was too lazy to go back upstairs." Buck sighed.

Athena nodded and left once again; returning with a clean shirt from his room. It was a button up so it was easier for him to put on and button himself.

"So now, we are putting this sling back on and then I am going to make you something to eat." Athena grabbed the sling at her side and slid it over Buck's head.

She helped him adjust his arm into it until he was comfortable. Then he sat back and she went into the kitchen to make him something. She returned a few minutes later with a sandwich, chips and a bottle of water. She placed the plate in his lap before sitting on the couch with him. Nothing was said for a few minutes as Buck slowly ate the food. Once he was done Athena took the plate and handed him the water; taking the plate back into the kitchen.

When she returned he had downed half of the water. Kira whimpered from her rocker so Athena went back to check on the little girl. Then she turned back to Buck.

"Why didn't you call someone to help?"

Buck shrugged again.

"Buck?"

He exhaled loudly and scrunched up his face. "I should be able to take care of my own daughter without help."

"Jesus give me strength with this child." Athena placed her hands on her hips. "Evan Buckley stop being so stubborn and just ask for some damn help from your family! No wonder people actually believe you're my step-kid; you're just like my stubborn fiancé and test my patience just as much as May and Harry; if not more!"

During her rant Buck opened and closed his mouth a few times but really didn't know what to say. He knew it was a running joke between himself and Bobby when he called his captain 'pops'; Bobby even sometimes called him 'son'; he's even heard Hen and Chimney jokingly tell Bobby 'you're son is annoying' when talking about him and Bobby would just roll his eyes.

But he never really thought about the fact that people outside of the firehouse knew anything... or believed it was true and not just jokes?

"I know, I'm sorry." Buck frowned and slumped back against the cushions.

Athena sat down next to him again. "It's okay to ask for help."

Buck nodded and without thinking he leaned into Athena's side. She didn't push him away and for that he was thankful; instead she wrapped her arms carefully around him and gave him a slight hug. He instantly melted into it with a sigh.

Four hours later when Maddie walked in the door it was to find Buck sitting between Harry and May; he was playing Mortal Kombat on his gaming console against Harry; his controller on his leg as he used his free hand to press buttons. May was sitting back with Kira in her arms just watching.

"Hey Mads!" Buck called without looking away from the tv.

"Hi!" Harry called next; also not looking away from the tv.

May did look up and smiled but then turned her attention back to Kira.

"Hi guys," Maddie put down her purse and slipped off her shoes. "Athena still here too then?"

"Kitchen." All three said at the same time.

Maddie nodded to herself and headed for her kitchen where Athena was currently making dinner. "So, hi."

Athena looked up from the pot she was stirring. "Buckette."

Maddie smiled at the nickname. "Thought I'd find him passed out on the couch when I got home to order take out."

"He had a sort of breakdown shortly after I got here." Athena sighed and turned back to the pot on the stove. "I didn't feel right leaving him alone. May brought Harry over and they've been playing video games since."

"Is he okay?" Maddie went and washed her hands. "And how can I help with dinner?"

"He will be and only thing left is the salad." Athena pointed to the salad ingredients on the counter.

So Maddie got to work making the salad to go with the pasta Athena was making them all for dinner and they talked about Buck; Kira; and Athena's children.

Chapter Text

Buck really wished he knew how he found himself in these sorts of situations; really he did. It was Sunday afternoon on a wonderful day and he had been meeting Taylor for lunch for the second time in two weeks. After his day yesterday he was feeling better; and so was Kira. His arm still ached like a bitch and he was still stuck in the sling; but it wasn't as bad the second day from the accident. He knew he had messed up yesterday when he had ripped the sling off in frustration; both Athena and Maddie had talked to him about that.

But now here he was; with Kira and Taylor. They had settled into their table just outside the little café Taylor had picked. As soon as Buck was strolled up with Kira, Taylor had taken the stroller to pull the little girl closer to her. As she was getting ready to unbuckle the little girl from the stroller suddenly Savannah and Claire were standing at their table in surprise. It was more surprise for Buck has he had been texting with Savannah about spending some time together; maybe going out to a bar or something; but that wasn't something he was ready to do so early in his currently situation.

And then Savannah had spotted Kira and had squealed and suddenly Buck was sitting with all three women gushing over Kira and talking to themselves; completely ignoring him. They had all ordered lunch together and Buck had just sat there for the next hour and a half as his daughter got all the attention. It wasn't like he was complaining; Buck loved that so many people loved his little girl. It made him happy to know there were just so many people out there for his daughter.

And then his phone vibrated in his pocket. He already knew who it was; almost like clockwork he got a text or call from Eddie; depending on the other man's current business status. He leaned back in his chair and pulled his phone out of his pocket; already smiling at the check-in.

From Eddie: How's lunch going?

Buck looked up at the women in front of him but they were still not paying him any attention so he quickly snapped a photo and sent it along to Eddie.

To Eddie: I don't know what's happening anymore.

From Eddie: Is that your friend Savannah and her wife?"

To Eddie: Yup

From Eddie: I thought you were having lunch with just Taylor?

To Eddie: I was
To Eddie: That's how it started
To Eddie: Like I said... no idea what's happening

From Eddie: You really need to stop letting the women in your life steal your kid

To Eddie: Like I fucking planned this...

"Evan?"

Buck looked up at the call of his name to find all three women watching him. Kira was back in her stroller sound asleep. "What? Sorry."

Savannah smiled. "You've been staring at your phone with a smile on your face for like ten minutes."

"Yeah," Taylor leaned forward trying to look. "Who are you chatting with?"

Buck tucked his phone away. "Nobody."

Savannah laughed and turned back to Taylor and Claire. "He's clearly lying."

"Oh course." Claire smirked, moving her short blonde hair off her shoulder. "But was it a girl or that guy he was sitting next to at the restaurant two weeks ago."

"Guy?" Taylor looked between Claire and Buck; settling her gaze on Buck. "I didn't know you dated guys too."

Buck shifted in his seat. "I..."

"I don't care." Taylor added. "I was just surprised."

Buck swallowed and turned his attention to Claire and Savannah. "Why did you ask if it was Eddie?"

"Eddie? Eddie Diaz?" Taylor asked. "Your friend and co-worker?"

"Yeah," Buck was still looking at Claire.

The blonde shrugged. "I watched how he was with you. Kept his hand on your shoulder; took your phone so you'd stop messing with it and you didn't even react; just let him take it."

"He's my best friend." Buck stated. "And also currently going through a divorce with his wife."

"Perfect, he'll be single soon." Savannah clapped her hands together. "Gives us time to scheme."

Buck pointed his finger at his friend. "No, not allowed. Last time you did that I got locked in a bathroom with Jimmy Pari who was completely straight and punched me when I told him why it happened."

Savannah had the conscious to look guilty. "Okay but in my defense he's married to a lovely man now and they just adopted a son."

"That doesn't make me feel better." Buck said deadpanned. "No scheming."

Savannah huffed and crossed her arms. "Fine."

"Thank you," Buck smiled at his friend as he stood from his seat. "Okay so I'm going to go pay and then get out of here. I've got things to do, people to see."

An hour later he was back home with Kira. He was still trying to wrap his mind around exactly what had happened that afternoon. He had clearly saw Taylor and Savannah exchange numbers as they were all leaving the café and he wasn't sure how he felt about that. They had also clearly been whispering about him after he had left the table because they had stopped as soon as he had returned to collect his daughter.

It wasn't long before Maddie was coming home from work to get ready for her date with Chimney. Buck was lounging on the couch but after her shower Maddie had asked for his opinion of which dress she should wear. That was how he had found himself sitting on the end of the bed in his sister's room while she changed into different dresses in her closet before showing up. He had veto'd a few of them before she started getting annoyed with him.

He smirked the moment she kicked him out of the room to pick a dress herself. He went into his room to check on Kira before making his way back downstairs to fix her a bottle when his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and smiled as he noticed it was a FaceTime from Eddie. He hit accept before placing the phone on the counter next to him so he could measure the formula into the bottle.

"Hey!"

"Hey, why am I staring at your ceiling?"

Buck laughed. "I only have one arm and I'm currently fixing Kira a bottle."

"Oh, okay. Hey, so you never answered my last text at your lunch today."

"Shit sorry. What did it say?"

Eddie laughed over the line. "I was wondering if you wanted company tonight. Since Chim is taking your sister on a date and..."

"Really she's taking him; she was the one to ask." Buck interrupted.

"Okay but he's picking her up."

"True. Sorry, continue."

"Christopher is at Abuela's tonight."

"Oh so you're all alone and need something to do."

"Exactly."

Buck leaned over his phone to look at Eddie and noticed he was driving; his phone hooked to one of the air vents near the steering wheel. "Pick up some of those loaded fries from Sarokis and you can come over."

"Deal." Eddie laughed as Buck heard him flip on his turn signal. "The original; southern or barbeque?"

"All three and we can just share."

"Got it. See you in like forty-five."

"Yup." Buck hung up and took the prepared bottle and his phone and headed upstairs.

Chapter Text

After a day with Athena, Buck had figured out a way to be able to pick up Kira without too much pain; and without getting frustrated and taking off the sling that was there to help his shoulder stay as immobilized as possible to heal faster. He was tall enough that he could lean all the way into her crib without straining anything to be able to use the hand of his immobile arm to help tuck his good arm under the baby and lift her out of the crib in the nook of his elbow. He only moved his bad shoulder slightly in the process which he deemed better then the day before so he was taking it as a win.

By the time he had settled against the headboard to fed Kira; Maddie was entering his room after a quick knock on the door. She was wearing a navy blue knee length, long sleeved dress.

"Okay so I went with the first one."

Buck chuckled. "Yeah I liked that one too."

Maddie made a face. "You said no to this."

"Yeah cause I didn't want to help so I kept saying no until you kicked me out." Buck rolled his eyes. "I did the same thing when I was nine and you asked me to help you find a prom dress to impress Kirk Branson."

"You're just mean. Why did you help me back then?"

"Cause you promised me those almond cookies from the bakery in the mall." Buck looked at his sister with a 'duh'.

Maddie laughed as she sat down on the side of the bed. She looked down at her niece as the baby sucked down her dinner before turning her attention back to her brother. "You are okay with this right?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well," Maddie shrugged. "I never did ask you if you were okay with me going out with one of your co-workers and friends."

Buck just smiled. "Mads, I was the one that pointed it out weeks ago that you two were practically dating already with the Buffridays and karaoke nights. If I had a problem with it I would have said something then."

"Okay, I was just making sure."

"It's still totally gross but I'm okay with it." Buck laughed as Maddie swatted at his leg before standing.

"I'm going to go wait downstairs." Maddie rolled her eyes as she left the room.

Buck was still laughing as Kira finished her bottle and he adjusted her to his shoulder to burp her. He was just finishing and standing to get her into pajamas for the night; hoping to have her down for the count when Eddie showed up; when his phone rang again. Cursing under his breath he instead just laid her back down in her crib and quickly scrambled for his phone laying on the bed. He answered before his brain registered that it was Eddie again.

"Hey!" Buck smiled as Eddie came into focus. "Everything okay?"

"Hey, oh yeah." Eddie was leaning against the side of his truck this time. "Just waiting on the fries, there was a bit of a line." There was a pause as Eddie looked at something. "Do you want some caramel cheesecake since I'm right here?"

"Hell yes!" Buck sat down on the end of his bed. "I could die happy with that as my last meal."

"Let's hope this isn't." Eddie huffed as he kicked away from his truck and headed for the bakery next door to the restaurant.

At the same time there was a knock on Buck's bedroom door and Maddie was peaking her head inside. "Hey, Chimney just texted that he's like five minutes away."

"Okay," Buck waved his phone. "Thought you were waiting downstairs. I'm just going to sit here and talk with Eddie instead of awkwardly watch my friend show up to pick my sister up for a date, thanks."

Both Maddie and Eddie laughed.

"Fine." Maddie smiled sweetly at him before calling out to Eddie over the phone. "Have a great night, boys!" And then the door was closed again.

Buck was going to shout something back but instead just huffed and turned his attention back to Eddie on the phone. He could see that Eddie had lowered his phone cause all that was filling the screen was Eddie's pant leg and part of a shoe. Buck also noticed he was on mute; Eddie had to be ordering then.

Buck stood up and placed his phone on the dresser before returning to Kira in her crib. She was starting to whimper a little which meant he needed to get her changed. He had her back out of the crib and on the changing table when he heard Eddie once again.

"Buckley where'd you go?"

"I'm still here." Buck called. "Just changing the kid."

He heard a car door slam shut. "I've got the food and I am heading your way. So tell me seriously, what the hell happened at lunch today?"

Buck finished putting Kira in a fresh diaper and began the one armed struggle of getting her into fresh pajamas. "I still don't know really. One minute Taylor and I were sitting down and she was about to pick up Kira; the next Claire and Savannah were sitting down with us and I was being ignored." He sighed. "Pretty sure Taylor and Savannah exchanged numbers and that scares me."

"Why?"

Buck opened his mouth to reply when he heard something that had him looking up at his closed door with a confused expression. He had Kira clothed so he quickly moved her back to her crib and gave her her pacifier.

"Buck?"

Buck glanced at his phone and then back at the door. "I thought I just..." He grabbed his phone and made his way towards the door. "Hang on, Eddie."

He opened his bedroom door and stepped into the hall; straining to listen. Eddie thankfully stayed quiet over the phone; the only noise he could hear was the lowered sound of the radio and engine of the truck through the phone as Eddie drove. Buck heard voices just down the stairs but he knew one of them was not Chimney. Still confused his grip on his phone tightened as he took the three steps to round the corner and stare down into the living room from the top of the stairs... and froze.

"Eds," He whispered. "Call 911." And then he dropped the phone as he watched Doug backhand Maddie across the face and grab her hair in his fist.

"MADDIE!"

Chapter Text

He barely had the truck in park when he yanked the door open and all but flew out of the cab. Hearing Buck whisper for him to call 911 and then yell for Maddie had Eddie's heart pounding. He had no idea what was going on and yelling for Buck hadn't worked. The blond had dropped the phone and all Eddie could do was listen as it bounced down the stairs; and the heavy footfalls as Buck too apparently flung himself down them. He hadn't wanted to hang up; the last thing he heard before he did to call the police was Maddie screaming and what sounded like a body slamming into another body.

He didn't stay on the line with the dispatcher; just gave them the address to Maddie's and what he believed was happening - he was pretty sure even without the details that Doug had found his way in. After hanging up he had called Bobby as he sped towards Maddie's; hoping he would get there in time before either Buckley sibling got hurt or worse. He had still been on the line with Bobby when he had pulled into the parking lot; parking across three spots because he didn't care. He had left his phone in the truck as he ran from the truck towards the gate.

As he reached the gate to punch in the code he noticed three things: the gate was still open; Chimney was laying on the ground in the middle of the cobbled archway; and Maddie was on her knees at his side trying to stop the bleeding from his stomach.

"Maddie!" Eddie flung the gate door open and bolted to their sides; dropping down to his knees in front of the woman; helping her apply pressure. "Maddie, where's Buck?"

Maddie shook her head and looked up, tears and mascara streaming down her face. "Inside."

Eddie turned his head down the sidewalk where he could see light spilling out of an open door; out Maddie's open door.

"It's Doug. He..." Maddie choked looking back down at Chimney.

Eddie did the same. Eddie moved a blood slicked hand to Chimney's neck to check for a pulse; exhaling deeply when he found one. "Police are on their way." He turned his attention back to Maddie. "Stay here, I need to go help Buck."

Maddie nodded.

"If Doug comes out you need to run. My truck is still running; get in and just go." Eddie gripped Maddie's arm. "Understand?"

"Yes, just go help my brother!"

