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The whole single dad thing

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“He’s staring at you again Marjan” TK said softly as his crew listens to their briefing

”Probably eying up his competition - I recognised him the second he got out of his truck. That’s Evan Buckley - he doesn’t post his rescues like I do but he’s got one hell of a following regardless. He’s also the guy who got crushed under the fire truck during the truck bombing in LA. Guy’s been a firefighter for four years, before that he was a Navy SEAL for a while - general badass and I honestly am looking forward to working with him”

”So you don’t think he’s being a creep?”

”Well, he might be but I doubt it - anyway I’ve got you four to look after me if he does anything I’m not comfortable with. Not to mention I’ve got a mean right hook”

”If you’re sure Marj” Judd replied, before returning his attention to the briefing

”You tell us if he annoys you and I’ll have dad send him back to LA so fast his feet won’t touch the ground” TK said protectively.

”Thanks, but honestly I don’t think he’s going to do anything”

 

after the briefing

“Hi, Evan Buckley from the 118 nice to meet you all” Buck was over to the 126 like a shot “also, please forgive me for staring earlier but I know you and I cannot place where from and it’s driving me insane” he added, addressing Marjan directly

”Marjan Marwani - more commonly known as #Firefox”

”Thats where you’re from - I saw your rescue in Miami where you jumped off the bridge, that was impressive”

”Coming from the guy brave enough to do a rope rescue off the side of a burning building I’ll take that. Mr #thatblondfirefighter” she said, giving him a high five

”Oh God - it’s twins” Judd moaned suddenly, causing the group to descend into laughter

Just as he spoke, they all heard a commotion over at one of the tents where the incident commander was standing - and Judd went over to see what was up”

 

”We could take in the ATVs grab ‘em and get back out again - I used to go scrambling in these woods” Judd thought aloud as the IC briefed him

”You’ve just made yourself strike team leader - take Marwani, Strickland and a medic. No more than four people though, otherwise you won’t get everyone down”

”Hey, you need a medic?” Eddie asked, walking up behind them

“Yeah, you a paramedic?”

”Firefighter, but I was in the Army Medical Corps so I’d be happy to go”

”You’re in - get your bags and roll out Hollywood!” Judd ordered, sending Eddie off to the trucks where Buck and Hen were checking their kit

 

....”Just grunts with shovels Buck” Hen was saying as Eddie walked over

”You believe that Eddie” Buck demanded as his fiancé walked over “someone is abandoning us to the base hospital - looks like it’s just you and me” he added, raising his shovel

”More like just you” Eddie laughed, causing Buck’ face to fall

”Come on soldier!” Marjan shouted as she rolled up in the ATV, she added ”Sorry sailor but we were only allowed four people and you’re not a medic” she directed the last comment at Buck, who felt betrayed by Eddie volunteering himself for such a dangerous rescue without so much as considering him.

”Enjoy working your ass of all day in a boring, monotonous and manual job Buckley” Eddie teased back, laughing even more as Buck’s face fell even further - he’d make it up to him...

 

 

1 hour later at the camp site

“This your son?” Marjan asked as she scrolled through Eddie’s Instagram

”Yeah, he’s my world - his mother died a few years ago though, so I’ve been doing the whole single father thing”

”Sorry to hear that, but I’m sure he’s a credit to you”

”I try - his grandparents aren’t overly keen on my parenting, but everyone else is and Buck helps a lot. Honestly couldn’t do this all without him - best friend I’ve ever had”

”So anyway, the army Diaz? What was that like... it was always my backup plan if I didn’t pass the academy” Marjan asked flirtatiously

”I don’t know... broke the best relationship of my life - that’s for sure”

”And Buck said you had a silver star?”

”Yeah, but I don’t like talking about it - worst day of my life. Why was he talking about it?”

