He doesn’t like Ana, and he hates himself for it. Eddie’s happy, Chris while still unsure he’s still the best damn kid Buck has ever known, and deals with her presence with a smile. Buck is honestly trying though, he comes to dinner when asked, sits next to Chris, and tries not to cringe when Ana speaks. There’s something about her that sets his teeth on edge, and feeling deep in his gut that doesn’t want him trusting this woman. She’s pleasant enough he supposes if a little stiff around the edges.
He catches her sometimes shooting him odd looks like she doesn’t want Buck there as much as he doesn’t want her to be seated next to Eddie.
That’s his damn spot and he hates she’s in it.
His feeling for her has nothing to do with him being in love with his best friend. It’s something he tells himself every day.
He puts Chris to bed when it’s clear he’s had his fill of Ana, he reads stories and helps soothe his favorite kid. Buck made a promise to Chris all those weeks ago that he would always be there and he’s not going to let his dislike for Eddie’s girlfriend make him break that. After gently shutting Chris’s door to keep Ana’s prying eyes out he heads to the kitchen. He sees her lurking sometimes while he puts Chris to bed, watching him with a calculated look he can’t quite understand. Though he doesn’t honestly try too hard to figure it out, whatever her problem is with him she can get the fuck over it. He isn’t going anywhere and it’s best she learns that now.
Like most nights when he has dinner with Eddie he helps clean after the meal, he helped make the mess so he helps clean after. Bucks in the process of filling the dishwasher when Eddie steps up beside him to give him a hand, as they bump shoulders Buck takes a moment to let his eyes fall to Eddie’s healed shoulder. It’s been weeks but Buck can still see the blood gushing there some days.
Ana’s puttering around behind him, wiping down the table he had already cleaned distracts him from the vision of Eddie bleeding out. It aggravates him that she’s going back over his work but he keeps his mouth shut nonetheless. No need to cause waves, if Eddie is happy then Buck is happy.
“You’ve been quiet lately Buck,” Eddie says, rinsing a plate and passing it to Buck to place on the bottom rack. “How are things with Taylor?”
Buck frowns glancing towards Eddie as he does so. “Nothing is going on with Taylor?”
It’s Eddie’s turn to frown now. “Aren’t you two dating?”
Eddie stops rinsing plates to turn more towards Buck. “Didn’t you have a date a few nights ago? That’s why you missed movies night right?”
“I did have a date.” Only because he didn’t want to have a movie night with fucking Ana Flores. “But not with Taylor.”
“Okay…” Eddie says, clearly waiting for Buck to elaborate.
Buck sighs, taking the cup that’s hanging in Eddie’s hand. “His name was Simon, and it didn’t go well.”
Out of the corner of his eye Buck, see’s Ana frown at him, but he doesn’t have time to worry about why because Eddie is sputtering next to him.
“What the hell Buck!? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You’ve been busy.” With Ana , Buck thinks bitterly. “Plus it was honestly one of the worst dates I’ve ever been on. The guy was a total prick to the wait staff at the restaurant and spent the whole time talking about himself. He got a call halfway through dinner from some guy looking to get laid and bailed leaving me with the whole check.” Buck sighs. “His drinks alone were sixty dollars.”
Eddie is still frowning towards him, and Buck loves the attention so he can’t complain too much about it. Eddie gets a little wrinkle in between his eyes when he’s worried and Buck has to stop himself from reaching out to smooth it away. He can feel Ana watching them, but again he ignores her, Eddie was his first.
When the hell did he become so petty?
“I always have time for you Buck, you know I will drop anything I’m doing to be there for you.” Buck can’t help the lovesick smile that graces his face, and it only gets bigger when he hears Ana stomp out of the room. Eddie doesn’t seem to notice, and if Buck was a better person he would point out he was ignoring his girlfriend. He’s not a better person though, Eddie was the love of his life and he wants all the attention he can get.
“I know,” Buck whispers, turning back to the dishes to hide his blush.
“So, not to sound like a dick but since when do you date guys!?”
“Don’t you think Buck spends too much time here?”
The fork full of pasta that Eddie was seconds from biting into stops inches from his mouth as he registers Ana’s words. He blinks towards her, trying to figure out how the hell to answer that without losing his temper.
“No, why are you asking that?” His tone is sharper than he intends it to be he realizes when she flinches back slightly. He hasn’t used that voice with her since the skateboard incident, and he knows his voice can be jarring when he’s pissed. The thought makes him feel guilty instantly thinking about the devastated look on Buck's face as he screamed at him in that damn grocery store.
“I’m just a bit concerned is all,” Ana says after a moment, taking a sip of her wine. Eddie drops his fork and wipes at his mouth to give himself a moment to think. He doesn’t understand where her question is coming from.
“What is it you’re concerned about exactly?” Why is it any of your business , he wants to ask but he doesn’t. He’s not looking to start an argument, they haven’t had one yet and he’s been trying to avoid it.
Ana sighs, “He seems to come and go as he pleases. I understood after the shooting because he was helping you and Christopher, but your better now and he’s still here most nights.”
Eddie narrows his eyes, trying to keep his anger in check. “Buck is always welcome here Ana, no matter the time or if he had been here all week prior.”
Ana frowns at this, clearly not pleased by his answer but she doesn’t get the chance to say anything more as the front door opens and Buck stumbles in as if summoned. He’s still in his uniform, his curls are a mess and Eddie can smell the smoke from here. He quickly shoves away from the table to get to Buck who trips over his own feet. He catches him before he can crash to the floor his arms going around Buck's sweat-soaked chest.
“Jesus Buck, are you okay?” Eddie’s fingers itch to call Bobby and ask what the fuck happened on tonight’s shift to have Buck in this state.
“Eddie.” His name is slurred as Buck drops his face into the curve of Eddie’s neck, going almost boneless against him.
“Okay,” Eddie says, getting a better grip on Buck, lifting him a little to get his feet back under him properly. He frowns, concerned about how easy that was, had Buck lost weight?
“Are you hurt?” Eddie asks, walking Buck towards the couch and gently sitting him down on the soft cushions. He starts taking stock of Buck as soon as he pulls back only once he’s sure Buck is steady. While his best friend clearly hadn’t showered after his shift, and he’s covered in soot and god knows what else he doesn’t see any blood.
“Head.” Buck mumbles, trying to lean forward and bury his face back into Eddie’s neck. Concerned about a concussion Eddie slides his fingers through Buck’s sweat-soaked curls. He can’t feel any knots or lacerations which is good, but he’s still worried.
“Did you hit your head, Buck?” If he had gotten hurt at work surely someone would have called him, at the very least the hospital would. He was one of Buck’s emergency contacts after all. There was no way Bobby would have let him skip out of a trip to the ER if he was hurt. Though knowing Buck he could have kept it to himself and slinked away from work to keep anyone from noticing.
“Migraine.” Whispers Buck once again trying to burrow into Eddie’s neck. Which okay, a migraine he can handle, it wasn’t his first rodeo with Buck’s migraines and he’s sure it won’t be his last.
“Did you drive like this?” Because if he had Eddie was going to chew his ass out once he feels better.
“Uber.” Buck grunts, finally making his way back to the space between Eddie’s neck and shoulder. He whines as he tries to cling closer but Eddie is currently sitting on his coffee table and Buck is teetering on the edge of his couch.
“Edmundo?” The sharp sound of Ana’s voice makes Buck flinch and whimper against Eddie’s skin, he shoots her a withering look as he soothes Buck.
“How about a hot bath?” Eddie asks quietly, knowing Buck is sensitive to sounds when his head was hurting like this. Lights bothered him too, which is why Buck had been so desperate to crawl into Eddie’s skin.
“Please,” Buck whispers. “Gross.”
“Okay Carino, I gotcha.” Eddie covers Buck’s eyes with the soft blanket on the back of the couch and eases him back against the couch and hurries towards his bathroom as quietly as he could. He starts by filling the bath, dimming the lights by unscrewing a few around the mirror. He leaves his bedroom light off but turns on his closet light to give him enough light to help Buck into the bathroom without tripping. He’s digging through his dresser drawers to find something for Buck to wear when Ana lets herself into his room.
“Edmundo, what are you doing?” She sounds frustrated, and it’s honestly the first time Eddie has ever heard her voice do that, but he doesn’t have time for whatever it is she wants. He knows he’s being a bit rude but she could see he’s busy at the moment.
“Getting everything ready for Buck.” What the fuck did it look like he was doing, shoveling fucking snow?
“Are, are you seriously going to bathe a grown man?”
“It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve seen him naked.” And boy was it a sight to behold, Buck was stunning and that’s probably not an appropriate thought to have about his best friend. But come on, he has eyes and it’s hard to miss how beautiful Buck was.
“Excuse me?!” Ana gasps out, looking downright scandalized by the prospect of Eddie seeing Buck naked.
“You’re excused?” Eddie blinks at her momentarily before finding the sweats he was looking for and the softest shirt he owned. He keeps them at the bottom of his drawer with a drier sheet folded in them just for occasions like this.
“Is that appropriate?!” She hisses, towards him as he stands to place the clothes on the corner of his bed. He moves towards his nightstand, pulling out the bottom drawer to grab the locked medical box he has tucked in there. He unlocks it with the code and pulls out the two pill bottles tucked inside and places them on the side table for later use.
“Edmundo, I’m speaking to you!”
“Jesus Ana, what do you want to hear?! I work in a firehouse, I’ve seen a good amount of my co-workers naked at some point.” Though more times than not it was an accident they had to move fast when a call comes in and they couldn’t be worried about modesty as they rushed to dress. It was probably best not to tell her most of the times he’s seen Buck naked it wasn’t by accident.
“But why do you have to bathe him?!”
Getting fed up Eddie stomps back towards his bathroom and shuts off the taps. He places a few drops of lavender oil in the water that Buck likes to soak in when he’s not feeling well. Ana once again looks appalled and it’s honestly pissing him off.
“Look I don’t have time to explain this to you and I honestly don’t think I need to. Buck and I take care of each other and if that means I need to help him get clean when he has a blinding headache I will.”
“Eddie, Eddie.” Bucks urgent calls have Eddie sprinting past Ana and back towards the living where he finds Buck sitting up once more, head between his knees as he gags.
“Whoa, Buck!” Sweeping up the small wastebasket he keeps in the corner he shoves it under Buck's head in the nick of time. Buck vomits with such force his face goes bright red in seconds, there’s not much there but his stomach doesn’t seem to care as he dry heaves. Buck’s sobbing once he’s done, grabbing at his head as it no doubts screams in agony with the force of his throwing up.
