They arrived in LA well into the night, the moving truck scheduled to arrive next morning, they had taken their time, stopping at some of the sights so Christopher could see them and buying overpriced souvenirs, and post cards.
“People still send those?” Eddie asked Buck, he shrugged in response and paid for everything.
“I used to send them to my sister when I was traveling, I’ve been buying them all over Texas to send to her for old times sakes”
Eddie let Buck carry their bags while he took a worn-out Christopher in arms, head rolling into Eddie’s shoulder and soon a soft melody of his snores reached Eddie’s ears; he followed Buck to a nice apartment, decorated clearly by a woman, but Eddie decided not to mention anything, watching as Buck dropped their bags inside a room and turned to look at Eddie blushing.
“You guys can take the bed, I’ll take the couch” He whispered, Eddie nodded “Bathroom’s that way, if you need anything, I’ll get groceries in the morning but we should we good for the night with everything we got on the way here”
“Thank you, see you in the morning?”
“Yes, get some rest”
Eddie nodded and watched him take his own bag and walk to the bathroom, he busied himself getting Chris out of his jeans and into his pajamas and tucking him into the bed before changing his own outfit and making a quick stop to the bathroom.
He always had a hard time sleeping in new places, when he came back from Afghanistan, he spent a week sleeping in the floor, because the mattress was too soft, and the duvet was too heavy and warm, and Shannon… Shannon was afraid to sleep next to him after he had startled awake the first night back, he hadn’t meant to hurt her, he’d never wanted to hurt her, but she had tried to shake him awake, and Eddie had grabbed her arm too tight. The very next night he had an improvised cot in the corner of the room. Nausea hitting him hard every time he looked at the hand shaped bruise on Shannon’s arm.
So, yeah, he had a hart time sleeping in new places, and here in LA he didn’t have the comfort of going to one of his sisters, or even his parents, he didn’t have the comfort to find anything familiar that could calm him down, only Christopher’s sleeping form was familiar to him, and he wasn’t about to risk waking his kid by moving him into his arms.
“Alright, Diaz, then make yourself familiar with the environment” He whispered to himself and got out of bed carefully.
The room was decorated in a minimalistic way, aside from a couple of photos of whom, Eddie assumed was Buck’s ex, there wasn’t much else, empty flowers vases at the sides of the bed, and absolutely nothing that spoke about Buck having lived there for a long period of time. He tipped toed out of the room and made his way to the kitchen, the hall had been much of the same story as the bedroom, picture frames of someone who wasn’t there, and empty flower vases, the place was clean, clearly someone had been taking care of it while Buck was gone, but it wasn’t lived it, much less by the men who had brought him here.
He stopped by the living room after having downed a glass of water and watched Buck sleep soundly, tired form the drive over, they had tried to make it even hours behind the wheel, but the closer they got to LA the better it was to let Buck take over since he was the one familiar with the roads, and the destination, and he clearly had been exhausted by the time they finally pulled up to the building, Eddie winced, thinking of the shift Buck had to show up for on Monday.
Buck’s chest was slowly rising with his breaths, face completely slack and lips parted a bit, drool starting to drip one side, Eddie couldn’t believe he found the sight adorable; he allowed himself 5 minutes to watch Buck sleep, memorizing the way he looked all relaxed and worry free, before retreating back to bed, trying once again to fall asleep.
“So, just to be clear, you married me and brought me back to your ex’s place?” Eddie teased, making a big show of opening drawers in search for the spoons, Buck blushed.
“I have a plan” He chewed his lip, Eddie raised an eyebrow hoping it would get him talking, but Buck just stayed focused on the eggs, while Eddie finally found a spoon to stir his coffee with.
“And the plan is…?”
“Now I’m starting to think you might think I’m overstepping and hate me a little”
“Buck” Eddie chuckled “You asked me to marry you, just to get my kid a surgery, I think we’re above overstepping at his point”
“True, and may I remain you, you said yes?”
“Noted, now, the plan?”
“Alright, I have a listing ready for us to look at, all in a price range we can afford”
“Houses, for us to move into”
“For us to buy?”
Buck shrugged, platting the eggs, Eddie sent Chris to wash his hands and turned back to Buck with his arms crossed across his chest, both eyebrows raised this time.
“Yes, for us to buy, they’re all in good neighborhood, good school districts and close to the station”
“Buck, how on earth are we going to afford a house?”
