EDDIE SIGHS AS HE STARES THE SCREEN, today's date staring at him, mocking him almost, reminding that he's spending his anniversary alone while his husband is 2 continents away - or so he thinks, you can never know with the SEALs - in some decrypt tent with his team ("They're family Eds!).
"You glare any harder at that screen, it's going to break," Hen comments as she takes her seat on the single armchair to the left of him, a steaming mug in her hand.
Eddie huffs out a laugh and tucks his phone back into his pocket.
Hen raises an eyebrow, "So we're just going to ignore that?"
She narrows her eyes, "You know Edmundo," She drawls as she takes a sip from her mug, "The whole point of friendship is that we share things, tell each other when we're happy, when we're sad, the whole shebang."
"Is that so Henrietta?" Eddie replies, sarcasm dripping with each word, "I had no idea, thank you for explaining it to me."
Hen rolls her eyes, "You know where to find me if you want to talk Eddie."
Eddie just nods in response before closing his eyes.
It's not that he didn't want to talk, it's just that he didn't know how to. Buck was always the one who talked, not Eddie. He's been here 6 months and he doesn't know how to bring up the topic, it's not something he could just pepper into casual conversation after 6 months (Oh, by the way, I have a kid and a husband who's in the SEALS doing who know what in god knows where!).
"Seriously dude," Comes Chim's voice as he appears in Eddie's field of vision, "What's up with you, you've been grumpier than usual."
"'m not grumpy," He protests, (Oh you definitely are! This little voice in his head, that sounds suspiciously like Buck, tells him.)
"Mhhm," Chim hums, clearly unconvinced, "Sure."
Eddie rolls his eyes, "What is this? Pick on Eddie day?"
Chim gets cut off by the alarm before he could say anything.
He's up immediately, the familiar flow of adrenaline rushing through his veins as he bounds down the stairs towards the racks to pick up his gear.
"Fire at a school," Bobby explains as they pull out the station, "A kid called it in, sounded panicked so we don't know how bad it is, so be prepared."
Eddie hates calls at school, kids hurt are the one thing he cannot stomach, so when they pull up to Christopher's school with smoke coming out of the science building, Eddie's stomach threatens to make its contents appear.
He's out of the truck before it even fully stops, his boots thudding loudly against the pavement. Kids are lined across the field, but there's too many to make out Christopher, the uniform making it almost impossible to tell apart everyone.
"Eddie!" Bobby's voice startles him, "C'mon, go with Jones to clear the building."
"Cap-" His voice breaks, "My son- he- this is school."
Bobby's eyes widen for a second before he schools his face back into its natural state, "Okay, what's his name, I can ask one of the teachers."
"Christopher, Christopher Buckley-Diaz. He's 9 and has Cerebral Palsy."
"Okay," Bobby nods, "Go, I'll let you know. You're with Jones."
A part of Eddie wants to protest, argue that he should be out here looking for his son but the other part of him wants to make sure that Chris isn't anywhere near the fire, he would never forgive himself if anything happened to Chris.
He follows Jones into the building, there's more smoke than there is fire, and Eddie doesn't know whether to be happy or worried.
"LAFD call out!" Jones yells.
Eddie follows suit, "LAFD, anyone here?"
They get no response.
They continue until his radio crackles to life, "Jones, Buckely-Diaz, all clear, all the children and staff are accounted for, extinguish the fire and get out."
"Copy that," Jones replies.
They make their way to the end of the hallway and Eddie hold the extinguisher and aims it at the small fire on the table.
"Chris is safe and waiting for his dad," Bobby's voice filters through his radio.
Eddie nearly drops the extinguisher out of relief.
"Copy that Cap."
The fire's out in seconds and he all but runs out the building, Chris is stood on top the truck's sidebar, supported by Bobby.
"Dad!" He calls out, voice filled with excitement.
"Hey Superman," He lifts Chris.
"Cap was telling me about the truck and everything you use!"
Eddie laughs, placing a kiss on his forehead, "You're okay right? Your chest doesn't hurt or anything?"
"I'm fine, dad!" Chris replies, exasperated.
"Okay, Mr, watch it," He teases, dropping Chris back down onto the floor, "Carla should be here soon okay? She'll stay with you for a little bit and then take you to Abuela yeah?"
"Yeah! Can we have ice cream too?"
Eddie hums, "I don't know buddy-"
"Dad please! I'll do all my homework with Miss Carla! Please please!"
"Alright, fine," Eddie concedes, "But you gotta promise to be good."
"I promise!" Chris assures him, holding out his pinky and Eddie's heart aches as he's reminded of Buck and his promises.
Eddie interlocks his pinky with Chirs.
"C'mon we gotta go," Booby says as he walks towards the captain's seat.
"Okay, be good mijo, I love you."
"Bye, dad! I love you too!"
"Didn't know you had a kid, Eddie," Hen comments as they get out of the truck, her voice was nonchalant, but Eddie picks up the twinge of hurt that laced her voice and suddenly Eddie feel guilty for hiding him.
"It just-" He tries to explain, "I'm a private person," He argues weakly.
Hen's eyes soften, "It's okay," She says, "As long as you're happy, we don't want to force you."
He smiles at her, wondering what he's done to get such understanding friends.
"Next thing I know, you're telling me you have a secret wife or something," She jokes and Eddie laughs weakly, if only she knew.
The rest of the shift goes by easy, and Eddie has to placate himself by the time shift ends, he was finally going to talk to Buck after weeks of silence. He knows that it was part and parcel of being with a SEAL, but it didn't mean that it didn't hurt any less, just because he knew what he was getting into, doesn't meant that he couldn't bitch about it.
"Alright," Bobby announces, "The night shift is here along with Captain Reynolds, we are free to go."
"Eddie," Hen call outs as he practically runs down the stairs to change, "We're going out for dinner, you wanna come?"
"Nah," He shouts back, "I got plans today."
Hen narrows her eyes, "First time I'm here about any plans."
"Let the man go Hen," Bobby laughs from her side.
Hen huffs out a laugh and rolls her eyes, and Eddie takes that as the signal to go and change.
"Hey, Eddie!" Chim calls him as he leaves the fire station, "This came in for you, there's no return address."
Eddie's heart drops almost immediately and he rushes to Chim, almost ripping the envelope from his hand.
"Woah there, this better not be some weird fetish thing."
"Shut up Chim!" He snaps back.
Firehouse 118, Los Angeles, California
United States of America
He could feel something digging into his hand and the weight of his dog tags weighing the envelope down.
