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.
Stretched out on a queen-sized bed in the Richfield, Utah, Comfort Inn, Eddie felt the vibrations of nine hours on the road ooze out of his muscles. Christopher was down for the count next to him, and Dina was rolled up in the blankets on the other bed. Satisfied, all was well, he let his mind unwind.
The going away party for the Diaz boys and Dina had been epic. Trace had finally caved into everyone’s encouragement the year before and started his catering service using food trucks. He’d parked one in Eddie’s driveway, and along with Eddie’s kitchen and grill, the food flowed for hours. Everyone from his life in Colorado Springs had been there, including Team 7 and people from SGC.
When he got home from his last shift at Station 11, a sleek black utility trailer had been sitting in his driveway. Next to it had been a smiling Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman with a stack of paper and a key fob.
Eddie’s feet barely hit the ground before Walter started his explanation. “This is yours. Here is the registration, in your name, and an inventory. The nose of the trailer is loaded with supplies for your basement, the instructions on how to unshrink everything are in that stack.”
“I have crates of miniaturized stuff in my trailer?”
“Correct. Now, the key fob. This controls the freight elevator we installed under your driveway.”
“Wait! A what!?”
“A freight elevator big enough to store this trailer in your basement, and we reinforced your fencing.”
“In the space behind the gate? How did no one notice?”
“Your Aunt Pepa was supervising some of the renovations you wanted, so no one paid us any mind. Oh, we added another entrance to the basement in the pump house and beefed up your solar storage banks. Also, with biometrics set to your DNA. I thought it would be a good way to transport Chris and Dina’s stuff to California, along with a few extras.”
“Walter, I swear you and Siler could take over the world and most of the Milky Way.”
“Thank you, Chief. But the band of miscreants we already ride herd on is enough.”
“I’m never going to be able to sell that house.” He sighed at the pile of paper Walter handed him.
“Leave it to SGC in your will.”
Eddie laughed at Walter’s dry wit. “Thank you, Walter, for everything. Coming to the party?”
“Wouldn’t miss it, Chief.” He climbed in beside his SF driver and headed back to Cheyenne Mountain.
“I have a lair under my house. I really do live in a science fiction spy novel.” Eddie muttered as he hooked to the trailer and backed it into the garage.
It was a good thing Trace and Brennan were his neighbors or the noise complaints would have been outrageous. Midnight was a vague memory by the time Eddie got to bed and was glad they didn’t have anything planned for today other than packing Christopher and Dina’s things in the trailer. The emotions of the night before left him washed out.
As he and Daniel left the party, Jack handed him a piece of paper.
“You or the Team get jammed up in California, give these guys a call. They’re inactive Reserve SEALS, but they keep a hand in.”
Eddie looked at the names and felt his jaw drop. He started to ask the obvious but saw the gleam in the General’s eye. “Does he know about SGC?”
“No, but they both could be read in if it became necessary. Hanna is NCIS Special Ops, and I suspect Buckley will be stuck to your left shoulder at the 118.”
“He’s on a different apparatus and career path.”
“Yeahsureyoubetcha.” Jack gave him a wink before chasing down his people and their drivers.
“That man is a menace.” Eddie turned his attention back to the party.
They were back on the road early after a big breakfast. They filled up the vehicles and the coolers to keep stopping to a minimum. Gaining an hour when they crossed the Nevada state line would be a help getting to Buck’s, so they weren’t unloading the trailer in the dark.
Both vehicles were performing well though Eddie was worried about climbing Cajon Pass pulling a trailer in the heat of the desert afternoon. Dina’s parents had replaced her car with a newer model for graduation, so there were no worries about the kids. Thankfully, most of the rush hour traffic would be heading east, and they could get a late supper when they got to Buck’s. He was sure Christopher would be achy and sore from prolonged sitting in the car, but his boy insisted they keep the wheels turning. They all wanted the trip done.
His truck never missed a beat climbing the Pass, and when they were going down the west side of Cajon Pass, he made a call.
“Yeah. Wanted to let you know we’re coming down Cajon, and if the traffic is kind, we should be there in about an hour.”
