Title: The Monster Inside
Fandom(s): 9-1-1, Criminal Minds
Relationships: Eddie Diaz & Shannon Diaz, Eddie Diaz/Evan Buckley, Evan Buckley/Shannon Diaz,
Tags: Daniel Buckley Lives, Paranormal, Alternate Universe, Monster!Buck, Morally Fucked Up Characters
Warnings: Explicit Sex, Child Abuse, Attempted Child Murder, Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Infidelity (Margaret Buckley), Murder, Minor Character Death, Kidnapping,
Summary: Evan Buckley had been looking for a family that would accept him for who he was. He finds it and slowly becomes one with them, pulling his brother Daniel in with him as well.
Word Count: 32,428
Year: 2018 Forward
Spoilers: Up Through Season 3
Author Notes: Based on the world-building of the series Project Monster. The Little Spies are all androgynous, both male and female. They will be referred to as it/they for the story. I also have another story that’s set in Criminal Minds called Not All Monsters Are Created Equal.
Evander touched the edge of the blanket his son was lying on. He looked at Epona, who was sitting on the edge of the railing for the crib.
“It’s your job to take care of him. He’s mine, and I cannot be here all the time.”
“I dos a good job in protecting him. He be like my own kid,” Epona said.
Evander knew Epona would do a good job of it. The Little Spy had been with him for decades and had done well at helping to raise the last child he had fathered with a human. The child was dead now of old age.
“What are you doing here?” Margaret Buckley demanded as she came into the room. Her eyes were wide.
“I came to check on my son. I told you that I would be checking on him from time to time. He’s a lovely little boy.” Evander couldn’t love, not like humans could, but he felt something for each of his children. A want to protect and tear the world down if they were hurt. He had done worse for less in his long life.
“Leave before my husband gets home,” Margaret said.
“And here I thought you would like to try again on what we did to create Evan.” Evander moved quickly, and he had Margaret pinned to the wall, his leg between hers. “One last time? Since your husband still doesn’t touch you the way you like?”
Margaret shuddered, but she didn’t say no. She hadn’t said yes, either. Evander pressed a kiss to her cheek, and as he pulled away, she leaned in and kissed him back. Evander caught her hands when she moved to touch him.
“Remember,” Evander said.
“Yes, I consent,” Margaret said.
“Good.” Evander pressed her hands to the wall above her head and pressed himself along her body. The smell of her arousal was strong.
Despite having two children already, Margaret and Phillip Buckley had hit the point in time where sex wasn’t something they did on the regular. Before Evander Margaret hadn’t had sex in nearly a year, she had stated it.
“Does he know?” Evander asked. He reached down and gripped her hips. He wasn’t so gone with lust that he would have sex in the same room as his son. So he carried Margaret to her bed. He dropped her down and started to open his jeans. He looked Margaret up and down. He let the claws on his hand come out a little and carefully used one to pop the buttons off her shirt, exposing the plain black bra underneath.
She had long ago stopped trying to make her husband want her that way. It was the kind of relationship that wasn’t out of the ordinary in a town like this.
Evander didn’t stop until Margaret was a naked mess under him. He wasn’t going to wear a condom because he knew she wasn’t going to be able to get pregnant right then. Evan was still too young, and she was breastfeeding. It was part of what would keep him healthy enough that he would be able to do what he was made to do when it was time.
Sliding home inside of Margaret was just like every other time with her. There was no emotion in Margaret. She just wanted to get off and feel good. Still, Evander wanted the same thing as well. Sex was wonderful, no matter Evander’s form. He gripped the bed above Margaret’s head and started to thrust as hard and as fast as Margaret’s body could take.
The rush of orgasm was exactly what Evander wanted. He spent himself and made sure Margaret got off before he slumped to the bed and calmed down.
“When will I see you again?” Margaret asked.
“Never. I’m done in this area and will be moving on for a while. I’ll have a few of my spies checking in on Evan for the next while, helping to take care of him.”
“You can’t leave me,” Margaret said.
“I have to. I don’t have a life here. I was just here for a year to do something. If I do check in on Evan, you won’t see me again. Our job is done, Margaret Buckley. You wanted me to help you create a child to save your son. I have done that. My part is done.”
“You bastard! I thought you loved me!” Margaret grabbed a sheet and wrapped it around her to cover up her body. She picked up a book from the stand beside the bed and threw it at Evander.
Evander let it hit him, and the book dropped down to the ground. He hadn’t seen this. Margaret hated him, he thought. He was the one who came to her for sex until she was pregnant. He was the one who made her debase herself to make a child to save her son. He was the thing she hated, but it seemed she wanted the sex to keep on going.
Evander did as asked but probably not in the full spirit of what she wanted. He slipped back into Evan’s room and touched the cheek of his sleeping son. He looked at Epona.
“I watch him.”
“I know. He is your only priority. Margaret is not going to be happy. I assume she thought I would be staying around with her all the time. I would be there for sex when she wanted it.”
“I protects him, Evander. I promises.”
“I know you will. Pull in the others as you need. Don’t leave him wanting for anything.”
“Good. If he needs something bought, add it to the list at the house, and I’ll make sure it’s bought so you can bring it to him.”
Epona nodded and adjusted the blanket around Evan in the crib before mostly disappearing into the shadows as the door opened up. Evander slipped into the shadow as well as Daniel Buckley came into the room. He was frail and shaky, but he looked at Evan in the crib with such love on his face.
“Evan, we are going to have so much fun today,” Daniel said.
Evander could see the love on Daniel’s face and in his words. He would make sure Evan was loved. He was sure of it.
“Evander,” Niskus hissed
Evander opened his eyes, and he looked at Niskus. The Little Spy had gone to live with Evan in his room. Evander didn’t really need many spies at all, and Taranis had stood up to take Epona’s place in what Evander needed.
“What is wrong?”
“Daniel is dying.”
“That thing done with Evan’s body didn’t work.”
Evander grabbed the shirt he had taken off the night before and then finished getting dressed. He checked over his person to make sure he had anything he needed if someone at the hospital did stop him to question why he was there. He had many aliases he used when needed.
Jumping into the shadow allowed Evander to make it all the way to Pennsylvania as quick as he could, even though he lived in LA. He had a good job and hoped he didn’t need to be in Pennsylvania long enough to hurt him on the job. He had more than enough money and had already set everything up to where if he did die for real, Evan would get everything, and Epona would see to that.
The hospital was quiet, and while the tension was high, it didn’t seem like there was too much going on there. He made his way up to the floor. He could feel Evan on and hoped that Daniel was with him. Niskus would come and help him if they were not together.
“I don’t know what happened,” Margaret hissed.
“You made a deal with the devil, and now he’s killing our son!” Phillip Buckley screamed at Margaret.
“No, he promised. He said he would do it. He promised that Daniel would live.”
The shadows were easy to slip into and then into the room where Daniel was on a bed. Evander moved to the crib, which held Evan. There was a bandage on his hip where the donation had come from. There was nothing that should have stopped that from fixing Daniel. Evander touched Daniel’s skin and found him burning up from infection. Something had happened, and he hadn’t been checked over as well as he should have.
“Who are you?” Daniel asked.
“Just a friend. Sleep, Daniel, and you’ll be fine when you wake up.” Evander laid his hand over Daniel’s chest, and even though the hospital gown, he felt the infection that was building there. He looked at Evan to make sure he was asleep. Maddie was asleep, curled in the corner on the couch.
Daniel started to slip into sleep, his parents still outside fighting. Evander blocked the sound of them and focused on what he needed to do. He drew out the knife he carried in his jacket and cut his finger. Evan’s blood wasn’t enough to save Daniel, but he had made the promise to save Daniel.
Using his other hand, Evander opened Daniel’s mouth, pressed his finger to his lips, and traced it around. The blood disappeared, and he did it three times before he was sure there was enough to give a jump start to Evan’s parts that were now in Daniel.
It would make Margret’s precious son a little more Monster than she would like, but he had told her it would change Daniel in ways she might not expect. This was going to change him even more.
“You’ll sleep and wake up wholly different.”
Evander stepped back into the shadows as the door opened. He caressed his son while in the shadows. He had work to do, and he needed to be in LA to do it.
Daniel knew something was different about him. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he did. He saw the thing that was around Evan all the time in the shadows. He saw the way it was all changed around him. The shadows that had felt so scary before seemed like a place he could go to be himself.
“What is going on?” the one that was around Evan all the time asked.
“He’s dead. I sees his body. He’s dead. He told us to protect Evan.”
“His job. The human killed him before he could kills him.”
Daniel knew killing was bad, but he wasn’t sure what was happening. He had been in and out of things since that man had visited him in the hospital. He had seen the look of fear on his mother’s when he had asked who the family friend had been. He hadn’t brought the man up again.
“We protects his son,” the first one said.
“Yes, protects Evan. Youse close up the house and make sure nothing happens. You make sure Evan can move into it when he old enough. Epona watch over Evan until he old. You play with Evan. Where is Taranis?”
“He taking revenge on the human who killed Sir.”
“Good. Make it hurt.”
The second creature thing disappeared, and Daniel wondered if it was all a fever dream. He had been having a lot of them, or at least according to his mother, he had been having a lot of them. Now, Daniel wasn’t so sure.
“We protects you and your Daniel, Evan.”
Daniel got out of his bed, and he carefully walked over. He had been getting stronger, so he didn’t have to be hooked up to machines at night anymore.
“Can I protect him too?” Daniel asked.
“Youse his mostest and bestest protector, Daniel. My name Epona.”
“Like the horse in my Zelda game?” Daniel loved that horse. He hadn’t been able to get too far into his currently playing of it, but he would be able to play for longer when he got home. He knew his mother hated him playing them, but he loved them, so she allowed it.
“Yes, the horse and I have the same for the same reason. Our Sir was very well read for his kind. He loved to learn. He has been going through a Celtic phase, so all of us are named in that fashion. Do you like the name Evan for your savior?”
“How is he, my savior?”
“When you are older, you ask Epona again, and I’ll tell youse. Now, go to sleep. You need it. I’ll be here in the darkness watching over you. You are just like my own now.”
Daniel was tired, so he did what Epona said.
“Do I need to do anything to protect you?”
“Just make sure your parents never find me.”
Daniel knew that keeping secrets wasn’t good. Yet, there was something about this one that felt like he did need to keep it.
“You’ll be happy when you an adult, I’ll make sure.”
Daniel figured it should be scary to have a Shadow Monster protecting him, but it felt good.
25 Years Later
The darkness all around was something that should scare Buck, but it didn’t. The darkness made Buck happy about his life.
“Epona, to me,” Buck said.
“Buck?” Epona asked as soon as she appeared in the little closet Buck had slipped in when he felt it.
“Wrong? Nothing. We are all fine.”
Buck wasn’t sure that he would believe that. He felt like something was wrong. He needed to move and do something. Before anything else could happen, the alarm went off.
“Stick close. I feel like something is going to happen. Get someone else here as well. I want two of you watching me.”
Buck rushed to get onto the truck, hopping in after Makepeace. Makepeace was the only one Buck was close to in the station. There was something weird with how Bobby tried to treat him, but Buck had put a stop to that pretty early. He had a father he was indifferent about, and he had one he looked up to even if the Monster had died before Evan had any memories of him. The only person he was close to in his family was Daniel, who was overseas in the SEALs.
Because of Daniel and the SEALs, Buck had almost settled in San Diego, but in the end, he felt he needed a little distance. The drive was only about 2-3 hours, depending on traffic, so it wasn’t too bad when Daniel was actually at home.
Despite everything Buck had seen and done in his life, he was always shocked by the things that humans did to each other. Buck had seen the worst of it in the two years he had already been an LAFD firefighter. It didn’t help that the team was sent on the worst that there was. With the arrival of Bobby Nash as the captain, Buck had found they were sent to some of the worst things.
“High?” Hen asked as they pulled up.
“I mean, who would flush a baby?” Chim asked.
“You don’t even want to know some of the worst stuff I’ve heard my brother talking about him finding,” Buck said.
“Like he would tell you anything,” Hen said with a laugh.
Buck grinned at her. “I know. My sunny disposition. But as a SEAL, he sees the worst. Still, he can’t tell me a lot, just general things. Six-year-old kids with bombs strapped to themselves. They can’t decide beyond what they want to play with, and their parents turn them into bombs.”
“Why would he tell you that?” Makepeace gave Buck a look that said there was something wrong there.
“Cause our parents were shit, but at least they didn’t do that. Living with them was a minefield, though. I only turned out normal because of Daniel and a little because of Maddie.
“That still doesn’t mean someone flushed their baby,” Chim said.
Buck was the first out, getting the equipment they would need if there was a baby in a pipe. He would rather carry it up and not need it than run down the stairs again when they needed it.
“Race you,” Buck said before taking off with two bags of equipment over his shoulders. He heard Bobby call something out at him but didn’t listen too hard. It was more of Bobby acting like a gruff father figure.
“Epona,” Buck said on the second landing before heading up to the third floor.
“Find the baby, stay with it.”
“I can’t just find a human.”
“No, you can’t, but once we arrive in the apartment, you can.”
Epona huffed but nodded its head. It took off and was gone before Buck started to take off toward the next floor.
There was something in the room as soon as Buck stepped inside with the occupant smelling of Sativa. The man was high, but he wasn’t making things up. Buck had never felt something like this before. It made him off his game.
Still, when they had the pipe out of the wall, and Buck could see the head of the baby inches down in the pipe, he knew his life had changed.
When Bobby pushed the tiny baby out of the pipe. It was quicker than most eyes could catch it, but there was the shift from darker skin to the pale pink of a newborn baby. This was why he was able to feel it. The baby’s distress had been echoing. He carefully looked around as he held the baby’s head still as Bobby dug around in the mouth for the mess keeping the baby from breathing.
As soon as it was breathing again, the subtle coo from the baby calmed down the part of Buck that was crying out for revenge.
“I’m quicker,” Buck said while waiting outside the elevator.
Buck took the baby from Bobby and rushed down the stairs. When he was looking at the baby the entire way down. Hen had the ambulance ready for him to climb into the back. He was waiting for the secondary paramedic to shut the doors when there was a call to keep them open.
“No, no,” Buck said. “We have to go.”
“And she needs to go as well,” Athena said as she deposited the mother onto the gurney.
Buck looked at her, and the girl started to freak out.
“No, get me away from it.” The girl nearly went off the gurney, trying to get away.
“Ma’am, settle down.” Chim tried to get the mother to calm down.
“Buck, lean back,” Bobby said.
Buck leaned back and turned with the baby in his arms to protect the baby from the sight of the mother freaking out.
“Buck, how is the baby?” Hen asked.
“Pretty good.” Buck looked down to see knowing eyes looking at him. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, and he inhaled. She was about three-quarters Monster, unlike Buck’s half.
Buck checked the rest of the team, and they were asleep. He snagged the radio that would work all over the city. He walked to the bathroom and used the shadows to go to the hospital. The baby was isolated in the NICU. He touched the clipboard and tipped it up. It was standard from what he knew of medicine. The baby seemed okay. There was a small cut on the baby’s leg that Buck could see. There was an opening in the unit she was in. He touched her leg, not too worried about hurting her. She was made of sterner stuff than normal human babies.
“You’ll be fine, little one.” Buck held his hand up to his face and allowed his other side to take over for a few seconds before he cut his thumb on his teeth.
He spread the blood on the cut, and most of it was gone in seconds. He had plans. He would make sure he took care of things.
The room the mother was in a room isolated as well. There was a guard, but she wasn’t chained to the bed.
As Buck looked at her, his anger for her started to leave. He stepped out of the shadows, and the girl barely reacted.
“You are going to have to try harder. The things that go bump in the night are scarier than you.”
“Hmm, I guess that’s right. You are never going to see your baby again.”
“Good. I can’t…she was black-skinned. She had demon eyes. I couldn’t…no.”
“I get that, but…who is the father?”
The girl shook her head.
“Yeah, I thought so. The father of your baby and the father of you are the same. We can use that to make sure you are safe. You just need to talk. The DNA will prove it, and you are in California. You cannot consent to sex at your age and given his age. If you don’t want the baby, I can make sure that it’s safe and raised right. You have to come to terms with the fact that you are part like me as well.”
“Yes. Your baby is more than half like me, so that means that you get that part from your father. I am not sure who your father is, but I’ll be looking into him. Report him and make your life better. I’ll be in touch about the baby. Make no decision until I tell you to.”
“Well, I get what I want. Which would be bad for you. I know a woman who can make this easy or hard on you. A lot can be done if the cops are sympathetic toward you.”
“He’ll kill me.”
“No, he won’t. He won’t touch you.”
“How do you know?”
Buck raised up the hand that he had cut up, and he picked off the scab before making a symbol on the door. “That will stop him because he won’t cross me.”
“Because of my father. No one crosses me here in Los Angeles.”
Buck looked at her. “I’ll make sure someone comes to talk to you and that they will be nice. Don’t make me regret not killing you.”
“You were going to kill me?”
“Until I realized you were part Monster and didn’t know it, yes.”
“Just Monster, that’s what you are called?’
“No one ever cared to give us more than that. Some of us like to make other names for us, quantifiers that narrow us like humans do with race. We don’t hate on others who are different than us, though. We all band together. So, he’ll get his for what he did. I would say it’s the human in him, but it’s not. Some of us are very fucked up.”
“Go. Leave. I’ll wait for you to tell me what to do.”
Buck waited for the girl to roll over in bed before he stepped back into the shadows. He looked in on the baby to find her sat levels doing a lot better with the blood he had given her.
The radio crackling with the next callout had Buck heading back to the station. He appeared in the bathroom, slipping out and heading after the others.
“Ready to go already?” Chim asked.
“Couldn’t sleep, so I got ready and have been reading over the stuff for the next test I have to take for heavy rescue,” Buck said when he got out of the bunk room.
“Well, we have an eight-car pile-up,” Bobby said.
