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To be found and loved.

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Athena Grant had three kids.
Two of which were her own flesh and blood and the oldest, she found. She was just a rookie when she found four year old Evan sitting on a bench at a local park, crying his little eyes out in thin clothes not suitable for winter (even if it is LA). She sat with him and waited for his cries to quiet down before asking his name and where his parents were. His answer just broke her heart.

“Mommy said she’d take him for ice-cream after visiting the doctors, we were in the car for a long time. Mommy didn’t comeback with the ice-cream,” he turned to look at her with wet blue eyes and a pink mark on his face, his little shoulders shaking.

“Well baby lets go look for your mommy,” she says and stands up offering him her hand and when he takes her hand she drapes her jacket on him. The little boy looks even more tiny in her clothes, but the smile she receives for her gesture lights up his entire face.
________________

Abandoned.

She knew he was abandoned but somewhere in her heart she was hoping for that to be not true. And maybe she was emotional after her fiancé’s death, maybe she’s alone in LA or maybe Emmet’s death feels like abandonment. She doesn’t know why but she decides that this boy is now hers and she’ll be damned if anyone will put him through something worse than he already is going through.

So she applies to foster him with the intention to adopt.

It’s not easy.

She’s a single woman of color looking to adopt a boy. The system is a rotten dirty place where racism is still lurking in the corners, regarding anyone of color as a crook, it sets her teeth on edge and makes her want to just take the boy and run, consequences be damned. But Evan deserves better than that, so she fights tooth and nail and after three months she finally gains custody of one Evan . And that’s just the start of the story.

_______

Evan thrives on affection. He loves everyone he meets and makes new friends everywhere he goes, charming everyone with his sunshine smile and smooth words. He’ll be a ladies man when he grows up she muses as she watches her little man charm Lucy at the front desk in the station. He wasn’t always like this, she thinks as she sees Evan’s nanny coming in, he’d hide all his injuries and nightmares from her until she had to sit him down and explain that she’s not mad and yes Evan I’m sure I won’t get mad at you.

She waves at Charlie as she makes her way to the reception to give Evan a goodbye kiss, “Alright little man time to go home,” she heaves him up to her hip and looks down at her little boy, he’s growing like a weed and is going through a power rangers phase by the look of his clothes. She runs her fingers through his unruly hair and gets a gaped tooth smile in return.

“Bye thena,” he kisses her cheek and clambers out of her hold to wave at Lucy one last time and leave with Charlie.
“You’ve got a charmer on your hands Athena,” Lucy says and they share a laugh.

_______
Evan is seven when May is born, he sits very still when May is placed on his lap and quietly demands to know why she’s so pink, Athena’s mother finds this wholly amusing and tells Evan it’s because she’s a baby, he looks adorably confused yet doesn’t allow anyone else to hold his sister until the end of visiting hours.

Her family is bigger now, she has Michael, May and Evan. Everything is perfect and she’s happy. Michael treats Evan very well, taking him out camping, teaches him how to play basketball and generally becomes his friend. Athena is grateful to god for her family and whenever she’s in a tough call during work she remembers her family and that she needs to go to them in the end of the day.

Evan is now in second grade and loves mathematics, Athena will see how long this love will last. His teachers are pleased with his progress and are even subtly suggesting to advance him a grade. She firmly disagrees, she wants her son to live as normally as possible. The teachers understand but she knows by the look in their eyes that they would have preferred if she agreed. Michael has taken to sticking Evan’s tests and artwork on the fridge. Evan always smiles whenever he sees the fridge, secretly pleased with himself.

It’s been two years since she started fostering Evan, and the search for his parent’s had been a cold case from day one. He used to ask for them, when he first started to live with her, at the end of every week for his first year he’d ask her in a hopeful voice, “Did you find mommy?” and every week she’d have to cuddle him close and tell him no.

Child Protection services contact her six months after May’s birth, the call has her crying in relief and she clutches Michael’s shirt sobbing because finally, finally she can give Evan a last name finally Evan will be Evan Grant and nobody can take him from her. Sitting on her dining table with her husband she finally feels like she has everything.

(And when she tells Evan that she’s adopting him , he tells her she was always his momma)

_________

Evan loves May he really does, she’s very pretty and cute and only eats if Evan feeds her, but sometimes he hides. May might be all cute and cuddly and perfect all the time but when she’s having a tantrum there is no stopping her angry screeches, so he hides in his room and leaves Charlie to deal with her, Charlie calls him a coward but Evan thinks that Charlie is just being a baby and hides his head deeper in his duvet to block out the noise.

When the noise quietens down he slowly peeks his head out of his room to look down the hall into the living room. Evan’s momma and Michael bought a new house, it has a huge backyard and four bedrooms. He spent the entire week just exploring every nook and cranny with May, finding the best hiding spots to scare anyone passing by. They even celebrated his tenth birthday here, grandpa and grandma got him a bigger bicycle with no training wheels, which resulted in him having a lot of bruises and banged up knees as he tried to learn how to ride it.

“Evan! Come down I’ve made sandwiches,” Charlie calls for him from the kitchen.

Evan thunders down the stairs and sits beside May in her high chair who is already sucking on her sandwich instead of biting. He must have made a face because Charlie laughs at him as a plate of triangle shaped sandwiches are placed in front of him. Its filling is egg salad that Michael made last night, the thought about yesterday makes him feel funny inside.

He must have made a face again because Charlie ask him what’s wrong.

“Don’t like the egg salad buddy?” Charlie asks reaching out to wipe May’s face.

“No, I like it,” he mumbles.

“Then what’s wrong?”

He chews on his bottom lip and faintly thinks that momma would tell him to stop that because he has a tendency to chew until he makes them bleed and the way Charlie is looking at him they think the same thing as momma. He stops chewing with a frown.

“Evan,” Charlie come to kneel beside his Charlie and turns Evan to face them, “What’s wrong little man?”

“iwannaaskmommaaboutmyrealparents,” Evan says quickly.

“Can you repeat that buddy?”

He sighs, “I wanna ask momma about my real parents. But I don’t want to hurt her feels.”

“Awe baby you won’t hurt her,” Charlie says comes over to Evan to wipe the tears gathering at the corners of his eyes.

“Mason Anders says that it’s weird that my momma is not my real momma,” he sniffles, “He says that it’s weird that I don’t know my real parents.”

Charlie frowns
Charlie grips his shoulders tight and looks him straight in the eyes as they says, “Listen here Evan, no matter what anyone says, your momma loves you very much so don’t believe what others have to say to you because they don’t know you.”

Evan sniffles but nods in acceptance

After they finish their sandwiches, Charlie gathers May and Evan on the couch and reads them a story, the story was meant to put May to sleep but Evan finds himself feeling sleepy.

 

 

Athena was not expecting the news Charlie told her. Evan has never expressed his desire to know about his real parents since his adoption. But Athena can’t blame him, children can be cruel, she was hoping to have this conversation when he was older but it seems like it needs to happen now. So she takes Evan out for ice-cream and leaves May with her father.

“Charlie told me what happened today Evan,” she says to him as they sit beside each other on a park bench. She realizes the irony of the situation, she found Evan the same way five years ago. “It’s okay to want to know about you real parent’s, baby, I won’t get mad.”

“I know that you couldn’t find them,” he nibbles at the remaining cone in his hand, “ Why?”

She thinks carefully before answering, “You were found alone in a park Evan, no one saw any adult near you for a long time. The only thing we knew was that your name was Evan and your last name was Buck something,” she reaches to wipe his face.

“Buck?”

“It was written on your shirt collar but it was torn off after the words Buck.” Evan scrunches his face and turns away from Athena

They sit in silence for some time, the afternoon sun slowly setting. Her mind is a mess of emotions, trying to find out what her little one is thinking. She curses Evan’s parents for causing such harm to her baby, that at such a young age he has to go through this. What kind of people abandon a child in a park where god knows what could have happened to him, he could have died but they did not care about that did they.

“Would you mind if I want to be called Buck now?” a tiny voice asks, “I might not know them but I want to remember them in some way. Even if they don’t remember me.”

Athena’s heart breaks and she pulls her son close to her chest. She has the world most loving son and she’ll do anything to make him happy.

________

“Buck get your fat butt off me!” shrieks May on the floor as Buck cackles above his sister. Ever since Harry was born, May had gone into big sister mode and that did not apply only to Harry, May likes to boss Buck around too, so in the spirit of being the eldest he decided to put the fear of god in May by sprawling over his sister pinning her down and laughing at all her protests.

“Mom! Buck is being mean!” May shrieks and tries to squirm out from under him. “You stink off sweat Evan!”

Buck laughs loudly and finally gets off the girl, dodging a kick towards his direction and he goes to take a shower. Football practice always leaves him tired and sweaty but at the same time he feels accomplished, his coach has already informed him about college scouts coming to the games. He doesn’t really care for scouts, he just loves the game. Michael had been disappointed that he didn’t try out for basketball but he was pleased when Buck got in the football team.

Thinking about Michael makes Buck frown, just a month after Buck brought his first boyfriend home after his breakup with Caroline, Michael came out to Athena as a gay man. The resulting fights had Buck packing his siblings in his beat up truck and driving them around LA for ages before Athena calls them back home. They had their divorce one year after Harry was born. With Athena getting custody and Michael getting weekends twice a month.

He knows that May is still sad, even though Michael and Athena parted on good terms. But as she grows older she will understand better, in the meantime Evan and Harry occupy her. He thinks he’ll drag her out to his next game.

 

He gets out of his shower, towel hanging around his shoulders and dressed in only sweats, he falls in his chair and opens his mathematics textbook with a hum. Math’s has always been a passion of his and when he entered upper level high school he was introduced to Physics and Buck was hooked. Mom still looked at him in disbelief whenever he expressed his love to numbers in front of her.

If he does get scouted he hopes the school has a good Mathematics department.

 

 

He knew he got scouted but he didn’t think he’d get scouted by UCLA, he’s still shaking as mom whoops in joy with Michael in celebration of him getting scouted by a freaking Ivy league. Buck still can’t believe it and starts crying because how did he get so lucky. He was abandoned as a child but found himself a loving family and now he’s going to be attending an Ivy League. He thanks god as Athena engulfs him in a hug.

He’s goddamn blessed.

 

________

Lucy boxes his ears causing Buck to jerk awake with a start. Late night shifts are terrible but they pay good money so, Buck does these shifts. Ever since he finished postgrad he’s been feeling aimless. Mathematics is still his passion but it has been feeling dull lately. He is considering masters but that goal is vague and ever-changing.

