If I Can’t Have You, I’ll Take The Stars ~ Part 3

Title: If I Can’t Have You, I’ll Take The Stars ~ Part 3
Characters: Eddie Diaz, Evan Buckley, Christopher Diaz, 9-1-1 Characters, Stargate characters, Original characters
Rating: PG-15
Author’s Note: Alternate Universe, Grammarly is my beta reader.
Summary: Eddie knew he loved Buck, but it wasn’t until after he was shot, Eddie realized how deep that love goes. Problem is, Buck loves Taylor, so unable to bear having Buck push him and Christopher out of his life, the Diazes leave Los Angeles.

His smile was sad as he walked away from the bedroom, the sound of Christopher’s chatter becoming background noise as he headed to kitchen for a beer. These weekly conversations always brought to the forefront the hollow feeling in his chest where Evan Buckley had stolen his heart. Not that he wasn’t happy here. He loved his job with the CSFD, and the Innovations Gate Clinic was doing fantastic work with Christopher. Even with his knowledge of mechanics and engineering he couldn’t figure out exactly how the machines worked just that they were making a difference in Christopher’s mobility and balance without surgery.

The sound of crutches on the hardwood floors brought Eddie out of his thoughts. He’d left the bi-fold doors open to allow the spring air to move through the house.

“Hey, mijo.” Eddie scooted to the side to make room for his son on the lounger. “Did you get to tell Buck everything you wanted?”

“Yeah, but I still miss not being able to see him in person so I can hug him when he feels bad.”

“Me too, mijo … Me too.” Christopher snuggled against his chest allowing Eddie to take in the comforting feel of his son, and hoped he never outgrew wanting to snuggle with his old man when he got older.

“Is that why you seem sad sometimes, because you miss Buck?”

“Yeah, I miss the people from the 118, but I like the people I work with here, too.”

“I do too. I guess it takes time to settle in.”

Tears stung his eyes at how wise his little man was. “I think you’re right, Superman. I think you’re right.”

Father and son spent the afternoon snuggled on the lounger. Christopher napped after the excitement of his sleepover and Eddie put in and order for their favorite Mexican takeout instead of breaking the lazy mood of the day.


Thankfully, Eddie’s 24-hour shift on Wednesday was fairly quiet with the ambulance being called out more than the fire crew. He’d been able to get a solid four hours sleep, so when he got home he only slept for a couple hours before getting up and around for his appointment with Sheppard and McKay. He’d finished laundry and made a fresh pot of coffee along with a thermal carafe that should hold McKay for a minute or two. Wanting to enjoy the day, he’d set up refreshments on patio, which would give them privacy and plenty of notice should their meeting run into the time that Letty would be bringing Christopher home from school.

Hearing a car engine, Eddie checked the security cameras that came with the house to see a black SUV pull up to the garage. Sheppard, McKay, and two other men got out of the vehicle. The first, who from his age and bearing was probably the Lt. Colonel’s superior, and the other seemed, like McKay, a civilian that carried himself like he’d seen combat. He also acted overly familiar with the older man. If Eddie had to guess, he would say they served together until the military man got promoted from their team. Feeling better about allowing the familiar strangers in his home, he headed to the door as the chime sounded.

“Come in. I’ve got a place we can have a bit of privacy if the meeting carries over past the time my son gets home from school. To the right and down the stairs.”

“This will be perfect.” The grey-haired man smiled indulgently as McKay and the blond civilian went straight through the bi-fold doors Eddie had installed for better flow from the lower level to the patio, to the coffee carafe.

“There’s a pot on the bar, too.” Eddie grinned at McKay’s antics.

“Now that we’re done acting like country bumpkins, you’ve met Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay. I’m Lt. General Jonathan, call me Jack, O’Neill, two lls USAF, and the blond menace is Dr. Daniel Jackson, archeologist, anthropologist, linguist, and coffee snob.”

