It had been Bobby’s idea to set up a makeshift pool party. It was the hottest week of the summer and Harry, Denny, and Christopher refused to do anything but sit inside. After two days, each set of parents were tired of their mopey children refusing to do anything but sit in front of the AC.
So Bobby suggested setting up a sprinkler and an inflatable pool.
They decided to do it in Eddie’s yard, since he had the most space. Bobby brought the inflatable pool over and set it up. Eddie dug out the sprinkler he hardly used and made sure it worked. Hen brought over water balloons. Somehow, Chimney, Maddie, and Buck had been roped in as well, with Buck showing up with four water guns (one for each kid and one for himself).
Once the kids saw their outdoor waterpark, their eyes had all lit up. Harry had run right through the sprinkler, hollering so loudly that Athena could only shake her head as she watched her youngest, while Bobby took a video to send to Michael. Denny had chosen to carry Nia into the pool, where he was letting his baby sister splash him while Karen and Hen watched their children with the most adoring gazes anyone had seen. And Christopher was having a water gun fight with Buck (who was just letting Christopher shoot water at him, while laughing at something about marbles).
It was all fine and everyone was having fun. Until Buck got soaked.
Harry and Denny had decided to join Christopher, the water gun fight becoming a full fledged assault on Buck. They chased him until he was right by the sprinkler, meaning his only escape was to go through. The kids laughed loudly before turning against each other (more specifically Denny and Christopher turning on Harry, who they deemed had dried off too much) and Buck took that moment to escape to the porch.
“You’re soaked Evan,” Maddie pointed out, tossing her brother a towel. She and Chimney were sitting on the deck, chatting with Eddie, who had been watching Buck and Christopher’s interactions with a fond smile.
“It’s not so bad,” Buck said with a shrug. “I’ll dry off soon.”
“You could get a cold,” Maddie scolded and Buck playfully rolled his eyes.
“I can lend you some clothes,” Eddie offered.
“Nah I’m fine.” Eddie noticed Buck fidget a little, an uncertain look cross his face.
“Take the dry clothes,” Maddie said. “You’re a baby when you’re sick.” Buck huffed but nodded with a sigh. He followed Eddie into the house, the cacophony of the backyard growing dimmer as they went into Eddie’s room. Eddie quickly found a T-shirt and shorts and tossed them to Buck. Buck just stared at the clothes, not moving.
“Do you have sweatpants?” Buck asked. Eddie furrowed his brows, confused by the request.
“Buck, it’s like a hundred degrees out.”
“I’d just really prefer pants,” Buck said quietly. Eddie narrowed his eyes and took a moment to take Buck in. He was wearing an undershirt and a short sleeve button up, that he had rolled up even more, showing off his ridiculous biceps that sometimes drove Eddie crazy (okay, all the time, but now wasn’t the time). But he was wearing jeans, a curious fashion choice for the hottest week of the year.
“They’re just shorts Buck.” He didn’t see the big deal. Shorts were short for a reason. They kept you cool by showing off...Eddie’s eyes dragged down and a realization hit him. “Oh.” Buck looked away, his shoulders slumping forward.
Eddie took a step closer to Buck, noticing the sad look Buck was trying to hide. He didn’t realize this was an issue for Buck. But so much had happened since the truck bombing, that sometimes it was like they all forgot that Buck had had thousands of pounds crushing his leg.
“Buck, you don’t have to be embarrassed about it.”
“They’re horrible Eddie.” His voice was quiet and full of sadness that it made Eddie’s heart clench. With Buck being such a happy-go-lucky guy, this side of him was hard for Eddie to see. It hurt him when Buck was hurting. “It’s just another thing that’s wrong with me.”
“Hey, no.” Eddie stepped closer and placed his hands on Buck’s shoulders. “Those scars aren’t something wrong with you.”
“Sometimes I think that’s why Ali left,” Buck said, sniffling a little. “I think, when the cast came off, she was so horrified that she just left.” Eddie hated this. He hated that Buck felt like there was anything on him that was horrifying. He hated Ali for hurting Buck.
And he hated seeing Buck so broken and sad.
“Who cares why Ali left?” Eddie asked. “She wasn’t the right person for you. If she couldn’t see how wonderful you are, then she never deserved you in the first place.”
“I just hate having something so ugly and wrong so visible.” Eddie shook his head and tipped Buck’s chin up. When Buck tried to move his face away, to hide that he was crying, Eddie took his face in his hands.
“There is nothing ugly or wrong about you,” Eddie said an intensity to his voice. Buck just shook his head. “You are perfect and wonderful and…” He stopped his eyes locking with Buck’s feeling the breath get sucked right out of him. But he needed Buck to listen to him, to really believe him.
So, he kissed Buck.
He had long since stopped trying to convince himself he wasn’t hopelessly in love with his best friend. But sometimes, it felt selfish to want to tell Buck how he felt. But today, in this moment, Buck needed to know. Eddie needed him to know how loved he was, to know how perfect and not at all wrong every part of him was.
He was about to pull away, noticing how frozen Buck was, until the blonde gripped onto Eddie’s waist, pulling him impossibly close. Eddie felt like he could kiss Buck forever, that he should kiss Buck forever. But he had to pull away. He had something to prove. He let his forehead rest against Buck’s, his thumbs caressing Buck’s face.
“Do you believe me?” Buck sniffed and nodded. Eddie smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to Buck’s lips. “You’re perfect and wonderful and I love you Buck. Every single part of you.”
“I love you too.” Eddie smiled and pulled Buck into a hug, letting Buck crowd his face into the crook of Eddie’s neck. Eddie just held him, rubbing comforting circles on his back and gently pressing kisses on Buck’s neck, side of his jaw, and ear.
“We should go back outside,” Eddie said. Buck nodded and looked at the clothes. Eddie simply kissed Buck, earning him a smile from the blonde.
And when they stepped back outside and Eddie took Buck’s hand, the team was too focused on that new development to even notice that Buck was wearing shorts.