Title: Airing the Hurt
Series: A Whole New and Bright World
Ratings: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Evan “Buck” Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Characters: Evan “Buck” Buckley, Maddie Buckley, Eddie Diaz, Christopher Diaz,
Tags: Pre-Slash, Canon Divergence, Maddie’s A+ Sistering, What the hell Maddie?!, Angst
Summary: In the heat of the moment, Maddie reveals a long-kept secret that Eddie has to pick up the pieces of.
Word Count: 7,908
Year: 2018 (Season 2)
Spoilers: Everything Currently Aired
Eddie sighed as he parked his truck in the driveway. He smiled at where he saw Buck’s Jeep parked. There was a strange car on the street, but then Eddie wasn’t sure who Buck might have invited over. Eddie had been pushing him to invite someone over for the last week. One week into Buck living in Eddie’s spare room, Eddie was more than pleased with the younger man staying there. Eddie knew what it was like to have the world ripped out from under you. He had been the one who had been that way, then Shannon had left. He knew what it was like to have someone throw a rope toward you.
Abuela had needed help with a few things, and Eddie had been glad to not have to take Chris with him. Chris had been happy to stay with Buck. Eddie wasn’t sure that there weren’t times that Chris didn’t like Buck more, but that was the way it was when it came to new people in their lives. Eddie was sure that he liked Buck more than he liked himself.
Having Buck living with them made things a hell of a lot easier. Buck was full of energy on the best days. Which was a good thing as there were still days where Eddie wasn’t used to this life yet. He wasn’t used to being on for as long as he was. The military even had more downtime on some days. Buck was used to this lifestyle, and he was also more than willing to go on the strange tangents Chris’ mind went on, and sometimes if they were going strong, Eddie couldn’t keep up with either of them.
Eddie loved listening to them. He was very happy that he had asked Buck to move in with them. He grabbed the bag of tools he had taken to his Abuela’s. He smiled at the lights that were on inside of there. He opened the door and stopped when he saw Maddie Kendall sitting on the couch. Buck wasn’t in the living room.
“Hello,” Maddie said.
“Hi. Um, where’s Buck?”
“He’s hiding in the kitchen. Christopher is in his room. I showed up here, and Evan wasn’t too happy.”
Eddie kept his thoughts on that to himself. He figured that Buck wouldn’t be happy about it. So far, this house had been Buck’s safe space from the world.
“Evan’s going to order dinner. He said he was going to wait for you.”
“Buck, he likes to be called Buck,” Eddie said.
“Of course,” Maddie said.
Eddie wasn’t sure about her yet. He was keeping all of his thoughts to himself, though, until he knew Buck’s state of mind on it all. He didn’t like to offer where it wasn’t asked. He nodded at Maddie before dropping his bag under the table so that Chris wouldn’t trip on it and headed to the kitchen.
Buck was standing at the sink with his hands on either side of it, his head dropped down to where his chin was pressed to his chest. He looked a little lost, and Eddie didn’t know what to do about that.
“Hey,” Eddie said.
“Hello. I have to get drinks,” Buck said.
“Why don’t you let me do that. I’ll get the tea from the fridge, and you just go sit with Maddie.”
“Nope, not going out there alone.”
“Buck?” Eddie asked. He walked over so that he and Buck didn’t have to talk too loud.
“She asked to come over, and I told her no, but she told me that she really needed to talk to me about everything. Then she was just here.”
“Still boundary issues. Which I don’t like given that this is Chris and I’s place as well. So you want me to stay as an intermediary,” Eddie said.
“Please. I slipped in here when I got your message you were nearly home. It feels a lot like when we went out to breakfast. I want someone to make sure I don’t start screaming. I love my sister, but I just can’t get rid of a decade of being feeling abandoned.”
“And no one should be asking you to,” Eddie said. He had worked through a lot of issues after leaving the military. It hadn’t been his choice, but he agreed that staying wasn’t going to be good for him. His mental health after his last mission wasn’t the greatest, and it was just going to get worse. Then he had come home and had been left with Chris. Eddie knew that he still needed help but right now, he was doing all that he could. Having Buck around made Eddie feel like he could focus on himself a little more and not just Chris since he had someone he really trusted who wanted to be around. He knew that Tia Pepa or Abuela would step in and watch Chris if he was going to therapy, but he didn’t just want to rely on them like that. He didn’t know why he felt like he could leave Chris with Buck like that when he was not family.
“Should, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Dr. Copeland wants to maybe do a session with Maddie and me to work through my feelings, but I don’t think I’m ever going to get her to go to therapy.”