“Eddie Diaz, Lieutenant at Station 11, firefighter/paramedic with a specialty in heavy rescue.” Everyone shook hands and settled at the patio table. “How’s your side?” Eddie asked while everyone was getting settled.

“Good as new. The docs were impressed with your needlepoint.” Sheppard gave him a bad boy smirk.

“Okay, kids. I hate long meetings even in such a nice spot, so let’s get down to business.” Jack took a stack of papers from Dr. Jackson. “What happened with Sheppard and McKay the other night brought a few things to our attention, and you might be part of the answer.”

Watching the expressions around the table, Eddie turned his attention back to O’Neill. “I already have a job and a kid.”

“Yes, we know. We did a deep background check, and we were impressed with your service record, and the certifications you continue to pile up for the fire department. Now, we have people like Sheppard and McKay we send out for various missions, and they have been known to run into trouble on occasion. We’ve developed and recently received funding to set up a few very discrete aide stations to handle any injuries to our operatives so they can get emergency care until we can get them back to their duty station.”

“Sounds like the smart thing to do. Gunshot wounds are supposed to be reported to the police, so if you want to be on down low you need your own people in place. Still not sure what that has to do with me because I still have a job and a child with a disability, and by the way what’s the deal with the glowing rock?”

Glowering at Eddie, Jack finally sat back in his chair and handed his coffee cup to Sheppard. “There goes a short meeting.” He scratched the scar bisecting his eyebrow with his thumbnail. He moved the stack of papers from in front of him to in front of Eddie. “Read and sign. Then we’ll talk about the rock. To finish what we were talking about before, I would like you to be part of this little venture. We’ll handle security and administrative stuff. I can even put you back in the Army if you’d like.”

“Can I do it as a civilian?”

“You can, but I would rather re-activate you to the Army on permanent assignment because I need you to be armed. As lenient as Colorado gun laws are, I’d rather you have that extra layer of protection.” Jack kept his expression bland, but he had a feeling he had the former Staff Sergeant on the hook.

Eddie paused. “You can do that?” He really didn’t want to keep a weapon in the house even though his nightstand and closet both had safes where he could store weapons. Looking at the stack of paper that was the non-disclosure agreement, he couldn’t think how to argue against it. The bigger the NDA, the bigger the secret. “What about when I’m on shift?”

A sly grin crossed Jack’s face. “All I can say until you sign those papers is I have a lot of leeway with my command. I was going to ask you to oversee this project, but I’ve just thought of someone who had to be taken out of the field due to injury. He’s still fit for duty but not for his old job. This would be a good job for him, and you’ve given me an idea of the perfect cover. Buy a house install him and his partner in the house. It’s genius.” Jack grinned at the men.

“So, you don’t need me?”

“Oh no, we still need you to  act as relief and back-up. In fact, I notice the house next door is for sale, and looks to be just what we need.

Looking at the four men who appeared relaxed but aware of their surroundings, Eddie chewed his bottom lip as he ran scenarios through his head. “Can your leeway arrange for my military service to end if I leave the program, or move somewhere you don’t need an outside support team?”

“If that’s what you want, but I’ve got teams operating all over. I hate to lose good assets … Especially ones that make certain ‘rocks’ glow.” Eddie wasn’t sure he like the grin on O’Neill’s face.

“I’ll read your NDA. There are snacks on bar. I’m sure you know how to work a coffee maker plus cold drinks in the fridge while I plow through this monster.” Eddie muttered. He took a notebook from under the pile to make notes and began to read.

By the time he’d read and signed everything it was almost time to leave to pick up Christopher. He started to apologize but Jack cut him off.

“You off tomorrow?”

“Yeah. I don’t go back on shift until the day after.”


“I’ll be here at 0930 tomorrow to pick you up and we’ll get you processed into our little deep space telemetry club.”

“Okay. I’ll arrange for my son’s caregiver to pick him up from school in case things run long.” Leading the men back to the front door, Eddie paused before opening the door. “How did you get this done so fast?”