“Don’t be mad, because it’s complicated” Buck took a deep breath and busied his hands by buttering the toasts “I have a trust fund, and now you’re going to think, ah this sicko got me to marry him and move states, when all along he had the money for the surgery!” Eddie couldn’t help the chuckle that left his lips, noticing how it made the tension on Buck’s shoulders melt away a little bit “But I can’t just access the money, it’s tied in a lot of locks, and I do mean a lot, my grandfather was a smart men when it came to money and me blowing money, so he made sure I’d have some sort of future by leaving me this crazy ass trust fund, anyway, I can’t just take money at will, it has to be for either school or investments or retirement”
“And you can use it to buy a house?”
“A house technically, can be an investment, so I can use part of it for a down payment, let the rest continue to gather interest and pay the mortgage in case it’s necessary down the line”
Eddie nodded, accepting the buttered piece of toast that Buck handed him and started to munch on it while Chris made his way back to the kitchen, taking a seat on a stool and accepting a plate with toast and eggs from Buck with a thank you and digging in, ignoring the adults in the room in favor of his food.
“I can’t let you do that, Buck that’s insane” He finally said “You’ve already… no, it’s too much, I’ll get a job and we can rent a bigger place”
“Eds, it has to be believable, that we’re married, owning a house back us up as a stable couple in the eyes of the paperwork”
“Buck you’re the kindest person I’ve met, and I’m sure people had taken advantage of that before, I can’t let you buy a house, I can’t…”
He couldn’t let him do that, because Eddie wasn’t sure how exactly he felt about it, trust fund or not, that was Buck’s money for him to invest in his own future, not Eddie’s or Christopher’s, and he was starting to feel guilty, about how much Buck was just giving and giving, and how Eddie had just shamelessly taken, like it belonged to him, like he had a right to Buck.
“You’re not asking, or taking advantage, I’m offering, you’ll still get a job, and we can divide the payments, and in a years’ time, when we file for divorce, I’ll just sell you my share of the house in a way you can afford it, and that’ll be it”
Buck had a way to make things sound both too simple, and way too good to be true, it made the hairs at the back of Eddie’s neck stand, waiting for the other shoe to drop any minute.
“Still, I can’t, Buck, it can’t be that simple”
“Why not?” He asked in a soft voice, Eddie looked at him in the eyes, filled with a little bit of sadness and just as stubborn about his decision as Eddie was afraid, he’d be.
“Because… just because”
“Alright, just, think about it okay? It’ll make things easier, and I’m not doing it so you’d owe me anything, alright? I just thought it’d be a good idea, I’ll send you a link to the houses, and if you’re really not comfortable with me doing this then I’ll cancel the appointment with the realtor”
“You already have an appointment with the realtor?” Eddie pinched the bridge of his nose, it was too damn much, Buck was too good for his own good.
“Wednesday, my day off”
His first day off after being back at work, and he wanted to spend it with Eddie house hunting, Eddie couldn’t believe this man.
Buck was right, Eddie hated to admit it, and he still felt wrong by accepting Buck’s offer, but he was right. They couldn’t stay in the apartment for a long time, it was too small for two grown men and a kid, specially now with half the placed cramped with boxes of stuff they couldn’t unpack.
He sat on a bench park and went through the listing Buck had sent him, while keeping an eye on Christopher on the playground, most of the houses had a one-story layout, and three bedrooms, except for the last one that had two stories, with two of the room in the downstairs floor, and a master on the second floor, along with another small room that could be a guess room.
Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somehow taking advantage of all of Buck’s kindness. The guy had just shown up on his life and started to make it better, without asking for anything in return, without even getting anything in return, and Eddie, Eddie didn’t know what to do about it. Buck was out there right now, working his first 12 hours shift back, and he hadn’t even wished him good luck because Buck didn’t want to wake them up when he left, Eddie had texted him when he woke up, about hoping he’d have a good first shift back, but he wanted to say it person. If he was letting Buck do this, put the offer for the house, he needed to be a better friend, a better husband.
Buck looked rough when he walked into the apartment, his eyes were already half closed and he was dragging his feet with each step, Eddie figured that’d be the case so he and Chris had stopped at a Target on their way home from the park and got him an air mattress, sleeping in the couch, however short term, wasn’t going to be good for his back. Christopher had wanted to wait up for him so he could ask him a million questions about his shift, but once Eddie realized that the shift was probably running long, he send him to bed with a promise he could ask his questions on Wednesday, after they were done house hunting.
“Hey, you look well rested and well fed” Buck mumbled, walking to Eddie and giving him a quick hug hello, Eddie smiled.
“I take it you’ve gotten used to not working?”