"Eddie, what's wrong?"
He could distantly hear Bobby's voice, worry seeping into each letter as he walked towards him, Hen not far behind.
Before he could answer, his phone rang.
This can't be happening. He talked to Buck only a few weeks ago, he was fine.
He answers the phone with shaking hands.
"Staff Sergeant Diaz?" The voice asks, sounding smooth and professional and Eddie knows, he knows that this is all he's going to have left of his husband.
"Buckley-Diaz." He corrects almost instantly.
"My apologies," She responds, "I'm calling you to inform you that Lieutenant Buckley-Diaz and everyone else in his team," Family, he thinks, "Have failed to check-in multiple times, and another team was sent to his last known location, his dog tags were found there along with his team's, we found traces of blood and ash. Lieutenant Evan James Buckley-Diaz was Killed in Action. I'm sorry for your loss."
"I-" Eddie couldn't get a word out.
"His personal effects have been mailed to you," The woman explains, "We can arrange the funeral at your convenience, once again, I'm sorry for your loss. The United States Navy SEALs thanks your husband for his service."
Eddie doesn't know how to reply to that, he's left standing at the bay, Chimney, Hen, and Bobby surrounding him, each with worried expressions.
"Eddie?" Bobby's voice is gentle, as if trying to coax it out of him, it was all too similar to Buck's and it takes every ounce of self-control that Eddie has to not break down crying, "What's going on? Is it Christoper?"
Eddie's heart drops, Christoper.
How was he supposed to tell his son that his father isn't coming home?
"My-" He can't bring himself to say the words out.
His phone rings again.
He nearly drops his phone, she's already lost one brother, he doesn't know what losing Buck is going to do to her.
"Eddie," Her voice comes through, thick with emotion and he knows she got the letter, "Did- did they call you?"
"Yeah," He answers, voice shaking, "They did."
"He's-" She sobs, "He's dead?"
There's a strangled sob, and voices that Eddie can't quite hear, he can distantly hear shushing and then muffled sobs; Eddie yearns for comfort, he wants someone - Buck - to hold him, to tell him everything is a nightmare.
The line goes dead and Eddie's all alone.
"Eddie," Bobby places a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently, "Is everything okay? Do you want someone to drive you?"
"My husband died," He says, the words falling out of his mouth before he could have the chance to say anything, his voice sounds so foreign, distant, like it wasn't even him who's talking, "They just called, he's dead."
There's a sharp inhale from someone, Eddie can't really tell.
"I'm so sorry Eddie," Hen consoles him as she pulls him in for a hug.
He stays there for who knows how long, Chim and Bobby join as well, holding him because they know he can't hold himself up anymore.
He eventually untangles himself from them, immediately he misses the warmth they provide.
"I- I need to go home, I have to tell Chris."
"I have to go."
He doesn't let them say anything and ignores their protests as he walks towards his truck, he needs to focus on Christopher now. He's already lost his mother and now he's lost his father, Eddie needs to be there for him.
The moment dad arrived, Chris knew something was wrong.
His dad walked with a hunch, his hands were shaking and his eyes were red, like he'd been crying.
"Hey Superman," Chris doesn't miss the way his dad's voice cracked as he greeted him, like he'd been screaming for the past hour, and Chris thinks it's because something bad happened at work, because while his dad was a superhero, they couldn't save everyone all the time.
"Hi, dad!" He greets, pouring as much happiness into his voice as he could so that his dad would cheer up; he was more sad today, and Chris knew why, it was the day his dad and papa got married and papa wasn't here.
"I, uh, I got something to tell you, buddy," He squats down in front of him, and doesn't break eye contact. Chris feels sick suddenly, his chest feels heavy but he doesn't say anything, "It's about your papa."
Chris beams immediately at the mention of his papa, he's a superhero too!
"Is he back? Can I see him? I miss him so much!"
"Not really buddy," Chris frowns, "You know how your papa is far away and helps people?" Chirs nods, "Well, he was trying to help someone but then something happened, and he got hurt."
"But he'll be okay, right? He'll come back to us and then he can tell me all about the stars, he promised me that he would tell me about the stars."
His dad closes his eyes for a second and Chris knows the answer to the question, "I'm sorry Chris, he won't be coming back, he's going to be with mum now."
Chris can't say anything as tears fall down his face, "He's an angel now?"
"Yeah, he is buddy."
"That's not fair! He promised he would come back! He told me he was going to take me to the zoo and the beach and he would teach me how to surf and he would tell me about space and the stars and the planets and the sun!"
"He lied to me! You lied to me! You're both liars!"
He would feel guilty about that late, he knows that but right now Chris is sad and angry and he wants to cry.
His dad pulls him into a hug and Chris melts into the hug, crying for his papa.
By the time they reach home, Christopher's asleep in the back seat, face stained with tears.
Eddie's heart aches as he hoists Chris out, doing his best to be gentle and quiet. He opens the door and his eyes immediately fall to the photo of the 4 of them on the mantle, he looks away instantly, he can't stare at the photo.
He places Chris on his bed and takes his glasses off. He's peaceful, and he places a kiss on his forehead.
"I love you mijo."
Eddie shuts the door and makes his way into their bedroom, pointedly ignoring any photos hung up on the wall.
Their room was exactly the way he left it in the morning, the bed was neatly made, the pillow on the left side was a bit crooked compared to the one on the right, the blinds were open halfway, showering the room with the soft glow of the moon, giving everything a silver tint. Their rings are on the dresser, catching the moonlight, adding to the soft sliver tint that showers his room.
He pulls the envelope out of his jacket and tosses it on the bed before stripping his clothes off to change. His eyes rake across the closet before they land on Buck's old Navy shirt and hoodie. He wears it immediately, craving his comfort. It hangs off him, Buck was considerably buffer and taller than Eddie, and this was the closest thing he could ever get to a hug ever again.
He sits on the bed and takes his laptop, ignoring the way his eyes burn with tears as the home screen loads a picture of Buck, Eddie, and Chris at the beach.
He clicks on the file with his name.
If you're watching this, then it means I'm dead.
Eddie barely manages to hold back the sob that threats to claw its way out of his throat
Buck looks tired, his eyes are haggard and Eddie can see at least three different bandages peeking out under from his husband's uniform, there's a nasty bruise that's on his cheek and a cut on his lip, yet he still manages to take Eddie's breath away.
After what happened today, I just- I needed to make this, I mean the letter is still there, you're going to get that as well. I also wrote a letter to Chris some time ago, I didn't want to tell you cause you always end up grumpy and moody when we talk about my death, so when the letters come, give him his. Maddie's going to get her own letter and video.