Buck was looking forward to the chaos of that. It would help him figure out what to do with the father.
“Who are you?” the father asked.
“Your worst nightmare.”
The father reached for the gun by his bedside. His wife was gone, left after the news about everything had come out. It was just a matter of time until Athena came for the guy to take him in. Buck wanted him dead before that and have him confess to everything.
“I thought that was you. There were rumors of Evander’s kid running around LA being a big damned hero.”
“Yes. I still have some things taught to me by my father’s Little Spies. They are good little things to have around. Made sure I can pick up my father’s trade. Assassins are hard to come by when it comes to Monsters. I’m going to do you for free as long as you do exactly what I say; I’ll make your death painless. Do not give me what I want; I’ll make your death look like you died in the worst way possible.”
“You don’t have the balls, kid,” the father said.
“Oh, I assure you I do. I know your brother. Man who was going after young prostitutes and killing them after having sex with them. I made sure he wasn’t able to do anything ever again.”
“You didn’t kill him.”
“No, but he wishes he were dead and not stuck in a room full of lights all day long. Nowhere for him to slip out of. He’ll come out when I want him to. When he’s crazy, then I’ll kill him in some fashion.”
“You got all of your father’s bad genes.”
“I don’t know. I think I got the good ones. At least I didn’t get the ones from my mother. She tried to kill me once, but my brother stopped her. He is the only reason I’m not nearly as bad as my father. You will write a letter detailing every sick and horrible thing you did to your daughter, and then you will kill yourself.”
“She needs me.”
“No, she doesn’t. She doesn’t need anything from you. She needs to be safe and be allowed to grow up feeling safe. She still might kill herself because of your half of her blood. It’s why she shoved the baby down the pipe. She wanted to kill it because it wasn’t human, but she didn’t know she wasn’t. I’ll make sure she’s taken care of.”
“I won’t do it.”
“Then you will suffer a fate worse than what happened to your brother.”
The father looked at Buck with fearful eyes, and then he reached over and turned on the light in the room, giving the room a lot of light. Buck watched as he started to write down everything.
Buck had hoped the man would take the first route he had seemed to want to take. Yet, there he was, writing it all out. Buck didn’t go back on his word. He reached into his pocket and checked his second cell. His first was at his house, just in case. This was a burner phone that no one could trace. He was good at what he did. His father left a lot of notes on continuing the family business, as it were.
“I wish you had taken the first door. I would have loved to get you under my tools. Still, this is cleaner and easier for the cops to figure out. It’ll be best for everyone involved, even if not as fun. Now. Let’s go.”
Buck prodded the man into the bathroom, and from there, he tried to figure out what he would do. There were easy ways and hard ways. The most painful was the best for him. He got into the tub, found the curling iron, and frayed the wires until it was going to malfunction. He smiled before dropping it down in the tub to watch the man fry.
It wasn’t the best death he had ever done, but it would at least do what he wanted.
When Buck got home, his primary cell was ringing. He walked over and looked at the caller ID, and smiled. He tapped to accept and then transferred it to the Bluetooth headphone he pulled out of the pod beside his phone.
“Danny, you home?”
“Yes, I am. Where are you?”
“Just got home myself. Had a visit I had to make. So, you just calling to check in?”
“No, I heard a few whispers of a few things from the guy on the team. There is something going down in LA right now?”
“Eh, a bad case we got called in on. Baby in a pipe. The baby is fine. Bobby checked on her today. The mother is in bad shape mentally. She’s just a teenager, fifteen at most. I didn’t get her exact age.”
“The father of that baby is going to have troubles.”
“Especially since he’s an adult. Athena wants to go after him with the full weight she can. She’s going to make sure he pays.”
“Good. I’ll be headed your way later. You don’t work today, right?”
“No, I don’t. I go back tomorrow morning. We have a new guy starting up. He came out of the classes late. Or something. I don’t know. Bobby’s excited to have him to work with me. I guess he’s like a combat asset. He’s been out of the Army long enough to move here to LA, divorce his wife, which whom he shares custody of their kid with her, and they live in a duplex house that has been retrofitted to make it easier on their son. I have no clue what that means. I know what it means, but I don’t know why it needed to be retrofitted for the kid.”
“There are any number of reasons. I’m sure you’ll find out.”
“Yeah. I’m sure that I will. So yeah, a day together would be nice. When are you leaving?”
“In ten minutes. Get some sleep. I doubt you slept all night last night. So get two hours, and then I’ll wake you up with food.”
Buck looked at the time. It was just after six in the morning.
“How did you know I was awake?” Buck asked.
“I always know.”
Buck laughed because Daniel did. Whatever the bone marrow transplant had done to Daniel connected the two of them in a way neither of them had ever been able to figure out, but then Buck didn’t care to find out. It was, and it existed.
“Yeah, you do. Okay, so I’m going to crash down, and then we can talk about what I want to do.”
“Is it crazy?”
“Will I be upset?”
“I doubt it. Maddie will be once she finds out. She’s still of the mind that I am not allowed to make a decision for myself.”
“She’s just focusing too much on you instead of her own life.”
“She’s pissed that I upset Doug enough that he hit me and then tried to kill me. She’s pissed her husband went to jail for hitting me. She never forgave me for that, so she keeps on trying to make me tell her I’m sorry.”
Daniel made the same noise he always did when it came to Maddie. “Get sleep, and don’t get pissed off at Maddie for that.”
“I won’t. My bed calls me, and I’m ready to drop into it.” Buck picked up his phone and earbud case and headed to his bedroom. He plucked the earbud out of his ear and dropped it into the case.
“Love you, see you soon.”
“Love you,” Buck said before he stripped off his shirt. He waited for the sound of Daniel hanging up before he dropped to the bed. He wiggled out of his pants and debated what he would do when he woke up. He knew what he wanted to do, but that didn’t mean that Daniel would not be upset.
Taking in a child was a big step.
Eddie grabbed his shirt and pulled it on before looking at the tiny thing dangling in the doorway that was looking at him.
“What’s up?” Eddie asked.
“He’s stills sleep.”
“Of course he is. He was up late. I’ll let him sleep a little longer before I wake him up. What about Shannon?”
“She’s in the kitchen cooking.”
Eddie nodded. He would like to have a quick chat with her. He walked passed the creature and pressed a kiss to its head. Eddie hadn’t learned much about it, but he knew it was deadly when it wanted to be.
“Morning,” Eddie said as he entered the kitchen from his side of the duplex.
“Morning. Caliban said that Chris was still sleeping.”
“He had a bad night with his legs. Growing pains. I’m going to let him get a little more sleep.”
“That sounds good. You work tomorrow, right?”
“Yes. I’ll check in often, I promise.”
“I’m not worried about you being on the job. I’ll worry about you less. I just am trying to figure out what to do with Cali.”
“It’ll do its own thing. Just keep the food out for it, and it’ll let you know if it wants more than that.”
Shannon nodded her head. Everyone knew Caliban was more attached to Eddie than anyone else in the family. Caliban liked to protect Chris when he was at school, but that was more to do with making Eddie happy than anything else.
“And when it starts to miss you?”
“It’ll show up at the 118. I will take my bag with me, and it can pop into the bag using the shadows. I know it’ll be able to get to me if needed. How is your work going?”
“Good. I’ve got it all settled, and the office is fully fixed the way I need it. I’ll be fine.”
Eddie nodded and leaned his hip on the counter as he snagged the coffee pot to fill up his cup. The coffee came out black, but in the mug, it was swirling from a white to a tan. Shannon had added in the creamer already.
“Your mother emailed me again, lamenting how much this would mess up Chris having us living together and yet us not being married.”
“Well, it’s no different than living in the same apartment building, only this is so much better as we don’t have to move Chris around from place to place. This will be better for all of us. He will also get used to it, and it’s better than us fighting all the time like we were doing when we came to LA two years ago.”
“I agree. I just wanted to warn you. I’m about to block her. She doesn’t like to stick to the schedule you have for her contacting Chris. I now have Skype not logging in when the computer comes up because she tries to call whenever I’m online. Work is setting me up with a business account for it so I can log into it when I need to do meetings that way.”
“Good. If you need anything else, just tell me. I transferred grocery money and a little extra to the joint account. If you need more, just let me know.”
“I will.” Shannon set the pan with water on the stove. It was an oatmeal morning. “Did you want to take some to work to eat your morning before you get off?”
“Sure. That sounds great. I’ll dig out the containers.” Eddie grabbed the bag in the pantry with all of the reusable containers he used to take food to the academy. It had been a pretty penny to get a collection that worked for them, but they also used them to send snacks with Chris to school on the days that there were things he didn’t like on the schedule. It worked for them, and it was all that mattered.
“So, what are your plans for the day?”
“Spending it with Chris as much as possible. I was not happy my first day was a weekend day, but at least I have today to spend with him.”
“Chris understands. He’s not that upset about you working. He’s really excited to get a tour of where you work when we can swing it. I have too much planned for us tomorrow. Abuela wants us over there for lunch; you know that will also turn into dinner. We will be well entertained.”
“Yes, you will. Still, have him do that if he needs to call and talk to me. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t. If I can answer, I will. If I cannot, I won’t.”
“We’ve talked to him about it enough that I don’t think he’ll be too upset.”
“Daddy?” Chris asked.
Eddie turned to the doorway to see Chris making his way into the kitchen with his robe on and crutches in his hands.
“Morning, mijo. How are you feeling?”
“My legs are still hurting a little but not like last night.”
“That’s good. Mommy’s making breakfast. Why don’t we go to the living room, and I’ll rub down your legs?”
Chris nodded and turned a little more carefully than he normally did. Eddie followed him out into the living room, and he let Chris get himself onto the couch how he wanted before he helped him swing his legs up into Eddie’s lap. Chris’ pants were loose enough that Eddie could just push the legs up to begin the rubbing of Chris’ legs. His skin felt a little dry, so Eddie grabbed the massage oil kept in the living room for this reason. He rubbed his hands together to warm it up, starting to rub at Chris’ legs.
It took only a few minutes for Eddie to look up and see Chris falling asleep again. Eddie had been shocked to see him awake, but if his legs were aching him enough to take him up, Eddie and Shannon needed to talk to his doctor about the best way to handle the pain. The last time they had moved through three different painkillers to see if one worked better, one did, so it was what they used right now when he had other aches and pains.
Eddie swapped to the other leg, and Chris drifted into an even deeper sleep. Eddie grabbed pillows, and he laid them down on the floor, and pushed the coffee table out of the way. Chris was as safe as Eddie could make him.
Caliban appeared on the pillow beside Chris, and Chris rolled a little to turn toward the creature. Eddie smiled and wondered how much those two bonded while he was in the academy. Many things happened with his parents that made Eddie hyper-aware of where his son was at all times.
What had ended up happening was the California courts deciding that Eddie’s parents weren’t allowed to have unsupervised visitation with Chris. Not after sending one of Eddie’s cousins up from El Paso and told him that he was leaving with Chris no matter what Shannon said. In the end, Eddie’s cousin had been treated as a pawn in a game, and while no charges were filed against him, Eddie wasn’t ever setting foot in El Paso again.
“You have that face on,” Shannon said when Eddie came into the kitchen again.
“Chris is out like a light. Cali has him. I was just thinking about my parents.”
“Which is why I said you had that face on again. I’ve not heard from anyone in Mateo’s branch of the family.”
“No, after Mateo nearly went to jail for what he did, they will stay away until I talk to them first. The community service that my parents got wasn’t nearly enough, but there is a lot of mitigating factors that the judge didn’t want to drag this out for Chris’ sake, which I am glad of, but at least the visitation thing is until Chris is an adult.”
“Your parents are the worst part of you. At least no one here in LA is from that branch of your mother’s family.”
“No, her whole family is down there. I think they see living anywhere outside of Texas as a betrayal. None of my cousins on that side have even gone to college outside of Texas. It’s strange as hell.”
“Well, maybe they have been cursed, but you being part of your father’s family, aren’t under it. Who knows.”
“Well, that’s possible. I mean, I never would have thought about that before meeting Caliban in Afghanistan. I saw magic and Monsters, but that body I saw before it burned wasn’t human. There was no way of saying it was human at all.”
“It’s all opened both of our eyes. I’m glad we were on the base when you returned with it, and we were safe. Still, I would like to actually find someone who knows more about this.”
“I was going to reach out a little at work. There has to be someone there. The academy was the wrong place to try and broach the subject.”
“Good. I just want to make sure we are safe.”
Eddie pressed a kiss to Shannon’s forehead. He knew that want well, and he felt it to his bones. He would do anything to protect them, and it was the only reason he had allowed the creature to come home with him.
Buck stepped into the station just after seven in the morning, and he let a little tendril of his power out to seek out someone who would help him. There had to be someone on the force that knew, and it was always easy to find those who were in the know based on that. He stopped when he felt not just someone in the know but someone like him. That was even better.
The trick to getting into places that normally one wasn’t allowed was to look like you knew where you were going and belonged there. Buck could do that with ease. He wasn’t going to shadow travel into another’s space and piss them off.
The door read Detective Lou Ransone, and the fact he had an office meant that it was well known who and what he was. Buck raised his hand up and knocked.
Ransone was looking up at Buck with a cocked eyebrow. Buck shut the door behind him, and he gave a cock grin to Ransone in response.
“What can I do for you?”
“Like Firefighter at the 118 Buckley?” Lou dropped the pen in his hand and looked at Buck with the full force of his gaze.
“Athena speaks of me enough, huh?” Buck waited for Ransone to wave for him to sit down.
“She was talking about how focused you were when getting the baby in the pipe to safety. I’ve even called to check on the baby, and I wasn’t part of that. Please call me Lou and have a seat.”
Buck sat down, finally relaxing. “The father is going to be found dead.”
“The baby’s father or the mother’s father?”
“I see…so you killed him?” Lou didn’t seem that upset about it.
“I did that. No one will connect it. It will look like a suicide, and he even wrote a note. The mother shoved the baby in the pipe because of its black skin.”
“It’s…” Lou picked up a file and flipped through it several times. “The baby is…Oh.”
“Yes, our black skin.”
“I’ve heard a rumor about a firefighter who had scared a few others of our kind in the commission of crimes. Is that you?”
“Don’t try and play word games with me, boy.”
“You are barely old enough to call me boy.”
Buck felt claws in his shirt and then a lick on his cheek. Meaning it was Taranis.
“Taranis,” Lou said.
“Lou,” Taranis said.
“I see that I don’t need to worry about you at all, do I?”
“No, not really. Taranis taught me all I needed to know. You know where my father lived?”
“That’s where I live now. I want to adopt the baby.”
“I’ll see what I can do about that. We have a pretty good process about. I think I remember a Buckley being on that list. Is that you?”
“Yes. I will be home most of today if someone needs to come and look. My brother will be in to visit. He just got back from a mission of some kind. He is in the SEALs.”
“I didn’t think there was one of us who had ever made it that far.”
“He’s not one of us. I am only his half-brother. My mother made a deal with a demon to save him and what she got was two kids who didn’t do what she wanted. Daniel nearly died because of an infection, and my father gave him a little more blood to help push the transplant from me into working. He’s other, and he feels like it. It’s nothing too much. It’ll be like he just found out, but it feels slightly different.”
“That’s intriguing. I hope to meet him someday. I’ll work on this and then get in touch. I’ll take your number.”
Buck rattled off his primary cell, and then he hesitated before giving the second. “That’s a burner. Only emergencies. It lives in a little pocket of shadow. I hear it, but no one can take it from me.”
“That’s good. I’ll make sure to note not to use it unless dire. I assume you carried it to do your cleaning up?”
“Yes. That’s where I took it out and used it last.”
“Your father had only a few Spies in his employ. How many of them went to you?”
“All of them. Do you use them?”
“I have a pair of twins; they haven’t named themselves yet, so I have been calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2 since they seemed to like that. I was babysitting a kid in the neighborhood, and we were reading Seuss. They might just keep those names. They have not found any they like yet. My other I had before that recently wanted to retire. They are down the street from me being the invisible friend to a house of kids, and they want to just keep running around doing that for a while.”
“It’s what Niskus pretty much did. They just spent time with me while Epona raised me with Daniel.”
“I’ll call you if I figure anything out about the baby. Do you have a name picked out already?”
“No, I don’t want to name her until she is mine. I can’t take that kind of attachment being taken from me.”
“I understand that. Go, and I’ll get a hold of you. When do you work next?”
“Tomorrow morning. It’s the start of my next round, so I don’t have days together for a little while.”
“Okay.” Lou made a few notes where he had written down the numbers.
Buck saw himself out of the room, feeling the weight of Taranis disappear from his body as he opened the door. “You cannot threaten him.”
There was just a soft chuckle that told Buck Taranis wasn’t as far away from him as he thought he was. He figured he was hopping from shadow to shadow.
His plans were made, and he had to do a few things before returning home. He had not understood how much would be going into caring for the child, but he had been researching it. Daniel was only twenty minutes from arriving, and he would know Buck hadn’t slept, but he hadn’t been able to do it. He had just laid there and tossed and turned for five minutes before getting up.
Despite being half-Monster, there were still human issues that affected Buck. Like the ADHD Buck hadn’t been diagnosed with as a child but had been as an adult. One of his instructors at the academy had talked him into getting tested as soon as his insurance kicked in. It hadn’t been that hard, and the good thing was that Buck had plenty of coping mechanisms in place. There was also the fact that Buck couldn’t take most medications that would be used to treat it. So he just used coffee to treat it as it worked the best.
Pulling into the garage, Buck slumped down into the seat. He had taken off the doors, and everything else on his Jeep since the weather was so good right now.
“You are late,” Daniel said.
Buck looked to see Daniel’s car parked in the spot reserved for him in the garage. Daniel had access to everything in the house, and if he did get a spin-up, Buck would take him via shadows to his house, where his secondary car would be used to get him to work. If Daniel had been fully human, it would not be possible. That part of him that was a Monster like Buck allowed Daniel to move in ways other humans couldn’t. It was one thing Epona had pushed on him about not taking Daniel with him. The only time he had, Daniel had been near dead anyway. If he had died in the shadows, there was no chance of him living if he hadn’t been brought into the shadows anyway.
