Title: If I Can’t Have You, I’ll Take The Stars
Characters: Eddie Diaz, Evan Buckley, Christopher Diaz, 9-1-1 Characters, Stargate characters, Magnificent 7 (2016), Original characters
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.
Sitting in the middle of his king-sized bed, Buck stared at his phone. He’d just gotten off the phone with Taylor, and he didn’t know whether to be angry or relieved. Like so many things since they’d gotten married, she was calling to inform him she was finished doing interviews in Washington and was moving up the East Coast to Philadelphia and then on to New York. Taylor didn’t ask his opinion or even offer to discuss what she was doing. Falling back onto the pillows, he let his phone land on the nightstand as he tried to process his emotions.
Breakfast and morning briefing over, Buck grabbed his clipboard and worked steadily on the various apparatus until Bobby called everyone for lunch. Hoping Los Angeles would continue to cooperate with a calm day at the firehouse for his first day working in a month. Checklists finished; Buck did a short workout in between several no-fatality car accidents to fill the afternoon. Since the shift was a twenty-four, he decided to spend a little extra time with Bobby by playing sous chef for dinner.
“Bobby, what did Eddie tell you about why he wanted to transfer.”
“That was five years ago, Buck. A lot was going on back then. Why don’t you ask Eddie?”
“I did. He said Chris’ doctor recommended the clinic in Colorado Springs he goes to.”
“That’s right. It seems like they’ve helped. Kept him from having to have two or three more surgeries. Do you think Eddie lied?”
“Not really. It just doesn’t feel like the whole truth. It’s like the one guy who used to be on the radio used to say about hearing the rest of the story.”
“Paul Harvey. I used to listen to those. You may be right, but if there is more to it, he wasn’t sharing with any of us. Now, that I think about it, he was pretty quiet after you told him you were asking Taylor to marry you. With the certifications he took, he was almost overqualified for our small station.”
“I visited his fire station. They’ve got a full complement. The captain was promoted to Battalion Chief, and he’s got Eddie on the fast track to Captain.”
“Good for him. He’ll make a good one.” Bobby started filling bowls and platters while Buck carried them to the table.
“He said he might come back if Chris picks a college in California. I think the cold’s starting to bother his wounded wrist.”
“That’s what Eddie said?”
“He said the Chris part, not the cold bothering him part.”
“Call everyone for supper.” Bobby gave him a knowing smirk as they gathered around the table.
Everyone was beginning to wind down for the evening, so Buck took advantage of the quiet to sit with his tablet and begin researching California colleges. He was simply being prepared if he started looking at houses close to CalTech. Sure, it was two years until Chris’ graduation, but you can never start too early. Since things didn’t seem to be working out with Taylor, maybe Buck would find something for himself. Maybe he could talk his favorite Diaz into staying with him instead of the dorms. Eddie would appreciate that Buck was helping him save money with the added extra of keeping Chris out of the middle of dorm shenanigans.
The sound of a key in the lock brought Buck out of his real estate search. Knowing how nosy his wife was, he learned early in their relationship to ensure all his electronics had secure lock screens. Engaging the lock screen on his tablet, he waited to see Taylor’s expression so he could tell if the East Coast had properly kissed her ass.
“That’s two weeks of my life I’ll never get back.” She grumbled as she shoved her suitcase toward the stairs. “Guess I’ll start hitting the large markets on this side of the Mississippi.” She came toward Buck looking for a kiss. He accommodated her wishes, for the moment.
While she stripped off her coat and climbed onto a bar stool, Buck poured her a glass of wine like it was any other day of the week. Buck tried to decide how to handle the volatile redhead, or if he should be his usual blunt self. He wasn’t too concerned with how she reacted to him; he already had the bare bones of a plan for what he wanted.
“You plan on starting in Los Angeles and working your way east, or vice versa? Are you going to discuss with me if I want to move, or are you moving with the hope I go along?” Buck leaned against the counter behind him putting as much space as possible between them.
“I hadn’t given a lot of thought to where I’m going to search. I just took it for granted you’d move with me. As a firefighter, you can get a transfer anywhere.” She shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal.