“Great. My car’s in the garage, so you can back in the driveway, and we’ll unload the kids’ stuff into the garage. We’ll sort it out tomorrow. Dina can park in the driveway after you leave.”
“Their stuff’s on the back, so it shouldn’t take long. The luggage they’ll need for tonight is on the very back. Christopher’s stiff and achy from riding, so we can task him with ordering supper.”
“Sounds good. I can’t wait to see you guys and meet Dina in person.”
“I think this is it for both of them. Her personality reminds me a lot of you. She’s beautiful inside and out.”
“Sounds like she’s won you over.”
“From their first day of school when she walked out nearly plastered to Christopher’s side. I love her like she’s my own. Her parents are great, too. You’ll see for yourself.”
“Soon.” Eddie felt himself blush as he felt like a teenager not wanting to hang up the phone. Get over yourself, Doc. The voice in his head sounded a lot like Billy’s cutting wit.
With a smile, he watched the miles on his GPS drop away.
Looking out the truck window, Eddie saw Buck practically dancing from foot to foot waiting for them to get out. Knowing it would take Christopher a few minutes to get moving toward the house from the street, he figured it was up to him to keep Buck from running out to the kids and snatching them up in a hug.
“Hello, Evan.” Eddie’s voice was husky from fatigue, but before he knew what was happening, he was pinned against a broad chest.
Inhaling the smell of home, he relaxed and put his arms around the wide shoulders. “Dios mío, what has Bobby been feeding you?” Eddie teased.
“Eddie, I can’t believe you’re finally here. You can’t leave me anymore. Things just don’t go right when you’re not here.”
“From what Bobby and Athena told me, it seems your professional life is chugging right along, Lieutenant Buckley.”
His feet finally back on the ground, he looked up to see a blush matching Buck’s birthmark. “Maybe, but these last eight years haven’t felt right. No matter who Bobby paired me with, I couldn’t get them to fit. There was this Eddie sized hole no one could fill.”
“BUCK!” Christopher shouted as he opened his arms for a hug.
Buck stood flat-footed at how much Christopher resembled him … The same height, curls, and eyes. “Yeah, Evan, he looks more like your kid than mine.” Eddie chuckled. “And this beautiful young woman, who looks like she could be mine, is Dina Travers. Yes, I know you’ve talked on video calls, but meeting in person is different.”
“It’s great to finally meet you in person. I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the family.”
Dina had come to love Buck as a favored uncle during their video calls. “You’re much bigger and brighter in person.” She looked at the near foot difference in height.
“It’s all pure fluff, Dina.” Eddie said over his shoulder.
While the kids distracted Buck, Eddie headed toward the back to open the trailer. Punching in the code on the electronic lock, he let the gate down. Setting their suitcases to the side, he began sorting boxes and tubs into separate piles.
Buck grabbed the suitcases and led Christopher and Dina through a side door. “I’ll show you to your rooms. You each have your own bathroom, so no fighting in the morning for the mirror.” He laughed when Dina elbowed Christopher causing the young man to blush.
“I’m not that bad.” He protested.
“Then I’ll show you to the front of the house where you will find menus on the island for your perusal. Order whatever you want. Just remember your dad and I need extra.”
“I know, Buck. Who do you think helps him maintain?” Christopher wrinkled his nose at Buck. “I’m trusting you to make sure Dad is taken care of.
“I won’t let you down, Superman. The laundry room is on the right. This is you, Dina, across from the laundry room.” He put her suitcase on the bed. “Christopher is across from me. I put a desk and chair in each of your rooms if you want some place quiet to study. He set Christopher’s suitcase on his bed. “Follow me.” They followed him down the hall like ducklings to the main part of the house. “Public bath, kitchen, butler’s pantry back there, and everything else.” He threw his arms open to indicate the open room containing the living area, dining area, and reading nook beside the front door. “The guest room is around the corner from the dining area. I usually use the island. Now, I better go help your dad. Help yourself to whatever you find in the fridge or pantry and order some food.” He jogged back toward the garage.