“It was barely a month Eds, how the hell did I got used to being a nice house husband?” He was on the second try of taking off his boots without succeeding, Eddie laughed and reached for his hand, dragging him to the kitchen and letting him drop into a stool, and kneeling to help with the boots “Thanks”
“It was over a month of you being a nice house husband” Eddie was successful in taking off the boots, Buck moaned as Eddie gave each of his feet a squeeze “And now it’s my turn, you worked me to the ground in Texas”
“Eddie but you loved it, so much, I could see it in your eyes” Eddie laughed and shook his head, looking up to Buck, who was smiling shyly at him.
“Sorry, boo, it’s my turn to be the nice house husband, and I started by making you dinner, so go and shower while I fix your plate”
“No food poisoning?”
“No food poisoning, I promise”
Buck looked slightly more awake after his shower, and he ate his dinner with his eyes almost closed, Eddie busied himself prepping Buck’s air mattress with fresh sheets and a nice new pillow he also got at Target.
“Eds, are you sleep already?”
“I have a surprise for you” He said walking to the kitchen, a little shy about it “Just, don’t hate me if it’s an overstep on my part?”
“Overstepping is my job at this relationship, Eds, don’t take my spot”
“We’re switching jobs, I thought we stablished that already. C’mon”
Eddie took Buck’s wrist and led him to the living room, where he had moved the couches and the coffee table in order to fit Buck’s new sleeping arrangements.
“You got me a bed?”
“Well, you insisted Chris and I take the bedroom, but sleeping on that couch long term is gonna fuck up your back, you need to be rested for your job, I don’t want to be a widower Buck, I’m too young for that”
Buck laughed, leaning into Eddie’s side, Eddie smiled and allowed himself a second to enjoy the warm before he pushed Buck into the mattress, he took the fall and moaned into the new pillow as he landed on it.
“Oh my god, you even bought me a pillow, Eds, if we weren’t already married, I’d propose right now”
“Yeah, yeah, go to sleep, we have time to talk tomorrow, right? Before your shift?”
“About the houses?”
Buck hummed, sighing into the pillow “Yeah, I go in at 12PM, so we have time”
“Great, get some rest”
Buck was still half dead to the world when Eddie woke up next morning, he quietly tried to get breakfast going, and woke up Christopher half past 8, trying not to screw up his sleep schedule too much for when they had all the paper work ready to enroll him back in school, probably after they settled on a house so they could choose the district, and he could finish the rest of his year.
Buck was lured into the kitchen just as Eddie was finishing cooking the eggs, and the bacon, probably following the smell of fresh coffee, he was clearly still half asleep as he gave Eddie a quick hug from behind, letting his hand linger on the small of Eddie’s back as he peaked at the stove and then reached for a cup.
“You’re really into his house husband stuff” He mumbled before taking a sip of his coffee, Eddie shrugged and platted their breakfast.
“It’s the least I can do” Chris thanked him for his breakfast, and accepted a hug from Buck before starting eating “So” He cleared his throat “I gave it a good thought, and I checked out the listing you send me, and I think, you’re right, we can see the houses, put on an offer, but, and listen to me Buckley because I’m serious” Buck sat next to Chris and looked at Eddie while nodding “You can take the money from your trust like you said, but not more than what the bank is asking for the down payment, after that we take half and half of the mortgage, and as soon as I can, I start paying you back for it, alright?”
“You don’t have to pressure yourself Eddie, it’s not gonna set me back or anything”
“I know that, doesn’t mean I won’t feel bad about it” Buck just nodded in response “Besides, we really need to enroll Chris in a school soon, he’s already looking at missing over a week while they send me all the paperwork from Texas”
“Yeah, and it’s getting boring” Chris happily added “Dad won’t let me sleep until late” Both adults laughed.
“Alright, good thing we have the appointment tomorrow, hopefully we make a decision and get started”
The first two houses were good, the idea of having everything on one floor worked great with Christopher, who Eddie was starting to suspect might be in more pain than he admitted to, the rooms weren’t the biggest, but they didn’t have much stuff at the moment; Chris was excited touring the houses, in each house claiming a room already, while Buck asked all kind of questions about how long the process would take, and the last time the buildings had been inspected and updated their wiring.
“Electric fires are brutal, Eds, trust me”
“He’s a firefighter, can’t help but see the danger everywhere” Eddie said to the realtor who seemed amused by Buck’s questions.