Eddie's heart swells up immeasurably, grief and love wrapping their tendrils around it.
I know you have the emotional capability of a rock and I literally had to wrestle you to finally get a confession.
Eddie mirrors Buck's smile as the memory flashed through his mind
But you gotta promise me Eds, promise me that you're going to let yourself cry, mourn my death and move on because you deserve to be happy Eddie. Shan and I are going to look after our boys from up there.
Buck points to the sky and Eddie finally lets go, his body is wracking with sobs as he watches the screen with tears in his eyes.
I know you don't like asking for help, but if you need it, you know where to find it, from what you've sent in your letters, the 118 is going to be there for you. And yes I do get your letters, though I have to burn them as soon as I'm done, and god I wish I could keep them.
Eddie inhales shakily, wiping his eyes so that he could see his husband clearer.
If Steve's alive, then you know he's going to help, Maddie, Danny and Hondo too. Abuela's going to be there, so are Pepa and Carla, you're not going to be alone Eddie. I want you to move on. Be happy. Show Chris the world, teach him the constellations, I know I promised I would but you gotta take the mantle now. As much as I love you, you are horrible with emotions but that's okay because I know you're trying and that's all that matters, let yourself be sad, and then move on. Show Chris that it's okay to be sad.
Eddie could see the way Buck's eyes glazed over, tears threatening to fall from them.
I love you so much, more than you could ever imagine.
Buck kissed his hand and placed it on the camera.
The screen goes black.
His eyes land on the neatly folded letter next to the laptop and he pick it up, his hand trembling as he unfolds it.
If you're reading this then I'm dead. That sucks (for the both of us, though it must suck more for you, I'm sorry).
Only Buck could apologise for dying and a ghost of a smile tugs at his lips.
I want you to know that in my last moments I would've thought of you, Chris and Maddie. Three of the most important people in my lives. (Don't tell Steve I said that, he's going to make me do laundry for like a month when we visit Hawaii.)
That draws a laugh out of Eddie.
But in all seriousness, I love you. And I know nothing I say or write could ever make up for the hole I'm leaving in your heart, I want you to know that I fought, I fought as hard I can to come back to you and I never wanted to let go. Maybe I'll see Shan, tell her everything she's missed about Chirs, though I've missed a lot, I just hope that he hasn't outgrown his space phase. I hope L.A. will treat you nice even if I'm not there.
I want you to cry if you feel like crying, I know how hard it was for the two of you to lose Shannon and I'm sorry that I'm adding to your pain but I want you to mourn and then move on. I don't want you to spend the rest of your life wallowing in regret because it sucks Eddie. I̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶s̶u̶c̶k̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶. That didn't come outright. I don't want anything to suck for you.
I know you have to plan the funeral, I just hope you have my body.
A bitter laugh escapes him, Eddie wishes he did.
Don't be sad at my funeral, I think you'll have cried enough and I don't want you to pass out because you were dehydrated.
Eddie can't help but snort at that line, Buck's voice echoing in his head reminding him to drink water.
Celebrate my life, just like we did with Shannon because being sad sucks and if that's the first impression I'll be making on your crew, I don't want them to think I'm a mopey bastard because that's all you babe.
Chris' letter is behind this and I can only hope that Maddie got hers.
I know she's going to object to this, but take care of her will you? She says she's strong, but I know her and I know she's going to be hurting, just like you. So be there for each other yeah?
You're my everything and I'm sorry for leaving you.
I love you Eds.
Whatever semblance of control he managed to hold onto in the last few seconds crumbled and Eddie's whole body was shaking with sobs. His eyes burn as tears continue to flow, they stain his shirt and bed, but Eddie couldn't bring himself to care. First, he lost Shannon and now he lost Buck. Two of the most important people in his life were taken away from him, and both times, Eddie couldn't do anything. They slipped through his fingertips and all that was left were pictures and hollow memories.
Anger and grief swirled inside him, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. This wasn't fair, he was supposed to call Buck today, he was supposed to talk to him, he was supposed to watch the way Buck's eyes light up as he tells him about his day and then watch his smile grow impossibly wide as Chris would walk in and talk about his day, they were supposed to be happy and celebrate their anniversary. He wasn't supposed to watch his husband's 'death video' and read his 'death letter', he wasn't supposed to mourn his husband for another 50 years, he wasn't supposed to sit in their house yearning for his husband.
If you're reading this, then I'm dead. I'm sorry you lost another brother.
Words can't express how much you mean to me, you're my big sister and you practically raised me.
Tears are already falling down her face and she does her best to keep them away from the page, she doesn't want to ruin the last thing she has of her brother.
I'm proud of you Mads, you made a life in L.A.
I still have the photo of us at my wedding tucked into my vest; I want you to know that I would've fought, I would've fought till my last breath because I don't want to leave you or anyone behind. That would've been the last thing I saw, the Buckley-Diaz family, our family.
I know you're going to be planning the funeral with Eddie, I hope you have my body because I know an empty casket is never going to feel like the real thing.
Another sob falls out of her mouth.
Celebrate my life, will you? I don't want it to be sad, because you're going to be sad and I don't think my ghost would like to see you sad.
Even in death, he'll think about her and Maddie wants to scream at the universe and demand it bring Buck because a fire as bright as him doesn't deserve to extinguished.
Make it happy, play music, laugh, whatever you have to do. I trust you and Eds would take care of everything.
I know that Eddie's going to argue with me if I ever said this, but look out for him will you? Don't let him go into himself, I barely managed to pull him out the last time, don't let him isolate himself. You both need each other, so for me, be there for each other.
I love you, Maddie.
Buckleys for the win!
She sets the letter on the counter, face down, with shaky hands. She doesn't know how but she made it to the bedroom door, a feat she's going to deem a miracle later when she looks back and wonders how her jelly legs managed to walk across the apartment. The USB sits in her pocket and she knows if she doesn't watch it now, she can never bring herself to watch it again.
If you're watching this, then I'm sorry.
She can't stop the tears as they fall down and she rubs them furiously, she wants to see her brother.
He's in a tent, his eyes are tired and she can see bandages peeking out under from his uniform, there's a cut on his lip and a bruise on his face and Maddie aches at the sight of her brother hurt. No matter how many times she'd seen him get hurt, it always hurt.
I know I already wrote you a letter, but after what happened, I just- a letter didn't feel like it was enough. I made Eddie a video too, I couldn't bring myself to make one for Chris, so I wrote him a letter instead.