He wants to get out of LA, hell, he wants to go out of the county. The endless road is calling to him, making him anxious to move to be one the road, he wants out of LA. His mother is reluctant for him to indulge in his plans but she doesn’t stop him. She had seen his aimlessness and suggested he take up the receptionist position in her station as Lucy had been looking for a replacement after the last one had quit. That’s how Buck ended up as a receptionist to pay for his travel expenses for the past half year.

“No sleeping on the job Grant,” Lucy admonishes as she hands Buck a cup of coffee.

Buck grabs the coffee and drinks it down in two gulps, “Thanks babe,” he winks.

Lucy snorts at his reply, they both know she saw him as a gap tooth brat and even though he’s in his 20’s she still thinks of him as a kid. “Aren’t you supposed to be at home?” he asks

“I still had some paperwork to do so I stayed,” she replied and Buck saw she had her bag on her. An officer came in for his shift, Buck turned to wave in greeting, he then turned to Lucy again. “Are my papers ready?”

She smiles fondly at him, “They’ll be processed by Thursday. Are you sure you’re leaving Evan? You were the best receptionist I had for a long time.”

“I’m sure Lucy, I need to get this energy out of my system before I do something stupid,” he smiles up at her. “Also I don’t think the head of administrations should be showing favoritism.”

“Brat,” she huffs. “We’ll miss you Buck. Your mother the most.”

“I know. But she’ll understand.”

 

________
“When will this war with your mother end?” Michael asks Buck while they were having dinner.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Buck says after he swallows his food.

He knows what Michael was talking about.

Buck spent the final leg of his travels in the Fire Academy and his mother was not at all pleased with this decision. To be honest, Buck had joined the academy on a whim but he was loving his choice so far. He spent his probie year at New York and applied to join the force in California immediately after he was made permanent. He got accepted into the 118 and he was over the moon. Except where his mother was concerned.

“You know she’s only worried about you Buck,” Michael says as he forks over the last bit of peas from the dish onto his step-son’s plate, Buck grimaces.

“She has a grand way of showing it.”

Him and his momma had spent the entire day of his arrival having a shouting match in the living room. Athena demanding why he didn’t consult her first, Buck countering with him being an adult and capable of making his own choices. This happened back and forth for a week before Buck packed up and decided to move in with Michael, he was tired of fighting and needed space from his mother.

“Evan, you’re doing a highly dangerous job which puts your life in danger several times a day, of course she’ll worry,” Buck puts down his fork and looks at Michael, “ and Athena always panics whenever you, May or Harry are concerned.”

Michael raised from the table and moved towards the sink with the empty dishes, “Talk to her.”

Buck huffs. It’s not that he doesn’t want this issue to be resolved quickly, it’s just that he’s scared that his momma will be disappointed in in his choices. He never want her to be mad at his choices and this one in particular because he loves his job. He finally feels like he is doing what he was meant to be doing with his life. So yeah he needs to talk to his mother
But first he needs another shower, he still feels gritty from the fire suppression system.

 

****

“She’s also a child!” his mother glares at him and he glares back at her. Bobby coughs gently and closes the door of the ambulance cutting the staring match between them short, as they have to get to the hospital.

When he gets back to the station he takes out all his frustrations out on the punching bag, his knuckles burn where they’re not covered. There is a feeling that he had buried deep in his heart for as long as he can remember. It’s been suppressed for so long that it has festered and turned ugly, its expanding and filling every inch of his body now. He fears that this feeling will seep through his pores and color his surroundings in a grotesque shade that he can never remove not matter how hard he tries. The feeing has now engulfed his lungs, his breaths are lessening yet the feeling is still spreading, moving through his body quickly.

He’s at the door of his childhood home, the feeling is thrumming in his chest in tune with his heartbeat. Trying to contain it inside his skin, Buck takes a deep breath but finds the air is not enough to satisfy him and he gasps sharply. How he reached home, he is unaware, all he knows is this feeling and only this feeling. His breath is getting shorter now, his throat is parched but his breath doesn’t come. The feeling is escaping his skin and Buck wants to stop it but his body is failing him and all he wants is to breathe.

Warm hands grip his wrist stopping them from clawing his throat, Buck wants to protest, he cannot breathe! The arms pull him in anid warp around his frame, the touch is familiar. Sounds are slowly trickling in and he focuses on them, trying to obey what they’re telling him, “-athe baby, that’s it Evan, nice and steady.”

His throat feels like he swallowed sandpaper when he says, “Momma?”

“Hey baby, you’re going to be okay, momma’s got you. I’m here Buck.”

 

 

He’s wrapped up in the lopsided blanket that May made when she when she was obsessed with knitting, a cup of peppermint tea is warming his hands, with a sigh the young man sinks further down the couch. He hasn’t had an attack after Michael and Athena had their divorce. Buck thought that he was over his issues but seeing that baby stuck in the toilet pipes, abandoned, had just dragged all his childhood memories in front of him again. He felt like he was back on that park bench, five years old again.

“I thought I was over this,” Buck look towards Athena who was sitting beside him. “Did you know this was going to happen?”

“I had my suspicions, that’s why I signed off early today,” his mother reached out to rub his shoulders as she said this.

“Are you disappointed in me? Do you hate me for being a firefighter?” panic starts to creep up his chest making his voice sound hysterical, “are you leaving me?”

Athena’s eyes hardened and pulled Buck into her embrace. Even though he was twice her size, Buck still felt like here, in his mother’s arms, he was the safest. He could be 25 or 5 yet still feel that nothing else in this world would harm him, because he knows, Athena Grant would protect him. Against the world that abandoned him, he would be safe as long as momma was there.

“Listen here Evan Grant, no matter what you do in life, I will always be with you. I may not agree with your decisions but god knows that I love you and I will not leave you until this body has life in me,” she looked him in the eye, “I will not abandon you. Sure I’m scared at the risk of you job, but if it makes you happy, I support you. I’m not leaving you behind”

After the hellish day he has had, Evan breathes a sigh of relief

****
Abby is a wonderful woman, but Buck can’t see them as anything more than friends, and because she’s a wonderful woman, Abby accepts his friendship. They have wine on the couch while her mother sleep in the dining room, they have brunch and talk about the hellish parts of their jobs and its nice. Sure his crew thinks they’re dating, even though his specifically said they weren’t, but everything else is good in life.

After finding May overdosed in her room, life had seemed like it had stopped for his family. His mom had gotten suspended and Buck and Michael had a hard time explaining to Harry why he couldn’t visit his sick sister in the hospital. Harry clung to him when their parents were not around, constantly seeking assurance that Buck wasn’t leaving as well. Those few months were hard but now their lives are slowly moving forward again and Buck is grateful. Grateful and suspicious.

His mother was hiding something, well, hiding someone. You see, Harry told May who told Buck that their mother was going out with someone due to some evidence brought into light. For example wearing a new dress while going out on lunch with a “friend”, using the new perfume that Buck got her for her birthday and many other evidence of such nature. But the problem is, they don’t know who the mystery man is.

He brings this up with is sibling when Athena is out with her “friend” and Buck is in charge of the house. “Don’t you think it’s a little weird that she’s not telling.”

“Come on Buck. She hasn’t been on a date for years now, I think mom’s a little entitled to her privacy,” May says as she throws a pick 4 card for Harry. His brother scowls and May grins evilly, UNO can destroy families.

“Yeah she is, but,” he throws a skip chance at May, “it has been a month now, I think we deserve to know who it is.”

“I’ve met him,” Harry says as he stuffs popcorn in his mouth, “He was nice but I forgot his name.”

“You’ve met him?!” Buck shrieks and then as an afterthought adds, “Maybe I should get a sketch artist involved.”

May slaps his shoulder and throws her last card, “Quit overreacting. Didn’t you go to spy on her last week. Did you find nothing”

“Yeah I did go but she just changed the topic to some new officer from Hershey, some Daniel,” he pouts, “I think was she’s on to me.”

 

****
It’s not like Buck forgot to tell his team about his relationship with Athena it’s just that he assumed that they already knew. Hen and his mother have been friends for a couple of years now, so he assumed that they knew. So when Hen screamed bloody murder when he was sleeping on the couch his first thought was intruder.

“Buck! What’re you doing here? Shirtless!?” it takes his brain to process what Hen was talking about. What was he doin-

“Hen I live here!”

“What is all the noise down here?” Athena stares at both of them, “Buck what have I told about being half naked in the living room.”

Hen splutters and then points at him in disbelief, “What’s he doing here?”

“He lives here Henrietta,” his mother responds confused.

“Why does he live here?”

“What- because it’s his home Hen,” Athena and Hen look at each other as if the other person has grown a second head while Buck slips on the tank top he left on the floor. He doesn’t know why Hen is reacting this way and gives it a deep thought. He knows that his mother and Hen have been friends for some time, starting when he left for college, he also knows that his mother told Hen about her kids so why is she so freaked out about him being here.

And then it clicked.

“Awe Hen,” he gives her a shit eating grin and walks to his mother’s side hooking his head over her shoulders, “There’s nothing going on around here.”

Hen’s face starts to turn blue and she drops down in the armchair near her.

Athena elbows his stomach and shoves him off her, “Evan your breath stinks.”

“Wait, Evan?” Hen says with a look of absolute surprise, “This is your eldest Evan?”

“Oh my- Yes Henrietta, Buck is my oldest son.”

 

The next day the crew laughs rousingly when Buck tells them the story.

“But you can’t blame us Buck,” Chimney says laughingly when the noise dies down, he points to Athena and Buck sitting together on the station sofa, “You didn’t tell us, and the first time we saw you interact you two were fighting.”

“Yeah, I know see how misleading that can be,” said Buck.

“The boy was testing my patience, what did you expect.” Buck pouts at her until she sighs and pets his head in comfort.

 

__________
He dropped Abby at the airport with promises to stay in touch and Buck keeping an eye out for her apartment what he did not expect to receive a pleading message from Abby for help.

“What’s wrong?”

“My friend,” Abby sighs, “She’s just got out of a tough relationship and she needs a place to stay.”

“Oh, so do you want me to look for a place?”

“Can you just let her in my apartment? And maybe keep her company.”

Buck frowns, “Do you think that’s a good idea? She just got out of a bad relationship.”

Abby’s voice softens, “Buck there is no one I trust more than you and I’ll tell her that too.”

“Okay I’ll go over. What’s her name?”

“Maddie Buckley.”