Buck had tried to explain the pain to him one night, but the only thing he could compare it to was a ladder truck crushing his leg. It had made both of them cringe so they never spoke about it again.
“It’s okay, It’s okay,” Eddie says, running his hand down Bucks back. His clothes still cling to him and he knows from personal experience how uncomfortable that was. He lets Buck spit a few more times before he sits the trashcan aside and helps Buck stumble to his feet. They’ve done this dance many times before, Eddie behind Buck one arm wrapped around his waist to keep him steady while his other covers Buck's eyes. They move as one, though Buck’s steps are sluggish and uncoordinated and Eddie swears Buck is lighter than the last time they have done this.
Ana is sitting at the end of his bed as they walk in, arms crossed and with an annoyed look on her face. If she’s waiting for Eddie to stop and give her the time to bitch she’s sadly mistaken. Eddie’s only concern right this moment is Buck. He closes the bathroom door in her face when she goes to follow them inside.
“Okay Carino, you know the drill.” Buck grunts as Eddie sits him on the closed toilet seat. Buck is pliant in Eddie's hands twisting where Eddie directs him. It’s not until he has Bucks shirt completely off does he realize he was right. Buck had lost weight, quite a bit and while he wants to deal with that too, Buck is currently in pain so it can wait. He knows Buck has a hard time eating when he’s stressed and these last couple of months has been hell on everyone. So he’ll just have to watch and make sure Buck is eating properly. He can rope Bobby and everyone else into making sure Buck is properly fed come Monday.
If there was one thing the 118 and their extended family did, it was making sure everyone was taken care of. Especially Buck.
Getting his pants off is just as easy as his shirt, it helps that Eddie can deadlift nearly three hundred pounds. He thanks his military training for that and all the PT and workouts he has been doing since the shooting that has kept him able-bodied. He debates if he should simply help Buck into the bath or if he should place him in there himself. By the way, Buck is swaying in place Eddie doesn’t trust his balance so he goes with option two. A few months back lifting Buck like a child would have been a bit of a struggle, but after the significant amount of weight he had lost and the muscle, Eddie has put on it’s almost too easy to place Buck in the tub.
Buck whines at the heat for a moment before he goes limp, it’s only his hand on the back of Buck’s head that keeps the blonde from braining himself. There’s a tub pillow under his sink and it’s a bit of a bitch to reach while supporting Buck but Eddie gets it after a few moments and slips it behind Buck's back and head.
The bathroom is almost too dark with the door closed but no way in hell was he going to let Ana see Buck in such a vulnerable state, so he deals with the limited light as he gets Buck clean. As he gently washes Buck's hair he can’t be more grateful Chris was at Hen’s for the night. With a pissed-off Ana possibly still in his bedroom and Buck clearly in distress, he’s glad his kid wasn’t around to see what is possibly going to be a spectacular argument once Eddie has Buck comfortable and asleep.
Getting Buck out of the bath is always the hardest part, the hot water does magic on his tense muscles which means he’s always a bit more boneless after. Boneless and wet makes for a slippery Buck to handle, coupled with the blinding pain and his clear exhaustion it was going to be a bitch and a half to get him out of the tub. He leaves Buck relaxing in the bath only long enough to get the clothes he left on the bed. Normally he would dry Buck off and dress him in the room but with the possibility of Ana still hovering around, he can’t risk it.
He has to keep from sneering at her as he slips out of the bathroom. She seated on his bed once more, glaring at him as he makes his way to the end of his bed and snatching the clothes up.
“Maybe it would be better if you went home?” He says it as gently as he possibly can but by the outraged look on her face, he didn’t hit the mark.
“Are you serious right now?” Ana asks, jaw-dropping as she quickly stands. The pretty floral skirt she is wearing sways with the movement and knocks the bottle of Buck’s meds off his nightstand. Eddie’s eyes follow the orange bottle as it rolls under the bed.
“Yes, I’m going to be busy with Buck for the rest of the night.” I don’t need you here getting in my way . He wants to say but he doesn’t, while her early question pissed him off and her clear attitude right now isn’t helping he still doesn’t want to be outright dismissive of her.
“You’re going to kick out your girlfriend, to deal with your co-worker? Doesn’t he have his own family to deal with all that?” She waves her hand absently towards his bathroom where Buck is laying in his tub behind the closed door.
“I’m his family.” Eddie hisses teeth bared before he could stop himself, “I think it’s time you left Ana, let me know you got home safely.” He turns on his heels and stomps back towards his bathroom. He’s in there for only a moment before he hears the front door slam closed.
By the time Eddie gets Buck dressed, medicated, and in his bed, it’s been over thirty minutes. He slips out of his room as quietly as possible and makes his way down the hall to the kitchen. His phone is still sitting on the counter where he left it and he quickly sweeps it up. He hates having to call Bobby so late but he needs to, so he finds his contact information and his the call button.
“Eddie, what’s wrong?” Bobby’s concerned voice soothes his rattled nerves in seconds, the anger he had been feeling simmers down and he can take a much-needed breath.
“Hey, Bobby,” Eddie says with a sigh, leaning against his countertop. “Was tonight’s shift bad?”
Bobby sighs himself. “Yes, there was a five-alarm fire two hours before the shift ended, we were there for four. Lost a few people that we weren’t able to get to in time.”
Eddie hisses, hating that he hadn’t been on shift tonight to help.
“You’re probably going to have to pull Buck from his shift tomorrow,” Eddie says, taking in his half-eaten dinner and filthy kitchen. He’ll have to clean that up, too.
“Why, what’s wrong with Buck?” The concern is heavier now in Bobby’s voice, it always is when something is wrong with Evan “Buck” Buckley.
“He came stumbling in about an hour and a half ago, filthy and trying to crawl into my neck.”
“Damn, migraine?” Asks Bobby, he too has dealt with Buck’s excruciating migraines. The need to hide from light should have given Eddie a clue but he had panicked instead of seeing the obvious signs.
“Yep, worst one he’s had in a while. He’s thrown up once, has only been talking in one-word intervals and his sensitivity to light and sound is dialed up to a twenty.”
“Okay, I’ll pull Jenkins in, he’s had the last few days off. Take care of Buck, I’ll try to stop by tomorrow with some soup.”
Eddie smiles. “I’m sure he’ll like that, he gets a bit fussy about food when he’s like this.”
“Don’t I know it, take care Eddie and call me if you or Buck need anything.”
By the time Eddie has the kitchen cleaned and the wastebasket that Buck threw up in washed out he’s exhausted himself. He locks up and sets the alarm before making his way back to his room with a few water bottles and a six-pack of hand warmers. He learned early on that some of the pain from Bucks migraines could be dealt with by a warm towel over his eyes. A heating pad is too much but those small heat packs you drop into your pockets on cold days work like magic in a soft cloth and draped over Buck's eyes. He didn’t always need them, but Eddie liked to be prepared.
After kicking off his pants and pulling on a soft pair of sweats for himself Eddie drops the water and other supplies on his nightstand before crawling into bed. He’s damn tired, and he knows at some point later tomorrow he’ll have to deal with Ana so he needs as much sleep as he can get.
It doesn’t take long for Buck to realize, even in his sleep that Eddie is beside him because in seconds of him getting comfortable Buck is in motion. He curls his six-one frame across Eddie's chest and whines softly before relaxing once more as he drifts back to sleep. He’s sure they are a sight to behold, but there isn’t anywhere else Eddie wants to be, and he’s honestly too damn tired to question that.
Ana smooth’s out her dress for the fourth time, her nerves are getting the best of her. After that disaster of a date, Edmundo and her had two weeks ago they haven’t had a moment to get together again. Sure they have spoken over the phone and video chat but they have been too busy to get together.
So in the hopes of seeing Edmundo, she was picking up pastries and hoping to surprise him at work. While she hasn’t met any more of his co-workers besides Buck, she was sure she could get their approval with a nice sweet treat. She was still confused about the strange dynamic between Edmundo and Buck and honestly a part of it made her uncomfortable. Surely someone besides her thought it odd how close those two seemed to be?
He gave his male friend a bath, which was asinine, what two grown men bathed each other? Has Buck done that for Edmundo? Did he help him bathe after he got shot? If he needed help he had to have known he could have asked her, they were dating after all. She’s only seen her boyfriend shirtless briefly and that was only because he was getting his bandages changed by a nurse! They’ve been dating for six months and his best friend has seen more of her boyfriend than her.
Shaking off her frustration she takes the box of pastries as soon as her name is called. While she still wasn’t comfortable with Buck and Edmundo’s relationship she had to tread carefully. She had already questioned his presents in the Diaz family's life once and that had not turned out well for her.
The drive to the station is one of the most nerve-racking things she has done recently. She hadn’t been before and as she gets closer she’s suddenly worried she might show up and they would be on a call. It wasn’t as if they had a particular schedule, which was the main problem recently. Ana had wanted to spend time with Edmundo but calls kept running over and by the time he had been done with work he was too exhausted to entertain her.
She’s in luck she realizes as she finds a suitable spot to park in, it’s close enough to the open bay where she can easily get the food into Edmundo without worrying about dropping them. She can see the fire trucks and the ambulances, so that could only mean everyone was in right?
Taking a deep breath to calm herself she climbs out of her car and fetches the dessert from the back seat and makes her way inside. There’s no one downstairs to greet her as far as she could tell, though there were some people in what looks to be a gym working out. None of them were Edmundo though so she followed her ears. There’s the sound of cutlery on a cutting board from the loft above the bay so she makes her way up there and hopes she’ll find her boyfriend.
“Hi, can I help you?” A tall pretty dark-skinned woman greets her as soon as she gets to what looks like a kitchen and lounge area. A few men were sitting at the table, drinking coffee and reading while an older-looking gentleman was stationed behind the island prepping breakfast. Ana sure that is Edmundo’s captain which she had only seen in passing while he was in the hospital. While Edmundo had been there for about two weeks she hadn’t ever ran into any more of his co-workers there beside Buck.
Ana steps forward with a smile, a white box of pastries secure in her hands. She’s seconds away from asking where she can find Edmundo when she sees him. Or better yet when she sees them. She’s so shocked she fumbles with the box in her hands and it’s only a dark hand coming up to catch them that keeps the muffins from dropping to the floor.
She blinks hard, trying to figure out if she is seeing this correctly because surely her boyfriend isn’t laid out on a couch at work with Buck laying on top of him. The woman in front of her follows her pointed look and smiles.
“My name Hen, is there something I can help you with ma’am?”
