Buck was sitting on his couch as he debated what he was going to do. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do, and he felt like he should be doing something. He had checked on Chris already, happy that the boy had slept through him and Chim fighting. Chris slept like a rock when he stayed over at Buck's on the couch in the corner of the living room, away from most things so that maybe he could actually sleep some.
Chim had left after like he was shocked that he had punched Buck. Hell, Buck was shocked. He had never been struck like that unless it was someone drunk in Peru who he was escorting off the premises. It wasn't like he wasn't used to that. He had been punched a few times dealing with drunk people they were called to help since working with the 118. He had never been struck by a friend, someone he called a brother. He wouldn't have been shocked if Eddie had hit him over the lawsuit. They had both failed each other at the same time. Still, Buck wasn't used to this kind of thing. He wondered how Maddie had ever got over that first hit from Doug.
"Bucky?" Chris asked.
Buck got up from where he was sitting in the kitchen, eyeing the ice pack he had pulled out of the freezer, and looked at where Chris was. Chris rubbed his eyes like he was rubbing sleep away, but Buck knew he wasn't. Chris' movements were too twitchy. Buck swallowed, and he took a step toward Chris, hoping that Chris didn't flinch back from him.
"Hey, you should be asleep."
"What?" Buck looked at the door, but it was closed. "It was just a dream, Superman."
Then the lock turned on the door. Buck wasn't sure who it was, and he put his back to the wall and kept his eye on the door and on Chris. He needed to make sure that he could defend Chris if it was someone else. The door opened, and Eddie was with a pissed-off look on his face.
"I'm sorry, Eddie. I didn't know. I just didn't know. I would have protected Chris more."
Eddie started for Buck, and when Buck realized he wasn't stopping, he flinched back, prepared to be hit again for letting Chris see violence like that. Eddie stopped in his tracks, and it was like all of his anger bled out of him in one go. His face went soft, and he looked at Buck with such grief in his eyes.
"Buck, I'm not mad at you." Eddie closed the rest of the distance between them, and he cupped Buck's face, his fingers missing where Buck's face was starting to throb. "Go settle in the living room, I'll get some ice, and then I'll check you out."
Buck wasn't going to fight it. Eddie might say he wasn't mad at Buck, but Buck wasn't sure. He was the reason why Chris had seen violence again.
Sitting down, Buck clasped his hands between his knees and kept his head down even after Chris sat down beside him. Chris got as close as possible to him, on the other side from where Buck had been hit by Chim.
Eddie came into the living room, and he laid a bag full of ice over Buck's knee and then settled onto the coffee table so he could get a good look at Buck's face.
"This is going to hurt," Eddie said.
"I know. I got hit with a 2 x 4 in the academy. It hurt like hell. They were building a new course, and someone messed up, and I came around a bit of the course and got hit with it. It hurt a lot." Buck closed his eyes as he didn't want to see Eddie's face when the man was causing him pain.
The flare of pain from Eddie pressing around to make sure that no damage was done to the bone hurt like a son of a bitch but not nearly as much as the pain that Buck had felt in his heart from Chim attacking him. He wasn't sure what Eddie was feeling as he kept on pressing on one section.
"Okay, so good news is, I don't think you are going to die," Eddie said.
"DAD!" Chris said.
Normally, Buck would be laughing as Chris was, but there was still worse to come if that was the good news. He opened his eyes as Eddie stopped poking around on his cheek.
"However, there is a bit that's moving around, and I'm not sure if it's a chip or a broken bit. So we are going to the ER," Eddie said.
"No," Buck said.
"Buck, if it's chipped and that piece moves around, there might be damage. We are going. I don't care what you want. I will pick you up, carry you out, and then tie you into the seat. So, it's up to you. Are you walking under your own steam, or am I carrying you?"
"Fine," Buck said. He looked at Chris and saw that the boy looked dead tired. "I'll drive myself. Chris needs sleep."
"He can miss a little bit of sleep and then just sleep in. We can all have a day off tomorrow."
"Yeah, I'm going with you, Bucky," Chris said.
Buck knew he wasn't going to win. He gave in to the two Diaz men all the time. He wasn't going to start messing that up now. He didn't want to make Chris upset. Chris was still dealing with a few lingering issues from the tsunami happening so close to the death of his mother. A few triggers that no one really saw coming. Buck hated that Chris had seen this.
"We can all sleep in."
Buck resigned himself to little sleep. He grabbed his phone and texted Taylor. She wasn't coming over tonight but had been going to in the morning. He texted her that he might still be asleep when she got there and not to worry, but Eddie and Chris were staying over as well.
"Taylor is coming by in the morning, don't be mean to her," Buck said.
"I won't." Eddie raised his hands, and he gave Buck a look that said he would try and keep himself in the good on that.
Buck wasn't sure he was going to make it through.
Eddie heard the key in the door, and he stopped what he was doing to look up. If it was Chim, he would have words with the man. It was Taylor who came inside. She was dressed in a pair of jeans that looked good on her legs, what he could see of them, and one of Buck's hoodies.
"Hey, Eddie," Taylor said.
"Morning. Buck and Chris are still asleep in Buck's bed."
"I figured we were having an easy morning of things since Buck said he might still be asleep."
"Hmm, he'll be having an easy few days. We are off, and I think he'll be cleared to go back to work but be the man behind for now."
"What happened? I talked to him after the shift was over. He was fine."
"He was. Until Chim punched him. He's got medications to keep the swelling down and ensure that he doesn't have any issues. It's a hairline fracture of his orbital socket. Chim got him good."
"And you are involved because?" Taylor asked. She darted her eyes over to where the stairs led up to Buck's bedroom area.
"Chris was here. Chris heard them talking and came to see what was up, and he got to see Chim punch him. Chris texted me to come over as soon as possible as he didn't like it."
"I remember Buck texting that Chris was staying the night. We had planned on going out to breakfast."
Eddie still didn't like Taylor as Buck's girlfriend. He hadn't liked her before, but she had grown up a little and changed, becoming someone that Eddie trusted with Buck's friendship. Before, Eddie had been sure that Taylor was just using Buck. She was good with Buck, and she was around when Buck needed her.
"Buck does not want to go out into public right now."
Eddie stopped and listened. He heard Buck moving around and messing with his phone. "Did you want to take the ice pack up to Buck? He's propped up in the bed to keep his head above his heart. He'll need to ice for a little while. I have some oatmeal here to get something on his stomach for his pills. He has the pills up with him."
"I can do that. Thanks for taking care of him. He didn't tell me anything."
"He didn't tell me anything either. Chris was the one that got a hold of me."
"Buck told me you got him a cell phone to keep in contact with a few people. I'm glad that's worked out well for you so far." Taylor picked up the small cup of oatmeal and then the ice pack that Eddie handed her.
Taylor gave him a smile, and Eddie smiled back at her. He wanted to like her. She was beautiful and hot. On looks alone, she was someone that Eddie would like. She was Buck's, though. Which was a whole other can of worms for Eddie. Breaking up with Ana had been good for Eddie and stopping the panic attacks, but then Eddie had seen Buck and Taylor out to dinner at a place that was a very hot date spot. Eddie had gone because he had heard good things about a few dishes, and he had been in the mood. Eddie got to see how in love Buck was with Taylor and how she treated him when it was just them, and she didn't need to act like anyone but herself.
Eddie had come out of that jealous of Taylor and had the realization that he was jealous because he wanted Buck. Which had been a shock but looking back on everything, Eddie could see it. He could also see that Buck might feel the same, but Eddie had lost his chance. So Eddie was going to stay one of the best friends to Buck, which started with stopping being an asshole to Taylor. Which he could start with now.
Breakfast stuff was laid out. Eddie was working on cutting potatoes to roast in the oven since Buck actually liked hash browns better, but they were chewy and crispy way he liked them was not something his face would like. The swelling was making his jaw hurt last Eddie had checked.
Taylor came back down with the glass of water Eddie had carried up there after he had woken up and the cup from the oatmeal. "He ate it all and drank the water without a fuss. He's curled around Chris again and asked for more time sleeping."
"Yeah, I am working on breakfast very slowly. I figured we would give him about forty minutes for his pills to kick in, and then I would start the pancakes."
"Anything I can do?"
"Lay out the bread for toast?"
"Sure. I'll eat two."
"Three for me and Buck, two for Chris."
Taylor nodded her head, and she set herself to the task.
"So, what's going to happen?" Taylor asked.
"I am unsure. Buck's not going to want to go any route that would make me happy. He's not going to press charges with the police or at work."
"Will Bobby make him?" Taylor asked.
"I have no clue. Bobby looks at him like a son, and sometimes he plays hardball when it comes to things that are hurting him, and sometimes Bobby lets him hide away."
"What about Maddie?" Taylor asked.
"I have no clue if Buck knows how to get a hold of her. No matter what, I will make sure she knows that her boyfriend was violent with someone who wasn't violent first when she comes back. I can only hope that Maddie really thinks about that when she gets back."
"I know that things aren't good with Maddie and Buck right now. He wasn't exactly a happy man when he called me after Maddie left, but he also doesn't talk much about her past, but a few things he said made me think her ex-husband was abusive."
"He was. He came after her, and he's no longer in the picture. I don't think she will react well to finding out that in high stress and emotional situations, he goes for violence."
"Especially with the fact that Chim went after Buck."
"Buck said that Maddie pretty much was his emotional mother growing up. The child of her heart," Taylor said.
"That's a good parallel. I have no clue what kind of shit this is going to bring. My goal in all of this is protecting Buck and Chris."
Taylor nodded her head. She looked up at where Buck was sleeping. She looked torn.
"Buck's life is full of drama, and most of it isn't even his own making."
"It's a Buckley curse, I think. Maddie's life has been the same way. They need safe places to land and just be happy." Eddie looked at Taylor to see her smiling. "I'm glad that he has you to be that safe place."
"And you and Chris as well. You have his back and protect him in ways I can't."
Eddie saw movement to see Chris standing at the top of the stairs. He was rubbing his eyes like he was trying to wake up. He was looking pretty steady on his feet.
"Want me to get him?" Taylor asked.
Eddie looked at where he had potato starch all over his hands.
"Um, sure?" Eddie said. He wasn't sure.
"Last time he stayed over, Buck was out getting milk as his had gone off before date. I asked him first if he was okay with me carrying him down the stairs. He was then. If it's not now, I won't force him, I promise."
"Yeah, see if he's okay with it." Eddie turned his head down to start cutting potatoes again, but he looked up and watched as Taylor approached Chris with care. He blinked at her behind his glasses before he nodded his head so fast and hard that he seemed to almost knock himself over.
Taylor picked him up carefully but with confidence and then carried him down to settle him onto the stool across from where Eddie was.
"Morning, mijo," Eddie said.
"Morning, Daddy. Bucky's still asleep."
"He might be that way for a while. We are making pancakes and potatoes for everyone."
"You are staying, right, Taylor?" Chris asked.
"Of course, you guys might need backup on making sure Buck does what he's supposed to do."
Chris laughed at that.
"You want your morning coffee?" Taylor asked.
"Yes, please," Chris said.
Eddie's heart stopped as he looked at Taylor and Chris. Coffee. Chris never had drunk coffee before. Eddie kept his mouth shut, though. He wasn't going to freak out until he saw what she gave him.
Taylor walked over to the coffee pot, and she pulled down two mugs, one of which had a Superman logo on it. She poured in a little bit of what looked like Buck's fancy creamer and then went to the fridge and got out the milk. She filled the mug most of the way up with that and then added a bit of chocolate sauce and what looked like maybe an ounce of coffee. Eddie relaxed back at that. The thing was more milk than anything else.
Chris damned near vibrated in his seat as Taylor took the cup over to him. Eddie was kind of shocked she made it before she even made her own coffee. Chris picked it up and took a sip, and Taylor seemed like she was waiting for his reaction.
"Perfect," Chris said.
"YAY! I finally got it!" Taylor started to dance in place, her arms raised up in celebration. Chris raised his up and did the same. Taylor turned and looked at Eddie before she started to blush. "Sorry. Buck makes them better, and he's been trying to teach me."
Eddie nodded his head.
"Mijo, why haven't you asked for this at home?" Eddie asked.
"You don't have good coffee. Buck tried once, and I didn't like it, even with extra creamer and more chocolate. I just don't like your coffee, Daddy."
Eddie laughed. Buck hated his coffee as well. Eddie knew it wasn't the best, but he didn't think it was that bad.
"Anything else I can do?" Taylor asked.
"Nah, I've got this under control. You can entertain Buck if he wakes up early."
Taylor nodded. She started to get her coffee, which had more sugar than anything else in it. Eddie watched the way she made it. He learned that learning things like that was good and showed that he cared. He cared about Buck's happiness, and right now, that was getting along with Taylor.
"I'm gonna go up and make sure he's got the ice pack on his face."
"Tell him I will tape it to his head," Eddie said.
Taylor laughed before she took a sip of her coffee. She was bushing a little bit. Eddie wasn't sure why but he focused on the potatoes again. He was cutting up all the ones that Buck had. They were starting to go bad, so it would be best that they all get used to it. It helped that Buck would reheat them for lunch if he wanted them. He looked at the recipe for the spices that Buck loved on the things for a second, using his knuckle to wake up his phone and look. Buck had everything for this; he just needed to remember which ones to grab.
Eddie was all set up and ready to put things into the oven by the time that Taylor came back down. She had the ice pack in her hand, and it looked melted.
"He was asleep with it plastered to his face. He looked so cute like that. I took a picture. The ice pack blocked the entire bruising, so it looked pretty good." Taylor turned her phone around to show Eddie the picture, then she showed Chris.
Chris just laughed before taking another drink of his coffee.
It warmed Eddie's heart that Taylor was trying for Chris. She was kind to him, and Chris seemed to like her. Eddie wondered why Chris hadn't talked about her much. Eddie just assumed that Taylor was never around when Buck had Chris.
"He is pretty adorable when he's asleep."
"Hmm, he is." Taylor slipped her phone into the pocket of the hoodie, and she looked at Chris. "Wanna go watch cartoons?"
Chris nodded his head. He leaned back so that Taylor could snag the coffee, and then he slipped off the stool, using her arm to steady himself. Eddie had no idea where Chris' crutches were. Chris was good about moving around at home and at Buck's without them now, but it was still good to know where they were.
"In the living room," Taylor said.
"Huh?" Eddie asked as he looked over at her.
"The crutches. I saw them in there earlier."
"Oh, thanks." Eddie hoped that his stunned confusion wasn't on his face. This Taylor was nothing like the one that Buck had been with before. Eddie could never see her acting this way with a kid.
Eddie started to prep the pancake mix, getting it all together because Buck had to be extra and not have a single bit of pre-made stuff in the apartment. No, he had to make it from scratch. Luckily, Eddie was getting good at pancakes since he had turned down the fire to where it didn't burn, and the middle wasn't done. Eddie was happy that Buck was more than willing to help teach him the stuff he messed up.
The sound of cartoons drifted from the living room, and it was one that Eddie knew, so he turned off his ears to it. He was all conflicted about Taylor. He wanted to be friends with her for Buck's sake, but he also wanted Buck for himself.
Eddie got everything to where it wouldn't take long to get things going before checking the potatoes. He really didn't want to invade if Chris and Taylor were doing something they normally did alone. So he just settled in and looked at his phone.
A short while later, Eddie jumped when a call came through. He accepted it and put it to the speaker since it was Bobby.
"Hey, Bobby, I've got you on speaker, and I am checking something in the oven."
"Who is around?"
"Chris is watching cartoons with Taylor in Buck's living room, and Buck is still asleep." Eddie opened the oven door and checked on things.
"Okay, well, that's good. That means you know what is going on. The C-Shift Captain just called me and said I've got paperwork waiting on me about Buck being injured and recommends that he's the man behind for at least two weeks?"
"Uh, well..." Eddie trailed off. He wasn't sure what to answer to that. He didn't know what Buck would want to say about it, but Eddie was also worried about Bobby just showing up here. Buck wouldn't want that.
"Captain, I'm sorry, but you need to ask Chim about that," Taylor said as she walked over.
"Why would I ask Chim about Buck's injury?"
Eddie looked at Taylor and cocked an eyebrow at her. He really didn't like telling Bobby what went on, but he was pretty sure that Taylor had no qualms about it.
"Well, Buck's asleep, and I am not waking him up, so it's best to ask the other party involved, don't you think, Captain Nash?" Taylor asked. Her tone was dripping with sarcasm.
"Chim hit Buck? What happened?"
"I've not actually got the full story from Buck yet. It was something to do with Maddie. Buck was tight-lipped about it all."
"Well, Chim's gone, so I'll have to get the story from Buck."
"Gone?" Eddie asked.
"He went after Maddie."
"Where is Jee-Yun?" Taylor asked.
"Oh, wow, okay, so does he have a plan, or is he just going to keep the baby stuck in the car seat for hours a day as he drives like a madman across the country?"
"Who?" Buck asked.
Eddie looked around to see him coming down the stairs. He had a blanket wrapped around his body, and he almost looked like a little kid for a few seconds. He went right over to where Taylor was, and he settled in at her side. He looked at Eddie like he was upset he was so far away.
"Buck, how are you feeling?"
"Better now that the painkillers have kicked in. My face hurts like hell when the pills are wearing off. Eddie, Taylor, and Chris are taking good care of me. Chris let me cuddle him for nearly an hour as I tried not to wake up this morning when Eddie left the bed."
Taylor snorted, and she pressed a kiss to Buck's forehead at the wording he used.
"To be honest, Cap, I'm glad he's not around right now. I'm not having a lot of good thoughts."
Buck looked up at Eddie in shock.
"I'd never actually harm Chim. I have learned what my anger can do, and I never want to lose your friendship, Buck. I am not that man anymore. I saw what my anger nearly wrought. I would rather just take care of it the healthy way and talk most of the time. Or walk away."
"Okay, I'm lost. What is going on? What made Chim punch Buck?" Bobby asked.
Eddie looked at the living room.
"He's fine. He knows not to come out," Taylor said.
"Okay. I just don't want him to be more upset. Thank you."
"Most welcome, Eddie. Taylor smiled at Eddie with a look of smugness there, but Eddie wasn't sure what it was from.
"Chim was upset about Maddie, and he realized that I wasn't shocked about her being gone and a lot of other kinds of crazy things. Maddie told me that she had nearly hurt Jee but that everything was fine and why she was leaving. She needed to get help. She couldn't get it here. I don't understand most of it, but Taylor and I have been talking about how she might have PPD."
"One of my co-workers went through it but not nearly this bad. I have no idea about Maddie since I've not seen her since Jee-Yun was born. Just what Buck has told me and this then. I can't say for sure, but it fits."
