Buck was 14 when he got his nickname and found out it fit him more than any name ever would. He was 14 when he came out to Maddie, sobbing in her arms as he begged her not to tell their parents. All she had done was take him in her arms and say: “I’ll make sure they don’t hurt you, little brother.”
The word made his heart sing. Brother. Her brother. Of course, nothing could last forever, no matter how many promises she’d made to him, and she left, moved in with Doug, the bastard.
He came out to his parents when he was 18 and that was that. He was out on his ass. He thought they would’ve been happy, they’d told him many times that his name was only Evan because they were expecting a boy and when it turned out he wasn’t one, well they didn’t have another name picked out. Except they weren’t happy, and here he was.
But, even though he had no money to his name, he felt like he had something better. He had freedom. That was the last time anyone had called him Evan. Mostly.
Hopping around from place to place while transitioning wasn’t easy, but he did it because he had to. Needed to. He couldn’t look at himself in the mirror without seeing the girl he left behind in Hershey. So, he took the shittest pair of scissors he could get his hands on and gave himself his first haircut, watching as blonde curls fell around his feet, and he cried as a weight lifted off of him. To some people, that’s all it was, a haircut. To Buck, it was more than that. It was like he was shedding a persona with every curl that dropped to the floor, like he was shedding his parents and everything they had ever done or said to him.
And when he glanced back into the mirror, he didn’t completely hate what he saw.
Years had passed, and he looked better. He looked like himself. Looked more like Buck than he did Evan. And he had a family that didn’t care about who he was before, he had his sister back, he had a niece who would never know him as anything other than Uncle Buck. More importantly, he had Eddie and Christopher. The transition from being friends to boyfriends was almost seamless, and he never regretted it. Because now he could kiss Eddie whenever he wanted, save for the station. But what had convinced Buck that Eddie was the one, was the way he hadn’t batted an eye when Buck told him about his past.
He’d told Buck that he was glad he trusted him with something like that, but he was still his best friend and then Buck fell completely and utterly in love with Eddie Diaz. Or maybe he always had been.
It’d taken a few months for Buck to confess to Eddie, but he didn’t regret a thing. He loved getting to see his Diaz boys more, loved being in the place he called home more than he did his apartment. Nothing could possibly disrupt his happiness.
Until Maddie told him their parents were coming to town.
He didn’t blame her, she didn’t know that they’d kicked him out. He’d never told her; had never told anybody, not even Bobby, who was more of a dad than his real one. Or even Eddie, who he knew would confront his parents immediately if he’d known about it. Eddie, who Maddie was asking him to invite to dinner with their parents at her and Chimney’s apartment.
Maybe they’d be so focused on Jee-Yun they wouldn’t even bother him. Wouldn’t even notice he was there.
Philip and Margaret Buckley shouldn’t have intimidated Buck, but as he stood there, under their careful scrutiny, watching their confused gazes turn into ones of recognition, he felt intimidated.
“Evan,” his mom said, “who’s this?”
He winced at the name, but didn’t correct her. Buck wouldn’t cause unnecessary drama in front of his niece, who was grinning and holding his arms out to him. So he picked her up, bouncing her in his arms, before turning his attention back to his parents.
“This is Eddie, my boyfriend.”
Eddie smiled at both his parents. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Buckley.”
The both of them greeted Eddie with strained smiles. “And how long have you and Evan been dating?”
“ Buck and I have been dating for about a year now.” He said, tone suddenly firm
His dad sighed. “Are you still going by that silly nickname? I thought-”
“Dinner’s ready!” Maddie interrupted, entering the room just in time.
“It smells wonderful.” Their mom remarked, turning towards her with a grin.
“Here’s Jee,” Buck said, handing her over to her mom, “Eddie and I have to call Chris and tell him goodnight.”
He and Eddie headed outside, grateful for the stifling atmosphere to be gone.
“Chrstopher is already in bed, Buck what’s-”
Buck wrapped Eddie in a hug, taking a shuddering breath, trying to centre himself. “Sorry, I just-I need to calm down.”