“I’m Ana, Edmundo’s girlfriend.” Hen frowns slightly but then she smiles again as she shots the two men laying on the couch a look.
“Let me get Eddie for you, he’s not asleep despite what it looks like.” It looks quite improper to Ana but she doesn’t voice that out loud. She’s trying to make a good impression and the others mingling around seem to think what’s happening on that couch is normal. She’ll try to bring it up with Edmundo at a later date, preferably when they were alone. If his co-workers won’t question their relationship, she will.
Ana watches, trying to keep the frown off her face as Hen moves towards the men and kneels beside the couch. Her voice is pitched low, but Ana can still hear her over the near silence in the station.
“Eddie, Ana is here to see you.” Whispers Hen, eyes glancing towards Buck worriedly as if she’s concerned she will disturb him. Ana is trying hard to keep her face neutral, but shouldn’t Buck be up and acting professionally? He was at work and there he was laying on top of her boyfriend obviously sleeping even though it was eight A.M and his co-workers were up.
Edmundo blinks his eyes open at Hen’s words frowning towards Buck as he moves around slightly. Ana has to bit back a surprised shout when Edmundo’s tanned hand comes up to rub at Buck’s back soothingly when he whines quietly at her boyfriends' movements. The sad little sound makes everyone in the loft tense up and look towards the pair till Buck seems to settle under the gentle pets Edmundo was fluttering over his back.
“Hand me the weighted blanket will you?” Edmundo asks Hen quietly pointing towards a deep blue blanket tossed over the end of the couch. Hen moves and what looks like a practiced move she lays the blanket over Buck gently as Edmundo slowly slides out from under him. The 118 crew seem to hold their breath as Buck settles back on the couch. There’s a collective sigh when the man stays asleep which has Ana frowning once more.
“Ana, what are you doing here?” Edmundo asks as he makes his way towards her, and honestly, she was hoping for a better greeting than that. She came all this way to see him and that was the best he could do?
“We kept missing each other, so I wanted to surprise you with some muffins.” She smiles as she holds up the box with a flourish.
“Oh, thank you. You didn’t need to do that.” Edmundo says with a smile as he takes the box, and Ana starts to relax because that was the reaction she was looking for. Edmundo had the nicest smile that enhanced his handsome face. It was every girl's wet dream if Ana was honest with herself.
“I hope I got enough for everyone.” Say’s Ana following her boyfriend towards the table. The rest of the 118 minus Buck came towards the table in a hopeful rush as Edmundo placed the box on the smooth surface. Ana was warmed by their enthusiasm, which was what she was hoping for when she put this plan in motion. If she got the rest of Edmundo’s co-workers to like her it wouldn’t matter if Buck didn’t care for her, as she was positive the man didn’t want her around. If everyone else liked her, he would be the one to look foolish.
She was smitten about her job well done for all but a minute. The box lid was tossed open and hands were happily reaching for the muffins before Edmundo hits an Asian’s hand away with a loud smack.
“Shit Eddie, what the hell?” The man Han, according to his name tag shakes his hand out as he looks towards Edmundo in outrage.
“Don’t touch those,” Edmundo says quickly, pointing towards another man who is already holding one of the baked goods. “Throw that away and wash your hand now.”
Ana frown, “Why does he need to throw it away?” She glanced down at the muffins unsure of the problem. They looked quite good to her, she had planned on eating one with them.
“There blueberry,” Edmundo says, jerking his hand towards the other firefighter again as he snaps the box closed. The man holding a muffin widens his eyes as he hissed at the baked good like an angry cat before quickly tossing it in the trash and rushing towards the sink.
“Damn, they looked so good too,” Han says pouting down at the box.
“Edmundo, what’s wrong with them?” Ana demands to know, she spent money on those dammit and one has already been wasted.
“Buck’s allergic to blueberries,” Edmundo says glaring down at the box like they personally offended him.
Of course, it had to do with Buck, everything was always about Buck.
“Okay, so he obviously can’t eat them but what does that have to do with anyone else enjoying them?” Ana didn’t understand why one man's food allergy had to affect everyone in the station. Surely he was smart enough not to eat them?
“We can’t risk it,” Edmundo says, as he sweeps the box back up in his hands and passes it back to Ana. She fumbles with it as he rushes towards the sink and yanks open the bottom cabinet. He hurries back with a container of Clorox wipes and scrubbed down the table where the box had been sitting and the few crumbs that had fallen out when the one and only muffin had been removed.
“Aren’t you being a bit dramatic?” Ana asks as kindly as she could, she didn’t understand why Edmundo or his co-workers were behaving this way. Han had even gotten out a steam mop and was cleaning the floors for god sake!
“Definitely not,” Hen says having come back from washing her hands, which is ridiculous she hadn’t even touched one but the rest of the crew were lined up to clean their hands as well. “My son Denny stop by one day after school where he was given a blueberry granola bar as a snack before pick up. He ate it before he got here but he still had residue on his hands. He hugged Buck and his whole face swelled. So now we don’t allow blueberries in the station or our homes.”
These people seriously banned food from their own homes because one man they knew was allergic to them?
“I’m sorry Ana.” Edmundo says as he dries off his hands, “It was a nice thought at least.”
It had been a great thought, and somehow Buck still ruined it. Again .
As if the man knew people were already agonizing over him Buck makes some pathetic whimpering noise from his spot on the couch. He sits up slightly, patting the couch under himself, and when he doesn’t find what he’s looking for Buck whines again glancing around the room almost frantically.
“Eddie?” Buck cries out jerking around to look towards the captain. “Bobby, Bobby, where’s Eddie?”
Edmundo is already on the move, rushing back towards the man currently panicking on the couch while his Captain tries to soothe him. It seems to do little good as Buck tries to push himself up on all fours but the weighted blanket seems to give him some pause.
“Eddie?!” Buck shouts, his eyes are unfocused and he’s clearly not even awake but he’s aware enough to know Edmundo was no longer with him.
Ana glares as her boyfriend practically flies over the back of the couch to get to Buck. She watches stunned as he sits Buck up enough to drop back onto the couch and under the man. Buck flops back down on top of Edmundo as soon as he realizes the man is there. He humming contently now the previous panic forgotten while rubbing his face against Edmundo’s chest and closing his eyes. Everyone around her is smiling at the pair, and Ana suddenly feels invisible because everyone goes about their business like she wasn’t still standing here.
Edmundo’s Captain seems to be the only one to care she’s been abandoned. “Thank you for the muffins even if we couldn’t enjoy them.”
Ana frowns down towards the box. “Maybe I could try another time?” she glances at his name tag since no one apparently knows how to introduce themselves in this station besides Hen.
Captain Nash smiles at her kindly enough but he’s already shaking his head. “It’s best to avoid bring us food, there’s a lot of food allergies we have to avoid with Buck.”
This confuses Ana, “We had takeout a few weeks ago when Buck joined us for dinner?” Surely if Buck had food allergies that severe Edmundo wouldn’t have suggested it when Ana had offered to make dinner instead.
Captain Nash smiles again, but this time it’s bigger, dare she say tender. “Eddie has a list of restaurants that is safe for Buck to eat at when they order take-out, they know them by name and know what to keep away from their meals.”
It bothers her that Edmundo can put so much effort into such things for Buck but he couldn’t even stick around long enough to spend a few moments with her before she has to go to work. It’s, even more, dishearten after she’s gone through all the trouble of getting them treats and seeing him.
He doesn’t even wish her a good day when she finally gives up on spending time with him and leaves.
He apologizes later in the evening when she video calls. She wants to be upset but he looks genuinely apologetic so she forgives him. She can’t blame Edmundo for Buck being so clingy.
Ana is beyond confident that tonight’s date is going to go off without a hitch. For one Edmundo had agreed to come to her house for dinner, and if he was here there was no possible way Buck could spoil their night by barging in. There was the bonus he was on shift tonight and with him, at work, she didn’t have to worry about him calling Edmundo for some reason and taking his focus off her.
She’s trying rather hard to be accommodating towards Edmundo’s co-worker but it’s getting harder to do with each passing day. He’s always there, be it coming into Edmundo’s house without knocking while they were trying to have dinner. Sending him odd texts throughout the night, calling, or face-timing. On the off chance, he isn’t doing one of those many things Chris is gushing over something his Bucky had done, which pulls Edmundo into the conversation. That in turn ends with a whole night of both of the Diaz boys talking fondly about him all night long.
Just when she thinks they ran out of stories about Buck, he does something or says something and a new story follows.
Don’t get her wrong, she has friends of her own she talks about on occasion, but it’s nothing like Edmundo does. To make matters worse, he refuses to meet any of her friends, no matter how many times she tries to invite him out with them to dinner, or wine tasting the man never wants to go. He always has some excuse, the restaurant isn’t to his liking, and since they have reservations they can’t cancel. He doesn’t like wine so he skips out on that, and okay she can understand that one but she had talked her friends into going to the beer tasting a the brewery and he still hadn’t joined them.
She knew he wasn’t the most social man she had ever been with, but a part of her doesn’t feel like he’s putting in the effort. They’ve been seeing each other for almost seven months now, wasn’t it time he wanted to meet her friends?
She shakes off her worries for the moment to straighten out the table clothe and light a few candles around the dining room. She has mood lighting, a roasted duck with potatoes, carrots, and celery in the oven, and nice classical music playing quietly in the background. Edmundo’s favorite beer is chilling and the wine was breathing. Everything looked perfect and smelled amazing.
She even had on her best black dress that was form-fitting and accentuated her body quite nicely if she said so herself. She even went out and bought a new set of lingerie in cherry red with fine lace embroidery. She had even pulled out a taller pair of heels for tonight. If everything ran smoothly they could finally get past just kissing and have sex. Ana thought she had been putting out signals to let him know she was ready, but maybe he just hadn’t noticed.
Her doorbell rings forty minutes later than they agreed on and dinner was now more than likely cold but she has to remind herself that Edmundo has a son and something with Christopher could have delayed him.
“Edmundo hi!” Ana greets smiling at her handsome boyfriend as she pulls the door open for him. He looks so handsome in a deep navy button-down and nice jeans that do amazing things to his thick thighs and well-formed backside.
“Hey,” Edmundo says in reply, bending a bit at the waist to kiss her on the corner of the mouth as he makes his way inside. She tries chasing after his mouth for a better kiss but he has already moved away and headed towards the kitchen.
“It smells amazing.” He says with a kind smile, eyes falling towards the roasted duck she has set up in a nice presentation in the center of the table.
“Thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Maybe I should pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes, I wasn’t expecting your delay getting here.”