"I knew something was wrong, but I just assumed it was Chim being a worried father and spending that long away from Maddie and Jee," Bobby said.
"It could have been, but now that Maddie has run, I think it's something a lot deeper, and PPD works on that."
"Buck, please," Bobby said.
"Sorry. Maddie told me that Jee was fine and I didn't need to worry that Chim would take care of her. So I didn't. Then Chim found out about the ER visit because he got a notification from the insurance company that it had been paid. He came to confront me. He was upset, and some of what he said didn't make much sense. He thinks that I kept Jee in the hospital from him maliciously. Anyway, he hit me."
"He hit you." Bobby's tone was dry.
"Yeah. He hit me. I've got a small fracture of my orbital socket. I saw it coming but didn't have time to stop him. I think I froze. I have never been hit by a friend."
"Chim hit you," Bobby said again.
"Where were you?"
"In my kitchen. Chris was awake and saw it. He called Eddie or texted. I can't remember now. Eddie took me to the hospital and made me get scans to make sure I was fine. I didn't think that Chim had hit me that hard. The doctor is worried about my head getting hit and the damage getting worse, hence why I will be stuck on the man behind. I'm not happy about it, but I'll do it."
"Because Chris made you promise, and that's it," Eddie said.
"I think that I need to talk to someone about this. Buck, are you going to press charges?"
"No, but Taylor talked me into telling Maddie when she gets back. So I have no clue what is going to happen with that. I won't keep it from her. She deserved more than that when she was at the hands of Doug for so long."
Eddie was shocked at that. He hadn't thought that Buck would want to tell her. He was glad of it.
"Buck, you need anything, let me know. I'll check back the day before you and Eddie are due back. I'll see what we might need to do about this."
"I don't know if I can trust that Chim has my back, Bobby," Buck said. He sighed and dropped his head down to rest his forehead on his arm.
The oven timer went off, and Eddie looked to see that it was the one that it was time to start the pancakes.
"It's time for me to start breakfast. Taylor, Buck, why don't you guys go and keep Chris company. I'll get breakfast and call everyone when it's ready."
"Buck, I mean it; if you need anything, just let me know."
Buck nodded his head, not lifting it up.
"He nodded his head, Bobby."
"Eddie, Taylor, take care of him."
"We will," Taylor said before she reached over and hung up on Bobby. She hesitated until Eddie nodded his head before she cut the connection. "Come on, baby."
Buck let Taylor push him toward the living room.
Eddie didn't want to fuck anything up when it came to the friendship he needed to build with Taylor. He wanted to be friends with her, for Buck's sake.
Buck entered the station, and he wasn't sure what to expect. He had no idea what the rest of A-Shift had been told. He had tried to cover up the bruise with some of Taylor's make-up, but she had refused to let him use it.
Eddie and Chris had spent another night with Buck, and Taylor had gone home. It was mainly for Chris, who had taken a nap and woke up with a nightmare from it. So they stayed. There wasn't room for Taylor, and she had gone home.
Buck was still confused about what had happened before he had woken up. Before then, Buck would have sworn that Eddie hated Taylor, but by the time Taylor had left that evening, they had been smiling at each other, and Eddie even hugged her.
"How are you?" Ravi asked as he stepped in front of Buck. He looked at Buck's upper cheek and then met Buck's eyes.
"I'm good. I'm cleared to work as long as it's not in the field. You'll be out there with someone else today."
"Bobby told me. I'm sorry."
"What are you sorry for?" Buck asked. He tried to think about anything that Ravi had done that he had needed to say he was sorry for.
"During the blackout. I saw your face when Chim threatened to keep Jee from you over the charging pack."
Buck rolled his shoulders and looked away from Ravi. He had forgotten about that. It felt like it was so long ago. He felt like it was just another little thing adding up to Chim punching him.
"You are fine, Ravi. I know we are all doing the slight hazing since you are the probie, but it makes it a hard line. I'm trying not to do the stupid hazing stuff."
"Captain wants me along with the team, and Eddie's just in the gym hitting a heavy bag, and I don't know how to approach him."
"Just let him finish hitting it. When he's done, he'll talk to you about things. He's not pissed at you at all. None of us are. It's a shit show, and I don't know what's going to happen."
Buck opened his arms, and Ravi came in for a hug. Buck made sure he squeezed tight on him. Buckley hugs were the best, and he had been told that by several people.
"Thanks. I'll go over and hover," Ravi said with a grin.
Buck looked up to see that Bobby was waiting on him. Buck squared his shoulders to head to where his boss was.
"I know you said you were checked out, but that looks horrible, Buck," Bobby said as soon as Buck was close.
"It is what it is. It will be fine. I'll heal up, and everything will be good. There was talk of a bit of gear for my face to go on easy calls later, maybe. I am not sure I want to wear it, though. I would rather just stay here."
"Let's go into the office, and we can talk alone. You won't be working today. Is Taylor off work?"
"Um, yeah. She's working tomorrow," Buck said. He frowned and followed Bobby. He was fine; he should be working. Someone needed to stay behind to work the station. Buck could do that.
"Right now, Chim's action is being looked into. The brass and the union will be talking to you about it. Violence from one coworker to another is not something we want to condone. I know you probably don't want it looked into, but at this point in time, it's grown beyond just the two of you."
"Okay," Buck said.
"You and Taylor are going to go on a short trip. Well, I would like you and Taylor to do it. If she can't, I would like someone else to go with you."
"Bobby, just spit it out."
"Chim is listed in the system as working here. Medical files list Maddie as his emergency contact, but she's not answering, and we know why. So the hospital contacted me to figure out what to do."
"What's wrong with Chim?"
"There was an issue, but the hospital cannot release what happened with him. I know that the police are involved, and that's it. The issue is Jee-Yun and someone who can take her needs to go get her. Right now, a Sheriff's Deputy took her home since he's got a young child at home, and they didn't want to put Jee-Yun into even emergency placement. The deputy is a foster parent in very good standing, and I've been assured that she's being looked after. So you need to go and get your niece. It's why I suggest someone goes with you to pick her up. One person needs to drive, and the other needs to settle in and take care of Jee-Yun during the trip."
"I'll call Taylor and see if she can pick up Christopher as well," Buck said.
"He's been clingy to me since he saw Chim punch me. So if he found out I wasn't at work, he would be upset about me not being with him. He and Eddie have barely left me alone since then. It's the weekend, so it's not like Chris has school, and it'll give Abuela a break. Carla's still dealing with a few patients who need her more than Chris does in the blackout aftermath. He's also been wanting to go on a trip. It's only an hour once we are out of the city, but he'll have fun with it."
"And you want Chris with you because of what happened?" Bobby asked.
"It's weird, but I'm worried about him. So having him around me for this would be good, and he wants to spend time with Jee, but he understands that new parents have issues sometimes."
"Chris is a treasure," Bobby said. He picked up a sheet of paper. "This is the hospital that Chim is at; if you want to stop by to make sure that they tell him that you have Jee, and this is the cell phone number of the deputy who has Jee. He's not working the rest of today and is willing to meet you at his place or in public at a restaurant or something. He has all of Jee's things with him that he knew were hers. He also offered to take you to Chimney's vehicle and make sure that if something is missing, it's gotten."
"Yeah, I'll call Taylor and then go and get her and Chris. I'll talk to Eddie as well. I'm gonna..." Buck thumbed over his shoulder as he picked up the sheet of paper. He was hesitant to leave since they hadn't talked about everything yet.
"Buck, you didn't deserve to be hit. No one should feel like they deserve to be hit when they did nothing wrong. Eddie and Taylor are doing pretty good at making sure of that, but I wanted to put my voice behind it."
"Eddie's going to make sure that I tell Maddie when I see her. I get why she needs to know about given her history. If he would hit me for something like that, what happens if he's stressed about something with Jee or even Maddie and they are the only ones around and are making him mad? It's Maddie's choice to do what she wants once she has our sides. If she stays with him, I won't hate him like I did Doug. I hope that Chim won't ever raise his hand in violence to anyone else, but there is also a part of me that says that he never would have tried if it was anyone else there. It was just because it was me, and that's a whole other can of worms."
Buck left Bobby's office before he said more. He hadn't meant to say that.
"Hey, get in uniform," Eddie said as he came up the stairs.
"Actually, I'm gonna go grab Chris from Abuela's," Buck said.
"What? Is he not letting you work?"
"No, I'm off on compassionate leave for the day. No one is hurt, but something is going on, so Taylor, Chris, and I are going to get Jee-Yun from Oxnard."
"Shit, is Chim okay?"
"Well, as far as I know. From what little Bobby got, I think he's on a psych hold."
"Are you sure that Taylor can go? If not, make sure someone else does."
"I will. I promise."
"You need anything, just tell me. I have a Pack 'N Play at my house. You can snag it if you need it. I don't know what you have for Jee at your place."
"I have one. It's in the back of my closet in the box still. It won't take long."
"You know you don't have to take Chris with you, right?"
"Yes, I know. I want him with me. I know he is not better yet. I'm not better yet."
"I know. Taylor texted me that you had a nightmare."
"I'm not sure I like this. My best friend and my girlfriend getting along like this means more people to group up and gang up on me," Buck said.
Eddie grinned, but there was something in his eyes that Buck wasn't sure what it meant. He just stared at Eddie, trying to figure it out.
"Go call Taylor." Eddie spun Buck around and aimed him toward a corner where there was no one.
An hour later, Buck was pulling into Abuela's place where Taylor was already sitting on the porch with Chris, and they looked excited. Buck had spent a good while on the phone getting things set up. Taylor had offered to go and help get Chris ready since Buck needed to call to figure out what he needed to bring as far as Jee-Yun went. Which he hadn't really needed as the deputy had bought more of everything to cover the day for the baby. The car seat from Chim's vehicle was with the deputy, so Buck needed to bring only himself.
"Buck, you need anything you call me, you hear me, hijo?" Abuela said as Buck got up to the steps. Chris' backpack was on Taylor's shoulder, and she looked pretty ready to go.
"I will. Right now, I just want to get to Jee-Yun. I trust the man with her, but I need to be there for her for Maddie. I don't know what else is going on, so I figured that Chris and Taylor could watch Jee while I deal with what is going on with Chim. I don't even know who to call for him if he wants anyone called. I'll see about that once I've talked to the people who Chim is staying with."
"Taylor, don't forget the snacks," Abuela said.
"Oh yes. Buck, if you will get Chris settled into the Jeep, I'll get the snacks that were put together for us," Taylor said.
Buck knew that fighting Abuela on that was like fighting the wind. No one could do anything against the wind. Buck walked over to Taylor, took the bag from her, and kissed her cheek.
"It's nothing, really. I promise. Besides, I get to hang with my favorite man," Taylor said.
"The horrible thing is that I know you are not talking about me," Buck said.
Taylor just grinned at him. Buck couldn't even be mad because Chris was his favorite person in the world. He headed toward the Jeep with Chris coming up behind him. Chris would tell Buck if he wanted to be carried. Taylor was good for short distances, but that was about it when it came to carrying Chris. Buck was built for it.
"Bucky, are we going to do anything other than picking up Jee?" Chris asked.
"I don't know. I thought maybe you and Taylor could figure that out. She's a good researcher, so while we are driving up, you guys can find stuff for us to do if there is anything in Oxnard to do."
Chris laughed, and he handed over his crutches for Buck to put into the footwell in the back seat before he helped Chris up into the Jeep and into the seat that was just for Chris. It was made to make sure that Chris' back and neck were supported for a longer trip in the car. Since they would be out most of the day, it was best. Once Jee was in the car, she would be in the middle, but for the trip up, Chris could be.
"Just remember to eat the other stuff first. I know that Chris hasn't had a big breakfast, and I assume neither of you did as well since Buck usually eats whatever the captain makes."
Buck didn't reply to how Abuela mothered everyone. She had taken to Taylor better than Buck had hoped she would. From what Buck knew, she had been kind to Shannon but didn't like her, but she had been kind since she knew that it didn't help to have anger at her. Eddie and Shannon were married and had a child together. It seemed that Abuela really liked Taylor, though.
"Ready?" Taylor asked as she got into the front seat of the Jeep.
"Yes," Chris said after Buck got him buckled in.
"Cool. Then let's get going, Buck."
Buck laughed, despite the worry in him. It was not good that he wanted Chris there with him as a shield. He didn't figure that he would be allowed to see Chim, but he wanted to make sure that Chim knew that Jee was safe with him.
Taylor felt the bed dip and move. She cracked her eyes open and looked around. It was the middle of the night, which meant that it must be Jee who needed something. Chris was asleep on the couch down in the living room, but Jee was in the Pack 'N Play in the living room with a baby monitor right there.
When she saw Buck with Chris and then later Jee, she had rethought what she wanted with her life. Yes, she wanted to be good at her job. She wanted the spot that she wanted, but she also wanted a family just as much. She knew that she and Buck could do it as well. They were both career-driven. Taylor knew that Buck wanted a family more than anything in the world.
Getting up, Taylor grabbed the hoodie that Buck had tossed over for her to use if she wanted. She slipped it on and found it didn't smell like Buck's others did. There was something else there. It was one of Eddie's. Which meant it was longer than normal as he bought long ones for his torso.
Buck was speaking softly to Jee as he fed her. Hen was going in the morning to pick up Chim with Albert. Taylor wasn't sure what would happen as the decision about Jee had not been made yet. Since none of them were family, no one but Albert would be getting anything. However, Albert hadn't wanted to go alone to pick up Chim.
Taylor knew that Buck had been worried about Maddie, and finding out that Maddie was isolating herself from everyone during her worst part with PPD made Buck pissed off. Chim had allowed it instead of stepping up and doing what was best for Maddie and especially what was best for Jee-Yun. As a woman, Taylor was pissed about many things that seemed to be going on in the Buckley family, and she was also upset at herself for calling Buck needy. She hadn't been told everything by Buck until recently, nighttime confession when he couldn't sleep.
Buck was pretty well adjusted for someone with a childhood as fucked up as he had. In fact, that night had proven to Taylor that she could trust Buck and lean on him. He had pretty big shoulders and seemed like the kind of person who could do anything for those he loved. Which was why Chim assaulting him had been so demoralizing to him.
Checking that she hadn't taken off her shorts, Taylor quietly walked down the stairs. She found where Buck was in the living room and settled beside him. She leaned into Buck's shoulder to look at Jee as she sucked on the bottle.
"Hey, I never did apologize for calling you needy so many months ago."
"You don't need to," Buck said.
"No, I really do. I really do. I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you, Evan Buckley, and I said those words to hurt you before. I was scared of letting you in, and I pushed. I'm sorry."
Buck leaned in for a quick kiss. He was smiling and rubbed his nose against hers.
"What time is it?" Taylor asked.
"Just after six. Eds will be here soon. They were pulled offline after their last call out, so Bobby sent a few of the people home who needed sleep, and there was no reason for him to go to sleep there and then just wake up to go home to sleep more. He's gonna crash here. I'll take Chris to school when it's time for him to go."
"Sounds good. I'm gonna go back up and sleep. Send him up to the bed when he gets here. You can sleep on the couch," Taylor said.
Taylor got up and checked on Chris, who was still out to the world. She smiled at the boy before heading up to get into bed again. Without Buck, she would need to stay in the hoodie. She half expected Buck to realize what she said and say something, but he didn't. Taylor was playing a long game with the two of them. She loved Buck and Eddie was a good man. She was pretty sure that they would work well together. Jealousy had never been in her wheelhouse, not over something as stupid as love. Then she connected with Buck again, and things had been strange, then Eddie had been shot.
Eddie getting shot had shown Taylor that Buck had something with him, but he wasn't going after it. Taylor assumed that it was that Eddie was straight. But lately, Eddie had been looking at Buck like he wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap and keep him close. Eddie had hated her before, but now they texted at least a few times a day, mostly about Buck, but he always asked how she was doing. Eddie was the kind of man that Taylor could see herself falling in love with. She was pretty sure that Buck was already in love with him. He was also in love with her. It wasn't like she would say no to having two men in her bed.
Drifting off was easy, just like waking up when Eddie got into bed was. Taylor felt the bed move, and Eddie made a protesting noise but shut up after getting his head on Buck's pillow. Taylor waited until Eddie drifted off to sleep before she got close to him. She tucked in as close as she dared and waited for what Eddie was going to do. He looped his arm over her and pulled her in close. She smiled and closed her eyes to slip into sleep again.
The smell of food woke up Taylor. She was on her front with Eddie all along her back. She felt his cock pressing into her ass, and as much as she wanted to push back into it, she didn't. Eddie would freak and run. Taylor had a long game she was playing with this.
"BREAKFAST!" Buck yelled.
"I'm gonna kill him," Eddie said.
"Not before I do," was Taylor's response to that.
Eddie laughed into Taylor's neck. He hadn't realized that he was pressed to her yet, or he knew and didn't care. Taylor hoped it was that one.
"If you two aren't down here in five minutes, I'm sticking your food in the fridge!"
"He'll do it too." Eddie groaned and rolled off of Taylor before he got up.
Taylor waited for Eddie to make it all the way down to the kitchen before she got up and decided to follow. She walked to him and kissed his cheek before going around to pull Buck in close to kiss him on the mouth. There was a stack of pancakes on the back burner, staying warm with the oven being on. He held her close with the kiss and made sure that Buck knew she loved him with it.
When Taylor looked at Eddie, she found his head ducked down, and there was a blush on his cheeks. He was adorable when he blushed.
"I promised Christopher a movie, and I only have a short shift at the station today. So, you had better make sure he's here, so we have time before dinner out tonight."
"Sure," Buck said. He shook his head and looked at Eddie.
Taylor also risked a glance at Eddie, who was now looking at Taylor. He looked confused again but not upset and confused. Taylor knew that the way to Buck's heart was through the Diaz men, but she hadn't realized that Buck's heart was with them that much as well. It would be the oddest little family, but then again, it would be a good family.
"You can invite the bigger Diaz as well. I think he would have some fun with us on movie night."
"I am right here," Eddie said.
"Ah, so you are. I wasn't sure how awake you were. Sometimes when Buck's exhausted from a shift, he's not fully there until coffee, and I saw that Buck still had it brewing."
"Yeah, I didn't realize the pot had turned itself off, so I had to get the water warmed up again."
"Done?" Taylor asked as she pointed at the pancake.
"Yeah," Buck said.
"There isn't enough for you," Eddie said.
"I ate with Christopher. We went to the little bistro near Durand so that the smell wouldn't wake you two up. Jee was really good for us and just babbled at everyone around. It was a good morning."
"He loves going there, and I can't believe you gave in to him," Eddie said.
