Buck smiled as he walked through the snack aisle. It was time for the monthly Buckley-Sibling movie night and Buck had been looking forward to it for several days, having had a hard week at work with lots of calls and one call resulting in the loss of a five year old little girl.
He had already placed the wine in the cart and was just about to grab a bag of chips when a young woman bumped into him from behind, making him stumble and have to steady himself against the shelf in front of him.
“I am so, so sorry,” the woman apologized quickly before her eyes widened when she looked up at Buck.
“That’s okay, no harm done,” Buck smiled kindly at her.
“I really didn’t mean to run into you,” the woman looked embarrassed. “I need to learn how to watch where I'm going.”
“As I said, it’s fine,” Buck assured her.
“This may be rude to ask,” The woman looked a little hesitant before she continued. “But how tall are you?”
“I'm 6’2,” Buck told her with amusement as the top of her head only reached about the height of his navel.
“Holy crap!” The woman whispered and then her eyes widened even more as Buck reached for the chips again.
“Hayley, there you are!” A man came up to them with an annoyed look and placed himself in such a way that Buck couldn’t reach the chips. “Don’t just disappear like that.”
“Aiden, his arms are the size of my head!” Hayley pointed at Buck with wide almost excited eyes.
Aiden turned his eyes to Buck and Buck could see the look of shock that then turned into interest as his eyes ran up and down Buck’s body. Aiden was tall, not as tall as Buck or even Eddie, don’t ask why Buck compared everyone to Eddie, but Aiden was also thin with a mean sort of look in his eyes.
“Hi, I'm Aiden,” Aiden held out his hand toward Buck with a smarmy smile.
“I'm Buck,” Buck hesitantly shook Aiden’s hand, feeling uncomfortable at the intensity of Aiden’s stare.
Buck knew that he looked good, had used that a lot in his Buck 1.0 days, and most of the time he didn’t mind people looking. But something about the way Aiden was looking at him made his skin crawl and also made him want to curl up and hide. It was like Aiden was looking through his clothes, running his eyes over every dip and curve on Buck’s body and Buck had to fight the urge to hide, to make himself seem smaller.
“It was nice meeting you both, but, uh, I'm late so I've gotta go.” Buck said quickly and hurried away, leaving the chips behind.
“I want him,” Buck heard Aiden say to Hayley. “I want to tie him to my bed and play with him until he is nothing more than a crying mess.”
Buck shuddered and drew into himself. He wanted to get as far away from the man as possible. He hurried to pay for the wine and then he almost ran out to his jeep and by the time he was at Maddie’s place he was shaking all over.
“Evan, what's wrong?” Maddie asked as soon as she opened the door, her smile melting off her face and into a worried frown.
“Have you ever had someone look at you as though they can see through your clothes?” Buck asked quietly as he walked into Maddie’s apartment.
“Yeah, I know that feeling,” Maddie nodded sadly. “It used to happen a lot more often when I was younger but it still tends to happen today.”
“How do you make it stop feeling like you are slimy all over?” Buck looked at her with big eyes.
“Come on, I have an idea,” Maddie smiled and pulled Buck to the living room, where she had set up for their movie night, by the hand. “First we chose a movie to watch.”
Buck looked at the three Maddie had placed on the table and picked up Pretty Woman. “What's this about?”
“It’s about a prostitute and a rich man that falls in love,” Maddie smiled softly. “It’s a feel-good movie. Well, at least according to me.”
“Okay, let’s watch it,” Buck murmured and handed the movie over.
Maddie quickly put it in and then she smiled at her little brother in the softest way Buck had seen in a long time. “Wait here.”
Buck stood by the couch feeling a little out of place but he couldn’t help but smile when Maddie came back. She was carrying the biggest, fluffiest, blanket that Buck had ever seen over her shoulders. Then she half sat, half laid down on the couch and held her arms open.
“Come on, little brother, let’s cuddle,” Maddie beamed at him as Buck slowly and hesitantly walked over and sat down beside her before she scoffed at him. “No, like this.”
Maddie pulled him into her side so he was basically using her as a body pillow, his head resting on her shoulder as she wrapped her arms and the blanket around them both. At first Buck felt a little tense but as Maddie started the movie and then began to run her fingers through his hair, he relaxed, feeling content and safe in a way he hadn't been in… God, he didn’t know how long.