“It’s alright, everything was checked right after the previous owners moved out, so it’s up to date”
At one point during the third house, Buck took his hand and tangled their fingers together, probably trying to sell the image of being a nice loving family, but, it short circuited Eddie’s brain for a minute, the feeling of his rough hand along his, and the warmth that was coming from it.
As soon as they walked into the fourth house Eddie knew this one was it, Buck was holding his hand as they walked in, and Eddie had Christopher propped up on his hip, since he had admitted to be too tired after the last house, and was starting to edge of being cranky because he was also starting to get hungry, Buck had to promise him pizza and movies as soon as they got back to the apartment just so he accepted taking the last tour, and Eddie was glad he did because this house was it.
It was the two story one, the first floor had pretty much the same layout as the other houses, a nice size living room, and a kitchen that made Buck’s eyes glow with how well equipped it was, the laundry room was a nice small size, and the downstairs bathroom had a bathtub that’d work perfect for Christopher and himself, both rooms were bigger than the other houses and down the hall from each other with the bathroom as a middle point from both, the up stairs had the master bedroom which was bigger than the one’s downstairs and with an adjacent bathroom, with a bathtub as well, and down the hall from there was the small bedroom, that the traitor part of Eddie’s brain supplied that could be used as a nursery.
The rest of the space up stairs was very open and free, Buck said they could put up some shelfs and display some of Chris’ Lego creations, and start a library, assign a little area for a reading space and another for Chris’ art supplies.
Eddie could see a life here for them, all three of them, Christopher growing up loved, and safe, and being allowed to do things he loved, and maybe somewhere down the line, when he maybe managed to somehow keep this fantasy life he was daydreaming about, stay with Buck, add more to the family. All those thoughts terrified him, because it was starting to down on him how much he wanted, for himself too, but a bigger part of him told him that he was already asking for too much.
The tour ended at the backyard, the house had a back porch that gave into a nice sized back yard, where they could have barbecues, and Chris could play around all he wanted.
“I think this is it” Eddie admitted to Buck as soon as the realtor left them alone to talk, Buck smiled back at him and squeezed his hand.
“Yeah, Chris and I can stay down the stairs, and you can have your privacy on the second floor, I think it’s perfect”
“Yeah, me too” Buck whispered “Chris, what do you think?”
“I like it, I like Buck’s idea for my art stuff”
“Alright then, let’s make the offer”
The waiting was nerve breaking, Eddie busied himself at home with keeping the place clean and organized, while keeping at eye out for jobs offers that he might be able to take, and gathered everything he needed for Chris’ school so as soon as they confirmed the school district, he could enroll him. And then, on Saturday, Buck practically ran into the house, phone on hand, door left open behind him and bag carelessly thrown in the hall.
“Buck? Is everything alright?”
“We got the house, Eddie, Eddie” A huge smile took over his face, Eddie still took a minute to process his words “Eddie, we got the house, it’s ours”
“You’re serious?” Buck nodded and next thing Eddie knew, he was wrapped in his arms, laughter hidden against his temple “Oh god, Buck we have a house!”
Their laughter woke up Christopher, who was still half asleep to understand what they were celebrating but still joined in the laughter. There was a mantra running through Eddie’s head during these moments, however long this last, he got to enjoy it.
Next thing Buck did was introduce Carla to Eddie, she was the mastermind who was helping them sort everything for Chris, and once that Buck saw how out of his depth Eddie was in all the school paperwork, he called her to lend them a hand again. Eddie instantly felt in love with her happy attitude and bubbly personality.
“My god, you two make an attractive pair” Both of them blushed and then Buck gave her a big hug hello.
Eddie was tempted to ask questions about the ex, he knew that Carla had known her as well, and after almost two weeks he was growing curious, but he pushed past it and focused on what was important: getting Chris back into school.
With all paperwork filled there was nothing else to do, but wait, Eddie made sure to always have edible food around for when Buck got off shift, and then started to pack their belongings, while booking some job interviews near their new house; all around, it kept Eddie busy enough that he didn’t have time to think about how fast and hard he had been falling for Buck since leaving Texas.
Because L.A. Buck was a little different than Texas Buck, not much, and it was minor things, it was like Buck had been holding back while they were in Texas, and now that they were on their own he had let himself be, he’d always been attentive and weirdly in sync with Eddie, but now they moved like a well-oiled machine, whenever Eddie needed something Buck would already have it ready, and Eddie was finding himself becoming quite the expert at all things Evan Buckley, and the touching, God, the touching was killing him slowly.