"Actually, I was the one that told him. I made the coffee, and I could hear you both trying to wake up, so I just didn't make us breakfast here. Chris got the daily oatmeal. It looked pretty good, but he didn't let me try any. He actually smacked my hand with his spoon."
"He does the same to me," Eddie admitted.
"Good, you both deserve it, trying to steal a poor child's food."
Breakfast went about the same, with the three of them talking about various things. At least until Taylor had to leave. She had work clothes at Buck's, and she made sure to keep the hoodie to wear if she got cold in her office. She made sure that Eddie saw her do it.
"Why is she wearing my hoodie?" Eddie asked as she shut the door.
"Oh, that one is yours?" Buck asked.
Taylor kept her laugh to herself, and she hoped that Eddie stayed around for what was next. She really didn't want Buck alone when dealing with Chim. He needed someone, and she hadn't been able to take off work since she was doing a few interviews for things from people coming back to town to do them. So she was stuck at work, and at least Buck had Eddie.
Eddie watched as Buck paced. It wasn't the most worked-up Buck had gotten since Albert had called that they had made it into the city, but it was pretty fucking close. Eddie looked at the time again and wondered just when they would be getting there. He wanted this done and over with. He wanted Buck to start to get himself settled down into life, where he dealt with what happened to him. Dr. Copeland had offered to be here for this, but Buck had turned that down. The doctor had made sure that someone other than Chim and Buck would be there.
Though no one knew that Eddie had his phone ready to dial 9-1-1 if it came to it. Eddie would make sure he was subdued if Chim went after Buck again and the cops called. Athena knew that something might happen at Buck's place, and she was on shift today. Eddie didn't know what she knew, but he knew that she knew something was up. Eddie had no idea just how much Bobby had told her, but she had tried for a day to contact Buck, but he ducked her calls, and that was when she called Eddie. Eddie didn't break the promise he made to Buck not to tell anyone else. Buck wanted to get his head around it before he did that.
A knock on the door had Buck stopping, and he shook his head. He went to the stairs and walked up them to settle in the middle.
Eddie walked to where he was and kissed his forehead. "You are strong." He waited for Buck to nod his head, then opened the door.
Albert was the one there, and he looked grim.
"Morning, Eddie," Albert said, but he didn't seem shocked.
"Morning, Albert. Come on in. Jee is down for a nap. She slept fitfully last night.”
"Of course she did; she was kept away from me," Chim said. He moved to the side to where he was fully visible behind.
"Actually, I think it was Buck's nerves at this. She has been sleeping really well for us before that. Buck nearly vibrated out of his skin all night long. Even Chris couldn't get him to calm down; I think that Jee was picking up on that."
Chim gave Eddie a dirty look, but he at least didn't come in the door until Albert had already gone through it. He looked around as he did, probably looking for Jee, who was up in Buck's bed asleep with pillows all around her on the bed but also on the floor. Eddie hadn't even realized that Buck had that many pillows, but he found out it was for pillow forts in the living room for him and Chris.
"I want to see my daughter," Chim said.
"No," Albert said.
"What?" Chim asked.
"You promised your doctor you were going to talk about everything first and then, and only then were you going to go home with Jee-Yun. It can wait until then. You've not seen her in three days, but it'll be fine."
Eddie wondered where that spine of steel had come from in Albert.
"No, and after we leave here, you are going to talk to the therapist that you said you would. I'm not going to allow you to break the promises you made. I'm doing everything that I said I would. Bobby knows to expect us after that. I'm more than capable of taking care of Jee-Yun while you do what you need to do to be a good father to her."
Chim looked pissed off, but he took a few breaths and then calmed down. He looked at where Buck was. "So you are protecting him in this?"
"Howie!" Albert hissed.
"Well, he was the one that was assaulted in his own home. He is the one that knew the least about everything going into this."
"He knew everything! Maddie told him when she wouldn't tell me!" Chim screamed. He paused and took a breath.
Eddie saw Buck raise up the monitor in his hand and raise it to his ear. There seemed to be no sound from it as Buck lowered it again.
"Keep your voice down, or we will do this at the police station."
"She's my daughter."
"And the only reason she's not in foster care in Oxnard and a report filed about it all is that the officer who took the case was sympathetic about what you were going through, Chim. He knew that things were strained and you were drowning, so he found a family to place Jee-Yun with instead of putting her into the system. If they had gone the legal route, you would have to prove to the courts that you are fine."
"You are going to keep her?"
"No, I'm not. You can leave with her today, once I am sure you will not go crazy and run after Maddie again. You have to take care of her, and that's not something you can do while stuffing her in a car all day long."
Chim flinched, and he looked up behind Buck.
"You were put on a psych hold, Chim. I have no clue what for, but you do. You have to decide what is best for you and for Jee, and right now, I don't think you really can."
"No, I can't. I need Maddie to understand that she's not a threat to Jee-Yun. She needs her mother."
"Chim, how long has she had PPD?" Eddie asked.
"Since pretty much when Jee was born," Chim admitted.
"People with PPD need help. You allowed her to isolate herself from everyone, and that wasn't a help."
"No, I understand that now. I didn't like to go against what she wanted. I didn't want her thinking I was like Doug and trying to control her." Chim slumped a little, and he waved toward the stool by the island in the kitchen.
"Have a seat. Do you two need anything?"
"Water," Albert said.
"You know where it is," Buck said.
Albert headed to get two glasses and some water. Eddie stayed where he was so that he could make it between Chim and Buck if Chim got angry again. Albert handed one of the glasses to Chim and stayed on the other side of Chim.
"The doctor I worked with helped me some, but as she said, the hold was more about making sure I wasn't a threat to anyone, even myself but most especially Jee-Yun. I was going to head out again to go after Maddie until this morning; my talk with my doctor made me see that I needed to put Jee above Maddie. Maddie and I are part of Jee's support network, but we are not the only ones. I just thought that if I could find her, I could convince her that she wasn't a threat to Jee."
"But you don't know what she was going through. None of us did. You don't know what happened with Maddie during the blackout. You should have talked to Bobby and talked to him about it. You needed to be with Maddie given everything," Eddie said.
"Really, you are going to say that?"
"Chim, I have my faults in my marriage that blew up, but I was operating under the assumption that my family was helping Shannon in place of me. I didn't have Shannon cut off from everyone. I didn't allow her to isolate herself. Does your doctor think you have PPD as well?"
"She thought that I might. I have a recommendation and an appointment with a gentleman who specializes in outpatient PPD in the non-childbearing partner."
"I'm glad you are getting help, but Bobby knows about this," Buck said as he waved his hand at his face.
"You ran and told him?"
"No, I didn't run and tell him. You broke a bone in my face Chim. I can't really do a lot of heavy stuff with that. No running into a burning building since the bone-breaking more would be detrimental. I can do some calls and be the man behind."
"I can't have broken a bone. I didn't hit that hard." Chim sounded like he believed that. That he hadn't hurt Buck that much.
"Do you want to see the X-Ray?" Buck asked.
"I'm sorry," Chim said.
Eddie wasn't sure it wasn't just a rote apology.
"I get that you are, but while I can forgive, even if Eddie thinks I shouldn't, I can't forget. I can't forget that you went for violence in a moment of stress. Eddie's convinced me that Maddie needs to know, so I will be telling her when she's at a point in her recovery."
Eddie stepped over to the bottom of the stairs, and he sat down there before looking at Chim. "The only thing that Buck knew was that Maddie had taken Jee to see a doctor, Chim. He knew nothing else. Maddie was not well then and her not telling you is on her."
"I got it, Eds," Buck said.
Eddie nodded. He wanted to look at Buck, but he really didn't want to take his eyes off Chim, even if Albert was right there. Eddie wasn't sure he would trust Chim again either. They might not be able to at work.
"I'm still on leave because of Jee-Yun, but I'll be back at work the next shift. You are not alone, Chim. You have a village of people to help you if you ask for it. You just need to actually ask for it. Albert told me that you weren't even having the Lees help you. Why?"
"I needed to prove to Maddie that I could do it."
"Maddie had you. Yeah, the blackout messed everything up, but she had someone else to help her. You left Jee with someone the night you came over and punched me."
"The Lees. Albert was on shift," Chim said.
"Good. I'm glad. Now, what else are you going to do?"
"I don't know. The doctor said I needed to wait until I had seen the guy at least once. I don't know. I don't like it. She could be anywhere, Buck."
"And you are a firefighter with a baby. She's under a year old. I don't know what kind of hunting you were thinking was going to happen. You have no history of detective work. You have her taking money out of a bank. I can only hope that she is using it to check into a place to get help, but she doesn't want you following her, and that's why she's not paying using a check from the bank or having billing going through on insurance."
"I need to protect her, and she's not letting me."
"Chim, you've tried that already," Eddie said.
"No, listen, you kept her PPD from everyone. Her support network was gone, and you allowed that. You thought you were protecting her, but you weren't, and it's only because I know it was from a place of love that I am not even being upset more than I am. You were doing your best, and I get it. She needs more than you right now, and you have to trust that she's getting what she wants. Jee wasn't safe with you. You were arrested and then put into a hospital for a hold. I have no clue what went on, but Chim, that's not good."
Chim nodded his head. Eddie wasn't sure they were actually getting through to him, but he could only hope that Chim took it all seriously.
Buck looked tired when Eddie looked back at him. Eddie knew that Buck still wasn't sleeping the best because of his aching face. He also seemed to have a few nightmares about the tsunami.
"Well, I know that this is all well and good, but I do want to talk about the elephant in the room that I'm not even sure that Chim knows. I got a call from my son who told me that you attacked Buck."
"How would Chris know?" Chim asked.
"He was here," Buck said.
"What?" Chim looked gutted. It pissed Eddie off.
"Oh, so now you are upset that Chris saw you hit someone, not the fact that you hit someone. Chim, leave. Albert, you can go up and get Jee. All of her things are in the living room, and Chim can get those."
"This is Buck's place," Chim said.
"Yup, it is, and I want you out as well. Do as Eddie said." Buck stood up and moved up the stairs.
Eddie was going to stay where he was. Buck would be fine up with Albert. Eddie wasn't sure where Albert was on all of this, and he would reach out to him to make sure that he knew he had someone to talk to. Albert was doing what a good brother did and making sure that Chim was fine; it was up to the rest of them to make sure that Albert was okay.
Taylor looked up from the papers she was working on and looked at Chris, who was staring at her. He was leaning on the counter and just staring at her. She knew he wanted attention, but she wasn't sure she wanted to engage with that look. Eddie and Buck were out picking up dinner. They celebrated Buck being allowed back on full duty at work as long as he wore a hard shield on his face that was approved for going into fires if he went into a building.
Chris hadn't wanted to go out, so Taylor had offered to stay with him while they fetched the food.
"Yes?" Taylor asked.
"You like Buck."
"Do you like Dad?"
Taylor raised an eyebrow at that.
"You kiss him on the cheek just like you do Buck when we are all together. You flirted with him a little bit ago."
"I did flirt with him. Neither he nor Buck has noticed."
"Dad and Buck flirt with each other too. Carla says so."
"Hmm, they do." Taylor leaned back on the stool she was on. She looked at Chris. He didn't seem to be upset. "How do you feel about all three of us in a relationship?"
"Can you do that?"
"Oh, yes. It's called a triad. Some call it a throuple, but I really don't like that term. I like triad better."
"So I would have two dads and a mom?"
"Well, I would never expect you to call me mom. You can call me Taylor just like you do now. You had a mother who loved you, she might have had her issues, but she loved you. She never would have left you like that if she had a choice. I could be a good friend or like an aunt, but I don't ever have to be mom."
"Why? Don't you want to be?" Chris asked.
"I had a stepmother for a few years when I was a kid. I didn't like her, and I was forced to call her mom. I promised myself that if I ever got into a relationship with someone who had a child, I would never, ever force them to call me mom."
"I'm sorry that happened. I like you better than I liked Miss Flores. She was fun as a teacher, but she helped me too much. You ask and will wait until I ask for help. You and Bucky both treat me like I can take care of myself, and I really like that. Daddy really likes that. A lot is going on, but I didn't want you to think you were as stealthy as you thought you were being."
"Well, I'm not really trying all that hard, Chris. Eddie and Buck just really don't realize how they are together."
"I think they love each other. Daddy was really worried about Buck when he came over after telling him that Chim had punched him. I was scared, but I knew that Buck had to be even more scared. Dad would make it all better, and he did, even if he can't make him heal faster."
"Ah, but he has been. Being around people you love and trust makes someone feel better, and they heal faster. It's why I've been around more. It's why your father is having you and he around more as well. It's what we do for people we love."
"So, are you trying to woo Daddy to love you as well?"
"Something like that. I know that he doesn't like me too much from before when I was more of an unfun person, but I grew up a little and expanded to realize that I can have my job and the other things I like and I don't have to be mean to everyone to get ahead."
"Well, Dad likes you now. I heard him talking to Carla that he was finding himself liking you despite the past, which I didn't understand until you just told me. So what are you going to do about all of this?"
Taylor laughed, and she looked at her phone when it vibrated. She pulled it close to read the text from Eddie that they were running late, their food had an issue, and so they were waiting for it all to be remade.
"Well, I'm going to stay like I am right now because if I push too much, your father is going to run the other way."
"He might. So I just have to be patient?" Chris asked.
"We are all happy right now. I make sure that we all spend time together. We will work out a way to slowly become something else."
Chris nodded his head. He watched Taylor as she did the rest of the work she had brought home with her. Chris had his homework done, and dinner was going to be eaten in front of the TV tonight as they all watched a movie together. It was what Buck wanted to do, but he hadn't wanted to go out to a movie, so they bought a new one digitally and were going to watch it.
Buck had made his bed bigger; well, he had bought a bigger bed and then made it fit in the space he had his bedroom in. The bed down in the living room for Chris worked well just for him since it was small-sized, but the upper bedroom was big enough for all three adults. Usually, Buck slept in the middle when Eddie and Chris stayed over when Taylor was.
"Honey, we're home," Buck called out as he opened the door with Eddie behind him.
Eddie was shaking his head, and it made Taylor laugh.
"What?" Buck asked.
"You are like a kid sometimes, and it's great," Eddie said.
Buck looked confused about that.
"You had a shitty childhood, and you didn't let it change you into someone mad at the world. You've been through just enough while I've known you that I wouldn't be shocked if you did hate the world. You are sunshine in my life, just like Chris is."
Buck smiled at Eddie, and there on his face was all of that love that Taylor knew was inside him. Eddie was looking at Buck much the same. They were a pair of idiots, but they were her idiots.
The affection she felt for Eddie had been growing over the last two weeks. It felt like maybe the parts missing from her relationship with Buck were filled by Eddie. It was a good thing, though, because it meant they would fit together well.
Eddie planned on taking Chris back to the house. Taylor just needed to figure out a way to get her and Buck over at the Diaz household. Buck's place wasn't big enough for all of them, and Taylor needed to look at Eddie's place. She wondered if maybe the Mexican night should happen there. She knew from Buck that Eddie had everything they would need outside of the food.
Buck was in control of food most of the time. Taylor had the things she could do, Eddie had his things, but Buck was the one that knew the most. Eddie was good at baking and making some staples. He didn't do well at in-depth things when it came to cooking; he tended to cook at too high a temperature or for too long.
"Dinner smells great," Taylor said as Eddie started to set out the stuff that was in his bags.
Buck went right to the living room with his. He must have the appetizers for them. Chris' meal was the only one that would be eaten by just him. Taylor closed up her work and then helped Eddie split up the food. Buck came in to get their drinks while Chris started to munch on a few things in the living room. Taylor carried her food as well as Chris'. She settled his plate down beside him and took the seat on his other side. It would leave Buck and Eddie to sit on the other end.
Chris held out his hand, which was curled into a fist. She reached out and gave him the first bump that he wanted.
When dinner was over and the movie was over, Eddie collected Chris, and Taylor's heart ached as saying goodnight to them. She hadn't even become this attached to Buck in such a short time.
"Hey, you okay?" Buck asked when she came back after helping the Diaz men to the car.
"Yeah, the place just feels empty without them here. That's all."
"I feel the same. Why don't we head to bed?" Buck asked.
Taylor nodded. With Eddie and Chris staying over as much as they had been, they hadn't had a lot of alone time. Taylor was all for alone time. She reached under her shirt and undid her bra; she loved the size her breasts were. They were kind of perfect. Buck loved them, of course; he loved to use them to rile her up.
"Why don't I go slip into something more comfortable?" Taylor asked.
Buck nodded his head.
Taylor felt his eyes on her the entire way up the stairs as she slipped her shirt off. She tossed it on the hamper in the corner and then slipped her bra off as well. Her bras were comfortable as well as sexy. Buck loved the new style she had bought, so she replaced most of her bras with it.
Buck did his normal check to ensure the place was secure and that everything was off. It was something that Taylor was used to. Even if they were just having a quick round of sex before doing something else, he always checked everything. It was the firefighter in him. It made Taylor feel safe, and it made her feel like this wasn't just sex. He cared more about their safety than he did sex.
Taylor was on her knees in the middle of the bed when Buck crested the stairs. He stopped for a few seconds and just looked at her. He grinned and plucked at the hem of his shirt. Taylor nodded her head, and she watched Buck as he stripped naked.
"What do you want?" Buck asked.
"I think that I want to have you climb on top of me and make love to me. I want to feel you moving inside of me for as long as you can do it."
"Then I think that I might need that cock ring," Buck said.
"You get it from the bathroom, and I'll get the condom." Taylor dropped back on the bed and enjoyed how Buck's eyes went to her breasts. No one had ever made her feel like she was perfect, exactly like she was before Buck. She wouldn't trade him for anything. She just really hoped that they could add in someone to make Buck perfectly happy. Taylor didn't mind having two beautiful men on her arm either, and she loved Christopher and wanted to spend time with him.
Buck had invaded her life and made her want all of the things she had thought she would never want in life.
Once the condom was in hand, Taylor flopped on her back again, knees up and legs spread just enough to allow Buck to get between them. Buck had stamina, but long-drawn-out sex where he was constantly inside of her was just not something he could do without coming. She watched as Buck came out of the bathroom, and he was already hard enough to be wearing the cock ring. He climbed onto the bed and grinned at Taylor as he grabbed the condom to put it on. Taylor was on birth control, but when they were going at it before bed and didn't want to fully clean up, she usually had Buck wear a condom. He never minded and sometimes offered just for ease.
"In me, big guy," Taylor said.
Buck laughed and shook his head before getting closer to her and letting her wrap her legs around him. He leaned down to start kissing. Taylor was all for the kissing. He was a great kisser, and she felt like there were days she wanted to do this for hours, and it got no further than just this. Kissing was just great.
"Come on," Taylor said as she rocked her hips up to rub on Buck's cock. She knew he was playing with her and wanted to make her ask for it in some way.