****
When Maddie left her husband she knew she had no place left to go. Her parents cut her off when she moved in with Doug and then Doug stopped her contact with brother after they got married. The only person she knew was her friend old high school friend Abby who without fail always sent her a Christmas card every year. Los Angeles was far from Hershey and without a second thought she left. Maybe she should have thought before acting because when she arrived to LA, she found out Abby had left the country. But she was also lucky because Abby sent an angel towards her.

An angel called Buck.

Buck was god sent in her life. He helped her settle down in Abby’s empty apartment, he never pushed her into answering why she was so skittish and he always made sure to check in on her. He brought her breakfast her first morning in LA. Took her out shopping when she admitted her didn’t have much clothes and most of all he gave her space when everything got too much. He gave her a safe space and she was grateful.

“You don’t have to keep checking on me you know,” she tells him one evening when they’re having wine on Abby’s couch.

“I know,” he takes a sip of his wine, “it’s just that I don’t have friends outside the station and well my family.”

“Basically you’re a loser,” she gently teases the younger man.

“Hey! I’ll have you know I was a football player both in high school and college,” he boasts.

“You were a jock then.”

“Yeah, when mom married Michael, me and him used to play basketball. I still don’t know how I ended up in football when I was better at basketball,” he laughs and then stands to get more wine.

“Tell me about your parents,” she says and accepts the refill he offers her.

“Well mom’s a sergeant on the LAPD, and Michael is an architect,” he sits down, “they’ve been separated for a long time but we’re still family. I have a sister who’s fourteen and a brother who’s seven.”

“You seem to love your family very much,” Maddie says with a fond smile.

For the past month since she knew Buck she always thought, huh, this must be what a younger sibling feels like. Daniel was just a year younger than her so they didn’t really get the younger older feel. Buck is the type of person who bares his soul for strangers without a thought, always making sure that the other person is happy before he thinks about himself. It makes Maddie want to wrap him up and protect him from the world.

“I do, I’ll forever be grateful that mom chose me,” Bucks says and doesn’t elaborate more, so Maddie doesn’t question him.

“How did the review go?” Buck ask.s

“Great I’ll be starting full time as a probationary staff next week.”

“Maddie that’s great!”

“Your more excited than me Buck, calm down.”

“No!” he jumps up from the couch, “This calls for a celebration.”

“A celebration?”

“Yeah! Come to my house for dinner, I’m sure mom would love you.”

 

****
“Who’s that?” Buck asks confused as the new recruit puts on his shirt.

Bobby chuckled at the voice Buck used, he sounded like an offended cat and as the day goes by Buck even acts like a disgruntled cat. He can see Hen and Chim laughing at Buck’s expense and he doesn’t blame them, seeing Buck protecting his territory is equal parts amusing and heartwarming. As the hours goes by in the shift Bobby starts to wonder if he should step in between whatever is happening between Buck and Eddie. But his worry is proven futile.

Turns out, after removing a bomb out of a man’s leg, deep friendships are formed. Or that’s what happens to Buck and Eddie because as the shift is ending both of them are attached at the hip talking to each other as if they’re old friends meeting after a long time. At the rate at which things are going Bobby wonders if he’ll need to call HR and tell them about the new development.

He recounts the story to Athena at their next date and they both share a laugh. She’s beautiful he thinks as they continue to talk during the dinner. He’s honestly glad that he took the step and asked her out when he did. Athena was an amazing woman who loved her family and job, she knew what she wanted in life and she went for it. He’s lucky that someone didn’t come up and snatched her before he had a chance to ask her out. Their only problem now is, sadly, Buck.

It’s not that they’re ashamed of their relationship, it’s just that Bobby wants to stay in Buck’s good books for a while longer. He’s afraid of what Buck will think of him, whether Bobby is good enough for his mother. Athena thinks he’s stupid but ever since Buck joined the 118, Bobby feels as though Buck is his own son and he doesn’t want his son to be disappointed in him.

But they have to tell Buck soon. Him and Athena are starting to get very serious in their relationship and Bobby wants to be a part of Athena’s family. So he’s going to have this conversation soon.

“You think we should take him out for dinner?” Bobby asks Athena.

“Maybe it’s better you come home for dinner,” she takes his offered hand on the table, “That way you’ll meet all my kids at once.”

“Rip it off like a band aid?”

“Rip it off like a band aid.”

 

Bobby is nervous, he’s decked out in his nicest jeans and button down, he has an expensive bottle of wine and chocolates. You can do this, he thinks to himself, it’s only Buck. His little pep talk seems to have no effect on his nerves.

May answers the door and invites him in, the house has dark wooden tones that make it feel warm yet sophisticated while at the same time you can see the house has been lived in, with the shoes by the door and a duffel bag on the chair.

“Evan Grant,” Athena’s voice booms and May throws an apologetic glance at his way, “How many times have I told you to put you bag in your room. I swear you are worse than Harry.”

“Relax mom, it’s just-,” Buck notices him coming down the stairs, “Bobby hey, glad you came.”

Greetings are exchanged and Buck lets Athena and him talk as he and his sister set the table for dinner. Bobby glances nervously to his partner and she smiles at him patiently, the sooner they get over this the better it will be for their relationship. Bobby hopes to one day become a part of this family and the first step would be making a good first impression to the Grant children (though he already has a good rapport with Harry).

“Where’s Harry?” he asks.

“He has a field trip tomorrow and Michael his chaperoning, so he stayed over at his father’s place.”

“Dinner’s ready,” Buck calls out to them, he’s wearing a Henley and loose pants with a dish rag thrown over his shoulder.

They all settle down to eat with Athena sitting at the head position, Bobby to her left and Buck and May to her right. The dinner is a beautiful roast chicken with potato salad and greens. The table fills with soft conversation and the clinking of cutlery on plates. It has been so long since he’s been at a dinner like this and Bobby finds himself wanting for more of this occurrence in his future. Ever since the fire that destroyed his family happened Bobby felt like everything was grey and dull but now that he’s met Athena, everything looks colorful again and Bobby is grateful.

“So there’s a reason I called Bobby for dinner today,” Athena says and puts away her cutlery. She offers her hand to Bobby and he intertwines their fingers. “I invited Bobby because we’re dating and I wanted him to meet my family officially.”

May smiles encouragingly at them while Buck’s eyes flicker to both of their faces in shock. It’s as if the he’s going through all their interactions from the past month and analyzing everything they did. Buck’s face would have made Bobby laugh if he didn’t feel worried about Buck’s reaction.

“Huh, it makes sense now,” Buck surmises and then continues to eat. Athena signals to him to also eat and so he does.

Later when Buck and Bobby take care of the dishes on the kitchen Buck talks to him.

“I’m glad it’s you Bobby.” Buck rinses the dishes while Bobby loads the dishwasher.

“You are?”

“Yeah, you’re a good man and my mom has been happier these past months,” Buck turns to face him fully, “So I’m glad you are becoming part if the family.”

****

“Come on Eddie,” Buck begs and juts his lower lip towards Eddie. The fact that Christopher is making to same face to his father doesn’t help.

When Buck proposed they go to the zoo, Eddie didn’t expect them to be so fascinated by the reptile section of the zoo. From lizards to crocodiles, Buck and Christopher have gone crazy over all the displays and Eddie wishes they were anywhere but here. From a young age lizards have creeped him out and it didn’t help that he’s seen his fair share of those weird things when he was a soldier. So yeah he was disgusted.

But his feeling doesn’t seem to matter to his son and best friend because now they are demanding he pose with them while holding a python. Buck has already helped Christopher take his photo and somehow convinced him that his dad needs to take a photo too. So now Eddie is being made victim of puppy eyes from both of his boys.

His Boys.

When he returned to USA he was greeted with his child alone with his family and divorce papers with Christopher’s rights signed away. He hasn’t see Shannon since his return and Eddie is partially to blame, he left his young wife to deal with their son alone and his own family was not very accommodating to her. But Eddie can never forgive her for signing away his rights, he knows she intends to never see him or their son ever again and to him that’s unforgivable.

He struggled for the first year, working three jobs to support his two person family, hardly spending any time with the son he returned for, his parents monopolizing every aspect of Christopher’s life and starting to pressure Eddie into handing Chris to them fully. Having had enough of their pushy nature, Eddie sold everything he owned in Texas, bought a house in LA and moved with his son. Somehow he’s managed to make a good life here and the final bit of issue he and Chris faced was solved by Buck introducing Carla to them.

“I’m not touching that thing and that’s final,” and walks away from the pair, he hears their laughter follow him moments later.

Buck is something that he didn’t expect to find in life, the first time they met was so disastrously hilarious that he still chuckles when he thinks about it. Now though they’re friends, best friends, something Eddie never had. In the span of time since he met Buck everything in Eddie’s life has been looking up, Buck has become a constant in his and Christopher’s life that Eddie cannot believe he ever led a normal life without him.

Buck loves Chris so much and shows it in a manner that Eddie wished his parents could. To Buck Chris is a normal boy who is independent, who needs his own space to grow, not to hover around. Everything Chris says, Buck listens avidly, never missing a detail and asking the right questions. they play Legos and obsess over new books (that Buck always reads so that he can discuss it with Eddie’s kid). They’re as thick as thieves and Eddie is glad because his lonely son finally has someone other than his father to rely on.

“Can we get lunch now?” Christopher asks from his position, hanging on Buck’s shoulder.

“Yeah I think lunch is a good idea, buddy,” Buck said and hoisted Chris further up his shoulders.

“How about we go to McDonalds,” Eddie says and they make their way to the parking lot of the zoo.

****
Karen is getting anxious, ever since Hen cheated on her wife things have been tense sometimes. They are going through couples therapy and Hen makes sure to reassure her wife every day that Hen won’t ever harm their family like that again. But rebuilding trust takes time and there are days where Karen will be snappish and distant , on these day Hen doesn’t know what to do, god she wishes that horrible day hadn’t come that she didn’t betray the person who loved her the most.

Her mood must be showing to her crew because Chim keeps on bringing her comfort foods, Eddie got her fancy coffee from the shop down the station and Bobby made her favorite pasta for lunch. She’s grateful to have her crew, her family, taking care of her but right now what she needs is help in finding a way to comfort her beautiful wife.

And help comes from the most unlikely source.

Hen sees Buck as her unruly younger brother. She vividly remembers how wild Buck was when he joined the crew, always impulsive and constantly disregarding orders, but the years he spent with the crew has mellowed him out into a young capable firefighter. Now she cannot imagine how the 118 will be without their Buck.

After a call Buck sits beside Hen on the bench in the locker room. He stays quiet and doesn’t say anything for a while before bluntly saying, “What’s got you in this funk.”

And Hen just her beans.