“This is Dina’s pile. There are only a few more of Christopher’s still on the trailer. Then I’ll park on the street and Dina can pull her car back here.” He headed back into the trailer for more boxes.
Instead of waiting until morning, Buck started toting boxes to their proper rooms, Eddie closed up the trailer and shouted down the hall for Dina. “Dina, mija, come move your car so I can park on the street, and you park back here.”
“I will, Hakʼéí.”
Eddie ducked back out the door. Dina scampered out the front door with her keys. Buck came into the kitchen after moving the last of Christopher’s stuff.
“What did Dina call Eddie?”
“Hakʼéí. Mean’s family in Navajo. Dina’s mother is Navajo, and her father is mixed Ute and White.”
“Wow, you two are a whole melting pot by yourselves.”
“Dad said if we have kids, they’d probably look Swedish just to be contrary.”
They were still laughing when Dina and Eddie came back into the house, Eddie carrying several bags emitting wonderful smells. Soon the cartons of Chinese were spread across the dining table. Buck noticed Eddie wasn’t eating as much as he thought he should be.
“Chris informed me that it’s my job to make sure you’re eating enough. What’s up?”
Eddie arched an eyebrow at his son, who stuck his tongue out at him. “Mature, mijo. I still have to drive to the house and unload. I think Tia Pepa at least found me a bed.”
“You don’t have to go tonight. I’ve got one room left.” Buck offered.
“I appreciate the thought, but I’ve got stuff I need to get under lock and key.”
“Did the Army make it hard for you to move?”
“No, the guy in charge is pretty chill for a General unless you piss him off. I only work with one team. Three of us moved here, so they made arrangements for us to train at Los Alamitos, and go once a month to Coronado for heavy drills. On my days off, I could get a call, but we usually have time to plan.”
“Nice to know not everyone with stars is an ass.” Buck muttered.
“Come give your dad a hug and behave for Buck. No shenanigans, and don’t forget to call your folks, Dina.”
“I won’t, Hakʼéí. Don’t worry. You’ll give yourself grey hair.” She gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“I thought I saw a couple the other day. Did you pull them out?” Christopher held on tight to his dad.
“Where’s all this sass coming from? For the record, I do not pull my grey hair. Those little silver highlights are all the rage.” Eddie waved as he headed out the front door. “Good luck, Buck.” You’re going to need it.”
“Now he tells me after you’re all moved in.”
The sounds of laughter followed him out the door. I can do this. He thought as he started the thirteen-mile trip to his new house. He was not looking forward to a cold, empty house after the warmth of Buck’s. One of Pepa’s daughters owned a business staging houses for realtors. They were going to check their warehouses for unused furnishings before he ran out and spent a hole in his bank account. Another nice thing about his new house, he was closer to Abuela and Pepa, but not too far from Buck and his kids. Plus, having a pool meant his house would be very popular.
Walking in his front door, his only concern had been where to set the tubs containing the contents of his Colorado Springs master suite in the supposedly empty living room. During his previous four-day trip, most of the work had been done to his new ‘basement’. They had stripped the paint off the dining room bookcases and applied a new stain. It wouldn’t do to have a civilian find the panel hiding the biometric scanner. He had been able to outfit the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room before everyone had been beamed back to Colorado Springs.
Tears ran down his cheeks as he walked through the house. He had put his Tia Pepa in charge of his contractor cousins to handle the changes he wanted. The previous owners had replaced most of the windows with French doors. Wanting something more secure, Eddie had them replaced with windows, and in the living room, the arts and crafts cabinets were rebuilt on either side of the fireplace. The long wall in the master bedroom with the hideous wallpaper now contained a beautiful mural of historic Griffith Park courtesy of his cousin, Manolo’s wife, Pilar. All the large windows had beautiful antique stained-glass panels hanging to catch the sun at all times of the day.
The house had become a perfect reflection of Eddie himself. The Arts and Crafts interior … The Batchelder tiled fireplace, was a piece of his white heritage while the entire exterior of the house with its vivid colors and adobe covering the mission-style architecture reflected his Mexican side. It was perfect. The modern black and white in the bathrooms had been redone to fit the Arts and Crafts style of the house. He never realized Pepa had seen so far under the masks he had worn eight years ago. When he got his emotions under control, he unloaded the truck and trailer, stored the trailer in his Tok’ra tech basement, and called Tia and Abuela to let them know they had safely arrived and how much he loved the house.