“I am not. I am ten minutes early to your last ETA.”
“Traffic was good to me. What were you doing?”
“Getting things set in motion to maybe get the baby. I had hoped to find a cop with enough stature in the LAPD that I could get an edge in, and I lucked out. There was someone, and he was plenty high enough. He’s done a few things like that before that allowed others to get kids. He’ll call me later.”
“You want to take the baby that was in the pipe?”
“You’ve…well, you’ve always wanted kids but weren’t sure how to go about it with your enhancements.”
Buck snorted. Enhancements were a nice way of putting it. Daniel had used it for himself for a long time and then started using it with Buck. Most people thought they were talking about cocks or something else like it, but they were just talking about themselves.
“Well, I wasn’t going to go about it like our mother did.”
“I picked up food. Let’s go inside and eat before it gets too cold.” Daniel reached out and popped the seat belt from around Buck.
Buck waited for his brother to move out of the way before he followed him inside. He pressed the button to shut the garage door and then locked the door behind him. This was his space; no one could enter it through shadows unless he let them. He allowed the spies to do it, and there was one other person, but Buck figured she wouldn’t be around much anymore.
“So what did the guy say?”
“He’s going to call me later. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I mean, it was still the dead ass of morning when I got there. He didn’t seem to be upset about me invading that early in the morning. I didn’t stay too long.”
“You look tired.”
“Sleep will come when it does. You know that.”
“I know. Let’s eat, and then we can talk.”
Buck allowed Daniel to push him into the dining room. The food was already laid out there, just waiting for them. Buck felt like he was more hungry than he had been in a while. He loved food and had spent a long time learning how to make it. Bobby was good at helping him learn a few other things. Buck didn’t like overly processed food. He would eat fast food with the rest of the team if it was what they were stopping to get on the way back from a bad call and just didn’t want to deal with making food for all of them.
“So, how long can you stay?”
“A few days, maybe a week. We had a few hard knocks, and half of my team is getting checked over by medical. I was the only one fine and the one who was in the thick of things. I was just out of the blast range. No one came home in a body bag, so that was good enough for me.”
“And you didn’t stay to see them?”
“No, they all knew I had learned something about you that had me upset, so they all pushed me to leave. I don’t mind sticking around if someone was near death or in surgery. The worst is a few concussions. It’s nothing big, I promise you.”
“If you are sure.”
“I am. I promise you, I am sure.”
“They are your family as much as I am.”
“And I had someone else who needed me. So after we eat, we will figure out which room needs to be set up to have settled in for your daughter to move in with you.”
“I don’t even know if we can work it to where I get her.”
“I have faith.”
“Faith, trust, and pixie dust, right?”
“You are very much right. Now stuff your face.”
Eddie was new to the world of magic and the things that moved in shadows that normal humans never saw. He had learned a little on his own, but he still wanted to make sure he had a good grasp of everything. He needed to find someone in LA to teach him all about it. He figured it wouldn’t be too long before he found someone in the LAFD that would be able to help him.
The one thing he had not been expecting was to notice a creature much like Caliban playing on the truck as he walked into the 118. He stopped in his tracks until it realized he was looking at it. It stuck a tongue out at him and then disappeared.
There was someone there. What he had learned about the creatures was that they didn’t get too far from those they were working for when in a casual setting. Caliban moved around the house on its own, but usually, it stayed with Eddie or Chris.
“Welcome to the 118,” a man said as he stepped up to Eddie with a bright smile. He looked like sunshine, and Eddie felt himself relax a little. “Diaz, right?”
“Yes, Eddie Diaz.”
“Evan Buckley, but I go by Buck. I will not answer to Evan. Even if it’s one of those full-name things to make me notice. I just won’t do it, so you’ll have better luck just calling me Buckley in that case.”
Buck held out his hand for Eddie to shake. Eddie held his out, and they shook. Eddie felt it. It was like something was crawling up his back. Buck had been sent out to greet him for a reason.
“Welcome to the 118. Come in, and I’ll introduce you to everyone. Bobby’s working on breakfast; he pulled out all of the stops, so don’t get used to it.”
Eddie let Buck direct him to the locker room, where he dropped his bag and then was prodded up into the loft area, where Eddie expected to feel that sensation again, but there was no one else there like Buck. Buck didn’t stick too close once the introductions were made. No, instead, he just seemed to slip into the edges, and Eddie lost him.
Half an hour later, Eddie was directed to finally change, and he found Buck waiting for him in the locker room, sitting on the bench in front of an open locker, and the creature he had seen before was sitting in there reading on what looked like a Kindle.
“That’s Niskus. You aren’t…you’ve only been touched, so I am not sure what you know and what you don’t.”
“Overseas, I killed a man in a fight, and the body…” Eddie shuddered. “The body wasn’t human. Caliban was his slave, and Caliban pledged to go with me. Days later, I was shot up, and it was only because of Caliban that I could save my team. I came home with it. It has been with me since, mostly watching over my kid but also watching out for me a few times when it comes to my parents. So you are…like that man?”
“Yes and no. What we are are just like other humans. There are good, and there are bad. You know nothing of the world?”
“Caliban had been teaching me a little bit, but it had been a little too scared to tell me too much. Shannon and I don’t have too many fights anymore, not since I got back and we chose to separate. I have no clue what I am doing. I know how to feed Caliban, and that’s about it, and it’s only because it tells me what it likes. Shannon works from home, so she makes sure to leave out snacks for it all day long.”
“They are pretty self-reliant. Niskus likes Froot Loops. I don’t let it just eat them, though. I have another that really likes fruit. It can pop around the city and get its own food if it really wants to, but I live close to a market, so every other day, I just head out and pick up what it needs to live. They all vary in what they like. It’s good Caliban shared with you what it likes. It’s sometimes the hardest part, gaining trust.”
Eddie grabbed the shirt that was in the locker and laid out for him to wear. He could see that the locker had a few other things inside of it. He picked up the book after he got the shirt on. He wasn’t sure what the book was until he realized it was dad jokes.
“We have a dad joke thing going with B-shift. I wanted to make sure you could keep up. Even if you are a dad doesn’t mean you are good at dad jokes.”
“No, it doesn’t, and as Chris would say, I tell really shitty jokes no matter what kind they are. Are you…can we talk about other things?”
“Not right now, we are about to be invaded by others, but we can see about me coming over if you want. Your Little Spy will either like or hate me, and we will figure out what kind of spy it is.”
“That’s what the name is?”
“Not really, but it’s a nickname that most of them go by. None of us have named races, as it were. We just are.”
The locker room door opened up.
“Ogling the new man?” Hen asked.
“What’s not to like. Those abs are to die for. Mostly I was telling him about our quest to win the dad jokes campaign.”
“We will win,” Chim said.
“Of course, we will,” Buck said. He pushed himself up.
Eddie caught the way Buck’s muscles moved. He was solid and looked like he could wreck someone in all the best ways but also the worst. There was fear in the back of Eddie’s mind about what this meant. Working with someone who wasn’t human. He hadn’t even thought that would be the way of things. He figured that he would find people like him who just knew about it.
Buck looked at where Makepeace was working on the duty roster sheet he had been given. Buck looked at where Eddie was talking to Chim about the ambulances.
“You looked at him like you had found someone you wanted to jump,” Makepeace said a few seconds later.
“Well, that’s a given. I just…as soon as I saw him, I knew. I know he’s freaked out to meet me, but I’ll get his trust at some point.”
“Trust?” Makepeace looked up from the clipboard and looked around.
Buck knew no one was around them.
“Yes. He’s only met one of my kind and ended up killing him in an attack. He’s got a spy attached to him.”
“He’s fully human, isn’t he?”
“Oh, yes. He is. There is no mistaking how human he is. He’s also a little lost in the world. I would bet he debated asking about things in the academy but didn’t because he thought he would be labeled nuts.”
“Well, would be probies aren’t good at understanding the reality of this world. It’ll be nice to have another person to help me with you when you are doing shit you shouldn’t to help save people.”
“No, I fully stand by it is shit I should be doing.”
Makepeace laughed, and he shoved at Buck’s shoulder before he looked up and gave a smile.
Buck followed his gaze to see Eddie looking at them. He wasn’t sure what was going on in Eddie’s head, but he was pretty hopeful that Eddie would be fine with learning from Makepeace on a few things.
There was a lot that could be learned from Makepeace, who was someone who knew exactly what Buck was from the first meeting. He had never acted like Buck was less for being what he was either, even after finding out that Makepeace had been on the squad who had found his father’s body after it had been dumped. There was something about finding out the truth about his father’s death that the Little Spies hadn’t been able to figure out, which helped Buck. The paperwork had all been in place for Buck to inherit everything of his, and the trust managed in his father’s death before Buck had turned eighteen had done well by him.
Buck didn’t need to work.
“So I heard you are a trust fund baby,” Eddie said as he finally came over.
“Ah, yes. There are a few guys here who don’t like it. My biological father died when I was a baby, and he left everything to me. There are a few who are jealous that I don’t have to work and choose to. They see me being here as taking the job away from someone who deserves it more. That I’m the captain’s favorite because of my willingness to learn food from him doesn’t help. Oh, hey. Speaking of food. How are your cooking skills?”
“If you ask Chris, they are poor because I burned his pancakes three weeks ago, but he scarfs down my huevos con chorizo every time I make it. So I guess I do okay.”
“Good. We need a little help on that front. Bobby has a few Mexican and Spanish dishes down but not too many in the grand scheme of things.”
“Well, I have a few things I will not teach you all. I don’t need mi Abuela coming after me for giving away family secrets, but I’ll gladly share anything else.”
“Wait until Makepeace here is in charge of cooking. He is a beast, and the food will make you think you have died and gone to heaven, even if it’s made from SPAM.”
“SPAM?” Eddie shuddered, but he had a smile on his face as he did it.
“Don’t knock it until you try it.”
“I won’t, but I have never found someone who can cook it in a way I like. So you have a mountain to climb there.”
“I’ll do it.”
Buck smiled at the way the two of them walked away, discussing strange dishes in their cultures. Buck looked up at Bobby, who was looking down at them. Bobby gave him a thumbs up with a questioning look on his face. Buck gave one back with a grin. Eddie was going to fit right in with them.
A little while later, after the day’s first call, Buck was sitting on the couch when something crawled into his lap. He looked down to see a Little Spy he didn’t know. Buck looked around to see if anyone was close. No one was.
“Caliban?” Buck asked.
“Yes, yes, yes. You Buck?”
“I am. Well, I can say he’s taking good care of you. You like it with him?”
“He good. Master wasn’t good. Mean and hurt me. I get cuddles and foods.”
“Well, that’s good. Are you bored with Chris in school?”
Caliban shook its head. It looked around and then leaned in close. “I reads Chris’ books.”
“Oh, that’s good. Do you have enough to keep you happy?”
Caliban cocked his head to the side and then dove into the shadow made by Buck’s body on the couch.
Bobby and Makepeace were headed toward them. Buck watched them as they bypassed him and went to the kitchen. The weight of Caliban was gone, but Buck could feel its eyes on him. He wasn’t sure where the Little Spy was, but he was sure it would watch him for a while.
“How are you feeling?” Bobby asked.
“Good. Shoulders moving fine. I’m going to see about lifting weights before we get called out again.”
“Go do that now as I need to radio in if you and Eddie can’t do what I’ve got us on rotation for.”
Buck got up, feeling a little snag, and then there was a dark spot under the pillow he had been leaning on. It was Niskus. The Little Spy was always jealous, still unwilling to let go of its best friend. Buck didn’t mind usually. He wondered if Niskus would like to go and keep an eye on Chris and work with Caliban. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
Despite the time passing for Eddie, Shannon, and Chris to smell like bait, there was still the fear of it in Buck’s mind. That was Buck’s biggest worry about telling anyone about what he was. Putting them at risk because it wasn’t like he could just take off work to protect them. It was the weirdest quirk of Monsters in the world; when humans found out, they put off an allure that made them like catnip for Monsters, which usually ended in their death.
Eddie was in the gym area, punching the heavy bag. He seemed to be taking a lot out on it.
“Hey, wanna spot me? Cap wants me to make sure it’s just as bad as I think it is.”
“Sure.” Eddie did the last few punches as Buck set up the bar. Buck put on half the weight could lift. He trusted Eddie, but with this being a test of how he was doing, it could draw in more people, and that meant he couldn’t do the feats he did when Makepeace was spotting him. It was inhuman.
“Thanks,” Buck said once he was on his back, looking up at Eddie with a grin on his lips. He got ready to get the bar off when the alarm went off. Buck braced himself, but it was just an ambulance callout, so he got back into his swing. Chim went out with the backup, leaving Hen there with Makepeace smiling at where Buck was. Buck wanted to flip him off, but he didn’t.
“Ready?” Eddie asked.
Buck nodded, and he started to pump the bar up and down. It was easy and felt good. He healed faster, but he couldn’t exactly broadcast that. He felt the catch of his shoulder and knew he needed to slip into the shadows to heal a little faster.
“I’ll take a shower after this. I need a few minutes alone. Mind watching out for me?”
“Sure. Going into that shadow place?”
“I am. Caliban taught you a good bit, huh?”
“As much as he could. Wouldn’t mind learning more, though.”
“Sure. Sure.” Buck focused on what he was doing. He didn’t need to think of what Eddie looked like above him, all sweaty.
Eddie grabbed a new bandage and slapped it over his arm before looking at where the cat was in the corner hissing. The little girl was there trying to calm the cat down. Eddie hadn’t expected this. They were responding to a simple call-out of a mother who fell and broke her leg, but her daughter was there, and the mother was hysterical and not helping too much on what was wrong with the girl. The kitchen door was also burned down, but that was the worst of the damage. A fire had gotten out of control with the mother on the kitchen floor.
“I got this,” Buck said as he laid his hand on Eddie’s shoulder. There was nothing wrong with what Eddie was doing, but he wasn’t sure about the girl. The cat didn’t help; it was acting like an attack dog, protecting the girl. “Hey, Emily. My name is Buck. Eddie’s gonna go out and check on your mother again.”
Eddie took that as his queue to leave. He had been put on kid duty because he had one, but he thought maybe Buck should be put on it as the girl was at least looking at him.
“How is he so good with kids?” Chim asked.
“Well, I think it’s because he’s honest feeling,” Hen said.
Eddie just let the two of them chat behind him. He watched as the kid was coaxed toward Buck, carrying the cat with her. Eddie wasn’t sure how Buck was going to work with the whole the cat can’t come to the hospital thing.
“And we are going to find his little home, and I’m going to take him with me until your daddy can come and pick it up from us. I promise that Mr. Buttons will not escape from the fire station, and the guy who is the one who is staying there loves cats.”
“Does he?” Eddie asked, thinking about Dicky.
“Oh, he does. He’s probably got at least three toys in his bag as his cats love to hide their toys in his bag. He’ll coop it up in the locker room to let it play when he can. It’s not the first animal we have brought back. No one on shift currently has any allergies, so it’ll work okay,” Chim said.
The more Eddie learned about Buck, the more the man was a mystery. Eddie knew a little about Monsters as he had heard Buck calling himself to Makepeace but other than that, he didn’t know enough to know if this was really Buck or a facade he put on to not freak out everyone he came around.
“Eds, wanna grab the carrier from the front hall?” Buck turned his face to look at Eddie, and the smile on his face was like looking at an angel.
The cat wasn’t too upset to go into the carrier when Eddie brought it back in. One of the shirts from the girl was put inside. Buck handed over the carrier before he scooped up the daughter. Emily clung to Buck. Eddie ushered the rest of the team out. Someone would have to come in and get things for the mother and daughter at some point, but the father could handle that.
“Aww, see. He likes Eddie,” Buck said.
Eddie looked down at the carrier to see that the cat was on the carrier’s side closest to Eddie. It also seemed to be purring. Eddie rolled his eyes at Buck, but he didn’t say anything.
Bobby was outside with the mother, still on the gurney outside of the ambulance. “I told you that Buck would be able to coax her out along with the cat.”
“You did. Oh, sweetie.” The mom held out her arms.
Buck looked at Bobby, who nodded his head in agreement. “I’ll set Emily down with you as soon as we get you inside of the ambulance so that she doesn’t fall off. Is that okay?”
The mother nodded. Eddie peeled off to get the cat inside the truck, so it could start calming down a little bit. It didn’t seem to be too upset anymore. It was just laying in the bottom of the carrier and purring. Eddie rolled his eyes. He wasn’t a huge pet person. Chris wanted one. Eddie and Shannon hadn’t been able to figure out what to get Chris as his first pet. Shannon was all for a fish while Eddie was angling for a hamster because at least Chris could handle the hamster.
Eddie got inside of the truck, and he wondered if Buck was going to go with the ambulance or come back with the rest of the team. The door opened, and Buck climbed inside with others behind him. Eddie moved down to allow them all inside, pulling the cat with him. He smiled at Buck before he looked at Makepeace, who got into the driver’s seat.
“How is our friend?” Makepeace asked.
“Calm and collected. The best-behaved cat in the world compared to how it was before.”
“It was just scared and didn’t know what was going on, and then there were big monsters coming after its human.”
“How is your arm?” Bobby asked.
“I’ll clean it better when we get back to the station. I’ll probably just wrap it a little bit and then seal it with glue.”
“I can help with that since some of the cuts are a little more spread out and under your arm.”
“Thanks.” Eddie looked at Buck, who was focused pretty much the whole way on the cat.
Eddie looked to the side at the firefighter on the other side of Buck, who was focused on his phone. No one was paying attention to either of them. Eddie just used that to watch Buck as he paid attention to the cat.
