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sun is coming up ahead

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The drawings don’t stop.

Eddie pushes himself through the front door, heavy, boots thudding against the shiny hard floors that Buck probably mopped while he was gone. When he turns to close it, his eyes catch on his long, still shadow.

The sun’s going down, the only real evidence fifty minutes of therapy and twenty minutes of traffic had come and gone.

It was a bad session. Even though it was a blur, even though he couldn’t tell you a full recap of what had happened if he was prompted, he still feels like he was cracked open like an egg and immediately hit by a bus afterwards.

Great.

When he rounds the corner, Buck is alone again. This time, though, he’s still coloring, tongue caught between his teeth in absolute concentration. Eddie—almost smiles.

“Hey,” he says, hoarsely, nearly wincing at how rough he sounds. “Christopher doing homework?”

“Mhm,” Buck hums, not looking up from his once-blank paper that’s now filled to every corner with bursts of color and shapes. “He finished his galaxy before me. Think he might go to art school, you know.”

Eddie exhales, a sad excuse for a laugh. He feels it all the way down to his bones. He’s so fucking tired, so raw, so out of it. When he sinks down into the seat beside Buck, not even the warmth he feels from being so close can provide him any relief.  

He kind of—forgets to speak. Doesn’t even know if he could get anything out if he tried. And then Buck’s hand stills, the robin egg blue crayon pausing with it, planet unfinished. Eddie can’t even look up. He doesn’t want to see the concern, doesn’t want to see the pity. It was a bad session. He’ll get over it.

“You want to take a nap? I can get dinner started.”

And for some reason, that’s what breaks him today.

It’s almost laughable, being completely dry-eyed when he was telling Frank about how he felt in that goddamn cot after everything had happened but bursting into tears over the offer of a nap and dinner. Maybe it’s all finally hitting him. The emotion, the recollection, the fear, the guilt, the shame.

Or maybe it’s just Buck. Because when Eddie looks up, he doesn’t see pity. He never does. He sees soft, warm eyes, he sees eyebrows pulled together and that calculating look, like he’s working out the longest possible amount of time Eddie can sleep before he has to shake him awake, gentle, gentle, always gentle.

“Did I—I’m sorry?”

“No, no. It’s okay. You’re just—you’re good.”

Buck looks like he breaks a little, too. He reaches out, crayon forgotten, but seems to talk himself out of it at the last second with a slow twist of his lips. Eddie wishes he could say it’s okay, you can touch me, because he can’t remember the last time they did. Never purposeful anymore, only accidental brushes here and there.

Eddie wipes his eyes and slumps against the table, elbows digging into the hard wood.

“Does that sound good?”

Buck’s voice is so gentle that Eddie trembles a little. “Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Okay. Bedroom or couch?”

The thing is, the bedroom is fixed. Buck made sure of it. Bobby, too. The holes are gone, painted over. The picture frames are replaced, he’s not in danger of stepping on glass anymore when he takes a step inside. It looks normal. It looks like—before. But the thought of being in there—

“I’ll get the couch fixed up. Stay here, okay?”

Eddie breathes out an, “okay,” and stares at the table for a few long seconds before he reaches out and drags the two pieces of paper towards him.

He does smile. It’s a small thing, and it feels like his face might crack into pieces, but it’s there. Christopher’s drawing is so fucking cute, three planets close together with smiley faces on them, hearts nearby. There’s stars, asteroids, a rocketship, a little alien friend hiding behind a comet. The whole shebang.

Buck still isn’t done with his, but he has three planets, too. Close together, stick arms connected so they can hold hands. The smallest one is in the middle, and there are—

“The couch is ready, your Majesty.”

Eddie looks up, and his smile is a little bigger, he can feel it. It feels foreign. His eyes ache. “What was the assignment today?”

Buck—gets a little bashful. He looks down at his socked feet and to the drawings, eyes finally landing on Eddie after a moment. “Chris—he said, what if we were our own planets. So, it’s us.”

Us. The three of them, like always. Eddie nods, feels a little piece of himself get super glued back together. His throat burns when he says, “You can put these on the fridge, too.”

It’s a sight, really, when Buck beams. “You got it. Oh, is spaghetti okay? We really need to go grocery shopping.”

 


 

Eddie cries in the truck before he kills the engine and drags himself through the front door.

Buck knows. Of course he knows, because his eyes immediately widen when they look at each other and he’s halfway out of his seat before he catches himself and just—hovers. “Are you okay? Sorry, that was a stupid thing to ask, I just—”

“I’m okay. It was just—a lot. Today.”

“Do you want to, um. Do you want to talk about it?” Buck asks. And he’s so sincere, so gentle. He’s fully seated again, hands tense where they rest on Christopher’s box of crayons and markers. Eddie wants to reach out.

He doesn’t.

Instead, he takes the five steps that feel like one hundred and takes the seat next to Buck. His eyes are swollen, so warm, he just wants to close them. “No. I’d rather hear about what you two drew today.”

Buck tries a smile, but it’s watery and more for Eddie than a real thing. “Today’s assignment wasn’t really a drawing. I mean, we doodled, but we wrote a few things for you. That was what we focused on.”

One piece of paper slides towards him. Eddie stops it with his hand, lips tilting when he sees one of Christopher’s famous cat drawings surrounded by hearts.

I love you, Dad. You are doing so good and you’re so brave. We will always be here for you no matter what. Like you said, you will feel better soon. You are my hero.

