good intentions (read on ao3)
buck x eddie, g, fluff & humor, au
for @letmetellyouaboutmyfeels: join me + buddie
Buck’s never been a single parent.
Scratch that—Buck’s never been a parent, period, and as much as he would really like to be one, it’s … a work in progress. He’s still stuck on the blank screen, actually, cursor blinking accusingly at him with each and every failed relationship. It’s fine, though; he has his friends, he has Maddie, and he has twenty-seven adorable and sarcastic fifth graders that fill his heart and life.
And he might—maybe—have a crush. The tiniest one, really. Hardly worth mentioning.
“Dad’s going to be upset,” Christopher says, mouth twisted into a frown as he looks at the ripped sleeve of his shirt.
“Accidents happen,” Buck assures him. “I’m sure he’ll understand that.” He has serious doubts that Eddie could ever be mad at his kid, not with the way he looks at him, soft and happy, like Chris is the center of his world.
“Yeah but, we don’t have money for new stuff,” Chris says, shrugging. “And we just bought this. And I have to ask him about the field trip.”
Buck’s stomach sours. “Well, don’t worry about that,” he says, squeezing Chris’ forearm after smoothing the last bandaid over the small cut on his arm. “Just have him sign it.”
Buck’s never been a single parent, but it’s not like he doesn’t know how expensive Los Angeles is. He’s incredibly lucky that his grandparents left a good inheritance for him and Maddie, luckier still that the investments it had been put in had done well. He knows how different his life would be if he had to manage on his salary alone, and he knows that it can’t be easy for a firefighter to support his kid in a city more expensive than it really has the right to be. Buck can cover the $20 for the museum trip, it’s not like he hasn’t done it before.
“Thanks, Mr. Buck,” Chris says, smiling before turning around and making his way back to the playground.
The conversation stays at the front of his mind. Chris complains that he didn’t eat breakfast and Buck starts buying the better granola bars to stock his snack bin with; the second time, Buck brings in a mini-fridge and fills it with yogurt, string cheese, and juice. He spends too much time at the outlet mall picking up newer, nicer clothes that will fit his students so they don’t have to dig through the lost-and-found when they inevitably rip, stain, or otherwise ruin their own clothing, and if he specifically picks out a short-sleeve button down with robots on it because he thinks Chris would like it, that’s his business. And he doesn’t think that much of it, not when it’s something he would do for any student—and is specifically making sure he’s not just singling Chris out—he just … doesn’t want Eddie to worry too much, so it didn’t even occur to him that it could be misconstrued.
“I can take care of my son,” Eddie snaps, tossing an envelope onto Buck’s desk. Buck looks at him carefully, surprised by the anger in his voice; two years of friendliness and subtle flirting has given him the impression that Eddie doesn’t get mad. He’d even been perfectly reasonable earlier in the year when Chris had an incident with another student, listening carefully and telling Buck he trusted him to work it out and help his kid, so—
“I know that,” Buck says, pushing his chair back and standing up. He hates confrontation, he always has, and he’s not sure how to diffuse the situation. “I never thought you couldn’t.”
Eddie lifts an eyebrow, arms crossed over his chest. Buck does not allow himself to let his gaze drift to where his biceps strain against his LAFD shirt because it is not the time. “The office said his trip has been paid for. And he came home with a new shirt the other day, tags still on. Told me he didn’t need me to make breakfast because you bought him food. So tell me what I’m supposed to get from that, then, if it’s not you thinking I don’t know how to take care of him.”
He fights the urge to hold his hands up placatingly and jerks his head towards the counter with the fridge and snacks. “There’s food for everyone and I don’t ask questions,” he says, “but yeah, I guess that I started buying the types of yogurt Chris said he liked—that doesn’t mean I think you’re not taking care of him, I know you are.”
“And the field trip?” Eddie asks. His eyebrow is still raised, but Buck can see the anger fading into something that looks a lot like hurt, and he hates it.
He shrugs uncomfortably. “A few weeks ago he was worried about telling you his shirt ripped because you didn’t have money for a new one,” he says. “And I know that field trips can be difficult on a budget—”
Eddie raises one hand and pinches the bridge of his nose, squeezing his eyes shut, and Buck trails off. “Okay,” Eddie says, and shakes his head. “Okay, we’re not—I can buy him clothes. And food. And pay for his field trip,” he says, lifting his head again and looking at Buck. “But I might have told him he wasn’t getting a PS5 because we didn’t have the money for a new gaming system when the one he had was still working, and I guess he took that the wrong way.”
“Oh,” Buck says. “I didn’t mean—”
“I know,” Eddie says, and when Buck looks at him again, Eddie’s looking at him the way he sometimes looks at Chris. “I know you meant well. It just … it was uncomfortable. I didn’t want you to think … well, you know.”
Buck knows; he’s been waiting for the year to end so he could finally put an end to years of flirting and ask Eddie out already. He supposes that didn’t help with the blurred lines. “Sorry,” he says anyway. “I should have checked with you.”
Eddie waves a hand. “I’m not surprised he played it up, not when you were buying all the food I won’t get him,” he says. “But we’re fine, really.”
“Okay,” Buck says, moving to lean against his desk and grinning. “But you know, chaperones get in free. Just in case you had the day off. And uh, I have enough that I don’t need to have a group of my own so we could—hang out. You wanna come?”
Eddie’s lips twitch up into a smile. “Only if you’ll let me buy you lunch,” he says, and Buck grins at him. “Good,” Eddie says. “It’s a—well. You know.”
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