She tells him about how Karen is feeling right now, how Hen wants to make her feel better but she doesn’t know how to do that. How does she gain her wife’s trust in her again, what can she do to make things better again.

“Why don’t you drop Denny off at my place today,” Buck says, “Eddie’s visiting an army friend so Chris and Harry are having a sleepover at my place, I’m sure Denny would enjoy himself too.”

“I- sure I guess, I’ll have to tell Karen though.”

Buck stands up and makes to move to the door, “I don’t know if it’ll help or not but here is an advice. You can’t change the way she feels but you can make her feel loved. Take her out on dinner, go to a hotel, treat yourselves and reaffirm your love.”

“Besides we’re off tomorrow anyway,” he winks at her and walks away.

She does what Buck says, they drop off their son at the Grant house where two sugar hyper kids and Buck take Denny in. Then she takes Karen out to the expensive Hilton hotel where they have a five course dinner with smooth wine, they slow dance in the bar at the hotel and finally retire in their room and have a nice warm bath. Hen spoils Karen and makes sure to tell her that she loves her every step of the way.

When they pick Denny from the Grant household Hen slips Buck the biggest box of Ferrero Rocher she could find.

****

Buck sighs and sags into the couch cushions, the beer in his hand is wet with condensation. Coming over to Eddie’s after their shift was a spur of the moment decision, Athena had a shift and his siblings were with Michael, so it seemed better to hang out with Chris and Eddie rather then returning to an empty house. They brought home fried chicken since both were too exhausted to cook and it was almost time for Christopher to sleep anyway. After eating, Christopher hung out with them for a bit before Eddie announced bed time and went to tuck in his son.

So Buck sipped his beer and waited for Eddie to come out. He’s been hanging out with Eddie a lot these days and his friend doesn’t seem to care, hell he’s encouraging Buck to come over more. Eddie doesn’t seem like the type of person that thrives on attention but in the months Buck has known him, he has discovered that Eddie is a person who wants companionship the most. Though he doesn’t say it, Eddie is lonely in LA and Buck intends to erase that loneliness completely.

“Hey,” Eddie says and sits on the couch, his body turned to face Buck.

“Hey,” Buck turns to face Eddie, “Chris asleep?”

“Knocked out on the first page.”

They continue to face each other and talk in hushed tones. Their conversations change topic every so often yet their voices remained hushed. When the conversation ended they sat in silence that was comfortable and soothing before the other remembered something and the conversation started between them once more. Time passes by and Buck feels his eyes droop to the smooth baritone of Eddie’s voice talking about his visit to his Army friend.

“Should we call it a night?” Eddie asks and moves to grip Buck warmly by his shoulder.

Buck hums and lets Eddie help them up and maneuver them towards the guestroom or Buck’s unofficial room. Eddie wraps Buck into a hug and Buck mummers a goodnight into his shoulder. They hold on a bit longer before they move into their own rooms.

There is something blossoming between then, it’s a young flower bud that has yet to be opened fully but when it does something beautiful is going to unfurl and Buck cannot wait for that to happen. It’s been a long time since he has felt something like this for someone and Buck hopes when the time comes, he and Eddie can smoothly slide into that relationship like they did into friendship. Until then Buck will wait and grow this little bud between them carefully.

****
“It’s not fair that you get the height and you can play well Buck,” Chimney says, his chest is glistening with sweat and heaving. “God is showing favoritism!”

“You’re just complaining because you suck, Howard,” Hen teases back and hi fives Buck. They haven’t had a call in a while so the crew decided to play a round of ball behind the station. Hen and Buck in one team with Eddie and Chimney on the other, Bobby being content to watch them play while he sits in the shade with the cold coffee that Athena got him.

Chimney glares at both of them and turns to Eddie, “You agree right, there is some divine power at play here right.”

“I agree, it’s either that or they’re cheating!” he points specifically to Buck and then runs to tackle the blonde, both of them falling on the grass by the court and start to roll around.

Hen shakes her head at them and walks towards Bobby to the shade, so Chimney does the same thing and moves to sit on the grass near them. he checks his phone for and feels his mood lift higher when he sees Maddie’s selfie with her Boba. Maddie is a wonderful woman one that makes him feel special and makes him want to anything he can to make sure that she is happy. They’ve been hanging out a lot since Buck introduced them and it has been amazing. They have so much in common and spending time with her makes everything slow down to only him and her. So yeah Maddie is amazing and he would like to make her a constant in his life

But he’s a coward.

He’s worried about spooking her out as she has just escaped something so horrible. He knows she feels the same way but ever since Tatiana he’s hesitant and the situation of Maddie’s ex-husband has made matter’s more complicated. So he decides to wait for her, whenever she’s ready. And when she is ready, he knows they’ll become family.

“You like Maddie right?” Buck’s voice penetrates the haze Chimney fell into.

“Jesus Christ!”

“I’m grateful you know. I’m glad that you are waiting for her to come to you,” Buck bulldozes on, “I’m glad you are respecting her boundaries.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Chim says, he knows Buck is very protective towards Maddie, he feels as though Maddie is his sister and it’s just adorable. Though he will never say it out loud.

“You also shouldn’t feel nervous Chim,” from his position beside Chimney, Buck grasps his shoulder, “You’re a good man and I’m sure that you will keep Maddie very happy.”

Sometimes Buck says things that makes Chim wonder, how the hell is this kid so understanding, because with his few words, Buck completely washed away all Chimney’s worries.

****
“I have an brother you know,” Maddie tells him when they’re out for lunch one day. “His name is Daniel.”

“Oh…,” he doesn’t know what else to say.

“He was sick when he was younger and my parents doted on him a lot,” she takes a bite of her salad.

“You hardly talk about your family Mads,” Buck says, the restaurant they’re in is a trendy place near the fire house that Buck wanted to check out for a long time.

“My parents aren’t bad people, they just couldn’t be parents for anyone other than Daniel. Ever since he fell sick, mom and dad made him their world and they didn’t snap out of it when he was better either.”

“Must have sucked.”

“They cut me off when I moved in with Doug,” she takes a deep breath, “That’s why I ran here instead of there. Doug stopped Daniel’s letter to me too, I know my brother tried but Doug was persistent.”

“My mom left me in a park in LA during winter,” Buck tells her and she looks up at him sharply.

“That’s horrible Buck!”

“I resent them but at the same time I’m glad, if they hadn’t left me I wouldn’t have met my momma,” He offers her his hand and she takes it, “What I’m saying is, your parents aren’t good parents but now you have us. You have me, Chim, Josh hell even mom and 118. You have us now and you’ll always have a place to come back to.”

****

“Would you like to go out on a date with me?” Buck looks up from the pot of soup he was stirring.

Eddie leans with his back to the counter where Buck was cooking soup for the crew. Bobby was feeling a bit under the weather and was sleeping it off in the bunks so Buck took up the job of cooking for the team. He’s making his grandmothers cure for all chicken soup that is served with warm rice. They still had leftover chicken from the chicken parmesan Bobby made two day ago and Buck made Chimney run to the store and get him rice.

“Why are you asking me out now?” Buck moves to check the rice. “I was expecting something for romantic.”

“So you were expecting this?” Eddie smirks at him teasingly. Buck throws a dirty dishtowel at Eddie with a scowl.

“I thought about many ways to ask you out Buck but everything seemed flimsy,” Eddie says as Buck drains the water from the pot of rice and puts it back on the stove, they really need to buy a rice cooker.

Eddie moves and grabs Buck’s left wrist, “So I’m asking you where you feel the most comfortable and safe. Will you go on a date with me?”

“Fine, I accept your shitty proposal .” Eddie grins and pulled Buck towards him and kisses his cheek

“Thank god no one is up in the loft,” Buck mumbles and Eddie huffs a laugh near his cheek

Buck serves the soup to his crew and preens when he gets complimented on his cooking.
(he also holds Eddie’s hand under the table throughout dinner)

 

****

“How was your date?” May asks as Buck comes into the living room.

“It was amazing,” Buck says and falls down on the couch next to her, his head falling into her lap.

The date had been amazing, Eddie had taken him to a local fair. They spent the night eating cake with too much sugar and going on rides that spun too fast. After the fair Eddie got them ice-cream and they sat in a local park and chatted for a long time. It was almost like their normal hang out but with lingering looks, soft touches and brief kisses that left them breathless for more. At the end of the night Eddie dropped him home and kissed him at the door like they were teenagers

Yeah he really liked his date.

“How you your night little sis?” and laughs when May pokes at his ribs for the comment. She hates being called little for some reason and Buck likes to call her that every so often to get a reaction.

“It was silent. Mom came home and immediately crashed while Harry is busy beating a level in his game,” Mays says and starts to scratch his head slightly.

“Hmm, how’s Paul?”

May breathes in sharply, “How do you know about Paul?”

“I have big brother powers,” Buck replies and gets poked again.

“Whatever dipshit,” May scoffs.

“If you must know I saw you with him and asked Patricia, you know she can’t keep any secret,” Buck gloats. May mumbles something under her breath and Buck waits for her to speak to him again. His eyes slip shut as May continues to stroke his hair.

It’s been a year since May’s attempt to take her life. The first couples of week were hard since CPS had taken her under custody to find out why she did what she did and then when she came home, no one knew how to act around her anymore. It took a lot of tears and screaming before they got their normal back. Now May is going to a new school, leaving all that toxicity behind her, and she actually likes the school better than her previous one.

“Don’t tell mom,” May says and tugs at his hair to make sure she has his attention.

“Yeah yeah,” he mumbles and slowly falls into slumber

****
“I can’t believe you haven’t watched The Sound Of Music,” Eddie grumbles again causing Christopher to giggle.

“It’s not that bit of a deal Eds,” Buck says for what feels like the hundredth time. When he told Eddie he hadn’t seen the sound of music, he didn’t expect his boyfriend to be so affronted.

Boyfriend.

Buck knows he must have a lovesick look on his face and he can’t find it in himself to care. Ever since they’d told Christopher about the new changes to their relationship, everything seems to be falling in place. There was hesitancy from Christopher at first but he slowly warmed up the idea of his dad being in a new relationship since it meant that he could spent more time with his Bucky. Everything was falling into place and Buck couldn’t be happier.

Eddie settles beside his son and Buck puts his arm around the couch so that he could run his thumb along the back of Eddie’s neck. The movie starts playing and just halfway though it Chris knocks out, slumping into Buck’s side. Buck smile down at the sight and settles Chris in a position that won’t cause his neck to hurt.