“You were a child the last time she spent any time with you, Buck. You’ve become an adult in that time and live on your own. Stop letting her treat you like she did when you were a child. Force your boundaries.”
Buck nodded his head.
“You grab the glasses. Did you order dinner yet?”
“Yeah, it’ll be here in about half an hour. I got Chinese. Chris got a new meal he really wanted to try, and I got one of his favorites that I like, just in case.”
“And for me?”
“That one hot shit you really like,” Buck said with a laugh. The smile on his lips didn’t go to his eyes, but Eddie was glad that he was at least trying to smile.
Buck mouthed nonsense words at Eddie and turned to grab glasses. Eddie got the tea from the fridge and the bottle of simple syrup from the fridge since that was what Buck used to sweeten the tea. Buck usually drank unsweet, but sometimes he wanted something with a little sweet, so he had that in the fridge. Eddie was okay with that as it meant he could control Chris’ sugar a little easier since Eddie liked his tea sweeter than he liked to give Chris.
Maddie was still on the couch. Eddie went into the living room with the tea. Buck was behind him with three glasses. He poured himself tea before sitting down in the chair. Eddie frowned, but he took a seat in the other chair. He looked at where Maddie was pouring herself a cup of tea.
“Why is he here?” Maddie asked.
“Because I want him to stop me from screaming at you. Just like that day in the restaurant, I don’t want my anger and feeling of inadequacy make me do something I will regret later. Eddie knows me pretty well, so he is the best judge of that.”
“I know you, Evan.”
“I’ve asked you to call me Buck. And that right there tells me that you don’t know me. I’m not the same kid I was when you gave me the Jeep but didn’t come with me out of town. I get you were scared and everything. I get that Doug must have hurt you before when you thought about leaving. I’ve been on domestic violence calls before, Maddie. I’ve seen the damage done by that. You fought with me a week ago about finding a new place that wasn’t Abby’s, and I agree that if you hate it there, you shouldn’t stay, but you are looking at places that have no outside of the apartment security. That’s crazy.”
“I want to feel safe.”
“Then why aren’t you looking at a place with a doorman? With other options that aren’t just people walking inside of the building. I know a few places that are good on security, that they take it seriously and even the people in the building do. I know a place with a night security guard, and during the day, there are more than enough people around that if Doug’s picture is on the wall of people not allowed inside, well, that means they won’t let him in. You refuse to go to the shelter and seek help through them. You have money, or you wouldn’t be thinking of getting a place with such high rent. I saw the place you were looking at when you left it open on my laptop. That place is expensive.”
“I wanted something nice,” Maddie said.
“You can still have something nice. Abby is okay with you staying in her place until you don’t want to anymore. The building manager knows that no one is allowed to be let in there, and he’s still very sorry about letting you in.”
“You would have let me in on your own.”
“Yes, but that is me actually letting you in. A lack of a no is not consent,” Buck said.
Eddie looked at Maddie, who flinched at Buck’s words. Eddie felt like the words were pretty good for what they were.
“I should have just left,” Maddie said.
Buck rubbed at his nose but said nothing for a few minutes. He didn’t move, really, either. Eddie wasn’t sure what was going through his head. Buck was a very happy person, but there was deep darkness inside of him, and there were times that Eddie was sure that Buck was only happy because it was the only way he knew how to be. Eddie had been around him long enough to know that Buck loved life, but that didn’t mean someone had a perfect life.
Eddie had stumbled upon Chris talking about Shannon with Buck the other day. About how Chris missed his mother, but he also wasn’t sure that he wanted her around again for fear of her leaving again. Buck had said many words that had boiled down to Buck was afraid that Maddie would leave him again.
“Then leave,” Buck said.
Maddie gasped, and Eddie understood her feeling on that.
“You left me a long time ago. You were there when I needed you to get me out of Hershey and to make sure that I didn’t destroy my life trying to become someone who would make Mom and Dad happy at the expense of me. You left me before that, and while you and Doug had moved back, you weren’t really back. I wasn’t allowed over at your place. You talked about Doug not liking it because of the shifts he worked, and I was too young and stupid to understand it, but Maddie, you chose Doug over me a long time ago. You chose to stay with him because Mom and Dad didn’t like him. Then you were too scared to leave him when he started to turn because you didn’t want to prove them right. Then you couldn’t leave him because you were afraid of what Doug would do. I know that leaving an abuser is hard. I understand that. I’ve read all about it. Victim accounts online of survivors, accounts of those who didn’t survive leaving but had been in contact with enough people for them to piece their story together. I have never been at the receiving end of abuse like that, but you are strong for leaving him but don’t even think that you are strong for leaving me behind time and time again.”