"Patience," Buck said, but he got up on the one hand and gripped his cock before he set himself up to slide inside of her. He didn't pause as he thrust into her, going all the way inside as he took up kissing her once more.
Taylor wasn't sure how long they were going. She knew that Buck's back was going to be a mess of scratch marks as she just couldn't not, especially when Buck was too good at holding her up and rocking up into her. It was the kind of sex that Taylor loved, it was messy and sweaty and full of emotion, and before Buck, she hadn't had it since college. She just wanted this for the rest of her life, really, and she hoped that Buck, and eventually Eddie, was up for that.
Pushing Buck down, Taylor used his chest to prop herself up for the last bit. She felt the subtle tremor in Buck's legs that said he wasn't able to stay up for much longer. Taylor was so close that she knew it wouldn't take much to tip her over again, and Buck would come as soon as the cock ring was off him.
All it took was him reaching up and pulling her down into a kiss as his other hand ghosted over a nipple. All Taylor wanted to do was slump down into Buck and let him cuddle her, but first, orgasm. She reached down and opened the snap on the leather cock ring and ground down into Buck to help him along to orgasm.
They were a sweaty mess, but Taylor didn't care. One of them would get up and get a rag, usually Buck, to give a wipe down and then they would sleep and shower in the morning.
Eddie stared at the keys in his hand. He debated what he was going to do. He had been doing it for an hour before he left to come here, and he took the longest way possible to get to Buck's place. He knew that Buck and Taylor had chosen to stay in for their date night, so they were there. It wasn't anywhere close to bedtime because they were off work the next day, the start of their long break.
Finally working himself up for it, Eddie stuck his key in the door and let himself in. He looked to see the plates on the island, so the dinner portion was over, which meant they watched whatever movie they felt like watching. It was a good time; at least they wouldn't have to worry about their food getting cold.
"Buck, I-" Eddie stopped as he came around the stairs and got the full sight of Taylor in Buck's lap, mostly naked. "Ah, shit." Eddie spun around to where he had his back to them. He cursed himself for thinking that they were just going to be watching a movie. He knew they had sex; it was what their relationship had been the first time. They probably had sex more than Eddie jerked off.
"It's safe, Eds," Buck said.
It wasn't that Eddie didn't trust him, but Eddie wasn't sure what was going on with Taylor, and he didn't know what they considered safe. So Eddie spun around slowly and opened his eyes fully only when he saw something on Taylor's upper body. What she had on kind of proved what Eddie was trying to figure out. It was one of Eddie's Henley's, one that he knew he had thrown into his bag the last time he was here and stayed the night with Chris and Buck.
"I'm sorry I didn't expect you guys to be this far," Eddie said. He looked at Buck's face expecting to see anger, but there was none. So he looked at Taylor next, and she just looked smug? Was that the look on her face? Smugness?
"It's fine. It's not like you ignored the sock on the door." Taylor stood up, and Eddie realized that she was pretty much just wearing the Henley and maybe some underwear. She had been more naked than Eddie thought.
"Still, I'm just going to go."
"Don't," Taylor said. She laid a hand on Eddie's shoulder and then shoved him toward the couch. She didn't push hard, so it was only still in shock that allowed her to shove at him. "I'll get us some drinks."
"No alcohol!" Buck said.
Eddie wasn't sure what was going on, but he felt like he had stepped through into the Twilight Zone.
Taylor came back a moment later with what looked like glasses of tea. She set all three down on the coffee table and settled on the couch on the other end from where Buck was. Eddie had two choices on where to sit, anywhere else and in between them. He chose to stay where he was and ignore the glass of tea.
"Eds, come sit down, quit staring at us like we just stepped out of pods."
"As if you have ever seen a movie with pod people," Eddie said.
Buck raised an eyebrow as he leaned forward to grab his glass of tea. He had that look that told Eddie was nearing a line Buck didn't want him to cross. Eddie knew that Buck didn't watch a lot of movies growing up. He had read because that activity didn't require his parents after getting his library card.
"You look like a deer caught in the headlights, Eddie. I know you have seen a woman naked before."
"Yeah, I don't usually like to barge in."
"Well, Buck and I both know you have a key, and we are in the living room area. It's not like you barged into the bedroom."
"No, thankfully, I didn't do that," Eddie said. He relaxed some but not enough to go and sit down. He wanted to sit in the space left for him on the couch, but he was afraid of what that meant. "We need to talk."
"About what?" Buck asked.
"Whatever game Taylor is playing."
Taylor looked at Eddie, shocked and then at Buck in fear. Eddie wasn't sure what game she was playing with Eddie, but it needed to stop. He refused to let Taylor hurt Buck. Eddie might not be with Buck, but he would support him in anything that made him happy.
"Eddie, it's called flirting," Buck said.
Eddie looked at Buck in shock, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Taylor was looking at Buck the same way.
"You knew?" Taylor asked.
"I have for about two weeks. The third date for Eddie and me that you set up while watching Christopher since you and he wanted a night together watching stuff? Yeah, that clued me in.'' Buck leaned forward on the couch and looked at Eddie. "What clued you in?"
"A comment Chris made to me about asking for names that he would call someone that wasn't mom, mama, or mother. He tried to hide the other paper about names for father, but I saw it and was confused as hell until I realized that he thought that we three were in a relationship."
"Well, we kind of are," Buck said.
"You knew?" Taylor asked. She was shocked enough that it seemed she was still stuck on that.
"I thought Eddie dating Ana was his subtle way of telling me that he was straight without having to say it and possibly ruin our friendship. So I moved on like a grown adult should. Then you started to flirt with him, and I wasn't sure what was going on. Until I figured out you were also sending Eddie and me on dates, and then you went on a date with him."
"I have not gone on a date with your girlfriend," Eddie said.
"But you did," Taylor said.
Eddie shook his head, and he tried to figure out what they considered a date until he remembered that museum thing that Buck and Chris went to while Eddie and Taylor had gone to that steak place that Buck didn't like and then had gone to the little street fair they found.
Eddie had figured it was just Taylor trying to get along with him, and he had gone for the same reason.
"Stealth dating, really?" Eddie asked.
"If I asked you to date us, you would have run for the hills." Taylor stood up and walked over to Eddie. "When Buck started to really talk to me again, I could see the love you two had. I knew that he was moving on, but I also knew that Buck would not stay with me if he thought that he was just settling if he didn't end up loving me as much as he did you. Then you and Ana ended things, and everything kind of changed. You weren't an asshole to me anymore."
"No, I wasn't." Eddie swallowed and debated stepping back from her, but that would be showing fear, and he wasn't going to do that. Not with Taylor.
"Hell, sometimes you looked at me like you wanted to throw me over a table and fuck me mute."
Eddie swallowed as he did remember that moment. He hadn't meant to think it; he hadn't meant to start to get hard. He had run for the hills then and made sure no one had noticed, only it seemed that she had.
"It was when I knew that I wasn't chasing a wild horse. So, instead of trying to turn you on, I started to woo you," Taylor said.
Eddie looked back at Buck, only he wasn't on the couch anymore; he was standing behind Taylor. "You knew."
"I did, but I wanted to see how it all played out. What I didn't know was that she had Chris on her side."
"Well, Chris was the first one to notice that I was flirting with Eddie, and Chris didn't like it." Taylor was smirking as she grabbed a handful of Eddie's shirt.
"Christopher is the smartest of all of us," Buck said.
Eddie felt like he was trapped. He knew that if he backed off, they would, but he didn't want that. He wanted what they were offering, but he was scared. The worst of it was that Eddie wasn't scared of being with them. He was scared that he thought about Taylor and Buck as parents to Chris, to them being in the family, and there was no feeling of panic like there was with Ana. It felt right. Which did kind of scare him.
"Are you going to kiss me?" Taylor asked.
Eddie looked at Buck. No matter what right now, Buck had more of a claim on her. They hadn't defined a damned thing, but Eddie wanted that kiss so badly from both of them.
"Only if you want," Buck said.
The sure look on Buck's face was what carried Eddie forward to brush his lips over Taylor's. She made a soft noise as he pulled back, and when Eddie opened his eyes, it looked like she wanted to pull him back in, but she didn't. Eddie looked at Buck next, who was still standing there behind Taylor.
"I'm not ready for sex," Eddie said. He felt the blush creep up at the look on Eddie's face.
"No kidding. I know how long it took you and Ana to warm up to sex, Eds. Taylor and I will wait as long as you want on that." Buck stepped around Taylor, and he cupped Eddie's face with one hand before asking with a raised eyebrow if it was okay to kiss him. Eddie nodded.
Buck brought up his hand to cup Eddie's other cheek, and he pressed their lips together with intent but didn't try and push more than that.
Eddie felt hands on his shoulders, and then Taylor was pressed behind him.
"I'll go and find some pants to wear. Eddie, where is Chris?"
"I dropped him at Abuela's when I knew I wanted to confront you both tonight. She said she would keep him all night long, and I could pick him up in the morning."
"Well, good. Then we can do that and then talk to him," Taylor said.
"You don't want to try a date where we all three know it's a date first?" Eddie asked.
"No," Buck answered. His eyes were dark, and he looked like he wouldn't take any other answer than telling Chris as soon as possible. "I don't want to lie to him."
"He's going to be fine with it," Taylor said.
"I know. I just worry about telling him too soon. I think I did with Ana."
"Eddie, he saw the flirting first, before even me. He's not gonna be happy if we keep it from him, and I don't want to start this relationship lying to him about anything."
Eddie got it then. The lying. That was the issue. Just like Maddie and his parents had lied by keeping his brother from him. How Maddie and Chimney had lied to him and covered up the PPD, and it had started all of this. Keeping everything with Doug from him, even after she had moved here.
"Okay, that's fine. I don't mind telling him." Eddie stepped back from Buck to see that Taylor was heading up and what he saw, she wasn't wearing her underwear.
"You wanna grab something to snack on? I'll clean up the clothes in the living room," Buck said.
Eddie nodded. He thought about Taylor up there without anything really on, and he remembered that morning he woke up wrapped around her. He had tried to disengage without pressing his cock into her. He just took it to mean that he needed to jerk off more if he was getting hard while sleeping in bed with someone he wasn't with. Now he had to wonder just how long Taylor had been slowly pulling Eddie into this.
Buck headed up the stairs while Eddie was popping the second bag of popcorn; he came down a minute later and went right for Eddie.
"So, breakfast out? We can get something in before taking Chris to school, right?"
"Sure. Do you want me to stay here?" Eddie asked. He had already stayed over enough and shared a bed that he wasn't that worried about it.
"That's up to you. I promise to keep my hands to myself while I'm awake. I can make no promises while I'm asleep."
Eddie nodded his head at that because he really didn't mind it. He had liked waking up with Taylor in his arms that one morning and holding Buck on the mornings after it.
"So, I'm the frog, huh?" Eddie asked.
"Frog?" Taylor asked. She was still wearing Eddie's Henley but had a pair of Buck's sweats on.
"Dante's Peak, the lines about sticking a frog in hot water and it'll jump out, but if you set the frog in cold water and slowly warm it up, it'll stay there until it cooks," Buck said.
"Gross," Taylor answered. She nodded her head, though. "It works, though. I knew you would run away if I overly flirted with you at first, so I did it very subtly and then built on it. It wasn't the worst way to spend my time. Chris and I bonded, and I got to see Buck be a wonderful father."
Eddie agreed that Buck was good at being a father to Chris. He just hoped that the day never came where Buck had to tell Chris that Eddie was gone. Eddie fought to get back to them both when he had been trapped in that well. He had made sure he got there. He wanted it more than anything, but he hadn't realized that it wasn't just that Buck was his best friend.
The road they were on really had started a while back.
"You are that lovely woman that Buck is dating, aren't you? Taylor Kelly?" someone asked.
Taylor looked up from where she was picking up the groceries for the evening. She had everything but the seafood. It was being prepared for her, and she would head back and snag it before heading to the register. The woman she was looking at was around the age of Taylor's aunts.
"I'm Josephina, Eddie's tia," Pepa said.
"Tia Pepa, Buck talks about you a lot."
"I see that you are shopping for dinner. I know that meal."
"Yes, I was the last off work, so I get to pick up things. I'm not that sure about pineapple and chorizo with the chicken and shrimp. Buck didn't tell me what he's making." Taylor wasn't sure what else she should say.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll love it. Buck does very much. I was planning on heading over to talk Eddie into letting me cook for them."
Taylor froze, and there must have been something on her face.
"Miss Kelly?" Pepa asked.
"Well, actually, Buck's cooking for Eddie. That's where I'm headed. Chris demanded Buck come over to help him with math."
"Eddie never was too good at math. I think he gets a little lost on it sometimes. He did well on the math needed for being a firefighter, but I think it was because it was something he could use. He was good at school when it interested him."
"I was much the same way. Buck is as well."
"Buck and Eddie are good together."
Taylor heard the tone more than the words. Pepa might like Taylor, but she thought Eddie and Buck should be together. She had heard a few people at the fire station say something like that when they thought she couldn't hear them. At least after she had heard that, she understood better why people there didn't like her.
COVID had taught Taylor a lot.
"They really are. You can help me figure out how much extra I need, and I can bring you along to dinner. Buck won't mind."
"I don't think I should intrude," Pepa said.
"Nonsense. The more, the merrier. I promise that no one will be upset about this." Taylor really hoped that she was speaking the truth. She didn't want to upset Eddie, but this was better than Pepa showing up.
"Well, okay then. Let's get what we need."
An hour later, Taylor was pulling up to Eddie's house. Buck had already brought over all of her stuff; tonight was the first time she and Buck were staying over at Eddie's place as a triad. A month of dates between pairs of them and a few with all three of them. There had been a few nights with all three of them there.
Chris had taken to the relationship with happiness. He liked having three people around a lot more. He liked Taylor, and he liked hanging out with her. Taylor had times where she tried to help him, and he was pretty good at making sure she knew his boundaries.
"I'll get more of the fresh herbs. You can pick up more pineapple."
"More?" Taylor asked as she looked at the one in the cart. It was huge!
"Buck will eat a good bit while he cooking. If we want enough for the meal, we need to make sure that he has enough to snack on."
Taylor laughed as she could see that. She was going to grab another three of them. One for the meal and the other two could be cut up and stuck in the fridge for snacks for them. She grabbed a few other things as well as a whole big bag of turnips. She still had no clue where Buck had gotten a love for them, but he did.
"Did you take the bus?" Taylor asked when they exited the store a while later with their purchases.
"Oh, yes, Eddie seldom lets me drive home late at night, so I just take the bus to his place. Last time he had Buck drive me home when he was going home. He worries, especially with the job he has. Buck was a darling, took me home, and even talked with me for a while. I was worried about Eddie being alone."
"Well, then you can ride with me," Taylor said.
Taylor debated texting Eddie and Buck, but she didn't want them worrying. It was like they were going to step into them, making out in the living room. Unless Chris was in bed, they only did that in the bedroom. Kisses were freely shared but nothing more than a quick peck. There was a lot of very modest touching, but Eddie and Buck had done that long before the three of them started something.
Chris was on the front porch with what looked like a cat sitting in his lap. She had no clue where it came from, but Eddie had said it liked to visit Chris in the evenings lately.
"Tay!" Chris called out, and the cat jumped off his lap and took off running.
Yup, that was the cat that came to visit Chris and didn't let anyone else near her. It was strange as hell, but she knew that animals could be weird.
"Hey, little man. You hungry?" Taylor asked.
"Who is-PEPA!" Chris stood up and took a step before realizing that he didn't have his crutches. He pouted.
"You go to him, and I'll get the groceries," Taylor said. She had seen him the night before; Pepa had not.
Taylor focused on getting her bag over her shoulder and ensuring her laptop was secure before she headed to the trunk for the groceries. She turned and saw Buck already there, with the hint of lipstick on his cheek that said he had seen Pepa, and she had tried to take it off after kissing his cheek.
"She's got Eddie cornered in the living room."
"Well, I'm glad that I ran into her at the store. She was planning on coming over and cooking dinner for Eddie and Chris."
"Hmm, what did you tell her?" Buck asked.
"Nothing. She came up to me asking if I was your girlfriend. She had me get more of most things, and I went ahead and got two extra pineapples on top of that for cutting up and sticking in the fridge."
"Sounds good. I'll get inside and get going. We heard Chris scream for Pepa, so I wanted to greet her. Eddie and I weren't exactly in a position friends should be in."
"And here I thought you two would be decent with Chris around."
"Oh, we were but also not decent enough for Pepa."
Taylor laughed, and she leaned in for a kiss. Buck had most of the bags in his hands as he walked away. Taylor grabbed the one with eggs and bread before getting the trunk shut and the car locked up. Chris was still on the porch waiting on her. She moved the bag to the side that Chris wasn't on and leaned in for a hug.
"Missed you," Chris said.
"I saw you last night."
"Still missed you."
"You saw him last night?" Pepa asked.
"Yes," Taylor said.
Pepa looked up at Eddie, who was in the kitchen. She went toward him, and she started with a string of Spanish.
"Oh, no," Christopher and Buck said at the same time.
"Tia!" Eddie yelled, and he looked toward them in a bit of a panic.
"Your grandmother thinks that your girlfriend watched Christopher last night."
"Well, she did," Buck said.
Pepa turned and looked at Buck.
"I'm dating both Buck and Taylor," Eddie said.
Taylor wasn't sure that inviting Pepa over for dinner was a good idea anymore. She knew that Eddie was working on how to tell his family. She walked around to stand behind Eddie while Buck stayed over where Pepa was.
"We all went into it with eyes open, ma'am," Taylor said.
"Honestly?" Pepa asked.
"She downright hunted me for sport," Eddie said.
"Well, he's not wrong. Taylor made it her mission for Eddie and me to accept that we wanted each other, and she also made sure she got to know Eddie. In fact, Chris is the one that noticed she was flirting with Eddie before Eddie and I did. I promise you that we are all working toward being a family, all four of us."
"Your grandmother was saddened that after Ana, you didn't go to Buck, but she also understood Buck was with Taylor. She does like watching you on the screen. She was excited you were already trusting someone else to watch Christopher but him talking about Buck's Taylor makes a lot more sense. You are all being safe?"
"I'm on birth control and-" Taylor trailed off and looked back, but Chris wasn't in sight. "We aren't to something more with Eddie yet."
"Eddie always was pretty hard to get into bed. His sisters used to gripe when friends of theirs were upset at that. Eddie was always a heartbreaker. So is there anything else that needs to be discussed?" Pepa asked.
"No, please don't tell my father," Eddie said.