Eddie nodded and stood but before he could take a step he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head hoping that it was Buck, but instead it was someone else. A shorter man with dark hair and angry looking eyes. He was covered in blood and held a bloody knife at his side.

"Maddie, it's time to go." Doug had his attention on his wife.

Eddie instantly moved; stepping between Doug and the two on the ground. He didn't know where Buck was; if he was okay; if he was bleeding out inside the apartment; but Eddie did know that it was now his job to protect Buck's sister from this man. He wouldn't forgive himself if something happened to Maddie when clearly Buck fought so hard for her to get away. He also had a feeling Chimney didn't have much longer if the one person trying to stop the bleeding was taken away.

Doug stopped a few feet from Eddie as he watched the other man step in to block his view from Maddie. He just sighed and scratched at his eyebrow with the hand holding the knife. "You must be Eddie. Loverboy's inside bleeding out, maybe you should go help him."

It took everything in Eddie to not move. Hearing that Buck was bleeding inside and he was all alone. His instinct was telling him to run for it; find Buck and help him; but he was fighting that. He needed to keep himself between Doug and Maddie.

"That kid of his is screaming too."

Eddie felt his body twitch at the mention of Kira and his eyes flickered towards the door over Doug's shoulder. Had something happened to the baby? Had Buck been holding her when he found Doug in the apartment? He couldn't remember if Buck had had her in his arms while they were talking over the phone.

"Look, I don't want to hurt you." Doug took another step forward. "I didn't want to hurt Evan but he gave me no choice. I just want to take my wife back home where she belongs."

Eddie turned his attention back to Doug and straightened his stance to seem taller; they were almost the same height to begin with. "She's not going anywhere with you."

"Fine." Doug growled as he lunged forward.

Eddie was able to dodge out of the way but still keep himself between Doug and Maddie. He could hear sirens in the distance; he knew he only had to keep him distracted a little longer for help to arrive. He himself was distracted for a split second when Eddie saw movement in the light from Maddie's apartment. He felt a searing hot pain on his left arm where the knife sliced down on him. He stumbled back a step, kicking Chimney's foot and almost tripping; but he was able to keep himself righted. Doug was about to swing the knife at him again when he stopped at his name being called from behind him. Eddie looked up to see Buck standing just a few feet away.

The blond was holding his arm against his side while his arm that was suppose to be in the sling was limp at his other side. Eddie could see blood on the side of Buck's face and covering half his shirt. All Eddie wanted to do was run to the younger man and make sure he was okay.

"Doug." Buck called again.

The dark haired man sighed and turned around to face the blond. "What?"

And that's when Eddie finally saw what Buck was holding. Eddie watched as Buck raised his arm; clearly ignoring the pain from his already injured and probably more injured shoulder; and pointed the gun directly at the other man. Eddie's eyes widened as he twisted and took the two steps towards Maddie; dropping down to his knees at her side and covering her with his body just as a single gunshot rang out.

Chapter Text

Eddie took a deep breath and raised his body off Maddie and looked around. Maddie did the same before turning her attention back to Chimney. Eddie twisted around and frantically searched for Buck. The blond was still standing where he had been; gun still raised and starting to lower back to his side. Then Eddie's eyes landed on Doug. The other man was slumped to the ground. Eddie turned on his knees and crawled the few paces towards Doug; grabbing the knife that had clattered to the ground and pushing it away before checking for a pulse. Blood was quickly soaking through his shirt right where his heart was.

Eddie knew instantly that Doug was dead.

He didn't wait; Eddie was up and practically jumping over Doug's lifeless body to get to Buck. He grabbed the younger man's shoulders just as Buck's legs gave out and they both went crashing down to the ground on their knees. Eddie's hands were then moving, trying to find all the other man's injuries. He ignored the clatter of the gun hitting the ground as Buck let it go.

"Buck. Buck look at me." Eddie cradled both sides of the blond's head and tilted his face up to his. "Where are you hurt?"

"Maddie?" Buck whispered, breathing heavy.

"She's okay." Eddie's eyes roamed over his friend's face; checking where the blood was coming from near his hairline and neck. "She's fine because of you. Now where are you hurt, I need to know."

Buck licked his lips. "Side. Stabbed."

Eddie's eyes dropped to where Buck was holding his arm tightly inside his side. With one hand still on Buck's face, Eddie took his other and gently pulled Buck's arm away to examine the stab wound. He lifted his shirt to get a better look but there was so much blood he couldn't tell how deep it was or if it had hit anything vital. He tucked Buck's arm back against the wound to hold pressure.

"Anywhere else?"

Buck shook his head. "Is that... is that Chim?"

Eddie looked over his shoulder back where Maddie was still applying pressure to Chimney's own wounds. He nodded and turned his attention back to the blond. "He's still alive."

"Eddie." Buck leaned forward and laid his forehead against Eddie's shoulder and choked on a sob.

Eddie's hand moved to the back of Buck's head and into his hair. "I've got you. You're gonna be okay, I've got you." Just as he heard the gate open behind them, Eddie remembered the last person that had been in the apartment. He lifted Buck's head back up. "Buck, where's Kira?"

"Wha..." Buck blinked as tears rolled down his cheeks. "Upstairs. She's upstairs."

"Did Doug...?"

"No. He ignored her after she started crying." Buck swallowed and looked up. "Bobby."

Eddie whipped his head to look up and sighed in relief. Bobby was standing over them. He turned to look and found paramedics now helping Chimney and Maddie. Bobby knelt down next to them and placed a hand on both of their shoulders.

"Are either of you hurt or is this all someone else's blood?"

Eddie turned his attention back to his captain. "He's been stabbed, and he might have a concussion."

Bobby looked over Buck who seemed to be blinking a little too much as he listed to the side. Both Eddie and Bobby helped him lean back into Eddie's shoulder to keep him upright. And then a paramedic was there to help and Bobby was pulling Eddie back to his feet.

"I have to get Kira."

Bobby shook his head. "May's getting her."

Eddie blinked and looked around. Officers and paramedics were filling the cobbled archway around them. Some were inside the apartment where he figured May currently was. Both Buck and Chimney were loaded onto gurneys and rushed away. Maddie followed and climbed in with Chimney. Eddie took a step to follow to be with Buck but Bobby stopped him. Bobby grabbed his arm where he had been cut and he hissed at the sudden burn. They both looked down.

"You didn't say you were hurt." Bobby released his arm to wave over another paramedic.

"I forgot." Eddie mumbled still staring down at his arm as Athena joined them.

"Where did Buck get a gun? Did Kendall bring it with him?"

Eddie looked at Athena as the paramedic started cleaning and wrapping his arm. "I don't know. I was trying to keep Doug away from Maddie when Buck came out of the apartment with it."

Athena nodded. "They will need to get your full statement but you need to get to the hospital to get that checked."

"Okay." Eddie nodded, grateful when Bobby ushered him back through the gate as May came out of the apartment with Kira in her car seat and a large bag over her shoulder.

Bobby took the bag and they headed for Buck's jeep. Eddie watched as Bobby transferred the base of Kira's car seat to Bobby's truck and got her settled inside. Athena got into the driver's seat of Bobby's car and took herself, May and Kira away. Bobby then ushered Eddie to his own truck that was still running with the driver's door wide open. Eddie climbed into the passenger seat and allowed Bobby to drive them to the hospital.

When they got inside it was to find Maddie sitting in the waiting room with Hen. They both jumped up when Bobby and Eddie approached them. Maddie instantly grabbed onto Eddie and hugged him. Eddie wrapped his good arm over her shoulders and hugged her back.

"Thank you." She sighed into his chest.

"Just doing what I knew Buck would want me too." Eddie replied.

Maddie shook her head. "You could have ran for Buck when Doug told you he was bleeding out." She choked on a sob but continued. "But you didn't. You stayed to protect me."

"You're important to Buck, so you're important to me." Eddie shrugged at Maddie pulled away. "You're family."

Bobby then stepped up to them. "He needs to get his arm checked."

Maddie looked down at his wrapped arm. "Oh, sorry."

"It's fine. Barely hurts." Eddie ignored the looks Bobby and Hen were both shooting at him.

He knew he was lying. At first he really had forgotten about it; more concerned with protecting Maddie and then checking on Buck. He hadn't remembered his own injury until it had been pointed out to him again. Eddie was taken back by a nurse to have his arm checked; cleaned and stitched. When he returned to the waiting room a half hour later it was to find Athena had joined them after dropping May and Kira off at the house. There was also another officer waiting to get his statement; already haven't collected Maddie's. Eddie sat down next to Maddie and took her hand in his as he gave his statement to the group and the officer.

Chapter Text

He came back to consciousness slowly; not wanting to open his eyes. The anesthetic smell and beeping of the heart machine told him instantly that he was in the hospital. He tried to stay still; his arm; head and side throbbing enough for him to know that's where his main pain would be once whatever pain relievers they had him on wore off completely. Just as he could feel himself slipping back into sleep his brain came back online and he remembered what had happened that was the cause of his trip to the hospital.

Buck's eyes flew open and he gasped as he tried to sit up in the bed; looking around frantically.

"Easy, kid."

Buck's head swiveled to his left and landed on Bobby. The older man had been sitting by his bedside but was now standing; leaning over the bed and gently pushing Buck to lay back down.

"Maddie? Eddie? Chim?" Buck rattled off their names. "Kira?"

"They're all okay," Bobby assured him. "Maddie is currently checking on Chimney. His surgery took longer then yours but the doctor's say he's going to make a full recovery, just like you. Hen took Eddie down to the cafeteria for some breakfast and Kira is at mine with May."

Buck sighed and finally flopped back against the pillows and closing his eyes. He felt Bobby sit carefully on the edge of the bed to be closer; his hand never leaving Buck's shoulder.

"And Doug?"

"Dead."

Buck's eyes opened and he blinked at the burning sensation he could feel building behind them. He already knew the answer to that. He had been the one to aim the gun; had watched Eddie check for a pulse before rushing towards Buck. He opened his mouth to say something but what could he say? He had just taken another man's life. Sure it was Doug, a man that didn't deserve to live with how he had treated Maddie for years; but Buck hated that it had been him to do it. But he also knew he would hate for his sister to have to live with the guilt that was now settling in the pit of his stomach.

Bobby's hand squeezed his shoulder. "You're all going to be okay."

"Was Eddie hurt?"

"Just a cut on his arm," Bobby replied. "A few stitches."

"Good," Buck blinked a few times; feeling himself starting to go under again.

"Sleep, Buck. We'll still be here when you wake up."

"Promise?" Buck's eyes were already closed as he settled deeper into the bed. He felt Bobby's hand move to his head and rake through his curls; his thumb brushing against his forehead and making Buck somehow sleepier.

"Promise, kiddo."

The next time Buck woke up was to Eddie sitting in the chair Bobby had been in. Eddie had a leg tucked into the chair, his knee at his neck and face tucked into his leg as he dozed. Buck looked around and found Bobby and Athena sitting on his other side; Athena leaning into Bobby as she slept. Bobby was reading a book but didn't see that Buck was awake yet. Movement behind the couple caught Buck's attention and he looked over Bobby's shoulder to see Maddie sitting in another chair at Chimney's bedside. Chimney was also still sound asleep.

"They decided to have you two share a room instead of us all constantly moving through the halls to see you both."

Buck turned his attention to Bobby; the older man had stopped reading his book to look at him. Buck just nodded as he turned his attention back to Maddie once again. At Bobby's voice Maddie had twisted in her chair to look over. Buck could see bruises along her cheek and jaw but otherwise she looked okay. Maddie made a strangling noise in the back of her throat as she launched herself from her chair and over to Buck's bedside. She was careful as she tucked herself into his uninjured side; mindful of his injured shoulder once again in a sling.

"Maddie, I'm so sorry."

"Shh, no." Maddie shook her head as she cupped her brother's face between her hands. "You did what you had to to protect us. You protected me."

"She's right, Buck." Buck turned his head to look at Eddie, who was now awake and sitting up straighter in his chair. "Doug was ready to kill me to get to Maddie if you hadn't come out of the apartment with that gun." Eddie shifted his chair closer to the bed and that was when Buck saw the sleeve of Eddie's shift was rolled up to reveal gauze from elbow to wrist. Eddie followed his gaze. "It's just a cut, nothing like what you and Chimney went through."

Buck swallowed hard and nodded. "I'm glad you're all okay."

"And we're all glad you're okay, Buckaroo." Athena said from next to Maddie as she crossed her arms and looked down at the blond. "Now, care to explain the gun because it only had your fingerprints."

Buck smiled shyly and nodded. "That's because it's mine. I have all the paperwork to conceal carry."

"I didn't know you carried a gun." Eddie piped up.

"I don't at work or when I'm around Christopher; but since I moved in with Maddie it stays in a lock box in a safe in the cupboard under the stairs." Buck licked his lips and looked straight at Athena. "Unloaded." Then he looked at Maddie. "Only Maddie knew it was there. She and I are the only ones with both combinations for the safe and lock box."

"Be sure to tell that to the officer that comes to get your statement this afternoon now that you're awake." Athena looked at him pointedly.

Buck nodded quickly. He asked what happens now; was he in trouble for shooting and killing Doug. Athena reassured him that it was most likely going to be ruled self-defense. Doug had attacked them all; he was in the middle of attacking Eddie when he was shot. She didn't see it going any other way.

Chapter Text

When he woke up the third time it was to Chimney awake talking to an officer; most likely giving his statement. Bobby and Athena were gone but Buck instantly saw that Eddie was still sitting in the same chair as earlier. It wasn't long before the officer turned to him. In front of Eddie and Chimney, Buck gave his statement.

He told them how he had been on the phone upstairs with Eddie when he had heard something. How he went to investigate and saw Doug in the living room with Maddie; told Eddie to call 911 as Doug hit Maddie and tried to pull her towards the door to leave. How he flew down the stairs and tackled Doug; telling Maddie to run. Didn't let go of Doug until Maddie was out the door; and that's when he felt the blade go into his side; he hadn't even seen the knife. They wrestled as Buck did his best to keep Doug from getting back out the door; or upstairs where Kira had started crying. Then he had cracked the side of his head on the coffee table and Doug was able to get away from him.

He told them that as Doug left he struggled his way to the cupboard under the stairs to get into the safe and lock box to grab his gun; loaded it as he stumbled his way out the door to find Maddie. How he saw Doug swing the knife at Eddie and knew he needed to stop him before anyone else got hurt and he got a hold of Maddie. When he was asked how long he had had the gun and how he learned to shoot; he told them he's had the gun since he was twenty three after he left the SEALs and that he goes to the gun range at least twice a month to practice.

By the time the officer was leaving with both statements Chimney was back asleep and Buck was watching Eddie; who was watching him. Without a word Eddie stood and stepped closer to the bed; sitting down on the edge being careful of Buck's wounded side; and took hold of his hand.

"I am really glad you're okay."

Buck nodded. "So am I."

Eddie looked down at their hands clasped together. "When Doug said you were inside bleeding out; I had to fight everything in me not to move. My head was telling me to stay; protect Maddie for you. But my heart..."

"Eddie..."

"No, just." Eddie sighed. "I know I'm still technically married, it'll be months before the divorce is finalized but I need you to know that as soon as it is." He finally looked up at Buck. "I was going to wait to ask you until it was but after last night. I wanted to do this right, wanted to wait but last night made me realize that nothing is ever guaranteed."

"Eddie," Buck licked his lips. "If you're about to ask me out the answer is a definite yes but we need to take this slow. You have Christopher and I have Kira and no matter what they need to come first for everything." He squeezed his hand in Eddie's. "You need to take the time to be there for Chris because his parents are divorcing. I know since filing Shannon has been trying to be better about being in his life but you still need to be there."

Eddie nodded. "I know."