“I didn’t!” Maddie yelled.
Eddie waited to see what Buck was going to do.
“That might not be the full facts of it, Maddie, but that’s my feelings.”
“Your feelings are wrong. I love you so much, Evan. I protected you.”
“Dr. Copeland is always going on about how facts are not feelings, but I’m entitled to how I feel. No one can tell me how I feel about something. You left me, Maddie. You might see yourself as some pseudo mother, but you are not. You were a kid when you were always around, but you are still my sister. You are not my mother, and you don’t get to act like you know what’s best for me when you haven’t been in my life for over half of it.”
“I lost one brother already; I refused to let Doug take another from me.”
“Maddie, you lost me anyway,” Buck said.
Eddie was waiting for it. For the words that Maddie said to sink into Buck’s brain. Buck had never talked about another sibling, though he had never talked about Maddie as well. Losing a sibling was something that Eddie had never wanted. There might be days that he was pissed at his sisters, but he never wanted them out of his life, not that way. They had been siding with their parents over the Chris thing until Eddie had found his feet here, and they had come up to see him. Even they saw how much Chris was flourishing just being away from their parents. It was only then that they were willing to listen to Eddie about how they were with Chris. Things had been a lot better since then between Eddie and his two sisters.
A lot about Buck hadn’t made sense to Eddie, but finding out that he had lost a sibling when he was younger helped Eddie understand Buck a little more.
“Wait,” Buck said.
Maddie looked at Buck, and her face went from anger to fear. She looked scared. Eddie went over what she had said, and he looked at the shocked look on Buck’s face. Eddie pulled his phone out of his pocket, and he texted Bobby to have him send help, Hen or Athena, as well as himself. Whoever of those two who could get there the fastest. He had no clue what the fuck was going to happen with this.
“Maddie, you lost a brother? We had a brother?” Buck looked crushed at that.
“Oh, my god. No. No.” Maddie jumped to her feet, her glass falling from her hands, and then she was leaving.
Eddie lunged for Buck to stop him from going after Maddie. Eddie had no clue what that would do. Everything was worse than he thought it was. He jerked Buck to make him sprawl in Eddie’s lap. Eddie was only able to keep Buck in his lap because Buck was freaked out. Eddie looked around for his phone, and he dialed Bobby. There was no way that he would be able to text.
“Eddie, what’s going on?” Bobby asked as soon as the call connected.
Eddie tapped the button, so he didn’t need to keep the phone at his ear to speak.
“Maddie just left my place. Please, send Athena to check on her. I need you and Hen here now.”
“Where is Buck?” Bobby asked.
“Just get here. Please, God, Bobby, get here.”
“Hen is on her way.”
Eddie looked down at Buck, who looked shocked as hell. Eddie looked at his phone, and he left it on, just to be safe. Bobby would probably stay on the line until he got here. Eddie had no clue how to handle this. It was one thing to talk about losing a brother, but it was another to learn that you never even knew you had a sibling that was lost. Maddie had looked devastated about it, about the fact that she had told him.
“Hey, Buck, I need to call Dr. Copeland. I need her to make sure you are okay. Can I call her?” Eddie asked.
“I need Maddie,” Buck said.
“I promise that Athena is going to check on her. I promise,” Eddie said.
“Athena’s already on her way to check on Maddie. She’s not going to be alone for long. Talk to me.”
“I…knew something was wrong,” Buck said.
“Growing up. My mom. Her reactions to things that I did never made sense, but I was a kid. Talking with Dr. Copeland has reminded me that it still doesn’t make sense even as an adult. I can’t make sense of it all.”
“Okay. We don’t need to make sense of it right now. Can I call her?”
“Yeah,” Buck said. He didn’t seem to be set to run off, so Eddie let go.
“Dad?” Chris asked.
Eddie looked at the hallway, and he saw Chris standing there looking a little freaked out.
“Hey, buddy, why don’t you come over and settle into this chair with Buck. Don’t go near the couch. There is broken glass there.”
“Is Bucky okay?” Chris asked. He carefully came into the living room proper. He came toward where Eddie was, and Eddie pushed Buck down into the chair and waited for Chris to crawl into Buck’s lap. Buck wrapped his arms around Chris and held on.
Eddie picked up his phone and turned it off of speaker. “You still there, Cap?”
“Yes. What is going on?”
