“Había una vez… un principe,” Eddie murmurs, eyes closed, “que vivía en un castillo muy grande—“
“He’s me?” Chris asks, and Eddie opens his eyes to look down at him where he’s curled up under Eddie’s arm on the bed. His curly hair tickles Eddie’s neck.
Eddie smiles at him. “If you want.”
Chris nods, scooches down so he can squish his face into Eddie’s chest.
“El principe era alto y hermoso y lo mas fuerte del mundo…”
“I lived in Mexico for a while,” Buck’s saying, hands folded behind his head as he leans back in his chair, one long, lean line, “It was cool, I learned a lot.”
“Did you?” Eddie asks, dropping his mug into the sink as he passes it. Buck looks over at him, like he hadn’t realized Eddie was in the room.
“Uh, yeah,” Buck says, sits up straight and lets his arms fall to rest on the table. He twists his mouth, shrugs. “My Spanish probably isn’t as good as yours, but it’s passable.”
Eddie comes over, hands in his pockets, gait slow and predatory. “Really? Say something.”
“Anything,” Eddie shrugs, lets one corner of his mouth curl up in a way his sister always said looks sinister, “Whatever you want.”
“Uh,” Buck flounders, glances at Hen, who just looks delighted, “Como estas?”
Eddie snorts, “I think you should practice more.”
“Lo siento,” Buck says, gives Eddie his best puppy-dog eyes—which are, in fact, formidable, but they don’t hold a candle to Christopher’s so Eddie is immune, “Estoy embarazado.”
“You just told me you’re pregnant,” Eddie says, pats him on the shoulder as he heads towards the stairs.
Behind him, he hears Hen cackling, and Chimney says, “Congratulations, you’re glowing!”
Eddie’s memories of his childhood are often blurred by something that feels like sorrow.
By all accounts, he grew up happy, loved and cared for by his mother and father, surrounded by his sisters and his family. He remembers them everywhere, at Christmas and Thanksgiving and birthdays, boisterous and noisy and incomprehensible.
But no matter where he went, or who he was with, he always felt like an outsider.
“Sometimes I think I’ll always be homesick,” he remembers saying to his mother. She looked at him in the rearview mirror, uncertainty lining the skin around her eyes.
“What do you mean, my love?”
“Well,” Eddie said, “part of me lives here, and part of me lives there. When we go to Mexico, I miss here. When we’re here, I miss Mexico. Is that weird, mom? To always want to be someplace else?”
“No,” his mother told him, but Eddie thinks she wanted to say yes.
Maddie, at 25 weeks, is starting to look huge. From behind, she looks totally normal, which is why, when she turns to face Eddie with a smile, Eddie freezes.
“Wow,” he says, “you’re—uh, glowing.”
She gives him a look, her brown eyes dancing. “Thanks, Eddie.”
“When are you due, again?” He asks, hoping to distract her. Buck’s grinning behind her, looking unfair in a white button down.
“May first,” she says, “and thank god, we need an earth sign in this family.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Eddie says, looking to Buck for help. Maddie sighs.
“Baby’s parents are air and water signs,” she tells him, “our household could use a stabilizing influence.”
“Yea, that doesn’t give me anymore information.”
Buck laughs, throwing an arm around Maddie’s shoulders so he can effectively join the conversation. “Zodiac signs, Eddie.”
“Oh,” he says, “I’m an Aries, I think.”
“Figures,” Maddie rolls her eyes, “Buck and I are both water signs. I’m a Scorpio.”
“Cancer,” Buck says, and throws up a peace sign. Eddie raises an eyebrow at him.
“Do you know how to say Cancer in Spanish?” Eddie asks.
“Isn’t it just ‘cancer’?” Buck twists his mouth to affect a terrible accent. Eddie laughs.
“The disease, yes. The sign is pronounced ‘puta dramática’.”
Buck glares at him as Maddie starts laughing. “Man, I know enough to know what ‘dramática’ means.”
Eddie shrugs. “Had to shoot my shot.”
“Where’s Chimney, I’m sick of you guys,” Buck grumbles.
Eddie is seven when he gets called a gringo for the first time.
“Oye!” His cousin shouts, grabbing the game from his brother. “Guillermo, me toca a mi!”
“Pues intenta!” Guillermo gripes, “pero esta todo en inglés.”
“Nuestro gringo me ayudará,” Sergio says, “Es inglés.”
“No es ingles, tonto,” Guillermo rolls his eyes, and for the first time, Eddie realizes they’re referring to him, “Es americano.”
“No soy gringo,” Eddie says, as carefully as he can, “mi padre es Mexicano.”
“Pero tu madre no,” Guillermo tells him, and turns back to the game.
Eddie feels like throwing up for an hour after that.
It’s been long established in the Diaz household that Friday’s are for Buck. He comes over before dinner, barges through the door without so much as a knock, shouts “Hello, Diaz’!” like he’s announcing on a game show, and lets Chris tackle him in a hug before he’s taken his shoes off.
They usually get pizza and watch a movie, a ritual sown into their odd little family that refuses to be changed—despite Eddie occasionally advocating for something to break up the monotony. It doesn’t actually matter what they end up doing, as long as Buck’s there.
He always stays for Christopher’s story, sits on the floor next to the bed and leans back, closes his eyes as Eddie starts.
“Había una vez, tres ositos…”
“Había una vez, tres cerditos…”
Never once interrupts, like Chris always does, just listens to Eddie talk until Chris’ eyes slip closed and his head tips off Eddie’s shoulder and his child snores fill the room. Eddie’s voice gets soft and trails off, and Buck tilts his head up to see him extricating himself from the tangle he and Chris ended up in, stands so they can sneak out of the room and turn off the light.
“That was a good one tonight,” Buck says, and in the dark of the hallway he can’t see Eddie’s face, but he can hear the intake of breath.
“You don’t speak Spanish,” Eddie tells him, sounds like he’s affirming it to himself more than to Buck.
“No,” Buck says, reaches a careful hand out to wrap around the dip of Eddie’s waist, “but you sounded good. I love hearing you speak.”
“Don’t say that,” is the immediate reply, Eddie tensing under Buck’s hand. Buck frowns, confused.
“It’s not,” Eddie sucks in a breath, sharp and heavy at once, “my culture—my language isn’t a fetish. I don’t—I don’t want to hear that you like it when the way I speak sets me apart from my family.”
Buck feels taken aback, has to refrain from immediately negating what Eddie’s said. “Eddie, I—“
“Don’t apologize,” Buck tells him, takes a step forward so he can put his other hand on Eddie’s waist too. The darkness feels loud, suddenly. “I didn’t mean—the Spanish, Eddie, I meant—you. Your voice, how you talk—it’s so nice, it’s so soothing. You can speak whatever language you want, it all sounds good coming from you.”
“Oh,” Eddie breathes, and kisses him.
Buck lets him for a moment, takes his air directly from Eddie’s mouth, feels him down his spine and under his hands, all the way down to his toes. They part naturally, and Buck lets his forehead rest against Eddie’s.
“Hey,” Eddie murmurs, “wanna know how to say ‘love of my life’ in Spanish?”
Buck grins, eyes still closed against the darkness. “Sure.”
“Hijo de puta.”