"I wouldn't tell him anything to do with you, and neither would Mom. Don't worry, Eddie. We are on your side. Your parents might have their heads in the sand about your relationship with Buck, but they were the only ones. Your sisters ask your grandmother all the time if you two have been locked in a closet yet. We will not tell anyone. I understand you want to take your time. I am not sure your father would accept this, not even just the Buck part but the not being in a monogamous relationship."
"Well, they can blame that all on me. I'm pretty, and I deserve to get what I want."
Taylor was happy that Pepa seemed to be on the side of Eddie being happy more than anything.
When they went to bed later that night, Chris was happy that he had someone to talk to about all of this that wasn't the three of them. Eddie seemed happy that someone in his family knew and wasn't pissed off, but he would let Pepa tell Abuela.
"You got a bigger bed," Buck said.
"Yes, you did as well. It's not like we would all fit with how Taylor sleeps if I hadn't," Eddie said.
"Hey!" Taylor said, and she threw a pillow at Eddie.
Eddie laughed and pulled the pillow to stick it under his head as he laid down.
"Not wanting to be in the middle tonight?" Buck asked.
"Nah, just in case Chris comes in. I'm mostly certain he would just wake up whoever is on this side of the bed, but I just want to be sure."
"I didn't expect Pepa to figure it out."
"Well, it's mainly because of gossip by people. How did they even start to think you had a girlfriend?"
"I have no clue. I said a friend was watching Chris last night since Carla had another person she was with. My family is just too smart."
Buck yawned, and he covered his mouth. He shook his head like he was trying to wake himself up.
"Just come to bed," Eddie said.
Buck stripped to just his boxers and then all, but face dived onto the bed, laying over Eddie. Eddie laughed and shoved at him with an arm until Buck finally moved to where he was lying in the middle of the bed, which was a place that he usually never went without Eddie or her pushing him to go there. Taylor felt like many changes were happening with Buck, being with not only her but also Eddie, who was good at seeing what Taylor missed.
"Sleep," Buck said.
Taylor grabbed the T-shirt that had been left out for her, and she laid down, getting into Buck's arms and feeling Eddie's fingers brush down her side. She closed her eyes and let herself slip into sleep.
Eddie was leaning on the railing as the shift was getting ready to start. It had been just over two months since the punch, and Chim was returning for his first shift. He had been cleared to work again but only as the man behind until they could figure out if he was able to leave Jee-Yun for that long. So far, he had done well at being away for nearly six hours, according to what they knew from Albert. It wasn't the best thing, but hopefully, at being the man behind, he could check in as much as he needed and would slow that down. Buck was one of the ones who watched Jee when it was needed, with Chim being the one dropping her off and picking her up.
Things were chilly between Buck and Chim, but Chim hadn't pressed much, even when it was settled that for now, there would be nothing at work other than making sure that Chim and Buck weren't left alone for long. Eddie was the main one who was following that because he didn't want Chim to say anything else that would upset Buck.
Buck internalized many things and while they were still working on it with Doctor Copeland. It was pretty slow going on as nearly thirty years of internalizing that he was the cause of everything that went wrong.
Chim walked in, and he was looking at something on his phone. He stopped when he got closer to people and put up his phone. Eddie knew that Buck was up in the kitchen with Bobby, cooking. Eddie hoped that he stayed up there while the rest of C-Shift talked to Chim.
"How are you?" Ravi asked as he fell on the sword of being the first person from A-Shift to walk over to Chim. Hen wasn't in yet; she had already commented that she might be late due to dropping Denny at an appointment, and Karen would pick him up after.
Eddie watched as Chim talked to everyone. He felt Buck come up behind him and lay a hand on his shoulder.
"He looks good," Buck said.
"He does. Happier than he was before and calmer. He was still a little rough around the edges the last time I saw him. I'm glad he is looking better. How are you feeling?"
"I'm good. I'll be fine, Eds," Buck said. He slipped in beside Eddie at the rail and the movement had Chim looking up at them.
Chim looked like he was getting ready to head into beard the lion.
"Alone?" Eddie asked.
"Yeah, I'll talk to him on the couch; just stay close enough to see what's going on."
"I will. I'll stay close, I promise."
Buck slipped over to where the couch was, and Chim walked to the stairs closest to there.
Eddie knew how this was going to go on Buck's side. Buck was fine having Chim back at work since he had sought help. He was fine not pressing charges and making sure that Chim's life was easy to drop back into when it came to working. He didn't want to be the cause of unrest at work given the whole lawsuit thing, which Eddie saw in a little bit of a different light after talking to Taylor about it. Of course, knowing more about Buck's childhood had helped him understand where Buck was coming from. The leg and blood clots were the first instances of Buck being seriously hurt on the job, and everyone stepped back from him. In Buck's head, he had tipped over that line of too much of a hassle, so it's just best to drop him.
The conversation stayed pretty calm, but Chim seemed to get more and more worked up. Eddie was about to walk over there to check in when Buck stood up and opened up his arms. Chim hugged him and then wandered off looking at Eddie before heading down the stairs to get ready for the shift.
Buck looked up at Eddie and smiled.
The day wasn't slow, which was good as that meant that Buck didn't have to wallow or worry. They were called out on back-to-back runs, and the last had ended not the best, so Bobby took them offline long enough to eat dinner. Eddie sat down on Buck's left, which left a spot on the right, but with Buck, there wasn't much that could be done in the middle. Thankfully, Ravi took the other seat.
"Are you and Taylor still together?" Chim asked as he sat down across from Eddie.
"Yeah, we are. Going pretty strong. She stays over at my place a good bit. Thinking of moving in together, actually. Her lease is up in two months. We are thinking about looking for a new place, bigger, after a few months of living together."
Eddie kept his smile to himself at how Buck was lying but not actually saying a false word at all. They were all talking about Buck and Taylor moving in with him and Chris. Eddie would love it. He really had hated the nights he was alone in his bed. Sometimes Buck stayed over on his own, and Taylor had done it twice, which Eddie hated, but he knew that they had to work on each of the pairs in the triad just as much as the triad itself. There were four different relationships in their relationship.
"Though I want to know who gave Eddie that love bite," Hen said.
Eddie reached up and touched the side of his neck right where he knew it was; he had thought his shirt would cover it. He must have been wrong.
"I saw it when you were leaned forward over the patient at one point today."
"I've started something with someone, and right now, I just want to keep it to myself," Eddie said.
"Do you know, Buck?" Chim asked.
"Yes, I do. I've even met her, and I frankly might steal her from Eddie if Taylor breaks up with me," Buck said.
Eddie laughed, and he shoved at Buck's shoulder.
"I do have to say they are adorable together," Ravi said.
Eddie leaned forward and looked at Ravi, trying to figure out what he was doing. "What are you talking about?"
"I saw you on a date with her a week ago, or I hope that it was a date considering how much hand feeding and kissing there was going on."
Eddie felt a stone in the pit of his stomach drop. That date had been not just Eddie and Taylor but Buck as well. Ravi just gave Eddie a smile and then looked at Chim.
"And no, I won't be telling you a thing. No one. I just wanted Eddie to know that I had seen them. Instead of surprising him with that knowledge down the road when it looks like it's malicious."
"You are a good man, Ravi," Buck said as he clasped Ravi on the shoulder.
The rest of dinner went by pretty slowly with everyone talking and eating, but Eddie was worried and wanted to talk to Ravi.
"Buck, can you show me how to take apart a chainsaw again? I feel like I need to get quicker. I want to see you doing it."
"Sure," Buck said.
Eddie followed along behind the pair of them. Eddie liked watching Buck working with his hands. Thankfully no one followed them over to where the work area was set up for the cleaning and taking apart of tools.
"So, you saw us?" Buck asked.
"Yeah, I've been thinking all week about what I should do, and then Chim was just acting like he had the right to know something, and it slipped out."
"And how do you feel about it?" Eddie asked.
"What you do in your bedroom is all on you, man. The only good news is that only a single person has ever bet on you and Buck sharing a woman in a relationship, and she's going to be so happy to clean up on the bets that are going around."
"Who?" Eddie asked.
"The betting sheet only had Lena as the name."
"Bosko," Eddie said.
Buck laughed and shook his head, and he started to walk Ravi through the way to take it apart. The trio of them worked through all of the various things that Buck learned over the years to take apart because some idiot had tried to do something stupid with it.
"So, how do you feel, really?" Eddie asked after Buck had wandered off to start to get ready for bed. They were online again, but so far, no calls had come through.
"I had friends in high school who were a throuple, which I had to Google to find out what that was. They were in love and are still together. They are happy and healthy. I watched you guys a little more than I probably should have. You guys are kind of adorable. I think that you would break the adorable meter if you had Chris with you."
"Well," Eddie said. He pulled his phone out and swiped through to find the images taken by another family at the zoo the last time they had gone, and it had been all four of them. He swiped through them, including one where Chris was on Buck's shoulders and had his arm around Eddie, and kissed Taylor.
"Okay, yeah, that's adorable. I'm glad you are settling in. Buck made sure I didn't bring up Ana after that thing where you didn't introduce her to me at the station. He said you were dealing with issues. I could see you were having some kind of trouble, but I had no clue how to help on it."
"In that instance, ignoring it was the best. Buck comes and kicks me in the ass about everything. He's the best at that as he knows how to handle it all. I'm glad you care, Ravi; really I am."
Ravi looked like he wanted to hug, so Eddie opened up his arms, and the younger man glomped into him hard. Eddie kept the hug up until it felt like Ravi was ready to let go. He had learned how to figure that out from Buck over the years. That sometimes, something needed more than a quick hug, and it was okay. There was nothing wrong with it.
The alarm went off before Eddie could ask Ravi what he wanted to do next.
"Kit up, Probie." Eddie rushed over to his locker, and he started to get dressed, happy when Eddie came over to slot in beside him.
"It's just strange," Hen said.
"What is?" Buck asked as he looked up from the book he was reading.
"Polyamorous relationships. I can't see myself loving anyone but Karen, but I also know that people say that about gay or lesbian couples."
"Why do you have to get it?"
Hen looked at Buck.
"What do you mean?" Hen asked.
"Well, are you thinking about getting into one? Is Karen?"
"Then what is there to get? Do you have to get it to respect someone who is in one?"
"Then it doesn't matter."
"Not shocked that Buck is all for them," Chim said.
"Excuse me?" Buck asked.
"Well, we all know how much you love to have sex. You'd probably be okay with dating or marrying several women." Chim bit into an apple, and he grinned as he chewed.
"I actually abhor cheating, Howard. I think it's one of the worst crimes to do in a relationship outside of violence and verbal or mental abuse. I also never had sex with someone without them knowing exactly what it was and what it wasn't."
"Buck, you slept with your therapist." Chim looked smug as he said. Just like he had when he had "joked" about keeping Jee-Yun from Buck.
"Who I saw because I thought I had a sex addiction and was dealing with trauma of losing Devon. If someone you know went to see someone about gambling and that therapist took them out gambling, isn't that wrong? Or for drug addiction and the therapist takes them to a drug dealer?"
Buck saw the way that Hen flinched at his words.
"It was just a joke, Buck."
"And I can't take a joke, right? If both parties aren't laughing, it's not a joke. It's just like what used to be said to women who were working and put it all on them. They can't take a joke."
"Buck," Bobby said.
Buck looked over at Bobby and raised an eyebrow. They were saved from having to have a deeper conversation on the topic because the alarm went off. Buck rushed over to the pole and slid down it. He focused on the task at hand as they headed out to a pile-up at a major junction in their area. There were seven cars and a truck with a trailer attached. There was chatter that an animal might be loose, but they were unsure as the truck driver died.
The site was chaotic when they arrived. Buck heard the animal, though, a horse, and it was freaked out.
"Buck?" Bobby asked.
"The other stations are here already; Eddie and I are going to find the horse."
"Horse?" Bobby asked.
"I can hear it, and it's freaked out. If someone else startles it, it could rear and kick."
"You don't have the training for that," Chim said.
"I worked on a ranch before coming to LA, Han. I know what I am doing, and Eddie knows what he is doing with horses as well."
Chim looked like he was going to say something, but Bobby nodded for Buck to go. This was the best option.
Buck followed the sounds of the horse, and he found it in a garden with a kid stuck on the other side of it. A man was on the porch looking at the kid in fear.
"You got any apples?" Buck asked.
The man nodded.
"Can you show me? My partner here will make sure that everything out here is fine. We need to get the horse calm, and having something to reward it with will be best."
Buck moved to where he was in the horse's sight. The horse nickered at him and shook its head. He took a step forward and held out his hand to the little girl. She looked at the horse with fear in her eyes before she rushed at him.
The horse reared up and kicked, but they were back far enough.
"Go inside." Buck saw blood on the girl's arm, so he radioed that into Bobby. He hoped that the team got there soon to keep the girl calm and make sure she wasn't bleeding out. Eddie didn't have anything on him to treat her.
By the time Chim arrived with a bag to treat the little girl, Buck was rubbing at the horse's neck and letting it rub against him to calm itself. Eddie was checking the horse over for injuries, just to be safe.
"He's good," Eddie said as he rubbed at the horse's flank.
"Yeah, that's good. Hopefully, animal control can make sure that his family is called," Buck said. He rubbed at the horse's neck again and then stepped back.
"Bobby's sending someone to take control of the horse as soon as they can get a trailer through," Chim said.
"Cool. Sir, is it okay if we stay here?"
"Sure. He just scared us when he came crashing through as he ran. My daughter popped up out of her house, and it scared him, and he knocked her down but backed away not long after."
"Yeah, he was in a crash two blocks over and freaked out. I'm glad he's not as hurt as he could be. He's kind and beautiful. Did you want her to come and see him?"
"Are you sure it's okay?" the father asked.
"Yeah, he's calm, and it might do her better to see the horse calm than think that all horses will hurt her."
Buck took time until animal control got there to make sure the little girl was in good spirits and that the horse stayed calm. The other stations and the rest of the 118 had things under control for now.
"Buck, we need you," Bobby called out over the radio.
The rest of the accident was easy to clean up, and the only fatality was the truck driver.
"What happened?" Buck asked as he dropped into his seat in the truck.
"Two cars ran red lights. They both clipped other cars, and then they were clipped by other cars. The truck was coming from another area and had the green and just got caught in the wrong. Athena is double-checking all of the footage. We probably won't know what happened, but the truck driver was DOA from what Hen thinks is a heart attack. How was the horse?"
"Fine. The little girl was fine too. It seemed that the horse didn't kick her, but she got cut on something else in the yard. The father was going to look for it. All in all, it could have been worse. The horse had no injuries, and while there were injuries on everyone else, none of them were that bad from what I heard."
"No, it was all pretty good. The only death was long before we got there," Hen said.
"Buck, back to what we were talking about before we headed out," Chim said.
"Yes?" Buck asked.
"Chim," Bobby said.
"No, I need to say this. I am sorry about making you feel like you did something wrong with the whole thing during the blackout. I'm sorry that I made that comment about keeping Jee-Yun from you. I'm also sorry for making you feel like you were less for liking sex."
"Chim," Buck said.
"No, I seem to say the wrong thing a lot. I can be caustic, but I don't mean to be mean to you."
"HANG ON!" Bobby screamed.
"BRACE FOR IMPACT!" someone else yelled.
Buck turned to look where Bobby was looking to see the semi-truck headed right for them. The engine shuddered as the gas was punched, but it didn't work. The impact was jarring. Buck felt his head crack off the side of the truck, and then there was nothing.
Taylor looked at Chris as she turned off the car. She hadn't been the best since they had left Eddie's house. She was freaking out. Buck hadn't really been hurt since she had been with him, and now not only was Buck here, but according to what she knew, all of the 118 had been taken to the hospital. She had gotten a call from her co-worker as soon as the news broke about a semi hitting a fire truck after its brakes went out.
"Taylor, is Dad okay?" Chris asked.
"I have no clue. I was only told about Buck since I was his secondary medical contact. Your grandmother is on her way down here as your father's contact. We will make sure that everything is fine. I promise."
"I don't want to be away from you."
"I will take you with me to talk to the doctor as long as they think it's okay. If they would rather talk to me without you, I'll leave you with a nurse."
Chris nodded his head, and he looked at the hospital. He swallowed. Taylor knew that Chris and Eddie were close, just like a single parent and only child would be.
"You good to walk?" Taylor asked.
Taylor got out and went to the backseat of the Jeep. Eddie had driven him and Buck in that day so that Taylor could use the Jeep while her car was in the shop after it started to make noise. She got out Chris' crutches and leaned them against the side before helping Chris out and making sure he was standing with strong legs before she grabbed the crutches.
"Yes, Tay," Chris said.
Taylor made sure that she stayed at a slow pace as they went into the hospital. She knew where to go and who to find, but it was still strange to be going in.
"Miss Kelly, thank you for coming so quickly. Who is this? There was no child listed on Firefighter Buckley's file."
"No, this is Chris, Eddie's son. Firefighter Diaz. I was watching him."
"Oh, well, that makes sense now on why Captain Nash told us to stick them into the same room, or we would have a headache."
"They are very stubborn," Chris said.
"Well, why don't we sit down, and I'll give you both the rundown on them. Firefighter Diaz told me it was okay for you to have information on him. He said something about you being the one to help him, and that didn't make much sense, but since you have Chris here, it makes more sense."
"Are they okay?"
"Bruised up and Firefighter Buckley has a low-grade concussion. We are a little more worried about his face and his healing bone there than anything else. He's getting an X-ray in a little while. It shouldn't be long. Shattered glass was the biggest issue, and firefighters pushed the bounds. Thankfully there was a unit pretty close; they had all been working the same accident, so it wasn't long until another station got there. Diaz got a collar on Buckley as soon as he could; he was the most mobile at that point in time; we are pretty much just waiting on the results of the body scans to make sure there is nothing else going on. You can go and see them, both of you. One of the nurses will take you."
"Thank you. The rest of the team is okay, right?" Taylor asked.
"Yes, the concussion, I think, is the worst injury."
Taylor nodded. She was glad of that. Her worry for Buck was pretty strong, though. She looked at Chris, who was at least smiling now. She needed to see her men before she let herself fully breathe. She stayed with Chris, following the nurse down to the ER, where they were led to a room. It was a rather large room, but the only thing that Taylor could see was Buck laying on the bed with Eddie sitting at his bedside. She didn't even think anything of it. She rushed over to Eddie and nearly knocked him off the bed, but he caught himself and her as he wrapped his arms around her.
"Hey, we are okay. I promise. We are okay."
The bed moved, but Taylor didn't want to leave Eddie's arms. She was afraid of hurting Buck if she squeezed him too hard. She pulled up and out of the hold long enough to kiss Eddie's mouth before she dove back in to cuddle him. She was a little shaky, and she didn't like it. She knew that she was all in on this but feeling what she was feeling didn't help things.