I'm proud of you Mads, I'm proud of us.
I'm sorry that you're seeing this, I never wanted you to see this or read the letter, I'm sorry you lost another brother.
She cries harder, as guilty as she feels, she doesn't remember Daniel as much, she knows that he was the best brother, he adored Maddie as much as she did him, and he also adored Evan, and now she lost them both.
Nothing I say will make the pain go away, but I want you to know that you mean so much to me Maddie, you're the best big sister I could've ever asked for, and I know you don't owe me anything, I owe you everything but I have one thing to ask.
If Maddie could argue with him, she would've, because Buck gave her everything, a home to come to, someone who loved her unconditionally, but most importantly, he gave her hope. Without it, she doesn't know if she would be here.
I want you to be happy, and I know it may take time but I want you to be happy, even if it's with Chimney.
Maddie's eyes widen in surprise, he'd been getting her letters?
I do get your letters, I have to burn them as soon as I'm done reading. From what Eddie's told me, he's a good guy, and I trust his judgement, don't tell him I said that though, his ego is big enough as it is, I don't want to add to it.
Maddie can't help but laugh.
So be happy Maddie, live your life and I promise you, I'll be watching over you with Daniel. I promise.
He held up his pinky and Maddie does the same as she sobs harder.
I love you, Maddie.
He kissed his fingers and placed them on the camera.
The screen goes black.
With trembling hands, she grabs her keys and gets out of her bed. As she leaves the apartment, her eyes fall onto the picture of Buck with his team, they're wearing Santa hats, each holding a child. She slams the door and winces it at echos throughout the hall, she can't see the picture, not right now.
A knock at the door startles Eddie. He groans as he gets up, joints stiff as he makes his way to the door. He's been staring at the ceiling for the past hour trying to make sense of everything.
He opens the door and nearly falls back as someone collapses onto him, body shaking with sobs.
"Maddie," He breathes as he stands up back up straight supporting both their weight before closing the door.
"He's gone Eddie," She cries, "He's gone."
They somehow make it onto the sofa and manage to sit down without leaving each other.
"I know," He sighs, voice raw with emotion, "I know."
He doesn't say anything as she cries onto him, his own tears falling.
Eddie freezes when a door opens and then exhales when he hears the patter of Chris' feet.
"Dad?" Comes the tires voice of his son.
"In here mijo," He calls out.
He walks into the sofa, eyes and face puffy.
Maddie wipes the tears away and turns to Chris, a small smile on her face, "Hey superman."
Chris climbs onto the sofa before settling in between them.
They don't say anything for a while, they just sit there in each others company, mourning.
"I want papa," Chris finally whispers and Eddie's heart breaks at the pain in their son's voice; Chris doesn't deserve this, the pain that he's feeling right now, and all Eddie can do is hold him.
"Buddy," Eddie brushes the tears off his face, "Your papa wrote you a letter, do you want to read it?"
Eddie can't stop the smile from making its way onto his face, "Alright, I'm going to get it for you."
I'm sorry that I'm not there, I know I broke our promise and I hope you could forgive me
Chris knows that papa would never break his promise on purpose, ever; Chris doesn't need to forgive him because he knows papa didn't do anything wrong.
I want you to know that I love you so much, I love you till the end of the universe.
Chris' eyes widen as he reads, the universe has no end. It makes his heart hurt a little bit more.
I know that I promised you that I would tell you all about the universe and constellations and I can't so you're going to have to ask dad to tell you yeah?
And when you're looking up, I'm going to be looking right down at you, me and your mum, watching our little boy.
"Can we go out?" Chris asks, "To the backyard?"
His dad frowns, looking confused, "Why kiddo?"
"Papa said he'd be with the stars with mum," Chris says, pointing to the line, "I want to say hi."
"Okay, c'mon lets go say hi."
He grabs dad's hand and Aunt Maddie's hand, allowing them to take him there.
It was windy outside, but it was nice, like a hug, but cold.
Chris had to squit to see the stars, but there was one that catches his eye, it shines bright, twinkling against the night sky and Chris knows, knows that that star is papa.
"Hi papa," He says, hoping that the wind carries his voice up to the sky, "I love you."
He looks back down at the letter, reading the rest.
You gotta promise me something Chris, you gotta promise that if you feel like crying, you cry, if you feel happy, you smile; if you feel anything, I want you to show it because there is no shame in that and sometimes you have to tell that to dad because emotions can be confusing for him sometimes.
Look out for each other, okay Superman? Because even heroes need help.
I love you Christopher, I'll be watching over you and I'll always be there with you, just like your mum.
"I promise papa," He says, looking back up to the star, "I promise."
Eddie finally guides Chris inside, he could see the tiredness behind his eyes and Eddie aches a bit more.
"Can I stay with you?"
Chris's voice is so quiet that Eddie has to strain his ear, "Of course you can."
They sit back on the sofa, Eddie taking the right, Maddie taking the left and Chris lying in between them, head on Maddie's thighs and his feet on Eddie.
Christopher falls asleep within minutes with Maddie running her fingers through his hair, and Eddie can't help the tears that fall down his face, Buck used to fall asleep like this all the time, in the same position.
"I can't believe he's dead," Eddie finally admits, "I know he's dead, but I don't know it; he's survived so much worse."
Maddie nods, sniffling, "There is only so much a person can survive Eddie, I want to believe he's alive, I want to."
"They found blood and ash," He finally tells her, and Eddie prays that she gets what he's implying because Eddie doesn't think he can admit it out loud, "I have his dog tags in the envelope."
"They didn't- We won't be able to-" Maddie doesn't finish her sentence, and bites her lip, presumably to keep a sob from escaping.
"He told me he wanted his funeral to be a celebration," Eddie says, voice catching at 'funeral', because it still doesn't seem real, he's still expecting Buck to walk in and tell him that this is some awful misunderstanding or a nightmare.
"He told me the same thing," Maddie nods, "God," She sighs, wiping her eyes, "He told me he didn't want me, us, to be sad because it would make his ghost sad."
The corners of his mouth tugs, "Of course he would say that, he wouldn't be Buck if didn't."
"He told me not to tell you but he asked me to look after you."
Maddie smiles sadly, tears filling her eyes again, "He asked me to do the same with you," She says, voice fond but filled with emotion, "He doesn't want us to be alone."
"We're not," Eddie tells her, because they're not, "We have each other, I'm going to need my sister, Maddie."