"Good now you owe me dinner cause ours last night got interrupted."

"Oh yeah," Eddie laughed. "Those fries and cheesecake were passed out to everyone waiting on news for you and Chim. But I did save something; had to fight them away from Bobby." Eddie reached down to a bag he had kept at his feet since sitting down and pulled a bakery box out; releasing Buck's hand to pop the lid and show the contents to the blond.

Buck's eyes lite up the moment he saw the cookies and he instantly grabbed two of them. "Almond cookies!" Then he practically shoving a whole one into his mouth.

"Jesus Buck, you're going to choke." Eddie closed the bakery box and sat it on the chair he had vacated. "You've already had one emergency tracheotomy."

Buck chewed and swallowed the cookie. "At least I'm already in a hospital."

"Don't." Eddie grimaced and shook his head. "Please, don't. Not after last night. Too much of a close call for too many of us."

"Sorry," Buck frowned and took another bite of his second cookie. "Thank you."

Eddie nodded, taking hold of Buck's hand again. Buck ate his second cookie a little slower as they sat and talked about anything that didn't have to do with what they had gone through the night before.

"So, I need to go and pick up Christopher from school." Eddie stood and stretched. "If you're up for it, I can bring him back here?"

"Yes, I want to see my favorite Diaz." Buck smiled.

Eddie laughed and nodded; handing over the box of cookies. "Try not to eat all of them and make yourself sick."

"I make no promises." Buck instantly opened the box and took out a third cookie; taking a huge bite.

Eddie rolled his eyes before leaning over Buck and giving him a quick kiss on the forehead. He was rushing out of the room before Buck could respond. He just laid there frozen until another voice spoke up to his right.

"You two are going to be insufferable now."

Buck snorted and turned his head towards Chimney with a smile. "Like we weren't already?"

"Touché." Chimney huffed. "Give me one of those cookies."

"What, no." Buck hugged the box to his chest. "These are mine, get your own."

"Now you're just being mean to an injured man, I'm telling your sister."

"If you haven't noticed I'm also in a hospital bed, you moron." Buck rolled his eyes but carefully sat up and swung his legs over the side of his bed.

He knew he would be in trouble if he was caught so as quickly as he possibly could; one hand holding the cookie box and the other gripping onto the IV pole; Buck took the few steps between the beds to Chimney; holding the box out to the other man. Chimney took two cookies with a smile; then grabbed a third before Buck could move away.

"Greedy bastard." Buck mumbled as he made his way back to his bed once more; sitting down just as the door opened and a nurse walked in. He just smiled at her and got himself comfortable back in bed.

Chapter Text

"Hey, what are you doing up?"

Buck looked up from where he was sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea in front of him. He sleepily smiled at Bobby as the older man came to sit at the table across from him. It had been three days since Doug's attack; one day since Buck had been released from the hospital; and six hours since Bobby and Athena had practically tucked him and Kira into their spare room; Maddie already tucked away on the pullout couch in what use to be Michael's office (and was now just a study).

"Couldn't sleep."

"I don't think anyone has been these past few days." Bobby nodded. "What you four went through was horrible."

"We all survived though."

"That doesn't just make the trauma go away, Buck."

Buck sighed and dropped his chin to his chest. "I know."

"I'd be surprised if any of you were getting a full nights sleep right now."

"Maddie might be." Buck looked back up at Bobby and shrugged.

Bobby shook his head. "Not that first night. She and Athena stayed up all night even though we all knew you and Chim were going to be okay."

Buck frowned and looked down into his tea cup.

"Maddie told us she was going to go with him."

"What?"

Bobby rubs at the bridge of his nose. "When he attacked Eddie. She was ready to go with him so Eddie could go find you; help you if you were hurt as bad as Doug was making it out to be. Which you were."

"No." Buck shook his head. "Chimney has it worse. He was stabbed three times."

"You were still stabbed too. Finding you all there; blood covering all of you like that. I'm not going to be sleeping well for a while." Bobby sighed as he watched the younger man in front of him. "Half of this family was almost killed."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault, Buck. You protected them, you saved them."

"No. I didn't."

"You did, son." Bobby reached across the table and pressed his hand on top of Buck's. "Chimney was hurt so bad because he was the first. Doug caught him by surprise; followed him through the gate. Maddie only had a few bruises because you were right there; stopped him from taking her; hurting her worse. And Eddie; Eddie made his choice to stay and defend Maddie for you. Yes he got hurt but it would have been a lot worse had you not been there too." Bobby squeezed his hand. "If you hadn't fought as hard as you did, May, Athena and I probably would have walked up on both Chimney and Eddie bleeding to death; to you bleeding to death inside; and Maddie gone who knows where with Doug."

Buck tried to fight back the tears threatening to fall but he couldn't as he sniffed. Instantly Bobby was around the table; knelling at his side and wrapping his arms around Buck; careful of his shoulder and side. Buck leaned into the older man; tucking his face into Bobby's neck and let the tears fall. Bobby held him through it; even when Athena stepped up and placed a hand on his shoulder and ran the other through Buck's curls.

They both had known Buck was going to have a hard time coming to terms with that fact that he had killed a man. A man that Bobby knew they all shared the same sentiment that he deserved it; but he still took another person's life. It was one of the reasons why the couple had insisted they take Buck home with them to stay during his recovery; another being they were pretty sure neither Buckley would want to return to their apartment any time soon; and that was why when they knew Buck and Chimney were both going to be okay, Athena had made it her mission to take Maddie home with her. Earlier Bobby and Athena had gone back to the apartment once they had the all clear to collect clothes for Maddie, Buck and Kira; along with whatever else they knew they would need for the baby.

After a few minutes Buck finally sobbed one last time before pulling away from the older man and wiped the back of his good hand across his eyes and whispered, "Sorry."

Bobby shook his head as he stood up; ignoring the pain in his knees; and pulled a chair right up next to Buck so he was still within reach. "Nothing to be sorry about, son."

Athena placed down a fresh cup of tea in front of Buck and then a coffee for both herself and Bobby before she pulled a chair close to Buck's other side; as close as Bobby was. Buck smiled his thanks to the woman before carefully taking a few sips of the tea. It was still too early to be awake but almost too late to go back to sleep before either of them needed to be up for work so they sat with Buck until it was time to start breakfast for the lot of them.

Buck tried to stand and help but Athena just ushered him back towards the bedrooms; telling him to shower while she got Kira ready for the day. Now that he was more injured then before; Buck knew he needed even more help with his daughter. He wasn't about to argue with Athena about that. An hour later the Grant-Nash's and Buckley's sat around the table eating breakfast before Athena took May and Harry to school and headed to work; and then Bobby headed off to work leaving the Buckley's to themselves.

They were not alone for long when Eddie showed up around noon with lunch for the three of them. After lunch Maddie said goodbye and headed for the hospital to spend some time with Chimney; who wouldn't be released for another couple of days. Eddie hung out with Buck and Kira until mid-afternoon when Michael showed up with May and Harry after school. Eddie then said his goodbyes because he needed to go and pick Christopher up from school. Michael only stayed for an hour until Maddie returned from the hospital.

Chapter Text

Buck was hesitating as he took deep breaths. Bobby was right next to him; his hand on Buck's shoulder; his other holding Kira in her carrier. It had been two weeks since the attack; two weeks of staying at the Grant-Nash house being taken care of by Bobby and Athena. Now that he was no longer in the sling and could carry his daughter around without trouble; Buck and Maddie had decided it was time for them to return home. It had been a huge decision for both of them and when they had sat down with Bobby and Athena the night before at dinner; the couple had been worried but knew the decision was theirs. Buck and Maddie were adults after all.

He knew their family had cleaned up the apartment days after the attack; once police were done calling it a crime scene. They had wanted it to be ready for when Buck and Maddie were ready to return. The siblings had even talked about finding a new apartment together so they wouldn't have to return; but they knew that would probably take them some time as Buck had been searching for two months himself already and hadn't found anything yet. That was why they had decided it was time to return to the apartment; get their lives moving again.

Buck had another week before he would be returning to work on light duty. He had talked with Bobby; he was okay with the light duty as long as it was based around the station. Bobby had even offered that he could help Hen with medical since Chimney would still be out himself for at least another two or three weeks. His wounds had caught an infection while in hospital and even though he was now home (staying with Hen and Karen for the time being); he was still taking longer to heal then they initially thought.

"Buck?"

He looked up at Bobby with a frown. "Sorry, what?"

"I said you don't need to do this if you're not ready." Bobby squeezed his shoulder. "Athena and I already said you guys are welcome to stay as long as you need."

Buck shook his head and took a deep breath. "No, no. We need to do this. How else are we suppose to move on, right?" He gave a humorless chuckle before finally taking the final steps through the open apartment door.

Maddie was already inside and looking around. Buck did the same thing from the doorway; inching in just enough to allow Bobby access too. They had replaced the carpet; too much blood on the last one. The once broken coffee table was replaced; as was the stair railing. The living room looked normal; not like a fight had broken out just two weeks ago. Taking another deep breath, Buck finally stepped further into the room. Maddie stepped out of the kitchen and looked at her little brother. They both smiled softly and sighed.

A few hours later they were sitting at the kitchen table eating takeout; they would need to go grocery shopping to refill the now empty fridge. Kira was content in her bouncy chair at Buck's feet with her pacifier; Buck had already fed her while they had been waiting for their food to arrive.

"This is weird right?"

Buck nodded as he took a bite of his egg roll and chewed; swallowing before answering. "Weird and maybe a little creepy." He sighed. "All I could see when I walked in was what it looked like that night even though it's been cleaned up."

"I don't even know what it looked like." Maddie frowned. "Everything was fine when you told me to run."

"And its better that way." Buck looked at his sister. "You had enough to deal with him showing up, and then finding Chim like you did."

"Thinking he killed you." Maddie's eyes began to tear up. "I thought I had lost you for good again."

Buck shook his head as he absentmindedly messed with the black leather band around his left wrist. Nobody but he and Maddie knew why he wore it; and Buck had no intentions of ever telling anyone else. "I never would have let that happen. Besides I wasn't the one he wanted. He just needed me injured enough to stay out of his way. He didn't count on Eddie showing up either."

Maddie smiled at that. "He told me to run. Told me to take his truck and to just go. But then Doug was there and Eddie stepped between us without hesitation or thought for himself."

"He told me." Buck took his sister's hand in his on the table. "I'm just glad we're all okay."

"Okay," Maddie wiped at her eyes and tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Change of subject. Have you and Eddie decided on a first date yet?"

Buck laughed as he released her hand and leaned back in his chair. "We're waiting."

"Waiting for what?"

"His divorce to be final." Buck shrugged and picked at his food. "He needs to be there for Christopher. Shannon's been better about being there for him since Eddie filed last month but his parents are divorcing. He needs to be Eddie's priority no matter what; but especially right now."

"Do you not think that kid will be happy to learn his dad and you are going to date?"

Buck shrugged again before dropping his fork and looking down at Kira. She was smiling around her pacifier up at him. Buck couldn't help but smile back. The first time he had noticed the little girl smile had been a week ago. He had been having a sort of movie night with Eddie, Christopher, Maddie, May and Harry while both Athena and Bobby were working overnight shifts. Kira had been in Eddie's lap as the other man bounced her on his legs while he was tucked against Buck. They had been paying more attention to Kira then the movie so they had seen at the same time as she had smiled at Buck as she reached for her daddy. Buck had been grateful that Eddie had pretended not to see Buck cry a little at the gesture. That following morning had found Buck waking to Athena in the doorway of the spare room that was currently his; watching him and Eddie sleeping; and thankfully that was all they had done because it was embarrassing enough. Christopher had been tucked into Harry's room with him.

"So I called mom." Buck decided to change the subject.

Maddie decided not to call him out on in. "I know, so did I. It was the first thing she told me."

Buck nodded and scrubbed a hand over his face; suddenly tired. He was still on low grade pain meds but they always still made him so tired. "I sent her a few pictures of Kira. Figured until I was ready for face to face interactions, this was the best I could do." He looked at his sister. "She seemed okay with that, if not a little sad."

Maddie hummed. "I think she knows it's going to take time. Did you talk to dad too?"

"No." Buck snorted. "I asked mom about him but she said he wasn't home. I knew she was lying but I didn't push it."

They all went to bed not long after that. Buck slept only a little though; waking at every little noise. It was just after midnight when he was woken a fourth time to movement in the hallway outside his door. He almost panicked until he heard the knock and Maddie's voice asking if he was awake. He grunted in the affirmative and the door opened. Without a word Maddie entered his room; closing the door back behind her; and shuffled over to his bed. Buck already had the covers pulled back on the empty side of the bed. Maddie climbed in on her side facing her brother.

They fell asleep after an hour of silence as they just breathed in the fact that they were not alone; they still had each other.

Chapter Text

"Thanks for this." Buck placed the casserole dish in his hand into the fridge along with the tupperware containers with the mixing for a salad and homemade garlic bread; and turned back around to look at Bobby. "We haven't gone shopping yet and I didn't think a third day with takeout would be a good idea." He scrubbed at the side of his face. "Especially as it's her birthday."

Bobby nodded as he leaned his hip against the counter. "If we had known you know Athena and I would have done a family dinner after we all got off work."

"Oh, yeah, yeah. I know." Buck nodded and gave a quick flash of teeth as he smiled. "But Maddie didn't really want that. She just wanted something quiet, no fuss." He shrugged. "Same as at Christmas. She invited Chim, Eddie and Chris but other then that it was just us most of the day then."

"She ask Chimney to come over today?"

Buck shrugged again. "She hasn't said but I wouldn't be surprised if Karen dropped him off or something."

Bobby nodded in understanding. "Alright, call if either of you need anything else and I'll do what I can. Otherwise I have to get going or I'm going to be late."

Buck stepped around the counter and pulled the older man into a hug; tucking his chin over Bobby's shoulder. "Thank you again, Bobby."

Bobby's hand found it's way into Buck's hair as he hugged him back. "No need to thank me, Buck. Family, remember."

Buck smiled as he pulled away. Bobby squeezed his shoulder once before turning and heading for the door. Buck followed and waved as Bobby left. As soon as the door was closed Buck turned around and headed straight back to the kitchen. They had been back in the apartment for two days now but Buck couldn't find himself staying in the living room longer then it took him to get down the stairs and out the front door or into the kitchen. Even though it was all cleaned up and looked normal; all Buck could see was the mess of broken furniture and his blood.

Maddie had tried to talking to him about it last night when the second night in a row found Maddie curling up on the other side of Buck's bed to sleep. It seemed she wasn't ready to sleep in her own room alone just yet. Buck didn't question her but he did wonder as she didn't do it while they had been staying at Bobby and Athena's; unless it was now because the house was more empty. There had been four other people in the house at all times; now it was just the two of them and a baby.

They had spent all day yesterday either upstairs in their rooms or in the kitchen. Buck never voiced his issue about the living room but he knew Maddie had seen it. The way if they were downstairs and he had to get something from his room and go to the bathroom that he would walk faster and practically run up and down the stairs. When they had ordered food twice he had gone out to the main gate to get it for them instead of allowing the delivery person through the gate.

But then he had called Bobby pretty late last night because today was his sister's thirty-fifth birthday and knowing she just wanted a quiet day like normal; he had asked Bobby to fix them up a homemade meal. Lasagna seemed to be the best option. Bobby didn't even hesitate with the late night request and was more then happy to go out of his way to drop the food off early that morning before turning around to head to work for the day.

It was still early and Buck knew that Maddie was still asleep upstairs so he decided he was going to do what they had talked about when still staying at the Grant-Nash house; he was going to apartment hunt. It had only been two days since they had returned and Buck already knew it was struggling and would continue to struggle; even working with a therapist; something he never thought he would try again. But after his breakdown with Bobby the first night out of the hospital two weeks ago; Buck knew Bobby was going to suggest it. In the end it hadn't been a suggestion.

