It’s not that Buck doesn’t like Ana, he thinks she’s perfectly nice. If she weren’t dating Eddie, maybe they’d be friends. The problem is that Buck finds himself in the unenviable position of being in love with his best friend who is dating a beautiful, accomplished woman.
A woman who is currently walking into the station with a smile on her pretty face and a box of homemade cupcakes in her hands. Buck groans, walking away from the balcony to flop down on the sofa next to Hen who throws him a sympathetic look and pats his knee.
“It’ll never last.” That’s what she’d told him when he got embarrassingly drunk at a games night with her and Karin and confessed his feelings for Eddie to the two of them. “Eddie is going by what his parents would want, what he should want. He loves you, Buck, I know he does. You just need to give him time to figure things out.”
And Buck had wiped his tearstained face and nodded and tried to believe that she was right. Except it’s been six weeks since that conversation and Eddie is still dating Ana. Apparently, it’s going well enough for Ana to be stopping by the station unannounced.
“Ana, hi,” Buck hears Eddie say and he isn’t sure if it’s wishful thinking but Eddie doesn’t sound that excited. “What are you doing here?”
Buck hears a little laugh and then Ana replies: “Well, I found myself with an extended lunch break and thought I would stop by with some cupcakes for you and the team.”
“That’s so kind of you, thank you, Ana.”
“Oh of course,” she says. “Besides I thought it would be nice to get to know your work friends, Edmundo.”
Buck pulls a face and Hen snorts beside him, mouthing ‘Edmundo’. He shrugs his shoulders and Hen raises her eyebrows.
“I told you,” Hen whispers. “It’s going nowhere.”
“If you say so,” Buck mumbles, letting her pull him to his feet so they can go say hi.
Eddie is standing next to Ana, the cupcake box now in his hands. He looks vaguely constipated, Buck thinks, then can’t help but smile when Eddie turns towards him, face lighting up.
“Ana, this is Hen and Buck,” he says and Buck fixes the smile somewhat more firmly on his face as he holds out his hand for Ana to shake.
“It’s nice to meet you,” he says and Ana smiles.
“It’s good to meet you both,” she says. “Especially you, Buck. Christopher talked about you so much at school – and so does Edmundo.”
Buck scratches the back of his neck. “Well, they’re my family, you know.”
Ana smiles but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “So, how has your day been so far? Busy?”
Buck tunes out of the conversation as Hen makes polite small talk with Eddie and his… girlfriend. He doesn’t pay attention again until Chimney comes jogging up the stairs.
“Hey, Buck, have you seen Bobby?”
Buck shakes his head. “No, why? What’s going on?”
Chimney frowns. “That’s what I want him to figure out. There’s a crazy police presence out on the street. I was going to step out to call Maddie, but some uniform told me to go back in and wouldn’t tell me why.”
“Huh, weird,” Buck says. “I think he’s in his office, let me go get him.”
He escapes Eddie and his far too pretty girlfriend, scampering over to Bobby’s office. The door opens before Buck can knock and Bobby steps out.
“Oh, hi Buck, I was just coming to ask you whether you wanted to help me make lunch,” the captain says and Buck grins.
“Yeah, that would be amazing! But uh, Chim says there are loads of cops outside who won’t let us leave the station,” Buck says and Bobby frowns.
Buck shrugs. “Yeah, that’s what I thought too, it’s why I was coming to get you. Oh, also, Eddie’s – uh, Ana is here.”
Bobby throws him a look that tells Buck he’s going to be discussing the Ana thing later – and seriously Eddie must be the only person in the firehouse who hasn’t realised how Buck feels about him. “Right, I’ll go see what’s going on outside. Thanks for letting me know, Buck.”
Buck nods, sort of wishing he could go with Bobby, instead of going to rejoin the group.
“Bobby’s going to check it out,” he explains and Chimney nods.
“Chimney was just telling Ana about the time we stood on the fire truck to catch the guy hanging from a plane,” Eddie says, shifting to the side so Buck has no choice but to stand between him and Chim.
Buck smiles weakly. “Yeah, that was a good day.”
Eddie narrows his eyes, then nods. “Yeah, the best,” he says firmly, coaxing a bigger smile out of Buck.