Buck didn’t know what was going on. He couldn’t sit still, no matter what he did.
It was like there were ants crawling under his skin, itching, moving, irritating. It started when they got back from a call where a young boy had puked on him. And no, it had nothing to do with Eddie not working this shift, thank you Chimney.
He had, of course, jumped into the shower as soon as they were back at the station, showering thoroughly and changing his uniform. But after that the itching and crawling feeling had started and Buck was slowly but surely going insane.
“Stop moving so much, Buck,” Chim said to him from one of the armchairs in the loft.
“Sorry,” Buck murmured and tried to sit still.
“Are you okay, Buckaroo?” Hen asked softly from her place on the couch.
“I'm fine,” Buck tried to smile but he had to shift again.
“If you’re sure,” Hen said hesitantly before slowly going back to her book.
The itching and crawling under his skin got worse over the next two hours before everything came to a head during dinner. Buck was just about to sit down when the itching and crawling turned into a burning sensation.
It was like someone had poured fire all over his upper body and Buck fell to his knees with a sob as he tried to claw his skin off. The rest of his team was up and by his side quicker than he could comprehend.
“Buck, what's going on?” Bobby was kneeling in front of him.
“It burns!” Buck sobbed and clawed at his neck.
“Hey, hey, hey, none of that,” Hen quickly grabbed his hands.
“Chim, help me get his shirt off.” Bobby ordered. “Hen make sure he doesn’t rip open his skin even more.”
Buck tried to rip his hands out of Hen’s grip, wanting, no… needing to get his skin off. He knew he was crying and begging from them to make it stop, knew he begged Bobby to knock him out or kill him, just to make the burning and itching stop.
When they got Buck’s shirt off his whole upper body was red and inflamed, some places were even blistered. Hen felt tears gather; in her eyes as she saw her adopted little brother beg for it to stop and knowing she had no idea how to help.
“Should we get him to the hospital?” Hen looked at Bobby.
“I think we should,” Bobby nodded.
“Wait,” Chim spoke up from where he was examining Buck's shirt. “I think someone has poured itching powder in Buck's shirt. No, not poured, bathed and soaked the shirt in it.”
“Shit!” Bobby cursed and everyone that had been on shift looked at him wide eyed. Bobby never cursed. “Get him into the showers. NOW!”
“What's going on, Cap?” Hen asked as she helped Chim half carry, half drag Buck towards the showers.
“Buck is borderline deadly allergic to rosehip seeds which is used to make almost all itching powder,” Bobby informed them as he pulled out his phone.
“Chim, please make it stop,” Buck begged and managed to get a hand free from Hen.
“We’ll make it better, I promise,” Chim swore and then he grabbed Buck's hand which had started to draw blood as he clawed at his chest.
Buck sobbed as he was led by Hen and Chim into the shower and tried to bang his head against the wall to knock himself out just to get some relief from the burning and itching. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you looked at it, Hen managed to prevent him from actually banging his head.
“Cold water,” Chim told Hen, who quickly started the cold water and put Buck under the spray.
They sat Buck down on the floor and made sure the cold water hit his upper body and while Buck still tried to itch and claw open his skin the cold water seemed to help calm the feelings down.
In the end, Bobby soaked one of his own hoodies in cold water and helped a very tired Buck into it after Chim had given him something for the allergic reaction and the blisters. Then Hen had pulled Buck with her to the couch and ignoring the wet hoodie, had pulled him into her arms like she usually did for Denny when he had had a bad dream.
Buck cuddled closer as he felt the itching return. At least it wasn’t burning anymore. “Thank you for cuddling with me.”
“Oh, Buckaroo,” Hen bent down and kissed the top of his head. “What are big sisters for?”
3: Bobby and Athena
Smiling brightly Buck helped Athena carry the salad out to the backyard. He had been invited to dinner by Bobby earlier that day. Well, the whole team had been invited but Buck had been the only one to accept.
Hen had promised to eat pizza with her family because apparently Denny had somehow learned how to make the puppy eyed look to devastating effect. Hen had looked accusingly at Buck as she told them and Buck had done his best to look innocent.
Chim on the other hand had a date night with Maddie but he had promised to come for dinner next time and to bring Maddie with him. But Maddie had already booked the tickets for the special showing at the museum and they couldn’t miss it.