It had become mandatory for Buck, Eddie and Chimney to all talk to a therapist; at least six weeks mandatory, longer if they believed they needed it. Buck had been worried but Bobby had found a better solution for him; virtual sessions. Buck talked once a week over his laptop in a video chat with his new therapist: Dr. Copeland. He wasn't sure if Chimney or Eddie had the same therapist; it wasn't like he was going to ask them. He was also pretty sure that Maddie wasn't talking to a therapist but he was hoping she would change her mind.

An hour later Buck had a few apartment bookmarked to show Maddie before setting up appointments for them to go and look at them when he heard shuffling at the doorway. He looked up and over the top of his laptop to find Maddie stepping into the kitchen and Kira in her arms; the baby was whimpering.

"Shit, did she wake you?" Buck stood to take his daughter.

"Sort of." Maddie shrugged. "It's okay though, don't worry."

"You didn't sleep well last night, you need the sleep." Buck went about fixing a bottle for his little girl.

"Neither did you." Maddie pulled a glass from the cupboard to get some water. "Don't think I didn't feel you get out of bed at like three this morning and never return; and that just sounded so weird."

Buck laughed as he turned and leaned against the counter while the bottle heated up; bouncing Kira in his arms. He couldn't believe his little girl was already two months old. He still felt like he was in a dream that suddenly he would wake up and she wouldn't exist and he honestly never wanted that to happen. He couldn't picture his life without Kira now; and never wanted too. As long as he had his way he knew he wouldn't have to worry about that.

"I have a few apartments bookmarked." He nodded towards his laptop on the counter. "I know we thought we could do this but I can't see myself getting use to being in that living room anymore."

Maddie breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God."

Buck tested the bottle on his wrist to make sure it was okay for Kira before starting to feed his daughter. Maddie had leaned onto the counter to start looking over the bookmarked apartments. On the third one she stood up straight.

"I like this one. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms; open concept living, dining and kitchen." Maddie started nodding. "An outdoor storage with patio. And it's not much more then here."

"And we'll be actually splitting the rent with this one. I'll be on the lease this time." Buck added. "This way you can't stop refusing rent from me."

Maddie waved her hand over her shoulder at him. "You pay other things."

Buck stepped up next to her. "Just except it; split the rent."

"Fine, whatever."

"Thank you."

Maddie leaned her head against Buck's arm. "We should go see this one tomorrow. Get in there before someone else."

"I'll call for an appointment once she's fed."

Nodding, Maddie went about making herself something to eat.

"Oh, and happy birthday."

Maddie smiled. "Thank you."

Chapter Text

"This place looks good."

Buck nodded as he looked around them. He and Eddie were standing in the living room of the second apartment that he and Maddie were looking at for the day; Maddie had ventured towards the bedrooms with the manager that was showing them around. When Buck had been texting with Eddie the night before he had asked to tag along because it was his day off and Christopher had school. Buck wasn't about to say no to spending the day with his best friend - and he knew Maddie wouldn't have a problem with it.

They had left Kira at home with Marti - the first time in almost three weeks since Marti has actually babysat the little girl.

The current apartment they were in was only a two bedroom; the same complex as the three bedroom they originally were thinking about but when they had reached the office they had found the three bedroom was already signed for; they only had a two bedroom open at the time now. They had still been able to look at the three bedroom because they had been informed that another would be open in about two weeks.

The three bedroom they had looked at first was a decent sized living room as soon as you stepped inside; a small coat closet right at the door. The kitchen was around the corner; a counter bar cutting it from the living room. The main wall of the living room was a sliding glass door onto a patio with outdoor storage. The hall had two doors on the right - both smaller bedrooms; and one door on the left - the main bathroom; as well as a linen closet on either side of the bathroom door. At the end of the hall was the door to the master bedroom; slightly larger then the other two. Around the door to the left was an open space with the sink and vanity; to the left of that the bathroom (toilet and tub); to the right the walk-in closet.

The two bedroom they were currently looking at was similar in everything but the hall only had one linen closet; and there was no door at the end of the hall for a third bedroom. Inside the second door was the master bedroom; and to the left inside the room was the walk-in closet - where you would walk through to reach to second bathroom.

"Okay," Maddie returned to the living room. "If we take this one you're getting the master since you'll need the room for Kira's crib."

Buck nodded; he figured Maddie would say that. He really had no argument because he would need the room. Though he had already been thinking about using the walk-in closet as a sort of 'nursery' because really; he didn't have that much clothing; it all fit into the dresser he currently used.

"Or you wait two weeks and get the three bedroom so she has her own room." Eddie added.

"I don't know if I can do another two weeks in our current apartment." Buck winced. "I've barely made it three days."

He really hated how living in their current apartment made him feel. Maddie didn't have the same issues; sure he knew it creeped her out knowing what had happened - but it was a lot of difference between knowing and knowing. Even Eddie was a little uneasy when he had shown up with Marti that morning; but it was barely noticeable. And he had clearly seen Buck rush from the kitchen to out the front door when it was time to leave; though he thankfully hadn't commented on it.

"I know it sucks, Evan." Maddie looked up at her brother. "But I think we should wait and take the three bedroom when it's ready. It gives us a little more room and Kira will have her own room."

Buck smirked. "You just want the walk-in closet and if we get the three bedroom you can claim it."

"I plead the fifth." Maddie flicked her hair and turned away.

Buck laughed as he looked at Eddie; the older man smiling back. The manager had been standing with them the whole time and looking between the three of them. Buck looked at her and smiled.

She smiled back and gestured between Buck and Maddie. "So you two have a daughter?"

Maddie's eyes widened. "Oh God, no. He's my brother. It's his kid. My niece."

"Oh I'm sorry." The manager shook her head. "I just assumed."

"It's fine." Buck shook his head.

"If anything it's those two that share the kid," Maddie said before quickly looking back at the manager. "So is the outside storage the same size for all the apartments?"

The manager nodded and ushered Maddie out of the living room through the patio door. Buck was frozen staring at Eddie with wide eyes. Eddie had watched Maddie walk away before slowly turning to the younger man.

"How the hell...?"

"Our conversation at the hospital was overheard by the one person you never want to tell your secrets too."

Eddie chuckled and bowed his head. "Chim."

"Bingo." Buck huffed. "Maddie knew by the end of the day but actually refrained from asking me anything until we were back in our own apartment."

"Well that was nice of her." Eddie looked back up. "What did you tell her?"

Buck shrugged. "That we were waiting until you're divorce was final. She didn't really understand but she's agreed she wouldn't interfere."

"...Interfere? Interfere how?"

"It's my sister, honestly I don't know." Buck shrugged again, tossing his arms in the arm before dropping them back to his sides. "She once set me up on a blind date with my girlfriend in high school cause we had been fighting and she was tired of, and I quote, 'my bitching'. I was fourteen and I honestly don't remember bitching about it but it's whatever."

That had Eddie laughing in earnest; and then Buck was laughing too.

"Okay," Eddie calmed down. "As long as she doesn't try and set us up on a blind date."

"I don't know, we've kinda done that ourselves already once." Buck smirked. "Movie night where we both forgot Chris was spending the night with his cousins and though you dropped him off after remembering; you never told me so I still showed up."

"Point." Eddie nodded. "But to be fair it wasn't a blind date; we both knew who was going to be there and it's not like we haven't hung out without Christopher before."

"Yes but those times I've never shown up with expectations in seeing my favorite Diaz."

"Yeah, yeah. Okay, whatever." Eddie rolled his eyes just as Maddie and the manager finally came back inside.

The three of them followed the manager back outside. It wasn't long before the three of them were in Buck's jeep and heading back to the apartment. They had decided to wait the two weeks for the three bedroom apartment to be ready. Buck figured he could just fight himself with sticking it out in the current apartment for the time being.

Chapter Text

Buck is just stepping out of Eddie's room; closing the door behind him as he fiddles with the monitor in his hand; when Eddie is also exiting from Christopher's room. They almost collide but thankfully Eddie was paying attention and was able to grasp Buck's biceps to stop that from happening.

"Whoa." Eddie chuckles as Buck tilts forward as his momentum to move forward was stopped.

"Shit, sorry." Buck looked up from the monitor and over Eddie's shoulder to the now closed door of Christopher's room. "He already asleep?"

Eddie nodded as he dropped his arms to his sides once he knew Buck wasn't about to topple over. "He tried to keep his eyes open and wait for you to get Kira settled but being past his normal bedtime he was out as soon as he hit the pillow."

Buck frowned but nodded. "Surprised he lasted this long."

"Yeah." Eddie pushed at Buck's shoulder. "Turn around. It's late and I'm about to crash myself."

With a snort Buck listened. He turned around and reopened the door to Eddie's bedroom; switching off the monitor still in his hand as he didn't need it being in the same room as his sleeping daughter. Eddie followed him in and went straight for the dresser. He pulled out clothes for both of them; tossing a pair of sweats and a t-shirt at Buck before going into the bathroom to get ready for bed himself. Buck caught the clothes as he sat the monitor on the nightstand on what was becoming his side of the bed.

Movie nights between them had started out as weekly things; usually on Fridays or Saturdays, sometimes during the week depending on when Eddie worked (and Buck). But since filing for the divorce, Eddie and Shannon had come to an agreement. Eddie was getting full custody of Christopher but Shannon would take him every other weekend. She would pick him up from school Friday and take him to school Monday morning. It seemed to work the weekend before. Buck didn't hold out much hope because he still didn't fully trust Shannon - even if he's only met her three times now. But it was also not his place so he made sure to keep his mouth shut. For now.

"Your turn." Eddie came out of the bathroom in his own pair of sweats and t-shirt and walking over to his side of the bed; the side closest to the door in case Christopher needed him.

Buck entered the bathroom and quickly changed; tossing his clothes into the hamper on top of Eddie's before brushing his teeth with a toothbrush that had been given to him his second time spending the night at the Diaz house - back when he still slept on the couch. Once he was done he returned to the bedroom. Eddie was already in bed and facing the middle; the blanket pulled back from his own side. Buck climbed in and tossed the blanket over himself; rolling to face Eddie.

They talked quietly until Eddie's eyes finally closed and his breathing evened out. Buck took a little longer to fall asleep. This was really only the third time they've shared a bed. The first time had been a couple of days after Buck had been released from the hospital and staying at Bobby and Athena's. Eddie and Christopher had fallen asleep during their movie night and instead of sending them home; knowing Eddie was too tired to drive; they had tucked Christopher into the bunk bed in Harry's room and Buck had just pushed Eddie towards the spare room he had been sleeping in. He had ignored the knowing looks from Athena the morning after when they had all woken up for breakfast. The second time had been a week later; the same scenario as the first.

It wasn't like they ever did anything but sleep. They really were trying to wait until Eddie's divorce was finalized. Buck didn't think it was going to take too long because they had already decided everything that needed to be done about Christopher. Eddie was going to raise him; Shannon would still be in his life but only have him every other weekend and holiday. Clearly Buck didn't know much about divorcing a spouse when a child was involved.

Buck was roused from his sleep by hushes whimpers he knew were coming from his daughter. He rolled over in the bed and swung his legs over the edge to stand. He took the few steps to the portable crib only to find it empty. He really tried not to panic as he turned around; mouth open to ask Eddie something; only to find Eddie not in bed. That was when he heard someone talking; a female. He sighed; really hoping it wasn't Shannon. Spying the alarm clock on Eddie's nightstand as he rounded the bed to exit the room he saw that it was a little after three in the morning.

With a frown he stepped down the hall; checking in on Christopher still sound asleep and tucked under his blankets; only a tuft of curls shown on his pillow. He entered the living room to find the couch had a blanket and pillow sat neatly at one end. Soft laughing drew him into the kitchen where he stopped dead; staring in confusion. Eddie was sitting with his back to the kitchen door where Buck stood; but it was who was sitting there holding Kira. Maddie.

"Uh," Buck cleared his throat. "Is everything okay?"

Eddie turned in his chair. "Shit did we wake you? Is Christopher...?"

"No, he's still asleep." Buck shook his head as he finally stepped further into kitchen to join them at the table, sitting next to Eddie and across from Maddie. "Checked on him as I came down the hall." Then he turned to his sister. "Are you okay?"

Maddie nodded as she lightly bounced Kira in her arms. "Yeah. I just..." She trailed off and then huffed and leaned back in her chair more. "You know I was having dinner with Chimney now that he's back at his own apartment."

Buck nodded. It was why he had agreed to the movie night because he figured Maddie would be staying with Chimney for the night instead of being home alone if he ended up staying the night at the Diaz house himself.

"I accidentally broke a plate and had a panic attack." Maddie sighed. "I left and couldn't find myself to go back to the apartment. I called you but Eddie answered."

Buck turned to the other man and Eddie shrugged.

"It had rang three times when it woke me and you hadn't stirred so I grabbed it. When I saw that it was Maddie I wasn't about to ignore it." Eddie placed his arms on the table and leaned forward. "When I realized what was happening I told her to come over. That way she wasn't alone. And then Kira woke up hungry."

Buck didn't know what to say. His best friend had literally offered to allow his sister to stay over so she wasn't alone. They only stayed up talking for another twenty minutes when Eddie noticed all three Buckley's were flagging fast. He told them all to head to bed as he unfolded the blanket on the couch. Buck frowned but before he could say anything Maddie had handed over Kira and taken the blanket from Eddie; pushing him towards her brother.

"I can sleep on the couch." She huffed. "Knowing I'm not alone in the house is enough for me."

"If you're sure." Eddie hesitated as he looked between Maddie and Buck.

"Go."

Eddie put his hands up in surrender. They said goodnight and headed back to Eddie's room; checking on Christopher again as they passed his room. Buck got Kira settled back into her crib before climbing back into bed. He rolled to his side to face Eddie as the other man also climbed in and covered them both back up with the blanket.

"Thank you."

Eddie smiled; knowing exactly why he was thanking him.

Chapter Text

Buck looked up from the box he was packing when he heard movement outside his bedroom door. He smiled when Eddie came around the corner and stepped into the room. It has been two weeks; two long weeks of shuffling between staying in the apartment and ignoring the living room; and staying at the Diaz house. In those two weeks Buck had finally returned to work; spent a week as basically a helper to Hen on medical calls. Chimney would be returning to work himself in just a few days time and Buck was happy that all of them were finally getting to fully move on with their lives.

Eddie's arm was completely healed; didn't even leave a scar. He had returned to work after only a week off; and only had a single therapy session left to complete his six mandatory sessions. Maddie's bruises had healed within a week and she had returned to work just days after the attack. Buck knows she started her own therapy after the panic attack she had at Chimney's that night two weeks ago. He also knows the two of them had yet to try the dating thing again; Maddie saying she needed time to figure things out for herself first.

Chimney was now healed as well; being stabbed three times had made his the worst of the bunch. He had been in hospital a week longer then Buck; then spent two weeks living with Hen and Karen in their spare bedroom. He had gone back to his apartment just two days before Maddie had gone over for that dinner date that night. Chimney also only had a single session left of his mandatory therapy.

Buck's last mandatory session had been just that morning... and then he had scheduled another because he knew he wasn't over that night. He knew he was never going to be over that night. He had killed someone. Yeah it was Doug Kendall; a man who liked to abuse his wife; a man who had attacked and stabbed two people - Buck included - and tried to stab another; tried to kidnap a woman. Buck knew what he did was to protect those he loved; the detective on the case - Romero - had put it down to self-defense and that had been the end of it.