“Maddie, I think told something she wasn’t supposed to. She freaked out when she realized it and ran away. I stayed with Buck because I don’t know Maddie well enough. That’s why I wanted a woman here. I just didn’t expect her to run. I think that maybe we need Hen here as well. Chim and Maddie have been kind of friendly to each other, so if Athena wants or needs backup, he might be a good idea.”
“We will all be there soon,” Bobby said.
Eddie moved to the kitchen to grab the stuff for hot cocoa. Buck’s kind of hot chocolate was something that all of them liked. Eddie added the powder to cups, just a touch of it in one for Chris before adding more from the canister of not spicy hot cocoa. Eddie looked at the machine that steamed milk, but he had no idea how to work it, so for today, everyone was just going to have to drink hot cocoa made with water. He had the kettle full and ready to go when he heard Chris and Buck talking.
Leaving the water to boil, Eddie went into the living room. Buck has his cell phone in his hand. Eddie came up behind to see what was on the screen. It was just a number that was programmed under the name of Hershey. Eddie raised his eyebrows at that. He assumed that it was Buck’s parents, but not even having them under their own names was telling. Eddie had his parents under mom and dad in his phone.
“Bucky, don’t,” Chris said.
“Okay,” Buck said. He put the phone to sleep and tossed it onto the coffee table.
“I love you,” Chris said.
“I love you too, Superman,” Buck said. He wrapped his arms around Chris and just held on.
Eddie was glad of whatever Chris had talked Buck out of doing.
It wasn’t long after Eddie got the hot cocoa into the living room on a tray when there was a knock on the door.
Hen was there with Bobby getting out of his car on the street. Eddie waved for Hen to come inside, but he made sure that his eyes told her to keep her mouth shut. Bobby jogged up the walkway and to the door.
“Buck?” Bobby asked.
“Hey, Cap,” Buck said. He didn’t look up from where he had his chin hooked over Chris’ shoulder, and they were looking at something.
“No, I’m really not, and I don’t know if I want to be pissed or sad.”
“Language,” Hen hissed.
“It’s okay, Miss Hen. I know not to repeat words like that. Bucky’s allowed to say what he feels.”
“Wow,” Hen said, and she looked at Eddie.
“A few words here and there slip through. Chris knows which ones he’s not allowed to say, but he also knows that adults will sometimes forget to not say them around kids.”
“Eddie, shouldn’t Chris leave?” Buck asked.
“No,” Chris said. He turned to wrap his arms around Buck like he wasn’t going to let go of him. “Not leaving.”
“Eds,” Buck said.
“Nah, he’s staying right where he is. He’ll help keep you calm, Buck,” Eddie said. He walked over and picked up Chris’ cup of cocoa and handed it to his son. He waited for Chris to settle in Buck’s lap and grab it with both hands before he let go.
Eddie handed Buck his next and then waved for Bobby and Hen to pick up theirs. Eddie snagged his own cup and sat down on the arm of Buck’s chair on the side that Chris wasn’t on.
“What happened?” Hen asked.
“Maddie was here when I didn’t want her to be. She wanted to talk about everything to do with her leaving me. I told her all about how Dr. Copeland said that I am still allowed to be upset at being left behind by her without a lot of contact and know that Maddie did what she thought was best. Feelings aren’t facts, but I’m allowed to feel what I feel regarding how I am treated. Maddie freaked out and said that she had already lost one brother and she wasn’t going to allow Doug to take another from her. It didn’t register at first.”
“And?” Bobby asked.
“And then Maddie ran,” Eddie said.
“Buck, do you want me to Google it? See if there is an obituary?”
“There was one time when I was young that Maddie took me to a place, told me that we lived there before Hershey.”
“Okay, then give me the name.”
Eddie tapped Bucks’ mug, and he lifted it to take a drink. Buck gave the name of the city and then just seemed to shut down. Eddie was so far out of his depth with this. He had no clue what to do. Hen was on her phone, and Eddie looked between Chris and Buck. Chris was fully taking advantage of how cuddly Buck was right now. Eddie figured that Buck wouldn’t want to sleep alone, and Eddie would allow Chris to join Buck in his bed.
Fifteen minutes later, Hen handed over her phone to Bobby for him to read. Eddie looked at her and raised an eyebrow. Just as Eddie reached for the phone, his phone rang, and he jumped, nearly dropping Hen’s. He handed Hen her phone and then moved to pick up his own. He saw it was Athena’s number.
“Hello,” Eddie said.
“Did Bobby and Hen make it to you?”
