Every Single Time by Meowser Clancy
A series of AUs for Madney, all contained in one chapter, all separate. In different universes, Maddie and Chimney still meet and fall in love. Because of course they do.
A/N: So I have a couple fics like this, notably Kindred Hearts for Ghost Whisperer, where it's one chapter AUs for how they meet/romance/marry. I decided it was high time I did one for #madney, since I have lots of random prompts that I want to do but don't have the energy to do a full on story.
This story is based on a tumblr prompt and it's been patiently waiting in a google doc for me to use it since 2016. Here goes:
You fell asleep on me in the subway and I should probably wake you up and its my stop next stop but it's okay, I can always just catch the subway back…
(For obvious reasons I'm changing it to the LA bus system)
Chimney was really over taking the bus, but ever since his car accident, he really wasn't feeling driving. He wasn't afraid to drive, and he'd done it since the accident, but it was something he'd started avoiding when it wasn't necessary. He knew that it was just another thing he should work through with his therapist, but hell, taking the bus was cheaper and better for the environment. Besides that, it reminded him of taking the bus with Kevin when they were kids. Those were good memories.
In addition to all of those reasons, which he recognized were really just excuses, his car needed an oil change and he didn't feel like waiting hours for it. Sometimes living in the city didn't pay off. But sometimes it did.
He'd boarded at the end of a long shift, having barely caught the last bus. His whole body was sore, and he was grateful that he had the next two days off. He had grocery shopping to do, the oil change, and there was laundry…
He pressed his fingers against his forehead, feeling a headache coming on. The bus wasn't crowded, and he sat near the front, unable to walk much farther.
At the next stop, a crowd of teens got on; loud, rowdy, and high as fuck. Chimney closed his eyes; he didn't need this tonight. He just wanted to rest.
His eyes came back open at the next stop, and he watched as a woman got on the bus. She looked like she'd been traveling all day; her clothes were wrinkled, and she just looked exhausted.
She looked apprehensive as she stepped on, and the teens saw her as well. They leered at her, started to cat call, and she crossed her arms over her chest. Chimney wasn't sure if they'd actually bother her, but there was something about her; her obvious discomfort, the vulnerability any woman must feel in that situation, the look in her eyes that made him cough loud enough for the teens to look at him.
"Hey," he said, waving to her, and glaring pointedly at the rowdy group. "Saved you a seat."
Her eyes lit up in confusion, and he wondered if she'd join him, but another look at the teens, and she hastened forward. She sank down into the seat next to him, arms still folded.
"Thank you," she said, voice so soft he had to strain to hear.
"No problem," he said, leaning against the window to further distance them; he didn't want her to get the wrong idea. "You looked like you needed to see a friendly face."
She almost smiled, but it fell from her lips.
"Rough day?" He asked after a few moments.
"Rough week," she said, leaning back against the seat. "Rough decade, honestly."
He winced. "I can relate to that," he said. "Rough couple of decades."
"Rough life," she cracked, and this time her smile stayed for longer than a second.
"Yeah," he replied, and they fell silent again.
After a long moment, she nodded at his bag. "LAFD?"
"Yeah," he said, looking down at the emblazoned duffel. "Proud member serving at the 118."
Something flashed in her eyes, and she almost moved closer before stopping herself. "My brother is a firefighter," she said. "And I'm not sure about the station house, but that...that sounds familiar."
Chimney racked his brain, trying to figure out who had siblings. He knew most of the 118 pretty well, at least to knowing their families, but he couldn't think of anyone with a sister...not one this beautiful. Although she was obviously exhausted, there was a quiet beauty about her, and he was intrigued now. "What's his name?" He asked, and she fell silent.
"I'm sorry," she apologized, after a moment. "I shouldn't have said anything, I'm just not comfortable sharing that with a..with a stranger."
He shrugged off the sting of her words. She was just being prudent. "That makes perfect sense," he said.
They sat in silence again. The teens had finally gotten off, and he saw her looking around at the empty seats around them. He wondered if she was about to move.
"You can move," he said. "I won't be offended, I wanted to help you through a tense situation, but now the tense situation has left."
She tensed, as if about to stand, but as the bus rolled to its stop, a group of older men got on. Chimney hated to profile, but they looked drunk, and Maddie shrunk back in her seat at the sight of them.
His stop was next.
"How many more stops do you have?" He asked casually.
"Six," she said, her fingers fidgeting with her bag with nervous energy. "You?"
He could see the renewed fear in her eyes, how she wouldn't look at the men who'd boarded.
He inhaled, knowing that he could just call an Uber. "Seven," he smiled.
She visibly relaxed.
Maddie wondered at herself, letting herself feel comfortable around a man like this. Still, he'd given her no reason to doubt his intentions, and she'd needed that wave when she'd boarded.
She'd never been afraid of teenagers before, but now that she was on the run from her ex, she was on edge about damn near everything.
She took a sideways peek at her seatmate. He was about her age, Asian, obviously in shape-his muscled arms and the LAFD bag were more than proof of his physical condition. Surely she didn't have anything to fear from a firefighter-yet Doug was a heart surgeon, proving that one's profession wasn't an indicator of one's goodness.