Shannon heard Eddie come in from work. She had coffee ready for him but didn’t feel like she could just slip into his area of the house to get him. She hoped he would come into the kitchen. They were still learning the boundaries around living in the same place but not being as free with liberties.
The kitchen door opened a few minutes later, but it wasn’t Eddie who came in but another man. He stopped and looked at Shannon.
“Um, there is a woman in your kitchen.”
“That’s Shannon. The big living room and the kitchen are shared spaces.”
“Ah.” Buck stepped out of the way, and Eddie was right behind him.
“Buck, this is Shannon. Shannon, this is Buck.”
“It’s wonderful to finally meet you. Eddie talks about you all the time.” Shannon stepped up and held out her hand. “I half expected you look a lot different.”
“Because of my extra parts?”
“No, he keeps calling you an angel. I think you are a devil in an angel costume. You don’t look like someone who would be a puritan.”
“Ah, I see. Well, it’s nice knowing what Eddie thinks of me. I think he looks like someone who knows what he’s doing in bed, so I assume that’s not why the two of you divorced.”
“No, the bedroom was the only place we got along,” Eddie said.
Shannon wasn’t shocked by the bluntness of the statement from Buck. Eddie had told her well how much Buck was very blunt with statements sometimes. He wasn’t ever mean to them in a way that made it seem like he was trying to hurt them. Eddie didn’t talk much about Buck’s life other than what happened at the station. He was good at that kind of thing.
“So, are you going to hang out with us today?”
“Eddie talked me into going to the zoo with you guys, yes.”
“Good. I’m about to go and wake up Chris. Eddie, I tried to rub his legs down last night, but he said I was doing it wrong. He wasn’t too happy with me. So I think breakfast out is a good option. I’ll get everything packed up that we need if you can get him up and give him a rub down. I’ll make sure to take the new script with us for the dosage where he can take a low level through the day instead of a few large doses.”
“Okay.” Eddie kissed Shannon’s cheek before taking the cup of coffee from her. He headed out, leaving Buck in the kitchen with Shannon.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” Shannon asked. She felt nervous, and it had nothing to do with the fact of what Buck was. No, there was something else there. The man looked like he could bench press Eddie and not break a sweat. Many men out there looked like Buck, but there was something so damned earnest about him just from what Shannon had seen so far.
“I would love one, but I can make it myself. I had to learn from a very young age to do things on my own.”
“Eddie said you had a horrible life when you were a kid but that you also didn’t like to talk about it.”
“Not while at work, no. It’s the kind of thing that would piss off even the calmest of people I work with. I talked about it once with Makepeace, and he looked ready to commit a spree murder in Hershey.”
“Hershey? Like the chocolate? You grew up there, and you look like this? I could eat my weight in Reese Cups. The rest of their candy I can take or leave but that one…It’s my favorite. For mother’s day, I got a whole case of them from Eddie.”
“That’s adorable. So have you ever gone to Hershey Park?”
“No, I wanted to when I was younger, but it never happened.”
“Hmm, we might have to do something about this coming summer. We can get a tour of the factory, and all of it’s fun on the day we arrive and then a day or three in the Park, depending. I show off the places I love in town. I will, of course, not introduce you to my mother and father.”
“Eddie said that they weren’t good people. I didn’t ask more than that.”
“He’s tried not to say too much. I think he doesn’t want to get into his own parents all that much.”
Buck walked over to the coffee pot and waved at it with a question. Shannon nodded and waved for him to help himself. He was adding in an amount of sugar that scared Shannon a little bit, but he added in no cream. He didn’t even go for the milk in the fridge.
“Eddie’s pretty basic on cream. The powdered stuff was what he got used to in the Army. We do have milk.”
“I take it black, just with a lot of sugar. I’ll do cream at work if I want to not drink as much since I do about half milk and half coffee. I have ADHD, and I use coffee and sometimes tea to help me control it. I was diagnosed late in life, and my doctor and I didn’t want to move to pills unless I had to. It’s not hard to use coffee.”
“So human medical things can still affect you?”
“Very much so. I’m half human. Those genetics still affect me. We’ve never really tested what would happen if I lost a limb, but many of those who are fully Monster can regrow them. I don’t want to ever test that just to know.”
Shannon shuddered. She reached out of the coffee pot to refill her cup. “Do I need to make more?”
“Nah, I loaded up on a cup at work. It’s in the Jeep. I’ll drink it when we are headed to the zoo, and then I should be able to find something there to keep me going. I don’t have to drink all that much, but I stay a little more focused when I’m at work.”
“I can see that. So how do you like working with Eddie?”
“I like it a lot. He’s a good guy, and he protects my back. Bobby had been on the fence about getting another rescue asset like me on the shift, but I think he chose to do it to keep me from getting too hurt. Eddie’s pretty good about understanding what I am doing and letting me have slack when I know I can do it.”
Shannon nodded. She had heard a lot about the stupid stuff Buck had done, but no one had caught on that he was a little more than human. Shannon had seen a lot of strange things in the world; Texas had been full of that kind of thing, even stranger than the stuff she had seen in LA before moving down to El Paso in her senior year of high school.
“Mom, I’m hungry. Dad said you are in charge of food.”
Shannon turned to look at Chris, who had stopped on coming into the kitchen, his eyes locked on Buck. His head was cocked to the side. Shannon wasn’t sure what Chris was going to say.
“Are you the guy Caliban has told me about?”Shannon almost wanted to cross herself at the way Buck’s laugh at Chris’ words made her feel. It was like honey, the laughter, and it turned Shannon on more than a laugh should be able to. She looked at Eddie to see that flush on his face that she knew well. It was going to be interesting. Shannon had never felt like chasing after a man, and she hadn’t done it with Eddie. She wasn’t going to start with Buck. They could be adults about it all.
Still, Buck seemed like the kind of man who would make a person really happy.
Four hours later, Shannon was all for letting Buck handle Chris as he bounced around the zoo. Buck was more than willing to chase around with him but also was sweet as fuck.
“So, how much trouble are we in?” Shannon asked as she dropped back to match pace with Eddie.
“Fucked,” Eddie said.
“Yeah, I was afraid of that. Buck is treating him like he’s the best in the world. I have never seen anyone take to a kid like Chris so easily. When do you think he’s going to get tired of carrying him on his shoulders?”
“No clue on that either. Buck seems to have the energy to spend at work, so he gets some of the more tiring jobs, but that’s nothing like this. I swear there is some kind of science thing going on where Buck expending energy is making Chris more hyper which is feeding back to Buck in the same way. They are certainly working each other up.”
“It’s about lunchtime, right?”
“I think we have about an hour until we make it to the place Chris and Buck marked that they wanted to eat lunch at. So we have to last that long.”
“Think we can sneak off and get a snack?”
“Well, I don’t want to sneak, but I’ll tell Buck we will be back in a few minutes. We can get those donut bites Chris likes and offer him and Buck two each after we have eaten the rest. Buck will eat one, and Chris will eat three.”
“I saw that with breakfast.” Shannon hung back a little more near the path needed to head to the donut cart.
Eddie walked up to talk to Buck for a moment, and Buck gave a thumbs up at Shannon quickly before turning his attention back to the kid on his shoulders. Eddie came back looking a little deflated.
“Chris said they got this, and we can do what we want. We’ve been usurped.”
“Well, Buck’s fun, and we have to be the ones to tell him to go to bed. So we can look forward to that.”
Eddie laughed and shook his head a little before waving for Shannon to take a seat. Shannon looked around at the families all around as she waited on Eddie to come back with the donuts.
“Do you think it’s strange that we trust him with Chris after just a few hours?” Shannon asked.
“Well, I’ve been with Buck longer, and I can tell you that he would never harm a child. He didn’t even let any of us help him the other day with the kid who bit his arm and wouldn’t let go. Don’t ask me how that kid got their jaws on him, but they did. He just sat there and coaxed the freaked-out kid into letting go.”
Eddie shook his head. Shannon nodded that she understood. There were times that Eddie couldn’t talk about calls if there was something huge that would make it easy to figure out who it was that had been part of the call. It sometimes sucked as Shannon wanted to know, but she also didn’t want him to get in trouble on the job.
“Anyway, here is this giant of a man with a five-year-old biting so hard that there is blood and torn skin, and Buck’s just talking. He’s talking about the time he fell out of a tree when he was a kid and trying to get his parents’ attention.” Eddie held out a donut to Shannon before he popped one into his mouth.
“That would be kind of cute.”
“It was except for the blood and the freaking out. The kid was so upset when they were calmed down. So Hen and she worked on fixing Buck up a little. She even kissed his bandaged arm when she was done since a kiss makes it all better. It was adorable.”
“So what you are saying is that whole ovary exploding in seeing Buck with our kid is just like what you feel when you see him?”
Shannon laughed, and she laid her hand on Eddie’s arm. “We are going to have to talk about it. I saw that look on your face. We both want him. I cannot let something like that mess us up.”
“I agree. I don’t know. I have no clue if I want him because of just being friendly with him. I am so off my head with this. I keep going over it.”
“Why don’t we let him decide. If it’s neither of us, then we just stay good friends. We are hot, but we can’t be sure that either of us is someone he wants.”
“Firefighter Diaz, correct?” a man asked as he stepped up to where Eddie and Shannon were.
“Who is asking?” Eddie looked up at the man, and he looked ready to jump into action if needed.
“Detective Lou Ransone. I’m looking for Buck. I was told he was here.”
Shannon took in the man now that she was sure Eddie wasn’t going to just freak out. The man had a diaper bag over his shoulder and a baby strapped to his chest. She couldn’t see anything of the baby, with the carrier having its face in Lou’s chest.
“He’s heading that way with my son. Is something wrong?”
“Well, it depends, really. I don’t think anything is, but if he’s with your son, you may want to come with me.”
Shannon looked at Eddie to follow along with what he wanted to do. She wasn’t going to push into this. She had no idea what was going on. Eddie ate his last few donuts quickly and handed the container to Shannon.
“Let’s go see where they are.”
Shannon looked at Lou and tried to figure things out. The baby looked fine, but Lou seemed a little off. He didn’t seem to like carrying the baby. They came up behind Buck and Chris. Chris was sitting down on a bench.
“Eddie, Shannon we…” Buck trailed off as he sighted them. “Lou, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I was told this was where you would be.” Lou stepped up to Buck, handed over the diaper bag, and then carefully got the baby’s carrier off him. He handed the baby over as soon as Buck set the bag down. “And she’s now yours.”
Shannon frowned at that. Were Lou and Buck together? Eddie told her that Buck was single. Lou was swapping off their baby.
“I already got the paperwork filed for her name change after I heard you ranting about her name the other day. I picked the best of the three you had in the list.”
“Saoirse,” Lou answered.
“I love it.”
“Buck?” Shannon asked.
“Oh, damn sorry. I…this was something I’ve been worried about.”
“Is she yours, Bucky?”
“She is now. I adopted her. The paperwork went through very slowly. It was a lot because of the reason for her being up for adoption, but also, the caseworker she landed with had a few issues with single parents, especially ones who aren’t following the heteronormative ideals of life. So, she tried to block me because of that. Lou worked it as hard as he could, and now I have my daughter.”
Shannon got closer to Buck as Eddie started to help Buck put the carrier on himself. She grabbed the diaper bag and slung it over her shoulder. She could see how happy Buck was. She wasn’t sure what was going on with that, but she figured that she would be told.
“She’s pretty,” Chris said as he got to where he could see Saoirse’s face. “Can I hold her later?”
“When we get home, yes.”
Shannon looked at Eddie, who was looking at Buck. That look on his face said he was long gone on being in love with Buck already. Shannon wondered if Buck knew that and if he didn’t care or if he wasn’t aware at all.
“Do we have to leave?” Chris asked.
“No, not at all. We can spend the day. I’ll just have to foist Saoirse onto your parents if you want me to carry you around again. I’m sure that your mom would love to get her hands on a baby.”
Shannon laughed as she couldn’t say that Buck was wrong on that count.
Everyone was tired from a day at the zoo with a hyper Chris. Still, Buck found himself just sitting on the couch in the Diaz house, unable to make himself leave. Saoirse was asleep in a pile of bedding in the middle of the living room with a pillow around her. He doubted she would roll anywhere, given she was still a newborn and could barely hold his finger, much less do anything else.
Eddie was in the back getting Chris down while Shannon was doing something in the kitchen. Buck hadn’t made an offer to leave, but neither Diaz had made a noise that seemed like they wanted him to leave. He had been raised with manners by Daniel and Maddie.
“Here,” Shannon said as she came around the couch. She had three drinks in her hand. They all looked the same, so Buck took the one closest to him. He sniffed it and found ginger and lime under the whiskey. “Eddie doesn’t like traditional Moscow Mules, so we do them with whiskey instead.”
“Ah, I wondered about that. So it’s a drinking night?”
“Well, one cocktail never hurt anyone. After the buffet we went to, there is no reason to think this would do much to us. Besides, Eddie and I aren’t driving, and you can just…” Shannon moved her hand into something that looked like a plane moving.
“Well, I can’t fly, but I can move through the shadows. Humans can’t go through,” Buck said.
Shannon nodded, and she looked down at where Saoirse was, and there was a look on her face. It changed a little until Bucklooked that way as well to see that Saoirse had covered herself in her black skin.
“Obviously, she can, but I just wanted to make sure you understood that I couldn’t just pull you with me anywhere.”
“No, I get that. I’m glad you told me. Is that why you wanted her?”
“Yes. I kind of fell in love with her as soon as I was near her after saving her. Her mother tried to kill her, but I am not sure if all of that was because of the color of her skin. There were…issues on that front as to who the father was. It’s…not pretty, but I’ve got her, and I’ll show her all of the love that she needs.”
“You don’t have to dance around it to make me feel better.”
“Ah, no, I’m just afraid that I would get too angry, actually. The father is dead. He will never touch her. The mother is going to get help and hopefully shake off the horrible shit done to her. The mother’s mother is…in jail, waiting for a trial for what she knew was happening under her roof and not stopping it.”
Buck looked at Shannon when she didn’t say anything. She had a look on her face that said she was putting the pieces together in her head.
“I’m glad she has you,” Shannon said after a few seconds.
Eddie came into the room just as Shannon stopped speaking.
“What are you thanking her for?” Eddie asked.
Saoirse started to make a fussy noise. Eddie didn’t even hesitate to walk over and pick her up. He put her right onto his chest and started to make calming noises at her.
Buck had known he was fucked on the trip to eat that morning. There was something about both elder Diaz’s that just drew him in. Chris was like a little ray of sunshine.
Daniel had told him long ago that he would find a family that would love him for who he was beyond him. To make him know what it’s like. Buck had believed him, but as the years passed, he wondered if it was actually going to happen. Yet, it seemed that he might have found them.
“She’s sweet,” Eddie said.
“I know. I’m happy for her and happy to have her in my life. She’s gonna grow up so loved. The spies all love her a lot as well. They are pushing to have them be the main watcher of her. I can maybe do this once I get CPS off my back when it comes to raising her. I’m shocked Lou was the one to bring her to me. I have no clue how he pushed that to happen.” Buck took a sip of his drink and found that Shannon had been liberal with the alcohol in it. He liked it. He would have to play to find something he really liked when it came to that. Play with ratios. He had a good ginger beer. He would give it up to try the drink as well.
“Can you get drunk?”
“No. I know a guy who drinks alcohol like water, and no one has caught on that he doesn’t get drunk. It’s been interesting to hear about it from his significant other. He emails mostly.”
“How many…”Shannon trailed off.
“I have no clue on the numbers of us worldwide. I wouldn’t even wager a guess. It’s not like we keep track. I’ve met a lot more here in LA than I have ever anywhere else, but I didn’t go to big cities when I was moving around the country. I still like to keep in contact with the ones that I did meet. A few have come to visit me as well. Still, it’s all kind of horrible when too many of us meet up.”
“I bet,” Shannon said.
“Well, there are few of us who are like me. Even my father was a piece of shit who didn’t really care about what he did. He loved me as much as he could, given everything, but he also was someone who wasn’t going to save anyone he couldn’t get anything from. He was bound to contracts, which was the only reason my brother is alive.”
Buck wondered just how far these two would go before they pushed back against what he was. Buck had that darkness inside of him that his father had. He would kill those who looked at him wrong, but he didn’t profit from it like his father did.
“So, do you have your eye on anyone?” Shannon asked.
“Shannon!” Eddie hissed.
“What? Why pussyfoot around it?” Shannon smirked when Buck laughed.
“You are horrible.” Eddie finally sat down on the couch with Saoirse still in his arms.
Saoirse had gone back to sleep and was cuddled into Eddie as much as she could be. Her skin was pale pink again.
“I can take her,” Buck said.
“No, I have her. So what are you thinking about what you are going to do with childcare?” Eddie asked.
“Nope, not changing the topic,” Shannon said.
“You are just horrible,” Eddie said.
“Excuse me. Horrible? I am the mother of your child. You take that back, Edmundo!” Shannon threw a small ball of something at Eddie, but it fell down halfway between them.
“Pitiful,” Eddie said.
Shannon huffed. She picked up the second drink she had set on the table after giving Buck his and started to drink it. “You have the baby, and so no alcohol for you.”
Buck relaxed onto the couch a little more and looked at where Eddie was holding Saoirse. It was like his dreams all made flesh.
“I am not dating anyone right now. It’s hard to date. Most people who are like me, I don’t want anything to do with. The sex is great, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want anything long-term with them. I’ve wanted to settle down for a while.” Buck leaned forward to set his empty glass down when his cell started to ring. He frowned at the number until the contact name came up. He swallowed before answering. “Don’t tell me he’s dead.”
“He’s not. He’s just injured. He’s not hurt enough to stay at the hospital but not good enough to go home alone. He doesn’t want any of us,” Agnew said over the phone.
“I’ll be there soon to get him. I’m in San Diego anyway. Text me what I need.” Buck tried to stand up, but his legs felt like they would give out on him. He dropped down to the couch again and sighed before rubbing his face.