Edmundo gives her an apologetic look. “I’m sorry about that, I dropped Buck off at the station earlier because his Jeep is in the shop and I forgot my phone there when I left so I had to go back for it.”
“Oh, why didn’t he take an Uber?” She asks, turning her back to him so she wouldn’t see her glare as she pops the duck back into the oven. He’s been here for no more than two minutes and he’s already talking about Buck.
“There was no point in him paying for an Uber when my truck works perfectly fine. He stayed over last night so it was logical for me to take him, he saved a fortune I’m sure. LA traffic ranks up the pricing for anyone unfortunate enough to be in an Uber if you get stuck in it. The station is only about fifteen minutes from my house and it took me an hour to get there once because of the gridlock. I can’t imagine how much that would cost in a taxi or what have you.”
“That makes sense.” Ana agrees turning back towards Edmundo when she’s sure she had schooled her features. While he had mentioned Buck briefly, the rest of the topic at hand was a safe territory with no Buck.
“How was your day, you had a graveyard shift last night didn’t you?” Inquires Ana making herself a glass of wine and getting Edmundo a chilled beer. She misses his disappointed frown when he sees the label as she wipes up a bit of wine she spilled.
“It was fine, nothing too wild which I’m more than grateful for. It meant I got to get some sleep throughout the night.”
“You normally don’t work the graveyard shift unless it’s a 24 hour.” Ana wonders aloud, her eyes track to the timer above her stove for a brief moment.
“Oh, Michaels form B-shift was sick and they needed someone to fill in, and since Chris is spending the next few days at my Abuela’s I decided to take the extra shift while I could.”
“You’ve been taken a lot of extra shifts lately, is everything alright?” While she knew firefighters didn’t get paid a fortune she knew they get paid fairly well compared to most jobs. She also knew that sometimes things popped up and Edmundo needed the extra money. She would offer to help but she didn’t think he would take too kindly to her offering him money.
“Everything’s great actually, I have some vacation time coming up and I wanted to get away from the city a bit.”
Ana smiles, “That’s wonderful Edmundo, what do you have in mind?” Maybe if the timing was right she could tag along. She had never stayed overnight with him before and she would like to finally have him to herself for a few days with nothing to get in her way.
“We’re going to Lake Texoma, Buck found this amazing Bungalow we can rent for the week right on the lake. My parents and Sisters are going to spend a day or so with us. Chris wanted to see his Tia’s and while my parents and I don’t get along that well we could use a family get-together.”
Ana is saved by the bell when her oven timer goes off as soon as the words she wants to say bubble up. She smiles, though she doubts it looks convincing as she makes haste to get the duck out of the oven. The time pulling the bird out gives her a moment to compose herself, because why?! Why was Edmundo planning a family vacation and Buck was included and not her!?
Evan Buckley was just a co-worker and friend!
She was the girlfriend dammit!
“Man I’m telling you, Eddie, just get the damn coffee maker,” Buck says with an exaggerated sigh as he shoves the box towards Edmundo with a grin. “I promise it’s not going to cause world domination, it has literally one purpose and that’s to make damn good coffee.”
Ana stands off to the side, eyeing the two men because how did hers and Edmundo’s date shopping wind up with Buck tagging along? She doesn’t even know how it happened, she had shown up to the Diaz household early this morning hoping to spend their shared Saturday off with her boyfriend. Since she knew Christopher was having a sleepover at Hen’s house so it was the perfect time to go out and about with Edmundo without having to worry about Christopher getting tired.
Only she had shown up to his place and Buck was answering the door! He was sleep rumpled and glaring at her as he scratched at his neck. He had not been happy seeing her there and she shared the sentiment. He was always there, in conversation, during dinners he somehow always interrupted by showing up unannounced. It has happened so many times now she’s starting to wonder if it is deliberate.
Was Buck trying to ruin their relationship, because if that was the case two could play that game?
“It has Hildy built in Buck, that thing is not coming into my house so it can spy on me!” Edmundo’s frantic words have Buck throwing back his head to laugh, she hates that it makes her boyfriend smile in return so tenderly.
“Eddie,” Buck says softly stepping into Edmundo’s space a soft look in his eyes that makes Ana hiss because there was no reason for him to look at her boyfriend like that! “Do you trust me, Eddie?”
“Always.” Edmundo breathes in reply looking into Buck’s eyes, and wasn’t their body language and words too intimate for this conversation!
“Then get the damn coffee maker, I would not and never will try to talk you into anything that was a threat to you. I’ve read all the reviews on this one, I’ve done my research, Hildy’s only purpose in this model is recognizing voice commands, remembering different coffee preferences, and calling emergency services. That’s one of the reasons I want you to get this one honestly. While it’s a little odd for a coffee maker, let's say you are alone and you trip hitting your head on the way down and can’t get up for some reason she can call 9-1-1 for you with one small command. She doesn’t even have a camera, I triple-checked!”
Ana can’t really place the look on Edmundo’s face but it makes her nauseous seeing it directed at Buck. She’s positive by this point that she hates the man, and while it might be childish she wants Edmundo to herself. It was time to have that conversation with him about spending less time with Buck, she’s positive Edmundo will understand.
They working up to falling in love after all.
Eddie groans as he pulls his front door open, and he knows he should feel bad about that seeing as Ana looks so happy to see him, but he’s exhausted. He knows he told her he had a 24-hour shift yesterday so for her to show up at his house at 9 am on a Sunday when he wants to be sleeping is grating on his nerves.
He’s still polite though so he plasters on the best smile he can muster. “Ana, hi.”
She grins, holding up a cup holder with two coffees in it and what looks like a bag of pastries. He tries not to grimace at them, he’s not much for sweets first thing in the morning and he’s positive he told her that but he notices she has a bad tendency not to listen to a damn thing he says. He’s trying real hard to make this relationship work, and for the past seven months, he feels like he’s put in a good effort.
He accommodates her every time she feels like she needs to spend time with him. She shows up unannounced like now, and on more than one occasion she has shown up for dinner when he had plans with Buck. Then she has the gall to glare at Buck when he shows up like he was the uninvited guest. For a bit, he thought it was just a coincidence when she would appear and ask for a dinner date but a part of him is now realizing she only does it on days she knows Buck is going to be here. And days were he’s dog tired and he fears he won’t be able to rein in his temper. Athena and Bobby had Chris for the day so he could sleep in and he told Ana that and yet here she is, on his damn doorstep.
“I was wondering if you wanted to spend the day together?” Ana asks sweetly pushing past Eddie to get into the house as if he had invited her in. He hadn’t but she obviously didn’t care about that.
“Ana, no offense it’s sweet you want to spend today together but I’m tired and all I want to do is go back to bed.” Eddie’s sure he says this nice enough but she still gives him an unimpressed look as she drops the coffee and food on his table.
“You can’t spare at least an hour? We haven’t had time to spend together lately.” Ana says sadly with a pout, and those types of looks don’t really sway Eddie. Not unless it was Chris or Buck and even Buck’s pout wins out over Chris’s more times than not. And that’s strange right? His best friend's adorable face shouldn’t sway him more than his sons, but it does and he can’t place why.
And what’s this shit about not spending time together lately, because she’s always there, always coming around and popping up at the station. The first time it had been sweet but after she showed up ten days in a row it had become frustrating. Bobby had noticed he was becoming aggravated and started heading her off before she even stepped foot into the building, always some excuse on his tongue at the ready.
“No.” Eddie snaps, and he feels guilty when she jerks back but he’s so damn tired. “I’ve been asleep for no more than an hour Ana. I told you yesterday I had a 24-hour shift, I just got off work and the last thing I want to do is spend time awake trying to have a conversation with anyone.”
“I bet if Buck showed up you would give him the time.” Ana snaps back, and now Eddie isn’t even guilty if she was going to lose her temper too. He probably shouldn’t mention Buck is in his room sleeping in the bed either. It hasn’t escaped his notice she wasn’t overly fond of Buck and that truly baffles Eddie because Buck was one of the best people he had ever met.
“Buck’s sleeping because he was on a 24-hour shift to Ana,” Eddie growls out. “Please I don’t want to do this right now, I have Tuesday off, maybe we can go get lunch.”
God, Eddie really wishes he was back on vacation with Buck and Chris right now. That had been one of the most peaceful weeks he had in a while. Fuck his parents didn’t even stop to try to rip into him, they were so smitten with Buck they had been on their best behavior. That man was forever going to be the buffer between him and his parents.
“Do I really mean so little to you that you feel it's okay to spend such little time with me?” Ana asks, dark eyes filling with tears, and please God, he’s too tired to deal with her crying.
“I saw you approximately eleven times this week Ana, eleven and there are only seven days in a week. I’ve seen you plenty, we have dinner, we go on dates, and walk the park. Fuck I even sat through that boring play with you for six hours two weeks ago. What more do you want from me?”
“You thought they play was boring?” Ana asks softly, looking hurt by the comment but who could blame him. He liked action and explosions and fuck he liked Disney and those had ten times the amount of drama the play she took him to had. He basically sat for six hours watching a cast of twenty talk softly to one another, he only stayed awake because the chairs had been so damn uncomfortable. Which was probably by design if all their plays were that bad.
“I’m sorry, but yes, plays are really not my thing and we can discuss this later because I really need to get some sleep before I have to pick up Chris.”
Ana huffs, “Nothing I like is ever your thing. That is your excuse for everything!”
“Ana, go now!” Eddie screams before he could stop himself, he watches as she jumps at the sudden shout, but this time he can’t feel guilty. He’s tired and he had already asked her to leave several times and she’s too busy trying to pick a damn fight to do as he asks.
The sound of heavy footfalls coming from his room makes him curse as Buck comes stumbling out of the door. He’s sleep rumpled and stumbling but there’s a frantic look in his eyes after clearly waking from Eddie’s shouting. He’s also shirtless and the sweats he is wearing are hanging low on his hips and he looks absolutely breathtaking.
“Eddie,” Buck mutters moving towards him with worried eyes. “Are you okay?”
“Oh my god,” Ana whispers quickly glancing towards the two of them. And Eddie really doesn’t know what she’s thinking about and he honestly can’t seem to find it in himself to care at the moment because….
Holy shit he’s in love with his best friend.
“I’m okay Buck, go back to sleep it was just a small misunderstanding.” Eddie watches amused more than anything as Buck, sweet, kind to everyone Evan Buckley sneers towards Ana before turning on his heels and stumbling away as he mutters something more than likely not so friendly under his breath. He turns to address Ana once more to find her and her coffee gone. Sighing because now he has to break up with her, but at least right this moment he can get some damn sleep.