Still. He didn't seem like he was a threat, and she was almost sure that Buck was at the 118. It seemed too familiar for it not to be the case, but it could just be her mind inventing things to make her feel safe, to lull her into a false sense of security.
She'd trusted Doug for too long. She couldn't afford to place her trust in this stranger. Even if he seemed like Doug's polar opposite.
She wondered what Buck's reaction would be to her showing up at his doorstep. She hoped it wasn't negative, but she really had no idea what place he was at in his life. Still, he'd always been excited to hear from her, even those random texts through the years. They'd grown apart, that was for sure, but hopefully not too far.
Her car was back at the bus station, she'd go back and get it tomorrow. She had felt too tired to do that last leg, but sleeping in her car wasn't a great option either.
She had to get to Buck's tonight, and she'd realized after grabbing dinner that she didn't have the energy to drive two hours.
She'd get the car back tomorrow. It was fine.
And now, she sat next to this man. It was odd that her fate would lead her here, put her in the position of needing a man's assistance. She didn't want to accept it, but she realized it was more out of pride than out of fear. He had moved over on the seat when she sat down, he was obviously just doing to be a good person, and had no ulterior motives.
"How many blocks do you have to walk?" He asked, his arms folded over his chest.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "My phone says it's a ten minute walk from the bus."
"I can walk with you," he said, his eyes going to the men who'd boarded the bus. "Just for safety's sake."
She knew why he'd offered. "No," she said, protesting. "That's too much, I can't ask you."
"You didn't ask me, I offered," he said simply. "You're obviously on the tail end of a journey from hell."
She sighed. "Pennsylvania, but sometimes it feels like the same thing."
He chuckled. "That sense of humor," he said, the smile remaining on his face. "Let me at least pay for your Uber."
She shook her head. "I don't trust Uber," she said. "I barely trust buses but I couldn't drive anymore."
"Did you leave your car at the station?" He asked, curious.
"Yeah," she admitted. "I'll go back to get it tomorrow."
He fell silent for a moment. Her stop had come up, and she stood. He stood with her, and she was silently grateful. They walked past the men together, and she shuddered inwardly at the glances they gave her.
Once they were outside, she looked at him. "That's the last bus," she said, voice shaking. "You still have time to reboard, I'm not trying to-"
"I won't do anything you're uncomfortable with," he said. "Hey, do you want to call your brother? I can just wait here with you, until he comes."
They stood in the light from a streetlight. The bus shuddered away from the curb.
She didn't know what to say.
"What can I do to make you feel safer?" He asked softly. "I am not trying to overstep by any means, but I do not like the thought of you walking this by yourself when you aren't even familiar with the city."
That was damn true.
She hadn't told Buck she was coming, though. For whatever reason she didn't want to, she was actively shying away from it. She was too scared of being rejected, of him telling her not to come.
"Do you want to Uber together?" He said. "I'll pay, there'll be no walking through a dark city, and you won't be alone."
"Money's not the issue," she said. "I don't know, I don't know." Her voice sounded almost frantic, and he stepped away, holding his hands up.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I never meant to make you uncomfortable. Do you want me to go? Because overstepping that boundary was not my intention."
But the weird thing is that she didn't. She didn't want to be alone. "What's your name?" She finally asked.
"Howie Han," he said simply.
"I'm Maddie Ken-" She paused. "No. I'm Maddie Buckley."
It couldn't be, it really couldn't.
"Buckley," he repeated. "So your brother is Evan."
He flipped through his phone, finding a drunken selfie Buck had insisted on taking one night out. "This is your brother," he said, holding up his phone so she could see. "I work with him every day."
She looked disbelieving, looked at the phone and then back at him. "Oh my god," she said. "That's...not impossible, but that's one crazy coincidence."
"I had no idea Buck had a sister," he admitted, sliding his phone back in pocket.
"We aren't that close anymore," she admitted. "Plus there's an age difference." She shifted from one foot to the other.
Surely she felt safer now. "Hey," he said softly. "I work with Buck, I swear I would never hurt you, and I don't have bad intentions. He would murder me if I did. Let me walk you home, I just want to see you at his doorstep safe and sound. Or let me call Buck."
She still hesitated, and he knew he was pushing too hard. He just wanted her safe, especially knowing that she was Buck's sister. He'd never let Chimney hear the end of it if he let her walk home alone.
"Okay," she said, and he met her eyes. "Would you walk with me?"
"Let's go," he said. "It's this way, I know where I'm going."
She followed his lead, and they walked into the night together.
Maddie spent the next few months trying to rebuild her life, and somehow, Howie remained a part of it. She'd never expected to meet someone new, especially not that soon, and while she wouldn't label their friendship dating, she did know that she was grateful to have him in her life. And she wondered what their future would hold…
And then one day she held up a positive pregnancy stick, and he swooped her up in his arms, holding tight, both of them crying tears of joy.
Sometimes fate has a way of putting the right person in your life at the exact right time. Maddie felt his arms tighten around her, and she knew that she'd never forget that night on the bus.
A/N: Meet cutes are kind of my favorite thing to write, in case y'all didn't know that. This series will basically be a myriad of ways that they could have met. Hope you enjoyed, and I'll see y'all on this story soon ~ Meowser :)