“You’re good with him.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” Buck replies to Eddie and thinks back to the days when May was small. “I didn’t think you’d watch these kinds of movies.”

“My mom loves the movie and she’d make us watch it every time with her,” Eddie huffs a laugh and then sighs when Buck kneads his neck slightly.

“Are you close with you mom?”

“We’ve drifted apart. She’s not very accepting of my parenting methods,” Eddie shot Buck a rueful smile and Buck squeezed his neck in comfort.

“I think you’re doing a good jobs Eds.”

“I wasn’t always good,” Eddie turns to fully face Buck, the movie forgotten, “I left him for five years and drove his mother away.”

“But you came back,” Buck moves him hand to cup Eddie’s face, “Take it from a kid abandoned at a park, coming back to him was a good decision, a very good decision.”

Eddie moves in and kisses Buck’s lips, before saying, “Thank you babe.”

Christopher snorts in his sleep making them laugh softly. And Buck thinks, “Maybe I’ll make these two a family of my own.”

****
Buck walks in the station and is greeted by multiple people, he’s sort of a celebrity figure down at his mom’s station, mostly due to the fact that all the senior officers have seen his naked butt when he streaked the building at the age of 7. He’s also popular because he works as a receptionist here for about an year under the tutelage of the almighty Lucy, to whom he waves as he passes her office on his way to Athena. He finds that her desk is empty so he sits on one of the chairs and starts to scroll though his phone.

“Can I help you?” Buck looks up from his phone and finds a tall brunette man standing in front of him smiling kindly.

“No man, I’m just waiting for my mom, sergeant Grant,” he shoots the officer a winning smile.

The man looks confused and Buck realizes that the officer must not know about him, before he could clear up the air Detective Romero shows up, “Hey Evan, how’re you doing?”

“Hey Rick, I’m well,” Buck replies.

“Daniel, this is Evan, Athena’s kid,” Rick introduces them and Buck offer a hand to shake.

“Oh Hi, sorry about the misunderstanding,” Daniel says apologetically.

“Hey no biggie man, I know people get confused.”

Daniel excuses himself leaving Rick and Buck to chat for a while before Athena shows up. They say their goodbyes to Rick and leave for lunch. All the while Buck thinks about how familiar Daniel looks. Where does he know him from.

****
Athena and Bobby are engaged.

Buck doesn’t know what he feels but excitement might be the closest answer. His mother has been alone for a long time and he’s glad that someone as good as Bobby will become her partner. They’re good for each other and Buck can see it in the way his mother smiles at him and how Bobby smiles at his mother. They’re both happy and now all Buck wishes is for them to make a good life together with each other.

So in celebration of their engagement, Bobby and Athena host a barbeque in the Grant house with the 118 and Athena’s friends. It’s also the perfect opportunity for Buck to introduce his boyfriend to his family and even though Athena knows Eddie, Buck still feels the need to introduce him to his momma. It’s the first serious relationship he’s had since he left college and he wants his mother to approve of this new development.

The party is going on in full swing and everyone seems to be having a good time. The kids are screaming in delight while playing around, everyone has a drink and the appetizers (that Buck made as Bobby marinated the meat), are finishing fast. The atmosphere is nice and he’s chatting with Maddie as they sip on their drinks.

“So you and Eddie finally a thing?”

“Yup, I called him early today to formally introduce him to mom,” he said, and shuffles around in the chair he’s sitting in.

“Well I’m glad, I remember you gushing about Eddie when you first met him,” she teases.

“Oh god don’t remind me,” they share a laugh and after a lull Buck gently asks about her divorce proceedings.

“I’ve filed a restraining order and sent the papers without my address,” she breathes in deeply, “I just want this over.

“Maddie check this out!” Chim calls out and makes his way towards them.

“That’s my que,” he stands from his seat and claps Chimney’s shoulder as he moves to go find Eddie. He finds him laughing with May and Michael. He goes over and slips has arm around Eddie’s waist and presses a greeting kiss on his temple.

“What’re you guys laughing about?” Buck asks.

“About your streaking phase,” Eddie laughs and slips his hand around Buck’s waist too.

Buck groans loudly and turns to Michael, “why’d you tell him about my shameful past.”

“It was very adorable Eddie. He spilled an entire can of juice down his clothes and when his sitter was changing him, Buck thought it would be good idea to go find Athena,” Michael said making everyone except Buck chuckle.

After they have their lunch, Athena plays her song collection, prompting everyone to take a hold of their partners and sway with the music. Eddie takes the lead, him and Buck moving gently to the sounds of themusic and kids shrieking in the backyard. Buck feels content, he has everything he hoped for, a loving family, a great job and a loving partner and kid. He feels everything is in place and he needs nothing else in life other than the people around him.

“This is nice,” he whispers to Eddie.

“You’re nice,” Eddie replies making Buck snort. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

****
Why did Eddie have to go out of town, why’d he have to take Christopher with him. Why’d Maddie and Chim drag him out to the karaoke place in the first place if they were going to abandon him anyway. Those two piss him off, telling him they’re not dating, yet leaving together and not even telling him until after they’ve left. Some friends they are, he pouts, and takes a sip of his beer.

“Hey, you’re Evan right,” a voice says beside him at the bar. Buck turns to find officer Daniel beside him.

“Hi officer Daniel,” Buck says and turns his stool to face the man. “You alone?”

“Yeah,” he sighs glumly , “So are you.”

“Yeah, my friends just dumped me,” he chuckles.

And that’s how he ends up befriending Daniel, he’s a nice guy who just got dumped and was drinking away his problems for the night. Daniel is older than him by 7 years and have been an officer since he was 22. He’s from Hershey originally and moved to LA a couple of years back. “My parents are very overbearing and tried multiple times to make me leave my job. I love my job and they didn’t respect that, so I left.”

They’re having beer again, two weeks after they met at the karaoke place. Buck liked his company and exchanged contacts with Daniel so that they could get together some time again, “Wow man, my mom didn’t like my job at first either but she was never that persistent.”

“Sergeant Grant didn’t want you to be a fire fighter?”

“She worries a lot, but she’s cool with it now.”

Daniel is a good guy. They don’t work at the same place making swapping stories all the more fun when the other person wasn’t there too. Buck tells him about the girl suck in the window during a date and Daniel tells him about a car thief who returned the car because the baby was still inside it. They swap stories and drink beer before going home.

Having friends outside the crew is nice.

****
“Stay outside the kitchen Dad!” Buck’s little helper says as Eddie tries to get in the kitchen.

“Betrayed by my own son,” he clutches his heart dramatically, “I just wanted more beer.”

“Okay fine,” Christopher says with a ridiculously cute frown, “But don’t touch anything.”

It’s a few days till Christmas and Buck has commandeered his kitchen to make sugar cookies since Bobby by and Athena are being disgusting at Buck place (Buck’s words not his) and since his son is a traitor, he decides that he’s helping his Bucky with the cookies and not his father with stringing lights outside. Also since Eddie can’t cook for shit (again Buck’s words not his), he’s been banned from the kitchen by the two of them.

“I’m sure if your dad doesn’t touch anything he can join us in the kitchen buddy,” Buck says and mixes with looks like chocolate chip cookies.

Eddie leans on the sink counter, “I thought you were making sugar cookies?”

“We did, but I found this amazing eggless cookie recipe, that I just had to try,” Buck says and sets his bowl aside to rollout the sugar cookie dough so that Chris could cut it using his cookie cutter.

“Yeah, Buck says I can eat the dough for that batch,” his son adds on excitedly.

Eddie raises an eyebrow at Buck who just shrugs mischievously at him. Eddie knows that Chris like cookie dough but he can’t eat it since his grandmothers use eggs in their cookie recipes. But Buck being Buck , has made sure that Christopher can eat his favorite cookie dough without getting sick. God he loves that man so fucking much.

Chris continues to talk, “After this Buck says we’ll put icing in the cookies!”

“That’s great mijo, can daddy help?” Christopher turns to look at Buck who nods.

“You can help us Daddy.”

After Christopher has some cookie dough, Buck brings all the sugar cookies to the dining table as the chocolate chip cookies cook. There are a lot of cookies, Buck ended up using all of the 4lb bag of flour he brought. Eddie brings the various colored icing and got Chris setup on his chair. The smell of sweet cookies wafted throughout the house, enveloping everyone in a sense of calm.

Buck really went all out with the sweets, the cookies were of various shapes like trees and stars, he even had round cookies with hard candy centers that Buck filled with sprinkles and then glued with another cookie, creating the effect of a rattle of sorts. Christopher was having the time of his life decorating the cookies, icing getting on his clothes and face, they’ll need another bath time before bed.

While Eddie’s attempt at icing failed miserably, even his seven year old was doing better than him. So he stops icing and contents himself in watching them. “Are still going to Maddie’s after this?”

“Yeah, her and Chim are going out around 8 so I’ll drop some of these off by 7.30,” Buck replies and ooh’s at Christopher’s cookie. “You will remember to bring these in for shift tomorrow right?”

“Yes Buck,” he replies, snarky, “Besides these don’t get bad for two weeks anyway.”

“They don’t get bad for two weeks, but can you and Christopher keep your hand off of them?” Buck said just as both father and son were lifting their respective cookies to their mouths.

Seeing their faces, Buck laughs.

****
Maddie doesn’t know where she is, all she knows is her gut hurts and she’s walking away from cooling body of her husband. The snow is hurting her feet with its sharp coldness, she’s not dressed warmly. She’s stumbling along the snow cover path, her pace leaves room to be desired, she wants to go home, back to her apartment in LA. She wants to be under the covers of the knitted blanket that May gave her, she wants the sound of endless traffic buzzing in the background, she wants to watch the tiktoks that Chim sends her, she wants Buck’s macaroni.

But she’s here, a place she doesn’t know, walking unsteadily to an unknown path ahead.

“Maddie!” a voice screams loudly at her, breaking the haze that fell on her.

“Buck?” she calls out to the blurry figure ahead of her. Its Buck!

She starts to fall on her knee’s before Buck wraps her up in a warm embrace. “Maddie!”

“I didn’t give up Buck. I didn’t give up.”

 

Later when she’s in her room after visiting Chimney (he’s alive!) does Buck come visit her. He comes bearing sugar cookies, “Some went to the station and the rest was consumed by Chris and Eddie, so I made you a new batch.”

“Thanks Buck,” she takes one from the Tupperware and then let Buck put the rest beside her bed.

“I would have gotten you the mulled wine Bobby made but I don’t think your doctor would like that.”

“I could really use some wine right now,” Maddie says and they share a laugh. “I heard your mom put you in jail.”