Since A-shift was on its four days off, Eddie called Bobby to see if the man wanted to meet on his day off or wait until they were back on shift. Since only Bobby and Buck knew Eddie was back in town, they arranged to meet at the new firehouse at noon.
“Thank all the Gods they didn’t put glass walls around the locker room again.” Eddie’s droll tone alerted Bobby to his presence.
“I don’t mind open concept, but that was a bit much.” Bobby grabbed the younger man in a hug. “It’s good to see you back where you belong.”
“It’s good to be back. The kids are settled in at Buck’s, and I’m expected at my Abuela’s at six, so what do you need me to do?”
“I’m glad you asked.” Bobby pulled a stack of papers out of his briefcase. “The only construction left is finishing work and cleanup.” He spread the papers on the folding table he’d set up. “The finish work will be completed today. A crew will be here at 0800 to do a deep cleaning of the building. The apparatus bay will be first because furnishings will be delivered starting at 1000.”
“Are we moving anything other than our turnouts from the old station?” Eddie was impressed with the plans. Like his station in Colorado, this one had a large indoor area for drills, but still plenty of room for offices, a large common room, and bunks.
“The old station will still be operational, so we’ll strip out the trucks before we leave. All the new equipment will be waiting here. I know it’s a lot, but I need you to have all the saws, tanks, and other equipment ready to load on the trucks when we get here.”
“When’s moving day?”
“Friday. All you have to worry about is the equipment. Professional installers are doing the furniture and making the beds. You’ll get first dibs to pick out an office other than mine.”
“So, when’s promotion day?”
“Friday at 1000. Chief Alonzo will be doing the honors though the Commissioner and his sycophants will bring the building online before the promotion ceremony and your introduction. I know I’m throwing a lot on your shoulders to keep the ‘big secret’ …”
“No sweat, Chief. It’ll be ready.”
“Let’s go for the nickel tour, so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.” They headed through the doors separating the apparatus floor from the building.
Eddie picked out an office that looked out over the neighborhood on one side and across a hall from the briefing room. “When’s my Squad arrive?” Eddie gave Bobby a sideways look as they ended up where they started.
“How about now?” He gave Eddie a Cheshire cat smile.
The driver pulled the shiny Rescue Squad unit into its bay and handed Bobby the paperwork. “All yours, Sir.”
“Thank you. Danvers.” Bobby handed back the clipboard. Danvers’s ride pulled out of the driveway leaving the two men alone.
Eddie had already done a turn around the truck. “It’s a beauty, Chief.”
“I look forward to a beautiful relationship between you two.” Bobby teased.
“Me, too, Chief.” Eddie finally felt himself starting to settle into this new life.
The second night in his new home, he had a surprise waiting when he got home from the firehouse. His Abuela and Tia Pepa brought his favorite meal after his Abuela’s tamales to bribe him for information about the new firehouse.
“It’s supposed to be a secret until Friday, so who told you?”
“Christopher brought Dina by the house today to introduce her to his Abuelita.” Pepa smiled wide. “Such a lovely girl.”
“She will make a wonderful daughter-in-law for you, Eddito, so make sure you do not scare her off.” His Abuela admonished.
“We’ve known the Travers since Christopher was ten years old. I highly doubt we will be running her off any time soon.”
“Pepa, I know I said it before, but everything is perfect. Have you brought me an invoice from Nina for all these furnishings?” Pepa handed him the invoice. “This can’t be right, Tia? This is good quality furniture.”
“Yes, and it has outlived its usefulness. Nina needed it out of the warehouse to make room for new inventory. Apparently, she needs less mission and arts and crafts, and more mid-century modern.”
“I don’t know how you keep up with this stuff. I’d be telling clients to get over themselves and take what I think looks good. I want to be comfortable, not sit around all pearls and stiff collars like Leave It To Beaver.”