But Buck was still struggling with the fact that no matter who it was - he had still killed a man. He didn't let anyone know, but Bobby; and Eddie after he had witnessed one of Buck's breakdowns shortly after; that he was still struggling. He put on a brave face when he was around everyone else. He knew Maddie could tell he was faking but she never called him out on in. He was grateful for that. He didn't want to bring up the subject of Doug; not after they were all finally starting to move on from that horrible night from a month ago.

"Okay so," Eddie stepped into the bedroom. "Living room is completely packed into the moving truck. Bobby and Athena are shifting the kitchen now."

Buck nodded as he taped up the box he had been packing. "I'm almost done in here."

"All your stuff should fit in my truck." Eddie looked around the room and the minimal boxes sitting on the floor. "The furniture we can get into the moving truck but the boxes can fit into my trunk." He frowned. "You really don't have a whole lot of personal things do you?"

Buck chuckled. "I spend all of my early twenties traveling the world living out of a duffle bag. Then I practically lived in a frat house for a year, then my ex girlfriend's apartment for months, and now my sister's apartment. When would I have time to buy stuff like knick knacks or pictures?" Buck dropped the tape onto the bed next to the box once he was done with it. "Besides I never really cared for that sort of crap anyway. All the photos I want are on my phone; and knick knacks just make clutter and collect dust. My OCD would have a field day and I already have enough to deal with, with my ADHD."

"What OCD?" Eddie looked around the room again. "I heard stories from Chim when you stayed with him for like a week that his living room was a mess of your stuff."

Buck shrugged. "Okay it may not be OCD but like..." He tilted his head in thought. "Okay there are certain things that bug me. Like all the money in my wallet has to be facing the same way and be in order of denomination."

"I do that." Eddie snorted. "It makes it easier to grab what you need when paying for things."

"Okay, point." Buck nodded. "That afghan you have over the back of your couch?"

"Yeah what about it? My sister made that for me."

"It's nice but it annoys me that the squares aren't all the same size and is multiple, mismatched colors."

Eddie looked at Buck like he had grown a second head.

"It's why I never used it and brought my own fucking blanket when I started spending nights on your couch."

Eddie laughed as he plopped down on Buck's bed; stretching across the middle. "Oh my God."

"It's also why all the pictures in the hall are in a straight line." Maddie's voice floated over to them from the doorway. "When I moved in I had them in a sort of wave down the wall. Two days of him moving in and I came home to them in a straight line."

Eddie looked from Maddie to Buck. Buck just shrugged.

"I knew you were weird but wow." Eddie laughed again as he sat up and planted his feet on the floor.

"Thanks," Buck drawled as he grabbed the box he had been packing off the bed and sat in on top of another on the floor.

"No, no." Eddie shook his head. "I like it. It makes you, you."

"Okay boys, time to move the upstairs furniture downstairs." Maddie smiled at them but turned her attention to Buck. "You have been instructed to move lightweight boxes."

"Yeah, yeah. I know." Buck sighed. "They starting with your room?"

Maddie hummed as Eddie stood and stretched. She left the room as Bobby, Hen, Athena and two other firefighters - Harris and Anderson - walked passed the doorway. Because neither Buck nor Chimney could really help move the heavier items where they needed to go, Buck had roped Harris and Anderson into helping them. It hadn't been that hard of an ask; outside of Bobby, Hen and Chimney; Harris and Anderson were the next closest to Buck. They were all closer in age - even if Buck was still the youngest - Harris had gone through the training with Buck and they had gotten close then.

Chapter Text

"This place is nice." Eddie popped open a box of clothes in Kira's new nursery.

It had been a couple of hours since the group had shifted everything from the old apartment; to the new one for Buck and Maddie. Once all the furniture was where the siblings wanted them in each room of the new apartment; and all the boxes of their personal items were stacked into the room they belonged in; they had said goodbye to everyone but Eddie, Christopher and Chimney. Now the four adults were unpacking the boxes. Buck was pretty sure Maddie and Chimney were in the kitchen while Eddie was helping Buck with Kira's nursery. He wanted her room to be done first. They had sat Christopher on the couch with Buck's phone; YouTube open.

"I'm just happy I don't have to navigate stairs in the dark anymore." Buck laughed as he nodded towards Kira who was laying down in her crib while they unpacked her room. "Missed a step way too many times trying to go downstairs to make a bottle for her; or tripped up them and busted my shins once the bottle was made."

Eddie chuckled as he started folding and rolling onesies and neatly placing them into the dresser. Because the dresser also doubled as the changing table; he ignored the top drawer as he knew that's where Buck stored diapers, wipes, and any powders and creams so they were within easy access when changing Kira.

"So are they trying the dating thing again?" Eddie finally asked; nodding his head towards the open door where they could hear Maddie and Chim talking from the kitchen.

Buck shrugged. "No idea. Maybe?" He turned to look at Eddie. "But third times the charm, right?"

Twenty minutes later they were done with Kira's room and had moved onto Buck's; which didn't take them as long either because he didn't have much more then his daughter. Once they were done they had entered the kitchen to check on the others in the apartment. The kitchen looked like something had exploded.

"I thought you guys were putting the kitchen together not setting off a bomb." Buck looked to where Maddie and Chimney were sitting at the dining table with glasses of lemonade.

"We were," Maddie huffed. "And then I remembered you rearranged my last kitchen and figured I'd save myself the disaster and just let you do it."

"You had your cups in the furthest cupboard from the fridge." Buck hissed and threw his arms up. "That's just impractical!"

"Is that why I kept finding glasses and mugs tucked into my plates cupboard when you were staying with me?" Chimney looked between the two siblings.

"Who the he..." Buck glanced to his right at Christopher sitting on the couch. "...ck wants to walk across the whole kitchen just to get a glass of water?"

"Nice save." Eddie snorted as he walked past his best friend to sit at the table with the others.

All three of them turned to look at the current kitchen; then at least other like they were trying to decide if Buck was being serious or not. Finally Maddie turned to her brother.

"It takes you like two steps to walk from the entrance to the fridge with those gangly legs."

"Not the point!" Buck mumbled as Chimney and Eddie started laughing; and Buck did just that; grabbing the box that held their glasses and mugs to start putting them away.

"So who wants pizza?" Maddie asked as they at the table ignoring the grumbling from behind them.

"Me!" Christopher chirped from the couch; even as his face never looked away from the phone in his hands.

Maddie pulled her own phone out and they all decided what to get for their delivered dinner of pizza. A half hour later they were all sitting around the dining table munching away; talking about different things.

"So, Chim." Eddie wiped his mouth with a napkin and leaned back in his chair. "You ready to come back to work?"

"Yes." Chimney sighed. "Sitting at home is boring."

Buck laughed. "Just three more days."

"And they're going so slow."

"You'll make it and then the whole team will be back together like it should be."

"Exactly." Eddie added.

It wasn't long before it was time for Eddie, Christopher and Chimney to leave. Eddie had offered to drive Chimney home since Hen had been the one to drive him to the other apartment when they had been roped into helping with the move; and it was the only reason he had stuck around when everyone else had left earlier. Christopher had insisted in saying goodnight to Kira so Eddie had gone with him into the nursery while Buck leaned against the wall between the living room and kitchen. Maddie and Chimney were standing at the door talking.

"Well that sort of clears up some things," Eddie mumbled; suddenly at Buck's side.

Buck turned away from where Maddie had just given Chimney a quick kiss; looking at Eddie. Christopher was on his hip; arms wrapped around his dad's neck but once they were standing next to Buck the kid reached for him. Buck instantly took Christopher from Eddie's arms; the older man releasing his son without even looking at them; knowing Buck had his son and wouldn't drop him; as he continued to watch Maddie and Chimney smile at each other and still talking.

"You be good, Superman." Buck settled Christopher onto his hip. "And I will see you Thursday for movie night."

Christopher wrapped his arms around Buck's shoulders and smiled brightly at him. "I will."

"And if you're good at your mom's next weekend I'll convince your dad that a trip to the zoo is a good idea the weekend after." Buck whispered; knowing that Eddie could hear him.

Christopher squealed and nodded his head enthusiastically. Buck turned his head to look at Eddie; the older man was already looking at them now with a smile on his face. Eddie nodded without a word; and Buck nodded back. Finally the three men left and the Buckley's were left alone in their new apartment.

Chapter Text

"I think your Abuela and Pepa went a little overboard." Buck whispered as he stepped behind Eddie in the kitchen; heading for the fridge to get himself a beer. "Your living room looks like a bomb of baby toys exploded."

Eddie chuckled. "It's what families do, Buck. They buy toys for the kids even if it's just a random Thursday."

"Eds." Buck stopped in front of the fridge; hand on the handle. "I'm not..."

"Stop right there." Eddie held up his hand that held his own beer bottle. "You became family day one. Abuela and Pepa have adopted you as their grandson and nephew. Kira is now their great granddaughter and great niece. They plan on spoiling her just as much as they do Christopher and the rest of their grandchildren and nieces and nephews."

Buck opened his mouth to say what; he wasn't fully sure. Protest probably? But then he heard the greatest sound ever... one of the many new toys play music and then Kira's little baby laugh. The giggling had started only a week ago and it made Buck happy every time he got to hear it. He looked at Eddie and could see the older man was also smiling just as brightly as Buck knew he himself was. With a sigh and a shake of his head Buck turned back to the fridge and opened it to grab a beer.

It's been just under a week since he and Maddie had moved into their new apartment; four days since Chimney had returned to work and Buck was finally allowed back to full duty. Four days since he was once again working side by side with Eddie during fires and car accidents and everything in between. They had celebrated Chimney's return Monday with cake for breakfast at the station once they were all there together again. They had just been finishing their plates when the bell had rang and their official day had started.

Now it was Thursday and the Buck had followed Eddie back to his house where Marti had already taken Kira because they were spending the evening and night at the Diaz house. It was their movie night with Christopher as tomorrow the kid would be picked up at school by his mother and they wouldn't see him again until after school on Monday. When they had gotten there it was to find not only Marti with Kira; or even Christopher after Carla had dropped him off after school; but also Abuela and Pepa. The two older women had gone shopping and had come over to Eddie's with toys for Christopher and Kira.

To say Buck had been shocked that these women who he's only had a handful of interactions with since meeting them two months ago would even think to buy toys; and so many of them at that; for his daughter made him want to cry. He knew everyone was already spoiling the little girl like crazy. All the women in their makeshift family have gone crazy since Christmas. Buck was constantly coming home to find a new toy or outfit Maddie had picked up; or he'd go to dinner at the Wilson or Grant-Nash houses and bring home a new toy or outfit from Hen, Karen or Athena; or another firefighter at work would hand him something for his little girl. Not to mention the men. It was like none of them had seen a baby before and all wanted to hold the three month old. They fought over who got to hold Kira just as much as the women - it was usually Bobby who won just as much as the women.

Buck knew it was because their makeshift family - including Buck himself - saw Bobby as Kira's grandfather; and in extension with Athena as her grandmother. Buck had even laughed once when he and Maddie were staying at the Grant-Nash house after the attack when May had come home from school one day and demanded cuddles with her niece because she had had a stressful day of tests. Buck had instantly handed over his daughter to the sixteen year old.

"How many toys did they actually get her?" Eddie asked as he watched Buck pop the cap from his beer and take a swig. "All I saw were bags before Christopher was digging into them and I escaped into here."

Buck shrugged as he leaned against the counter next to his friend. "I don't really know who got more; Kira or Christopher. I know there was a large box of Lego bricks that had been dumped behind the couch where Kira couldn't grab one and Christopher and Marti are currently trying to build a to scale Eiffel Tower."

Eddie snorted as he looked down at their socked feet; wiggling his toes. "So be cautious when we go back out there."

"Definitely."

They had already finished up dinner with Abuela, Pepa and Marti before the women had allowed Christopher to dig into the toy bags. Buck had sat on the couch next to Abuela with Kira in his lap as they pulled out toy after toy for his daughter. Once everything had been unpacked Buck had placed Kira on her stomach on the floor at his feet to allow her to explore. She had started to roll but never really made much progress in moving. When Buck had gone into the kitchen for his beer and to talk with Eddie, Kira was playing with a water play mat. Pepa had explained that it was good for Kira's motor skills.

"What toy did you leave Kira with?"

"Some sort of water play mat." Buck shrugged. "Pepa says it's good for motor skills and this is around the time to start that sort of thing, right? Get her strength to hold her head up and stuff. I've been giving her time on her stomach to just play like the blogs I've been reading say is good."

"You're doing great with her, Buck." Eddie bumped their shoulders together. "She's three months old and already thriving."

"It really has already been three months hasn't it." Buck sighed. "Where the hell has the time gone? I feel like it was still only yesterday that I learned I was a dad."

Eddie chuckled. "Christopher's almost eight and I still feel like that. It never goes away."

"Great." Buck took a sip of his beer. "Any plans for his birthday?"

"Abuela's already claimed throwing the party at her house." Eddie shrugged. "But it's still a month away so anything could happen."

Buck nodded but didn't say anything.

"We should probably go back out there. It's getting late and if we're going to watch a movie with Christopher we gotta kindly kick my family out."

Buck laughed. "I'll leave that job to you. I'll help Christopher get ready for bed so he's good to go by the end of the movie."

"Thanks." Eddie said deadpanned as he followed the blond back into the living room.

They didn't have much to worry about as Abuela and Pepa were already ready to go; knowing the boys were planning a movie night with Christopher. Many hugs and kisses - and thanks from Buck to the women - were exchanges as they got ready to leave. Marti was out the door shortly after them. As he said Buck had helped Christopher into pajamas while Eddie cleaned up the living room of toys - mostly Lego bricks - and got Kira settled into her portable crib.

Christopher only made it forty five minutes into the movie before he was passed out against his dad on the couch.

Chapter Text

"Owen?"

"No." Buck mumbled as he placed down the bowl of salad on the table and finally sat down in his seat next to Eddie; bumping his shoulder into Eddie's as he did so.

"Oscar? Ozzy?"

Buck sighed. "Chim just give it a rest will you?"

"Orlando?"

"Why is Chimney listing off names that start with O?" Bobby asked as he sat down the plate of garlic bread to go with the lasagna he made for the crew for dinner.

"He overheard me telling Harris my middle initial for a blanket Paige is making for Kira." Buck replied as he instantly snatched up a piece of the warm garlic bread and took a bite.

"So now he's trying to guess what it is." Eddie added as he plated up lasagna and salad for both himself and Buck.

"Omar? Octavius? Oliver?"

"Give it up Chim and just eat." Hen rolled her eyes as she took the salad bowl from Eddie with a nod of thanks.

"Otis? Ollivander?"

Buck snorted. "You think my parents used a name from a Harry Potter novel... that actually was published after I was born."

"I don't know," Chimney shrugged as he looked down at his phone. "I'm just looking at a baby name list and rattling things off."

"For what?" Buck laughed. "In hopes that you'll see something on my face to indicate you've got the right name?"

"Yes, actually."

Buck turned to look at Eddie with a smirk. Eddie chuckled as he leaned his shoulder into Buck's.

"You've actually already said it." Eddie stated as he took a bite of his lasagna.

"What? I have!" Chimney looked around.

Bobby just shook his head and Hen shrugged; Buck knew both of them knew his middle name. Pretty much everyone did at this point; except for Chimney. Buck loved that it seemed to be driving the other man crazy because nobody seemed to want to give him the correct answer.

"I've said like twenty names already." Chimney sighed. "Give me a hint at least!"

"Nope." Buck popped the 'p'; smirked and then took a bite of his own food; all while staring at Chimney.

The older man scowled but then sat up straight and smiled. "I'll just ask Maddie!" He turned his attention back to his phone.

Buck's eyes widened as he shot back in his chair; almost rocking back if Eddie hadn't been quick and shot his hand out to grab the back of the chair to keep Buck from falling backwards. Buck scrambled to pull his phone out of his pocket and open his messages to shoot off a text to his sister.