”We were chatting about his service and I said he was a hero and he pointed to you and said ‘see him - he’s the hero. Pulled 9 of his teammates out of a helicopter crash under fire, I just shot people’ he then said that’s why you have a silver star and he doesn’t”

”Still wish he hadn’t said that though. He has no right to tell people about that, it’s my business”

”Sorry, but honestly he was only trying to give you the respect he felt you deserved” Marjan said curtly - before returning to her phone

 

6 o’clock PM :

The team that had been on the fire line were all sitting around chatting for about an hour when the strike team came back after their first day of searching - they would be going back again the next day to find more missing people. Marjan, Mateo, Buck and TK gravitated towards each other quite naturally and began talking, whilst Eddie, Hen, Judd and Paul formed their own group. That was when Marjan unwittingly dropped a bombshell on Buck’s life...

”So how was working with Eddie?”

”It was okay - the guy’s impressive I’ll give him that. But he’s also way too grumpy for my liking”

”It eventually becomes endearing - plus he would walk through anything for his family” Buck assured “you’re in good hands”

”I know - I feel for him. Doing this job and doing it as a single father - he was telling me how lucky he felt to have your friendship”

There was a beat of silence as Buck took in the news, meanwhile TK and Mateo - who knew about Buck and Eddie’s relationship looked on in horror “he said those exact words to you? He said he was single and that I was just a friend?”

”Uhh, yeah?... oh God” Marjan exclaimed, finally working out the tension

”I’m going to bed” Buck mumbled dejectedly, before making to walk off

”Hey Buck! Where’re you going?!” Hen called, causing Eddie’s attention to snap to him

”I think I’m going to turn in - I’ve just had a bit of a bombshell dropped on me... that’s all. I’ll be okay in the morning” he replied, before scurrying off. Eddie just shrugged before returning to his conversation with Judd

”Diaz!” Majran said in a whisper shout as soon as Buck was out of earshot “you’re a fucking disgrace”

”Whoa what’s that all about?”

”You’ve just fucked up whatever relationship you had with Buck” Tk replied this time, an angry set to his face - he had been cheated on and Eddie’s actions made it look like he was trying to do the same thing to Buck.

”Ok, I seriously don’t know what I’ve done” he said angrily - but he’s been in a mood all day so I’d say he’ll sleep it off

”You told me you were single and you told me he was just a friend. When I told him how grateful you were for his friendship and help because you were a single dad - I think it broke his heart”

”Why would you say something like that! You’re painting that conversation out of context!”

”We were talking about your kid and you said you were ‘doing the whole single father thing’ before saying you couldn’t do it without Buck because he’s the best friend you’ve ever had! You even called your relationship with your ex wife the best relationship of your life! What was I meant to think!”

”You weren’t meant to say to him! I want to marry him and you’ve fucking ruined it!”

”So what, was I going to be your bit on the side or something huh? Your guilty pleasure because the man you claim you want to marry isn’t enough for you? When you lot first got here I thought he was the creep, turns out it was you”

”Please, you’ve got me all wrong!”

”Then fucking explain yourself - this had better be good” TK growled

”It’s no excuse, but I was scared you wouldn’t accept me!”

”Try harder with your lying next time Diaz - you know TK’s gay and you know Paul’s trans. Go and tell your fiancé what you were actually trying to achieve and then stay the fuck away from me when we’re not working Diaz!”

”Eddie, I honestly want to know... why?” Hen asked sadly

”I wasn’t trying to cheat! I wasn’t!”

”Then what were you trying to do?”

”I don’t know - being back in Texas... it brought back some memories from my childhood - namely how badly my parents reacted the first time they saw me kissing another boy... and I was ashamed! There you go, I was ashamed and I just couldn’t let the words roll off my tongue like I normally can! So tell me how I’m going to manage to go and tell him that, without it sounding like I don’t want to be with him?”

”Well if you don’t, he isn’t going to want to be with you so it won’t matter much - trust me, there is nothing worse than being cheated on by your fiancé... he’s going to be hurting badly and you need to make it right” TK said softly as Eddie left

”What do you think his chances are?” Marjan asked once he was out of earshot

”It’s Buck - that kid’s a glutton for emotional punishment... he’ll either forgive way faster than he should and it’ll all be over or he’ll stall and Eddie will accuse him of being selfish and world war three will start” Hen surmised

“I’m gonna be honest - that doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship” Paul was the first to speak

”I know - but they don’t normally row so this is the first time they’ve really been tested in this way”



“Hey, Buck... I’m sorry”

”For what? Trying to cheat on me, ignoring me since we arrived in Texas or for generally being a total douche this whole trip?”