"I'm going to need my brother, Eddie," She says before lifting her pinky up, "We're going to look after each other yeah?"
Eddie's eyes widen, the pinky promise was something scared between the Buckley siblings, a forever promise. He tentatively lifts his finger, and links it with hers, "Yeah, yeah we are."
Eddie wakes up to someone knocking on the door and he nearly falls off the sofa. Sunlight filters through the curtains and Eddie wonders how they fell asleep in such uncomfortable positions. Maddie's still slumped on the left of the couch, Christopher's head on her lap and his feet on Eddie's lap. He gently lifts them up and walks to the door, his neck protesting at the sudden movement.
He blinks in surprise when he finds Bobby, Athena, Karen, Hen and Chimney standing in front of him.
"Hi?" He winces at how rough his voice sounds, no doubt bearing the weight of yesterday's crying.
"We're here to help," Bobby explains, holding up a grocery bag, "After what you told us yesterday, we wanted to help."
"Who is it, Eddie?" Maddie's sleep-addled voice calls out before she comes to stand next to him.
"Maddie?" Chim's voice is filled with confusion, "What? What are you doing here?"
"Howie," Maddie jolts awake beside him, "Uh, hi."
Eddie can see how this looks, he's supposed to be mourning the death of his husband yet here is a woman who clearly spent the night at Eddie's place.
"Why don't you come in? I'll explain everything," He sighs, moving aside to let everyone in, ignoring their confused looks.
He follows everyone into the living room and kneels down next to the sofa, gently shaking Chris to wake him up.
"Dad?" He yawns.
"Hey kiddo," He greets, "Why don't you go to your room and shower huh? I bet you feel really icky from yesterday?"
As if remembering yesterday finally reminds of him everything, Chris gets up and Eddie can see the tears forming in his eyes.
"Hey," Eddie soothes, "I'm right here okay? Me, you, and Aunt Maddie, bud, we got this. We can do this okay? It's what your papa would want."
Christopher sniffles before hugging him tightly, and Eddie hugs him back. He slowly untangles himself and walks towards Maddie who hugs him just as hard.
"I love you, Superman," She says, placing a kiss on his head.
With that Chris leaves them.
He turns to them, "Maddie's my sister-in-law," He explains, "She came here last night after..." He trails off, "We found out."
"We're sorry for your loss," Hen says earnestly.
Eddie just nods.
"Why don't the two of you freshen up and I'll get started on breakfast?" Bobby suggests.
"Yeah," Eddie swallows, "Okay."
"Why don't you go first," Maddie proposes, "I need to talk to Howie."
Eddie walks towards their room, eyes lingering on the photos decorating the wall, pictures of Buck, Eddie, Chris, Shannon, and Maddie adorn it.
He takes off Buck's hoodie and shirt as gently as he can, not wanting to ruin it. He takes his ring off the dresser and slides it onto his finger, welcoming the cold metal and its familiar weight. He runs his hand over the inscription, feeling Buck's handwriting.
Or you could have mine.
"I'm sorry I didn't have yours," He whispers.
He makes it 5 seconds into the shower before he falls to his knees with a muted thud as the water continued to beat down against him. He's shaking as his body wracks with sobs, barely muffled by the sound of the water. There's a gaping hole in his chest, one where Buck used to live.
Eddie choked on his coffee.
Buck was there in seconds, patting his back as Eddie regained his breath.
"What?" He manages to squeak out.
"I want to be your husband Eds," Buck said.
Eddie looked at him for a second before he surged forward and kissed him, cupping his face as he tried to pour evyer emotion he could.
"Yes," He breathed, "Yes I'll marry you."
"Goddamit Buck," Eddie scolded, "Just sit there, I'll bring you what you need."
"I'm not useless Eddie," Buck huffed, crossing his arms and pouting in a way that Eddie thinks should be considered illegal.
"Buck," He knelt down, tuhmbing his cheek, "I know you hate this, but you have to rest, I know being a SEAL is important to you, so if you want to go back, you have to rest, let your leg heal properly and before you know it, you'll be back."
"I know," Buck sighed, "But I hate this, I hate feeling this helpless."
"You're not helpless Buck, you're injured, there's a difference; not everyone makes it back alive with their leg intact after a fucking humvee rolled onto them."
"I suppose not," Buck smirked, "I am pretty indestructible."
"Don't jinx yourself Buckley-Diaz," Eddie warned, smacking the back of his head.
"Oi!" Buck protested, rubbing the back of his head, "I'm pretty sure there's some moral code against hitting people who are injured."
"You're insufferable," Eddie laughed, his voice undermining any assumed malice as he kissed Buck.
Eddie stumbles out of the shower, feeling numb. He ignores his side of the closet completely and opens Buck's instead. He pulls out the blue sweater that Buck loved and puts it on, immediately sighing in relief as his scent wafts up Eddie's nose, encompassing him.
Bobby's sitting at the table with everyone else, Chris next to Maddie as he eats the pancakes on his plate.
"Dad, Captain Bobby makes the best pancakes," chairs tells him as he sits, "But not as good as papa," He whispers.
Eddie doesn't know what to say to him, doesn't know how to comfort his son.
But before he could attempt to, there was a knock on his door. Eddie frowns, wondering who it is.
The door opens before he can even get out fo the chair and a familiar voice calls out, "Eddie!"
Eddie barely sees him for a second before he's engulfed into a hug.
"Reggie called me," Hondo explains, "I was on a raid and caught up with work, I saw her message and came as fast I could, I called Steve and Danny too, they should be landing in a few hours."
"Sergeant Harrellson?" Athena asks, voice laced with confusion.
"Sergeant Grant," Hondo greets, "How are you?"
"I'm good," She answers, and Eddie can see her have a silent conversation with Bobby as she tries to figure out what's going on.
"Hondo knew Buck," Eddie explains, "They were deployed together for a while before he left and joined the LAPD."
Athena keeps her face natural, but Eddie can see the shock in her eyes before it's masked with indifference.
"I'm gonna go freshen up," Maddie announces, getting up and placing a kiss on Chris' forehead. She briefly glances at Chim and gives him a small smile as she leaves.
Hondo takes a seat next to him, squeezing his shoulder as he does.
"I'm sorry," Eddie apologises, "I'm sorry for not telling you."
"No," Bobby protests immediately, "You have nothing to be sorry for, you're not obliged to tell us anything."
"Bobby's right," Hen agrees, placing her hand on his, "I can't even imagine how hard it was for you."