And Eddie? Well, that bastard had decided that it was a good time to go visit his family in El Paso and leave Buck all alone in L.A. Buck would never forgive him for that… okay, so Eddie just needed to flash that bashful smile that showed off his little vampire teeth and Buck would be putty and forgive him without question.
“I'm so happy you wanted to come, Buck,” Athena smiled and patted him on the cheek.
“Food cooked by you and Bobby? How could I say no,” Buck laughed and Athena chuckled before going back inside for some lemonade.
“I think she's having a bit of an empty nest thing going on,” Bobby said quietly to Buck. “May is almost never home at the same time as us and Harry spends most of his time with Michael.”
“Well, you know I never say no to food,” Buck smiled and was about to continue when his phone rang. “I’ll just take this quickly.”
Buck walked a few paces away to answer. “Hello, Buck speaking.”
“You still call yourself that?” Philip Buckley’s disgusted voice came from the other side of the phone.
“Dad?” Buck asked in confusion. “How did you get my number?”
“You’d be surprised what people will tell you if you are a concerned father.” Philip huffed. “I can't believe you are a firefighter. How did you manage that anyway? Do you get on your knees for the captain or is it the chief?”
“I'm good at my job,” Buck said quietly.
“Yeah, right,” Philip scoffed. “You're just a disappointment and a waste of space.”
“I earned my place on my team,” Buck murmured but it came out more as a question as tears started to fall down his face.
“Oh, I bet you earned it. That mouth of yours must be good for something besides talking back and being disrespectful,” Philip laughed cruelly. “Maybe I should have used your pretty ass while you were still living here, now it’s probably all loose and sloppy.”
“What?” Buck gasped in shock.
“Oh, you didn’t know, did you?” Philip hummed. “I thought about it sometimes, how you would look on your knees, either with your mouth open or your pretty ass in the air, because even I can admit that you are beautiful. I even got offers from some of my associates for a night with you… Fuck, I regret not taking them up on it. You could have been my little money maker.”
Buck felt his chest tighten. His dad couldn’t mean what he was implying, right? Not even an abusive asshole like Philip Buckley could go that far, right? Breathing was getting harder as Philip continued talking about Buck like he wasn’t his son but a whore he wanted in his bed.
“Come now, Evan,” Philip had a taunting sound to his voice. “You spread your legs for your boss and the fire chief, why not your father? Hey, I’ll even pay you for it.”
“Buck, give me the phone,” Athena held out her hand towards Buck, a cold look on her face.
Buck hesitated before finally giving her the phone. Then he turned and ran to the bathroom and managed to fall to his knees in front of the toilet before puking his guts out. He was cold and sweaty, his breaths coming in quick gasps and then he was heaving again.
“Here, rinse your mouth,” Bobby said gently and he crouched beside him, holding out a glass of water.
Buck somehow managed to do that before he started to hyperventilate. He couldn’t stop and he barely heard what Bobby was saying to him. His thoughts were whirling around in his head too fast for him to grasp a single thought and that just made everything more hazy.
Suddenly there was a warmth surrounding him and he could finally breathe again. He had no idea how long he had been out of it, but when he started registering things again he was sitting on the couch in the Grant-Nash living room, surrounded by Bobby and Athena.
Athena had her arms wrapped around him from the left as she softly cradled a hand through his hair while humming an unknown tune in his ear. Bobby was hugging him from the right, arms wrapped around both Buck and Athena like he could protect them from everything and anything.
“What happened?” Buck asked and his throat hurt for some reason.
“You had a panic attack.” Athena whispered gently, neither her nor Bobby pulling away from him.
“We heard what the man on the phone said,” Bobby admitted and while Buck was mortified that Bobby and Athena had heard what his father had said, he was also grateful to Bobby for admitting that they had heard.
“My dad,” Buck told them.
“No!” Athena denied quickly and pulled back so she could look Buck in the eyes. “You listen to me, Buckaroo, that man on the phone? He was just a sperm donor and not worth your tears.”
“But…” Buck tried to speak.
“No, buts, baby.” Athena hugged Buck again. “Besides, if anyone gets to claim parental rights over you it’s me and Bobby.”
“Yeah, kid, your ours,” Bobby agreed quietly but with certainty. “You might not be our by blood but you are our by choice.”