“What if I don’t want to move? Are you going to commute … Are we getting a divorce? What about a house and kids … Are they anywhere in your plans?”
“Where’s all this coming from? Did Diaz put you up to this? I knew I shouldn’t have let you spend all that time in Colorado.” She hissed at him.
“Keep Eddie out of this. If you were worried about what I did on my vacation, you should have asked me to go with you on your job hunt. I’m asking the questions any spouse would ask if the other person in the marriage was going to move without having a conversation about what I want. I thought we were building a life here. Obviously, you were killing time with the Face of the LAFD until you found something better. I guess since there haven’t been any life-threatening rescues on Insta lately you’re not getting enough attention for being married to me.”
“Buck, it’s not like that. You know I wanted to get my career established before I got distracted with babies and the whole soccer mom schtick. I know I was dragging my feet about buying a house, but with the market being so tight, I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. I love our loft.”
“Our loft? It looks the same as it did when you moved in. It’s like you don’t even live here other than your clothes, a few books, and a couch. Easy to pack. No muss, no fuss. You’re looking to change jobs. How is that establishing a career? Is the grass always greener somewhere else?”
“You’re twisting my words.” She grabbed the bottle and refilled her glass.
“How’s it feel with the shoe on the other foot? So, tell me, Mrs. Buckley, did you marry me to cash in on my high public profile.”
“You have to understand …”
“Answer the question, Taylor. You say you want to tell the truth … As long as it’s your truth. So, what’s the truth?”
“When we first started dating, I got off on the attention when people recognized you, plus the sex was fantastic.” She gave him a flirty smile. “You were so sweet and so oblivious to what was right in front of you, but I won. You asked me to marry you, and I got caught up in the planning and execution, and everything was perfect.”
“It was like a layout for one of those bride magazines. I just wanted to marry you, but I felt like a Ken doll by the time the reception was over. Then on our honeymoon, you made a point of telling everyone who you were.”
“I was excited to be Mrs. Evan Buckley of Channel 8 news.”
“So, when did you stop being excited by being Mrs. Evan Buckley? When did you decide to go to another city whether I wanted to or not? An honest person would have said they wanted a divorce instead of abandoning me in the name of your career. What do you mean by ‘you won’? Won what?” Buck’s voice had started to rise in the realization of the last five years being wasted as a prop for his wife’s career.
The wine glass hit the island so hard, Buck feared it would shatter. “I won you. You picked me over all the other people who were vying for your attention.”
“I think it’s better if you sleep in the guest room.”
“But … Sweetie, I just got home after being gone for two weeks, and you were gone a week before that, and I thought we could …”
“Maybe your career in your new city will keep you warm. I’m done.” Buck headed up the stairs to change for bed. “Start looking for your own place.”
“Buck, we should talk this out. I’m sure we can figure a way to both get what we want.”
“What? Like using a surrogate to have a couple of kids so you don’t have to take time off work and ruin your figure?”
“I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a good idea. Celebrities do it all the time. We could call that Carla woman you know to recommend a nanny.” Taylor sounded like it was the perfect plan. Buck got a baby, and she didn’t have to interrupt her career.
“Who are you?” Buck asked angry and confused. “You know what? Forget it. I’m seeing my lawyer tomorrow. I think I’ve worn your weight around my neck long enough.”
After hearing Taylor stomp into the guest room and slam the door, Buck relaxed back on the bed. He needed to figure out what Taylor thought she won, and whom she won it from.
On his next days off, Buck had his semi-annual meeting with his attorney to review the status of the trusts he’d received from both sets of grandparents, who had built impressive bank accounts and bypassed their only children to leave their money to their grandchildren. He’d called the office the morning after he banished Taylor to the guest room to warn his lawyer, he had some new issues to discuss.
Lora Dixon had been an associate in the Los Angeles offices of a Philadelphia law firm who had handled business for his family. She was an average looking brunette that had the professional personality of a hungry wolf. Because of her attention to his financial matters, Buck’s accounts were healthier than ever, and Lora was plowing through the ranks toward being a full partner.