“So today is the big day,” Hen says with a sly smile as she slides into the seat next to Eddie a cup of steaming coffee in her hands, she sits a second cup down for him. He smiles his thanks as he takes a small sip.
“You are getting too much pleasure out of me breaking up with my girlfriend,” Eddie grumbles hotly, glaring towards the woman. Hen grins back at him and he isn’t surprised because she is evil he decides.
“Come on Eddie, you have been complaining about her for weeks now. While I understand you wanted to try to make it work but from what you’ve been saying she is far from the person for you.”
Eddie sighs into his coffee, nonetheless, she has a damn point. Since that damn argument at his front door and Ana fleeing the house as fast as possible he hadn’t been about to meet up with her to break up till today. She had some teacher's class she had to take and work had been so hectic lately today was the first time they could get together. He supposes he could have broken up with her over the phone but that was such a shitty thing to do.
She really was a wonderful woman and on paper, she would make a wonderful long-term partner. Having said that he was in love with Buck and he wasn’t about to string Ana along. Even if that wasn’t the case it’s clear she would never approve of the relationship Buck and Eddie had and that does not work for him at all.
“I’m pretty sure she hates him,” Eddie says looking down towards the firetruck where Buck is currently scrubbing them clean.
“Wait, wait, wait. You never said anything about her hating Buck.” Hen says slapping at his arm. “What the hell Eddie, what’s the rule!?” She hisses at him.
Eddie rolls his eyes at her, but he smiles all the same. “No one is welcome in this station who doesn’t love Evan Buckley.”
“Damn right!” Chim chimes in raising his own coffee in salute to the rule. “Not to mention if Bobby found out it would trigger angry papa bear mode and we don’t need that.”
They all cringe at that because it's true. While he was still on light duty after being shot Bobby had to pull in a few extra hands. Adam Hights from station 110 was here for a week before Bobby caught wind he was bullying Buck and all hell had broken loose. They had all been sitting down relaxing in between calls when Bobby had starting screaming obscenities Eddie wasn’t even aware Bobby could speak. They had followed the sound to find Buck with a busted lip and shirt wrinkled around the collar hiding behind the door to the storage closet.
And Bobby fucking Nash was dragging Adam out of the station in a headlock, yelling the whole way till he dumped the man by his truck and told him in many, many words to get the fuck out of his station.
Bobby had hovered for weeks, and Buck had glowed under all the attention.
“If Bobby found out about what?” Chim flinched, turning slowly in his seat to glance back at Bobby who was looking down at him with a concerned frown.
“Hey Cap!” Crips Chim, voice unnaturally high.
“Howard,” Bobby growled in warning.
“Eddie’s girlfriend hates Buck!” Chim folds like a wet towel under Bobby’s glare and Eddie sinks down into his seat as soon as those hard blue eyes find their way towards him. He offers Bobby a sheepish smile but it fixes nothing, papa bear mode was now at the forefront and there was no escaping it.
“I’m breaking up with her in an hour,” Eddie promises.
Bobby smiles but there is still an edge to it that scares Eddie. “Good, I was trying to be polite but I did not like how she looked at him the first time she showed up at the station. Or any of the times, to be honest, she has too much judgment behind those pretty dark eyes.”
Buck coming skipping up the stairs in the next moment pulling Bobby’s hard eyes away from him and sighs as he relaxes. In seconds Bobby goes from angry to loving as Buck asks sweetly if Bobby could help him make lunch. The pair mosey off towards the kitchen shoulder to shoulder Buck beaming the whole way.
“You just got so damn lucky,” Chim whispers, pointing an accusing finger towards Eddie. His phone pinging distracts him from replying and he groans when he sees who it is.
“She’s at the café early.” Eddie bitches, “We aren’t suppose to meet for another forty-five minutes.”
Hen grimaces, “Maybe go early?”
“Might as well,” Eddie answers with another tired sigh, he hated breaking up with people. “Bobby change in plans, you mind if I run out a little early? I’ll be at the Café down the road you can grab me if you need to.”
“Sure thing Eddie, deal with it now.” The or else gets left unsaid but Eddie hears it loud and clear.
It’s a five-minute walk to the café from the station and that’s why Eddie had picked it for their meeting. He didn’t want to have to waste time driving and he hated not watching Buck’s back during calls. On the off chance, a call did come in someone could grab his turnout gear and fetch him on the way.
Ana is already seated at a table with two coffees when he gets there. She’s in a very lovely floral dress and while it does look fantastic on her he had never been particular about her style. She was always dressed to the nines and that put pressure on Eddie to dress accordingly.
“Edmundo, hi.” Ana greets with a warm smile and a soft kiss on his lips, he tries to dodge it but she chases and he relents so he could hurry and sit down and get this over with.
“I’ve missed you.” She says softly like she forgot all about their massive fight the last time they have seen each other.
He sighs, and the noise makes Ana’s easy smile fall away she suddenly look weary and a few employees cleaning the tables catch his eye.
“Edmundo?” Ana chided softly, frowning at him.
“It’s Eddie.” He says in answer, he had corrected her for the first few weeks but had given up at some point.
“I’m sorry?” Countered Ana tilting her head to the side in confusion.
“My name is Eddie, I hate Edmundo.”
“Oh,” Ana glances around a moment before taking a sip of her coffee, no doubt giving herself a moment to collect her thoughts. “How are you?”
“I’m sorry.” Answers Eddie frowning, he forgot how hard it was to do this.
“Edm… Eddie, what are you sorry for?” She inquired after a moment's hesitation.
“I think it’s best we end this.” He says quietly, trying not to draw too much attention to them, the last thing he wants to do is cause a scene. A lot of the crew like to come here for coffee he would hate to make the owner dislike them.
“Y-you’re serious?” Ana gasps, “Edm… Eddie, we had a small disagreement, that’s no reason to break up.”
“It’s not just about that Ana.” Eddie berates, “There are many reasons and they have been piling up and I just can’t do this anymore.” Plus he thinks, I’m in love with Buck.
“What are you talking about?” Ana demands, “What’s been piling up, everything has been great besides Buck always ruining date night!”
Eddie glares before he can stop himself. “Ana, it wasn’t Buck interrupting date nights. It was you, every time I had plans with him you would show up unannounced and crashed our dinners or movie nights. Every time I told you we had plans with Chris or just us alone hanging out you would show up. Most of our date nights were simply you inviting yourself over without asking.”
Ana gasps again, almost too dramatically if you asked Eddie. “What about all the times he called while we had dinner, or when you came over!”
“Those calls were so Chris could tell me goodnight Ana.” Eddie scolds her.
“Eddie, please don’t do this. It’s bad enough he took my spot while you planned your vacation but now you’re breaking up with me. Did he put you up to this?”
Eddie blinks slowly, because what the hell was she talking about? “Ana, you never had a spot on my vacation. I was going to see my family and were nowhere near introductions to family.”
“You brought Buck thought!” Cries Ana, her frown turning angry. “Why did he get to go see your family, and I hadn’t even been offered to meet them.”
“One, Buck has met my sisters, and two, I have known Buck for years, Ana.”
There are tears streaming down her face at this point, and Eddie was getting uncomfortable with the few stares they were getting but most of them were looking at him in sympathy so that was a relief at least. Some were clearly just enjoying their coffee and a free show.
“This is all Bucks fault.” Ana hisses out. “He never liked me, he was jealous because you were with me instead of him. That’s why he tried so hard to ruin everything.”
“Jesus Ana,” Eddie says with a frustrated sigh. “Do you hear yourself, Buck did absolutely nothing but act as he has for years.”
“I bet he faked that migraine to get you to take care of him.” Ana remarks with an ill-tempered snort. “And whatever that pathetic act he put up when I brought you muffins to the station.
Eddies ears are ringing, and for one small moment, he thinks it the stations' bell, but it is not. It’s red hot rage, because how dare she. How dare she sit there and imply Buck would fake being Ill or PTSD nightmares that keep him up so long some nights he can’t sleep unless Eddie is with him.
He’s angry, angrier than he has ever been in a long time and he thanks whatever god is up there that he is still in therapy because he wants to hit something. He wants to rage and scream, but he works on the calming technique Frank had taught him for moments just like this.
“You have no idea what he has suffered through, what he has to put a brave face on for. You who is nothing but a footnote in my life do not get to sit there and say those nasty things about the kindest man I have ever met. We are done Ana, I wanted to be civil about this, I generally thought you were a wonderful woman that just wasn’t right for me. But you’re not, those nasty comments just showed me who you truly are and I think it’s disgusting.” He growls lowly, there’s a threat to his voice he can’t control and it has Ana’s eyes widening in what he hopes in fear.
He hates himself for that thought but he can’t get over what she had the balls to accuse Buck of. For years he has watched Buck suffer through those migraines and for fucking months he has held Buck as he wakes with a scream. Begging for Eddie, terrified he had failed to get to him. He has watched his best friend agonize over his nightmare, and stress himself out to the point he lost fucking weight. And here Ana was, tearing into Buck with ill-placed words and lies.
He would be damned before he let anyone get away with that.
“Are you okay Eddie?” Buck asks softly a few hours later during some more downtime before calls. Bucks practically in his lap and Eddie loves how tactical he is because sometimes Eddie wants to be close without having to ask for it. Not that Buck has ever made him ask for a hug or gentle touch, he’s always happy to share his warmth and love with the people he cares about.
“I’m fine.” He says in answer, as he relaxes into the couch. Buck is quick to follow leaning into him and placing his head on Eddie’s shoulder.
“I thought you really liked Ana?” Why is it just now Eddie is realizing how bitter Buck sounds saying those words. He says her name like it’s a curse and it makes Eddie smile despite himself.
“I think I liked the idea of her,” Eddie explains, his fingers coming up to play with the curls at the base of Buck’s neck without conscious thought. “She was everything my parents would love for me to have in a partner. She is well educated, cultured, and always put together.”
“Stiff, boring, too critical,” Buck adds with a soft laugh.
Critical, that was putting it mildly Eddie thinks, recalling the terrible things she said about Buck a few hours before. He’s still angry but in the grand scheme of things he’s also relieved he had broken up with her now before she was able to say those things to Buck. If that would have happened she wouldn’t just have Eddie coming down on her but all of the 118, Maddie, Athena, and everyone else that was in their circle. The list goes on and that makes Eddie smile because thank god Buck had so many people to love him.
His parents had done a shit job and it may have taken twenty-eight years but he finally had the love and support he deserved.