“So, I was thinking, Buck, maybe you could babysit Christopher again this weekend,” Ana says, startling Buck into looking away from Eddie. “And then you and I can go do something fun, Edmundo.”
“Uh… sure,” Buck says, uncomfortably. He’s not a hundred percent sure of how these things work, but he doesn’t think Ana is the one who’s supposed to be asking him that. Judging by the look on both Hen and Chimney’s faces they agree.
“Great, thank you so much,” Ana says with a smile that dimples her cheeks.
Beside her, Eddie looks a little frozen, but he shakes it off with a frown. “Wait, no, Buck you don’t have to do that. Ana, that’s… you can’t just assume one of my friends is free so we can go out. Buck has his own life too.”
Ana’s face falls. “Oh, I just… you talk so much about how Christopher loves hanging out with Buck. I thought it would be nice for them too.”
“Eddie, it’s fine,” Buck says, trying to smooth things out. “I was just going to go over to Maddie’s and eat junk food this weekend. I can cancel and watch Chris instead.”
“I’m sorry, Buck, Eddie said you were single,” Ana says, putting her foot in her mouth again as Hen explodes into giggles and Chimney chokes on his chewing gum.
“Uh, Maddie is his sister – Chimney’s girlfriend,” Eddie explains and Ana’s hand flies to her mouth. “And Buck, don’t cancel on Maddie. Ana, we can go out some other time, okay?”
She looks crestfallen, but nods. “Yeah, of course. Christopher comes first, I understand that.” There’s an uncomfortable silence until Ana smiles again and speaks. “Well, it was lovely to meet you all, but I should get going.”
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to,” Bobby says, suddenly appearing from downstairs. “I spoke to the lead officer outside, apparently they have a possible shooter situation going on out there and can’t afford to have anyone else out on the street, it’s too risky.”
There are shocked exclamations from everyone and Ana looks a little scared.
“Do they want us standing by for medical assistance?” Hen asks.
Bobby shakes his head. “No, they’ve got an EMS team waiting. And they’ve told dispatch not to direct anything our way since we won’t be able to respond. That being said, we will keep an ear out and help if I find it necessary.”
“Got it, Cap,” Chimney says as they all nod.
Ana looks uncomfortable, but Eddie is so tense between her and Buck that he doesn’t seem to notice. Buck is about to say something to her but Hen beats him to it.
“It’s alright, this won’t last long,” she says and Ana nods. “Besides, we’re as safe as we can be up here.”
Considering how paranoid the crew are about saying things are quiet, Hen should really know better than to say that. Literally thirty seconds after the words leave her mouth, three loud shots pierce the air.
Buck doesn’t have time to react because the next thing he knows, his feet are out from under him and he’s on his back on the floor with something heavy on top of him. The air is knocked out of his chest and when he regains his breath and looks up, Eddie’s face is inches from his.
“Eddie, what the hell?” he asks, but there’s no response.
Eddie’s eyes are dark and wide with panic. His breathing is erratic and he’s staring right through Buck as if he doesn’t realise he’s there.
“Eddie,” he tries again and then there’s a hand covering his mouth.
“Shh,” Eddie hisses. “We’re under fire, I don’t know how many shooters. You need to stay still until I clear us, understood?”
He lifts his hand off Buck’s mouth to allow him to speak and Buck stares at him in concern.
“Eddie, it’s okay, the shots were outside. The police are taking care of it. They have EMS there too, we’re all good.”
“Medics?” Eddie asks. “Are you hurt? Were you shot? Soldier! Were you shot?”
“No,” Buck shakes his head. “Eddie I’m fine, I’m okay. I’m not hurt, I promise.”
Eddie doesn’t seem to be hearing him, hands wildly patting at Buck’s chest, looking for wounds. Scared and unsure of what to do, Buck manages to lever his hands out from under Eddie to grab his face.
“Hey, Eds, it’s okay,” he says, trying to reassure him. “Eddie you’re in the firehouse, we’re all okay. You’re in LA, at station house 118.”
Eddie blinks hard. “Buck?”
Buck nods. “Yeah, Eds. It’s me. You back with me?”
“Shit, I don’t… I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened,” Eddie says, his expression crumpling.