“Always such a sensible boy, my Eddito.” Isabel pulled a tray of warm sopapillas out of the oven. “Have you talked to your parents lately?”
“What do you think? I announced Christopher’s college choice on Insta rather than talk to them.”
“You didn’t tell them he was going to be living with Evanito?”
“No, I haven’t even told them I moved back here. I hired Hank and Letty as caretakers for the house. That way Christopher and Dina will have some place to live while doing their summer intern jobs, and maybe even full-time after graduation. If the parents come to visit you, Abuela, you can invite me to supper. That way I can leave when they piss me off.”
“Ah, Nieto, a child after my own heart.”
“Mama!” Pepa admonished.
“Bah. I’m old. I can say what I want.” She patted Eddie’s hand and winked at him.
“Don’t encourage her.” She shook her finger at her nephew.
“I tried, and things will be okay until Mom gets a wild hare up her ass about something and we’re once again riding the crazy train.”
Pepa and Eddie made short work of cleaning the kitchen, and the women were soon heading toward the door. Eddie handed Pepa a slip of paper.
“The code for my new security system.”
Eddie smiled thinking about the day before when Billy Rocks beamed into his living room.
Eddie was finishing his first cup of coffee when Billy appeared in a flash of light and announced he was there to install the new security system. He had finished by early afternoon and had called Faraday to drop him at the firehouse to give Eddie a quick rundown on his security system and how to check the cameras from his computer or phone.
“Don’t do something where I have to send Vasquez over here to save you from yourself.” Rocks warned as he signaled on his radio for a beam out.
Good thing the cameras in here aren’t operational yet. Eddie shook his head as he headed for his office for his clipboard. He’d just finished assembling the last of the new saws and getting them gassed up for going online Friday when Billy had stopped by. He called the security office at Headquarters to get the cameras operational.
When was emptying his pockets, the paper Billy had given him was wrapped around his key fob. He made a note on his phone and then wrote it down for his Tia Pepa. As his emergency contact, she would need to be able to get into his house.
“Thank you. We worry. Some time you will tell me the story that made you smile over a security code.”
“I will, and I love that I have you to worry about me. You don’t know what it’s meant to have you in my corner.” He hugged and kissed them both before they got in the car.
After they pulled out, Eddie made sure the gate that kept the neighborhood kids out of his pool was locked and made the rounds to check the pump and guest house. Everything secure, Eddie settled in to watch the local news and go over his checklist for tomorrow. There were turnouts to be hung, SCBAs to be checked and filled, jaws, and a pallet of Halligans and axes being delivered. Some assembly required was his mantra for the week. It was a good way to get back in the swing of the LAFD without any pressure. Maybe tomorrow evening he will get a chance to try out his pool.
Massaging his forehead to relieve the tension he could feel trying to pull him into a headache, Eddie cleared his desk and checked his watch. The last time he had looked was when the last of the set-up crews had told him they were leaving. Forcing his tired body to leave his amazing ergonomic chair was hard, but his sinfully comfortable mattress at home was calling his name.
Not able to help himself, Eddie took one more turn around the building looking for anything that needed his attention before tomorrow. He had packed all the gear in his Squad. The bunks were all perfectly made, and the bathrooms were sparkling. He’d already staked his claim to a locker and had it stocked. The common room was stocked with books and games, and the kitchen was ready for its first meal to be cooked, complete with groceries and snacks. The gym and drill rooms were set up with training equipment. His turnouts looked lonely hanging by themselves, but this time tomorrow the new Station 118 would be humming with activity. Satisfied with what he had accomplished this week, Eddie turned out the lights and secured the building.
He’d started his truck and was buckling his seat belt when the truck’s display showed a call from Christopher.
“Hey, mijo! Settling in at Buck’s?”
“Of course. Where are you?”
“I just got off shift. Is something wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong, but you’re supposed to be here.” His son huffed.
“Didn’t I give you my schedule for the week?”
“Of course. But you’re supposed to visit.”
“And I will when I’m not working. So, what’s the real problem?”
“We miss you. Before you say anything, I know it’s only been three days since we saw you, but Dina and I are having culture shock. We need you here to help with recovery.”