“Well, we don’t have to worry about her anymore,” Eddie says around a yawn, closing his eyes and resting more against Buck.
“I’m glad.” Eddie hears Buck whisper against his chest. “She was taking what was mine.”
Eddie blinks his eyes back open, looking down towards Buck with shocked eyes but the man is already asleep. Snoring lightly against Eddie’s chest with a soft smile on his face. Eddie glances around, catching Hen’s eyes who is grinning towards the pair of them.
“Did he just say that?” Whispers Eddie not wanting to wake Buck.
“Of course he did you, idiot, Buck’s been in love with you forever we have all just been waiting for you to catch up.” Hen’s grin goes soft as she looks at Buck. “Don’t hurt him, Eddie, I’d hate to have to kill you. I made an oath to save people after all.”
“Noted,” Eddie says with a gulp.
“Oh my god,” Buck says around a gag. “Fucking… oh my god.”
Laughter feels the firetruck as they pull back into the bay, Eddie can even hear Bobby trying to smother the sound behind his hands in the front seat.
“Eddie, oh my god!” Buck cries, hands hovering around his face.
“Were almost parked, Buck,” Eddie says, head hanging out the window to gets some much-needed fresh air. Chim and Hen are shoving at each other to get a place in front of the other window and shove their heads out.
“There’s throw up in my hair Eddie!” Buck shouts like they don’t already know that. “There’s throw up in my hair, on my face, inside my shirt! Some of it got in my mouth! It’s not even mine!”
Buck gags again, eyes watering as he stops himself from vomiting himself. Their last call had been wild, to say the least, and while it had been amusing up to a point drunk frat boys were a pain in the ass to handle.
Case in point, Buck was currently covered in some poor saps vomit and having a conniption. Moreover, while they needed a strong stomach to do this job, that much vomit which smelled like pure alcohol and rotted hot dogs would fuck with anyone. Plus it got in his mouth, and Eddie gags just thinking about it.
Buck, books it out of the truck as soon as it stops making a B-line to the showers and Jenkins is hoofing it right beside him. While he isn’t quite covered like Buck, he had been in spraying distance. Which lead to him spending a good duration of the rescue dry heaving as he tried to help them pull frat boys out of the slats in the staircase. He never did figure out what the hell they were trying to do. Eddie could honestly say he had never had to pull grown men out of stairs before, children sure but not guys Eddies and Bucks size.
Eddie is glaring down towards his phone at the table when Hen and chimney drop down on each side of him with tired sighs.
“What’s got your eyebrows in a twist,” Hen says, poking the flesh between his brows. He knows he gets a bit of a wrinkle there when he’s thinking too hard, people had mentioned it in passing. Buck liked to stare at it though, fingers twitching to soothe it away. He never did, and now Eddie knew it was because Buck was worried if he did that he would want to kiss it as well.
It was silly and adorable and Eddie loved that Buck could share those thoughts with him now. If he ever ran into Ana again he would at least thank her for helping pull his head out of his ass.
“I want to take Buck on a date,” Eddie says, swiping through his phone.
“You’ve been on several dates haven’t you?” Chim asks.
“Sure we have, but I want to do something new with him. Our dates have been us going to our favorite restaurants and that doesn’t feel different from what we use to do. Well besides the fact I can kiss him now of course.”
Hen hums. “How about dancing?”
Eddie shakes his head no. “Buck hasn’t been doing so well with large crowded room like that since the shooting. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell he’s still not comfortable.”
“How have you been doing with everything?” Hen asks, “I know we focus on Buck but you do know if you're having problems you can come to us as well right?”
Eddie smiles, “I’m actually fine, I guess my years in the military helped me compartmentalize better than most people. Plus it wasn’t the first time I’ve been shot, even as unexpected as it was I have had worse.”
“Excuse me?” A gruff voice calls from the top of the stairs, making Eddie, Chim, and Hen glance up towards the man juggling a box.
“Can we help you?” Eddie asks, standing up from the table.
“I have a coffee order for Jenkins?” The man says, glancing down at a sheet of paper he has on the top of the box.
“Oh, nice!” Chim cheers, moving from his spot to hurry to the man and take the box. “He must have ordered it on the way back!”
“Thank you,” Hen says, pulls out a few crumpled bills from her pocket and tipping the man. The guy smiles around a grunt before making his way back down the stairs and out of the building.
“Sometimes I love Uber eats.” Chim says, “But I wish they wouldn’t have used tape over the lids.”
Hen rolls her eyes, peaking into the box. “He went all out, they even have our names on them!” With a grin she grabs her cup and Eddie’s passing it towards him.
Popping the tape off the lid he takes a cautious sip, he sighs happily when it’s the right drink. God, he loved that café.
“Ooo, coffee!” Buck cripes with a grin and a hop in his step as he climbs the stairs. He looks better now, in the scenes he wasn’t covered in vomit.
“Here you go, Buckaroo!” Hen says handing Buck his cup, the others slowly make their way to the box. Clearly smelling the amazing goodness that was Lila's coffee, even Bobby wanders out of the office to grab his cup. Eddie settles on the couch, cup against his chest when Buck flops down beside him hands empty. This gives Eddie pause because Buck liked to savior his coffee.
“Did you finish yours already?”
Buck makes a face blinking hard. “No, I tried but something must have been soured in mine. It didn’t taste all that pleasant.”
“Do you want me to order you another one?” Eddie asks, sipping at his own drink.
“N-no,” Buck says with a stutter before he clears his throat. “No, I’m okay.”
Eddie leans forward, disposing his cup on the table in front of him before turning towards Buck. With narrowed eyes he takes his boyfriend in, he couldn’t spot anything wrong but the hair on the back of his neck was standing on end and it’s making him anxious.
Buck clears his throat again, shifting on the couch so he could slide to the edge of the cushion.
“Hey who ordered coffee?” Jenkins asks, with a please hum as he makes it to the loft. Eddie jerks around to look at the man, as he grabs his own cup and takes a sniff at it. “This is even my normal order.”
“You ordered the coffee,” Chim says slowly, his cup that was at his lips drops down as he eyes Jenkins.
“I didn’t order coffee?” Jenkins says, glancing down at his cup. “Who said I ordered coffee?”
“The delivery guy,” Hen says, sitting her cup down on the table to eye it wearily.
“Did anyone order coffee?” Bobby asks voice booming voice asks as he looks around at everyone and sure it’s probably silly to get so worked up over a coffee order but they had been drugged once before and Eddie did not want a repeat of that. Buck wheezes behind him, and at first Eddie thinks nothing of it he’s so focused on watching everyone shaking their heads no. He doesn’t take notice of Buck till his hands are pawing at Eddie’s back.
“E-Eddie.” Stutters Buck as he yanks on Eddie’s shirt roughly. Eddie turns, a question on the tip of his tongue till he gets a look at Buck. Buck who’s lips are blue, his eyes glazed over and his breath coming in fast pants.
“W-wrong.” He struggles to say, and Eddie is already opening his hands to catch Buck as his eyes roll in the back of his head as he topples over.
“Bobby!” Eddie screams, lowering Buck to the floor and onto his side as he promptly vomits a fountain of coffee he just drank and the water he likes to drink after a call. He can hear the sound of Bobby’s boots slapping against the floor as he sprints across the room, the table beside Buck and Eddie roughly shoved across the floor as Bobby makes room to land beside them.
Chim and Hen are shouting at one another as they rush towards the ambulance to get their bags no doubt while Jenkins is demanding to know if anyone else feels sick.
“Someone get an oxygen tank now!” Bobby commands, knees sliding in Bucks vomit without a care in the world as he shoves his fingers in Buck's mouth to clear his airway.
Bucks wheezing, and his eyes are moving rapidly as he pries his lids open and shines his penlight to check his pupils.
“Pupils are fixed,” Eddie says with a curse, as Bobby shoves his fingers against Bucks pulse point.
“His hearts racing,” Bobby says, voice filled with forced control. “Skin is clammy and cool to the touch.”
“It’s not an allergic reaction,” Eddie says, scanning every part of Buck. “There’s no swelling or rash present.”
“Drugs?” Bobby wonders aloud, voice cracking.
Eddie shrugs because he doesn’t know, he could guess drugs but a guess isn’t what they needed. Marks appears over Bobby’s shoulder while Eddie silently panics because Buck was fine twenty minutes ago. He was fine!
“Fuck!” He shouts, jerking back as Buck starts convulsing, body jerking unnaturally against the cool hardwood floor. “Hen, Chim, he’s seizing!”
“Move Diaz!” Hen shouts shoving Eddie out of the way while Chim strong-arms his way past Bobby. They talk with one another rapid-fire, hands hovering around Buck but not touching. No matter how bad everyone wants to reach out and soothe away the seizure.
“We can’t give him anything,” Hen says in frustration, glancing towards Jenkins who’s standing close by with his eyes on his watch. “How long?”
“That’s one minute too long for my liking.” Bits Hen, “Someone get the rig ready! Eddie get the gurney now.”
Eddie doesn’t want to leave because Buck is still seizing and it’s clear he’s having trouble breathing by the awful sound his lungs are making. He doesn’t understand what’s happening, he doesn’t know who would want to drug Buck or any of them. Was anyone else even drugged? No one else is having a reaction like Buck.
“Now Eddie!” Shouts Hen, shoving him lightly, it’s the push he needs. He stumbles to his feet and books in down the stairs and towards the rig. Hands help him pull the gurney out of the back of the ambulance and he doesn’t know who till he sees Marks out of the corner of his eye.
“We can’t risk giving him anything.” Chim is saying as Eddie and Marks stops beside them. “We can push fluids to help, but we can’t risk giving him anything else until we know what’s causing this.”
Buck isn’t seizing anymore and for that Eddie is grateful, but his chest is pumping up and down with the force of his struggling to breathe. He’s too pale and his fingernails are as blue as his lips. Eddie stands back as Bobby and Chim slide the board under Buck and strap him in before he moves to help lift Buck onto the waiting gurney.
“Someone call dispatch and take up offline.” Bobby commands, “Jenkins get the police down here now, tell them were taking Buck to the hospital.” Bobby glances around the room for a moment. “Is anyone else feeling sick, anything at all!?”
A chorus of no’s filled the air as they whisk Buck away.
Stomping her way through the ER doors, Athena bypasses the front desk and huffs it down the hall towards the private waiting room. Her heart is pounding in her chest, a mixture of worry for her boy and fury that someone has gone out of their way to hurt him.
She has never understood people or their cruel ways and no matter how long she has been a cop she didn’t think she ever would. Some people were just nasty human beings and there was nothing anyone could do about it but pray they were caught.