”Hey, I have not been ignoring you and the cheating thing is just a misunderstanding”

”Of course, cause binary answers are so difficult - it’s not like you had many options to choose from! You had ‘in a relationship’ versus ‘not in a relationship’ and I think you’ve made your choice pretty clear!”

”Come on Buck - Marjan just misunderstood”

”So you didn’t tell her you were a single dad?”

”Uhh, I did but I didn’t mean it that way”

”What other fucking way could it be meant!”

”Buck, please calm down”

”Eddie, just go away - I don’t have time to think about the implications of this yet, so you’re going to have to give me some time and space...”

”No Buck, you’re being unreasonable”

”How?”

”Because... I said it because I was ashamed” 

“You were ashamed of me?” Buck asked, feeling as if his heart being broken into a million tiny pieces

”I’m so sorry cariño - I know what it must...”

”You’re ashamed of me? What did I do?”

”Nothing”

”Then why are you ashamed” Buck asked, but Eddie was turning to walk away “Eds, why are you ashamed of me?”

”Shut up”

”No tell me, what did I do”

”Fuck off”

“I think I deserve to know what I did Eds”

”I SAID FUCK OFF!” He screamed, finally releasing all of his rage on Buck, who just stood there taking it before calmly sliding his ring off his finger

”If that’s the way you feel - I hope you’re happy with her. Now leave me alone”

”Buck, I’m so sorry”

”Go away - we’re finished”

”Stop being so dramatic Buck”

”I don’t know why I’m never enough for people, but you’ve made your decision and I don’t want your sympathy right now”

”Fine, be that way. I’m sure I’ll find someone better anyway” Eddie snapped, deliberately weaponising his ex fiancé’s insecurities against him. He left hearing Buck’s quiet sobs and returned to where the 118 and 126 were sitting.

 

”So how did it go?”

”Well let’s just say I am now a single father for real” he stated, slamming Buck’s ring down so hard on the table that it left an indent in the wood

”Oh goodness Eddie... what did you say?”

”That I’ll probably find someone better and that he was being unreasonable - I also screamed at him to fuck off” he replied shakily

”Yeah, we heard the last bit - I think he’s better off without you anyway” TK reasoned before leaving to go to his own bed

”You’re an idiot Diaz - he had so much love for you and you ruined it. I wish someone would love me like he loved you” Mateo added, before leaving the older man to sit on his own

 

As soon as Hen and the other’s left, she immediately grabbed her phone to call Chimney and Bobby

”Hey Chim”

”Hen, it’s late - what’re you doing?”

”Its Buck and Eddie”

”Oh God, what have they done”

”Broken up”

”WHAT!?” He exclaimed, before he heard a rustling and Madrid demanding he put ‘that damn phone on speaker’ “What happened?”

”Eddie told Marjan he was single and that Buck was just a friend - she mentioned in passing how it was so good of him to help Eddie so much because being a single dad isn’t easy and it all blew up from there”

”I’m going to kill him” Maddie snarled “my brother has had his heart broken in so many ways - but this is a new low even for the scum he inevitably ends up dating”

”I don’t believe it” Chim added “I always thought they were mad about each other... guess I was wrong”

”It’s complicated - I feel sorry for both of them, but it is Eddie at fault” Hen agreed “Je claims to be suffering some serious internalised homophobia and took it out on Buck”

”That’s still not okay Hen” Maddie snarled

’Hey, did I say it was? I just think he’s gonna wake up in a couple of days and realise what an idiot he’s been, but it’s going to be too late. Anyway, I need to phone Cap - but I thought you should know first”

 

”Hey Bobby I need to tell you about something quickly”

”Hen, is everything okay?”