“Be safe,” Agnew said before he hung up.
“Buck?” Eddie asked.
“Daniel’s hurt. He’s in San Diego. He had to have been injured there. He hasn’t made me aware of a spin-up.”
“Do you need us to go with you?”
“No, I’ll be fine. I can take Saoirse with me to get him. I can bring him back the same way.”
“I thought…” Shannon looked at Eddie. Eddie shook his head.
“He’ll be fine,” Buck said. His brain was stuck on just getting to Daniel. He knew he would have issues taking care of both of them if Daniel was too bad off. Daniel would heal up pretty quick, but he might have to stay with Buck for longer because he couldn’t heal that quickly. It had happened a few times before but never something like this. Daniel always called him to come and get him.
“Buck, leave her with us. You can get her once you get Daniel home. I mean it,” Eddie said.
It sounded good, but today was his first day with her.
“She’s going to react to your stress, and you don’t need that.” Eddie kept rubbing his hand up and down Saoirse’s back.
Eddie had a point about that, but Buck didn’t like it. He didn’t have to like it, but at least it was something to think about for a few minutes. Buck looked at his phone and debated what he was going to do.
“You mean it?” Buck asked.
“Yes. You can come and get her once you have Daniel settled. I’ll be up a while yet, and you can just come into the living room. Leave with her by your Jeep. How does that sound?”
“I guess it’s okay,” Buck said. He got up, his legs staying under him this time. He pressed a kiss to the back of Saoirse’s head before he stepped back. He found a shadow in the corner of the room and left through it.
Eddie wasn’t sure how long Buck was going to be gone. He had no idea what was going to happen even. Eddie grabbed his shirt and put it on before he headed to check on Saoirse. She was still dead asleep. Eddie didn’t work the next day, so she was in his room so that Shannon could get some sleep.
Chris had been asleep the entire time. Eddie looked at the time on his phone and found it was after two. Buck had been gone about four hours. Eddie rubbed at Saoirse’s back a little before he headed to the kitchen for something to drink. He stopped when he found Buck there. He was leaning on the sink, his back heaving as he took deep breaths.
Buck was bathed in moonlight, his skin taking on a weird glow. Eddie was two steps toward him when he figured out why. Buck’s skin was slowly darkening, and where it was dark, it was glowing. Eddie hadn’t ever seen anyone who looked like Buck did. He was beautiful to Eddie. Inside and out.
“Evan?” Eddie asked, trying the name he knew Buck didn’t mind too much in certain contexts.
“You don’t look or sound it. Are you sure you don’t want to try again?”
“Agnew was still there, and he told me that the team had been told Danny called me already. Danny hadn’t. He’s been injured for days and just now hit this point. It wasn’t enough that he needed his medical person to be called and make decisions for him. He didn’t…” Buck let out what sounded like a half-choked down sob.
Eddie moved over to him and pulled him into a hug. Unlike other times when he had seen Makepeace do it, Buck just flowed into him. He didn’t seem to try and fight Eddie’s hold at all. Buck wrapped his arms around him and held on tightly.
Buck didn’t move other than to breathe for a few minutes. He calmed down and moved away from Eddie even though Eddie didn’t want him to.
“Sorry,” Buck said.
“Don’t be. I mean it. You…Shannon forced me into therapy before I was pulled out of the hospital. I had to deal, and believe me, when it was all raw and shit, I was a landmine. I saw things no one should ever see, and I couldn’t talk about them. The guy I saw had seen shit too, and it was part of why he had gone to school to become a therapist. He wanted to make sure that no soldier saw the shit he did and had to hide it.”
“Well, in the US and even England, there is a lot of push to hide things. In other parts of the world, it’s an open secret. I’m not shocked. You probably killed more like me than you thought, though anyone going after you like that would have to be on the bad side to try killing. So don’t feel bad about it.”
“I’m not going to. I just wasn’t doing well with grasping the knowledge, even with Caliban around me to help me learn what he could teach me. He was a Godsend as it helped me to make sure I knew I wasn’t going nuts. Still, they aren’t the best to help teach things.”
“No, they aren’t. I learned mostly from them as well. I was under two when my biological father died. I never told my parents either. I think they treated me better than they would have if they had known. They feared my father. The spies being around made them think that he was as well. It was easy. Easier than it had any right being, honestly. Still, I was ignored. Daniel tried to get them to love me for a long time, but I was too much of a reminder of my mother giving up her body to a demon to save their son. As far as I was able to figure out, my father agreed to it, but he didn’t like it. They tried, I guess, to make a match for Daniel, but there were issues with that. It was still what they went with when they talked about me in the public eye after I was born, and then they moved to Hershey when Daniel was healed enough to transfer to hospitals. The stigma left.”
Eddie wasn’t sure what to say to that, so he just held onto Buck again in a hug. That kind of openness needed a hug. “Your family besides Daniel sound a little bit like monsters.”
“They are something, I will say that. I think I need to sit down.” Buck stepped back, putting more space between them than had existed prior to that.
Eddie didn’t like it, but he also understood. “Saoirse is in my bedroom. Caliban’s been keeping a watch to make sure that if I didn’t hear her cry, it would come and get me.”
“I’m sure that mine is around here somewhere, at least two of them. Two are with Daniel, doing the same kind of thing.” Buck picked up a glass of water from beside the fridge and headed to the living room area. Eddie grabbed a bottle of cider from the fridge as he needed something with flavor, and this was the coldest that wasn’t alcohol that was easy to get. He popped the cap off and tossed it into the trash.
“How are you really feeling?” Eddie asked.
“Lost. I mean that. I was so fucking happy yesterday. At first, I thought I had done it. Wanting more than I had already was going to get him killed. Then I found out he’s been hiding it from me. I was so fucking pissed at him, but he’s lying in bed with bandages all over his body, his arm in a sling. He didn’t break it but her sprained the shoulder and elbow.”
“There was an accident. It was on the training field, one of the areas they used to train teams had a malfunction. He wasn’t even on the team in the area. He was just on his run through the base when he heard the call-outs. He was on the far side and able to slip through the doors used to repair things. Agnew told me he saved the entire team that was training, but he got burned and hurt his arm in the process. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and he’ll heal up, but it’s still just so…I hate seeing it.”
“As you should for anyone you love.”
“I say I love him, but this kind of thing reminds me I am not sure it’s love.”
“We aren’t built to love.” Buck sat down on the couch and put his feet on the coffee table, using them to pull it to where he could rest more than just his feet on it.
Eddie sat down beside him, curling on his side to where he was facing Buck. There was nothing much that Eddie could do until he figured out what Buck wanted. Buck hadn’t seemed to mind the hug, not at first.
“It’s just not the way we are. My father thought it would inhibit our expansion into the rest of the world. Living and dying with one person means only a few kids, whereas sleeping around would mean a lot of kids. It never worked out that, and it’s not like those like us kept many journals in the years gone. So things were very different for those like us a long time ago.”
Eddie tried to read Buck’s face, but there wasn’t a lot of emotion there. “What is the best way you get comfort?”
“You don’t want to know the answer to that.”
“Yes, I do. I do want to know.”
“Usually, losing myself in someone, but Daniel’s hurt; Saoirse is asleep in your bedroom. That’s not exactly something that means I should be heading out and finding someone to fuck.”
“Who said you have to head out and find anyone?”
“Because sleeping with a guy I work with is the best idea? I understand what you think you want, Eddie, but you don’t want it.”
Eddie moved, grabbing Buck’s hands when the man tried to stop him. He pinned them to the back of the couch as he settled over Buck’s lap. Buck looked at him with a pout on his lips. Eddie moved with care as he leaned in, knowing that Buck had the strength to push Eddie off him. He wasn’t doing anything like that, so Eddie hoped he wasn’t reading this wrong.
“I can be what you need,” Eddie whispered just before he kissed Buck.
Buck’s hands curled down and latched onto Eddie’s hands, the bare hint of claws there. Eddie hadn’t paid attention to what Buck really looked like when he was in his shadowy form. Eddie hoped there weren’t things where they weren’t supposed to be, but he guessed he could deal with it if there were.
“You don’t know what you are doing.”
“Oh, I think I know exactly what I’m doing, Evan. I know what you think you are, and I know what I think you are, but at the end of the day, you see those close to you as yours. As possession of sorts. You aren’t going to like me going out and getting anything from someone else.”
“And if I wanted someone else?” Buck asked. He leaned in and nipped at Eddie’s neck before breaking his hold on Eddie’s hands. He stood up, carrying Eddie with him toward the bedroom.
Eddie latched his legs around Buck and held on. The casual way he carried Eddie without his body shaking at all was erotic as hell.
“I think that you aren’t really going to want someone else. Not outside of Shannon and I.”
Eddie was dropped onto the bed, and Buck looked at him with a grin on his lips. There was something feral in the way he was looking at Eddie. Then his head cocked to the side, a little closer to a creature than a human. It was like a ripple of something started at his head and moved down to finish out where Eddie couldn’t see.
Scooting up the bed, Eddie started to get himself out of his clothes. He felt like he was prey, and moving too fast was going to set the predator on him. When Eddie was naked, only then did Buck get onto the bed. He put a knee down as he took off his shirt.
Eddie had seen Buck’s naked body more than once at work; getting chemicals or something else on clothes meant getting out of them again, and then there were the showers. It was a strange thing to see it in his bedroom. Eddie looked to the side, and there was a deep shadow around Saoirse’s bed. Buck backed off the bed to get his clothes off.
“Come and get me,” Eddie whispered a few seconds after Buck stripped off his pants, leaving himself gloriously naked.
“Condom and lube?” Buck looked at the two stands beside the bed.
“I’ll get them.”
“Hmm, you think you are going to do a thing that I don’t tell you to do is cute, Edmundo. Which?”
Eddie nodded his head toward the stand to his right. He swallowed as Buck walked around to get the two items out. Buck looked at the condoms, and the look on his face made Eddie blush.
“I see you have wanted this, wanted me for longer than I thought. I see. Well, Eddie. I don’t know what to feel about that. So I have to make this good for you, don’t I?” Buck tossed the items down on the bed and then just crawled on top of Eddie. He danced his hand down Eddie’s side before holding onto his hip, plastering his body to Eddie’s.
Buck was warm. Eddie had never noticed that before.
“I don’t share, outside of things where it’s two other people and me. I want…want you both.”
“You can have us both,” Eddie said.
“But you two…” Buck actually blushed a little.
“Are really good friends. We wouldn’t mind being intimate with you at the same time, you fucking Shannon and then me fucking you but between us? Not really there anymore.”
“You two don’t mind me just being with you both?”
“Nope, and you can gladly talk to Shannon about it. She’ll tell you the same thing.”
Buck looked like he had won the lottery and dove in for another kiss. Eddie hadn’t been all that into things before this, but he was glad he had a quick libido when there was the cause. It had been so damned long since he had sex that his body was aching for this. Buck touched everywhere, just a hint of claws at some points, usually followed by a shudder. It was heady to know he was turning Buck on that much.
“One day when I’m sure I’m going to make you watch as I fuck you in my other form, black skin, as it ripples in pleasure feeling your ass around my cock. Your mouth is open and panting as I force you to take me from behind. Or even on your hands and knees as I fill you up from that position, watching every single slow inch.”
“And it’s different from this; how?” Eddie asked as he wiggled his hand between them to stroke Buck’s cock.
“Well, I gain an inch around and at least three in length in that form. I enjoy watching people’s faces as I slip that into them.”
Eddie’s eyes rolled up into his head as Buck started to kiss him again. Eddie let himself surrender to the kiss. Buck was a personality at work that was laid back. He rolled with everything but this side of him, the person who took what he wanted with consent, was enough that Eddie found himself wanting things he never thought he would. He had always kind of been on equal footing with Shannon, they gave and took with equal measure, but this felt like Eddie giving Buck and him taking.
It was freeing in a way.
Cold fingers rubbed over his hole, and Eddie jerked a little. He groaned as they sunk into him as soon as he relaxed from the scare. Buck’s fingers felt thick inside of him. He had a few fantasies about them and knew they would feel good, but this was almost something else.
“You are making sure not to…shift? Or whatever word you use, right?”
“Yes, I am. Don’t worry; I have that shit on lockdown. I let my body do what it wants during certain parts, but I make sure to never hurt a partner like this. I don’t get into pain like that. I’m not that fucked up. And I don’t mean the S&M side of things, but I don’t like hurting those I like.”
Eddie leaned up and snagged Buck’s lips in a kiss as two fingers became three inside of him. There was something with all of Buck’s attention on him. Eddie felt like he was the center of the world.
“Condom?” Buck asked just before he pulled his fingers free of Eddie.
“I don’t…can you pass anything to me?”
“No, I cannot. I don’t get those types of diseases, and I cannot get you pregnant.”
Eddie laughed and angled his hips a little and wiggled just a bit. “Then fuck me.”
Before Eddie had the last bit of fuck said, Buck was sliding into him. Eddie had fooled around a few times in high school with a few other guys. He had accepted he was bisexual very early, and Shannon had never questioned that Eddie would cheat with a guy on her. Yet, nothing Eddie had ever done with the guys in high school had ever felt like this. There was a feeling of Buck filling up more than his ass as he was pushing inside.
Buck shuddered like he was barely holding on, and his hands left Eddie’s body and curled into the bedding. The sound of ripping happened.
“I’ll pay for that.”
Eddie laughed, and he shifted the angle of his hips just a little to where he could wrap his legs around Buck, and it changed the depth of Buck’s cock inside of him to slot that last little bit inside. He felt so fucking full. He wasn’t sure how he could handle something bigger, but he wanted to.
“Look at you, submitting so wonderfully to me like this. I can smell it, you know.”
Eddie grabbed at Buck, trying to hold onto him. He scratched his nails down Buck’s back and tried to roll his hips in time to Buck’s thrusts. It felt so fucking good.
“I could flip you over and fuck you like a whore couldn’t I?”
Eddie could only nod into Buck’s neck. He would do anything if Buck just kept on doing what he was doing.
“I don’t want to let you go. I don’t want to stop. Don’t make me. Don’t.”
“Never.” Eddie was pretty sure he just gave a monster the ability to do anything he wanted, but he didn’t care.
Buck moved his head, kissed Eddie for a few seconds as his thrusts sped up, and fucked Eddie as hard and as fast as he could. The kiss broke, and then Buck pressed his lips to Eddie’s shoulder. He could feel almost fangs grazing skin, and then Buck muffled a scream as he bit down into Eddie’s shoulder, tipping them both over the precipice of orgasm.
Time lost meaning for Eddie. He was almost floating on some kind of high, and he just wanted to stay there forever; the cry of Saoirse pulled Buck from him at some point. Buck covered Eddie up then and left him to drift off to sleep.
Eddie woke up in bed with Buck wrapped around him from behind. He felt like he had slept for a lot longer than he had but wasn’t too worried.
“Awake?” Buck asked.
“Daniel’s still asleep. Epona gave me an update on him. Shannon came and got Saoirse from the crib and took her to the living room to spend time with her and Chris. I am not sure what is going on there, but when I coaxed Shannon over and gave her a kiss on the lips, she didn’t seem too upset. I didn’t want to leave you here alone until you woke up.”
“How do you feel?”
“Good. My shoulder doesn’t ache. Did you break the skin?”
“No, I moved to human teeth. It’s bruised, and I figure it’ll ache once you shower. I did that before taking care of Saoirse’s feeding a little while ago. You can sleep more if you want. Or do what you want but probably need to shower.”
“He didn’t come to this side of the house, I don’t think. I was pretty well asleep. Once Daniel’s awake, I was going to get him and bring him here. Chris is rather attached, according to Shannon, and isn’t sure that I’ll be allowed to leave anytime soon.”
“Probably not. More than Chris is attached. I don’t want you to leave.”
“Well, my house is much nicer than this one, and you have room for Daniel and me here; I just…this is a place for two lives with a little shared. If this goes forever, I would want you guys to move in with me.”
“We wouldn’t mind that. We own this, but it wouldn’t be hard to sell to someone. Siblings.”
“Daniel and I would have jumped on a place like this if we lived in the same city.”
“Go before I decide to stay in bed all day long.” Eddie shoved at Buck.
Buck laughed, and he rolled to plaster Eddie down into the bed. He took a kiss before he was gone, the bathroom door shutting behind him.
Eddie knew he was fucked, not just in the literal sense that had happened the night before but just in general. Seeing Buck last night, so upset that Daniel had broken that little line between him and Buck. Eddie had always fallen in love too fast, and this time he was afraid it would kill him if it ended.
Shannon heard Daniel’s bedroom door shut. He was on the side with her since they had taken over the spare room in Eddie’s side for Saoirse. She was okay with that.
Buck had been attentive to all five of them, taking turns making sure Daniel was fine, followed by distracting Chris if the boy felt left out. Saoirse was the one who needed the most, but between him, Eddie, and Shannon, she got what she needed. It was just after ten, and Shannon wasn’t tired. She didn’t have work the next day, but Eddie and Buck did.
Eddie had gone to bed not too long before. Chris was long asleep as well. Shannon had no clue where Buck was.
Shannon headed to the living room to find Buck wasn’t there and then headed to the kitchen. She frowned until she saw the light on in the backyard. She grabbed the thin sweater as the night air had a chill in it to her. She stepped outside, and Buck never looked at her. He was sitting in one of the chairs with the Little Spies around him. Caliban was the closest to him and waved its hands around as it talked.
“She comes,” Caliban said as Shannon got close.
“Hey,” Buck said. He turned his head to look at Shannon, causing all of the spies to leave.
“They didn’t need to leave.”
“They didn’t because of you. They were done. I was just talking to Caliban about a few things, and the others were nosy. They are all headed back to do what they need to do. Be with Daniel, watching over Saoirse, trying not to wake up Eddie, and debating how much trouble they will get in if they do wake up Chris. I’ve made sure they understand it’s a school night, so no waking him up. What can I do for you? Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“I went to my bedroom and tried, but it just wouldn’t come. What about you?”