"What's up, Superman?" Buck asked.
Taylor turned her head out of Eddie's neck to find that Buck had sat up and that the nurse with them had helped Chris get onto the bed, and he was sitting in Buck's lap.
"Taylor was worried," Chris said.
"Yeah, well, she's not a pro at this like you are yet," Eddie said.
"Sorry, they didn't tell me much on the phone." Taylor dotted at her eyes and looked to the side to see something she hadn't noticed, the rest of the team was in there. Hen and Chim looked shocked, while Bobby and Ravi did not. She knew that Ravi knew about them, but she was shocked about Bobby knowing.
"Just waiting on Buck to be taken to X-ray to check out that head of his before they release him. We can hang out here when they do that. They are going to take him in a wheelchair. They took him and the bed earlier and ended up transferring him to the chair. The movement while on his back made him throw up."
"Hey," Buck said. He was smiling. "Come here."
Taylor waited for Chris to move before she went around the bed to hug Buck. She touched his face first, her fingers touching where his bone had been fractured. It was starting to turn black and blue again. "You and fire trucks don't get along."
"That's what Eddie said. But I'm good. This time I won, not the fire truck."
"So we are just going to ignore the fact that she kissed Eddie in front of Buck?" Chim asked.
"Shit," Taylor said. She looked at Eddie, who was smiling at her. Then she looked at Buck, who was glaring at Chim.
"Well, yes, it would be nice considering that we asked you to leave, but you decided that you needed to keep an eye on Buck even though I'm in here to do it," Eddie said.
Chris moved away from Eddie and settled in Buck's lap again, and it made Taylor laugh.
"What?" Buck asked.
"Chris said that it's hard for you to get upset if he's in your lap."
"That's why you did that the other day when I was talking to my parents about Maddie?" Buck asked.
"Yeah. Dad told me about it."
"Well, technically, I said it works for Chris or Taylor, but I don't think the hospital would like Taylor in your lap right now."
"Not you?" Buck asked.
"No, cariño, it wouldn't work with me. Now, me pulling you into my lap might. I haven't tested that yet."
"I'm confused," Hen said.
"And you guys think I'm the dumb one," Ravi said as he stepped over to the bed. He held out his hand to Taylor.
"Ravi Panikkar, Miss Kelly."
"Just Taylor, Ravi. I feel like I already know you as much as Buck and Eddie talk about you. You have been a good probie for them at the station; they said that you do less stupid shit than they did when they were probies."
"Well, I've learned from their mistakes, and after I got over Buck's gruffness when he was training me, I learned that what he said was to help me."
"Why don't we leave the four of them alone?" Bobby asked.
"Bobby, did you know about them?"
"Well, as their boss, they did inform me that there was something between them, and they were figuring it out. As their friend, I had been told that they were in a triad," Bobby said.
Taylor didn't hear much else as Bobby got Hen and Chim out of the room. She looked at where Ravi was still standing close to the bed. She figured that he would leave as soon as he was sure that the other two weren't going to storm back into the room.
"Well, that happened," Eddie said.
"Now everyone knows?" Chris asked.
"Not everyone but the people in our lives that we care marginally about," Buck said. He groaned a little and looked at Eddie.
"Hey, Christopher, how about coming over to me again. I think that Buck needs to lay down."
"Sure," Chris said. He hugged Buck and then carefully climbed over to his father, who settled him on his lap with Chris' legs hanging off the bed.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Taylor asked.
"They are getting my discharge papers. I'm on nurses' orders to stay here to ensure that Buck doesn't do anything stupid. So I'm here, so he doesn't do anything stupid. The last time he had a minor concussion, he got up to pee and ended up on the floor."
"And I guess it's in my file that I am not to be left alone for a repeat. So yeah, Eddie was made my room buddy," Buck said.
"So, I need to keep an eye on you when you are at home. We are going back to Eddie's, right? Because Buck and stairs don't mix well when he has a concussion."
"Yeah, he'll be going back with you and Chris, and we will be going back to the station. One of the other guys dropped off the captain's vehicle so we can get back."
"What happened?" Taylor asked.
"Brake failure of a semi on a trip to drop its load in the city. Our driver tried to speed through the intersection but was unable to. But instead of hitting the cab area, it hit the back, threw the truck onto its side, and so we were all tossed about. Buck hit his head on the side, and the rest of us were just jostled. The glass flying was the worst part of it all, but we got through it all. Buck's the worst off."
"They aren't going to leave," Buck said.
"No, they will be waiting to ambush me out there. It'll be fine. I promise. I'll make sure that they stay the hell out of it. Chim's going to tell Maddie though. She might be in no contact with everyone, but we know she is with Chim, especially about Jee-Yun. So he will tell her, and I have no clue what her reaction is going to be. So brace for that."
"Oh, she won't like it," Buck said.
"What?" Taylor asked.
"Despite everything, she tries to be the perfect child for our parents and hopes that it makes them love her exactly like she is. There was a trio of ladies who lived down the block from us. I heard them make a lot of comments about them over and over, but I was too young to understand. They moved away before I got to the age where I would have. Years later, I realized they were in a relationship, all three of them. Despite everything shitty about my parents, they aren't homophonic, which I kind of wish they were because then I probably would have dated nothing but guys and got rid of them a long time ago. They will hate me for this and put it up to doing everything that they hate. I really don't care. I tried therapy with them, and they just were so toxic that the therapist told me I was beating a dead horse on that front. So I backed off. I've ignored their last four phone calls and texted them not to contact me."
"So, we are a fuck you relationship to your parents?" Taylor asked. She knew exactly what Buck meant about all of this. She also knew how much he worried about many things to do with how his parents treated him.
"Yeah, kind of. I think they might hate us less than the lesbian trio, mainly because there is at least one kid in this relationship. I have no clue, and I really don't plan on finding out."
"Well, we can send them a Christmas card from my place with a lovely photo of the whole family and see how they react."
Taylor laughed at Eddie's words. She reached out and brushed her fingers over the bruise again. It felt like Buck’s last bruise had just healed up. Now he was going to have another one for a while. At least this one was caused by an accident instead of someone else visiting violence on his body. It wasn't going to be the best thing dealing with the headaches again, but at least this time, she would have help with him. They would stay with Eddie until he was able to be on his own. Chris at least had Carla, who helped during the evenings if Taylor had to work and Eddie was on a shift. It was probably going to be a week before Buck was back at work.
"Ready?" the nurse asked.
"Sure," Buck said.
Taylor got up to help the nurse get Buck into the chair. At least he was allowed to be in sweats and a t-shirt, making him happy since he really hated the gowns.
"Dad, can I go get candy?" Chris asked.
Eddie looked at Taylor, and he pointed at his clothes, which were worn under his turnout gear and therefore had no wallet in it. She nodded her head.
"Sure, Taylor will give you some money. One thing and a drink, and that's it."
Chris slowly slipped off Eddie's lap and waited to be handed money, then he made his way around the bed. He grabbed one of his two crutches and headed out.
"Is he really okay?" Taylor asked.
"Yeah, he's fine. They are just cautious. This is the same place I took him when Chim hit him, so I think a few of them remember him."
"Ah. And you are okay?"
"Yup, bruises, and a few cuts, but overall just fine. I'll be fine after a good sleep, and maybe some of that bruise cream rubbed in some spots."
Taylor pulled Eddie into a hug before she kissed his cheek. "We can make an event of it, pampering both you and Buck."
Eddie found his body was a little more beaten and bruised than he thought, but they could all finish out the shift. It was just now becoming dark, so mostly it was sleep and maybe getting called out. They were not on tap for large-scale things since they were all a little stiff and tired. It wasn't the worst thing in the world, but he hoped they at least got a few hours of sleep.
"So that's why Buck was so pissy about me not understanding three-person relationships," Hen said as Eddie came out of the locker room.
"Not really. I mean, I didn't hear what he said, but he's all pretty live and let live with a lot of things. He would get upset about shit said about triads even if he wasn't in one."
"How did it happen?"
"How about storytime happening up where the hot cocoa is?" Eddie asked.
"Sure, Cap is up there with Ravi and Chim already. Chim's more than a little pissed that Buck didn't tell him, but he's also not understanding that Buck doesn't really trust him."
"Buck really doesn't, not with anything important. Not after they kept the depth of Maddie's PPD from him. He doesn't trust Chim with that stuff."
Hen looked torn, and Eddie understood it. Hen and Chim had bonded over being the cast outs before Bobby came along. They had a war bond as it were, and Eddie knew that he had those with people that he hadn't seen in years but would drop his life to go and help if they needed it. He understood that, but he was also glad that Hen was keeping her own mind on the Chim and Buck situation when it came to Eddie.
Buck hadn't accepted yet that things had changed all that much for him and Chim. Chim didn't understand that Buck's trust in him in personal situations was gone. The trust in him in a work situation was still being tested.
It was just the close team up there, which Eddie was happy about. He snagged the bottle of peppermint syrup from the area beside the coffee pot and poured a little into his cup before he went to the stove to ladle out some cocoa. He blamed Buck for his like of peppermint in his hot cocoa.
Eddie sat down at the end of the table opposite Bobby while Hen and Chim sat down beside each other. Ravi looked at the others and then settled down beside Eddie.
"You knew," Chim said as he looked at Ravi.
"I did. I saw them out on a date together. All three of them. I kept my mouth shut until I figured that I should let them know."
"That time, you said you saw Eddie and his girlfriend on a date," Hen said.
"Yes, then. Buck was there as well."
"I was told in an official capacity, but that doesn't mean that I have leave to talk about it. I needed to know, but things never changed between them. Well, they were already in each other's pockets, so the whole professional distance thing was impossible. I knew that from the moment that Buck started to try and dig Eddie out when the well collapsed."
"We didn't even know it about ourselves then."
"Which is what I am going with when someone asks me about this. We have all of the needed paperwork taken care of. We are fine with that. I understand why you guys wanted to know about this, but-" Bobby paused and looked at Hen and Chim. "No relationship stands itself under a microscope, and I know that everyone here would mean well, but it would have been something that wouldn't be good for them. Buck gave you distance when you started to date Maddie, but you also don't tend to allow him that same distance." Bobby glared a little at the two of them.
Chim opened his mouth, but Hen beat him to it.
"We worry about him," Hen said.
"And?" Eddie asked.
"Well, I have to make sure he doesn't do something stupid. Maddie doesn't like that."
"Why does Maddie have a say in his life?"
"She's his sister," Chim said.
"I see, so she gets to butt into his life all she wants, but he has no right to know that she is going through something horrible that having others around her might help with? You still don't get that her PPD, while it doesn't directly affect him, indirectly does. If you had shared that, don't you think what happened with Maddie leaving might have gone differently? He might have been able to talk her into checking into a place here instead of where she went. He might have gone to you right away to tell you instead of keeping it to himself because it's what his sister wanted. He was balancing respecting her wishes against hurting you, and I'm not shocked his sister won. You reap what you sow when it comes to that."
"He has no right to know what was going on with her."
"As you and she have no right to know what is going on with him. It's a two-way street, which means that he can keep whatever he wants from you about his own life. Maddie didn't want him to know about the PPD; that's fine, but Chim, it hurt her more than helped her, and you helped with that."
"I have been told how bad my decisions have been about that. I've worked through it on my own. I know, Eddie."
"Well, the thing is he's allowed to make his own decisions on that, and no one can really tell him he's wrong. It's a relationship that isn't hurting him."
"Who made the decision on it?" Hen asked.
"Taylor, actually. She was the driving force behind all of it. Then Chris realized what Buck and I were missing long before we saw it, and he started to push for it. It's all on her, though. She got close to me to see if she thought she could do both of us. She loved Buck, and she saw the love between Buck and me, and instead of letting him go, she just kept us both."
"She's a good woman. She could have gone a very different route on that," Hen said.
"I think she knew that making him choose, he wasn't going to choose her. Which I'm not mad about. She works well with us. She dotes on Chris just as much as Buck does, but she demurs to me when needed. Hell, the first thing I learned about her when it came to Chris was that she was willing to carry him down steps when he was too tired to go down them at Buck's and then try her hardest to make him a drink that he would like. It honestly endeared her to me. I was more than happy to leave Chris in her hands after that. Then she proceeded to make plans with Chris to where Buck and I spent the evening together or would make plans for Chris and Buck to where she made sure I didn't feel lonely. She was pretty good about it."
"I can see Taylor doing that," Bobby said.
"She's good, and she's mellowed out a lot on what kind of drive for work she needs. I think that COVID humanized her a little to where she still wants the story she wants, but she considers the humans involved in a way she didn't before. We are doing pretty good, and I'm not going to let anyone on the outside change that."
Chim nodded his head, and Eddie hoped that he understood the line Eddie was putting down.
"So you don't hate her anymore?" Hen asked.
"I never hated her. I disliked her, but I never hated her. I didn't like how she treated Buck or Bobby back then, and I didn't think she could ever mellow out, but I think that between Buck and COVID, she did."
"How does it all work?" Chim asked.
"Google it," Ravi said.
"Wow, probie got teeth."
"Well, how would you feel if someone came up to you and asked you how your sex life and romance life goes?" Ravi asked.
"But I'm normal."
"And? That means that if someone is in a non-standard relationship, they should be open to invasive questions into something that is none of anyone's business? There was a time when your and Maddie's relationship, as well as Captain Nash's with Sergeant Grant, wouldn't have been considered normal. It's three adults living their own lives that hurt no one else, and they are all consenting, and really that's all you should know."
Ravi shoved back from the table, taking his food with him, and he went over to lean against the wall and eat while looking down at the trucks.
"I didn't expect him to get pissed about that," Chim said.
"Well, I guess you learned what he's like when you piss him off."
"I guess that I did," Chim said. He frowned.
Eddie kind of felt good that Ravi was settled in enough to actually bite back. It would make it easier if Buck and he did end up going elsewhere. He wasn't going to allow Buck to stay here if he thought it was hurting him. Taylor would back him up on that. Buck looked at the 118 as a family, but there were issues just like many families. Buck would find family in time, and he would settle in, but it didn't have to be with the 118, or it could be with part of the 118. Eddie wasn't sure that Chim could ever be family again. That part of the bond was just gone.
Tapping away at his phone, Eddie made sure that Taylor knew what had gone on after he got back here. He was more than willing to shield Buck until he could settle in and get his head around everything. While he was injured, Eddie wasn't going to even entertain that he wouldn't protect Buck from everything.
Buck wiggled around a little and frowned as his half-awake brain registered that there was no one else in bed with him. It was rare that someone didn't stay in bed with the longest sleeper, even if it was just Taylor working on her laptop while in bed. He really liked waking up with someone in bed with him. They had stayed at Buck's last night since it was where Taylor and Buck had been once Eddie was done having dinner with some family that was in town.
Closing his eyes, Buck just wanted to sleep a little longer. The bed was warm, and it smelled like Taylor and Eddie. He had been cold since they had been in the water on the rescue the day before last. He stayed in sweats and a hoodie all day yesterday, and still, he had a chill. Taylor had called him several times to check on him, and he had taken his temperature several times, but it had never spiked up. He had stayed in the bounds of his normal temperature.
"Have a fun day!" Eddie said.
Buck frowned. Who was leaving? Why were they leaving? It would only be Taylor. Why hadn't she said goodbye?
"Give Buck a hug!" Chris said.
Chris was leaving. Who was he going with?
There was a little bit of noise that Buck couldn't figure out and then the sound of feet on the steps. It sounded like Taylor's house shoes on the steps. Buck opened his eyes to look to see her coming up. She had a tray of something in her hands. Buck smiled at her.
"Who is watching Chris?"
"Denny and Harry wanted him for a play day, so Hen picked him up on her way to Athena's. They will hang out and talk, and the kids will have fun. We are kidless and have nothing else to do today."
"Where's Eddie?" Buck asked.
"Getting the rest of the food. Breakfast in bed today." Taylor settled the tray down on the bed over Buck, and then she got into bed as well.
Buck got himself up to look at what she had laid down. It was just three bowls of fruit and a plate with toast. Eddie came up the stairs a few seconds later with what looked like it was going to be oatmeal. He was more than okay with that. He waited for Eddie to lean over and give him a kiss before he took one from Taylor.
"Cinnamon and brown sugar," Eddie said as he handed over a bowl of oatmeal to Buck before he dug into his own bowl. Eddie was sitting across from Taylor and Buck, so they didn't have to look down a line to see each other.
"What are the plans today? You got rid of Chris without even letting him see me," Buck said with a pout.
Eddie reached out and pinched a toe. "He wanted to get going. Cap is making pancakes with cheese in them. I really hope it's like ricotta or something like that. I don't think I want Swiss in my pancakes."
"He did find a recipe for something like that a week ago. Well, a new one. He had one, but Athena didn't like them as much. This one is different, and he hopes she likes it." Buck stirred up his oatmeal and snagged a piece of toast before he dug into the oatmeal.
"We have nothing planned for the evening, but we thought we might go out and get some shopping done this afternoon. Lunch is going to be out wherever we want."
"Okay, what about this morning?" Buck looked at Taylor, but she was looking at Eddie, so Buck looked at Eddie. Eddie had a soft grin on his face, something that Buck had never seen before.
"Eat up; you are going to need it. I've got more fruit, and some cheese cut up and in the fridge for a snack later if we want it."
"Snack?" Buck asked.
Eddie nodded, and his hand slipped under the blanket that Buck still had over his legs and skirted up.
"Oh. Yeah, snacks are good." Buck scooped up a large bit of oatmeal and started to eat a little quicker.
"Slow down," Taylor said with a laugh.
"Fine. Just be mean," Buck said.
"We aren't going to just go at it. I want to go slow," Eddie said.
Buck nodded his head. He was more than happy to take it as slow as Eddie wanted. After jumping back into bed with Shannon too quickly and then sleeping with Ana before he was really ready, he was gun shy when it came to getting into bed with Taylor and Buck. Buck was more than okay with that. When he needed to get off, he would. If Taylor wasn't around, he had a good right and left hand or one of his toys if he felt he needed something in his ass.
They all consumed breakfast while chatting about lunch and then dinner since they planned to stay out all afternoon. Buck wanted to get some Christmas shopping done long before the crowds started up on that.
"I'm gonna put this stuff up, Eddie, get Buck a little messy," Taylor said.
"Yes, Ma'am." Eddie snagged both of Buck's ankles and pulled him down on the bed to where he was on his back. Eddie moved up to where he was on his hands and knees over Buck's body, smiling at him. "I gotta get you messy. I've been ordered to. So just give in."