“I need to get something to eat … I haven’t had supper yet.”
“We’re getting ready to sit down for supper in about twenty minutes. I don’t know what Buck made, but it smells really good.”
“I can’t just show up to someone’s house at supper time without being invited. What would Abuela say about my manners?”
“You’re right, Daddy, it would be rude, but it’s Buck, and he’s family, so it wouldn’t be too rude, right?”
Eddie started to answer when strange noises came through the truck’s speakers. “Edmundo Diaz, you know you are welcome in my house whether your kids are here or not, so stop stalling and get here. Your kids need their emotional support firefighter.” Buck’s tone brooked no argument.
“Since you put it that way, I’ll be there in ten if traffic is kind.”
“I’ll set a place.” The call disconnected.
Though it was the opposite direction of his house, Eddie turned north towards Buck’s.
Having seen his lights turn into the driveway, everyone had abandoned the dining table to meet him at the door with hugs. Eddie can’t say he wasn’t affected by being swarmed by the three people he loved more than he could express. Once everyone was settled back at the table, Dina and Christopher, both peppered him with news about classes they’d signed up for the summer.
“Sounds like you’ll be able to get into the meat of your degrees in September.”
“We’re ready.” Dina gushed. “Taking classes this summer will get us used to the difference between high school and college.”
“Sounds like you’ve got a handle on everything. Is there anything you need from me for your grand plan?”
“We’ll send you a copy of your part of the plan when we need you, Dad.” Christopher teased his dad.
“You always have, mijo … But I think you had some help with your little plan.” Eddie chuckled. “Was it Daniel or Rodney?”
“Both.” They said together.
“Ready for the big unveiling tomorrow?” Buck inserted between the giggling teens.
“As I can be until Truck, Engine, and the RA units come over from the old house.”
“Any glass walls?”
“Yeah, but not around the locker room.”
“That’s something. They also put cameras around the outside of the building, on the apparatus floor, and in the drill rooms. I’ve stocked the fridge and pantries with the basics. The officers will each have their own offices, Lieutenant, great Wi-Fi, and plenty of plugs for everyone’s tech. The interesting part of the day will be when A-shift is informed I’m their new captain.”
Conversation returned to Christopher and Dina’s adventure trudging through the bureaucracy of registration at CalTech. Once supper was cleared away and Christopher and Dina were off entertaining themselves, Eddie declined Buck’s offer of a beer since he had to drive home.
“Sure.” He clicked their bottles together.
“Nervous about tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Even though no one stepped up, people will hate that LAFD brought in an outsider.”
“You’re not an outsider. You worked at the 118.”
“Eight years ago, Buck. In that time, whenever we visited Abuela, I reached out, but schedules didn’t always match up, or people weren’t all that interested in maintaining a friendship outside of the job. Bobby, Athena, Karen, and Hen because Denny was in contact with Christopher. The most contact was with you and Christopher since Taylor did her best to keep us separated. So, yes, I am an outsider.”
“Why would she do that?”
“She was jealous of our relationship. You, me, and Christopher were a family, and she couldn’t compete with that, so she did her best to cut you away, but you Christopher hung on to each other like Velcro.” Wide blue eyes stared at Eddie like he was a fascinating new fact to research. “I love spending time with you and our kids, but it’s been a long day. Emotional bloodletting was not how I wanted to end the day.” He carried his half-full bottle to the kitchen. “I’m going to head home. I’ll see you tomorrow at the new station.”
Eddie said goodnight to the kids and gave Buck a brief hug on his way out the door.
“He’s right. She tore our family apart. Dad was going to ask you out, but Taylor overhead Dad talking to Tommy at some fire. That was probably the night she fucked you in the news van. After that, she just led you around by your dick until you started thinking with your big brain again.”
Buck couldn’t have been more shocked than if Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny showed up in his living room with a unicorn. Where had Christopher been hiding all this bitterness, and why didn’t Eddie do something about it?
“Dad did do something about it.” Buck didn’t realize he’d said the last part of his thought out loud. “He did everything in his power to make sure I never started to hate you for how much he hurt.”
