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Interlude

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Eddie pulls up to Chim and Maddie’s apartment and parks his car. He takes a moment to breathe, mentally preparing himself for whatever he’s about to see or say. He pries his hands off the steering wheel; he’s been clenching it so hard that he’s surprised there’s no markings on it. Another breath, another moment. Eddie’s been tense ever since Buck’s phone call. A part of him is getting more and more agitated that he’s here instead of with Buck. Buck had been frantic on the call; words disjointed and all over the place, swearing that he was ok, he’s not that hurt and that he needs Eddie to check on Chim for him. Told him to be gentle too because he thinks Chim is spiralling. Eddie thinks Buck’s definitely in shock with a potential head injury and not thinking straight. “Dammit, Buck”, he mutters to himself.

Eddie can’t help but feel awe for Buck - he gets punched and instead of worrying about himself, he’s worried about the guy who punched him and from what Eddie can tell, Buck seems to think he deserves this. If anything, that just pisses Eddie off even more. Buck’s been acting off ever since Maddie left - Eddie didn’t push assuming that he was just worried for his sister but he should have known that there was more to it than that. Eddie’s barely put the whole story together - he doesn’t think he should be the one here. Athena maybe - there was assault after all or Bobby, their captain, who can probably handle this better than he would but he knows that Buck called him because a part of Buck is subconsciously trying to protect Chim. Anyone else would lead to damaging consequences for Chim.

Buck clearly didn’t think this through if he thinks that Eddie is gonna be ok with this. In what universe can he be gentle on Chim right now? His best friend getting punched is one thing but getting punched in his own home by someone he trusted, someone he cared for? That’s crossing the line. Eddie steels himself as he gets out of the car. He’s angry, too angry for this right now, but it needs to happen. Too much has already happened and if Chim is truly spiraling this badly, he needs help and Eddie will force him to take it if that is what he needs.

Knocking on the door, Eddie calls out, “Chim, it’s Eddie. Open up.” He hears Chim reply, “Now is not a good time, Eddie, I’m busy.” Yeah, that wasn’t happening. “Busy huh? Working out who you’re gonna punch next?, retorts Eddie. “Open the door, Chim”.

There’s a moment of quiet and Eddie tenses up. The door finally opens and he see’s Chim. He looks tired, looks like he’s been crying and trying to pull it together. Stepping inside, Eddie takes a moment to take in the chaos in the apartments - there’s bags and boxes that are half filled. He’s packing up to leave, Eddie realizes.

“Look, if you’re here about Buck, then just leave. He kept things from me, he knew things and he didn’t tell me and just watched me suffer for the last few days, Eddie!”, exclaims Chim. Eddie doesn’t respond, just stares at Chim while crossing his arms. Chim starts to pace, clearly agitated.. “I’ll apologize and square things up with him after I bring Maddie back”, Chim continues. I need to pack to-”. “Oh, you’ll apologize and make things right later on. Well, I guess everything is ok then. No harm, no foul right?”, Eddie says sarcastically. “Everything is gonna magically be ok when you and Madide get back, is that how this works?”

“I shouldn’t have punched him”, Chim finally says. He doesn’t look at Eddie, doesn’t want to make eye contact with him. “No, you shouldn’t have. You had no right to hurt him.”, says Eddie. Eddie is trying his best to stay calm. “Maddie made him promise not to tell you and that’s not on him, that’s on her Chim.” Chim whirls around to face Eddie, getting ready to rebuff him when Eddie rushes on, “Take that up with her when you find her Chim but even then, that doesn’t give you the right to take it out on Buck!”

“Are you blaming Maddie for this?” Chim yells, moving close and getting in Eddie’s face. Eddie holds still. In a quiet but definitive tone, he says “I’m not playing the blame game with you Chim, that’s not what I’m here for. Any one of us could have helped you guys before it got to this point. We’d have been here for you guys, checking in and helping with whatever you guys needed. Maddie’s clearly been struggling for months and you didn’t tell any of us. We would have made sure that someone was with her during the blackout. Buck didn’t know about any of this until she shows up to tell him that she’s leaving. What was he supposed to do?”

“He should have told me!”, yells Chim. “He should have stopped her from leaving. I could have talked her down and gotten her to stay. If he told me earlier, I might have found her by now and-”. “Are you listening to yourself right now?”, interrupts Eddie. “You’re not making any sense here, Chim.”

“He didn’t tell me, Eddie!”, says Chim, voice broken and defeated. “Like you told him about Daniel?”, says Eddie. “That’s different.... I promised Maddie -”. Chim sputters, as if he's run out of words suddenly. Eddie doesn’t respond, he just continues to look at Chim. He must have finally processed what he said He’s frozen, shocked. Tears form in his eyes as he slowly sits on the couch. “I’m sorry”, he finally says. “I’m so sorry…”

Eddie takes a deep breath before moving to sit next to Chim. He moves to hug Chim, movements slow so Chim can stop him anytime if he doesn't want to be touched. Chim moves to meet him halfway and he crumples into Eddie. They just sit there for a while.

After a while, Chim says, “I’ll fix this Eddie, I promise. I just need to find Maddie first”. Eddie doesn’t say anything for a while but he finally says “Look Chim, if that’s what you need to do, then do it. I won’t stop you but you need to do it right. Call Bobby and let him know you need time off. Say goodbye to Hen properly. Pack properly and make sure you have supplies to handle a baby on a road trip”, says Eddie.

“And Buck? You didn’t mention Buck”, Chim says. Eddie looks him in the eye, “You need to figure out on your own how to fix things with Buck. You and Maddie both hurt him; You crossed the line Chim. You hurt him in his own home and Maddie put him in-between the two of you in this. She shouldn't have made him promise that.”

“I’ll take care of him while you’re out but Chim, it’s gonna be a while before I let him be alone with you. Don’t look at me like that, you punched him. You're both a mess right now - Buck thinks this is his fault so no, I’m not leaving him alone with you until you guys can sort this all out. I’m not leaving him alone to stew either - he needs to understand that this isn’t on him”, says Eddie.

“That’s not fair, Eddie. I’m not going to punch him again! It was an accident. Everything happened so fast...”, says Chim. “But you did Chim. You hurt him. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or not. You hurt him, in his own home, and so help me, you have to deal with the consequences.”

“I’ll apologize”, says Chim. “I’ll make it right”. Eddie says, “I know you’ll try but buddy, I'm going to need you to respect Buck and move at his pace. You don’t get to badger him into forgiving you. You’ll give him space he needs and do what he needs you to do to make him feel comfortable and safe around you, even if that’s accepting that he’ll need time away from you. You don’t get to badger him into forgiving Maddie either - they’ll need to work on their relationship on their own too. Don’t push me on this Chim, I’m going to be there with him to make sure you don’t hurt him further.”

“Do you think he’ll forgive me?”, Chim says, his voice small. “Buck sent me here to check up on you after you punched him, Chim. I know he’ll forgive you but I’m going to make sure you earn that forgiveness”, says Eddie. “Now, come on, I’ll help you and Jee pack for your trip. You need to check in every few days - me or Hen, that’s non-negotiable either.”

They both get up and Chim starts directing him on where things are and into which bags or boxes they go. Things are far from resolved and they still have a lot to weather through but this, this is a start..