Buck laughed, and he leaned his head up to meet Eddie in the first kiss. Buck was enjoying the feel of Eddie as he got into the kiss and slowly lowered himself down to cover Buck's body. The blankets were on the floor, and Buck was naked by the time the bed dipped to signal the arrival of Taylor. Buck held out a hand toward her, and she slid in beside them. Buck felt skin and hoped that meant she was already naked.
"We decided," Eddie said after raising up to look down at Buck. "That for today, we are going to focus on you for the most part." Eddie settled across Buck's knees out of Buck's range with his hands, but it wasn't long until Taylor slid across to settle on his groin. Eddie wrapped an arm around her waist to hold her in place as his other hand reached up to cup a breast.
Taylor crooked a finger at Buck, so he pushed himself to sit up, changing the angle that Taylor sat on him just a little. He grasped her hips and kissed her, wanting to get that in.
"Well, you are the reason we are together. So we want to do this. We want our first time to be just us when we feel it."
Buck nodded. He understood that.
"Doesn't mean I can't have fun."
Taylor gasped, so Buck leaned back enough to look down to see that Eddie had fingers buried inside of her. She moaned as Buck lowered down his head to take a nipple in his mouth. Taylor rocked down onto Buck's cock, and he felt the wetness; she was more than ready for him.
"Condom?" Buck asked.
"Hmm, yes, please," Taylor said.
The bed dipped as Eddie leaned over to get one. Buck kissed Taylor again, losing himself in it. He wanted to feel more and jerked when Eddie's hand wrapped around him to lower the condom.
"What else do you have planned for me?" Buck asked when Eddie finally let go of him.
"Well, Taylor's gonna ride you until you both are done, and then I'm gonna work you back up and fuck you."
Buck nodded his head. He could get behind that, only it seemed like he was not gonna be getting behind anyone. He was very, very happy with what they were doing. Eddie doing what he wanted was something that Buck was all for.
"Want in me?" Taylor asked.
Buck reached down to hold his cock still, but Eddie's hand closed over it first. He was going to come, and it was going to be over long before he got inside of her. Taylor slowly slid down him, and Buck squeezed her hips hard to stop himself from going off. He hadn't gotten this worked up this quickly in a long time.
"Eddie's hard," Taylor said as she settled onto his cock. "I can't wait to see him sinking into you. I've seen you taking the dildo you have and how your body just submits to it. I think you were made to be fucked."
Taylor started to rock up and down on him, her hands touching and then pulling him into a kiss. There was something about Eddie's hands touching every once in a while, then pulling Buck away from Taylor to kiss him that had Buck feeling really good. He watched Taylor and Eddie kissing at one point before choosing to kiss along the bits of their bodies that he could reach.
Buck knew that Taylor was getting close. She was losing control of rocking up and down on Buck's cock.
"Eds, help her," Buck said.
Eddie looked confused until he realized what was going on. He grinned and took over, holding Taylor's hips. Buck leaned back, using his hands to give him leverage to fuck up into Taylor as Eddie figured out what he wanted to do. It didn't take long until Eddie's arms were flexing, and Buck knew that watching Eddie fuck Taylor on Buck's cock would make him lose control soon. It was a perfect vision. The utter trust that Taylor had in them both.
Taylor came first, panting as Eddie kept on fucking her on Buck's cock. It wasn't the worst sight in the world as Buck came; the vision of that burned on his memory.
Buck dropped to the bed as Taylor was left to settle on his chest. Buck rubbed his hand up and down her back.
"I'm not sure we are going to survive this relationship," Taylor said.
"Why?" Eddie asked.
"We are going to kill each other with sex."
Buck laughed and held onto Taylor as she recovered from her orgasm and was driven to the point of too much until Buck had come. Eddie's fingers touched the base of Buck's cock, holding the condom in place as Taylor lifted up enough to have Buck slip out of her. Eddie replaced her when Taylor flopped on her back. Eddie quickly removed the condom and tossed it into the trash. Buck was looking at him through half-lidded eyes.
Eddie loved kissing, and thankfully he did because Buck knew how long of a refraction time he had. It would be a little while before he was aroused again. Buck spread his legs, and Eddie slotted in between them, pressing his hard cock into the flesh of Buck's hip.
"So a little bit of liking being watched, huh?" Eddie was smirking at Buck about it as well.
"Okay, yes, I think it's half of why I did the stupid shit I did back in the beginning."
"Beginning?" Eddie asked.
"I got into trouble and nearly fired over having sex while on shift. I wasn't doing well adapting to the rigors of the job, and I had no real connections with anyone. It was only after I met Abby that I realized that what I was looking for was companionship, not just sex; I was just using sex to fill that void as it was the only way I knew how to get it."
"I can see that. I know you were having issues grappling with that when we met the first time," Taylor said.
"A little bit. Still, I learned how to get what I needed without it just being sex, even if sex is good and I get it when I want."
"That explains more than enough about the comments some guys said," Eddie said. He brushed his nose over Buck's. "Jealous of you getting sex when you want without doing anything."
"Sex is easy; relationships are hard. I'm okay with just having the relationship be the focus. I don't think I could give up sex for anything in the world, but it doesn't need to be the only draw for a relationship. Though there are times that just sex has its appeal, I know I need more."
Eddie nodded his head and started to kiss Buck again. It was slow and steady as they kissed and touched. Buck got more and more into it as his body started to get the idea of what they would do. He snagged Eddie's hips and pulled him down to press them together as he felt his cock hardening again.
There was something primal about being held down by Eddie's body that Buck was loving. He had felt it a few times when they had been making out on a couch with Eddie on top of him.
"Rollover," Taylor said.
It took a few seconds for Buck to figure out what Taylor wanted, but he rolled them over, putting Eddie below him. He kept his legs spread and enjoyed the feel of Eddie rocking up into him.
"You feel good," Buck said.
"So do you, but you are going to feel a lot better."
Buck only had a few seconds to think about what Eddie could mean before he felt slick fingers at his hole.
"Yeah, that's it," Eddie said.
Buck dropped his head to Eddie's shoulder, and he relaxed into Taylor fingering him to slick him up. She knew well that he didn't take much at all to relax him into anal, but half of this was not just that but working him up in all other ways. Taylor and Buck really didn't have a sex act that they hadn't done yet. Taylor's harness and dildo were well used by the pair of them after Buck had talked her into buying it. Hell, Buck was all for getting fucked by it, but sometimes it was just too much work for them.
"She was right; you look like you are enjoying even just fingers inside of you."
"I do like it. She knows me well. I'm sure she'll be happy to teach you what I like."
"Cheeky ass," Eddie said. He pulled Buck's head down to kiss again,
Taylor took her time making sure that Buck was slicked up and his body was relaxed enough to take Eddie. Eddie's cock was no small thing. Buck had been waiting to get his mouth all over it, but Eddie was stingy with his cock. Soon though, Buck knew he would get it. No one could resist Buck and his puppy dog eyes for long at all. Taylor loved how well Buck ate her out that she would help get Eddie over the worry about oral.
Eddie rolled them over when Taylor pronounced Buck ready for cock. Buck didn't allow Eddie to get far away from him. Eddie slowly slid into him while their lips were locked. He took his time, making sure that Buck felt every single inch that was sliding into him. Eddie was bigger than Buck's toys and slightly bigger than the dildo that Taylor used to fuck Buck.
Buck never went for large toys since he lived in the area covered by the 118, and he didn't need to have something happen and get stuck and need medical help of any kind. Eddie paused when he was all the way inside of him, his body trembling. He just wanted to feel Eddie sliding in and out of him, but Buck understood that Eddie needed a moment.
"You feel fucking good," Eddie said as he buried his head into Buck's neck to breathe and get himself under control.
"Yeah? You like being inside of me?"
Eddie nodded, his head brushing along Buck's cheek.
"I like watching him suck cock too. His mouth spread wide around a dildo. I can't wait to see him wrapped around your cock."
"Not helping, Taylor," Eddie said.
"Oh, I wasn't trying to help."
Just a second after Taylor stopped talking, Buck heard the crack of hand on the skin, and Eddie's body jerked a little, his cock spearing Buck just a little more. Eddie pulled out just a little and rocked back inside like he was learning how it all felt. How Buck felt around him. It was good and easy, feeling Eddie as he learned what he liked when it came to sex with Buck.
The bed dipped, and Buck looked to see Taylor heading to the bathroom, naked. She looked back at them and grinned before blowing a kiss. The sound of the shower starting up came a few seconds later. The door was left open.
"Is she trying to hurry us along?"
"Nah, the water here lasts a long time, and she likes to stand under the hot water hitting her back." Buck shifted a little and got it to where his legs were wrapped around Eddie, and he groaned as Eddie thrust inside of him a little further than before. "Shit."
"Like that, do you?" Eddie asked. He pushed up to where he was on his hands, looking down at Buck. He rolled his hips and thrust into Buck again. "Can you come without my hand?"
Buck nodded his head. His most intense orgasms were when he was being fucked; it was why he liked it, even if it was with a dildo. He groaned and tried to rock down onto Eddie, but there was a little bit of an issue even with his leg hold on Eddie.
"Stay still," Eddie said.
Buck stilled his body and waited for Eddie to get back into a rhythm before he started to undulate as much as possible to get into it. Eddie's face was full of concentration, and Buck wanted to break that. He didn't need perfect, perfunctory sex. Buck grabbed Eddie by the back of his head and pulled him down to kiss him, slipping his tongue between his lips as quickly as he could.
Eddie lost his concentration and started to grind them together in the way that felt best, it was good, and Buck was enjoying the hell out of himself as they both strove for orgasm.
Buck came first, focusing on not breaking the kiss until he had to as his body arched up and he gasped. Eddie fucked him through his orgasm and came just a few thrusts after Buck had slumped down to pant out his orgasm.
"So why was our first time with her?" Buck asked.
Eddie huffed and nipped at Buck's neck.
"I know you can talk, don't try and hide behind that."
"Because it's what she wants," Eddie said.
"I can understand that. She's a little shy sometimes. She knows what she wants, but I can see her wanting something a little less big for her first time with you. Sex with me is old hat."
Eddie laughed, lifting up as he slowly pulled out of Buck.
Condoms and the like had been discussed long before. Buck usually never cared when someone was fucking him. It wasn't like Eddie could get him pregnant. It was early in the day, and after two rounds of sex, Buck would be showering no matter what, so cleaning up wouldn't be an issue. Sometimes if he didn't get too sweaty, he would just use a rag to clean off.
Buck rolled to his front and looked at Eddie lying on the bed on his back; his chest was still heaving a little. He pressed a kiss to Eddie's shoulder, and the man turned his head to look at him.
"So, shower?" Buck asked.
"As soon as I can feel my legs."
Buck laughed, and he pushed up and made like he was going to do a push-up. He kissed Eddie on the mouth on the downward push and then pushed up to where he was on his knees and crawled over Eddie to get off the bed and join Taylor in the bathroom. The large as hell shower had seemed excessive when he had moved in, but after his leg had been crushed and he was using crutches, and now wanting to shower with two other people, it was kind of perfect.
"Come on, Eddie!" Taylor yelled when Buck joined her in the shower, pressing against her back.
Buck trailed his fingers down and found her folds, rubbing his fingers through them.
"You were just fucked twice," Taylor said.
"Yup, but I didn't get to kiss my favorite part of you," Buck said. He dropped to his knees and turned her around. Taylor went willingly, loving it when Buck ate her out. It would also make a really good sight for Eddie when he joined them. Buck backed Taylor toward the wall where the seat was. She sat down, her ass barely on there and her legs spread.
Buck felt the air from the door opening, and he looked back at Eddie before going back and licking up Taylor’s slit from her hole to her clit before he focused on that. Taylor grabbed his hair and held on as Buck set about making her orgasm as quickly as he could. If it got Eddie going again, and he could talk the man into letting Buck worship his cock, all the better.
"You are right; we are going to be the death of each other," Eddie said.
"We are hot, and people this hot should have sex as much as they want as long as all parties agree," Taylor said. She pressed her thighs to Buck's head. "Right there. Fuck, yes, right there."
Eddie woke up to the feel of the bed moving. He opened his eyes a little to see that Buck was picking up Chris and getting him to where he could lay on him. There wasn't much room with Taylor laid out as she was with her legs akimbo. Eddie was as wrapped around her as he could get, and Buck had been at his back.
"Papa, when is everyone getting up?" Chris asked.
"I don't know, buddy. I thought that after a few more minutes, you and I could go and make breakfast. Let your Dad and Mama sleep," Buck said.
Eddie closed his eyes, enjoying the sound of his family around him. Buck had been Papa for a while just like Taylor had been Mama. It had happened before the new place had been bought that was big enough for them all, even with an office for Taylor and the master bedroom. It was in the same building that Buck's place had been just high up and bigger. It was all one level except for Taylor's office, which was upstairs like Buck's bedroom had been. It also served as a guest room. They had bought it outright, so they had been able to modify it for Christopher with ease.
The master bedroom was walled off even though it was up, and Eddie had made sure that it was soundproofed as well so that no sounds really leaked out of it. It had been made perfect for them, with Chris having his own bedroom on the ground floor.
Chris laid down on Buck and settled in for a few minutes.
"Why are Dad and Mama sleepy?" Chris asked.
"Well, your little sibling decided that they needed to kick at Mama's ribs all night long. I spent the first part of the night with her, and Dad spent the second. So he's had less sleep recently than me."
"Oh, sprout likes to do that, huh?" Chris asked.
Eddie didn't snort, but he wanted to. He was sure that Buck knew he was awake, but he wouldn't alert Christopher about that. No, that would mean getting up. It was Christmas morning, and while things were not as they used to be when Chris was involved, Eddie knew that he would demand that Eddie pay attention to him if he was awake.
A few minutes later, Buck got up, carrying Chris toward the door and the stairs. The door was shut, and Eddie allowed himself to move then. He stayed close to Taylor, who was dead to the world after being up on and off all night long and getting less sleep than Eddie and Buck.
"I'm going to kill him, you know that, right?" Taylor said.
"It'll be fine if you do. You are the one carrying his kid that is messing your sleep up."
"Hmm, still gonna kill him."
Eddie snuggled in close and kissed the back of her neck. Taylor wanted three kids of her own and possibly more being adopted during all of that. With the money they all made piled into one, even with the care that Chris needed, they had enough to support a whole damned soccer team, as Buck put it. Chris was enamored with the idea of having ten brothers and sisters since the moment that Buck had brought it up.
They were already looking at children with disabilities to possibly take in. While they were frowned at for their relationship, there wasn't a lot that could be done to have them pushed out of being foster parents. There were three bedrooms on the lower floor that were all getting ready to be decked out for kids, the baby room was pretty much ready, Chris had his bedroom, and then there was the third that had two sets of bunk beds already. Harry and Denny stayed over enough that they all stayed in that room, with Chris joining them when they did.
Eddie figured they would be happy with five kids here before having to move somewhere else, but he was keeping his mouth shut on that. He didn't know what the hell they would do with eleven kids, but Buck talked about it like it was the best thing in the world. Still, Eddie would keep on going until it got too much. Telling Buck no wasn't the best thing Eddie had ever done, but the man got so excited.
"When are Maddie and Jee coming over?" Taylor asked.
"About noon. Then she'll go to the Lees for Christmas dinner with Chim and the rest of the family."
"I'm glad that she stopped begging to allow Chim over. I think that Buck was going to break on that and tell her yes."
"Well, this is our place, and we would never allow it. I was fine being the bad guy on that, but I'm glad that Buck stood up to Maddie trying to stomp on his boundaries."
Taylor rolled to her back, and she rubbed at her belly. "I'm wearing one of Buck's hoodies today and yoga pants."
"And you'll be adorable. Now, let's get down there before both of them are hyped on sugar."
Taylor laughed, and she waited for Eddie to get up before she held out her hands to be helped to sit up. They took their time getting ready for the morning before Taylor slipped down the stairs behind Eddie. Thankfully, Taylor was okay with Eddie and Buck's hovering with the way they treated her. They worried, but they didn't treat her like glass, just something that needed a little more protection than most people.
Buck was in the kitchen, and Chris was standing at the island with a bowl of something mixing it. The lunch that they were doing for their family was already starting to come together. It looked like Buck had been working hard at it along with breakfast at the same time. They were doing a few things while Maddie was bringing some kind of dessert. They didn't know what, but Maddie promised them they would like it.
Eddie's family was bringing along the main sides. Eddie hadn't been told what they were bringing, but his family never disappointed him.
"Hey, coffee's in the pot; I have stuff ready for another batch to go into the carafe."
"Kisses," Taylor said. She went over to Chris first and kissed both of his cheeks as he did the same to her. Eddie hugged Chris from behind when Taylor moved on to get a kiss out of Buck.
"It's a good Christmas, Dad," Chris said.
"Yeah, it really is. You excited to see everyone?"
"Yeah. Papa said that if I was good during breakfast and ate everything, we can open stockings."
"Stockings?" Taylor asked. She looked around. "We didn't do stockings."
"I guess Santa must have dropped them off then."
Eddie narrowed his eyes at Buck. He knew that Buck had slipped down to do something, but Buck had just said he was checking on how something was setting up in the fridge. Buck's worry over the food had been driving Eddie and Taylor nuts, so Eddie hadn't been shocked, but now he wondered.
"Evan Christopher Buckley, what did you do?" Taylor demanded.
"Well, no one has eaten breakfast, so there is no touching the stockings. Even if you guys do, Chris can't open his, so don't make him mad at you." Buck pointed a pancake-turner at Eddie when Eddie looked into the living room.
"That's blackmail," Taylor said.
"Same blackmail you used on him two weeks ago," Eddie pointed out.
"I don't need you to be rational with me, Edmundo."
Chris was laughing as he sat down on the stool for when his legs got tired. He looked at Eddie and laughed even harder.
"Well, at least we are entertaining someone. Fine, let's get breakfast out of the way, and then we can see what Santa brought us."
Eddie helped Buck with getting pancakes going while Taylor and Chris worked on the fruit salad for them. The syrup was already made; Buck had made that the night before, put it in the fridge. Eddie wasn't sure what Buck put in it, but they hadn't bought syrup from the store since Buck had found the recipe. It was not too sweet, but it made the pancakes pop, and there could be spices and flavorings added to change the taste just a little with no issue. Eddie was sure it was magic.
Buck's cooking had become more and more magical. It had been something that Eddie was happy to see. Eddie wasn't nearly as bad at burning things as he used to. There were dates nights for the three of them that ended up with the kitchen a mess and the food cold by the time they ate, but it was worth it. Eddie was still holding that the baby inside of Taylor had been created on one of those nights.
"Ready?" Buck asked after he and Chris stocked the dishwasher with the plates from breakfast. It was packed, so Buck got it going as well as Taylor and Chris made their way to the living room.
Eddie stayed behind to walk with Buck. When Buck shut the door and stood up out of his crouch, Eddie was there to kiss him. "You make my life so much better just from being in it."