Eddie inhales sharply, letting their words wash over him, it was hard; raising Chris, being a firefighter, having a husband who was off fighting something or someone that Eddie had no knowledge of.
"I wanted to tell you," He admits, "I just- I didn't know how, every day it became harder, and everyone looks at you with pity, I- I don't want that. Buck would've called me an idiot for thinking like that but it-" Eddie sighs, "I miss him and talking about him hurt more."
Hen squeezes his hand, "We're here for you, whatever you need."
What I need is Buck, I need my husband back.
Eddie turns to Chris, who was intently listening to their conversation, "Why don't you go to your room buddy? We have to talk about adult things."
Chris pouts, "Dad, can I please stay?"
"I'm sorry buddy, but you can't," He apologies, "I'll call you once we're done talking about Adult things."
"Fine," Chris sighs.
Eddie waits until Chris is in his room before he finally speaks, "I have to plan the funeral."
"Eddie," Hondo voice is tentative, almost as if he knows the answer to the question, "Reggie didn't tell me, is- do we have a body to bury?"
Eddie purses his lips, holding back tears as he shakes his head, "They were burnt, all of them."
There are gasps coming from everyone.
"All I have left are his dog tags," Eddie whispers, biting the inside of his lip, "We're going to have to bury an empty coffin."
"Eddie," Chim finally speaks, "I know nothing I say can help you right now, but we're here for you, however you need us; we're not going anywhere."
"Thank you, Chim," He turns to all of them, hoping he sounds as sincere as he feels, "Thank you, all of you."
"Do you want to bury him next to Shannon?" Hondo asks.
At her name, another set of tears threaten to fall down his face, "Yeah," He manages to croak out, "They deserve that."
"Who's Shannon?" Karen asks, confused.
"She, uh, she was my ex-wife, Christopher's mother, she died in an accident when I was deployed."
Eddie doesn't need to look at them to see the pity on their faces, he doesn't want their pity.
"Oh Eddie," Athena says, she's by his side almost instantly and she wraps her arms around him, "I'm so sorry."
Eddie leans into her embrace, unable to keep the tears at bay as he mourns Buck and Shannon.
The funeral was anything but a quiet affair and Eddie knows this is how Buck would want it.
Eddie stands on the side of Buck's coffin, Chris by his side and Maddie next to him. The 118 stand behind him, and despite not knowing Buck, they were there for his funeral and Eddie knows Buck would've loved them.
Chris flinches by his side when the guns go off, and Eddie holds him close, pressing him against his side and he could feel his shirt getting wet.
They hand him the flag and Eddie's wants to scream at them, the flag means nothing, he's burying an empty coffin, nothing can fix the hole in his chest.
There's music playing, Eddie recognises the songs, they were his favourite songs and he knows this was all of Steve's doing.
"Many of you here know Buck," Hondo starts off, voice tight with emotion, "And for those of you who don't, he was the best man I had the pleasure of meeting. He was the most selfless man I've ever met. He was my brother in every sense, blood didn't matter when he'd save my life more times than I can count. The world won't be the same without him."
Hondo takes a breath, glancing at the picture of Buck before speaking, "There was a time where I got shot, it was real bad, I was bleeding out, and we were pinned down without any support. I was so sure that I was going to die, and Buck was next to me, he'd dislocated his shoulder and I'm pretty sure he had a concussion, and you know what he did?" Hondo asks, chuckling, "He stood up, braced himself against the wall and reset his shoulder so that he could help me, because that's the type of man he was."
Maddie speaks next, her face is puffy and her eyes are red.
"Buck is the reason I'm here today," She starts, and Eddie could see her shaking hands, "He was my hope, and we didn't talk for years, but he never gave up on me, he never gave up hope and when I showed up, he welcomed me with open arms and I'll forever be grateful to have him as my brother. It was always us against the world," She chokes, and then takes a few breaths, "My brother was the most selfless and brave man I knew, he was the best brother I could've ever asked for."
Eddie finally speaks, his heart racing as he places a rose on his coffin.
"Buck was the best thing that's happened to me since Christopher," Eddie says, steadying himself, "He was my rock, keeping me steady through some of the worst moments of my life, without Buck, I don't know where'd I'd be," He pauses, taking a second to compose himself, "The moment I met him, I knew my life wouldn't be the same. We were in Afghanistan, I was a field medic and I was restocking my bag in the tent when he's dragged into it. Hondo and Steve holding him upright as he complained," He chuckles, a fond smile on his face as he recounts the story.
"They drop him onto the table and say 'Bastard's been shot and says he's fine," He says, doing his best impression of Hondo, "Buck complains, saying that it was just a flesh wound and that they were being dramatic, it was not a flesh wound," People laughs, and those who knew Buck had a fond smile on their faces too, "The bullet just missed an artery, so I get to work on him and you know what he does? He flirts with me."
Eddie was just about ready to collapse into one of the beds and never wake up again. He was bone dead tired, every joint that could ache, ached.
Just as he was about to leave, people rushed into the tent.
"We need a medic!" Someone called out.
Instantly Eddie dropped whatever he was holding and cleared the table before shouting, "In here!"
In came three men, two holding the man between them.
"I'm telling you, Steve, it's a fucking flesh wound, it probably clipped me or something." The one being carried groaned, and in any other scenario, Eddie would've stopped and stared at the man, it's not like he was married anymore.
"Let the medic be the judge of that Buck," The man on the right snapped and dumped Buck on the table.
"What happened?" Eddie asked as he put on his gloves.
"We were ambushed, Buck took the brunt," The man said, "Bastard's been shot and says he's fine."
"Hondo I swear to-"
"Shut up Buck," Hondo sighed, "Let the man do his job and if you're right, you won't have to do the chores for a week."
"Deal," Buck agreed, looking smug.
Eddie hid a smile and lifted Buck's leg up to get a better look at the wound.
It was definitely not a flesh wound, he could see the metal glinting under the dim light hanging above them.
"That," Eddie declared, "Is not a flesh wound."
The smug look dropped right off Buck's face, "What? It doesn't even hurt that bad."
Steve snorted beside him, "We all know your pain tolerance scale is fucked up."
There was definitely a story there.
"Fuck," Buck cursed, "How bad is it doc?"
"Not a doctor" Eddie hummed, gathering his equipment, "Just a medic."
Buck smiled, "Cute and a sense of you humour, I like you."
If Eddie was a weaker man, he would've blushed like a mad man.
"Really Buck?" Hondo huffed.
"What?" Buck protested, "I'm just being honest, he's cute!"
Eddie has to hide a smile.