Athena hears Maddie crying before she sees hers, curled up and tucked under Chim’s arm their daughter in Albert’s lap. Eddie is pacing the room, face set in a murderous glare that would worry her if she didn’t already know he wouldn’t step foot out of this hospital until Buck was with him.
She had been waiting for years for those two to get together and now that they finally were someone had to come into their lives and try to take Buck away. She wouldn’t stand for it, and as soon as she has got an update on her Buck and takes statements she was going to hunt them down.
“Bobby,” Athena calls’ making her way to her husband that looks haunted as he does angry. She doesn’t blame him of course, Buck might as well be Bobby’s kid and he was now in the hospital once again. How many times did their boy have to suffer before the universe gave him a break?
“Athena.” Bobby’s voice breaks, but he clears his throat as he folds her into his arms. She hugs him as hard as she can, showing silent support for her husband.
“Any word on Buck?”
Bobby shudders. “The doctor just came and talked to us, they got the labs back.” She watches heartbroken as her husband's lips wobble. “He had an almost lethal dose of Diazepam in his system, they are treating him now and they said he should be okay but the tremors may last for a few weeks. He’s going to be so upset to be out of work again.”
“We’ll get him through it, Bobby,” Athena promises, “Tell me what you know?”
Bobby shakes his head. “We got a coffee delivery by an Uber driver, said it was for Jenkins. We didn’t ask before we started drinking it. Buck told Eddie he thought something spoiled in his. When Jenkins got out of the shower he asked who ordered coffee.”
Athena’s eyes fall towards the firefighter in question, leaning against the wall besides Hen, a worried frown on his face.
“Did anyone get the delivery guy's name?”
“No, but the coffee was from the café down by the station all the staff there know our orders.”
Athena nods. “Okay, I’m going to head over there and talk to them, you keep me updated on our boy.”
Bobby gives her a sweet kiss. “Find them, Athena.”
She smiles viciously. “You know I will.”
No one hurts any one of her kids.
She turns on her lights to get to the café, not wanting to be stalled by LA traffic, she even calls for backup when she’s two minutes out. While she would love to handle this herself Buck was family to her and she needed someone else from the department there with her to recount all she does. While she wouldn’t act as she did with May’s bullies she isn’t going to pull her punches either.
They could have lost Buck and she was positive no one would survive that.
Officer Lynch pulls up behind her five minutes after her, climbing out of his car and making his way towards her. She had already given him a heads up on what she was doing and he was ready to follow her lead, for which she was grateful.
The petite girl behind the counter frowns at them as they make their way inside, eyes falling onto the flashing lights above their cars. She looks worried, but not in the way that would say she did something wrong, more along the lines of what could have happened to have two cops stomping into the establishment.
“Can I help you, officers?” She asks sweetly, teeth between her lips as she worries them.
“I hope you can honey,” Athena says, pulling out a notebook from her pocket. “You got an order about two hours ago for the 118, under the name Jenkins.”
The woman frowns clearly confused. “Yes ma’am I got an order for the 118, but it wasn’t for Jenkins, a woman came in and placed the order.”
It was Athena’s turn to frown. “The Uber driver said it was for Jenkins.”
“We have got only one Uber order today, two coffees and two scones for Mrs. Wilten at the dry cleaners.”
“Can you describe the woman to us?” Athena asks, looking toward Lynch with a frown.
“She was of average height, dark hair, was in a loose flannel shirt and jeans. Said her name was Amy and she was a new recruit at the station. She even ordered herself a chai tea with honey and a dash of cinnamon. I tried to talk her out of the cinnamon because Buck is allergic and it tends to linger but she said she would wash up before she saw him.”
“Can we see your security footage?” Lynch asks, eyeing the cameras around the small café.
“I’m so sorry, but someone smashed our router two days ago and no one has come out to fix it yet. Our system runs on Wifi and since it’s down our cameras are useless.”
How convenient, Athena thinks. “One last question, did you happen to put tape over the lids of the cups?”
“No ma’am, I just wrote their names on their cups. I see the first responders at the 118 so often I know all their orders by heart. Eddie and Buck come in here the most to pick up the order, can I ask if everything is okay?”
“I can’t say at the moment because it’s an active investigation, but I’m sure once everything settles you will hear about it.”
“Did I do something wrong?” Lila asks, “Should I have not given that woman the order?”
“No honey, you did nothing wrong. You had no way of knowing she wasn’t someone new at the 118.” Athena reassures her.
“I’ll call Buck or someone next time if I don’t know who is placing an order.”
Athena smiles. “If that makes you more comfortable. We have to be going now, thank you for your help.”
Athena sighs as soon as she goes outside, she was hoping this would be the only stop she would have to make. Which was wishful thinking on her part, but she wanted to get back to the hospital not spend her time chasing shadows.
“The deli across the street has cameras too, ones pointed right to the front door of the Café,” Lynch says. “Let’s go see if we can look at theirs.”
An older black gentleman smiles warmly at them as soon as they walk in. “Sargent Grant, welcome!”
The warm greeting gives Athena pause. “Do I know you?”
“Well I suppose not, but your son Buck gushes about you all the time when he comes to see me.” The man says, his smile is tender as he says Buck’s name. It also warms something in Athena that he is referring to her as Bucks mother. She has met Buck’s actual mother and the woman left a lot to be desired, how she had a son as kind and loving as Buck was beyond Athena.
“How can I help you today?” The man asks, Athena peaks down at his name tag the warn stitching reads out Rai.
“I was wondering if I could look at your security footage, someone busted the cameras across the street and I need to know who was in there earlier to pick up an order for the 118.”
Rai’s easy smile falls away, his eyes going hard. “Has something happened to Buck?”
Athena narrows her eyes, “Why do you assume something happened to Buck?”
“That poor boy,” Rai says with a frown. “Has the worst luck don’t you think, it’s only fair to assume something has happened. My next guess would have been Eddie, what with the well and the shooting but my first guess will always be Buck.”
This makes Athena smile because he isn’t wrong. If something was going to go wrong with the crew it was going to be Buck ninety-eight percent of the time.
“I can’t go into details but I will say yes, which is why I need to see those cameras.”
“Right this way,” Rai says waving them forward towards a door behind the register. “That boy, he needs twenty-four hours watching if you ask me. That’s why I like it when he comes in here to see me, I know he’s okay when I can watch him.”
“Do you see him often?” Athena asks, stepping up beside Rai as he boots up the screen to his computer and starts clicking away.
“Yes, about four times a week. Sometimes it’s for a quick snack, sometimes just to chat but he comes every Thursday to help with the food deliveries. I’m old you see and my back isn’t much like it was when I was your age, he insists on doing the lifting for me.”
Of course, he does, Athena thinks because her boy was sweet and always quick to lend a helping hand. That includes keeping an old lonely man company it seems.
“I ain’t got much family left, and Buck has the best stories to tell. It’s how I knew you, he’s slipped up a few times and called you mom. Always sounds so fond too, plus it's mighty fun watching him blush about his Eddie.”
“That it is.” Athena agrees, bending at the waist to look at the computer. “Can you pull up the data for noon?” The coffee got dropped off at 1:25 and since it was still hot when it got to the station noon was as far as she thought she needed to go back.
“Yes, right away,” Rai says clicking some more. “Never would know how to use this thing if Buck didn’t teach me, probably wouldn’t have it without him either. Not much good with this stuff, but he insisted I have a security system. It even has a quick response emergency button I wear around my neck, that boy basically demanded I get it, always worried about me falling.”
Athena listens to the man ramble, waiting patiently as he flicks through the logs.
“He found me on the floor once and had a fit. Showed up a week after I was able to open back up with a man from the security company following behind him. Ah, here you go.”
Rai moves away and stops talking as Athena hits play and watches the people come and go from the café. The first dozen people don’t fit the description at all, in suits and dresses. A few runners stop in, a mother and a toddle throwing a fit. An Uber stops in at twelve twenty, two coffees and a bag with scones in his hands more than likely. There are stickers over the cups with the café logo on them instead of tape.
“There,” Lynch says, reaching forward to point at a woman walking into the line of the camera. She’s in a loose flannel pink in color with a pair of ill-fitting jeans and running shoes. They can’t see her face as she enters. Athena glances at the time stamp, 12:35, and waits for Amy to come back out.
She doesn’t reaper until 1:00 a box in her arms blocking her face, and Athena curses at this. She bites off the sound when she stops at a table just out of view of the café window and places the box down. They watch as she scans the cups before pulling one out, Bucks he’s the only one sick and pops the lid off. She pulls a bag from her pocket, and it’s a bit hard to tell what it is but it’s a loose powder that she dumps into the cup and stirs up with a straw. Rai is cursing up a storm behind her, demanding to know what was in the cup. Athena ignores him for now.
She pops the lid back on and puts it back in the box, she glances at her phone for a moment before she pulls a roll of tape out of the bag over her shoulder that Athena is just now noticing. She covers each cup lid before she’s yanking off her flannel and shoves it in her bag. Under it is a purple shirt the same shade as the uniforms for the café and a black apron tied around her waist.
They still can’t see her fucking face, but Athena waits because Uber eats dropped off the damn order so someone else has to show up soon. And they do, at 1:20 a big guy steps out of the car, blocking her view of the woman, but he takes the box and papers change hands. The receipt, more than likely, the guy moves back towards the car, but that bitch still has her body turned just right to keep her face out of the view of the camera.
“Turn dammit.” Athena hisses.
And she does, “That fucking bitch!” Athena shouts before she can stop herself, she fucking watches as Ana Fucking Flores smiles as the car headed towards the station.
“Sargent Grant, you know this woman?” Lynch asks, frowning at the computer screen where Athena had paused it.
“Unfortunately.” Eddie is going to lose his damn mind and blame himself for her awful actions today.
“It hurts.” Buck cries, body shuddering against the bed as Bobby and Eddie try to cox his muscles into relaxing as tremors seize up his body. He’s still too pale for Bobby’s liking, but his lips have a bit more color to them and he’s talking instead of having trouble breathing.
It’s a win for now, but he’s in pain and Bobby fucking hates it. The doctor couldn’t give him anything for pain just yet, trying to let his system rest after his overdose. While he knows the tremors may stick around for a while, Bobby is hoping the pain would ease some.
“It’s okay, you’re okay.” Eddie tries to reassure him, but his voice is biting so it taints the calming tone Eddie was surely aiming for.
“T-that why you h-have murder f-frown going on?” Buck jokes past a hiss of pain. “C-cause I’m okay?”