"Ah ha!" Chimney cheered. "It's Oliver! Evan Oliver Buckley."

"Dammit!" Buck mumbled.

And then Chimney started laughing. "Maddie was the one that picked it from a cartoon?"

"First off Oliver and Company is not a cartoon. It is an animated movie, there is a difference." Buck scowled. "Second, she was eight and it was her favorite movie."

"Did she pick your first name from a cartoon too?" Chimney snickered as he finally put his phone away and picked up his fork; just as the alarms blared.

He huffed as everyone around him laughed. They had all already finished half their plates while he hadn't touched any of his - that Hen had graciously made for him - and now he had to wait longer. Everyone was soon filing down the stairs to their turnout gear and the trucks.

"Nope," Buck finally answered as he jumped into the ladder truck behind Chimney and Eddie; Hen and Harris soon following. "It's a family name. Named after my great grandfather and uncle."

"Hey we share something in common." Eddie smiled as he buckled himself in. "Named after another family member."

Buck shrugged from where he sat; not bothering to say anything else.

They returned from the call - a three car accident where everyone was relatively unharmed save for the cars - when Hen got them back on their topic during dinner. Buck was helping Bobby heat everything back up for the group.

"Why did your parents let Maddie pick your middle name?"

Buck looked up at his friend and shrugged. "No idea and I've never really asked. Only know she was the one that picked and from what because she's told me many times before." Another shrug. "To be honest they probably didn't care. Maddie doesn't have a middle name at all. I probably wouldn't either if it wasn't for her."

"Who doesn't give their kid a middle name?" Harris asked. "What are you suppose to yell when they're in trouble?"

"Um, their name?" Chimney questioned.

"Yeah but Evan Oliver kinda sounds more threatening then just Evan." Buck mumbled as he sat down to finish his dinner along with everyone else. "I knew I was in trouble when I heard my middle name."

"I just got Edmundo." Eddie shook his head. "Though there was one time they used my middle name after I cut my sister's hair in her sleep because she tore up some of my baseball cards."

Hen nodded. "I would get Henrietta; still do if I'm honest."

Eddie nodded enthusiastically back as he pointed his fork at Hen; agreeing with her.

"See it works for you guys." Buck took a sip of his water. "You have nicknames. I didn't growing up. My name is four letters long, why shorten it more?"

"Wait, I've heard Maddie call you 'Ev'. That's shortened." Chimney mumbled around a bite of salad.

"Yeah but have you ever heard the way she says it?" Buck quirked a brow at the other man across the table from him. "It's when she's done with my bullshit and wants me to know it."

Hen snorted. "Shouldn't she only ever call you 'Ev' then?"

"Haha, Henrietta."

"Don't you dare!" Hen glared at him.

Buck smiled and stuck his tongue out at her.

"Children."

Everyone turned to look at Bobby; who was trying to hide a smirk of his own behind his coffee cup. It didn't work though and soon enough the table erupted in laughter.

"Okay, okay." Anderson looked at Eddie. "What about you when your kid's in trouble?"

Eddie shrugged. "I just call him by his name. I don't usually have to deal with him getting in trouble."

"That's cause your kid is an angel." Buck was still laughing slightly. "I've seen him have a tantrum before; it's nowhere near what I know mine were when I was his age."

"So like last year?" Chimney stated and then yelped when both Buck and Hen kicked him under the table; each hitting a shin.

"Be nice, Howard. Or I'm telling Maddie about how you got your nickname."

"Who says I haven't already?"

Buck smirked. "Because I know for a fact she'd never let up teasing you." He then leaned back in his chair and gave a one shoulder shrug. "And she asks me at least once a week for the story."

Chimney glared and Buck just glared right back. Bobby sighed; loudly; into his coffee cup which just made the table start laughing once again. Buck and Chimney just smiled at each other before turning back to their now once again cold dinners. It was going to be a long but good night for the crew if only a few hours in and they were already joking so much about a simple thing like their names. It was shifts like this that Buck liked the most; when they didn't just say they were more then co-workers; that they showed they were family.

Chapter Text

"You think we got enough snacks?" Buck asked for about the tenth time in the last hour.

Eddie sighed. "Buck, yes. You practically bought out the chip isle this afternoon."

"Sorry."

"Don't be." Eddie patted the younger man's back as he passed by. "We're having a get together with friends; snacks are a good thing."

"And you're sure about this? Like, we could have done this at mine."

"Seriously, Buck." Eddie turned and placed his hands on both of Buck's shoulders. "Relax. You can barely fit four of us around the dining table without us tripping; we've tried. My living room is bigger and better for a large group."

Buck nodded. "Right. Sor..."

"Don't apologize." Then he was shoving him out of the kitchen. "Answer the door."

Buck took a deep breath and headed for the front door. It was a Sunday night and the team had most of Monday off as they would be working a 24-hour shift Monday night into Tuesday. When Eddie had learned that Savannah wanted to hang out with Buck the day before a plan had formed in his mind. Now here they were with dozens of snacks and drinks; board games sitting on the large dinning table in the middle of the living room Eddie had fished out of his Abuela's garage to borrow. They had pushed the couch and chair against the walls and the coffee table had been moved into Eddie's bedroom for the time being. The kitchen table had been covered in pizza and Chinese food; nobody really able to decide which to get when things had been decided last minute just that morning; along with all the chips and sweets. Coffee, water, tea (sweet and unsweet), and lemonade littered the counter between stove and fridge; along with wine and beer in the fridge.

Eddie had told Buck to invite Savannah and Claire over for a game night; that soon turned into also inviting Maddie and Chimney; along with Hen and Karen. Then somehow Buck had ended up also inviting Harris and Anderson with their wives. What was suppose to be four friends hanging out; turned into eight; and then twelve. Once Harris and Anderson and their wives had been invited Eddie had told everyone it would be taking place at his house instead of the Buckley apartment where it was originally going to be.

Christopher was still with Shannon until the morning; Buck had dropped Kira off with Bobby and Athena; as Hen and Karen did the same with Denny. Buck was going to leave Kira with Marti for the night - it wouldn't have been the first time now - but when Bobby and Athena had learned about the get together as they had agreed to take Denny for a sleepover with Harry - Bobby had offered to take Kira as well. Buck had jumped at the idea as Marti had already said that night she wanted to go out with friends herself; since Buck didn't want to cause her to cancel on them.

Within ten minutes everyone had arrived and introductions between those who didn't know either other were made. Everyone went into the kitchen to make plates of food and their own drinks; settling outside at the picnic table and lounge chairs on the small patio to just have good food and conversation with friends. Everyone asked about each other's children. Only two of the six couples - Maddie was already talking about Eddie and Buck as if they were one at this point and neither of them were telling them otherwise - were childless (Maddie and Chimney; and Claire and Savannah). Eddie had Christopher; Buck had Kira; Hen and Karen had Denny; Harris and Paige had a son; Anderson and Ericka had twin boys.

"How did everyone pick their kids names?" Paige asked as she sipped on her lemonade; lounging back into her husband's chest on a lounge chair their were sharing.

"Johnny is named after my father." Ericka started. "And when we learned we were having twins we decided to stick with another J name. My childhood best friend was named Jordan, she died in a car accident when we were nineteen so it seemed perfect to honor two important people in my life."

Hen nodded. "Denny is named after Karen's great uncle Dennis."

"I just really liked the name Aaron." Paige shrugged. "It was either that or Morgan and Andrew thought Morgan was too much for a girl."

"Dude," Buck frowned at his friend. "Morgan Freeman?"

Harris shrugged and nodded towards Buck and Eddie. "How'd you pick Chris and Kira's names?"

"Christopher didn't have a name until the day he was born." Eddie confessed with a chuckle. "Shannon and I struggled with picking a name we both liked. When he was finally born it was like we knew the moment we saw him."

"That's cute." Maddie smiled as she took a large gulp of her wine.

"And Kira?" Claire asked Buck.

Buck just shrugged. "I mean she was already three days old by the time I learned she even existed. I didn't really have time to contemplate a name." He scratched at the back of his neck and frowned. "I had like twenty minutes between filling out the paperwork at the hospital and leaving with her."

"How did you pick a name then?"

"I just googled a name site and scrolled through it until I found something I liked." Buck sighed. "I had other names like Avery and Erin but every time I picked a name I looked down at her in my arms and it just didn't feel right."

"And Kira did?"

Buck's frown turned up into a bright smile as he nodded. "It means beam of light. It just felt right; like she was exactly what I needed in my life even if I was scared out of my mind. I was already feeling so out of sorts for months because of Abby. I was even thinking..." He swallowed as he looked around at all his friends. "I was even thinking about putting in a transfer and leaving LA. Get a fresh start... again."

"What?" Chimney sat up straight in the chair he had been slouched in next to Maddie. "I never heard you mention something like that."

"Yeah, Buckaroo!" Hen exclaimed. "We would have missed you!"

"What changed your mind?" Savannah asked from her seat next to Buck; squeezing his arm. "Was it learning you were a father?"

"No," Buck was looking straight at his sister. "Someone very important came back into my life." He could see Maddie's eyes glistening with unshed tears as he turned his attention to Eddie at his side. "And then someone new came into my life."

Eddie smiled but then huffed and shoved at Buck as the blond opened his mouth again.

"Christopher is the best friend a guy could have!"

"He's not wrong." Eddie mumbled as everyone laughed.

"Okay," Karen shifted in her chair. "What about names for possible future children?"

Buck shook his head. "I was barely able to name the kid I have. I don't have any other names for non-existent future children that probably won't happen."

"Buck's right. I never thought I would have Christopher and even though I'd never change that now, more children aren't really in my future."

Savannah frowned. "Not even once you two finally get your act together?"

"We're not talking about that." Buck leveled an eye at his college friend. "What about you and Claire. Any future children?"

Claire nodded. "We've been talking that maybe by next year we'd try and start a family. No names picked out yet though."

"I have names but in no rush for more children," Ericka stated; continuing the conversation. "I really love the name Linney for a girl though."

"That's adorable!" Maddie gushed; then sobered. "I don't really have names, like my brother I never even thought about being a parent, probably something to do with our own parents and childhood. I just know I'd never name my child after someone. No offence to those who do." Maddie smiled at Anderson and Ericka; and even Hen and Karen. "I just don't like the idea of a child having to like, I don't know, live up to their name or something."

"I think she just insulted us." Eddie mumbled as he leaned into Buck's side. "Does she not know both of us are named after family members?"

"I do," Maddie huffed. "It's not like I got to pick Evan's name. Otherwise his first name would have been Oliver."

Buck groaned as Chimney, Hen, Eddie, Harris and Anderson all laughed. It had only been two days since their conversation at work about Buck's middle name.

"Why Oliver?" Karen asked; clearly knowing there was some sort of inside joke between all the firefighters.

"It's his middle name." Maddie beamed. "I got to pick it. He's named after the little orange cat from that movie Oliver and Company."

"Oh that's fucking adorable." Claire chuckled.

"I called him Oli for weeks before he was even born but when our parents introduced him to me they said his name was Evan." Maddie rolled her eyes. "As an eight year old I was mad and said his name was Oli. They said they'd give him a middle name just for me but because they don't like nicknames; hence why my name is Maddie and not like Madison and Madeleine or whatever; I had to call him Evan."

"I didn't know that part." Buck frowned.

Maddie shrugged. "You never asked."

"Well thank god for good old - and dead - great grandfather Evan Leighton." Buck smirked. "Otherwise I'd be Oliver Buckley."

"I'm just going to call you Oli from now on when you're being annoying." Chimney announced as he stood. "Now I'm going to get another drink."

Hen rolled her eyes.

"We're going to be hearing that name at work every five minutes." Harris smirked at his friend. "Chim finds everything annoying."

"Especially when it comes to Buck." Eddie chuckled as he too stood. "Everyone ready to get this game night going?"

A chorus of yeses rang out as everyone stood; stretched; and collected their dishes to return to the kitchen. They plied themselves with bowls of chips and sweets and more drinks before settling into the living room. They had picked a game of Uno first to ease them into the game night.

Chapter Text

"Okay, here goes." Buck looked down at the cards in his hand. "Lifetime presents "Blank: the Story of Black"."

"I don't have a good feeling about these." Karen sighed as she gulped down the last of her wine.

There were a few chuckles around the table as the group all kept their eyes on Buck. The friends were will into their third hour of games. They had start with Uno - both solo and paired games; then played Skip-O and Phase 10. From there they moved from card games to board games like Scrabble and Scattergories. Now; after Harris and Anderson and their wives had left for the evening; they were back onto a card game: Cards Against Humanity. They had all already taken three turns as the Card Czar; starting with Buck as he was the youngest of the group; and it was now on him once again.

Buck cleared his throat and flipped the first set of white cards (Maddie's): "Lifetime presents "Poverty: the Story of How Bad My Daughter Fucked up Her Dance Recital"."

Buck and Eddie both snorted and Maddie just shrugged as she popped a pretzel into her mouth. "Sorry, I was throwing away cards cause they all sucked."

Hen nodded. "That's what I did too."

"Same." Claire added.

"Okay, next." Buck flipped the second set of white cards (Savannah's): "Life time presents: "Fox News: the Story of "The Screams... the Terrible Screams"."

"Maddie's was better." Chimney chuckled as he looked at Savannah. "No offense."

"None taken." Savannah smiled back.

Next set of white cards (Chimney's): "Lifetime presents: "Seeing Grandma Naked: the Story of The Bachelorette Season Finale"." Buck gagged. "That's just gross."

"What kind of Bachelorette season was that?" Karen laughed.

"One nobody should watch." Maddie shook her head.

"Next." Buck looked down at the next set of white cards (Karen's): "Lifetime presents: "Not Reciprocating Oral Sex: the Story of Going an Entire Day Without Masturbating"." Buck looked up at his co-worker's wife. "What?"

"I feel like those may have been throw away cards too." Savannah giggled.

"Moving on." Buck huffed and began reading the next set (Claire's): "Lifetime presents: "Fear Itself: the Story of How Amazing it is to be on Mushrooms." He instantly went on to the next (Hen's): "Lifetime presents: "AXE Body Spray: the Story of a Mopey Zoo Lion".... Yeah that was definitely throw away."

Hen hummed and nodded.

"You're last, let's see if you can beat Maddie's cause that's the winner right now." Buck nudged Eddie in the shoulder and flipped his cards over. "Lifetime presents: "Solving Problems with Violence: the Story of Pretending to Care"." Buck sighed and tossed the black card across the table to his sister.

There were laughs as Maddie's smile widened as she added a sixth card to her pile of winning rounds.

Buck stood. "That was just a sucky round, shouldn't count. Who needs something to drink?"

Karen and Maddie held up their wine glasses. Buck took them and headed into the kitchen. He quickly filled them before grabbing a beer for each himself and Eddie, and waters for the rest of them. He knew Chimney and Hen had stopped drinking an hour ago so they could sober up and drive Maddie and Karen home, respectively. Buck also knew that he and Eddie had collected everyone's keys when they all arrived and would determine if they were sober enough to drive by the time they left. Harris and Anderson had been when they had left a little over a half hour ago. Both had texted Buck to say each couple had gotten home safely so Buck didn't have to worry about them.

He returned to the living room with his arms full of the drinks and a plate of more food. He walked around the table giving out the drinks before plopping back down in his chair between Eddie and Savannah; handing Eddie his beer. The older man leaned into Buck's side in thanks before stealing a chip from the plate of food Buck had sat down between them on the table.

"Alright, who's the Czar now?" Claire asked.

"I am." Eddie sighed and reached into the middle of the table for a black card; clearing his throat as he read it in his head first. "Oh you've got to be kidding me."

"What?"