“Hey, it’s okay, don’t worry about it,” Buck reassures him, hands still framing Eddie’s face. “You got triggered, I get it. Thanks for having my back.”
Eddie nods, his face pushing harder into Buck’s hands. “Yeah, always.”
Buck stares up at him, thumbs stroking along Eddie’s cheekbones. Any other time, Buck would kill to be in this position, but then there’s the sound of a throat clearing and Chimney is squatting down beside them. Buck may have dreamt of having Eddie on top of him before, but those dreams definitely don’t involve Chimney.
“Hey, Eddie, if you’re okay again, do you guys maybe want to…” Chim says, trailing off and looking significantly over to the other side. When Buck follows his gaze, he sees Bobby, Hen, and Ana all staring at them.
“Shit yeah,” Eddie says, scrambling up off Buck, but holding out a hand to help him up too.
They shuffle over to the group, and Buck tries not to feel too happy about how Eddie stays close to his side.
“Are you okay, Eddie?” Bobby asks, concerned.
Eddie flushes and nods. “Yeah, Cap. I’m so sorry –”
Bobby holds up a hand to interrupt him. “Hey, you don’t have to apologise. It was an intense situation, you reacted the way you were trained to. That being said… maybe you should see Frank again.”
“Yeah,” Eddie says, hanging his head. “I… yeah – you’re probably right. I lost myself for a couple of moments there.”
“It’s alright,” Hen reassures him. “We’re just glad you’re okay – and that you’re willing to take a bullet for Buckaroo here.”
“Although, as I’ve just been informed, the idiot was firing blanks,” Bobby interjects, waving his phone. “They’ve got him in custody.”
Buck groans at the news but knocks his shoulder against Eddie’s to let him know things are alright between them. Across from them, Ana who has remained conspicuously quiet, frowns.
“I am sorry for freaking out on you guys,” Eddie says. “And sorry about bowling you over, Buck.”
Buck grins and shrugs. Beside him, Chimney laughs. “Hey, I’m just sorry you sacrificed the cupcakes for Buck.”
Buck and Eddie’s heads swivel simultaneously to look at where the box of cupcakes have clearly been dropped on the floor.
“Ana,” Eddie says. “I’m so sorry. I just… I wasn’t thinking.”
She nods, still visibly upset. “It’s okay,” she says, so insincerely that even Buck notices. “Can we maybe talk? In private?”
Eddie shifts uncomfortably, but nods. “Sure. We uh…”
“You can use my office,” Bobby offers.
Buck watches as Eddie leads Ana away and into Bobby’s office and sighs. Apparently so loudly that Hen feels the need to reel him into a hug.
“You poor little puppy,” she says half teasingly as she leads him over to the sofa. “I promise you that isn’t going anywhere. There’s no way.”
He groans, flopping onto the sofa with Hen’s arm still around his shoulder. “You keep saying that and yet they’re still together and I’m still pining.”
“Nah, I’m with Hen,” Chim says. “You didn’t see her when Eddie was having his… moment. We were all concerned and she looked jealous.”
“What?” Buck asks in disbelief.
“I hate to agree with Chimney, but… yeah she looked jealous,” Bobby says.
“Well next time she can get squished by Eddie,” Buck huffs. “It’s not like it was comfortable.”
Hen snorts. “I think the fact that they aren’t doing any squishing is the problem.”
Chimney cackles and Buck flushes a bright red while Bobby sighs and looks like he’d rather be anywhere else.
“Come on, let me kick your ass at Mario Kart to distract you,” Hen offers and Buck nods, leaning into her side.
“Thanks, Hen,” he says and she pats his knee.
They settle in to play and Chim joins them to heckle. Bobby watches the first lap, then heads to the kitchen to get started on lunch. They’re on the third track of the Star Cup when the office door slams and Ana goes storming past them and down the stairs.
“Uh oh,” Chimney murmurs.
Buck waits for Eddie to emerge too, maybe run after Ana, but there’s no sign of him. Hen nudges Buck’s knee.
“Hey, go check on your boy.”
“He’s not my boy,” Buck mumbles, but he's already getting to his feet, handing off the controller to Chimney.