Eddie and Bobby smile, “I can’t promise I won’t murder anyone.” Eddie jokes back, shoulders relaxing some. “But I do like you breathing and you weren’t there for a moment in the ambulance.”
“D-don’t let m-mom hear you s-say that.” Buck whispers, body jerking past a bad tremor. “F-fuck!”
“Mom might help him,” Athena says, coming into Buck’s hospital room with an angry frown on her face. It loosens some when Buck grins at her.
“Thena.” Buck beckons her closer with a wiggle of his fingers, which turns into a full-body jerk and a cry of pain.
“Hey, baby,” Athena says rushing forward. “How are we doing?”
“B-been better, b-but I’ve also b-been worse so you know.” Buck teases, “Ladder truck.”
Everyone rolls their eyes because they obviously don’t need a reminder about him being trapped under a damn ladder truck bleeding out. Bobby knows though he’s just trying to clear the clear tension on his wife’s face.
“Well I have to wait for my Captain to get me my warrant, but we know who did this,” Athena says carefully eyes glancing towards Eddie for a moment. Buck jerks on the bed drawing Athena’s eyes back towards him, she reaches out brushes the sweat-soaked curls from his forehead. “Try to breathe through it instead of holding your breath baby, it might help.”
“N-not in labor,” Buck whines back, but he still tries to breathe through the next tremor, it makes him choke and his face goes red. Bobby, Eddie, and Athena all reach for the call button at the same time but then Buck is sucking in a deep breath, on a sob.”
“I t-think that hurts w-worse.” Buck has tears in his eyes, and Bobby has to look away for a moment or he’ll cry too.
“I’m sorry baby.” Athena whispers, kissing his forehead. Buck gives her a happy hum, as his body relaxes for a moment. The tremors seem to be coming in weird intervals that no one can seem to pinpoint, Bobby is just glad he’s getting a break at all.
“Who spiked his coffee?” Eddie finally asks, clearly, he’d been biting his tongue to let Athena talk to Buck but his patience is now gone it seems.
“I won’t tell you until you promise you will not leave this room.” Demands Athena, “I mean it, Eddie, I will handcuff you to this bed if you so much as twitch a finger towards that door.”
Eddie frowns, “I know them?”
“We all know them.” Athena corrects, “But I know you and you are going to blame yourself for this and I need you to know right now I’m not playing that game with you, Diaz. This was not your fault, do you understand me?”
Eddie narrows his eyes but keeps his lips sealed.
“E-Eddie.” Buck hiccups, reaching for the hand Eddie has gripped the bed. “N-not your fault, whoever it is.”
“Who is it?” Eddie hisses, and Bobby widens his eyes because he knows damn well Eddie isn’t trying to use that tone of voice with his wife.
“Excuse me?” Athena counters, raising an unimpressed eyebrow towards Eddie who deflates after a few moments.
“I’m sorry Athena.” Apologizes Eddie, “I won’t leave, not till Buck can come home with me.”
“We couldn’t get the camera footage from the Café because the router was smashed two days before, conveniently. We did however get the footage from the Deli across the street.” Athena pauses for a moment to smile warmly towards but. “Rai says the next time you come to see him you’re getting a life alert button too.”
Buck’s chuckle stalls out by a full-body shudder that has him whimpering and the others moving in to try to help soothe the ache.
“He’s definitely got a mouth on him.” Athena agrees, and while Eddie and Bobby are confused they don’t try to figure out who they are talking about. Buck would let them know more than likely at a later date.
“Now as I was saying, one of the delis cameras point right at the front of the café so we had a great view. The order wasn’t placed over the phone, a woman came in said her name was Amy and she was a new recruit with the 118 and was picking up an order for everyone.” Athena growled. “After she got the order she stopped at a table outside where the camera picks up her taking Bucks coffee and dumping a baggy of powered into his cup.”
Bobby hisses. “The diazepam, she crushed it up to mix it better into his drink?”
“Or to help it dissolve faster, pills would take too long with the station being so close.” Athena glances towards Eddie again. “She pulled the tape from her bag and covered all the lids, another officer collect all the cups earlier for fingerprints. She also removed the flannel she was wearing, she had a shirt that matched the café employees and an apron on under to fool the Uber driver. After the car drove away I was finally able to see her face.”
“Who?” Bobby demands before he can stop himself.
Athena is watching Eddie again, “Ana Flores.”
Eddie throws up all over Bucks lap.
The receptionist behind the desk of the school Ms. Flores works at buzzes them in as soon as she sees them standing there. There’s a worried look on her face as she stands to greet them, smoothing out her skirt before she tries for a smile.
“Good morning, how may I help you today?”
Athena, Lynch, and two other officers all come to a stop just in front of the desk. Athena tries for a smile, but she’s not really in the headspace for pleasantries right now. She’s here for the woman who tried to murder her son, not chitchat.
“We need to speak to Ana Flores please,” Lynch says when it’s apparent Athena was gearing up to put deal with the woman. Not that Lynch can blame here, he’s met Buck a few times. He’s a good kid, sweet if a little stubborn and reckless but he’s damn good at his job. While Athena has her fair share of worrying complaints about the man, there’s always a fondness to it that makes Lynch smile.
“One moment please.” Picking up a phone the clearly flustered woman hits a few buttons before raising the receiver to her ear. “Ms. Flores, you are needed in the front office please.” She listens for a moment before hanging up.
“She will be with you in a moment.” The woman licks her lips, clearly nervous.
The click of heels against the tile floors has all four officers turning towards the sound. A woman rounds the corner, it’s not Ana but an older woman who jerks to a stop when she sees the police standing in her way.
“What’s going on here?” She demands, pulling herself up to stand straighter.
“We’re here to speak to Vice Principle Flores,” Athena says. “I’m Sargent Grant, ma’am.”
“I’m Principle here, Morgan Owens. Has something happened?”
Ana rounds the corner at that moment, drawing the eye of all four police, she frowns clearly confused to see them. She doesn’t look worried though, which pisses Athena off, does this woman really think she got away with what she did?
“Ana Flores,” Athena says stepping forward pulling a slip of paper from her vest. “I have a warrant for your arrest.”
Both Owens and the receptionist sputter at Athena’s words, but it’s the look of horror on Ana’s face that has Athena biting back a vicious smile of glee. Ana’s foot twitches and a small part of Athena wishes she would run so she could tackle her. Though she wouldn’t get far in those shoes.
“I’m sorry?” Ana squawks out, “What could you possibly be arresting me for, I’ve done nothing!”
All the cops raise their brows at that. “Ms. Flores, I don’t know who you are trying to lie to right now, but I know it’s not me. You can come with us peacefully or I will drag you out of here.”
“You have no right!” Ana screams, her loud voice has a few teachers in nearby rooms poking their heads out to see what’s going on.
“I have every right,” Athena says, waving the papers in her face. “These freshly printed warrants signed off by a judge gives me that right.” Athena steps forward pulling her cuffs off her belt, Ana steps back, hands raised.
“I’m going nowhere till you tell me what it is you think I have done!”
Athena growls. “You are under arrest for the attempted murder of Even Buckley.”
Ana’s eyes go wide, while the people now lingering around chatter amongst one other. Owens is looking towards Ana like she’s lost her mind as she takes another step backward.
“I have done nothing to that stupid man! This is just another way for him to get me out of Edmundo’s life!”
Athena blinks, wondering if this woman was stable, would she try to plead insanity? Athena doubts it would do her much good, seeing as everything she did up to poisoning her son had been premeditated. They had found her fingerprints on the router for the Café, her prints under the tape on the cups. They even found the bag she kept the drugs in and the clothes she had been wearing ditched in a dumpster three blocks away.
“Ms. Flores, I would recommend you stop speaking until you can see your lawyer,” Athena advises, quickly reading her, her rights.
“I did nothing to Buck!” Ana shouts, stepping back once more. Lynch and Peters fan out while Hicks steps in front of the door to block the exit.
“We have video evidence.” Athena finally says fed up. “We have fingerprints and the clothes you ditched. If you would read the warrant all of that is stated. Now stop moving!”
“I just wanted to be with Edmundo.” Ana cries as she finally allows Athena to cuff her. “He was mine and Buck kept getting in my damn way!”
Athena snorts, walking the woman out of the building and towards her car. “Edmundo Diaz has always been Buck’s.” Athena can’t help saying. “You had no chance.”
Buck is grinning ear to ear as he’s passed around the loft of the station for hugs. After a month of leave, it was great to be back. While he loved being doted on by Eddie, he missed work, the rush of saving someone. The thrill of putting out a fire or doing a rope rescue.
While that hadn’t been possible the last month with the tremors, those had finally come to a stop. He woke up still sore some days but that was nothing compared to the constant pain he had been in for the last few weeks.
“Who brought the coffee?” Buck questions when he finally comes to a stop by the table, Chris is snug on his hip hugging Buck close even though he had seen him this morning.
“I did.” Says a sweet voice making Buck grin as he turned around.
“Lila hi!” Buck hugs the petite woman to his chest. “What are you doing here?”
Lila smiles, “Well my best customer was poisoned with my coffee so I wanted to check in with you.” Lila says, “Plus I wanted to bring coffee hand delivered by me, not a soul touched it besides Jason and myself.”
“I kept watch the whole time.” Says a deep soothing voice, one that always reminded Buck of warm molasses. Rai is grinning at him, he’s using his cane today Buck notices so he sits Chris down to help Rai into a chair.
“Rai, how are you. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to help this month.” Buck says with a pout, making Athena who is seated at the table chuckle, Eddie and Bobby are grinning but Buck ignores them.
“Nonsense boy.” Rai waves him off. “You’re health is much more important than tomatoes and whatnot. I paid a few kids on skateboards to unload for me this month, so don’t you go worrying.”
Buck smiles, “Worrying is my specialty.”
Rai clicks his tongue. “You’re gonna give you’re self an ulcer one of these days.”
Eddie chuckles again, leaning over to kiss Bucks shoulder. “We’ve been trying for years to get him to stop worrying. No such luck I’m afraid.”
“We’ll guess an old man can’t complain too much,” Rai says leaning forward slightly to pat Buck on the cheek. “I got you something.”
Buck frowns. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Hush now, it was my pleasure.” Rai hands Buck a neatly wrapped box with a smile.
Smiling back Buck opens the gift with care, pulling out a small black box the size of his palm. Much like the ones a pair of earrings would come in or a bracelet. Popping the box open Buck frown, picking up the small chair till a small square box pops loose and dangles from the chain.
It’s a life alert button.
The station howls with laughter.