“When John brought up the idea of safehouses after you patched him up, I started the ball rolling on background checks. If this test program works out here, we’ll expand it to other cities where we have teams working. Were you thinking of moving soon?”

“My son, Christopher, is getting treatment at Innovations Gate Clinic. He’ll eventually get to a point where the treatments will stop helping him. We might move back to Los Angeles if that happens.” Looking down at the card the Colonel had given him, Eddie thought the address seemed familiar. “I’m meeting you at the Space Force offices. Are you going to tell me some fantastical story about aliens and space invaders?”

“Yeah, sure, you betcha.” Jack clapped Eddie on the shoulder as he headed out the door.

“You always make it so obvious, Jack.” Daniel scolded as he followed.

“Thanks again.” John shook his hand as Rodney crowded him out the door.

“I appreciate your good work, too. I hate when he’s injured. He’s the worst patient ever.”

Eddie stood in the door dumbfounded as he watched the SUV roll out of the drive. If they did buy the house close by, it would give him an added layer of defense if anyone found out they were operating a clinic in the basement.

Looking at the new safe that looked like his Army footlocker sitting in his walk-in closet, Eddie ran his hands through new haircut that was between his usual long on top and a bootcamp cut. The lock on the safe was biometric to make sure any curious youngster could not go snooping. The gun safe in his nightstand also had biometric locks installed, so there would be no fumbling for keys. Another safe was installed under the bar downstairs, so there was access to weapons in all parts of the house. New BDUs hung in his closet, and the uniforms that hung in the back of his closet had been to the cleaners and were in a new garment bag with their new chest candy should there be a need for a dress uniform.

O’Neill had done some kind of bureaucratic magic and he’d received a promotion he had yet to figure out. When he’d been discharged, he was only a few months away from a promotion to First Sargeant, but now he was a Warrant Officer 1. The Top Sargeant at Stargate Command, Walter Harriman had started to explain it, but the General had waved him off. “Just know you need the weight to throw around sometimes.” Harriman had rolled his eyes at O’Neill’s antics, so Eddie just rolled with the flow.

Telling Christopher and Letty a bit trickier. He told them he had been recalled to the Army for a special project and that there were now weapons in the house. He did not tell them where they were in the house, just that they were in special lockers only he could open. Explaining his re-activation into the Army had upset his son until he explained that he would not be leaving Colorado Springs and would only be working on his days off from the fire department … Mostly while Christopher was in school. The explanation had calmed him down, but they’d still suffered through several bouts of nightmares. Eddie scheduled several sessions with Christopher’s therapist to help his son deal with his anxieties.

Stargate Command had been a real eye opener for Eddie. Aside from the whole alien thing, all the scientists with all the weird gadgets had him wishing he could tell Christopher and Buck. He finally got the rundown on the glowing rock. It seemed he had a special gene that allowed him to operate certain pieces of alien technology. It also meant that some days Dr. McKay addressed him as Chief Light Switch, which tickled Sheppard to no end as it freed him up for taking care of base military leader business. Word was the two men would be going back to some place called Atlantis in a few weeks, but Eddie was enjoying getting to know the two men.

With his workouts to stay in shape for his job, and his MMA training, Eddie had thought he was he pretty good shape, but he had been ready to drop after completing his qualifying runs. His biggest surprise was seeing the lead paramedic from his shift at Station 11 running the obstacle course.

“Trace, what in the world?” Eddie downed a bottle of water as Trace’s spouse, Brennan, handed Trace a towel and a bottle of water.

“Eddie. They didn’t tell us who the other paramedic would be helping us out at the house.” Trace grabbed his hand and pulled him into a ‘bro’ hug. “Brennan’s going to be overseeing the project.

“You know me as Trace’s prettier half, but down here, me and Trace are both Chief Warrant Officer 3. I was a medic on SG-10 until I got injured off the team. Trace won’t even tell me what he did for the Army before he became a paramedic.”