"This is going to pain," Eddie warns, "I'd suggest holding or biting down on something."
"Nah," Buck waved him off, "I'm all good, in fact, you're the only painkiller I need."
"Buck stop flirting with the medic and let him do his job please," Steved sighed, pinching his nose, "I'm so sorry, he's a horny bastard."
"I am not!"
Eddie laughed, "I'm being serious Buck, this is going to hurt."
"He was the best brother, husband and father anyone could've asked for," Eddie says, blinking away the tears, "And I'm going to love him till the day I die."
By the time the funeral's over, Eddie wants nothing more than to be left alone, but apparently, the universe couldn't respect his wishes because there are three rapid knocks on his door.
He sighs as he opens the door, before his eyes widen in surprise.
"Steve?" He questions, "What are you doing here?"
"You really think I was going to leave you alone?"
Steve rolls his eyes, "You're worse than him."
Eddie huffs out a laugh and moves to the side so that Steve could come in, Danny and Hondo following him.
"Why he won't use a goddamn wheelchair is just something I can't understand," Danny sighs as he follows the hobbling figure of Steve into the house.
Eddie hides a smile and follows Hondo into the house.
"Where's Chris?" Steve asks as he practically falls onto the sofa, much to Danny's annoyance who rushes to smack his head before lifting his left leg to place it on the coffee table.
"At Athena's place, Harry and Denny are there too," Eddie explains, Athena had suggested that Chris stay with her for the night so that he could be distracted for a while and that Eddie could have a night to get drunk and mourn his husband.
"Pizza should be here any minute," Hondo says, coming back from the kitchen with 4 bottles of beer in his hands.
Eddie takes one and settles on the other end of the sofa while Danny and Hondo occupy a dining chair each.
"That was quite a speech you gave there," Steve comments, taking a swig of his beer, "Never would've pegged you as the emotional type."
"Fuck off," Eddie snorts, taking his swig.
"Just saying," Steve laughs, throwing his hands up in surrender, "Buck was always the emotional one between the two, and that's saying something given that he's a SEAL."
"I guess I was channelling my inner Buck," Eddie smiles sadly, "I guess my of paying an ode to him."
"Well, I know he would be impressed if he saw," Hondo says, "I know I was."
"His ghost was probably celebrating," Danny laughs.
Eddie can't help the laugh that falls out, it was loud and all-encompassing, and he can't remember the last time he laughed like that; it was probably before Buck left. They join him too and for the first time in days the Diaz-Buckley household was filled with laughter instead of tears and silence.
"To Buck," Steve says raising his bottle, "To the best damn man I ever knew."
"To Buck," They all echo.
To Buck, who made me the person I am today; I love you.
6 MONTHS LATER
Maddie glances at the clock, dreading when the ticking hand stops at 7, she doesn't want her shift to end, because when it's over she's going to have to go home, and face today and she doesn't think she has it in her.
It was supposed to be Buck's 30th birthday.
Her baby brother was supposed to be 30, and he never got to see it.
The past 6 months were hard, to say the least, and while she'd gotten used to not talking to Buck when she was in Hershey and when he was deployed, the knowledge that he was there, waiting for her, waiting to come home comforted her, but now, knowing that he would never come back home, made it a million times worse.
"You wanna come out with me tonight? We could get drunk and forget about everything?" Josh asks her, sliding across the floor to sit next to her.
A part of her wants to say yes, it would be so much easier to get blackout drunk than deal with everything but she knows she owes at least this much to Buck to try and stay sober tonight, to celebrate him instead of mourning him.
"Nah," She declines, "I'm going to go over to Eddie's and we're going to celebrate his birthday."
Josh nods, a small smile on his face, "As long as you're not alone, I'm good."
"Thanks, Josh," She tells him, hoping that she sounds as sincere as she feels.
He laughs, "You can thank me by bringing me one of those expensive cappuccinos from down the street."
"They're like $15," She protests jokingly.
"What can I say? I'm a man of luxury."
She huffs out a laugh, "More like a man who likes to get scammed."
"I'm not the one being scammed if I'm not the one paying," He says, tapping his finger against the side of his head.
She's about to reply when Sue calls for her, "Maddie?"
She turns around and her heart stops.
Standing next to Sue is Buck. Alive.
"Evan?" She asks, voice barely above a whisper.
He gives her a small smile, "Hey Mads."
She stands still, unable to move. Her brother's alive, he's breathing and standing in front of her. He's covered in cuts and bruises, and leaning heavily on crutches, but he's alive.
She all but runs to him, wrapping her hands around him, almost immediately he wraps his arms around her. Maddie doesn't even try to hold back her tears as she buries her face into his chest.
"I'm here Mads," He soothes her, "I'm here and I'm alive."
"They said you died," Her voice gets muffled by his fatigues but she knows he heard her, "They didn't find your body," She sobs, "They said you died, Evan."
"We were ambushed," He tells hers, voice low so that no one else could hear, "They took our tags, burnt the Humvee and cut up a few of us to get blood and then took us."
She sobs even harder onto him, just thinking about everything her brother had to endure in the past few months. She finally pulls back and drinks in the sight of her brother, he's alive.
"I can't believe it," She admits, "I - Buck," She breathes, hugging him again unable to put what she's feeling like now."
"I'm stiff here because of you Mads," He smiles at her, "Because of you and Eddie and Chris, I'm alive."
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a photo and another set of tears fall down her face.
It's a picture of them, at Buck and Eddie's wedding. She's standing on the right of him, arm looped into his as they smile, Eddie's on the other side with Chris between them. They all look so happy.
"Does Eddie know you're-" She stops herself as the reality of the situation set in, "Does he know?"
"No," He sighs, "They tried calling him but the number was disconnected, and I didn't remember yours."
"We have to get you to Eddie," She says as she rushes to her desk to grab her keys, "C'mon."
Eddie stares at his phone as the date mocks him.
"You have got to stop glaring at your phone," Hen comments.
He pockets it immediately, "I was not glaring, I was just trying to understand how it works."
"Right," She drawls, "Just looking at it like it offends you, you've had the phone for a month now, long enough for you to know how it works."
"Hen," He sighs.
"Eddie," She puts down her book and turns to him, "You don't have to be here, you can go home."
"I don't want to," He admits, "He was supposed to turn 30 today, 30, Hen," He places his head in his hands, "Going home is just going to make it worse," He explains, "I'll have to sit at home and feel helpless because I couldn't do anything -"
"That is not on you Eddie," She interrupts, "You were halfway across the world, hell, you didn't even know where he was. Eddie, you can't live your life feeling like this, it's not going to get you anywhere but 20 feet under guilt that you shouldn't have in the first place."