“Definitely,” Athena nodded before smirking. “You're stuck with us now, Buckaroo, no take backs.”
“Thank you,” Buck hugged them as he felt tears run down his face again, but this time they were happy ones.
Chim had noticed that since Buck seemed to dislike attention in the last couple of weeks.
He was polite but standoffish to people trying to flirt or give him their number when they were on calls. He had also seen the flinching and almost panic when people got too close.
Bringing it up to Maddie one evening had resulted in her swearing him to secrecy before telling him about the incident at the store a few months ago where the man had made Buck feel really uncomfortable and then about what Buck had told her their so-called father had said to her little brother over the phone.
Chim had wanted to kill the fucker after Maddie was done explaining and had actually grabbed a pillow off the couch so he could scream into it. Then he had taken a deep breath and promised himself, and Maddie, to protect Buck anyway he could.
He started by stepping between Buck and his admiring crowd, using his own body as a shield to protect Buck from unwanted touches he had noticed several of the bystanders bestow on the blonde firefighter without his consent.
It worked for a few weeks, Buck seemed to relax and finally be more comfortable in his own body again but then there was an older man who just wouldn’t leave Buck alone.
Chim could see the panic and the fear in Buck's eyes so he did something that he knew would shock his team but hopefully help Buck; he grabbed his hand and interlaced their fingers together.
“Chim?” Buck asked quietly.
“When I feel tense and uncomfortable I usually grab Maddie’s hand and that helps me ground myself,” Chim explained quietly, giving Buck's hand a squeeze. “I thought it could help you too.”
Buck stood quietly for a while, just breathing, before he relaxed and squeezed Chim’s hand back. “Thank you.”
The rest of the shift Buck would hold Chim’s hand when they didn’t have to use their hands or help on a call and Chim let him. He saw the concerned looks from Hen and Bobby and the hastily hidden glares from Eddie but he didn’t care as long as it helped his chosen little brother.
Buck had to admit that the absolute best thing in the whole wide world was a hug from one Christopher Diaz. It didn’t matter how bad Buck's day had been, as soon as Christopher hugged him all of it melted away into nothing.
He really adored that kid. Christopher was one of the strongest people Buck had ever met, somehow always smiling even though his life hadn’t been easy. So when Eddie asked if Buck could pick up Christopher from school and stay with him until Eddie got home, Buck quickly agreed.
“Buck!” Christopher called out but it wasn’t in happiness this time.
Buck was away from his car and running towards Christopher before he had registered everything, the only thing that mattered was Christopher and the tears running down his cheeks. Buck fell to his knees in front of Christopher as the kid threw his arms around Buck's neck while he cried.
“What’s going on, superman?” Buck asked softly as he stood up with Christopher in his arms.
Christopher didn’t answer, just cried harder as he tightened his arms around Buck. Buck looked up when he heard someone clear their throat and saw the art teacher, Ms. Crowe, standing there.
“I think I can answer that.” Ms. Crowe said sadly.
“Tell me.” Buck demanded.
“For the last week we have joined art and history together as a little project.” Ms. Crowe began. “Everyone had to draw a time period from a hat and then draw a picture of their family in that time period and write a little story on how their family would have lived.”
“That sounds like fun.” Buck admitted slowly. “But it does not explain why Christopher is so sad.”
“Mr. Braker, the history teacher, saw Christopher’s picture and read his story and told him that he shouldn’t lie about his family,” Ms. Crowe sounded angry at the history teacher before holding out some papers towards Buck.
“Christopher got the time period of Ancient Rome and, well… Mr. Braker didn’t agree with Christopher’s story or picture.”
“He told me it was disgusting and historically wrong,” Christopher whispered as he sniffled a little.
“I've already reported him to the Principal and the board.” Ms. Crowe assured Buck quickly.
“That’s good but I can almost guarantee that Eddie will be very displeased when I tell him,” Buck informed her, feeling anger at the history teacher bubble in his stomach.
“I understand,” Ms. Crowe smiled slightly. “I’ll let you take your son home and I hope to see Christopher on Monday.”
“Goodbye,” Buck nodded to her and carried Christopher to the car.
On the way home they stopped for pizza, buying one for Eddie as well, and talked about everything and anything that didn’t have to do with why Christopher was sad. It wasn’t until after dinner that Buck asked if he could read Christopher’s story and look at the picture he drew.