Trace rolled his eyes at his husband’s jibe before turning his attention back to Eddie. “At least I know two people here, and I won’t feel like the only other Army here.” Eddie felt a wave of relief that he already knew and trusted the people he’d be with on this project for O’Neill. “So, you’re who O’Neill was talking about when he said this would be perfect for you getting your time in until retirement?”

“Yeah, I’m not ready to quit, but I can’t qualify for a gate team with this leg. According to the General, we’ll be moving into your neighbor in the not too distant future. It’ll be good to have people close we trust.” He slapped Eddie on the shoulder before unhooking his cane from where he’d stuck it in belt while he had his hands full. “I’ll eventually get rid of this thing, but still need to take it easy for a while.”

“Even with all the neat tech they got for healing?”

“Yeah, it can only do so much, and some can only be used by certain people, but it’s all good. I thought I was going to lose the leg at the knee.”

“That’s why you and Trace kept your injury on the down low. Dodging fire fam outings. You really can’t tell people you got wounded at your super-secret job.” He flirted a little with the tall, dark, handsome man to tease Trace.

“Hey, now, don’t be trying your smooth Latin charm on my fella.” Trace growled playfully. “We’re passing it off as old injury that got re-injured. But seriously, once O’Neill got the bit between his teeth on this safehouse idea, it happened fast. They’re finishing the renovations on the house up the street from you. We’re moving in next week. You should come by …” He looked at Brennan with a question on his face.

“Thursday. You’re both off. Come about lunch time for the full tour, then bring Chris by after school and I’ll talk Trace into making his world-famous pizza for us.” Brennan gave Eddie a wink.

“Chris would love that, but what about your place?”

“Rental. We were just starting to seriously look for our own place when we got pulled into this.” Trace shook his head at Brennan’s antics.

 Looking at his watch, then at Trace. “I don’t know about your schedule, but I need to hit the showers. Then meet with the General. I’ll see you guys Thursday.”

His meeting with O’Neill was short since he’d already talked to Trace and Brennan. “We’ve set up another safehouse near the Air Force Academy. Since Brennan has time in the Program, he’ll be the one in charge of all the administrative crap I hate for both safehouses. Major Cullen O’Brien and his wife, Captain Lili O’Brien will be manning it. Cullen was with us until he took a teaching position at the Academy. Lili is one of Dr. Lam’s Physician Assistants.”

“How are your handling the times when everyone is at work or on vacation?”

“We’re hoping you won’t be that busy. Our teams are very good at what they do. The jammers our geeks come up with stop damn near anything on the earthly security market. I hope situations like Sheppard’s are few and far between, but I believe in being prepared. That’s why you’re on call 24/7 since we can use beaming technology if you’re away from the city. So, keep living your life as always and we’ll work around when we need you.” The General handed him a wallet and set of dog tags. “All your paperwork is filed that goes along with these. We’ll be keeping you on the list to contact Dr. Lam needs extra hands in the mountain. You can also talk with Colonel Carter if you want to come to the Mountain when you’re bored enough that playing light switch is considered a good time.” Jack’s tone was sarcastic.

“The Army can’t take me from here?”

“No. Due to the nature of the Program, and the high security, you’re stuck with us until we work out separation. It gives an extra layer of protection if something should happen. It all goes through us.”

“What about Trace? Is he covered?”

“He was Delta Force until he separated after being injured. After he married Brennan, he was read into the program, and like you was re-activated. So he’s been covered for a while.” Jack watched Eddie for a few minutes. “How are you doing with all this?”

“After I wrapped my head around it, it made sense. It’s terribly arrogant of us to think that a blue marble on the edge of the Milky Way would be the only planet with sentient life. Besides my son is crazy about space, and now I have people who have been there for him to ask questions. He keeps me, and my best friend on our toes to have an intelligent conversation.”