It had been on Lora’s recommendation that Buck and Taylor had signed a pre-nuptial agreement keeping their assets separate. A joint account was set up for each person to deposit a certain percentage of their paycheck to accommodate household expenses.
Buck had been upset when Taylor had not wanted to mingle their assets. It felt like a lack of trust between them … As though she was anticipating their marriage ending, but now, he was relieved.
Once he’d picked Lora’s brain about what to expect, he asked her to draw up the divorce papers. He made an appointment to pick them up in a week.
On the way back to the loft, he stopped to pick up boxes and tape to start packing Taylor’s things. Taylor’s rant about having won something kept running through Buck’s brain. The only person he’d spent time with when he was dating Taylor was Christopher and Eddie. Eddie, who was recuperating from being shot. Taylor didn’t care how much time he spent with or talking to Christopher, but she always seemed to be around when he was talking to Eddie. She always needed him for some reason when he was doing something with Eddie. Taylor also seemed to think that Eddie was whispering in his ear against her. Why did she think that she was in competition with his best friend? Why, why, why? It seemed all he had was questions.
Years of moving from place to place had conditioned Buck to not collect things. If it wasn’t useful or have a strong sentimental connection, it got left behind. By the time he took a break for supper, most of the knickknacks that had been around the loft were wrapped and packed in boxes. Anything in the upstairs bedroom or bath was moved to the guest room. Now that he had made the decision, he was anxious to have her gone. He even wanted her smell out of the apartment. So much so, he stripped the bed to the bare mattress, sprayed it with an odor neutralizer, and washed everything before remaking it. Windows and sliding glass doors were opened to let the rain-washed breeze freshen the artificial air.
Feeling almost as relaxed as when he’d been in Colorado with Christopher and Eddie, Buck threw together a quick stir-fry then sat down at the island with his tablet to start the search for a place to make new memories.
Anyone not immune to the handsome face and brilliant smile might have swooned at the joy and pride beaming out at the audience. Eight years ago, his son presented him with his official LAFD helmet after graduating from being a probationary firefighter. Today, his handsome son was presenting him with his collar pins denoting his new status as a Captain for the Colorado Springs Fire Department Station 11. Christopher had conspired with Chief Wilde to prepare a surprise celebration for Eddie’s promotion, which just happened to co-inside with his Abuela and Tia Pepa visiting them for a month. He had thought they were visiting to celebrate Christopher’s sixteenth birthday until he’d followed his Chief into the briefing room.
Hugging his Abuela … Feeling how small and frail she felt, made him want to keep her with him forever, but he knew she wouldn’t leave the bulk of the Diaz clan behind, even if he was her favorite grandson. Christopher’s puppy eyes weren’t quite as potent at sixteen as they had been at seven.
His Abuela had taken the bugle pips from his son and pinned them on his uniform collar. After saying a prayer of blessing and doing the stations of the cross on him the way she used to do when in lived in Los Angeles, Pepa stepped up and handed him a garment bag with his new uniform shirts.
“My own family keeping secrets from me.” Eddie shook his head at his family. “Thank you.” The rest of his shift applauded and cat-called at their new Captain. “Just for that, we’ll be running drills in twenty minutes.” He teased at their moans about needing a nap after the excellent breakfast Trace, Abuela, and Pepa had prepared.
Chief Wilde stepped up with a pile of folders. “As part of duties as assigned, I present you with your additional paperwork duties for the Station. Thank you for your sacrifice, Captain Diaz.”
Eyeing the folders like they were about to pounce, Eddie mock glared at his Chief. “I don’t remember these on the test. You sure I’m qualified for this, Chief?”
“On-the-job training, Diaz.” Wilde headed back to his office.
“Thanks, Chief. Glad you got my back.” Eddie teased as he picked up the pile. Thankfully his office was tucked in a quiet corner not too far from the briefing room. “Mijo, take Abuela and Pepa to the common room, and I’ll be out as soon as I drop these on my desk.”
“Sure, Dad.” Christopher led the two women away.