Eddie tilted the card towards Buck and the blond choked on the sip of beer he had just taken. Eddie patted him on the back as he coughed a few times trying to catch his breath.

"That bad?" Hen asked.

Buck shook his head. "You can pick a different one..."

"No it's fine." Eddie huffed before turning his attention back to the bard. "Alright. Fifty percent of marriages end in Blank."

"Ouch." Chimney grimaced as he started shuffling through his cards.

There was a murmur of agreement and the shuffling of cards as everyone decided the best one from their hands; all slowly handing them over to Eddie's out stretched and waiting hand. Once he had all seven entries; and everyone had grabbed a new card for their hands for the next round; Eddie cleared his throat again and started from the top.

(Karen) "Fifty percent of marriages end in the milkman."

There was a snort from Hen and cackling from Maddie, Claire and Savannah.

"I mean, can't be all wrong." Karen shrugged.

"Especially if the spouse is caught." Buck laughed too.

Eddie continued with the next one. (Chimney) "Fifty percent of marriage end in the Pope... the fuck?"

Chimney just shrugged.

Eddie rolled his eyes and continued. (Claire) "Fifty percent of marriages end in...." Eddie choked and Buck laughed again as Eddie's face flushed red. "... um... the female orgasm."

The women all started dying then as both Buck and Chimney joined Eddie with the flushed faces; even if they did chuckle. It took a good five minutes before they were able to settle back down for Eddie to continue reading the cards.

(Maddie) "Fifty percent of marriages end in farting and walking away."

"I'd divorce so fast." Savannah wrinkled her nose.

"Good to know." Claire laughed as she wrapped her arm around her wife.

(Hen) "Fifty percent of marriages end in Darth Vader." Eddie looked over at Hen with a raised brow.

Hen shrugged but didn't say anything.

Buck tilted his head. "I mean as long as it was Anakin and not like, him as Darth Vader. I'd end my marriage for that. Hayden Christensen is hot."

"There is no lie there." Maddie nodded and looked at Chimney. "I'd leave you for Anakin too."

Chimney shrugged. "I'd leave me for him."

Eddie continued with Savannah's: "Fifty percent of marriages end in the arrival of pizza."

"You'd leave me for pizza?" Claire huffed.

"If it was really good." Savannah shrugged as she kissed her wife's cheek. "Maybe."

"Alright last but not least." Eddie smirked at Buck before turning his attention to the card in his hand. "Fifty percent of marriages end in men.... wow."

"Way to be specific baby brother." Maddie giggled.

"None of my other cards really worked so," Buck shrugged. "What can you do."

"Just because it got the most laughs," Eddie held the black card out to Claire.

"Yes!" Claire took the card... it was her first win.

The friends continued to laugh and joke as they played round after round. Chimney was the next Card Czar, giving the win to Hen; then Maddie gave hers to Buck; Karen's went to Chimney while Hen's went to Buck and Claire's went to Eddie. Now it was Savannah's turn and they decided this was the final one as both Hen and Karen and Savannah and Claire were stating needing to get home for the night. Maddie still had the most black card wins so it didn't really matter who got this card unless it was Eddie as he was only one behind her; possibly ending them in a tie.

Savannah grabbed the black card. "I get by with a little help from Blank."

A few minutes later she had her hands full of white cards from the people around the table; and then she started reading.

(Buck) "I get by with a little help from forced sterilization." She looked at her college friend. "Anything you'd like to share?"

Buck snorted. "No, just move on."

Savannah laughed but did as she was told. (Karen) "I get by with a little help from Emma Watson."

"Well her as Hermione would be helpful with anything." Claire stated. "Magic would be amazing to have."

There were a few nods in agreement before Savannah continued.

(Hen) "I get by with a little help from.... OH MY FUCKING GOD NO."

"Is that the card or..." Chimney asked.

Savannah looked over at Hen. "You had seven cards to pick from and this is the one you went with?"

"It was the worst one I had. Wanted to end strong."

"What is it?" Eddie asked.

"Pedophiles." Savannah huffed as she tossed the card down and instantly went to the next one. (Chimney) "I get by with a little help from the penny whistle solo from "My Heart Will Go On." ...didn't see that one coming from you."

Chimney shrugged. "It's a good song."

(Claire) "I get by with a little help from Cards Against Humanity."

"It does show you just how perverted we all are." Buck chuckled as he finished his beer.

(Eddie) "I get by with a little help from waking up half-naked in a Denny's parking lot."

"That happen to you before Edmundo?" Buck looked at his best friend with a smirk.

"No, shut up." Eddie lightly shoved at the blond causing the table to laugh.

"That's a story I want to hear." Maddie pointed her finger at Eddie. "Later, but I wanna hear it."

Savannah cleared her throat. "Last one is Maddie's then. So... I get by with a little help from Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, and Kylie."

"Who?" Eddie scrunched up his nose.

"The Kardashians." Savannah told him.

"Who?" This time it was Buck asking.

"Don't worry about it, they're reality tv revolves around the Food Network and National Geographic." Maddie shook her head.

"Even I know who they are." Chimney mumbled.

"If I give this to Maddie she wins, if I give this to Eddie, he and Maddie tie." Savannah sighed. "Both were really good in my opinion. So, Maddie and Eddie; pick a number one through ten. Closest without going over wins."

"Four." Maddie yelled quickly.

Eddie shrugged. "Five."

Savannah smiled and handed the card over to Eddie. "It was six. Sorry Maddie."

Maddie just huffed and crossed her arms; glaring at Eddie. Eddie smiled and added the card to his little pile.

"So competitive she can't even share the win." Buck laughed as he watched his sister.

Maddie just stuck her tongue out at her brother causing everyone to laugh louder. It wasn't long before they had the cards cleaned up and Eddie and Buck were saying goodbye to the rest of their friends. Eddie told Buck they would clean up in the morning and pushed the blond towards the bedroom to sleep. They had already cleaned the food up earlier so it was really just the games and living room needing cleaned up the next day. They both changed into sweats and collapsed onto the bed; both instantly sleep.

Chapter Text

"Hey, morning!" Buck smiled as Bobby opened the door and stepped aside to allow Buck to bound in. "How was she?"

"It's the afternoon, Buck." Bobby chuckled as he closed the door behind them. "And she was perfect. Athena's changing her right now."

Buck practically jumped down the two steps into the living room and nodded his head in respond as he took in the packed baby bag sitting by the couch. The portable crib already leaning against the side of the couch. Buck turned to face Bobby; stuffing his hands into his pockets.

"How was the game night?"

Buck smiled again. "It was good. Really fun." He rocked on his feet. "I think next time you and Athena should join us."

"We'd love to, Buckaroo." Athena said as she came out of the bedroom carrying Kira.

The little girl squealed as Athena handed her over. Buck's smile widened as he cradled his daughter in his arms and kissed the top of her head. Bobby and Athena just watched the interaction.

"Are you hungry? We were just about to make some lunch." Bobby clapped him on the shoulder as he headed for the kitchen.

"Oh," Buck looked up. "I don't want to impose any longer. I know I should have picked her up earlier like Hen and Karen did with Denny."

"Nonsense." Athena gently pushed against the back of his shoulder to head towards the table. "You know we love spending time with her. And you."

"As long as you don't need to rush back to Eddie's?" Bobby asked as Buck settled at the table.

Buck shook his head. "That was why I was late actually." He chuckled. "Eddie's Abuela called to ask him to help her with some yard work but his truck wouldn't start. I ended up driving him over there and then she refused to let me leave until I had had a proper breakfast."

Bobby laughed. "Are you saying you're full from breakfast then?"

"Probably but like I'd say no to anything either of you cook." Buck smiled up at them both as he settled Kira in his lap; her back to his chest.

Ten minutes later they were all sitting at the table with plates of simple sandwiches and chips. Buck also had a bottle for Kira; he had learned quickly how to eat one handed while the other held the bottle for his daughter. The three adults talked about different things from what each of them did the night before (Buck telling them about a few things talked about by the group at the game night; Bobby and Athena telling him what they did with Kira until bedtime). It wasn't long before Buck was saying goodbye to get Kira home where Marti was waiting to babysit as Buck went to pick up Eddie from his Abuela's and get them both to work for their 24-hour overnight shift.

By the end of the shift Buck had dropped Eddie back at home and then returned to his own to relieve Marti from her duty; grab something quick to eat and then settle down for a mid-morning nap. Once he and Kira were both awake and changed (and in his case also showered); Buck packed them back into the jeep and ran to the store for ingredients to make shepherd's pie before heading back to Eddie's. He pulled into the drive next to Eddie's truck just in time for Eddie to bound out of the house. Eddie quickly helped him get the groceries and Kira into the house.

"Okay gotta go get my kid." Eddie didn't even hesitant to reach into Buck's front jean pocket and take his keys.

Buck snorted and shook his head as he stood still until Eddie had the keys. Eddie smirked; shrugged; and then headed out the door. Once he heard his jeep pulling back out of the drive, Buck settled Kira into the playpen that had found a permanent place behind the couch in view of the kitchen. Once he knew his little girl was good he returned to the kitchen to put the groceries away. He wouldn't be making dinner for a few hours but he had quickly learned that the boy needed a quick something as soon as he got home to hold him over until then. It was usually apples with caramel or peanut butter, or carrots with ranch or hummus; so as soon as he heard Eddie pulling back into the drive a little over forty minutes later Buck started peeling and slicing two apples and pulled the jar of peanut butter out of the fridge.

"Kira!" Christopher chirped as soon as the front door was open.

Buck sighed as he placed the bowls with the apples and peanut butter on the dining table then leaned against the doorframe between the kitchen and living room; watching as Christopher leaned against the side of the playpen and reached in to run his hand over the baby's head. Eddie was just closing the door behind him; Christopher's backpack in hand.

"So I've officially been downgraded to second place in his life." Buck sighed again, mockingly frowning.

Eddie huffed. "Don't you mean third? I'm second."

"No, pretty sure I was ahead of you in importance until she came along." Buck nodded towards the playpen.

"Definitely not." Eddie shook his head as he made his way towards his best friend.

"Please," Buck scoffed. "He's usually yelling my name as he comes through the door."

"Only because I pick him up," Eddie settled next to Buck. "So he's excited to see me right away."

"Nah, he's only excited to see you cause he knows you're bringing him home where I am usually waiting to see my favorite Diaz."

"A-hole." Eddie mumbled but then laughed as he shoved Buck's shoulder and headed into the kitchen to grab a drink.

"Jerk." Buck laughed back before pushing away from the doorframe and turning his full attention towards the kids. "Hey, Superman. You forgetting about someone here? I feel invisible!"

"Bucky!"

Eddie had returned to the doorframe; leaning where Buck had just left to go and scoop Christopher up into a hug and swing the boy around. Water in hand, Eddie just watched from the sidelines with a fond smile on his face.

Chapter Text

"Hands on the jeep until we're all ready to go, please!" Marti spoke loudly; her voice strong as all three rowdy boys came running around the car together.

They all froze; each lifted a hand into the air and smacked them against the jeep; Christopher's crutch banging against the tire. Eddie and Buck looked at each other in confusion; opening and closing their mouths as they took in their own hands on the jeep. Buck snorted first and dropped his hand; Eddie following suit. Giggling from the boys behind Buck had both men smiling and turning towards the kids. Denny and Harry were leaning against each other as they laughed while Christopher had his free hand pressed against his mouth trying to keep his giggles in. Marti was smirking as she pushed Buck away and opened the back door to pull Kira from her car seat.

"We never mention this." Eddie whispered as he leaned closer to Buck.

"I don't even know what you're talking about." Buck replied; stepping away and taking control of the stroller that now held his daughter. "We all ready?"

"Not yet, one sec." May stated as she typed something on her phone where she stood a few feet away from the rest of the group.

Everyone looked at her and waited. She was smirking; tapped a few more times and then looked up and right at Buck. Buck narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth to say something when his phone dinged from his pocket.

"You didn't."

"I did."

"What?" Eddie asked as he looked between Buck and May.

"She took a photo."

Eddie grabbed Buck's phone from the blond's back pocket and typed in the passcode. He saw that Buck had a single notification from Instagram so he opened the app. "She took a video."

"What?"

Buck leaned back into Eddie's free arm; feeling Eddie rest his hand across his lower back to steady him as Eddie also held the phone for the blond to see; watching and listening to the video of Marti telling the boys to place their hands on the car and showing Eddie and Buck following suit. There were already hearts and comments from friends and family in the two minutes since she had posted the video. May was still smiling when Buck looked back at her with a glare; but then he chuckled and smiled, shaking his head.

"I guess we're not living that down." He mumbled as he took hold of the stroller once more and started moving; not paying attention as Eddie shoved his phone back into his pocket before walking next to him.

Marti and May ushered the three boys as they crossed the parking lot. Once they had paid and were inside the zoo they paired up. Since Buck was in control of the stroller with Kira; Eddie had Christopher, May had Harry and Marti had Denny. This zoo adventure had been planned between Eddie and Buck for Christopher (and Kira but the little girl was still too young to really interact or appreciate the animals); but then Buck had gotten the idea to invite Harry and Denny along; giving their parents a kid free afternoon. Then with four kids they had asked Marti to tag along; and then May had asked to come with them as an afterthought when they had gone to pick Harry up that morning.

It didn't take them long to make it to the first animal of the zoo and they quickly moved through the first couple as they made their way forward: the meerkat, the black-necked swan, and the Chilean flamingos. By the time they had made it up to the koala's, kangaroo's and wallaby's, Eddie had taken hold of Kira's stroller and Buck had lifted Christopher to sit on his shoulders, keeping hold of the kid's feet while Christopher held onto the sides of Buck's face. His crutches were tucked into the bottom of the stroller with Kira's baby bag.

After the gorilla's Harry and Denny had ran ahead to see the zebra's; Marti and May right behind them, leaving Eddie and Buck with Christopher and Kira to head the opposite direction to see the wild dogs. The group gathered together again at the river otters; only to split again so each group could see what they had missed; gathering again in front of the gorilla's to move forward. From there they headed for the elephants. From there they headed for Buck's favorite animal the giraffe; and across from there the chimpanzee's which were Denny's favorite animal.

By the time they were done looking at the chimpanzee's everyone needed a bathroom breath and they decided to sit and rest with some lunch near the giraffes. After lunch Christopher decided to walk again so Marti took control of the stroller Buck followed the boys around with May; leaving Eddie to stroll along with his cousin and a now asleep Kira. The group followed the path in order to see Christopher's favorite animal: lemurs (he was currently on a kick watching reruns of Zoboomafoo). By the time they had made their way from the lemurs at one side of the park to the hippos (Marti's favorite) on the other side; Eddie was carrying a tired Christopher and May was moving ahead with the stroller and the other boys.

They decided to make one last stop to see the tigers before leaving for the afternoon. It was almost dinner time anyway. With hundreds of pictures and videos throughout their visit they returned to the parking lot where Eddie buckled an almost asleep Christopher into his booster in his truck while Buck snapped Kira into her base in his jeep; Marti folded up the stroller and tucked it into the trunk of the jeep. Denny climbed into the truck while May and Harry climbed into the jeep. Once all the kids were in the cars Eddie, Buck and Marti stood between the two vehicles.

"I'll drop Denny off and meet you back at mine for dinner?" Eddie looked at Buck as he leaned back against his truck.

Buck nodded. "Sounds good. Am I cooking or are we ordering?"

"I'll order on my way. Indian good?"

"Sounds perfect. You already know what I like." Buck pulled his driver's door open. "I'll see you there once I get these two home."

"Yeah." Eddie headed around his truck as Marti climbed into the passenger side.

Traffic was pretty light at this time so it didn't take Buck long to reach the Grant-Nash house to drop May and Harry off. He carried Kira in to allow Bobby and Athena to see the little girl for a few minutes; and Michael when he saw the man sitting at the kitchen table with his captain and the police sergeant.