“We can always use more geeks. Maybe the Program will be declassified by the time he’s thinking about college.” Jack pulled several items out of his desk drawer. “Take him out to the Schiever Space Force Base Visitor Center. The guy in charge knows me.” He grinned at Eddie as he handed him a VIP pass.

“I think you just put me up for Dad of the Year, Sir. Thank you. Also, I’ll be going to Los Angeles with Christopher for a few days. We’ll be flying out Thursday evening and returning Tuesday afternoon.”

“Thanks for the reminder. If something happens while you’re there, we’ll have you beamed in to take over, but hopefully we have a long and quiet relationship.”

“I hope the q word doesn’t work here like it does at the fire house.” Eddie gave Jack a wide smile as he snapped off a salute as Jack shooed him from his office.

Driving home from Cheyenne Mountain, Eddie couldn’t believe the odd turn his life had taken. Stargates and aliens. Secret cities in another galaxies. It was like a show they used to watch with Buck before he got married. Thinking about the past got him thinking about the last few times he’d talked to the younger man. From Buck’s demeanor, he would say things weren’t going well with his marriage. Buck never said anything negative about Taylor, or talked about specific problems, but there seemed to be little happiness when he talked about his wife. He shook himself out of his distracted mood and paid attention as he started to meet city traffic. He’d get Buck to talk if he had to browbeat it out of him.

They still had three hours before their flight. Christopher was in the kitchen helping Trace make pizza, so Eddie and Brennan took advantage of the distraction for Eddie to get a tour of the small clinic in the lower level of their house.

“Holy cow, the only thing missing is an OR and a surgeon.” Eddie ran his fingers over the cabinet only for it to unlock.

“Everything has biometric locks set to the three of us.” Brennan explained as they headed back to the upper level.

The pizza had made it to the oven and Trace was regaling his son with some outrageous story of a rope rescue the week before of a base jumper that hadn’t jumped out far enough to clear the outcroppings.

“Man, he was just dangling there like a life size marionette, but was so scared he almost … Well, he probably won’t be doing anymore base jumping for a while.”

Christopher’s giggle was music to his ears. Eddie had gotten very lucky in his choice of fire houses and friends. It made his heartache at leaving Los Angeles easier to bear. He knew the scar on his heart would be torn open by this trip, as it was every time they went back to Los Angeles to visit, but he couldn’t deny Christopher his Buck. His heart had calloused to the point where seeing Buck with Taylor only caused small twinges. The man would be Christopher’s parent if anything happened to Eddie, so he could live with a little extra pain a few times a year if it meant his boy’s happiness.


Sitting cross-legged on his bed, a tired smile crossed his face. After getting him settled, he’d spent a few minutes watching Christopher sleep. The flight from Colorado Springs had gone smoothly, but with school and work the Diaz men had had a long day. Taking a long pull from his water bottle, Eddie picked up his phone to send Buck a text to let him know they had arrived and were tucked in safely at Abuela’s.

Since Buck was working a 24 before having four days off, Eddie didn’t want to disturb him with a call if he was sleeping. He got a quick response with Buck telling him about a fender bender that had them on their way back to the station. They set a time to meet at their favorite diner for lunch the next day. That would allow Buck to get a few hours sleep before they got together. Eddie ran his finger over the words on the screen before turning off the light and going to sleep.

The reunion in the parking lot the next day was incredibly noisy with Christopher yelling Buck’s name and Buck grabbing the tween off the ground in one of his famous bear hugs. Eddie had been filming the reunion when he suddenly became the center of the younger man’s attention. His playful expression turned soft as he saw his second-best friend.

“Let me go say hi to your dad.”

“Okay, but then it’s my Bucky time.” Christopher teased.

“I see where I rate.” Eddie tucked away his phone just as pair of strong arms wrapped around him. He didn’t realize how long it had been since someone other than Christopher had hugged him. It surprised him how touch starved he’d become. Burying his face in Buck’s neck, he memorized the smell and feel to have something to carry with him back to Colorado.