Shaking his head as he watched them walk away, he headed to his office. A picture of the same three people taken before they left Los Angeles caught his eye. His breath caught in his throat. Six years. So much had changed. Leaving everything he knew and loved to move here for Christopher and nurse his wounded heart.
Now, he was setting appointments to have Christopher evaluated as to whether he was eligible to get a driver’s license, looking at colleges for his boy, listening to him talk about his crushes, and signing up for online college courses, so he could get the prerequisite classes out of the way by the time he graduated high school. When Pepa had asked him if he had anyone special in his life, Eddie had looked at her like she was speaking Swedish. Between his two jobs and Christopher, the only time he missed having someone beside him was in the dark of the night when the world was too quiet, and his ghosts came to visit.
Buck had asked him if he ever considered moving back to California. After seeing the years weighing heavy on his Abuela, the pull was strong to go for her, but knowing his son was anxious to spread his wings into independence, Eddie realized he would soon be alone. Dropping the files on his desk, he headed to the common room. His three troublemakers were heading to the Colorado Springs Flea Market, and he wanted to walk them to the car to spend every second with them he could.
Following Jack through Stargate Command was both educational and entertaining. You could see the spec ops soldier in the way he moved through the halls and labs, always just out of their line of sight. He’d watch at doors and listen to the scientists bickering over their respective projects and their perceived importance. A fond smile flicked across the general’s face as he watched Eddie Diaz and Sam arguing over how something sitting on jack stands. They had only been watching for a minute or two when Diaz’s head snapped up and looked directly at Jack.
“Good awareness, Chief.” Jack gave the medic a two-finger salute. “Come walk with us.”
“Sir.” Eddie paused a moment to look at Sam. “If you check what I was saying, you’ll see I’m right.”
“I will.” Sam started to give him a blow-off.
“I’m going to check when I get finished with the General.” Eddie gave her a saucy grin. Colonel Carter replied with a put-upon huff.
“Daniel passed on your message, Chief. What’s on your mind?”
“My recent promotion to captain at the CSFD got me thinking about the future. My son’s soon going to be a junior in high school, and he’s talking about early college courses so he can hit the ground running when he gets to college. I thought about transferring back to LAFD, but Christopher is becoming more independent every day, and I’m thinking he won’t want his dad tagging along. I was wondering about increasing my hours here. Maybe going full-time after my son’s settled, if I’m not considered too old.”
“You’re going to let him go to college with no support?” Knowing how protective Eddie was of Christopher, Daniel was surprised he was being so blasé.
“We have family in Los Angeles. My Abuela and Tia, my best friend. Lots of blood and chosen family that will keep watch over him.”
“Not that we don’t want everything we can squeeze out of you, Diaz, and I’m not one to disagree if someone wants to throw themselves at the bad guys … So, what’s the deal?”
They had reached the conference room, which Walter had already stocked with refreshments. Daniel set everyone up with coffee while Eddie settled his thoughts.
“You’ve read my file, so know how I got my Silver Star.” At acknowledgment from the pair, Eddie continued. “While I was with the LAFD, I was shot by a sniper. As part of my recovery, LAFD recommended I see a therapist, I didn’t click with the guy they sent me to, so I went to the VA … Aaron Culver … Good guy … Really helped me. When I mentioned being shot again triggered my PTSD, he asked if I was in contact with anyone I served with or was on the mission. I had so much going on with my recovery, Christopher, Shannon leaving me, and battling my parents for autonomy for myself and my son, I hadn’t given them a thought. Long story short, we looked, and they were all dead, either by accident or suicide. Everything just exploded. If not for Aaron, it’s hard to tell what would have happened.”
Daniel exchanged a look with Jack. They had psychiatrists stationed in the Mountain, but Daniel was beginning to wonder if they had enough. Especially for the people who were injured out. They couldn’t tell an outsider about what happened to them while stationed at a Top Secret program.
“Anyway, I know you hate meetings, so back on point. When I first joined the Army, it was with the intention of being a lifer. When Shannon got pregnant, Christopher was diagnosed with CP, it changed those plans. Serving here has brought back that feeling of wanting to do more. Like I need a bigger battle than LAFD or CSFD. CSFD is changing their scheduling, so we’ll be working two twelve-hour shifts, then a twenty-four-hour shift with four days off. I was thinking I could go out with the tech recovery teams. With beaming to and from, they’re usually in and out, less than twenty-four hours gone.”