”Not really - Buck and Eddie have just broken up”

”Why?” He demanded, nudging Athena awake

”Eddie’s kinda been a bit of a douchebag since we crossed into Texas, but it got really bad when he told Marjan- one of the other firefighters we’re working with, who was initially kinda into him, that he was single - it got back to Buck and then Eddie tried to set it right and said all the wrong stuff - so to cut a long story short, I’m now standing here with two engagement rings - neither of which are mine in my pocket”

“I’ll kill him - I’ll kill him!” Bobby raged

”Hey don’t be saying that in front of Athena - then she’d have to arrest you cap” hen joked, trying to ease the tension

”I’ll give you my fucking gun if you want it” Athena snapped in response, and oh God, did Hen feel sorry for the response Eddie was going to get. After that she hung up the call and went to bed for a very sleepless night.

Next day:

Eddie spent the whole morning shooting glares at Buck, whilst the other man was so akin to a kicked puppy that it would’ve been funny had it not bees so sad - Eddie had clearly taken Buck past his breaking point and now he was falling into a regrettably familiar spiral of self doubt and loathing. It was truly painful to watch.

Then, the strike team set off for their ATVs and TK, Mateo and Buck went up to the fire line, allowing everything to calm down slightly once more.

Six hours later:

Eddie finally returned to base and had a chance to sit down when he saw 10 missed messages from Buck

[Evan Buckley] Be safe (delivered 11:30 am)

[Evan Buckley] Eddie are you okay? I saw the first casualties being brought down - I know we’re not good at the minute but I’m here to talk if you need it (delivered 13:15)

[Evan Buckley] I just thought you should know. They said that escharotomy you and Marjan performed saved the guy’s life - good job (Delivered 13:16)

[Evan Buckley] Eddie, they’re saying that there are two firefighters down - are you okay? (Delivered 14:00)

[Evan Buckley] Eddie, are you okay! (Delivered 14:05)

[Evan Buckley] Eddie - if you get this please respond to me (delivered 14:10)

[Evan Buckley] Answer your fucking phone Diaz! (Delivered 14:12)

[Evan Buckley] Oh my God Eddie - they’re saying Hen is one of the firefighters down. Call me, NOW (delivered 15:00)

[Evan Buckley] TK, Mateo and I just got permission to go and rescue them - please keep an eye out, they went down in your area (delivered 15:15)

[Evan Buckley] Eddie, this is TK - we’re all trapped and can’t get out please come get us I’ve turned on location sharing on Buck’s phone (delivered 16:00)

Eddie stared at his phone - the message had been sent two hours ago. He could feel the dread pooling in his gut as he ran to get help

His phone pinged one more time

[Evan Buckley] The fire’s fast approaching Eds, so if this is the end... I love you so much babe - I don’t know what I did for you to not want me, but I’m so sorry. Please tell Christopher he did nothing wrong but that his Papa just wasn’t strong enough to fight his way back home this time. If you find me there will be two videos recorded to my phone - one is for you and the other is for the 118, please make sure it makes it’s way back safely. Once again I love you so much Eds and I’m so sorry it had to end this way - trust me when I say that I wish I could grow old with you by my side. Please don’t beat yourself up about not finding me - I know you’ll have given it your all. You are the love of my life and I’m so glad I found you and that we had the time we did and I am so sorry for whatever I did wrong to make you think I wasn’t all in. - Evan.

After reading the message Eddie descended into wracked sobs - he was going to lose the man he loved because he had been too caught up with being back in his home state to give him any attention.

”MARJAN!” He screamed, causing her to run over in worry

”Diaz” she panted, running over and showing him her phone “Your friends are fine - they had a radio and called in more support. The 34th from Illinois got them”

“Fuck! I failed them Marjan”

”Hey, you couldn’t have known”

”Buck messaged me two hours ago and I ignored it... please tell me nobody’s hurt”

“They barricaded themselves into a mine shaft for safety Diaz, they’re all okay... other than Buck - they think he may have a spinal injury after a heap of rocks fell on top of him - it’s very likely that he broke his back and he apparently can’t move his legs, although that could just be bruising”

”Oh God” Eddie cried, before fainting on the spot - he had caused this with his own stupidity