“Great to see you, man.” Buck squeezed one more time before backing up to look at his friend he hadn’t seen in person for over a year. “I’ve missed you guys.” He wrapped an arm around each Diaz and pulled them into the diner.

“We’ve missed you, too, Buck.” Christopher snuggled into his side. “Dad works with some great people, but no one’s as good as you.”

“I think the kid is biased.” Eddie helped his son settle before sitting.

“How is your crew?”

“Good people, young, but good. Great captain. We hang out, do stuff together, just like here. Usual fire fam stuff.”

“How’s that special clinic working out?”

“Good. They’ve been able to really help Christopher without doing more surgery. Carla’s sister has been an angel. There’s some worry about this next growth spurt when puberty kicks in, but the doctor is optimistic the treatments will help get us through without more surgery.”

Buck’s attention was pulled back to Christopher as he began telling Buck about his latest school projects, and the subjects he’d be taking during his next semester leaving Eddie to watch as he sipped his coffee and enjoyed being with his family.

After lunch arrived, they talked about what they wanted to do for the next three days with the zoo being on tap for the next day. While Christopher headed to the bathroom, Eddie leaned forward.

“How’s things with Taylor?”

He watched the telltale flush travel up Buck’s neck to his hairline. “We have our good and bad days. It’s taking a little while to get used to having another person to answer to and stuff.”

“You doing okay? You know I’m always here to listen if you need an ear.”

“I know, and I appreciate that. I wish you still lived here so I could crash on your couch like old times.”

“That bad?”

Buck ducked his head. “We’re both pretty stubborn.”

“If you ever need a place to get away, you’re always welcome. Abuela and Pepa always love to see you.”

“They’ve been a blessing. Abuela’s been teaching me her recipes. Well, except for her tamales. She said she’d teach me those when the time was right.” Both men chuckled at Isabel Diaz’s antics.

They paid the check and spent the afternoon enjoying the park near Buck’s apartment. “Don’t you need to be getting home?” Eddie checked his watch.

“Naw. Taylor’s got a live shot at five and six about some meeting downtown. I thought we could grab some dinner before you go back to Abuela’s.”

“Sure, man. Is Bobby having one his fire fam get togethers while we’re in town? I’d like to see everyone since I don’t know when we’ll get to visit again.”

“Yeah. The day before you leave. Taylor and I were already planning to go. I’ll text Bobby and tell him to set two more places.” He thought for a minute about what Eddie had said. “Did something come up with Chris’ treatments that’s going to take up more time?”

“No. This is about me, not Chris. I’ve been offered an opportunity that’s I can’t pass up, but it’s going to take up a lot of my time when I’m not on shift.”

“What will you be doing? What about your time with Chris?

“I’ll be putting my medic/paramedic training to use for the military.”

“The military!” Buck sounded panicked.

“Calm down, Evan. I’m back in the Army, but I’m permanently assigned to the project.”

“But …”

“It’s fine, Evan. They gave me a solid contract.

They headed for the rental car and talked about where to eat supper. Christopher’s argument for one of their favorite chains that didn’t have any locations in Colorado finally won out.

“Going to Bobby and Athena’s would be a great way to spend the day before we go back.”

“Hey! You just got here, no talk about leaving, yet.” Buck chided as he as he turned to grin at Chris.

“Yeah, Dad. I’m not ready to start missing Bucky yet.” Chris grumbled.

“I know, mijo, I’m not either.” He met his son’s eyes in the rearview mirror then gave Buck a wide smile while hoping he was distracted from questioning him about what he was doing in Colorado Springs.

The next two days flew by filled with visiting their favorite places with Buck, and having meals together until it was time to arrive at Bobby and Athena’s. Since their house was on the way to the airport, everything was packed in the rental car for their flight out that later that night.