Jack studied the man in front of him for a few minutes. “Send Davis your schedule. He’ll get you scheduled for training. One of my SEAL teams just lost their medic, and I was having a devil of a time finding one I could slot into the team.”
“With all due respect, if one of their team just died, they’re going to hate getting a replacement.”
“What? Oh. Horne didn’t die, he aged out of the field. He’s working as a trainer for our incoming combat medics.”
“I don’t remember meeting anyone named Horne.”
“You’re already a combat medic, he spends a lot of time at the Beta site when he doesn’t have a class.” Daniel offered. “You’ll never forget him after you meet him. Looks like a mountain man out of a Western movie. I think he’s got a family with one of the women we evacuated to the Beta site after the Goa’uld devastated their planet.”
Walter entered the room carrying a file and another pot of coffee. Handing the file to O’Neill with a knowing smile, he executed a perfect about-face and left the room.
“If I could run SGC without that man I’d send him to Atlantis.” Jack growled.
“Sheppard has been trying to lure him away since before they left, Jack.” Daniel snickered into his coffee cup.
“Not funny, Space Monkey.” Jack handed Eddie the file. “Meet SEAL Team 7. You work with one of them.” Jack paused at Eddie’s gasp.
“Black Moon. He’s on my CSFD Squad. Does he know I know about the Program?”
Jack shook his head. “Sam Chisolm, Team Lead, Goodnight Robicheaux, 2IC/Sniper, Chano Black Moon, Scout/Intel, Alejandro Vasquez, Weapons Specialist/Transport, Billy Rocks, Computers/Communications, Joshua Faraday, Undercover/Explosives. We keep the recovery teams away from the Mountain as much as possible. Medical is usually as far as they get, and then we beam them in and out. I don’t want their identities getting out to the TRUST or NID. If you join Team 7, I don’t want you to come to the Mountain anymore. Use Daniel or Davis as a point of contact. Their compound is secure, so if you get to tinkering on something useful.” Jack smirked.
“I think I might hate you right now … Respectfully, Sir.” Eddie growled.
“Don’t let his lazy façade fool you, Eddie. It’s a good thing he’s on the side of angels, ‘cause if he was a bad guy, no one would catch him.”
“I don’t always have time to let people sort themselves out, but in your case, it was worth it. Like knows like.” O’Neill held his hand out. Daniel dropped a twenty-dollar bill into it. “Me, Davis, and SG-1 with the exception of Vala know about the recovery operations, so you know whom you can talk to about this. Dr. Lam only knows what she saw when she was working on Daniel.”
“No. This is Homeworld Security business, not SGC.”
“So, I’d be Army, seconded to the Navy, seconded to Homeworld?” Eddie pinched the bridge of his nose.
Daniel’s eyes got wide. “By the Gods, Jack, his brain works like yours. Maybe we should check paternity.”
“Wouldn’t compute, Daniel. My mother’s white, my father’s Mexican.” Eddie felt strange, trading jibes with his superior, a General at that, but went with the flow.
“Not adopted?” Daniel continued to rib his General.
“Sorry. I’m a middle child. My mother says she didn’t sleep for nine months because I didn’t. I blame sleep deprivation for her crazy since then.”
“If we’re done getting a giggle at my expense,” Jack mock-glared at the younger men. “I’ll pick you up at 0900 to take you to Team 7’s compound fondly known as Chisolm’s Trial. It’s a self-contained ranch/compound. Chisolm’s wife, Emma, handles things when the Team’s on a mission.”
“That’s one redhead you don’t want to cross. She could probably qualify for the Team if she tried.” Daniel warned.
“Never had much luck with redheads.” Eddie muttered thinking of Taylor Kelly. “I’ll be ready, Sir. Do I need my weapon?”
“Sure, why not. We’re not the top of the food chain out there.” Jack teased.
~ TBC ~