The door to Bobby’s office is still firmly shut, so Buck knocks before he opens it slowly.
“Eds?” he asks quietly. “I saw Ana left, are you okay?”
Eddie is sat in one of the chairs in front of Bobby’s desk, his head in his hands, but he looks up when Buck speaks.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he says.
Buck raises his eyebrows, walking round to perch against Bobby’s desk, his feet bracketing Eddie’s. “Really?”
Eddie groans. “Ana broke up with me.”
“What?” Buck exclaims. “Really? Why?”
“A lot of reasons,” Eddie says quietly. “She said that she felt I wasn’t committed enough to ‘trying to build something'.”
Buck frowns. “What does that mean?”
Eddie actually cracks a smile at that. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. And then… she was upset that I jumped on you.”
“Why? That wasn’t your fault. You have PTSD, Eds.”
“Yeah apparently, I should have told her that already,” Eddie snorts. “But no, she was annoyed because I should have thought to cover her instead.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit,” Buck says angrily. “You were fucking triggered, Eddie. You acted on instinct, she can’t be mad at you for that. Besides,” he adds pettily. “You’ve known me longer.”
Eddie nods, staring at Buck with a weird expression on his face. “Yeah…”
“I mean, we’re best friends,” Buck continues.
“We are,” Eddie confirms. “And that’s what I told her.”
“So what’s the problem?” Buck demands.
Eddie sighs, scrubbing his hands across his face. “The problem is that… even if Ana and I had known each other twice as long as you and I, I would have covered you.”
Buck shakes his head. “Come on, Eds, you don’t know that.”
“No, I do,” Eddie says earnestly. “And Ana does too and that’s the whole problem, isn’t it?”
Buck’s heart stutters in his chest. “What are you talking about?”
Eddie gets to his feet, stepping forward so that he’s standing between Buck’s legs. “The problem is that besides Chris, there’s no one in this world that I care about more than you, Buck. No one I ever will care more about.”
“Eddie,” Buck says softly, his pulse roaring in his ears. “You… Please don’t say things like that if you don’t mean them.”
Eddie looks up at the ceiling, jaw clenched as if he’s steeling himself for something. When he speaks, his voice is strained. “Buck, my girlfriend just dumped me because she knows I’m in love with you. I don’t think there’s anyone, except you, who doesn’t know that.”
Buck stares at him in stunned silence for a moment, before his lips quirk up in a smile. “That’s funny,” he says, resting a careful hand on Eddie’s waist.
“Is it? Why?” Eddie asks softly, eyes tracking Buck’s movements.
“Because pretty much everyone except you knows that I’m in love with you too,” Buck says with a grin and Eddie’s sudden smile feels like it’s lighting up the room.
“You’re an asshole,” he says and Buck laughs.
“No, you’re not.”
Buck shrugs and Eddie grins, shaking his head as Buck’s other hand settles on the other side of his waist.
“Buck?” he asks, still smiling but almost shyly now. “Can I kiss you?”
“Yeah,” Buck says, then smirks. “You’re not going to throw me to the ground again, are you?”
Eddie doesn’t respond, instead leaning forward and pulling Buck into a kiss with a hand on the back of his neck. Buck tightens his grip on Eddie’s waist, wrapping himself around him as he deepens the kiss.
“For the record,” Eddie mumbles when he pulls away for air. “The only reason you’re not on your back right now is that Cap would kill me.”
Buck blushes, his head tipping forward to rest against Eddie’s shoulder. “You can’t say things like that. Not at work anyway.”
“Can’t I?” Eddie smirks.
“No,” Buck says. “Now come on, we better go out before someone comes looking for us.”
Eddie nods, pressing a sweet kiss to the corner of Buck’s mouth before disentangling himself from him. “Let’s go.”
Buck follows him out of the office and towards where the rest of the crew are very unsubtly waiting for them. Halfway there, Eddie reaches out and grabs Buck’s hand, entwining their fingers. Chimney makes a noise Buck will swear to his dying day was a shriek and Hen wolf whistles.
“Finally,” Bobby comments from the kitchen and Buck grins at him.
Beside him, Eddie squeezes his hand and Buck's smile widens. Maybe he should thank whatever idiot was firing blanks outside since it got him this.