"Hey, did you guys have a good time?" Bobby asked as they came into view from the living room.

Athena was already out of her seat and reaching for Kira; the little girl now wide awake and babbling away in Buck's arms. She was more the happy to be transferred to another person that was going to pay her some attention.

"Yeah it was great." Harry nodded as he sat down next to Michael at the table.

May hugged her three parents; said thanks and bye to Buck; and disappeared into her room like a typical teenager. Buck snorted before turning back to Bobby.

"Pretty sure all three boys are going to be asleep early tonight with all that walking." Buck chuckled. "I'm ready for a nap."

Bobby and Michael both laughed.

"You two staying for dinner?" Bobby was now standing next to Athena and looking down at the little girl in his wife's arms.

"Nah," Buck shook his head. "Eddie's ordering us dinner. Maddie's staying at Chim's tonight so we're spending the rest of the weekend with the Diazes."

They stayed another five minutes before saying goodbye to the Grant-Nash family and heading back out. Buck made it back to Eddie's just as their dinner was delivered. He smiled at the delivery guy as they passed each other on the sidewalk. Eddie was at the door waiting as he saw them pull into the drive.

"Both boys fell asleep on the way back to Hen's." Eddie chuckled as he followed Buck back into his house. "Had to carry Denny into the house for them."

Buck snorted as he sat the carrier on the coffee table and unbuckled his daughter, getting her settled into the playpen. Christopher was curled up on the couch but surprisingly awake. Eddie moved the carrier off the coffee table in order for them to set the food out. While he took care of that Buck went to the kitchen for plates, cutlery and drinks. They settled on the floor, shoulder to shoulder leaning back against the couch while Christopher stayed sitting on the couch to eat and watch a movie.

Chapter Text

“Hey,” Karen stepped up to where Buck was sitting by himself with a sleeping Kira in his arms.

The family and others were gathered at the Wilson home for Denny’s birthday party. It had been going for about an hour now, the team meeting and getting to know Karen’s parents and siblings while also celebrating the boy’s eighth birthday. Food had been catered and was sitting in the kitchen to grab buffett style, presents were stacked on the dining table, and cake was chilling in the fridge waiting to be eaten.

Denny was running around the yard with his cousins and kids from his class at school. Parents of those children were milling around with the rest of the family. Hen and Karen had been socializing around to the different groups of people, being the best hosts that they were. Bobby, Athena, Chimney and Maddie had commandeered the patio table and were talking amongst themselves. Buck had been sitting with them until Kira had fallen asleep, so he had moved to a quiet corner in the living room.

“Hey, you need help with something?” Buck asked quietly so as not to disturb his daughter.

Buck had volunteered to help move things around for the couple when they needed a table or bench moved to a different spot to give more room for the kids in the yard to play.

“No, thought I’d take the little one from you,” Karen nodded her head towards the front door. “Eddie just pulled up.”

“Oh!” Buck nodded, carefully handing over the sleeping baby to Karen before standing. “Thanks.”

Karen was already bouncing softly as Kira whimpered in her sleep, not paying attention to him anymore. With a fond smile at the two of them, Buck finally turned and headed for the door. When he stepped onto the front porch he found Eddie had parked across the street and was just helping Christopher out of the truck.

“Christopher!” Buck yelled as he bounded off the porch, skipping all three steps, and jogging across the lawn.

“Buck!” Christopher went to step forward when Eddie reached for him.

“Hang on a second there, mijo.” Eddie huffed, “Did you look both ways?”

Christopher just tilted his head back and smiled up at his dad. Before he could respond Buck was right in front of them and lifting Christopher into his arms for a hug. The boy giggled and wrapped his arms around Buck’s neck to hug back.

“How was school yesterday? You had to read your book report, right?”

Christopher nodded, “Everyone loved it!”

“Of course they did, it was about a chocolate factory, what kid doesn’t love that?” Buck laughed as he sat Christopher back down on his feet, releasing his shoulders once the boy had his crutches steady, before turning his attention to his friend. “Hey.”

“Oh, so I am still here, good to know.” Eddie rolled his eyes, but he was smiling as he lifted a gift bag from the floor of the backseat.

Buck snorted and rolled his own eyes before looking back down at Christopher, “Your dad’s being dramatic.”

“He always is.” Christopher replied with as straight a face as he could muster before breaking out in giggles.

“Oh yeah,” Eddie ruffled Christopher’s curls and playfully shoved at Buck’s shoulder before closing the back down of the truck and turning his attention to his son. “Buck’s more dramatic than I am.”

“I’m feeling attacked right now,” Buck pouted, placing a hand dramatically over his heart, causing Christopher to giggle harder.

“Case in point, Christopher.”

Buck just smiled brightly at Eddie before turning and ushering his best friend and Eddie across the street and into the house. Eddie and Christopher quietly greeted Karen as she was still sitting on the couch with a sleeping Kira. Christopher carefully ran his had down Kira’s head before he rushed for the backyard to wish Denny a happy birthday and to play with the other kids.

“Presents are on the dining table,” Karen whispered as she stood, handing Kira back to Buck. “I can take it.”

“Oh, thanks. And thanks for having us.”

Karen smiled at Eddie, “Christopher is one of Denny’s best friends now, of course he was invited.” Then she was walking away.

Eddie scratched at the side of his arm, “I’m just glad Shannon agreed to let him. I know she had things planned this weekend for them.”

“So she wasn’t mad to lose half a day with him?”

“No,” Eddie shook his head. “I think she’s seeing someone so it gave her time to see him this weekend.”

“Oh?”

Eddie hummed but then shook his head. Buck knew that Eddie wasn’t ready to say more about it at the time. Eddie reached for Kira and gently plucked her out of Buck’s arms, settling her in his own. Together they headed for the backyard so Eddie could say hello to the rest of their team and family, being introduced to some parents of the classmates, and to Karen’s family. Eddie was handed a solo cup of iced tea by Hen– alcohol was forbidden as it was a children’s birthday party– but Buck took it as Eddie’s hands were full of a sleeping baby.

Now that Christopher was there and playing with the rest of the kids, it only took a half hour before Karen was calling everyone inside so that Denny could start opening his presents. Buck and Eddie stood towards the back of the room as all the kids gathered around the birthday boy. Somewhere along the way, they had lost a now awake Kira to one of their many family members. Buck trusted his team and family with his daughter, but he always knew whose arms she was nestled in at all times– currently that was Athena’s.

“You up for a movie night tonight or do you have other plans?” Eddie asked, keeping his voice low as they watched Denny tear open a new Star Wars Lego set from one of his classmates.

“What plans do you think I would have?” Buck chuckled. “I’m either working, taking are of Kira, or hanging out with you and Chris while taking care of Kira.”

Eddie shrugged as he leaned into Buck’s shoulder. “I wasn’t sure if you were having another Buckley sibling night with Maddie.”

Buck hummed, “Nope. I’ve got other plans.”

“What?” Eddie turned his head to look up at him.

Buck was looking straight ahead. “Yeah, I’m hanging out with my third best friend in the whole wide world.”

Buck could see the confusion on Eddie’s face and it didn’t take long for him to break out laughing, covering it up with a horrible fake cough when a few heads turned their way. Buck bumped his shoulder into Eddie’s.

“You, idiot. I’ve got plans with you. Now .”

“Wait just a minute.” Eddie huffed in fake annoyance. “I’m your third best friend?”

“Well duh. First two are my kid and your kid.” Buck tilted his head back and forth. “Well, technically they’re tied for first so that would make you second, but really it’s third, so you’re third in line as best friend.”

“That’s just cruel.” Eddie mumbled under his breath as he turned his attention back to the birthday boy; Denny had just unwrapped a Razor Scooter from his grandmother. “First I get dropped as favorite Diaz–”

“You were never favorite, that’s always been Chris.”

“--now I’m not even first best friend.”

“Again, that was always Christopher–” again, Buck tilted his head. “--and Kira.”

“Yeah, well. You’re–” Eddie frowned, clearly trying to think of something to retort back with.

Buck leaned closer in order to whisper in Eddie’s ear, “However there is no competition that you’ll be favorite boyfriend.”

Buck watched as Eddie’s ears and neck turned a light shade of red in embarrassment. He chuckled as he threw an arm over Eddie’s shoulders and returned to watching Denny open his presents, just in time to see him tearing open the one from Buck– a firehouse Lego set.

“Thanks, Buck!” Denny smiled up at him from across the room.

Buck smiled back and nodded, trying not to laugh at the way Eddie had ducked his head to look at the floor when people turned to look at them once more.

Chapter Text

Buck let himself into the Diaz house with the key Eddie had given him a few weeks ago. Since they had started moving down the path of being a couple, being a family with their children, they had exchanged keys to each other’s places. Everything was quiet in the house as he toed off his shoes at the door. He wasn’t surprised by this as it was past midnight, everyone should be asleep. He wasn’t sure how true that was going to be, and he was proved wrong when he noticed the kitchen light was on. He made his way to the kitchen, finding Marti sitting at the little table, a cup of tea clasped in her hands on the table.

“Hey,” Buck whispered so as not to startle the girl, “Thought you’d have gone home.”

Marti looked up at him, giving him a sad smile and shaking her head. “Didn’t feel right, leaving them after, you know.”

Buck nodded as he stopped in front of the table, “Yeah,” he rubbed at the side of his nose with his thumb, “I wanted to come back with them but Bobby was only able to call in a replacement for Eddie at the last minute.”

“He understood,” Marti replied, standing up to take her cup to the sink. “But now that you’re here I’m going to head home.”

“Yeah, okay, thanks.” Buck followed her back into the living room, shutting off the kitchen light as they went. “Text me that you got home, yeah?”

“Oh course,” Marti pushed up to her tippy toes and kissed his cheek, “Take care of my cousins.”

“Plan on it.” Buck waved her off, waiting on the porch as she got into her car and drove off before he locked up and headed for Eddie’s room.

The door was ajar and he slipped inside. The nightlight was the only thing lighting up the room, shadows falling on the walls around him. His first stop was checking on Kira, sound asleep in her crib against the wall. When he looked towards the bed, it was to find Christopher curled up in Eddie’s arms in the middle of the bed. Buck could see something clutched in the boy’s hands, and when he stepped closer he realized it was a picture frame. Buck’s eyes misted over, realizing that the boy must have fallen asleep holding the photo of his mother that always sat on his bedside table in his room.

Buck sniffed and turned towards the dresser, pulling out sweats and quickly changing out of his jeans. He left his t-shirt on and returned to what had turned into his side of the bed when he and Eddie shared after long shifts, or just because they needed a nap. Eddie had his back to him this way and Buck did his best to slide in behind him, pressing his chest into Eddie’s back. He wrapped his arm over Eddie’s side, bringing his hand to rest on Christopher’s back as the boy had his face pressed into his dad’s chest.

Buck settled quickly under the covers, just as he felt Eddie’s hand holding Christopher shift. Eddie brought his hand up to Buck’s on Christopher's back, clasping it in his own and squeezing. Buck squeezed back. Buck leaned up on his elbow to look down at Eddie, the brunet’s eyes were opened and he turned his head to look back at Buck.

“Hey,” Buck whispered, “I’m here. Whatever you need.”

Eddie swallowed, nodded, and turned his head back to tuck his nose into his son’s hair. He squeezed Buck’s hand again before closing his eyes once more. Buck settled back down, his head resting on the pillow, nose pressed into the back of Eddie’s neck. He closed his own eyes, knowing he wasn’t going to get much sleep.

It had been a horrible day for everyone around, but more so for Eddie and Christopher. They had been called out to a car accident– pedestrian hit crossing the road. Everything hit a little harder when the pedestrian was identified as Eddie’s soon-to-be ex-wife. Buck had watched Eddie realize who the woman laying in the road was, had tried to stop him from going over so Hen and Chimney could do their job. Then when Buck had reached the hospital it was to learn Shannon had died in the ambulance on the way– Eddie holding her hand.

Eddie hadn’t said anything since coming out to the waiting room where their whole team was holding down the fort. He had been holding Shannon’s things– her watch, purse, cell phone– a yellow envelope Buck knew were the finalized divorce papers between the two of them. Eddie had told the team just that morning that it had been finalized, that Shannon was going to pick them up and his copy would be sent to him shortly. In the same breath Eddie had officially asked Buck out on a date.

He had no idea what was going to happen now.

It was just after eight in the morning when Buck woke up to Kira’s babbling from her crib. He checked to make sure Eddie and Christopher were still sound asleep before carefully extracting himself from the bed. He scooped Kira out of her crib and quickly took her to the living room before she could wake the boys. He wanted them to sleep as long as they could, knowing for the coming days they would need all the sleep. Buck changed her diaper before settling Kira in her motorized bouncy. He ran to the bathroom himself, and as he was leaving he heard sniffling from the bedroom. He went to check and found Christopher blinking up at the ceiling– Eddie was still asleep.

“Hey, bud.” Buck whispered, stepping into the room.

Christopher looked over at him, sniffing again. Buck’s own eyes were filled with tears again. He couldn’t stand to see his favorite little boy cry. Buck stepped up to the bed and held out his arms. He wasn’t sure if Christopher would want to be separated from his dad but the boy instantly raised his arms. Buck carefully pulled Christopher out of Eddie’s arms and settled the boy on his hip, holding him close. Christopher wrapped his arms around Buck’s neck and tucked his face into his shoulder. Buck cradled his head and kissed his temple.

As he turned to head out of the room, Christopher whimpered, reaching one hand back towards the bed. At first Buck thought maybe he wanted his dad awake too but then his eyes landed on the picture laying on the bed. He scooped it up and Christopher instantly took it in his hand, cradling it back to his chest, pressing his face into Buck’s shoulder once again. Buck took a deep breath, turned and left the room. He stopped in the living room to check on Kira first, seeing her mesmerized by the toys dangling from her bouncy, he knew he would be able to get her breakfast ready.

Buck was glad he knew how to do things one handed since becoming a father to a newborn as Christopher refused to be put down. He quickly made up Kira’s bottle before grabbing some strawberry yogurt and granola with bowls and spoons, and bottles of orange juice for Christopher and himself. He was able to settle the three of them on the couch– Christopher tucked into his side and Kira in his arms. He held the bottle for Kira in the hand also cradling her in his lap, using his other hand to eat his own breakfast. Christopher ate slowly as he watched the cartoons Buck had turned on for him, pressed heavily into Buck’s side. That was how Eddie found them a half hour later– breakfast finished, bowls on the coffee table and Buck’s around Christopher’s shoulder.

“Hey,” Eddie mumbled, rubbing sleep out of his eyes as he sat down carefully next to Buck, leaning forward to look across the blond at his son.

“I know it’s stupid to ask, but how are you doing?”

Eddie frowned, shrugged. Buck figured he wouldn’t know how to answer that.

“Abuela–” Eddie sighed, “Abuela is sorting the funeral. She wanted me to just be here with Chris, not have to worry about it.”

Buck nodded, “That’s– good. I’ll help if she needs it.”

“Thank you,” Eddie finally leaned back into the cushions before tilting over, resting his head on Buck’s shoulder. “Thank you for being here.”

“No need to thank me, Eds.” Buck turned his head and pressed his mouth to the crown of the brunet’s head, mumbling, “I’m right where I want to be.”

“Still, thank you.”

Buck hummed, “Are you hungry?”

Eddie shook his head, “I’m glad you got him to eat though.”

Buck looked down at Christopher, the boy had fallen back to sleep just before Eddie had joined them. He smiled sadly before turning his attention back to Eddie. They sat there, flipping through channels trying to find something to watch, not talking, until there was a knock on the door. It was Abuela and Pepa, checking up on their boys and girl.