"It's not that easy, Hen," He sighs, "All my life I've been the one who's been able to fix things, to make things better, hell, that's how I met him. I pulled a bullet from his abdomen, both times I lost someone I loved, it was because I couldn't do anything."
"Because you couldn't," Hen emphasises, "You didn't know about Shannon because you were on a plane to come home to them and you didn't couldn't do anything about Buck because you were in L.A. and he wasn't."
Eddie exhales, "I know that Hen, I just need to know it."
She gives him a small smile and squeezes his knee, "You will, in time."
Just then Chimney runs up the stairs, face pale and eyes wide, breathing heavily, almost as if he'd seen a ghost.
"You okay?" Eddie asks, concerned, "You look like you've seen a ghost."
"I think I have," Chim admits, voice shaking, "Come down."
Eddie frowns, sharing a concerned look with Hen.
"Everything okay?" Bobby asks, finally entering the loft.
"Just come down!" Chim snaps before rushing down the stairs.
They follow suit reluctantly.
Eddie's the first to finally reach the bay, he can't see Chim anywhere, "Chim?" He calls outs, turning to look for him.
"Here!" He calls out from what sounds like the front of the station.
Eddie jogs towards the front, curious as to what had him so shook up, "Chim I swear to god if-"
Eddie stops mid-sentence as he finally reaches where Chim is standing. With Maddie. And Buck.
"You gonna stand there all day or are you actually gonna come and give your husband a hug?" He smirks.
Eddie doesn't move.
He has to be dreaming, Buck's dead. He's been dead for the past 6 months, Eddie's visited his grave every day for the past six month's because Buck's dead.
"You're really going to make me walk to you?"
"Jesus," He huffs as he starts to limp forward.
"Buck, you're here?" He asks, slowly walking forward, as if he was going to disappear any second.
"In the flesh," He winks.
Eddie lifts a trembling hand and places it on his cheek, "Dios," He breathes in awe.
"Nah, you can just call me Buck."
Eddie can't help but smile, Buck's alive.
He wraps his arms around him, pulling him close. He rests his head against Buck's chest, listing to the rhythmic thump of his heart.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
"You're really here," Eddie cries, not caring that anyone could see him.
His husband's alive.
"How? They called me," Eddie asks, not releasing Buck from his embrace as he looks him in the eyes.
"We were ambushed," He tells him, voice low so that no one else could hear, "They took our tags, burnt the Humvee and cut up a few of us to get blood and then took us."
"God," He breathes, "Buck- You're here."
"I am," He smiles, "And I'm never going back."
Eddie's eyes widen, "No," He says, unable to believe what Buck's implying."
Eddie finally kisses him. Arms loops around his neck as Buck leans onto him, wrapping his hands around Eddie's waist.
The past months had been suffocating him in grief and anger, but now kissing Buck, he could finally breathe. He wasn't drowning anymore, Buck had pulled him out.
He doesn't pull away, not when his lungs scream for actual oxygen instead of Buck, not when he feels like he's going to pass out.
Buck finally pulls away, "I love you so much," He murmurs, he didn't pull away too far, just enough to breathe, their forehead were still touching and Eddie could feel the ghost of Buck's breath fan over his lips.
"I love you, Evan," He presses another kiss onto Buck's lips, "More than you could ever know."
"Why didn't they call me?" Eddie finally asks.
"Told me your number was disconnected," He says, "And I didn't know Maddie's number so I had no way of telling you."
Eddie understood the tone in his voice immediately.
"I didn't move on Buck," Eddie reassures him, "I could never, you were the one for me, Evan, forever and always."
Buck inhales sharply, "I am?"
"You always are," He places another kiss.
Buck smiles at him, pressing a kiss to his forehead.
"We've got to tell Chris," Buck says, "He deserves to know."
"Let's go to our boy then," Eddie smiles.
Chris did not want to be in school today, normal he loves school, he loves learning new things, but today was papa's birthday and he doesn't want to be here. He wants to be with papa, dad and Aunt Maddie so they could celebrate it.
"Chris," His teacher calls him, "There's someone here to see you."
Chris frowns, wondering who could be here to see him, his dad, Aunt Maddie, and tía abuela Pepe were at work and bisabuela is on holiday in Texas, Miss Carla wasn't supposed to pick him until school ends.
The door opens and Chris can't believe who's standing there.
He doesn't even bother taking his crutches and walks to the door as quick as he can.
He hugs his papa as hard as he can, unable to believe it.
He smiles at him, "I sure am Superman."
"How?" His voice trembles, "They said you died."
"I'm here buddy," Papa reassures, "They couldn't find us, but I'm here and that's all that matters."
Chris nods and buries his head in between papa's neck and wraps his arms around.
"I love you," Chris says, "I love you so much, papa."
"I know Chris, I love you till the end of the universe."
"I swear to god Buck if you don't let me change your dressing-"
"Alright, alright," Buck interrupts, "You can change it, you could've just said you wanted to strip me."
Eddie sighs, unable to keep the fond look off his face, he's missed this, he's missed Buck.
"I missed you," Eddie confesses, soaking the pad with antiseptic, "I missed you so much, Evan."
"God, Eddie," Buck breathes, placing a kiss, "I missed you more than you could imagine."
"These months, god," Eddie whispers, "I thought you were dead, I went to - to your grave every day."
"I can't even imagine what you felt, I'm so sorry."
"It's not your fault," Eddie presses the pad on his cut, wincing in sympathy as Buck hisses in pain "I don't blame you."
"I'm here because of you," Buck says, breathing through the pain, "Every day, all I could think about was coming home to you, to Chris, to Maddie. I fought so I could come to you."
Buck shuffles for a second, reaching into his pocket to pull out a photo.
"I hid this, whenever I was tired, whenever I wanted to give up, whenever death seemed to welcome me with open arms," He admits, "I looked at this, and I know I had to fight, I had to come home to you, to us."
Eddie takes the photo, gently running his hands over it; he doesn't stop the tears that fall down his cheeks. Buck's there in an instant, brushing them away.
"Carñio," Eddie breathes, unable to say anything else.
"Look at me Eddie," Buck says gently, lifting his head up, "I love you so much, and I am never going to leave you again, ever."
Eddie goes to sleep that night listening to the constant rhythmic thump of Buck's heartbeat, Christoper laying beside him and Buck keeps his promise till their dying breath.