“Yes.” Eddie waved for Hen’s phone, and he found the very short and very strange obituary for a Daniel Buckley in 1993. There was nothing personal in the obituary, and really it read like one that was put in there by the paper for the report of the death than to be there by family. Daniel was eight years old. Eddie did the math and realized that Buck was around one year old when Daniel died. The cause of death was just listed as Leukemia, but Eddie knew what kind affected kids. “Damn.”
“What?” Athena asked.
“Hen found an obituary.”
“Well, that’s good, but what I have gotten from Maddie makes that look like a cakewalk. Maddie’s not doing the best as she promised her parents that she would never tell Buck about Daniel.”
Eddie looked at Buck, who was looking at him like he was lost. Buck looked lost and scared. Eddie decided that Buck was going to sleep in Eddie’s bed with Chris between them. He wasn’t going to leave him alone.
“So, I think that maybe that visit with Dr. Copeland needs to happen. I called her private line, but she can’t meet until tomorrow as she’s traveling home from a visit with family right now, and she’s in an out of signal area. Why don’t you type it all out in a text to me, Athena? Then set it to where it’ll send tomorrow at nine in the morning.”
“I can do that. Chimney is here, and he’s going to stay the night and sleep on the couch so that Maddie isn’t alone. I doubt that Buck wants Maddie around right now.”
“Buck?” Eddie asked.
Buck turned his head up to look at Eddie with a raised eyebrow. “Do you want Maddie around this morning?”
“No,” Buck said.
“You are correct, Athena. Are you sure that she’s okay with Chimney?”
“I offered to take her home with me. Harry and May would enjoy getting to know Buck’s sister, but she didn’t want that. I am not going to force her. You got Buckaroo?” Athena asked.
“Yeah, I’ve got him. Send me what you can that’s not enough to send him spiraling and then the shit that’s the worst for in the morning.”
“Will do. I’ve told Maddie that Buck will reach out when he’s ready and that she needs to respect his boundaries.”
Eddie hung up after giving his thanks to Athena, and he looked at Hen and Bobby.
“Your brother Daniel died when you were around one. He was eight at the time,” Eddie said.
“Juvenile Leukemia,” Hen said.
Eddie looked at Bobby, who looked at a loss. Eddie was at one as well. What was so horrible about losing a child that parents would make one never tell the other about him. Buck deserved to know about his brother. Eddie thought it was stupid that Maddie never told him; a promise made in bad faith was something that should never be kept. Maddie had kept it even after she was an adult, and that told Eddie that she had her own issues.
The whole Buckley family seemed fucked up in Eddie’s eyes. Parents who never talked about a child never grieved over the death of the child. Eddie couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose Christopher. He knew, though, that if he acted like Chris never existed, he would never get better.
“Why don’t I know about it?”
“I can’t even understand it, but from what I can tell, your entire family was moved away from the town where you lived at the time and to Hershey where you lived until you left to roam the world as you call it,” Eddie said.
“Maddie kept it from me,” Buck said.
“I can’t even begin to understand why she did, but it seems to me like your sister wasn’t allowed to grieve Daniel at all.”
Buck ducked his head down and buried it into Chris’ neck. Chris patted Buck as much as he could from the way he was being held. Eddie was glad that Buck was willing to take comfort right now. What Eddie knew about him was that he usually didn’t.
There was a knock on the door. Eddie looked up, worried. Who else was coming by? What other fresh hell was coming to them?
“Bobby, do you mind? I think that’s dinner,” Buck said. He still had his head down, hiding from the world.
“Sure,” Bobby said.
Eddie was glad as he really didn’t want to leave Buck right now. This was just a little too much for even Eddie to wrap his head around. Right now, he was just trying to be there for Buck in a way that didn’t make Buck feel like Eddie was trying too hard to control Buck’s life. He knew that he had talked Buck into moving in with him when he was low, but Eddie felt like it was something that Buck needed. Eddie wasn’t going to regret it. Buck had jumped into being an almost second parent to Chris with ease. Eddie and Chris had needed Buck in their lives as he was now.
The food was divided up, and while Chris stayed in Buck’s lap, Eddie sat down in the other chair again. Thankfully the stuff that was ordered were things that Hen and Bobby liked. It made it better than them eating in front of them. Eddie was glad that things were at least calm right now. He had no idea what he would be dealing with that night, but with Chris by his side, they could take care of their Buck.
Eddie sat in the cab of the truck and waited. Buck had chosen to have everything given to him by Dr. Copeland, where he could freak out about things in private with the doctor instead of freaking out Chris. Eddie understood it, but he wished he could be in there right now. Eddie leaned the seat back, and he sighed. He snagged his phone, looking to see if his sister had texted back yet.