“Okay.” Christopher agreed after a few moments where Buck had to assure him he wouldn’t laugh or make fun of it.
So while Christopher watched Spiderman Into the Spider Verse, Buck opened the papers Ms. Crow had handed him. The first thing he saw was the picture and he had to smile. Christopher had drawn Eddie as a roman soldier, shield and sword in hand, with Pepa and Eddie’s Abuela standing beside him.
Beside Eddie stood another roman soldier, this one blonde and holding a spear, and Buck felt tears gather in his eyes as he saw that Christopher had included him in his family.
Slightly behind Eddie and Buck stood a dark haired woman with a smile and Buck was happy that Shannon had been included. The final figure in the picture was Christopher himself, standing slightly in front of and in the middle of the Eddie and Buck figures.
After looking at the picture for a few minutes, Buck moved it aside so he could read the story, or rather the description, of the picture.
My Ancient Roman family.
My dad is a commander in the Roman Army. He’s proud and strong, admired by many and loved by his family. My mother went to join Persephone in the Underworld because the Queen of the Underworld was lonely and my mom knew me and my dad would miss her but she also knew we had people to keep us company and to love us back on the mortal plane.
My Buck is also a Roman Soldier and he helps my dad to take care of me. They are not married but they do love each other and they swore an oath to watch each other’s backs which means I never have to worry that they won't come home.
My Bisabuela and dad’s Tia Pepa watch over us and make sure we are eating enough because while my Buck can cook dad can burn water… At least, that’s what Bisabuela says.
I love my family and I know they love me. I just wish dad would stop stalling and kiss Buck. I do love my Buck but he can be a little slow sometimes so dad needs to take the first step. I want my Buck to be my other dad and if dad doesn’t do anything about it, I will.
“This is amazing, Christopher,” Buck exclaimed softly.
“Then why are you crying?” Christopher asked softly and crawled into Buck’s lap to give him a hug.
“They're happy tears,” Buck assured him. “What did Mr. Braker mean when he told you this was disgusting and historically inaccurate?”
“He said that two men together was wrong and against God, and that Roman Soldiers weren’t homosexual,” Christopher sniffled a little.
“And he calls himself a history teacher,” Buck scoffed as he hugged Christopher tightly. “Let me tell you something; Roman Soldiers often formed very strong bonds and they often kissed each other and held hands.”
Christopher looked up with wide, happy eyes. “They did?”
Buck nodded and did his best to explain that Roman Soldiers were encouraged to sleep together and form lovers bonds with their fellow Soldiers because that would make them more keen on protecting them in battle, to a nine year old without actually telling him about sex and the homoerotic nature of a Roman Soldier.
“That’s so cool,” Christopher exclaimed.
“It is,” Buck agreed with a smile. “So your history teacher isn’t just wrong, he's also a bigot.”
“Thank you, Bucky,” Christopher murmured and leaned against Buck's chest.
“No problem, Superman,” Buck hummed back.
They didn’t talk after that, just relaxed back on the couch and watched the movie playing on the TV and falling; asleep before it was over.
That’s how Eddie found them when he got home from his late shift. Buck was on his back with his arms wrapped protectively around Christopher who was sleeping on his chest.
On the TV Netflix was asking if they were still watching and Eddie couldn’t help but smile as he pulled out his phone and took a picture of the two sleeping figures on the couch.
“Be quick but careful,” Bobby ordered as he sent Buck and Eddie into the burning building to do one last sweep.
“You; coming over after shift?” Eddie asked as they entered the house. “Chris has this new book he wanted to show you.”
“I’ll be there,” Buck agreed happily. “You know I love coming over to hang with my favorite Diaz.”
“Aww!” Eddie raised his voice even as he could feel the smile on his face.
“I mean, you are okay too, I guess,” Buck teased and Eddie couldn’t help but laugh.
“Rude!” Eddie mocked glared through his laughter.
They quickly finished their sweep and Buck grabbed his radio. “Cap, we finished the sweep and are on our way out again.”
“Copy that,” Bobby answered promptly. “Please be careful, the house has started to come down.”
“We’re almost out,” Eddie answered before he felt Buck knock into him, making him stumble forward. “Buck, what the hell?”