"Yeah? My life got better the moment you and Chris dropped into it, so I'm just returning the favor." Buck cupped the sides of Eddie's face, and he pulled him into a soft kiss.
"PRESENTS!" Chris yelled.
"We had better go before he digs into the presents on his own," Eddie said.
Eddie snagged Buck's hand when he dropped it down. Eddie tugged until Buck fell into line with him as they headed into the living room area. The openness of the loft was one of the biggest attractions that Eddie had wanted when he saw it. Four stockings were hanging up over the fake fireplace. It had a heater there that would make the sounds of a fireplace and put off heat but didn't use gas or wood to get warm. Buck had fallen in love with it. Fireplaces at cabins the family went to when he was young were one of the few good memories he had of childhood, according to him.
Buck's parents had no idea that Taylor was pregnant unless Maddie told them, which Eddie hoped she hadn't, as that would be enough to have Buck break things with her finally. Eddie was okay with them never finding out as well. Taylor's family was the only one that had no huge divisions in the middle of it. Eddie's parents hadn't supported the triad, and Eddie hadn't really talked to them since then. Chris would call and talk to them weekly when he was at Abuela's. It was enough to keep them happy. They hadn't been up to visit at all since Eddie's ceremony for becoming a full firefighter, but he hoped that Abuela and Pepa would keep on being the in-between if that happened.
"Where did you hide these?" Taylor asked.
"In the Jeep, for the most part, the candy was in the drawer in the bedroom. I bought enough that even if Eddie's sweet tooth ate a good bit, there would be enough." Buck kissed Taylor on the cheek before he walked over to grab her and Chris' stockings. He handed Chris his and then Taylor hers before walking back and grabbing Eddie's and his. He laid Eddie's stocking over his lap before dropping down on the chair across from Taylor. Taylor was in her chair, a comfortable thing that did wonders for her back this late in pregnancy but was also impossible for her to get out of alone. Chris and Eddie were on the couch.
Eddie wasn't sure why Buck wasn't sitting there with them. He always sat with them.
"Can I dig in?" Chris asked.
"Sure thing. You ate a really good breakfast," Buck said.
Chris pulled out the first thing, which was a huge candy bar that Eddie knew for a fact hadn't been in the candy drawer in the master bedroom. He narrowed his eyes at Buck and tried to figure out why Buck had lied on that. He trusted Buck with his whole life, which was evident in that he was allowed access to Chris. Still, he wasn't sure what Buck was worried about as the way his leg was bouncing was enough to tell Eddie that Buck was nervous.
Eddie looked through his stocking. There were a few pieces of candy and a huge bag of his favorite candy that was only sold at a little store in El Paso. Eddie looked at Buck, who was beaming like the cat who got the canary. Eddie laughed and laid the bag beside him. He pulled out a few little trinkets that normally would be cheap as hell, but these were not. A new pocket tool that he tended to carry on him when working and when not as well. His last had broken a little bit from overuse.
Taylor squealed, and Eddie looked up to see her holding a bottle of her favorite perfume. It had stopped being made a month before, and the stores had run out quickly. Eddie looked at Buck with a raised eyebrow, and Buck just grinned. Eddie was pretty sure that Buck had bought more than a few bottles of it to surprise her with. Buck did that kind of thing.
"I couldn't find it; how did you?" Taylor asked.
"I had that bottle to give to you at Christmas already. It was nothing," Buck said.
Eddie wanted to say bullshit, but he didn't. He figured that Buck had maybe bought a bottle before the call about it no longer being made. Buck was a romantic at heart, and he loved to spoil them. It took both Taylor and Eddie to keep up with it, honestly.
Taylor started to dig through her stocking again, so Eddie looked at Chris, who was already done and reading through the book that had been in there. He was curled on the couch and looked like he would be happy there all day. Which Eddie hoped that he was for at least now. Once everyone was here, he needed to go to his room if he wanted peace and quiet. Eddie turned his attention to his stocking, but he glanced at Buck, who was looking between Taylor and Eddie. So whatever he was worried about was in the stockings.
Eddie made his way through the whole thing but found nothing. Taylor looked at him with a confused look on her face as well. She had picked up on Buck being nervous about something in the stockings, but there was nothing in there. Eddie reached the bottom of his stocking and squeezed it from the outside. He frowned as there was something there. He tipped his stocking upside down and shook it, and then a ring landed in the middle of his palm. Taylor did the same, and a ring dropped into her hand as well.
"Buck?" Taylor asked.
"We can't do the whole normal marriage route, but there are a lot of different ways we can cement our relationship in a binding way without it being legal. We can look into them and figure out which one we want, but until then, we can wear these rings." Buck held up one that looked like it matched what was in Eddie's hand.
Eddie picked up the ring and looked at it. It was silicone, which was something that Eddie and Buck had talked about. Taylor had no cares about what she wore for rings. She had a few metal ones and a few silicone ones that she swapped in and out. Eddie had been thinking about tattoos for wedding bands, but they could still do that once Taylor was not pregnant anymore.
"So, are you going to ask a question?" Taylor asked.
Buck smiled and ducked his head before he got up and walked over to her, and crouched in front of her. He snagged the ring that she had in her hand, and he slipped it onto her finger. Buck then leaned up and kissed her before he stood up.
"HEY!" Taylor yelled.
Chris started to laugh from behind his book, and the grin that Eddie could see on his face told Eddie that Chris knew all about this.
Eddie reached out and pulled the book down as Buck sat down beside Chris on the couch.
"What is this?" Eddie asked.
"What?" Chris asked, faux innocence dripping off the word.
"He just wants to see us married, is all. Eddie, what do you say?" Buck asked. He looked back at Taylor, who Eddie saw was still huffing from where she was stuck. "Do you wanna marry us?"
"Who is us?" Eddie asked.
"Well, Taylor, Chris, and me," Buck said.
"I'm already Chris' father; I can't marry him."
Chris was laughing again, and he leaned into Buck with a bright smile on his face. Eddie sighed, making a show of raising his shoulders and lowering them again.
"Fine. I guess."
"Oh, so he gets a question, and I don't?" Taylor asked.
"You already told him you were going to marry him as soon as he offered up a ring," Eddie said.
"That was during adult times; it doesn't count."
"Does so," Chris said.
Buck leaned over and kissed Eddie on the mouth as he slipped the ring on Eddie's finger. Then he got up and walked back over to Taylor. He braced his hands on the arms of the chair and said something in her ear. She nodded her head, and there was a blush on her cheeks when Buck finally pulled back.
Eddie looked to see that he had set his stocking down with the ring on it when Buck had got up. Eddie snatched the ring up, and he walked over to stand behind Buck, gripping Buck by the waist and holding him tightly.
"So, I guess that one of us needs to ask you before you put this ring on. Evan Christopher Buckley, will you do us the greatest honor in marrying us?" Eddie asked.
"Yes," Buck answered.
Eddie held out the ring to Taylor, who picked it up and slipped it onto Buck's finger.
The arrival of Maddie was a little stressful for Taylor. She liked the woman, but she also understood why Eddie didn't like to leave Buck alone with her right now. After therapy on everyone's part, Maddie had taken Chim back with the understanding that if he ever raised his hand in anger at another person who wasn't attacking him, Maddie would leave him and make sure that he only had supervised visits with Jee-Yun until she was old enough to know to run.
Taylor wasn't sure she could ever trust someone who had lashed out in anger like that. She knew what Eddie had done, but she saw it differently. Eddie had worked through everything, and he asked for help. Chim had seemed to just put his head in the sand and refuse to see that he was slowly spiraling down.
Buck, on the other hand, had forgiven Chim, but he hadn't forgotten. Taylor wasn't sure that Chim would ever see any of the kids that they had together. Taylor was okay with that. Just from the stories that had been mentioned about him before he had gone off the rocks, Taylor wasn't sure that he had ever been mentally ready for a relationship with someone. His relationship with Tatiana hadn't been good at all, and the lying he had done to try and impress her. It wasn't a good basis for a relationship.
"Hello," Maddie said as she sat down on the couch closest to where Taylor was in the chair.
Taylor smiled at her as she rubbed at the side of her belly. The baby in there was kicking her side again. If there had been any doubt this was Buck's kid, this would have proven it was his. The baby was never still.
Maddie reached out to touch, but Taylor blocked her hand.
"Sorry, I don't allow anyone to touch."
"Oh, that's a shock."
"Not really. I mean, it might be, but I bet that many pregnant women don't like being touched, but they are also worried about people's reactions, so they don't keep to their boundaries. I'm actually doing a segment on it that will air while I'm on maternity leave. I've been doing a lot of things to air while I'm on maternity leave, and then I'll be doing some follow-ups while I'm still nursing."
"You plan to breastfeed?"
"Yeah. We have a fridge in the bedroom to store expressed milk for the guys and the nanny to feed the baby. It won't be hard at all to pump at work, either. I'll use an office to pump and store it in the fridge and then bring it home to put in the fridge. We've already worked a lot of things out on it."
"I guess I'm just shocked that as a career woman, you are doing something that would make people think you aren't up to it."
"Well, women used to raise children and fight in wars that came to their lands. I'm sure that I'll be fine keeping my job while I help raise my child."
Maddie gave Taylor a strange look. Taylor didn't care, really. Taylor didn't know her well enough to comment on any part of her life. Maddie was doing the best she could as far as Taylor knew. Taylor was happy she had left Doug; she was happy that Maddie had been the one to stand above him in the end. She wasn't happy with Maddie's opinions on Buck's life when she tried to keep him a child in her mind. There wasn't much that Taylor could do about that, but she also knew that Maddie had told Buck that Taylor and Eddie were why Buck was keeping a distance between him and her.
"So when are you due?" Maddie asked.
"Three weeks and so far, everything is looking good to have a vaginal birth. The hospital is going to allow both of them to be in there with me. Eddie's looking forward to it since he had only heard about the whole delivering a lot of babies on a full moon."
"Yeah, it was pregnant women yoga or something, and like half the women there went into labor and all delivered before backup could get there. It was quite a tale, but I was half asleep as Buck told it. Eddie was laughing too hard for the rest of it. You'll have to ask him, or I think it was Bobby that he said was there with him."
"Am I allowed to touch?" Maddie asked.
"No. Sorry, I don't feel like having other people's hands on me right now."
Maddie nodded, and she looked around like she was looking for somewhere to escape to. Taylor ignored her and looked at where Eddie and Buck were in the kitchen, working on getting some of the food in the oven to warm it up before the rest of the people got there. Taylor was looking forward to anyone else getting there. It wasn't the worst thing in the world to just have them sitting there without talking.
"Egg nog?" Buck asked.
"Yes, please," Taylor answered.
"Should you be drinking that?" Maddie asked.
"Are you my mother?" Taylor asked.
"Are you my doctor? Or a doctor at all?"
"Then you have no reason to ask me that."
"Tay," Buck said. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "It's not got raw eggs in it, nor does it have alcohol, Maddie. It's safe for her."
"You think that Buck would give me something that might make the baby sick or me?" Taylor asked.
"I didn't think," Maddie said.
"No, I got that. Buck goes to every single appointment with me. He knows more than the doctor most of the time, it feels like. He spent every single spare moment after I found out I was pregnant learning anything and everything. He baby-proofed the place before I was even six weeks along, which made Chris laugh. He takes excellent care of me." Taylor took a sip of her egg nog, and she smiled as she tasted the clove and cinnamon. Buck had made her a batch that was just for her with heavy on those two spices. She took another sip and grabbed Buck's hand to pull him down to kiss his cheek.
"I didn't mean to offend."
"No, I don't think you did," Taylor said. She waited for Buck to get back to the kitchen before she looked at Maddie again. "You don't mean to offend him most of the time that you do it. He's a grown man. He grew up while you weren't around. You had your reasons, and I understand them, but you haven't tried to really get to know the adult he is. You see the baby boy who your parents didn't love. You see the daring boy who hurt himself to get attention. The hurt and the confused young man who ran away from home, with your blessing, to find himself. You don't see the capable adult that he became while you were dealing with your life with Doug."
Maddie looked like she was about burst into tears. Taylor wasn't going to say she was sorry because she wasn't.
"Mommy," Jee said as she came over on mostly steady feet. She was holding up a Lego set from Christopher's room. It was a penguin. It was one of Chris' sets for his birthday after Buck had found it on sale at Christmas the year before.
Taylor still swore that Buck had a hidden room somewhere that he slipped things to keep for the best time to give them away.
"It's very pretty."
"It's Avery," Jee said.
"Yeah? Avery the Penguin?" Maddie asked.
"Avery, the emotional support penguin. Chris tells him all of his secrets that he doesn't want to tell anyone else."
Jee nodded her head and then took off toward Chris' room again. Jee really liked Chris, and it was evident the few times that she and Chris were together out and about when Buck went to meet with Maddie.
"I've messed up more than I thought, haven't I?" Maddie asked.
"I can only go on what I see and what Buck tells me, but he's not the best narrator. He's very unreliable. He takes on the hurts done to him as his fault. There is a reason why Eddie and I protect him as much as possible without making him feel like we are treating him like a child."
"Because I treat him like a child?"
"You treat him like he's your child. I've heard him talk to Doctor Copeland when he was still doing virtual meetings. Sometimes he would talk too loud, and I couldn't get away fast enough. It hurt him when you were trying to tell him to find a new job."
"Firefighting is dangerous."
"Yet, you've never tried to get Han to stop doing it. Why is the father of your child allowed when your brother is not?"
Maddie didn't say anything.
"It's Christmas; let's just talk about happy things. Jee-Yun seems happy."
Buck crept down the stairs. He hadn't expected to wake up alone just after midnight. They had ended up with their long stretch off over Christmas, but they were working New Year's Eve, which meant afternoon naps and running like crazy once the sun went down.
Eddie was on the couch with Taylor laying on him, his hand moving up and down her back. She was looking at the Christmas tree, which was plugged in again. They unplugged it for most of the day, and if someone left the living room area, it was unplugged. Too many house fires from trees and lights for them to trust it even if the lights were all new.
Buck walked around the couch and sat down at Eddie's head, leaning against the couch.
"Sprout being a butt head?" Buck asked.
"No, I just wanted to see the lights. They didn't start to be a butthole until I was already down here. Eddie woke up and came looking. Sorry, we left you alone," Taylor said.
"Eh, it's okay. I'm not upset. Do you need anything from me?" Buck asked.
"Rub my legs?" Taylor asked.
"Sure thing." Buck got up and scooted down to where he could get on his knees and rub at Taylor's hips and upper legs. The ache from her back usually spread down that far. He knew what she wanted, what she needed when it came to that. She was shameless in asking for rubdowns that helped her feel better. Buck was glad she was willing to ask for what she wanted. Her asking helped Buck with learning what she wanted at various points in time. Eddie, Buck could read like the words were printed above his head. Taylor was a little harder to read.
Buck was happy with their life the way it was, but the rings were something he wanted. He wanted that ring on his finger. He cared less about the rings on Eddie and Taylor's fingers. He wanted the one on his to remind him that they wanted him. For those times when his thoughts turned to no one wanting him, he would see it and know that there were three, soon to be four, who did want him.
"I could fall asleep now," Taylor said.
"You get her, Buck. I'll get the tree.
"Sure." Buck stood up, and he waited for Eddie to help Taylor sit up so she could wrap her arms around Buck's neck. Buck got her and carried her up the stairs before laying her down on the bed in the middle. She got settled, and her eyes closed as she started to fall asleep.
One good thing about her pregnancy so far was that she slept even more like a baby when the baby wasn't kicking her insides. Buck was still standing there looking at her when Eddie came up behind him, wrapping his arms around him.
"When Shannon left me, I never thought I would fall in love again. I thought she had broken my heart, then you came along, and you pieced it together in friendship and made me want more. I just didn't understand until too late that I wanted more with you. She's a wonderful woman. She opened her heart to someone else just so that she didn't lose you. So I got to have you, and I got to have a woman like Taylor in my life. I never saw it coming, and I'm so pleased as I think that I would have run screaming if someone had told me that I was going to end up married in some fashion to a man and a woman."
"I never really saw myself married up until Taylor came into my life. I had a few hopes when it was just you in my line of sight, but I needed to move on, and Taylor was someone good to move on with. She wasn't ready for a ring, a house, and kids, so there was no pressure other than having fun. It was enough to let my heart start to move on, and then she started to draw you into my life. It felt so wrong to love two people at the same time."
Buck loved the way Eddie knew that no words were needed. Eddie just held him close and rocked them back and forth in place to a tune that was only in Eddie's head.
"He's going to be up early since he knows we are taking him to the zoo while Taylor has her no-one-around day. We should be asleep," Eddie said a few minutes later.
"I know. I hate to wake her up," Buck said.
"We won't; she knows it's us. It'll be fine." Eddie let go of Buck and pushed him toward the bed.
Buck got on his side of it and got under the blankets. He watched Taylor's face the entire time, and she never moved from where she was asleep on her side, her face toward Buck. Buck smiled at her before brushing hair from her face. Eddie got in on the other side of the bed, and he was more than happy to just cuddle into Taylor's back and lay his arm over to brush at Buck's hip.
Eddie's hand stilled after a few minutes, and Buck was once again a little jealous at how easy it was for both of his lovers to fall asleep like they did. There were nights that Buck could, but he was usually stuck thinking through some of the day's points.
Maddie hadn't noticed the rings on Buck, Eddie, or Taylor's fingers. Which hadn't really upset Buck until Eddie's sister had pointed the rings out an hour after everyone had arrived. They had planned on announcing it at dinner if no one had seen them. Maddie had been put out that she hadn't been told first, which started a small feud between Eddie's sisters and her.
Christmas wasn't Christmas without a fight, but Buck had never thought it would be between the sisters. Buck had to wonder just what Eddie told his sisters about everything. From what Buck knew, Eddie told them everything. Hell, Buck told May nearly everything after they had gotten even closer with the whole bullying thing from that woman at the Call Center and needing someone to vent at who wasn't going to try and do something. Buck was all for being her person to vent at.
"Sleep," Eddie said a few minutes later.
"I will. When I feel like it."
"Idiot," Eddie said.
"I'm still young enough to survive a night with little sleep, unlike you, old man," Buck said.
"I'll show you how much of an old man I am when I wake up."
"Sure," Buck said.
Eddie laughed and slapped Buck's hip. Buck closed his eyes. He was pretty sure he could go to sleep, but he wanted to just bask in the love he could feel from Taylor and Eddie even though Taylor was asleep. They all loved him, and he loved them so much. He wasn't afraid of being loved anymore either, as they showed him every single day that being in love meant someone wasn't fearless; they just trusted enough to not be hurt.