He already knew that Buck was a tactile guy, back in Texas he often clapped him in the shoulder or gave his arms gentle squeezes, he hugged Adriana and Sophia every time he saw them and Christopher as well, but it seemed to have been dialed up, because now there was barely a moment when Buck wasn’t reaching out to him, hugs when he leaves or comes home, a hand on the small of his back when he passes through and when they sit together their sides completely pressed together, and Eddie knew he was a little touch starved before, but now? Now he’s realizing that he truly was starving, because now that he has someone constantly on his space, he doesn’t feel that uncomfortable tightness on his skin that he’d gotten used to.
So, he’s trying very hard, to keep his hear rate with in an acceptable range, but falling for Buck had been making it difficult, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
It all seemed to come together one day after the other.
On a Monday Eddie got a call back from Christopher’s new school and how they’d be happy to take him, on Tuesday they finally got the keys to the new house and on Wednesday he got called back from the repair shop he had applied to, offering him half time for starts, Buck insisted they had to celebrate it all and after dropping off the first load of things at the new house Buck pilled them into his jeep and drove them to dinner.
“Is LA everything you guys thought it was going to be?”
“Yeah!” Christopher “We’re even going to see Abuelita next week!”
“Your grandmother?” Buck frowned confused “Back in Texas?”
“Ah no, he means my Abuela, technically, she’d be his bisabuela, but she doesn’t like to be remained of that” Eddie might’ve forgotten to call her right away when they got to L.A. and she had called him two days ago yelling at him for not coming to visit her and Pepa sooner, Eddie had to apologize for 15 minutes and then promise to stop by as soon as they started to get settled on the new house.
“Ah, I thought you’ve gone sooner to see her? Just figured you didn’t want me to intrude?” Buck blushed as Eddie shook his head and brushed a hand through his hair.
“I might’ve forgotten it, until she yelled at me, a little”
“So, we’re visiting her next week!” Chris added happily, Buck smiled at him and nodded.
“You’re welcome to come too; she’s been asking about my mysterious new husband”
“I’d love to, if my schedule allows it”
They had double dessert as a treat for their hard work packing and dropping the boxes at their new house, and then Eddie let Buck deal with the kid with the sugar high, burning the energy out by playing silly games that end up getting Chris to help pack the apartment a little faster. Who can get their shoes to the box faster, or who can arrange their shirts in the bags in the best way, games like that, until Chris was falling asleep; Buck needed to stop being so good with his kid, or Eddie was going to fall even more in love with him.
“Can I ask you a question?” Eddie said as he carried the last of Buck’s boxes into the master bedroom, Buck nodded.
“We’ve been here a month, right? And I was just thinking, no one came to the apartment looking for you, like friends or things like that” Eddie shrugged “I just realized that other than Carla, we haven’t met anyone from your life”
Buck didn’t answer right away, and Eddie turned to look at him, blushing and staring at the empty bed frame, the mattresses were supposed to arrive this morning, they hadn’t, Eddie had a very stern talk with the company and they promised him they’d be there that night.
“It’s, huh, I’m still trying to figure out how to let them know I came back from Texas with a man and a kid” He busied himself by moving some of the boxes near the closet and then open them “Specially since I don’t know how many people, we’re gonna include in our lie, and well, it’s a little complicated, with them, I’m working on it”
“Hey” Eddie walked to him and took his hand on his, giving him a gentle squeeze “It’s alright, I was just wondering, no problem”
“I’m not hiding you guys; you know that right? It’s not like, I took out of Texas to keep you captive in L.A. without friends or family”
Eddie couldn’t help the laugh that escaped him, giving Buck’s hand another gentle squeeze.
“If I thought that, we wouldn’t still be here, surgery or not” He watched Buck for a second longer, gaze still focused on the boxes “Hey, I’m serious, if you don’t wanna tell your friends that’s okay, or if you want me to help out with the lie that’s okay too, we’ll figure it out” Buck smiled at him and nodded.
“Thank you, Eds”
Buck was a little quiet after that, so Eddie left it alone, and continued to bring the last of the boxes and to help Christopher get his room ready. For the rest of the day, he focused on that, having as much as the house ready to be functioning and move in, their lives already set around it, it was half the distance to the station as the apartment had been, Eddie’s job was just out of the residential area, and Christopher’s school a few blocks over.
Christopher was the one who said they should have a sleep over for their first night in the house, because the mattresses hadn’t been delivered like Eddie was promised, and they had the air mattress he got for Buck and a bunch of pillows they turned into a huge nest where the three of them managed to fit. Eddie fell asleep with Chris cuddled against his chest and Buck’s hand on his, things were definitely moving forward, and it felt right.