“Hospital jail,” Buck says, “there’s a difference!”

“I’m sure there is,” Maddie teases. Before Buck could further defend herself, a figure dressed as a LAPD officer steps in her room causing her breath to hitch. She croaks out.

“Daniel?”

 

****

“So your drinking buddy is Maddie’s younger brother?” Eddie asks and waves at Christopher in the sandbox.

“Yeah. Apparently Doug cut off Maddie’s contact with her entire family, he’d literally burn the letters in front of her, telling her that its good for her,” Buck makes a WTF face from his place beside Eddie on the bench. “They never had a bad relationship though so now they’re trying to reconnect.”

“Sheesh, that must be awkward,” Eddie pushed his sunglasses up his nose.

“Yeah but they seemed close. I hope they work it out.” Eddie hums and slips his arm around Buck and absently rubs his shoulder.

“What should we have for lunch today?” Eddie asks.

“We can go to the ramen place, Chris enjoyed it the last time.”

“I’ll ask him, if doesn’t go we’ll get KFC,” Eddie says causing Buck to snort at him.

“Your taste in food is worse than Chris and he’s a kid!”

“Hey, that’s not true,” he argues.

“Babe, Chris enjoys trying new food, he loved the Korean barbeque place while you made faces until you reluctantly ate some and liked it,” Buck says smugly.

“That doesn’t prove anything Buck.”

“It proves your taste is worse than a 8 year old.”

****
Pain.

Pain

PAIN!

Pain is the only thing Buck feels. Everything in him is solely focused on the pain that beats with his heart, both frantic and without pattern. The pain is surrounded in warm dampness, dampness that grows with every breath he harshly pulls into his protesting lungs. The pain is heavy, when he pulls away from the pain it hurts even more, so he pants and whines and prays to god to have mercy on him, to save him from this hurt. Yet the pain continues to grow with each passing moment and he begin to think that maybe this is it for him, this is where he will say goodbye to the world.

There is talking around him, but he cannot decipher what is being said. Everything sounds slow like he’s underwater, the words just don’t make sense. He must have lost time because the next thing he know is Eddie gripping his hand, pressing a kiss on his palm and murmuring something before the pain increases making his scream with everything in his soul. It hurts so bad and his eyes are clouding, the sweet darkness beckons him and Buck closes his eyes. He didn’t get to say goodbye.

 

 

“Hey baby,” a voice coos gently to him as his eyes adjust to the light. There’s a beeping sound coming from beside him. “You had me worried for a moment there sweetheart.”

“Momma?” his voice is scratchy and his throat hurts. An ice chip is placed in his mouth, Buck sighs in pleasure.

His mother is clutching his hand to her face, her eyes are glistening with unshed tears and her breaths are deep, Buck instantly feels guilty. “I’m sorry, mom.”

The tears in his mother’s eyes start to fall, “The only person who should be sorry is me baby. That boy was targeting me and Bobby which led to you being caught in the crossfire. I’m the one who’s sorry Buck.”

“Not your fault,” Buck huffed and then winced in pain. Now that he’s gaining awareness, he’s starting to realize the elephant in the room. Anxiety is pooling in his gut when he manages to choke out, “How bad is it?”

His mother’s silence threatens to make the anxiety in his body spill out. What will happen to him now, firefighting made him happy, if he can’t do what he loves will he ever be happy again, will he be able to move on from his injury. If firefighting is ripped away from him, what will Buck do, will he ever find something as fulfilling as his current job, he might lose his found family and Buck doesn’t want that. Will he ever be able to move properly now that his leg is crushed.

These thoughts kept on bubbling inside of him before his mother’s grip on his hand tightened, her eyes hardened with resolve. She said in the firm tone she used with them whenever she wanted them to understand thoroughly, “Listen here Evan Grant, and you listen good. Your leg was in a bad condition but the doctors managed to set it right. The time you’ll need to heal will be long and painful, without the guarantee of full recovery. But you are not alone, you have me and your family and we’re not leaving you alone.”

A sob rips out his mouth.

“Right now baby, cry. Let out all you are feeling because after today you are going to be stronger for yourself.”

Evan breaks down as his mother wraps him up in his arms.

****
Everything sort of settles down when Buck decides to join his station after he’s off blood thinners. He also decides to pursue his masters as he recovers, much to the shock of his crew, “You guys didn’t know that I did post grad for advanced mathematics and quantum physics? Did I never mention this?”

“I think we’d remember Buck,” Chimney snipes from where he’s sitting with Maddie on the love seat. The Grant family is having another get together after Buck threw up blood on the first one. Buck extended the invitation to Chimney’s girlfriend (Maddie asked him out again, thank god) and Daniel who was in deep conversation about baseball with Eddie.

“Did you know I went to an Ivy League,” Buck waggles his eyebrows to the older man.

“We get it, you are a perfect son,” Chimney rolls his eyes and takes a sip of his beer.

“I wouldn’t say perfect. He used to smell like a wet dog when he was in high school,” May said as she passes by them with soda.

“Whatever, little girl.”

“Loser,” she yells back and disappears out to the backyard.

There is a lull in the conversation before Maddie speaks, addressing Buck, “My parents are in LA, we’ve been trying to reconcile.”

“Ouch. How’s that been for you?”

“Weird, they’re still doting to Daniel but I think they’re trying to rebuild our relationship,” she grimaces, “Daniel can’t stand to be with them more than an hour.”

“Yeah he told me about their thoughts on his job, they apparently sent in a resignation letter for him.”

Maddie’s face worsens, “Yeah they’re like that. Anyway I’m holding a small dinner party in two weeks and I was hoping you would come?”

“Me?”

“As a part of my family, Buck,” Chimney said, “Maddie has Daniel and so I need you. After all you are like my brother.”

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me Howie,” Buck teases but feels this heart fill with love for the older man.

“I can already feel the hives,” Chim shudders dramatically, “Will you come?”

“Sure.”

 

“Move in with me?”

“Damn it Eddie, you gotta stop springing these questions in the most random of places,” Evan huffs and set’s down the custard pie that he was taking out for dessert. Everyone had finished dinner so Buck enlisted Eddie to help him bring the dessert out.

“In my defense, you should be used to me springing these kinds of questions on you,” his stance mimics that of when he asked Buck out, leaning on the kitchen counter as opposed to the station counter, “I know you’ve been wanting to move out of your mom’s house for some time now and we’ve been dating for more than a year now. You want to make a life outside your childhood home.”

Eddie moves from the counter and grabs Buck’s wrists in his hand, “Make that life with me and Christopher.”

Buck feels his chest fill with happiness, his eyes watering, “you have the worst sense of time Eds.”

Eddie says confidently, he leans in to brush his nose against Buck’s, “I take that as a yes.”

“Yes, asshole.” Buck says and then kisses him deeply.

****

Moving in with Eddie and Christopher takes less time than expected, mostly due to the fact that he’s was basically already living at the Diaz house. He just moves the rest of his clothes, equipment and books to his new house. His house. Just saying it makes Buck fill with absolute joy and contentment. His decision to move in feels like another puzzle piece has perfectly fit in his life. Everything finally feels complete to him and he couldn’t be happier.

According to inside sources (Eddie), Christopher was very confused why his dad was asking if Buck could move in, wasn’t he already living with them?

He tells this story to his friends as he sets the table, at Maddie and Chimney’s place, for dinner. He laughingly adds, “I swear the kid is too smart.”

“Well to be honest everyone thought you were moved in except for yourselves,” Chim says and obsessively cleans the already clean kitchen counter.

“Would you relax, Howard,” Buck emphasizes on the name. He then addresses Daniel who was sitting in the couch, “I can’t believe your parents don’t like nick names.”

“Tell me about it. I once told them I wanted to be called Danny, and they gave me a big lecture about the importance of real names.”

“Huh, should I address myself as Evan then?”

“Yes please,” Maddie pleads as she continues to flit around the house, arranging things that don’t need attention.

Before he could utter okay, the doorbell rang signaling the arrival of their guests.

Maddie and Daniel spring into action, moving to greet their parents quickly while Chim and him hung back. From what Buck could see, Philip and Margret Buckley seemed to be very ordinary looking people. They greeted their children with hugs and polite words of greeting before moving inside the house, where Chimney greeted them very respectfully.

“Nice to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Buckley.”

“It’s very nice to meet you too Howard,” Margret says before turning to address Buck.

Buck smiles at the older woman and offer his hand to shake, “Pleasure to meet you Mrs. Buckley, I’m Maddie and Daniel’s friend, Evan.”

Margret seems shocked to see him, her eyes going over his face. He starts to feel awkward, standing there with his arms extended, he’s about to take his hand back before the other woman shakes his hand. Her voce shaky, “H-hello.”

He receives the same treatment from Phillip. He asks Chimney what’s happening through his eyes and gets a shrug in return. They all settle down on the couches and start making small talk about the weather, how everyone is doing and new news. All throughout the conversations, Buck feels as if he’s being watched by the senior Buckley’s, their eyes tracing him whenever they think he isn’t looking. He starts to stiffen up under the attention.

“It’s so nice she met someone like you, Howard. God know her first choice was terrible,” Margret says to her daughter. The tension in the room thicken and Buck feels the sudden need to flee.

“Mom, stop it,” Daniel grits out through a smile.

“Oh but it’s true, Doug was a terrible person,” she continues to say.

“Yes, but it’s not something we talk about with polite company,” Daniel gestures to Buck who tries to hide by taking a sip of his wine.

Margret stops that train of conversation and Phillip talks to Buck, “So Evan, what do you do for a living?”

Evan forces a smile, “I’m a firefighter, I work at the same station and Ch- Howard, but I’m on leave after a bad injury.”

“Evan’s completing his Masters, now that he’s on a break,” Chim adds.

“First responders have such a dangerous job. We tried to make Daniel understand its dangers but he just doesn’t listen to us,” Margret says.

“I like my job mom,” Daniel grits out again, “Maddie is a first responder too.”

“Your mother and I worried Daniel. Maddie isn’t in danger like you are.”

Buck squirms in his chair. He was expecting some tension between the family, but this was another level entirely. He kept exchanging glances with Chimney who looked like he would rather be anywhere but here and Buck feels the same way. But he promised he’d be here for moral support so he gives Chimney a discrete thumbs up. He now suspects that this was going to turn out to be a long night. At least Maddie broke out the good wine.

Maddie tries to change the topic, “When is aunt Janet coming?”

“Oh, she got a flat on the way here so she’s going to be a bit late,” Margret answers.