“I only need about four hours of sleep. So I’ll head to sleep around midnight and then get up at four to get the casserole in the oven I promised Chris I would make. I have everything at home, so I will pop over there and get what I need.” Buck leaned back in the chair and looked at Shannon for a few seconds before patting his knee.
Shannon felt like a teenager as she headed over and sat there.
“Eddie and I talked, and we had little ears around for most of the day. I know you know what Eddie and I got up to last night.”
“Well, I’ve seen the way you look at me.”
“Going to tell me that you don’t want me that way?”
“No, quite the opposite. I’ve wanted Eddie since I met him and you since that first morning in the kitchen. I would have taken you both to bed that day if you two hadn’t been divorced.”
“Cocky, are you?” Shannon turned on Buck’s lap and straddled it, her legs tucked in on either side of his. Before she could fully settle, Buck pulled her in, pressing his half-hard cock to her body. He smiled as he then rocked up into her.
“I know full well how much you want me, Shannon Diaz.” Buck leaned in and pressed his nose to her neck before inhaling. “I can smell the arousal. I could just slide these shorts to the side and fuck up into you, and you wouldn’t do a thing but enjoy yourself.”
“Not without a condom.”
“I have that as well.” Buck licked a trail up her neck before pulling her a little more and grinding his cock into her. He was fully hard now, and he felt massive. He was just slightly longer than Eddie. He got his lips close to her ear. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes,” Shannon hissed as Buck wiggled his fingers under her shorts and found her wet. She didn’t normally sleep in underwear, so she had just thrown on the shorts.
Skillful fingers touched before moving back, and Buck got two fingers inside of her. He went all the way in and found that spot inside of her, his thumb getting a little wet before going to her clit and rubbing. He was skilled, and Shannon found herself on edge in seconds.
“Come on, my fingers,” Buck said.
Shannon couldn’t do anything but what he wanted.
“There you are. Now, I’m a gentleman sometimes, so we are going to go to your bedroom. The spies will watch over Daniel and Saoirse.”
Shannon nodded and waited for Buck to put her on her feet, but he didn’t. He just stood up with her and hitched her legs around his waist. She held on and was a little upset that she had missed out on this kind of thing with Eddie. She knew he had bulked up a lot to become a firefighter, but she hadn’t thought about what that meant for the bedroom.
Two seconds later, Shannon was dropped onto the bed, and Buck looked down at her. She started to get out of her clothes the second he started to do the same to his. There was a condom in his hand.
“Where did you get that?”
“Eddie. He’s got a new box in his room, and it wasn’t hard to have someone get one for me. You’ve smelled like sex all day, and I am more than willing to fuck you so hard you don’t think of anything else.”
Buck tossed the condom onto the bed, and it landed right beside her head before he crawled onto the bed as well, getting between her legs and spreading them to show off her pussy. She was shocked when the first thing Buck did was duck down and lick. Shannon grabbed Buck’s hair and held on as she was worked up again. She hadn’t met someone who was all into oral sex like this. She felt Buck push his tongue inside of her, and it felt like it was longer than it should be. It made her second orgasm rip through her body. She wasn’t sure she could take a third.
Shannon looked down at the top of his head to see a little darkness around his cheeks. She shuddered as he pulled his head free and kissed up her belly as his skin turned back to normal.
“You liked that, huh?”
“Yes,” Shannon said when she could work her mouth again. She tried to get Buck up to kiss her on the lips. He shook his head, and Shannon frowned. “I don’t mind.”
“Oh, I’ll kiss you in a moment.” Buck grabbed the condom and rolled it down his cock, showing how big he was. His hands were slightly clawed, and he wasn’t hesitating to get the condom on, using the meat of his fingers to roll it down.
The claws disappeared as she looked at him, and he got ready to get inside her.
“Yes or no?”
Buck was gentle as he slid the head of his cock inside of her. He pulled out again once it was inside, rubbing the head up and down her slit and clit before slipping back inside of her.
Shannon tried not to clench down on him, but once he was halfway inside, she couldn’t help it. It had been so fucking long since she had someone inside of her. He was also warm, and that was something she hadn’t expected, even if she did know that he was a little warmer than most. It was so fucking a good feeling.
“Look at you. I think I’m going to enjoy this.” Buck rocked his hips just a little, and the way his cock rocked inside her and his body rubbed just right on her clit had Shannon seeing God.
“No, but I have been called the Devil.”
“Devil disguised as an Angel,” Shannon said.
Shannon was sure she was going to have hickeys on her neck, and Eddie was going to make fun of her, but he had no room to talk. The beard burn on him had been more than normal.
“Marking me as yours?” Shannon asked.
“I think I like it too much. So Eddie and I are both yours.”
Buck’s hips snapped into Shannon, and he gasped into her neck at that. The subtle grinding he was doing got her off before his orgasm had fully ended. He didn’t move for at least a minute. Shannon watched him hold the condom in place as he pulled out. He grinned at her.
“I think it’s time to clean up. Together.”
“Are you always like this?”
“No, but I’ve wanted you, and that means I’m going to have you.”
Shannon allowed Buck to prod her into the bathroom, and she loved the feel of his hands on her. She groaned as he soaped her up before rinsing her off. She tried to do the same to him, but her hands were batted away.
Just as she was turned around to face Buck again, she saw the glint in his eyes. He stepped up, his hand dropping down, and his thumb went right over her clit.
“I’m not sure I like you all clean. I think I want to have a little more fun, make you so worked up that when you come again, your legs just won’t hold you up.”
“Buck,” Shannon said. She hadn’t ever been worked up like that before.
Buck slipped fingers inside of her again, and he got her up nearly to orgasm before he stopped.
“Oh, I will, but I think you need to turn around to let me do what I want.”
Shannon wasn’t sure what he wanted, but he got her turned around before she felt fingers rub over her asshole.
“Fuck,” Shannon said, and she dropped her head to the tile and spread her legs, letting him do what he wanted. “You can take me bare back there.”
“You and Eddie are both so hungry for my cock. I’m going to enjoy figuring out just what the breaking point on that is.” Buck slipped up behind her a little more as he pulled his hands free of her. There was the sound of a little water splashing, but Shannon didn’t look to see. “I’m going to enjoy fucking you with my bigger cock. Gonna do the same to Eddie. Get you on your knees and just slowly slide into you. Make you watch with a mirror as my monster of monster cock slides home inside of you for the first time.”
Shannon didn’t fight the orgasm, just that visual put into her. She was still in a little bit of aftershock after that when Buck slipped into her ass. She hadn’t had someone in her ass for longer than she had someone in her cunt, and here Buck was taking both that night. Anal had been big when she was on her period. Eddie didn’t like being in her cunt, but she liked being fucked, and he didn’t mind getting messy, making sure she got off with his hand. It had all helped with cramps, so it had been a good night for both of them.
Buck pressed her into the wall a little before he got her up a little to where he was holding her where he wanted her as he fucked her ass.
“Here I thought I was going to be debauching you both, but you two were made for me, weren’t you? I can’t wait until I’m fucking you and Eddie’s fucking my ass.” Buck’s mouth started to suck new bruises on her shoulder as he fucked her hard and fast. He got a hand around her, holding her up with the other around her waist. Two fingers found her cunt, and she felt her orgasm build inside her. She wasn’t sure she was going to survive sex with Buck.
“There you go, now give it up, and it’ll be over. For now.”
Shannon came as his thumb just brushed over her clit. She just wanted to sleep, but she needed to be washed again. Buck held her up as he started to clean her up. It wasn’t until she was settled onto the bench seat in the shower she realized he was still hard. He washed himself off, then walked over to stand in front of her. She was too tired for oral, but it didn’t seem like he wanted it anyway.
Buck came, and it landed on her tits. She glared at him, but he just smiled. He looked proud of himself.
Buck looked around, and he frowned. Chris should have been out of school already. Eddie and Shannon were at a therapy session, working through a few kinks in their friendship that had popped up since they had both started to date him. The sex wasn’t an issue, Buck found out. They didn’t care about that, but there were just a few things they wanted to talk about with their therapist instead of just together, where there were chances of them saying something wrong and pissing each other off.
Chris had a late class on Wednesdays, and sometimes he did like to talk to the teacher for up to fifteen minutes afterward. It was a writing class that was aimed at kids who loved to read and wanted to tell stories of their own. Right now, it was all about just writing, and then as the year went on, more grammar and good story mechanics would be introduced, not enough to quash their love of writing.
It was the biggest thing of the week for Chris. He liked staying as long as he could.
Yet it had been twenty minutes, and no Chris had emerged.
Buck pushed off the Jeep and headed toward the school. He stepped across the threshold, and a scent caught his nose. It smelled a little like Eddie but not. He followed the scent to the office, where there were just two people inside. The teacher who should be with Chris and someone else.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m here to pick up Christopher Diaz.”
“And you are?” the lady at the desk asked.
“Evan Buckley. I’m on the list to pick him up. He was supposed to be in the creative writing after-school class.”
“He was picked up this morning by his Aunt Constance.”
“He doesn’t have one, and even then, no one but those on the list is supposed to leave with the kids. I want to talk to whoever let this woman take Chris.”
Buck’s skin started to itch. The teacher turned to look at the lady.
“You have been on the desk all day, Michelle. You need to call everyone now. Mister Buckley, I’ll help you with what I can. We will also get a hold of his parents.”
“Eddie and Shannon are in a therapy session. I’ll text them to join me here as soon as they get out.”
“I am going to call the Diazes,” Michelle said.
Buck rolled his eyes. He had never heard Eddie or Shannon talk about Aunt Constance. Given everything that had happened before, Buck was worried. He wanted to shift and find Chris, but right now, he needed to stay calm and deal with what was going on.
Michelle left a message on Eddie’s phone. When she hung up, she glared at Buck. “I want to see ID to confirm that you are on the list to be allowed to pick up Christopher.”
Buck pulled out his ID, and he laid it down. Michelle seemed to have a bee in her bonnet about this. If she was the one that let Chris go with someone who was not on the list, there was going to be hell to pay. Eddie wasn’t going to let this just slip away. Shannon was going to go through the roof with this.
“You check out. I’m still not telling you anything. I’m sure that once his parents get here, you’ll be told you are wrong that they sent someone else to get him this morning.”
“Ma’am, I am not sure what you think is going on here, but his father sent me here. Their therapy session got moved a little due to an emergency situation. Why would they send me here if they had sent someone else?”
Michelle looked haughty and turned around to work on paperwork, ignoring Buck. Buck sent another text to not listen to any voicemails until he got to the school.
Buck texted Athena that he might need her or someone else if she was not on duty.
Athena: I’m off today. Lou’s on.
Buck frowned. He didn’t think he needed Lou, but it might help in the end. He shot off a text to him that there might be an issue. Buck didn’t think at all that Shannon or Eddie had forgotten to tell him someone else was picking him up. Nothing was going on that would have Eddie or Shannon wanting Chris to miss his favorite thing in the world.
Saoirse was at home sleeping with Epona, so she was safe.
“When was he picked up?” Buck asked.
“Just after ten.”
Buck really just wanted to scream about it. This woman was an idiot. He figured that whatever happened, the woman had ruined her chance to ever work anywhere like this again.
“Buck?” Eddie asked a few minutes later.
Buck looked up to see Eddie and Shannon there with Lou right behind.
“Do either of you have an Aunt Constance?”
“No,” Eddie said.
“Well, Michelle here allowed Chris to be taken from school after ten this morning with his Aunt Constance without her being on the list of people allowed to pick him up.”
“What?” Shannon asked.
“She had pictures of them together, and Chris didn’t say anything about going with her,” Michelle said.
“Who cares what Christopher said. He’s seven,” Eddie said. He stepped up to the counter between them. “It’s why children here are only allowed to leave with people on the list, Michelle. Where is the principal?”
“She’s on her way back in.”
“Buck, I’ll need a statement from you,” Lou said. He nodded toward the hall.
Buck made sure Eddie was okay with that before following Lou out the door. Lou had a notebook out, but he didn’t have a pen.
“Can you find him?”
“Yes, I just need time.”
“Eddie’s parents probably had this happen, right?”
“That’s what I’m going to assume. They have a massive head start. At least five hours. If they aren’t going back to El Paso, there might not be a way for you guys to track them.”
“I’ve got a call into El Paso already. Since there is a history there, I wanted to jump on that. If Ramon and Helena are home, they will be watched, and I’ll see about getting El Paso to agree to a wiretap.”
“Let me know. I’m going back in there to help calm Eddie down.”
“They both stink of a claim. If there was anyone on our side that helped them, they are going to find themselves fucked up for life. I’ll make sure to warn those who care about such things.”
“Good. I don’t plan to leave many of them alive if there is one of ours there.”
Lou nodded, and he waved for Buck to go inside.
Buck was pissed off at himself as he had kept the spies all to him, and Caliban hadn’t wanted to go to school with Chris. It did seem like it was someone from their group. This was the only day in months that Chris had gone to school without a friend with him.
“Eds?” Buck asked as he entered the office again. The principal was in her office talking to Michelle. It looked heated.
“Constance had a man with her who flirted, and that was how they got Chris out of school. Constance is not her name but Lucinda, and she’s a cousin on my father’s side. I am not sure what kind of cousin. I don’t get along with her and her brother much at all. I think the man with her might be her husband. Lucinda and the man left with Chris. Chris knows Lucinda well as she was close with my sisters. Chris is too trusting, and we kept most of the shit that happened with someone trying to take him from him since he was too young, and we didn’t want to make him freak out a lot over it.”
“Lou’s got lines to El Paso already and checking on your parents. They have a head start, and more officers are on their way. Lou came by his private way.” Buck really hoped Eddie got what that meant. “Athena’s off, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she showed up at some point.”
“Can you do anything?” Shannon asked.
“I think I can. I’m going to head and talk to Lou about more of it. I’ll let you know. I might go with him if you drive the Jeep home.” Buck handed over the keys, and he looked at Eddie. “I’ll work this side.”
“I’ll go home in case it’s more than we think and we get a call at home.”
“Text Athena. She might want to go with you,” Buck said.
Buck kissed Shannon’s cheek and gave Eddie a hug. He was going to make sure none of them were alone and see if Caliban could head out to where Chris was and at least hang out with him until it was time for them to get to him. Lou was still in the hall, and just to make sure no one spotted them, they went out of the school and across to a small alley before they traveled to Buck’s house.
Lou had difficulty getting through to Buck’s place, but he could follow along in the same shadow.
“His parents got a slap on the wrist, didn’t they?”
“Yes. They made it seem like people did it to please them without going off their words. The jury was kind of split, so they went through a second trial. I never felt a threat from them.”
“Can anyone get to him?”
Buck shrugged. He walked to the back, where Saoirse was asleep in the crib. He picked her up and looked at Epona. “I want all of the spies here. Someone go and get Caliban.”
“He’s asleep here. Issue?”
“Someone has taken Chris from school by smooth-talking someone who knows better than to allow a kid to leave with anyone but who is allowed. I will see her in jail before we are done if there is a single thing wrong with Chris. Caliban’s been around him the longest.”
“You no leave Saoirse alone, yes?”
“No. I’ll drop her off with whoever goes back to Eddie’s. Just in case there is a ransom call made.”
Epona hissed and disappeared. Buck started to pack a bag before for Saoirse. He turned around to see the Little Spies all there looking at him.
“Caliban, can you find Chris?”
“Yes? No? Think so.”
Buck smiled, and he nodded. “That’s what your only job is right now. You find him and make sure he’s safe before coming to me. If he is not safe, you stay and defend him. He’s your only job.”
“Takes Niskus with me?” Caliban asked.
“If you think that it won’t mess you up.”
“Nikky meaner than I.”
“It’s deadly when its kids are in danger.”
“We goes, and we comes back.”
“Us?” Epona asked.
“I will be fine, but I want you three to ensure that Eddie and Shannon are fine. Eddie’s staying out, and I think Shannon is going home. They are to be watched at all times. If you need more help, let me know. There are a few who have debts they owe me.”
Buck waited for the spies to leave before he looked around a little. He stepped out of the room and looked around for Lou. He found him in the kitchen with a sheet of paper in front of him. He was writing something down with his cell pressed to his ear.
“Okay. That’s great. I want that plate run, and if it’s gone anywhere, that has cameras. If the FBI wants to get in on this, I don’t mind. However, I want it to be the BAU, though, Hotch’s team.” Lou stopped talking, and a few seconds later, he laughed. “Okay, well. I’m not in my office, as you know, and I have no clue if Reid can get anywhere near here. I’ll take the Little Spies, though. I’ll pop to where he is if you give me the address, and the spies can be given their jobs.”
“Lou?” Buck asked.
Lou held up a finger. “No, the spies won’t be touching anyone in this. I’ll use them for hunting. Reid’s spies are good at that. Text me.” Lou turned to look fully at Buck as he snapped his phone shut. “FBI Agent Spencer Reid will gladly use his spies to make sure that Chris is found. He’s been with his boss, Aaron Hotchner, for a long time, and they are working another case here, but the spies aren’t needed for that. I want to use them for hunting for Chris but not engage with anyone else. I trust him fully. He’s used his spies to kill in the protection of victims before, and they would never harm a child.”
“And he’s just going to do that point blank for someone random?”
“A kid who is missing? Yes. If they wrap their case in the next while before we find Chris, they will step in and help. As it is, they will have the team’s analyst, a lady named Garcia, to help hunt for the car.”
Caliban appeared, and it looked worn out. “Can’t. Too much.”
“Okay, then go and watch over Eddie and Shannon, sleep and get your energy back up.” Buck rubbed at his nose. He felt his claws peeking out. He snagged a water bottle and drained it down before heading to the living room. He tried to touch that part of him that was more monster than human. He could feel how scared Chris was. He could feel him but not do anything else.
“The car traces back to Eddie’s cousin Constance, but she’s not even living in El Paso. She’s in Vegas.”