Bobby and Athena had been nice enough to invite Eddie’s Abuela and Tia Pepa, so they could spend more time with him and Christopher. There was a flurry of hugs from everyone, and the kids had taken Christopher back into the fold like he’d never been gone. He caught up with what was happening with everyone doing his best to not let Buck corner him alone. He had unwitting help from Taylor since she clung to Buck like he would fly away if she didn’t hang onto his arm. He also noticed the way everyone’s body language stiffened, and conversation became stilted when she was within earshot.

“There was an incident a few months ago where Taylor overheard Buck and Hen on the phone and took what she heard and turned it into a news story that didn’t show LAFD’s transfer protocols between cities in the best light.” Bobby explained quietly as they watched everyone freeze out the reporter with fake smiles. Even the kids gave her a wide berth.

“Is that what’s causing problems in their marriage?”

“One of the things. After the bloom went off the rose, I think they found out they loved each other, they just don’t like each other very much. Buck keeps trusting her and she keeps breaking that trust.”

“Sorry to hear they’re having problems.”

“Anyone special waiting in Colorado?”

“No. Between Christopher and work there’s not much time for dating. With him starting puberty, the doctors are keeping a close eye on bone growth so they can avoid any problems a growth spurt would cause.”

“So, Innovations Gate turned out to be the real deal?” Bobby’s skepticism was heavy.

“Yeah. The work they’ve done has made it so we’ve avoided at least two surgeries the doctors here were planning. I started working on my off-shift days with their parent company. They’re doing some exciting work in medical and everyday technology.”

“Good. I’m glad they turned out to be the real thing. I was worried when they seemed to appear out of nowhere.” Eddie almost rolled his eyes. Now that he knew about the Stargate, the innovations at the clinic made a lot more sense. “Incoming.” Bobby nodded toward the house where Buck had somehow become unattached from Taylor and was heading in his direction. “Good luck.” Bobby smirked as he headed back to the grill.

Not seeing a way out, Eddie squared his shoulders like a good soldier, and waited for Buck to say his piece. The younger man handed him a bottle of water.

“So, you mentioned the other day that it might be a while before you could visit again What’s up with that? Why are you back with the Army?”

“I got pulled into a part-time project that will keep me close to home until we see if it’s going to be viable to continue.”

“What kind of project?”

“One I can’t talk about to anyone outside the project.”

“You’re serious?”

“Yeah. You do realize there’s an Army, Air Force, and Space Force bases in Colorado Springs?”

“Space Force? Eddie, are you part of Space Force?” Buck’s eyes went wide.

“No, remember I told you I was back in the Army working on a specific project.” Eddie paused considering his next words. Taking a deep breath, he pretended he was the better man. “You know, you and Taylor are always welcome to come visit. I have four bedrooms just waiting for someone to use them.”

“I know that.” Buck’s tone was snippy. “It’s hard for Taylor to get away from the TV station right now.” He took a deep breath and let it out. “Sorry. I shouldn’t take my frustration with Taylor out on you.”

“Hey, what are friends for?” He bumped shoulders with Buck, smiling when the blond relaxed.

“I might take you up on that invite even if she can’t make it.” He vowed.

“Any time, Evan … Anytime.” Eddie pressed his side against Buck.

Too soon it was time to head for the airport. Since Buck and Taylor were leaving the party after Eddie and Christopher, they all walked together to their cars after saying their good-byes. Taylor stood next to Buck giving them her, I’m a professional and can pretend to like you. face. Hugs lasted longer than normal as Eddie relished the feel of Buck in his arms. The younger man admonished him to call when they got home. Taylor gave Eddie a frown until Buck let go of Christopher and helped him into the rental car.

“Let me know when you make it home.” Buck gave Eddie one more hug before they headed to the Jeep.

Four hours later it was two exhausted Diazes deposited at their front door. Eddie sent a quick text message to Buck before crawling under the covers for some well-deserved sleep.

~ TBC ~

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