Eddie rubbed his back in calming circles. “Listen, say the word and we’ll go. We’ll go home and watch a shitty movie, and tomorrow we can spend the whole day with Chris.”
He nodded before pulling away. “Okay. I love you, Eds.”
“I love you too, now let’s go. We can’t let Chim face the wolves alone.”
“So,” Margaret asked as they sat down, “who’s Christopher?”
Eddie did not like Buck’s parents. He’d decided that the minute they'd called him the wrong name.
“My son.” He answered honestly.
“And he knows Evan well enough that he says goodnight to him?” Philip asked, but it wasn’t really a question, it was a statement. A judgement.
“Buck is Christopher’s best friend, they were close before we started dating. Hell, I’d go as far to say that he’s been co-parenting him for years now.”
He did not like the Buckleys. How they were Maddie and Buck’s parents was beyond him.
“So, Evan,” Margaret had shifted her attention to her son, and Buck was tense, “you look…different.”
“I look like myself.”
“You had such pretty curls when you were younger, what happened?”
“ Mom. ” Maddie’s tone was sharp, a warning.
“I’m sorry, I just-I thought this was a phase. You were so young when you told us, we didn’t know how to react.”
Eddie wanted to leave, he wanted to grab Buck by the hand and never see these two ever again.
“You kicked me out of the house. That’s a little more than not knowing how to react.”
The table went still, and it finally hit him that they never expected Buck to bring it up.
“I think it’s time for you to go.” Chimney told them, standing up from his chair.
“You may be Jee-Yun’s grandparents, but I won’t let you treat Buck like this. He’s a good uncle, and an even better brother, and I’d take his side over yours any day. I’d say it was nice to meet you, but it’s not anymore. Because I don’t want people like you around my daughter.”
His parents were staring at Chimney in shock. And so was he. Buck also felt like he was going to cry. Chimney had wanted to make a good impression on their parents from the moment he heard they were coming to visit, but to see him take Buck’s side so fast, well, he’d never be able to thank him enough.
“Maddie, are you going to let him do this?” Their father asked, hurt evident on his face.
She seemed conflicted, and for a moment Buck thought she might tell them to stay, but Maddie steeled herself a moment later. “I promised Buck that I wouldn’t let you hurt him, so I think it’s best that you go until you can apologise to my brother.”
Their parents gasped, but below the hurt, there was anger and it was thinly veiled. “You’re not going to take our side?”
“No, I’m not. Everyone who’s ever met him loves Buck for who he is, so why can’t you?”
God, he was going to cry. And then Maddie and Chim would have to scrub his tears out of their nice carpet.
His mother turned to Eddie, her gaze unnervingly calm. “And you? Are you alright with letting your son around someone like this? And Maddie, think of Jee-Yun, you can’t expose her to this behaviour this early in her life.”
Eddie’s jaw tightened, the way it only did when he was pissed off and trying not to explode with anger. “My son is my business. My business and Buck’s, and the only thing you should be concerning yourself with is leaving.”
“Evan? Are you going to do anything about this?” His dad’s tone was even .
“Buck. And no, I’m not.”
Finally realising they were fighting a battle they couldn’t win, his parents stood up and left, but not without one final glare at he and Eddie.
The moment the door closed behind them, Buck felt like he could breathe.
“You never told me that they’d kicked you out.” Maddie said softly.
Eddie and Chimney left the room, taking Jee with them, sensing a conversation that was meant for only them.
“It was when I was 18. You were with Doug and I knew I couldn’t bother you, so I left. I sent you all those postcards as a way for you to know I was alright.”
“I should’ve been there for you, I promised you that they’d never hurt you.”
“And you didn’t let them. Maddie, you had your own stuff to deal with, and that’s okay. But you kept your promise.”
She took his hands in hers then and held them tightly. “I’m glad to see the man you’ve become. I’m proud of you, too.”
And fuck, he really did cry that time and he pulled Maddie into a hug, probably soaking her nice shirt, but in the moment he didn’t care. He was glad to have Madde, and Chimney and Eddie and Chris and Jee-Yun and everyone else at the 118. Because with them, he had a family. And he didn’t need his parents' approval - their love - to be able to have that.