“Then they are heading there. They cannot take Chris through shadows, but from there, they can head anywhere. Even up to Canada. El Paso is where they hoping that-” Buck stopped when Lou’s phone went off.
Lou’s eyes widened, and he tapped the answer button before another. “Ransone.”
“Lou, it’s Hotch. Garcia found the car, and it did indeed cross into Nevada. I will send Reid to you and classify this as a federal case. The wiretap on the lines registered to everyone in the family has gone through, and Garcia’s working on that right now. Morgan will be on backup, but we figure that Reid can get to you quicker. Where are you?”
“Firefighter Buckley’s house and headed to the Diaz house in just a few minutes by shadow. Buckley’s leaving his child with Shannon Diaz while we go hunting.”
“I assume the child is like Buckley since you are going by shadow; the child is like Buckley?”
“Reid’s heading to the house now by SUV, and he wants Buckley with him while they talk about things.”
Buck nodded his head. He would take an FBI agent who was like him and could help in many other ways. He just wanted Chris back.
Eddie looked at his cell phone, wishing it would light up and tell him something. Anything.
The name that popped up just seconds later wasn’t one he expected.
“Sofia?” Eddie asked.
“Eddie, I think…I think something is wrong. Mom and Dad aren’t home, and I went inside and find everything gone. Their house is like they aren’t going to be here for a while.”
Eddie closed his eyes. The wiretap on the house was the best way to catch them. He just wanted his kid in his arms. He wanted to make sure his kid was okay. He felt worthless as he sat at LAPD headquarters. He talked to them about all of his family that could be helping his parents. Now he was dealing with his sister and having to tell her what he knew in his heart.
“They are in the wind. They had Constance and her husband; maybe someone else kidnapped Chris from school and took him into Nevada. I have no clue where my kid is, Sofia. I can’t…I can’t deal with you or Adriana right now.”
“Oh, my God, Eddie. We…Adriana will do what we can here. I’ll text everything, and if you give me the name and number of the detective.”
“It’s in FBI hands mostly. I’ll text you what you need to know. Help me, Sofia. I want to hold my kid again.”
“We will. I promise.”
Eddie hung up on her. He usually didn’t do that kind of thing, but he didn’t mind this time. He would apologize after this was all done if his sisters really had no part in this.
“Morgan went and talked to your grandmother and aunt, and they knew nothing. There had been a lot of questions from your parents but nothing that raised red flags. He’s working on talking to the rest of your family. Your grandmother is calling them all to have them come to her before the afternoon is out, or she will disown and curse them,” Reid said as he stepped into the room. He had a sheet of paper in his hand and was looking at it.
“Well, that’s the way she runs the family love and a fear of losing that love if they screw up horribly. This is the kind of thing that would do it. Taking a child from their parent? She would never speak of them or to them again.”
“Well, hearing Morgan talk about her, she’s an honorable woman who rules with a fist full of love. He said he wanted to adopt her, and he’s also pretty sure she’s already trying to adopt Morgan.”
“Can I go home?”
“Yes. You can. Your grandmother is working well with everyone, and she’s giving us a lot more than you ever could. She knows she just might be helping with this of her sibling’s children and other various family members who live outside of the direct sphere. If I have anything, I’ll let you know. Go and be with your wife.”
Eddie gladly got up, and he held out his hand. “Thank you for stepping off the other case.”
“I’m still helping with it. Reading as fast as I can and retaining knowledge like me, you find you can do many things. If you need anything from me. Text. I have my friends helping as much as possible.”
“Thanks. I need to check in with Buck.”
“Buck’s in Las Vegas from last I heard. He and the detective from the LAPD hopped a few shadows there. I will join them if need be, but right now I think your parents don’t want to be found by them. Being hunted by one of us is terrifying.”
“I don’t doubt it is. I’ve seen him in full form. Buck looks like the stuff of nightmares. I don’t mind it. Honestly, I kind of like what he looks like. He’s not sharp and spiny like a few others I have seen. Smooth and svelte over muscle more than anything.”
“I haven’t seen him, but he’s one of the ones from what you are describing that is a pretty monster. The kind that is used to make us alluring to humans.”
Eddie nodded. He stood up and headed toward where the door was. He stopped just as he got out of the door and looked back at where Reid was going through files. Eddie trusted him. He seemed like a man who would do anything to get the person he was after.
The drive home was horrible. Eddie wasn’t sure what he would do once he got there beyond pacing. Still, he wanted to be home. Where Shannon was and where he would have a reminder that his son was alive.
Shannon was in the kitchen with Athena when Eddie got home. He walked into there, and Shannon rushed at him, crying again as soon as she was in his arms.
“How could they do this?”
“They aren’t well, Shan. They are just horrible and stuck in their own head. They feel like we cannot raise our own child without hurting him, but this hurts him worse, but they don’t care.”
“The best is on it,” Athena said.
“I know,” Eddie said.
“I’m shocked that Buck is not here.”
“He’s with the detective on the tail of my parents. I need to be here with Shannon, just in case my parents do call.”
“Well, Lou texted me that the analyst from the BAU found that your parents hopped a flight to Las Vegas, and then they flew up to Seattle.”
“Thy plan to take him to Canada?” Eddie asked.
“I have no idea about that, but I want to say yes. Then from there, someplace where they won’t be handed over.”
Eddie knew that wouldn’t stop Buck.
“I’ve got to get on shift, but I’ll keep a close eye on things. If you need anything, give Bobby a call or anyone.” Athena rubbed at Shannon’s back for a few seconds before she cupped Eddie’s cheek. She gave them a hopeful smile before leaving the kitchen.
“Anything from Buck?”
“No. I figure that’s good news. He’s going to find him. It’ll just take time to get him back here wherever they took him.”
“They have gotten to Las Vegas by this point if that is where they are going.”
Eddie pulled Shannon in a little tighter to him. She wrapped her arms around and held on tight. Eddie got them into the living room. He pulled her into his lap and just rocked her as he held on while she just broke. He would break down when she was done. It was no use, both of them being crying messes at the same time.
“Buck coming,” Caliban said as it appeared at Eddie’s elbow.
Eddie nodded, and he grabbed a blanket to cover up Shannon. She wasn’t asleep, but she was shivering from the emotional loss. He waited for Buck to appear, but he wasn’t expecting to see the blood all over him. He looked like he had just been there when someone tossed a bucket all over him. Yet, some of it didn’t look like normal human blood. The blackness of Buck’s skin was fading to the soft pink Eddie was used to, and it made the blood stand out even more.
“Your cousin and her husband are dead. He refused to tell me anything, and she was strong for a human when faced with me.”
“And Chris?” Eddie asked.
“Not with them. They had already given Chris over to your parents. We are working behind them, and the drop-off location was a random road on a random stretch of highway. Lou is talking with Garcia, and they will work on tracking this. The alert for the abduction has now gone out over the whole half of the country. It might make national news with the whole school failure due to a man flirting. Don’t get me wrong, I can flirt and get people to do shit, but I don’t get upset if they don’t do what I want.”
“What are you going to do now?” Shannon asked.
“Shower and get the hell out of these clothes. The bodies will be found and look like they were attacked by animals. It’s not like they got a good shot in on me. The husband was a piece of shit.”
“I’ll get you clean clothes,” Shannon said. She tried to get up, but Eddie held on. “I need to do something other than just waiting for the call from your parents gloating about having our kid.”
“At this point in time, I fully expect him to be in a full-on snit and upset as hell. He’s going to make them second guess this, and while I don’t want our kid hurt, he’s going to be impossible for them to restrain without hurting him, which will just piss him off more.”
“Well, May’s been training the kids to all-” Buck stopped, and he cocked his head to the side just a second before his phone went off. He pulled out the phone and looked at the screen. “Hello?” Buck’s eyebrows shot up. “Hold on.” Buck tapped a button on his screen. “Go on, Superman.”
“Bucky?” Chris asked.
“Chris?” Shannon jerked out of Eddie’s arms so fast that Eddie couldn’t stop her from getting out of his arms on the couch. She grabbed the phone and looked like she wanted to hug it. Buck snagged her and held on tightly.
“Mommy, I’m so scared. Abuelo and Grandma are crazy. They are talking about keeping me and making sure I am never hurt again, but they hurt me. My arm hurts from where Grandma jerked me. I can’t use my crutch right now.”
“Eddie, keep him talking and let Lou know. I’m going to clean up and get changed, then I can hunt him down.”
Eddie wanted to keep Buck right where he was, but he knew Buck needed that blood off him. He would be going out and doing something to save their kid. He texted Lou to track the call coming in on Buck’s phone as it was from Chris, who was injured.
Buck was back in five minutes as Chris detailed everything that was going on, where he had been, and how people were crazy. He was dressed only in boxers, and his body was still mostly wet. He had the rest of his clothes in his hands.
Eddie’s phone rang, and he grabbed it from the coffee table where he had tossed it after texting Lou and answered the call, putting it on speaker as well, leaving Chris with Shannon. Eddie checked the monitor for Saoirse and found it on, but she was still asleep.
“Lou, what’s up?”
“BAU jet is warming up; Agents Morgan and Reid are going to escort Eddie and Shannon to the closest airport we can get a landing at. You and I are going to San Francisco. It looks like Chris is in the Chico area. From there, Buck and I will work on figuring things out more. Buck, bring your phone.”
“Hey, Buddy,” Buck said when Chris took a breath. “Think about me. Think about me hard. You are in a city I know. I’ll be there but to help me find you, think of me.”
“Okay, Bucky. Find me before Abuelo comes back. They have a wheelchair, but they are getting something that will help me calm down.”
Eddie looked at Buck, and he waved for him to go.
“I heard that. I’ll have medical standing by in Chico, just in case. Morgan’s going to take care of that. Eddie and Shannon, pack bags for everyone, and the BAU will get you soon. Saoirse can fly, right Buck?”
“Yes,” Buck answered.
Chico was empty of things like Buck. The taint on Chris from Buck was noticeable, but he was having trouble tracking as he was tired as hell. The fight with the husband had been tiring. He was ready for a nap, but that would come only when Chris was safe and in his arms. As much as Saoirse was his, Chris was as well, and he really wanted to gut the people trying to take him. Even if those would be harder to disguise as animals.
Buck’s biggest hope was that Ramon and Helena would be charged with their deaths. Killed them to cover their tracks and try and make it out of the country with their grandson.
“This place is too clean,” Lou said as he appeared beside Buck, using the same path Buck had when Lou hadn’t been able to make it all the way here.
“It’s not changed much since I was last here. Passed through when I was wandering around the country. I can feel him, but it’s not nearly enough to track yet. It’s too…clean.”
Lou laughed and took a step toward where a cop was waiting with her back to them.
“Officer Redding?” Lou called out.
“Yes, Sir. Thank you for being quick. We think we have found the hotel they are in. It’s on the far side of town. I’ll gladly escort you there. I was told your car broke down, and you hitched?”
“Priority. This is Evan Buckley, who goes by Buck. He’s the godfather of the kid and an LAFD firefighter. He was going around with me when we got the notification he was up here.”
Redding nodded her head, and she shrugged a little like most humans did. The human mind didn’t want to think about the things that didn’t make sense most of the time.
“The BAU is bringing the parents, and the FBI will descend on this town en masse soon.”
“We will gladly give that over. I’m just glad the boy was found in under a day. I’m glad that someone he knows is here as well.”
Buck ignored her as he got in the backseat of the SUV Redding was driving. There was room for Lou back there, but he understood Lou staying up there just in case Redding needed to be distracted.
The hotel they pulled up to had a few cops in plain clothes, but Buck could smell the gunpowder from the bullets. He didn’t want to think about what it meant. They were loaded to bear, all ready and waiting for whatever was coming.
Seconds later, Buck felt Chris. He knew which room they were in and itched to go in there, but Lou’s glare kept him in place.
“How are you going to make contact?” Lou asked.
“We wanted to know what you want. You know these people better. We have someone dressed as housekeeping for the place ready to drop off more towels since there was a call put in to get more. They can scope things out, and we can go from there.”
“Let’s do that. Buck. Stay here.” Lou’s eyes didn’t agree with the words from his mouth.
Buck wanted his Little Spies safe, so he didn’t want to call them into this. He had never lost one, and he never wanted to. Not for something like this, even if any of them would give their life for Chris.
Lou and Redding got out of the SUV, and as soon as the doors were shut, Buck moved into the shadows of the world, and he made his way into the room. The bathroom was easier to find after a check of the other room on the far left of the room Chris was in. Chris was in the bathroom, so Buck didn’t fully come into there. Chris had the phone clutched in his hand, and he pressed a button, but it didn’t light up. The battery had to be dead.
It broke Buck’s heart not to be able to touch Chris right now, but he didn’t want to make his grandparents do something stupid.
“Christopher, stop acting like a baby and open this door before I have to knock it down,” a male voice called through the door.
“No! You treat me like a baby, so I will act like one. I don’t want you, and I want to go home to Daddy and Mommy!” Chris picked up something and threw it at the door. He was in there with no crutches, but with his hurt arm, it was possible he wasn’t able to use his crutches at all.
The first hit on the door rattled it, but it didn’t act like it would come down. Yet, a few more like it, and the hinges might start to give. Buck debated what he was doing, but he felt the best way to protect Chris no matter what the grandparents saw. He shifted fully, giving into the blood lust in his heart and in his mind. He stepped between Chris and the door.
“Bucky, is that you?” Chris asked.
“Yes, stay back, and do not call me that, just in case. No one will think anything of those two seeing a monster where there is none if you don’t call me that.”
“Okay. Are Mommy and Daddy on their way? The phone went dead.”
“Okay. I’ll get in the tub. I can do that.”
“I’ll put you in there. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I don’t want you to hurt yourself more. I wouldn’t like it. I already want to do something unspeakable to your grandparents.”
“I’ll close my eyes,” Chris said.
Buck made sure the door wasn’t going to come off, and he turned to pick up Chris and gently put him in the tub. He pulled the curtain around and gave it to Chris to hold. “Use this to stand up if you have to but keep it around you to protect you from anything that goes flying if your grandfather gets the door off the hinges.”
“I’ll be good. Unlike what they think, I’m a good kid.”
Buck kissed the top of his head. “The best.” He pulled the curtain the rest of the way closed, turning to face the door as the first hinge started to give.
A crack echoed through the door, and Buck cocked his head to the side, trying to figure out what it was.”
“You broke the chair, Ramon. Now, what are we going to do?”
“The fire extinguisher,” Ramon said.
Buck rolled his eyes, and he got ready. The next rounds of the breaking of the door were more solid. Ramon really wanted this. Buck waited for him to get what was coming to him.
“We are leaving as soon as I break through this door, Christopher. I’m going to make sure you understand I am the boss in all of this.”
Chris didn’t even make a sound.
Buck smiled and let himself a full-on grin with his teeth on show when the door finally gave way. It fell inward, and he caught it. He carefully moved it to lean against the door.
“Ramon, what if he had been there!” Helena screeched.
“Don’t worry, his Guardian Demon wouldn’t let him get hurt. It’s pretty bad when the Angels send a demon to protect a child.”
“Leave!” Ramon hissed.
“Oh, I will, but only once the cops have breached this place and have you both in cuffs. You are never going to see a grandchild of yours again. I think this might just make all three of your children forsake you, Ramon Diaz.” Buck stepped forward.
Ramon went to hit him with the fire extinguisher, and Buck caught it. He debated closing his claws on it and making it vent, but he wouldn’t be able to control that easily enough to where Chris wouldn’t get hurt.
“You can’t have him.” Helena sounded bolder than she looked.
“I don’t want him. I want you. To abuse your grandchild? Your disabled grandchild? There is a special place in hell for you, and I look forward to ushering you there. We look forward to making sure you know the fear you have caused in an innocent child. So make your prayers, and I hope your affairs are in order.”
Ramon crossed himself, but the beating of his heart sounded like it was racing like a train. There was the stink of pills Buck knew well. Ramon had heart problems. He had to have stents in his heart as well. The man was going to be easy to kill that way. Eddie hated his mother more than his father. If Eddie wanted one of them to suffer years in prison, it would be his mother.
“You hurt a child!” Buck said. He took a step toward Ramon.
“I didn’t want to hurt him, but he refuses to accept that this is the way of things.” Ramon started to rub his chest.
“You took him from his home and everyone he loves because you cannot let Eddie live his life. You decided that he and Shannon didn’t deserve the child they had.”
“They are ruining him!” Helena said.
“How? By letting him live his life? Giving him the best chance at having a life by making sure his disability doesn’t keep him bound to a wheelchair.”
“The world is going to hurt him. We are protecting him from it!” Helena tried to jump toward him.
Ramon pushed her back, and he clutched at his heart.
“And what do you call this? You are hurting him. You removing him like this? You are harming him more than anyone else in his life. What you have done, what you are trying to do, would destroy him. He would never be the happy child he is today. You would wreck him.” Buck stepped closer, and he grabbed Ramon’s shirt and pulled him close. “You are even worse than you think your son is. You tried to ruin all of your children, and all of them pushed back against you.”
Ramon’s eyes widened as Buck shredded his shirt, then his knees gave out. Buck let go, and the man dropped.
“Ramon?!” Helena screamed.
The door to the room burst open, and Buck faded to the shadow where Chris was in the bathroom. Lou was the first in the room. He went for Helena and dragged her out while medics went for Ramon. Buck was happy when Lou picked up Chris with care in his every move and took him out of there.
Buck moved back through the shadows as quickly as he could to burst out of the SUV as Lou descended the stairs from the second floor. Lou transferred him over to Buck’s arms on the gurney outside of the ambulance. Buck kept Chris in his arms as the boy started to cry. There was nothing to do but hold Chris and cry himself.
Shannon entered the ER room that the nurse had pointed out. Eddie was on her heels, but he was almost dragging his feet.