Adriana had responded to him.
Eddie read over the text and thought about it. Eddie hadn’t had too many friends growing up, and even those he was friendly with, once they shared classes, he didn’t really miss them. He didn’t keep in contact with those he knew from the service. Eddie hadn’t felt too weird about that right until he realized that even if Buck or Eddie changed stations at some point, Eddie didn’t want to leave him behind. It was different than how he felt about everyone else in the world outside of his family.
Adriana was no help in helping Eddie figure out if he had people he was close to before this. He wasn’t sure, really. He didn’t know what the hell he had done in his younger years. His early childhood was a haze of memories that were not really concrete in his head. Adriana told him to message Sophia about it as she cared more about Eddie’s relationships growing up.
Eddie closed the app on his phone and opened up the video he had on there that Buck had taken of Eddie and Christoper the other day. It had been nice to have it on there. Chris was in Eddie’s lap as they worked on cooking. Buck wasn’t the best with it, but he was willing to pass on what he learned from Bobby. Mostly it was breakfast foods. Still better than anything else. Buck’s eggs were good enough that Chris loved them, and Chris hated eggs. Even when Eddie tried to get him to eat them when they were at a restaurant.
This time though, they had been cooking a dish that Abuela had given to Eddie to learn when Buck had asked him for something easy for Buck to learn, especially as he would be teaching himself how to make it. The kitchen had smelled wonderful, and the food was good. Not nearly as good as Abuela’s, but it was close enough that Eddie was shocked it was the first effort.
The door opened up, and Eddie sat up to look to see if it was Buck or not. Buck had turned off his phone earlier that morning when Maddie wouldn’t stop texting him. Eddie had made Bobby and Hen aware that to get a hold of Buck, they needed to get a hold of Eddie. Eddie really hoped that Maddie didn’t have his number, or if she did, she didn’t try and text him. He would block her.
Maddie was freaked out, and Eddie understood her being upset about how she had ended up telling Buck about their dead brother. She needed to give Buck time.
The door opened again, and this time it was Buck who came out. His eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. He had been crying a lot. Eddie had emailed everything he had been given by Athena to Dr. Copeland on Buck’s say so.
Eddie wanted to get out and hug Buck, but he didn’t know if that was something that Buck would want right now. Buck was tactile, and Eddie liked that because he was too. Chris really liked it. The boy tried to live in Buck’s lap, which Eddie was sure was something that Buck loved as well. It wasn’t something that Eddie found creepy. Buck wouldn’t ever hurt Chris in any fashion if he could help it, and Buck wasn’t someone Eddie felt he couldn’t trust with his son.
Buck got into the seat of the truck and slumped down, making himself look as small as he could be. It wasn’t something that Eddie was used to seeing.
“What do you want?” Eddie asked.
“To drive to Hershey and tell my parents that I never want to see them again. I want to visit Daniel’s grave. I want to see pictures of my brother,” Buck said.
“Well, we could do the whole fly across the country thing. I’m sure that we can figure something out with Carla,” Eddie said.
With Buck had come Carla, who was a godsend on helping Eddie cut through the red tape and understand what he needed to do to get the help he needed. Eddie hadn’t known her long, but she already made him feel like he could get everything he needed to take care of Christopher. She was going to be taking care of Chris when Eddie couldn’t. Especially since Eddie knew his Abuela couldn’t watch Chris all the time.
“Not yet. It’s what I want but not what I need. I need to get myself through this right now, and then when I’ve got it all, and I’ve got a good head on my shoulders, I can vent myself on them.”
“Well, I’m all for going with you to do it. I can stand and look menacing,” Eddie said.
“That I can give you, what do you want?”
“Food. I’m starved. Those street tacos that I fell in love with when we stopped there the other day after a call.”
“Sounds good.” Eddie started the truck and buckled himself in before he figured out where the hell they were going. He really had no idea about that. Thankfully, he knew how to look up where places were on his phone. Buck was silent, which was something that Eddie didn’t like. Buck was rarely silent when it was just the two of them. He had some weird as hell tangents he went on, but he was rarely ever silent unless he was tired.
Sleep had been hard-won the night before, but it had been won. Chris had been the only one to sleep well. Buck had tossed and turned for a while before finally just passing out. Eddie had stayed awake a little longer and kept an eye on Buck.
There had only been one nightmare for Buck during the night. Chris had slept through it, and Eddie just touching Buck had helped pull him out of it. It had been better than Eddie thought it would be, but he worried how tonight would go.