“Chris, I didn’t know.”
“Because Dad made sure of it. You couldn’t see and he didn’t tell. Abuelo taught him good that a real man hides his emotions. Never let them see you sweat was what he always said.”
“Surely there was someone in Colorado?”
“There were friends, and there was a time or two when I thought he would take a chance … I think Chano came the closest, but Dad outranked him.”
“I always wondered why you didn’t like Taylor.”
“Kids know these things because we haven’t suppressed our intuition.”
“I love you, Superman.”
“You can thank Dad that I still love you.” Christopher reached out to pull Buck into a hug.
“I’d forgotten how self-sacrificing your father tends to be. For the greater good and all that.”
Christopher rolled his eyes before heading for his room. “Good night, Pop.”
That was the last shock Buck’s system could stand for one day. He locked up the house and headed to bed. Chris had sent him into information overload and tomorrow was too important a day, so he would have to process everything tonight. Finding out Taylor imagined she was competing with Eddie for Buck’s love, and that Eddie had wanted to ask him out opened whole new realms of possibility.
Walking into the former Station 118 the next morning caused a shiver to run down Buck’s spine. Hoses and equipment were stacked along the walls, but all the turnouts were gone. Anticipation kept A-shift silent as they changed into their uniforms. As they headed to the common area, they all felt Chim gearing up to start his verbal diarrhea of sometimes inappropriate nonsense. As he opened his mouth, Hen elbowed in the ribs.
As long as Buck had known him, Howard Han had been an abrasive individual. He felt because of his experiences with his autocratic father and the biases of the 118 captain before Bobby, he was entitled to act however he wanted and say whatever he wanted without repercussion. He had changed for the better after getting together with Buck’s sister Maddie, and the arrival of their daughter Jee-Yun. The therapy they got after a frightening bout of PPD helped with Chim’s obsessive behaviors, but when he was on his own, he tended to backslide, so Hen seemed to have appointed herself his behavior monitor today. Hopefully, she would keep him from alienating Captain Diaz.
At the top of the stairs, boxes of pastries and coffee were waiting along with Bobby, who had started without them.
“Everybody get settled. As you may have seen on the news, Los Angeles is expanding its fire department. The 118 has been expanded to a Battalion and today will be moving to a new station. When we get to our new station, there will be an opening ceremony with the Fire Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Alonzo will be presenting our new Battalion Chief and Captain, who will be leading the crew on our new Rescue Squad. With the new Squad, we will be adding new members to the shift. We have a lot to accomplish, so we need to stay on schedule. After breakfast, pack your lockers and put everything in your vehicles. When you’re finished, load up in the trucks because we’re going for a ride.” Bobby headed to his office to start his own packing.
All the official files and manuals had been moved to the new station, so all that was left were his personal items. Soon he was carrying boxes out to what was once the captain’s vehicle had been repainted to Battalion Chief 40’s SUV. Since he always rode the truck, no one had noticed the new paint job.
Once everyone was milling around in front of the trucks, he got the crews loaded in Truck, Engine, and the RAs. Bobby informed Dispatch they were on the move and led the way to the new station. Fifteen miles northeast, Eddie Diaz heard Bobby’s call. A brief call from Deputy Commissioner Alonzo let Eddie know the brass would arrive in five minutes. Wanting everything perfect, he went to check that the caterers had finished laying out the celebratory spread.
He left the white shirts in the common area, and with nothing left to assemble or check, Eddie sat on the bench in front of the station to wait. Movement from up the street caught his eye. He smiled when he saw a familiar police car pull up to the curb. A white van that would ferry everyone back to their vehicles pulled in behind it. A car with May, Harry, Michael, and David pulled up a few minutes later. Ten minutes before the 118 caravan was due to arrive a news van arrived. Eddie tensed waiting for Taylor to ooze out of the van. Instead, it was his cousin, Neva. The next car that stopped, Eddie recognized as his Tia and Tio, along with Abuela, Christopher, and Dina. After the noisy reunion with everyone, Eddie directed them all inside except for Neva and her crew.
Now all that was left to do was wait.
~ TBC ~