Chris was asleep on the bed on top of Buck, who was rubbing his hand up and down Chris’ back. Buck looked to be asleep except for the movement of his arm. Chris didn’t have an IV in his arm, but it looked like he had at some point, given the apparatus there beside the bed.
“Evan?” Shannon asked.
“He’s good. His arm is just sprained, and he’s already upset at that and what it means for him getting around on his own. He knows what’s coming and is not happy, but he said he will try not to make it worse since none of us can do anything about it.”
Shannon stepped over, and she replaced Buck’s hand on Chris’ back. “How long has he been asleep?”
“About half an hour. The nurse said she would be back soon. His arm will need to be in a sling for a little while just to support his arm and stop it from getting hurt more. He’s not been given much at all. A low-grade pain killer because our crying gave him a headache. He was okay with that, and you had already called in that I was allowed to say yes or no to things. The exam results will be gone over with you as well.”
“Did you want to?” Buck waved to the bed, but Shannon shook her head. She looked at Eddie, who finally stepped up to the bed, and he smiled at Buck and rubbed at the back of Chris’ head.
“No, leave him there. We are going to get chairs up on this side and just touch. I want to hold him, but he needs sleep. If he can sleep without nightmares now, it’ll be better for later when the nightmares start.”
“What have they said about all of this?” Buck asked.
“Not a lot yet. I know that Ramon is in surgery, something about heart problems.” Shannon looked at Eddie, who was just staring at Chris and didn’t act like he had heard at all. They were all pretty off-center. Eddie had never thought his parents would do something like this. Then they had, but he thought the court trial they had already gone through would have been enough. It obviously wasn’t.
A knock on the door had Shannon looking up. There stood a doctor who looked like he wasn’t in the ER much at all. There was just an aura around him.
“Eddie Diaz?” the doctor asked.
“Raymond Sweets. I was the one who was doing surgery on your father. I am sorry to say that I could not repair his heart.”
“And my mother?”
“She was taken from here after being checked out. I have a number on file to get ahold of their lawyer, who will take care of the arrangements since your mother will not be able to do so. I understand the factors surrounding this, but I wanted to make sure young Christopher didn’t fear his grandfather coming after him again. If he wants to speak with me at any point, my staff knows to get a hold of me.”
“Thank you for trying,” Eddie said.
The doctor left the room and shut the door behind him.
“The nurse said that the doctor was unsure what caused the issue,” Shannon said. She looked at Buck, who just looked smug.
“The only thing I could do was look like a demon and put the fear of God in them. I picked, and since your mother was the driving force behind all of this shit, I chose to keep her alive to suffer in prison for the rest of her life. It’s a small gift, but all I could do at the time.”
“Without my father to make things happen, she’ll never get anything done. She’s used to my father catering to her on what she wants. Thank you for doing what you could. I am not sure what Chris will want when it comes to everything, but I’ll let him talk to who he wants, and Lou’s already given me a card of a good child therapist in the know.”
“Therapists in the know are a boon. I see Doctor Copeland, and it’s probably someone in her practice since she collects those who know. She also does court-ordered therapy and sessions with those who might be considered insane. Usually, it’s the stuff to do with my kind. Some can accept it, and she will open up their world. Then some can’t, and she helps them figure out it was their brain taking in signals and changing them a little due to stress or terror or whatever.” Buck shifted on the bed and little and made a face. “I need to pee.”
“I’ll take him,” Eddie said.
Shannon watched how Eddie carefully lifted up Chris and pulled him close, tears in his eyes as Chris latched onto him like he knew it was Eddie and he was safe. It broke Shannon’s heart that Eddie’s family was so fucked up. Shannon had no one else in the world from her family, and she had hoped to have a good family in Eddie’s, but there were only the ones who lived in Los Angeles.
The family Buck had named for himself seemed like a good one. Shannon had grown a little close to Daniel as well, and while she knew he wasn’t there for him, she knew that he would protect her, unlike everyone else but Eddie in her life. She just wanted to not fear family, and Eddie’s family was full of fear now. She trusted Abuela and Pepa and who they trusted. They had settled themselves in as the ones who would make sure Chris was safe.
“You okay?” Shannon asked as she waited for Buck to slip into the bathroom.
“Yes. I just worry about shit. This was family, Shan. What the hell can I do to protect him from strangers?”
“Well, I don’t think Caliban or Niskus will allow anything to ever happen to him again. I think he will have a shadow for the rest of his life.”
Eddie nodded, but he still looked afraid. Shannon felt that fear all the way down into her bones.
“We will figure things out. Even if that means moving in with Evan in his house because it’s full of shit, that will protect all of us even better.”
Eddie nodded his head.
Time healed all wounds, but there were some that took a long time to heal.
Eddie wasn’t used to coming home and finding Buck pouting on the couch. He looked like his world was ended. Eddie shook his head.
“He just wants to spend the night with his cousins up here,” Eddie said.
“Oh no, that’s not what he’s pouting about. Daniel came and took Saoirse. He’s still out for medical reasons from his last injury, and he wants to keep her for a few days to give us all a little time off. He’s kidless,” Shannon said.
Eddie looked at Shannon. She was in the hallway of the house with just a shirt on. Eddie knew that under it was nothing. She had greeted him like that a few times. Their relationship had changed, but that lust for Shannon had never come up again. They were good friends, the kind of friends he thought they maybe should have been from the start. Seeing each other naked wasn’t a big thing, and outside of the hallways and other joint areas, Buck seemed to go naked more often than not if he was in a bedroom.
“We are all kidless. No kids to worry about.”
Shannon nodded her head, and she slipped closer to where Eddie was. Buck didn’t even look over at them. Eddie slipped his shoes off, and he tugged his socks off next.
“Why are you doing that? You never take your socks off until you are going to bed.” Buck looked very, very confused until Shannon got into his lap. “Oh.”
“Yes, oh. I think Eddie and I have talked this all to death. We are in a place where we think we are ready to take this onto the next step.”
“What about what I want?”
“Are you telling me that you don’t want to be buried cock deep inside of me while Eddie’s fucking you?” Shannon asked.
“Well, there is that. I do want that. I don’t want to mess up with anything.”
“We are good,” Eddie said. He stepped up behind Shannon, his hands going onto her shoulders, looking into Buck’s eyes. “We are going back to the bedroom, and you can make a choice. If you don’t come back in ten minutes, there will be nothing, and we can try later when you are ready. Just because we are, doesn’t mean you are.”
Eddie pulled Shannon back with him as he headed toward his bedroom. Buck seemed to favor it, so they had talked about going there when it was time for them to do this.
“Are we pushing?” Shannon asked.
“No, Shan.” Eddie kissed her forehead. He pulled her into a hug. He wanted this, but he didn’t want to push Buck.
Things had been off kilter a little bit ever since Chris had been kidnapped. Buck had moved in with them, keeping his house for these things and retreating there only for a few hours every once in a while. The house was starting to feel a bit small, and Eddie knew that before Chris could move into Buck’s, the place had to be renovated a little bit. There were no stairs to a second floor, but there was a basement; Eddie knew from going there a few times that the basement was just storage and what he was pretty sure was a dungeon-like room.
“Do you think he’s still out there?”
“Or he’s watching us from the shadows. What do you think? Get naked or just crawl into bed mostly naked?”
Shannon took off her shirt and slipped into the bed. Eddie laughed a little, and he worked his jeans open. Shannon rolled onto her back and looked at Eddie, smiling. Seconds later, Eddie felt hands on his shoulders.
“Where are the condoms?” Buck asked.
“We are all clean, and you have known that since the start, and it’s not like you can spread anything to us,” Eddie said.
“Except if I’m going inside her, I want in her cunt, which means a baby. So yes, I can spread something to her.” Buck’s hands slipped under Eddie’s shirt and pulled him flush against Eddie’s body. “So, condoms?”
“And if I want another baby?” Shannon asked.
“Aren’t we a little too soon for that?”
“No, you’ve already said we are yours. You are ours, and we aren’t giving you up for nothing.”
Eddie felt Buck swallow and could feel how his hands were shaking as they got Eddie’s shirt off him.
“And if we don’t make a baby today?” Buck asked.
“Well, I guess that we keep on trying. You can practice on Eddie as well.” Shannon pushed the blankets off her body, and she spread her legs.
There was a spark of lust in Eddie, not at seeing Shannon like that but at what was coming after Buck got on the bed. It was going to be messy as fuck, but Eddie wanted it.
Buck stepped back from Eddie as he tried to get his emotions under control. Shannon was on the bed, looking like she wanted so much from him. He had felt like he had wanted to leave them at all, but to have the pair of them just openly stating they wanted more with him and enough that would keep him around. He wasn’t sure what he felt about that.
Even if they had chosen to not want him anymore, they would never be without his protections.
“You two set this up,” Buck said.
“Yes.” Shannon crooked her finger to draw him in.
Buck worked on getting his clothes off as Eddie did the same, then Eddie walked around the bed to grab the lube, and he picked up a condom and held it out to Buck. Buck shook his head. Eddie dropped it back into the drawer before shutting it. He laid the lube out where it could be grabbed before walking back around the bed and giving Buck a little shove.
Laughing, Buck climbed on the bed and got between Shannon’s legs, grinding his cock down into her a little bit. She grabbed Buck’s ears and pulled him in close to kiss him. The bed dipped behind Buck, and he felt Eddie getting up on the bed behind him.
Sure hands gripped his ass cheeks and spread them. He felt the first swipe of a wet thumb over his hole, making him shudder. He moaned into the kiss and wanted to feel more. Eddie gave it to him with a push of fingers inside of him.
“Like that?” Eddie asked.
Buck felt like his world had narrowed to just the fingers inside of him and Shannon’s lips on his as he tried to control himself. He felt like it was too much.
“Ready?” Shannon asked as she wiggled a little.
Buck’s cock brushed as her as he moved a little bit. Eddie pulled back, and he pulled Buck up with him. It wasn’t too hard to understand what Eddie wanted. Buck got himself in place to slip inside of Shannon.
The feel of Shannon’s walls gripping him as he got inside of her. It had been a long time since he had been inside a woman without a condom. Despite everything, he didn’t just run around with no condom when he was having sex. He might not be able to catch something, but he didn’t just want kids all around without knowing they were his.
Buck tried to control himself to make sure he wasn’t going to come too early. He didn’t want to end this too soon as he wanted to enjoy this for as long as he could. Buck rolled his hips and started to fuck Shannon hard, giving her all of the feeling he wanted to give her. He lost himself for a few moments before he felt a hand on his hip from behind. He stopped and pressed all the way inside of Shannon as Eddie’s fingers brushed over his hole again before he felt the head of Eddie’s cock.
Eddie was gentle as he pushed inside of Buck, but he didn’t stop.
“The look on his face, Eddie. It’s like pure happiness.”
“Yeah, he loves having something inside of him. I’ve seen him utterly unhappy when I take my fingers out of him. He would be happy with a plug in his ass all the time sometimes.”
Buck wasn’t able to refute that at all. He loved it, and he honestly did.
“Harder,” Buck finally got out.
Eddie gave it to him. He fucked him like he meant it, and he used that to fuck into Shannon at the same time. It was always good, this kind of sex, but usually, Buck was in Eddie’s place. Buck wasn’t sure as he would have to try it again, but he was sure he would love this way better than any other for a threesome.
“I’m so close, Buck. Just-”
Buck cut her off with a kiss, fucking her mouth with his tongue before he felt himself getting up on that edge she was talking about.
Shannon came first, pulling Buck right behind her. Buck couldn’t stay on his knees for too long, so he settled down on Shannon and enjoyed the feeling of Eddie inside of him. Shannon was gripping his sides as he rocked in and out of her, his cock slowly softening inside of her until a thrust of Eddie had him slipping out.
The feeling of wholeness Buck felt was unlike anything he had ever felt before.
Shannon grabbed the bottle of wine from the fridge and then the bottle of sparkling peach juice that was Chris’ favorite. She turned to look at where Buck was standing with Chris at the stove, teaching him how to cook Eddie’s favorite dish. This was the kind of life Shannon was getting used to.
Despite loving the house she and Eddie had been living in, it did make sense to move into Buck’s. It was a little bit bigger and set up more for adding in more children, which was something they were working on. Despite Buck’s okay with going without condoms, Shannon had yet to get pregnant. She still wasn’t drinking too much as she didn’t want to harm a baby if she had one growing inside her. It was another week until her next period was supposed to start.
“How are you feeling?” Eddie asked as he came into the kitchen with a smile on his face and Saoirse’s empty bowl in his hand. She didn’t like what they were making for dinner, so Eddie had offered to feed her first.
“Good. I’m fine from the wreck. It was just a fender bender.”
“I know, but I worry. You just drinking juice again?”
“Yes. You two have fun with your wine. I know Buck’s been enjoying working through all of the flavors they have. I can just share with Chris.”
Eddie pressed a kiss to Shannon’s head and moved over to stand behind Buck, framing Buck’s hips with his hands. They looked so comfortable like that. It made Shannon happy they had found a way of being happy together, all of them.
Eddie grabbed the blanket from the back of the couch and draped it over where Buck was lying on his back and Chris on top of him. Chris was feeling a lot under the weather, and the warmth Buck put out was something he liked to cuddle with. So instead of sleeping in a bed at the moment, Chris was sleeping on Buck, who was out on the couch, because he could get comfortable with his leg up like that. Buck had been injured in a bombing that had happened on the truck, which had rocked all of their worlds.
So now Buck was staying home with Chris and Saoirse as he slowly healed up with faked doctor’s reports on his leg healing up in time to make sure he was back quickly but not nearly as quickly as he was actually healed. The leg wasn’t in a cast but in a brace, which wasn’t needed, but Buck had gotten used to wearing it around, and even when he didn’t have to, he did.
“Okay?” Shannon asked as she came out of her office just off the living room. Her at-home work was going well, and Buck had set up the room for her.
Daniel had a bedroom for himself as well, but he didn’t come over that much, too focused on his job in the SEALs to do more than call Buck every other day. Eddie had thought that Daniel hadn’t been around because of them, and he had been a little bit right, but it was because Daniel felt he didn’t need to keep an eye on Buck as much anymore.
The only blip in the building relationships between the three of them had been when Maddie had been killed by her ex-husband. He had gotten out of jail and gutted her. The manhunt for Doug Kendall was still happening, and Eddie only felt a little bad that he knew where the body was and hadn’t told anyone. No one was ever going to find it. Or where it had been dropped. At least not until a long time had passed, more of the Arctic Circle was checked, and the bones were gotten from the bottom of the ocean.
“Yeah, sorry. Just lost in my head today. How was Chris last night?”
“Good. His fever broke, but he was really cold after that. Buck’s indulgent like he always is, but I think Chris will want to go to the zoo today since we missed last weekend due to you being sick. So if you need a nap, take it now.”
“I will, but I want to cuddle with Buck. I’ve missed him at work.”
“Then you get to fight with our kids.”
“Why?” Eddie asked. He looked around for Saoirse.
“She’s in your bed. Missed you last night. Chris isn’t going to give up Buck, and Saoirse wants you. Take a nap, cuddle at the zoo.”
Eddie laughed and headed to the back of the house to find his daughter.
Buck grabbed the ax and headed toward the house before anyone could tell him what to do. He wasn’t going to lose anyone at this fire after some idiot thought it was better to save money on materials than to do something correctly.
The family was hunkered down in the room dispatch had told them, and Buck getting into there was nearly impossible. He would have died from the heat even as it was if he hadn’t been him.
“How are we going to get out?” the father asked, where he was hunkered down in the corner with his family behind him. The room had no windows, and it was the only room they had been able to get into after getting all of the kids awake.
Buck held up the ax before dropping down the bag of gear he had brought. It wasn’t on fire, but the stuff inside had to be too hot for humans to touch, so he made sure it was away from the three kids.
The first swing made Buck start to feel better about everything. He took his anger out on the wall and opened it enough to let the outside oxygen rush in. It was why he had shut the bathroom door behind him. He didn’t need that rush to take them out.
Eddie’s face was the first thing he saw as the first crack happened to give him a good look outside.
“I knew what you were doing, and Cap’s pissed, but he allowed me to come to you,” Eddie said over the radio.
Buck gave him a thumbs up.
“Mom, what about Scruffy?” the oldest kid asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Is that the black and white dog with a little bit of blue on his head?” Buck asked.
“My girlfriend has him across the street.”
“Oh, you are the firefighters that live across the street?” the dad asked.
“Save that for when we get out of here.” Buck started on the wall again after he got his breath.
Eddie nearly had the hole big enough to pass the kids through. It would be easier to work if they didn’t have to worry about the kids freaking out.
This was the kind of thing Buck lived for. Helping where he could and coming home to his family at the end of a long shift. He wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
15 thoughts on “The Monster Inside”
WOW. This was great.
What an interesting universe! And it’s nice when Shannon and Eddie get along (and sharing Buck is a bonus for everyone!)… Lovely!
Wow … just … wow. This was an awesome read. Thank you for sharing. I can’t put into words how much I enjoyed this whole story.
I cannot wait to read this again!!! I am in love with this world and this amazing Buck and this wonderful family you’ve created.
Knocked this so far outta the park!
Thanks! I had been noodling writing one of these for 9-1-1 and then someone commented on my CM one and this idea popped into my head after reading that other review.
Glad you loved it!
Oh wow, that was really hot! Also fun with the Little Spies helping!
I love this universe so much. I loved the relationships between everyone and how they formed their family. ❤ ❤ ❤
This was *amazing*! I’m kinda in awe here at the world-building. I love this version of these people. The fact that Daniel *and* Shannon were alive – and Maddie wasn’t was a lovely surprise. Buck’s entry into their lives, and the depth of their relationships was truly a pleasure to see. And who Buck is in this universe…wow. Just…wow. I *will* be reading this multiple times in the near future. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful fic.
I’m really glad you loved this that much. I had a lot of fun writing it.
Loved the story and the universe. Thank you for writing and sharing your wonderful work!
Amazing Amazing story as always! thank you so much!
Hot. DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