Eddie chuckled as he turned to look at Buck, ready to tease him for being clumsy, when his eyes widened and he wanted to scream.
Buck was kneeling on the floor where Eddie had just been standing with pieces of the chandelier piercing his body in several places.
“Captain, we need help!” Eddie called into the radio as he hurried over to Buck. “Buck has been injured.”
“Injured how?” Bobby asked quickly.
“A chandelier fell from the ceiling just as we were about to walk out and several of the metal pieces and some of the glass is; piercing through him,” Eddie hurried to say before he froze as he saw something that would be in his nightmares for a long time. “Some of the metal has gone through Buck and into the floor, most likely through his right lung.”
“E-e-ed-die…” Buck gasped out.
“Don’t try and talk, cariño,” Eddie knelt beside Buck, placing a hand on Buck's cheek.
“H-h-h-hurts,” Buck tried to say but blood started to drip down his chin.
“You'll be okay, Evan,” Eddie didn’t know if he was trying to reassure Buck or himself.
Buck felt surprisingly calm for someone who had several metal and glass pieces sticking out of them. He tried to talk but the blood in his mouth made it hard to get the words out.
Buck wanted to close his eyes and let the darkness claim him but he didn’t, knowing that the tiredness and almost no pain was not a good sign.
“D-d-d-dying?” Buck asked as he looked up into Eddie’s beautiful brown eyes.
Buck liked Eddie’s eyes. They really were a window into Eddie’s soul, or at least his feelings, if you know how to read him.
If Eddie is sad his eyes become an almost muddy brown, if he's angry they become a hard, dark brown, but when he's happy that’s when his eyes are the most beautiful. When Eddie is happy his eyes become lighter and it looks like he had golden flakes speckled all through the brown. Buck loves when Eddie is happy, especially if he's happy with Buck.
“Don’t go to sleep, Evan!” Eddie’s order made Buck open his eyes again, but when did they close? “You are not dying! You hear me?! You are not allowed to leave me!”
“O-o-okay… n-not… l-l-leaving… y-y-y-you…” Buck forced out, trying to smile but it probably came off as more of a bloody grimace.
Buck tried, he really, really, really tried to stay awake, but he knew he was fighting a losing battle and the last thing he saw before the darkness claimed him was Eddie’s worried face.
The next time he became aware of his surroundings he was laying on a bed and he could hear both a heart monitor and soft whispering.
The person whispering was also holding his hand in a tight but soft grip, their lips moving against the top of Buck's hands as they whispered.
“… you need to wake up, cariño.,” Eddie’s voice finally registered in Buck's mind and he forced his eyes open. “I need to tell you that I love you and that I want to spend my life with you and co-parent Chris with you and…”
Buck turned his head towards Eddie to see him crying softly and he wanted to comfort him. Before he could do anything about it he finally managed to get his brain to process what Eddie had been saying.
Eddie was in love with him? Really? Buck felt a smile break out on his face and he managed to croak out a quiet. “I love you too.”
“Buck?!” Eddie sat up and his eyes widened when he saw that Buck was awake.
“Am… cockroach… can't… kill… me…” Buck tried to catch his breath between each word.
“Nah, your more like a cat,” Eddie laughed wetly. “Nine lives, that’s what you got.”
“Meow,” Buck responded with a smile before he frowned in confusion. “Why… hard… speaking…”
“Why do you have a hard time speaking and breathing?” Eddie asked and when Buck nodded he continued. “One of the metal thingies on the chandelier went straight through your back and out your front, getting stuck in the floor.
It also managed to go through your right lung so you are only using 2/3 of your lung capacity at the moment.”
“Gonna… be… okay…?” Buck worried he would never be able to work as a firefighter again.
“Oh, yes, don’t worry,” Eddie reassured quickly. “The Doctor said that you would make a full recovery.”
“Yay…” Buck cheered softly.
“But for the first week someone has to keep an eye on you,” Eddie told him with a hesitant smile. “I said that you could stay with me. If that’s alright with you?”
“Would… love… too…” Buck murmured as he felt his eyelids drooping.
“It’s okay, Evan, you can go back to sleep,” Eddie leaned forward and started to stroke his hair. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“Love… you…” Buck fell asleep with a smile on his face and Eddie’s voice in his ears telling him that he loved Buck too.