The awkward talking continues. Buck quickly sends a text to Eddie about how the night is going and gets a picture of a half asleep Chris as a reply, it manages to soothe Buck. As the talking progress, Buck notices how the Buckley’s tend to favor their son more, initiating chats with him more as opposed to their daughter. It’s not as if they don’t talk to Maddie, it’s just that their son seems to hold their attention more that Maddie, it’s also making Daniel seem more uncomfortable.

Buck excuses himself and Chimney to start placing the food on the table, leaving the Buckley’s to their own devices. Once out of sight and earshot, both men release a sigh of pure relief, with Buck saying, “This was a terrible idea Chim.”

“Hey, you are here for me, don’t chicken out!”

“I’m not changing my mind dumbass,” Buck gripes and moves to start portioning the food into serving bowls while Chimney takes the pork out from the oven where it was resting, “It’s just that I didn’t expect the situation to be this bad. How Maddie and Daniel are still on good terms, after this kind of treatment, surprises me.”

“I’m surprised Daniel didn’t turn out entitled,” said Chimney. Both men share a quick laugh.

The front door is opened and greetings are exchanged. Buck and Chimney move out of the kitchen to greet the new guest. She is an elder looking woman with kind eyes who looks like Margret. Maddie introduces her as their Aunt Janet. Janet turned to greet Chimney and then to Buck, and just like the elder Buckley’s she also stares at Buck’s face. Tears start to gather in her eyes and a sob wracks through her small frame. Buck beings to worry.

“Evan, you’re still alive!”

(Flashback- Janet)

When Margret asked her to keep watch on their newly born son, Janet was perplexed. She asked her sister why she won’t take the baby home, she is told that he will cause more stress to their already struggling house. Janet understands where her sister is coming from, even though she does not agree with their logic, she understands that Daniel is very sick and Philip and Margret are very worried about him but separating a newly born baby form themselves seems so harsh and cruel.

Evan is a downright angel. He hardly cries unnecessarily at night, get happy with the slightest form of attention and looks beautiful with his blue eyes, blonde hair and adorable birthmark on his left eye. She tells his parents that he’s been kissed by god and gets a polite smile as a response. Evan loves to be set near the windows, basking in the sunlight and staring at the people and cars passing by. He’s overall a lovely child and Janet loves him very much.

Time passes by and Evan grows, he calls her Jaja and is very happy when Margret and Philip visit, though it’s a very limited amount of times. Margret pleaded with her to not tell her niece and nephew about the newest addition to their family and she reluctantly agrees. Daniel is getting worse by the weeks and the situation seems very bleak. She prays every night for his recovery and makes multiple donations in his name, so that he may get some blessings.

When Evan is three years old, Margret takes him to the hospital, later Janet finds out that it was to match Evan’s marrow with Daniels. It matches. She’s so happy yet she is so sad at the same time. Evan is just a toddler and she doesn’t want the surgeries to affect his development. When Janet voices her concerns Margret assures her that she knows best, she is their mother after all. So they start the treatments and it goes on for almost an year.

And after a year, her sister says that Evan died due to a complication in the surgery.

Janet is devastated and cries all day and night for her baby boy. Evan was so vibrant, why did his light have to be extinguished at such a young age. Why must he be sacrificed so that Daniel could live, why couldn’t they both live. She grieves for a long time as her sister finds herself happy with the revival of her eldest son.

It was not them who had raised Evan after all.

At least Maddie and Daniel don’t go through the pain of a sibling.

A sibling they will never know.

(End of Flashback- Janet)

“Excuse me?!” Buck is officially weirded out, he really shouldn’t have accepted the invitation for dinner.

“Janet keep your mouth shut!” Margret hisses.

“Margret, you told me he died,” Janet insists, her eyes still on Buck. “You told me de died in surgery, why would you lie to me.”

“Ma’am, I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” said Buck and starts to slowly back away.

“There isn’t a misunderstanding,” she insists again, “I raised you since you were a child Evan, when Margret gave you to me. I could never forget your birthmark.”

Buck’s blood freezes in his veins. He can vaguely hears Janet still talking but everything sounds muffled, like he’s underwater. Everything is a jumbled mess in his head, he always wanted answers when he was young but now he had everything he ever wanted, why must the universe conspire against him and break life perfect world into pieces.

“Mom what’s going on here?” Maddie demands and Daniel backs up his sister’s question.

“Nothing is going on Maddie, your aunt is delusional,” Margret replies.

“How dare you call me delusional,” Janet raises her voice, her eyes alight, “I raised your son while Daniel was in the hospital and you repay me by hiding him!”

“We have no other son,” Margret says.

Everything stops.

“What did you do Margret,” Janet says horrified.

“Maybe we should be honest now Margret,” Philip says somberly.

“They don’t need to know Philip,” Margret says and then address her children, “This is none of your business.”

“Like hell it’s not our business,” Daniel raises his voice, “Is aunt Janet telling the truth, we have another brother?!”

“Don’t raise your voice at your mother,” said Phillip, his voice booming in Buck’s ear.

“Then tell us the truth then. What is aunt Janet saying about Buck being your second son!”

“You want to know the truth,” Margret’s voice turns ugly, “We had another son to donate marrow to you, Daniel and when you got better, we gave the boy up, we didn’t need another child. He had the same birthmark as your friend there.”

Buck feels his legs give out but Chimney quickly supports his weight, “You left me on a park bench.”

Margret looks him in the eye and nods. Her voice devoid of any remorse, “I left you in a park in LA.”

Buck feels bile rising from his stomach, he feels sick. He feels his head buzzing loudly in his ears. He needs to get out of this house right now. He needs to get home to Eddie and Christopher.

“I’m taking him home Maddie,” Chimney’s loud voice pierces the silence that had descended the room. He drags Buck to the door and grabs his keys and their coats. “I want your parents gone by the time I come back.”

The door slams behind them.

 

Eddies arms are strong and grounding as they enclose him in a warm hug. Eddie is talking to Chim yet he doesn’t let go of Buck, letting him find comfort in the solidness of his chest. His world is crumbling around him and he doesn’t know what to do about it, but here, in his house, in Eddie arms, the hurricane in his mind quiets down.

Eddie shuts the door, Chim must have left. He coaxes Buck towards the couch, the new one that Buck forcefully bought because the old one sucked, and lays him down on it. Eddie moves to the kitchen and Buck grabs May’s lopsided blanket off the back of the couch, just to hold it in his arms. Eddie returns with a plate of pizza and a can of soda.

“I don’t know if I can stomach anything right now,” Buck mumbles.

“You have to take your blood thinners before bed, you can’t do it on an empty stomach,” Eddie reason, placing the can on the coffee table and offering Buck a slice of pizza which he reluctantly takes.

He takes a bite of it, tasting nothing, feeling oddly detached from everything, “Where’s Chris?”

“He crashed early today meaning he’ll be waking us up way too damn early tomorrow,” Eddies says and watches Buck eat.

“I promised him breakfast muffins tomorrow, he’ll be hyper all day,” Buck chuckles and washes down the last bite with soda. He fiddles with the can in his hand, “What am I going to do Eds?”

“Well, you are going to make breakfast muffins with Chris tomorrow,” he reaches out and brushes his fingers against Buck’s cheek, “And then we are going to you moms place so you can talk with her.”

“Okay.”
****
Daniel always thought that his parents were not bad people, he always assumed that they were just biased towards him because he was sick even if he tried to make them pay attention to Maddie. They always cared for him but as he grew up, his parents care seemed to become suffocating to him as though they never intended for him to be a separate person. Yet he thought it was them trying to be good parents.

Daniel always thought that his parents were not bad people, but now he was sure they were not.

Daniel threw up the minute Chimney slammed the door shut, wine and bile came out of his throat as he heaved inside of the kitchen sink. Black spots faintly appeared in front of his eyes as he spat out vomit. What in the world was happening. Hands rubbed his back and he recoiled from the touch of his mother. He spat out the remaining bile and drank water directly from the tap to get rid of the foul taste.

He braced his hands on the sink counter an spoke without looking at his parents, “How could you do that.”

“What do you mean honey,” his mother sounded wholly confused. Daniel turned to her, astonished that she did not understand what he meant.

“You honestly don’t know what I’m saying,” he felt hysteria build inside his chest, “How could you just leave your child in a park and not feel remorse.

“Daniel…” his father voice started.

“How could you look me and Maddie in the eyes after what you did,” his voice got high, “How could you live peacefully knowing what you did.”

“We only did what was best for our family, honey,” his mother tried to approach him again and he flinched away from her, moving to Maddie who was sitting on the couch near the door.

“How was abandoning our brother,” Maddie’s finally spoke, her voice thick with overwhelming emotion.

“We had no other choice Maddie!” their mother shouted as if raising her voice would make them understand, “We had to look after Daniel, he had just got better and we certainly couldn’t leave Evan with Janet, she was getting married soon. We had no other choice.”

“So you dump him in a city park without care for his safety,” Maddie shouted back while dread settled into Daniel’s stomach after their mother’s statement. Silence descended upon them.

“Get out,” Maddie said.

“Maddie-” Margret said before she got interrupted.

“Chimney doesn’t want you here we can’t face you right now,” Daniel choked out, “Please leave us.”

Margret and Phillip stared at the two sibling before slowly grabbing their coats. They hesitated at the door as though expecting to be stopped by their children, when they got no response to their action, they left. Aunt Janet said something to Maddie to which Maddie replied softly, the door opened and closed shortly after leaving the siblings alone with their thoughts.

He can’t help but feel that he is the reason for all this.
****
Buck thinks Athena is taking the news as well as it can be expected, that is, she’s furious. He can see her eyes burning with the need to find the Buckley parents and put the fear of god in them. His momma has always been protective towards her kids. Seeing her predictable response sooths the hurricane inside of Buck.

Eddie and Bobby give them their privacy by vacating the house. They’re going to get coffee for the Grants. Buck is grateful that they gave him and his mother space.

“How are you holding up?” Athena says, her grip on his hand has frim since he sat them down on the dining table and told her about yesterday.

“I’m surprisingly calm,” he admitted, “I was completely shattered yesterday, knowing why I was abandoned because my use was finished, it shattered me inside. I was born for spare parts and when the use for my parts was over I was no longer needed.”

“Buck…”

“But this morning as I made breakfast muffins with Chris, I realized, that my biological parents could go and screw themselves. I already have a perfect family mom,” he looked her in her eyes, “You raised me, gave me a beautiful family, Eddie is my true love, while Christopher is my son and the 118 is my home away from home.”

“I don’t care if I’m spare parts to them, I have wonderful life and I don’t need anything from them.”