“I wasn’t wanted,” Buck said.
“You might not have been by your parents, but you can’t let that shape your life,” Eddie said. He kept his eye on traffic, and he frowned as he thought about Chris and Shannon.
Eddie didn’t question that Shannon loved her son. He just wasn’t sure what kind of help his parents had actually been for her while he was overseas. They had promised to help her out, especially after Chris had been born, but Eddie had seen the help they had been to him, which was only giving help on their terms. Arriving in LA had been an eye-opener on how things might have been for her. He wouldn’t have changed what he did; the insurance was the only thing that had made it possible for Shannon to take care of Chris. If he had started over somewhere else, insurance would have lapsed unless he had a job to go to right away, and even then, it would be more expensive than it was with the Army.
Many things could have been done differently, but Eddie wasn’t going to take the full blame for what happened with Shannon. He had made wrong choices, but Shannon had made her own. He fully believed that she was regretting them and just wasn’t sure how to come back.
The biggest thing was that Eddie didn’t want her back as his wife. He had already looked into divorce papers. He had been told it would be pretty easy given that they didn’t live together. Eddie was hoping that Shannon would be up for that. Eddie would never stop her from wanting to see Chris; he just didn’t want her in his bed anymore. They were not good together. They had spent more time apart than together based on his job. He was sure that she had changed a lot after high school and with everything with Chris.
Eddie pulled into the parking lot that the food truck was in, and he looked at the tables that were all full. The line wasn’t long, so that was good. He snagged cash out of his wallet and looked at Buck.
“Want me to bring them back here?”
“Yeah. Queso and guac and a lot of chips,” Buck said. He started to pat himself down.
“I got it. You can buy dinner tonight.”
Eddie knew that none of them were going to want to cook. Which he was okay with Buck not wanting to cook. Eddie was happy to just have him and Chris able to be there for him.
Buck was on his phone when Eddie came back with the bags full of food. The drinks were in a carrier which was the only way he had got back to the truck without any issue. Eddie spread out the food, making sure that Buck got his tacos first. Buck was still silent.
“You want to go out on the town tonight?” Eddie asked.
Buck looked at Eddie. “I am not sure that getting drunk is the thing I should do.”
“No. I wasn’t going to let you get drunk. Just getting out to a bar or a club and just having some fun. Sometimes it helped me in El Paso. Dance and get endorphins going to help my brain rewire itself. I’ve heard the talk of Buck 1.0. There is nothing wrong with wanting sex, and going out to find someone for just the night isn’t going to turn you into 1.0 again.”
Buck nodded his head at that.
“I’ll think about it. Who would watch Christopher?”
“Hen’s offered, actually. If you needed a night to not have to try and put on a happy face for Chris.”
“Are you going to come as well?”
“Sure, I might pick up someone myself.”
“I thought you were married?” Buck asked.
“Yup, but we already did the whole sleep-around talk. Well, actually, about a year ago, I texted her that I was going to take her not responding to me to mean that I was free to have fun until we worked out divorce proceedings. She saw the message but never responded to it. I never meant to actually go through with that; I just wanted to see where we were, but right now, with all of this that you are going through. I think that it’s best if we just work on her relationship with Chris and not her relationship with me. I don’t want her to leave Chris to leave me. I wasn’t enough with what I could give. I love my son, but things can be hard, and I’m learning that my parents just might be most of the reason why Shannon didn’t have what she needed. They try and do everything for Chris.”
“Ah, they want him to wallow in his disability rather than figure out what he can do that no one would tell him he could.”
“Yes.” Eddie had his eyes opened on how his parents really treated Chris when everyone here had accepted Chris as he was and how he was treated just like the rest of the kids.
“So, club. Do you mind? I’m straight, but there is a club that is open to straight allies, and I like to go there as I really can’t stand finding assholes and sleeping with them only to find out that they are homophobic.”
“Sure,” Eddie said. He looked at Buck and wondered. He hadn’t talked to anyone about his sexuality. He hadn’t really thought it was a topic that needed to come up when he was in the Army and married. Now, he was on his way to divorce, and he wasn’t sure what he wanted. “It’s not like I care anyway. I can’t claim to be straight, and while I’ve not done anything with a man, the urge and want is there.”
“Oh, cool. Then we can have a lot of fun there.” Buck finished off his tacos and reached for the guac.
“So, you’ve experimented?”