“Evan,” his mother’s voice sang with joy, “ I am so proud of you.”

She pulled him forward, into her arms. He had an amazing mother who raised him as a single parent, she never gave up on him and always supported his endeavors even when she didn’t agree with him. Finding out about his past had shook his world yesterday, but as he left yesterday and entered today, he has no more concerns, he has a wonderful family already and nothing done by Philip and Margret Buckley can ever change that.

They pulled away and settled on their respective chairs.

“To be honest I was expecting a lot more tears and anger from you Buck,” his mom admits

“If it helps you feel better I cried on my way from Chimney’s to home,” Buck tries to joke but does not succeed.

Honestly Buck was expecting to hurt a lot more than he was currently. He was sure that he was still hung up on his biological parents, that he still wanted their approval. But surprisingly he feels nothing towards them, they are strangers to him and will always be strangers to him. Their lack of empathy for their child is something that he always knew as they had abandoned him without any care for his safety and it does not surprise him that they do not feel remorse.

The only thing he struggled with previously was the reason for his abandonment and now he knows the reason. Buck feels that he can now completely move on from his terrible past and move towards his beautiful future his huge family.

“Every question that I had, has been answered, so now I don’t feel anything about them,” Buck scratches his head, “If that makes sense?”

“I think it does,” said Athena.

 

****
“They’re awful people,” Hen chokes out as Buck tells her what happened during the dinner with the Buckley’s. “How are you this normal about this?”

“Surprisingly well,” Buck shrugs from his spot on the loft couch, “I had a couple of sessions with Dr. Copeland and she gave me a clean bill of health.”

“Well I’m glad you’re well Buck, you don’t need to waste any energy on those fools,” she huffs.

“Good morning guys,” Chim says as he comes upstairs.

“Hey Chim,” Buck says and give him a reassuring smile when he get a concerned look. “How’s Maddie?”

Chim falls into an armchair and tells him what happened after they left, “They are trying to get in touch with their kids but both Maddie and Daniel are avoiding them.”

“Serves them right,” Hen mutters beside Buck.

“Oh, I guess it’s a bad time to talk to them,” said Buck.

“You wanted to talk to Maddie?” Chim asks.

“Yeah, I was hoping to get in touch with them,” he rubs the back of his neck, “I think we should talk.”

****
Evan meets his elder brother and sister a week after the disastrous dinner. Maddie and Daniel both look as nervous as Buck feels. Their conversation is stilted and awkward as all three of them try to skirt away from the elephant in the room. They are having lunch at the nice restaurant near the station.

Buck decides to address the elephant, “So I guess we’re siblings then.”

“Yeah, I guess we are,” Maddie huffs.

“We’re sorry Buck,” Daniel half chokes out, “We never knew about this. I’m sorry that my parents did that to you, that I did that to you.”

“Daniel,” Maddie utters softly.

“Wait how is this your fault?” Buck says incredulously. “As far as I know you being sick has nothing to do with your parents actions.”

“Buck but –“

“Daniel you were a sick kid, and your parents were adults,” Buck argued back, “They are responsible for their own actions.”

“I still am very sorry Buck,” Daniel says, his face painfully honest.

Maddie places a comforting hand on Daniel and Buck gently smiles at him. He knows that the Daniel and Maddie won’t be able to process all this as quickly as Buck did. Buck had 26 years to get into terms with his abandonment while his sibling had a week. Buck hopes as time goes by they can hopefully have a stronger bond with each other.

“The other reason I wanted to meet was because I want to have a paternity test done,” admitted Buck, “Although your parents have acknowledged that they did abandon a kid here in LA, I want to make sure that it’s me. As an act closure. I want to leave this behind me once and for all.”

“Okay, I’ll take the test with you,” Maddie said firmly, “I think it will help all of us.”

“Thanks Mads,” Buck smiles at her.

“Sure, little brother.”

****

The test showed that Buck was in face a Buckley.

****

A month later, when Janet reached out to Evan Grant she was not expecting him to respond, but he did. He gladly accepted to meet her for lunch with the condition he could bring his mother and Janet was more than happy to meet the woman who raised Evan into to man he is today.

She never expected her sister to stoop so low and abandon a child in a park in LA of all places. She shudders when she thinks about all the awful things that could have happened to the young boy. Margret and Philip had done a cruel thing and she could never forgive them for that. Their excuse of her marriage was pathetic, because she knew that George would not have minded taking in Evan.

So here she is dressed in her best clothes, waiting to see the child she raised.

Evan came into the restaurant with a, older woman with a stern face and kind eyes. She introduced herself as Athena Grant, mother of Evan Grant. They all sat down and ordered their meals, exchanging pleasantries about the weather and other menial things.

“I’m glad we could meet again Evan,” Janet finally said, “When Margret told me you died, it was devastating. I never did expect to see you again.”

“I’m glad we met again too. Maddie told me that Philip and Margret left me with you for the first few years?”

She takes in a deep breath and remembers the her baby boy, “Yes they did. I practically raised you in the first few years.”

“May I ask why they told you Evan was dead?” Athena finally asks.

“Their excuse was that they didn’t want to disrupt my life, I was getting married at that time you see. But I wouldn’t have said no in keeping you Evan, George and I would have happily raised you,” she feels her eyes prickle, “But then I was told you died due to a complication and Margret and Philip never spoke about you again. I had always assumed it was because you were saddened by your death.”

“Your sister and brother-in-law are awful people Janet,” Athena stated bluntly.

“Oh I know,” Janet said with a hard voice, “I hope to never speak to them again.”

“I think its best we drop this topic,” Evan suggested, seeing as both ladies were getting agitated while talking about the Buckley’s.

“Yes, I think that’s for the best,” Janet got her breathing under control.

Janet asked about Evan’s life and was pleased with the answers. Evan is a firefighter at the LAFD, he studied at UCLA and is currently finishing his masters. Evan is dating a fellow co-worker and they are also living together with his partner’s son. As Evan shows her pictures of Christopher (who is just wonderfully adorable), Janet is reminded of Evan’s present.

“I got something for you and your mother,” Janet says and takes out a folder from her bag, which she hands to Athena. Athena reaches in and pulls out multiple photos of a blonde baby boy.

“Is this me?” Evan asks, his voice full of wonder.

“I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you when you were a child, you were such a beautiful child,” her voice soften at the memories.

“Thank you Janet,” Athena says, her voice full of emotion, “Thank you for sharing this with us.”

The rest of the lunch goes by with peaceful conversation about each other’s lives, what not. She ends the meeting with a promise to remain in touch with Evan, and comfort in knowing that he had a loving family.

****

“Dad wake up!”

“Eddie, your son is awake,” Buck mumbled and tried to bury his have deeper into his pillow, Eddie grumbles and pushes his face into Buck’s back.

“Bucky! Dad! Wake up,” Christopher whines loudly.

“He’s your problem in the morning,” Eddie slurs out.

Buck groans and he feels Chris tug at his hair, “Okay, okay. I’m up.”

Christopher whoops in delight and stumbles out of the room, his crutches still in his room. Buck gets up to follow him out when a strong arm grips his waist in protest. Eddie, though he won’t admit it, is a very clingy person, especially in the morning. Eddie presses his face into the small of his back, “You should really stop promising extravagant breakfasts to Chris.”

Buck chuckles and grabs the hand around his waist, “What can I say, I’m a sucker for the Diaz eyes.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“BUCKY!”

“That’s my cue,” Buck stands up when Eddie’s grip loosens. He does a quick stretch and then snatches the covers off his boyfriend.

“Hey!”

“If I have to wake up early, then so do you.”

“I hate you.”

Buck laughs and walks out of the room, “I love you too.”

****
When Buck starts working in the station again, he really didn’t expect to be greeted by his biological parents on the first day. Philip and Margret look worn down, they look like they have aged twice over in the two months since Buck has seen them.

Bobby had been reluctant to let them meet Buck and had tried several times to get rid of them without results. Ever since Buck shared his past with Bobby, the man had grown even more protective over Buck. It really warmed his heart, knowing that the older man cared.

“They are adamant in meeting you,” Bobby says as he intercepts Buck before the strangers could approach him.

“I was expecting them,” Buck confessed.

“You don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to.”

“I’d rather get this over with,” he tells Bobby and moves to approach the elderly couple.

“Can I help you?” he asks them.

“Ah yes, hello Evan,” Philip stutters out from where he is sitting on the tale in the alcove behind the kitchen.

“We need your help,” Margret bursts out, “Daniel won’t talk to us. He’s ignoring all our efforts to talk to him.”

“This concerns me how?” his voice remains polite yet Philip and Margret seem annoyed.

“Our son is still upset about the conversation about your origin,” Philip says, “I don’t know why he is still upset, it’s a thing of the past.”

“We need you to tell him you do not care about that anymore,” said Margret. “You grew up okay, so why must our son still me upset about this.”

Buck lets out an incredulous laugh. He really didn’t think that they could be anymore worse than they already were, but Buck is proven wrong. They have absolutely no remorse for what they did to him and now as they are facing the consequences of their actions, they have come to him expecting him to help them.

“I don’t see amusement in our situation Evan,” Margret says, sounding scandalized.

“I’m not helping you,” Buck stated, “I have no reason to help you neither do I want to help you. You are facing consequences of your actions and I have no remorse for your situation.

“We are your parents Evan, you owe us,” Philip argued.

“You stopped being my parents the day you left me on that park bench. I have no obligations towards you,” Buck states coldly. He gestures behind him, “Now please leave, before I call the police.”

Margret stands from her seat, her face set for an argument but she stops when Bobby comes to stand beside Buck, his tall looming figure intimidating. The elder Buckley’s leave the station without even a word of apology to Buck and he isn’t even surprised. They won’t ever feel remorse in their actions. Instead Buck feel pity for them, pity for the type of people that they have become.

“You okay kid,” Bobby asks as they watch the Buckley’s retreating figures.

“I feel sorry for them,” Buck states, “They’re entitled people who don’t even know that they are wrong.”

“I’m glad I didn’t grow up with them.”

 

****

Buck sits on the couch in his childhood home. His mother is swaying with Bobby, May’s laughing at the younger kids antics, Maddie and Chimney are cozied up in a loveseat near the fireplace, while Hen and Karen laugh at something they saw in their phone. Daniel sends him a pic of him and a questionable looking sandwich, he’s on duty today.

And Eddie is sitting beside Buck, his boyfriend runs his fingers through Buck’s hair. Soon Buck will need to serve dessert but right now he’s with his family and that’s all that matters to him.