“Yeah, down in Peru. I was a bartender down there, and I got hit on a lot. So one night, I wasn’t working, I was talked into going to the bar, and I got hit on by this set of twins. I could see that they were both hot, and while I only really felt lust for the girl, the guy was more overt, and I figured it was worth a try. I was upfront that I had never done anything with a guy, and while I enjoyed the evening, there wasn’t anything there. Hand jobs in the bathroom that felt no different than giving me one. I felt pretty much nothing while kissing him. So I went home with the sister and spent the night. It was a damned good night, and in the light of morning, there was still no attraction to her brother even though he was just as hot as her.”
“Well, at least when someone dares to ask if you have tried it, you can answer it.”
“Nah, I usually ask them if they have tried having sex with an animal to see if they like it.”
“Dios Mio,” Eddie said. He could see Buck asking that.
“Well, they earn that shit when they ask those kinds of things, and yes, I have had a gay man ask me it as well.” Buck shoved a chip with too much guac on it into his mouth.
Eddie laughed at the green that was smeared around the edges of his lips. Eddie wanted to reach out and clean up Buck’s mouth, but he would be crossing a line. Buck was hot. Buck was kind. Buck loved Christopher and had since meeting him. Buck was straight. Eddie wasn’t going to try and talk Buck into trying with him. He really didn’t want to have to face that.
“So, how are you feeling?” Eddie asked.
“Better, but it’s still a whole fucking mess. I was made to try and fix him. I wasn’t wanted just for myself. They made me, Eds.”
“I know.” Eddie knew that it would be the part with which he had the most issue if this was him. That and just hiding Daniel from him, to begin with. It was a mess. It was a huge fucking mess, and the only thing that Eddie could do was protect Buck from those he didn’t want to talk to and be a shoulder for Buck to vent on when he needed it.
“I’m so angry, I just want to punch something, and I wasn’t raised that way.”
“You can take it out on the heavy bag at work,” Eddie said.
“I can. I can do that. I’m gonna ask Cap to leave me as the man behind for the next couple of shifts. My head isn’t in the game, and I just want to make sure that I don’t fuck up on a call.”
“You can stay behind for big things but small calls, accidents and cats in trees, or kids in claw machines, you are coming,” Eddie said. He didn’t want Buck staying behind unless it was actually going to be something. Buck would go nuts there without anyone, though he might do good at cooking for their meals.
“Sure, whatever, but if I fuck up, I’m blaming you,” Buck said.
Buck laughed and shoved at Eddie as he grabbed the queso and ripped the lid off. He dipped a chip into it before sharing that with Eddie. It wasn’t anything like the queso that Eddie made when he was the one bringing something to a cookout. Eddie had a few things that he could make and make well.
“Ready to go home?” Eddie asked.
“I think so, yeah,” Buck said. He worked the rest of the guac out of the container before closing it up and tossing it into the trash bag. He kept the queso out and laid the chips in the middle console so that Eddie could snag some while he was driving.
Eddie liked the chips and the queso only a little. He laughed when Buck frowned just as they pulled into the driveway, and he was out of cheese. “We still have cookies left.”
“Oh, good. I need something sweet. Thank you for taking me today.”
“You are welcome. I’ll take you anywhere. I heard Dr. Copeland talk about setting up virtual meetings with you.”
“Yeah, she does that for some of her patients who travel for work. She wants to do it with me to help with all of this if I need her while working and stuff. She told me to keep Maddie away until I was ready to face her. That while Maddie is hurting just as much, I need to take care of myself. There was something else in there as well, but I didn’t understand all of it in context to me.”
“Well, what did she say?”
“Something about setting myself on fire to keep someone else warm. I’m not doing that.”
“No, but I think you might. I could see you doing that. Pushing away what you needed to deal with your sister with everything that is going on.”
“Dr. Copeland also talked to me about having Maddie see someone. She gave me a list of therapists in the area that deal with battered women and loss. Usually, it’s the loss of a child, but this is pretty hard shit. I can’t even grasp how it had to be for her. Never talking about Daniel.”
“I can’t either, but Buck, she chose not to tell you. You said yourself you thought she was going to tell you that one time. She chose not to. She was an adult who could make her own decisions based on what she thought was the best thing. You had a right to know, and all three of them had no right to not tell you.”
Buck nodded. He looked a little torn, but he nodded again. He looked better now, and that was all that Eddie could ask for.
“Let’s get inside and figure out what to do until we have to go and pick up Chris. He’ll be happy to see you.”
“He’s always happy to see me,” Buck said.
Eddie knew that there was a rough road ahead. They were just at the start of it, and Eddie wanted to be there for it all.
I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!
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