“Fuck,” Eddie says, because he’s crying again, and he should definitely be embarrassed, but Frank said that showing emotion isn’t embarrassing, that he needs to look at it in a different way. That he’d never tell Christopher he was being embarrassing if he was crying, so he should show himself the same grace and kindness.

Or whatever.

“Yeah, that got me, too,” Buck says, voice a little thick. “Eddie, that kid. He’s—he’s the best, and I see so much of you in him.”

Eddie traces over the waxy film of crayon and nods, sniffling. He doesn’t bother to wipe the tears racing down his cheeks. “Not just me. I see a lot of you in him, too. He’s so good.”

Buck stays a little silent at that. After a while, after Eddie rereads Christopher’s handwriting over and over until he’s sure he could recite it, another piece of paper slides towards him. Slower.

This one has a lot of hearts. In the corners, all different colors. It reminds him of that first drawing, that silly little heart complete with a heart nose. Eddie loves that goddamn drawing so much.

Eddie,

I’m so proud of you. You’re putting in the work and even if you can’t see it, you look a lot lighter than you did a few months ago. Thank you for trusting me to take care of you and Chris. Thank you for opening up to me (even if I did have to break your door down). You deserve all the good things this world has to offer. I’ll be here every step of the way. I’ve got your back. Always.

Buck

Eddie looks up, watches how Buck fidgets with his hands. He’s not looking at him.

“Buck.”

Buck laughs, a nervous little thing, and just says, “I know, I know. It’s sappy.”

And it just won’t do. Eddie sits up a little straighter, wipes at his eyes, and does something he’s only ever done one other time. “Evan.”

And just like the last time, Buck looks up, eyes clear and so full of surprise. He lets out a little breath, like his heart just stopped in his chest, and—

Eddie has to talk to Frank. But, before then, right here, he smiles and reaches out. He doesn’t quite reach Buck’s arm, but it feels electric all the same. Like all the air in the room has been sucked out by a comically large vacuum.

“Thank you.”

 


 

The next time, he comes home to two comic-styled portraits of him. Chris wrote, Super dad.

 


 

The time after that, it’s penguins. They watched a documentary about them a few days before.

 


 

One day he comes home to ice cream and dinosaurs.

 


 

Each time, he feels a little lighter.

 


 

A few more sessions later and Frank’s talking about how important it is for him to be kind to himself for the thousandth time (it was definitely Eddie’s fault, he said he was a jackass because he cried at work over a news report, but it’s not his fault that Frank doesn’t have a sense of humor) when Eddie just blurts out,

“I’m in love with Buck.”

Frank pauses. He takes a moment to gather himself and scrawls something down in his notes. Eddie kind of wants to laugh, imagining a line that just says in gay love with his best friend.

“Okay. When did you come to this realization?”

“I don’t know. I think it was always there. But him and our son always have drawings for me when I get home after a session, and he drew me a heart. I was really fucked up that day, like, I couldn’t really feel anything, but it felt like my own heart came back to life a little bit, with colorful rays and a little heart nose. And then he drew the three of us as planets, and he drew me a really terrible cat that’s literally hanging up in my bedroom now. He drew me a goddamn jellyfish because I said they were cool when we were watching a documentary about them after dinner. And then there was this one, it wasn’t even a drawing. He wrote me a little note. Said I deserved everything good in this world. He’s good.”

Frank’s—just smiling.

“What are you smiling about?”

“Nothing. Do you have anything else to say about it?”

“Um. Yeah. I have a lot to say about it, actually. He lets me take naps and makes dinner when you’ve exhausted me. And it’s not even like before, because I can cook now. He just wants to do it for me. He knows I can do it, because he scarfs down my food, but he gives me a break. He took me to a goddamn equestrian therapy place and found this boy I saved because I was questioning whether what I do for a job was worth it. He saved my life. Multiple times. He saves it every day. Like, he’s been there for me ever since I moved here. Actually, he was very annoying for exactly one day, but it was cute. Am I—am I talking too much?”

Frank snorts. “No, you’re not. This is therapy, Eddie. Talk as much as you want.”

“Okay. Yeah. Fair enough,” Eddie says. Frank smiles even bigger. “This cardiologist told me I was repressed right next to my girlfriend at the time and I didn’t even believe her.”

“Elaborate on that.”

Eddie laughs a little. It’s really not funny, but it is. Because it’s—it’s been here this whole time, this giant, grand love, and he just went through the motions and—

“You’re in your head.”

“Oh. Right. I dated her because it felt like it was what I was supposed to do. I didn’t even—I didn’t want her to touch me, ever. I can probably count on two hands the amount of times we kissed. Jesus, Carla told me to follow my heart, that’s so embarrassing. Everyone knew.”

“It’s not embarrassing, Eddie. With what you’ve told me about your childhood, what your father would say to you. It’s understandable you would repress it. These feelings can be complicated even if you have the full support of your family and peers.”

“But it’s not complicated. I love him,” he says, and oh fuck, he loves him, “My brain was just sabotaging me. Like an asshole.”

Frank looks at his watch. “One minute. Which is very disappointing for me, because I have never seen you like this before.”

“Sorry. I—”

“You’re sorry for being happy? In love?”

“No. No, I guess not.”

Frank smiles. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but looking back on your first session, you’re carrying yourself so much lighter. I’m happy to see that, Eddie.”

“Yeah,” he says. He smiles, and it’s real, and it takes over his whole face. “Yeah, someone told me the same thing.”

 


 

Eddie comes home and he’s shaking a little bit. He’s not even nervous, he’s just—he wants to say it. Wants to say all of it. It’s bursting at the seams.

When Eddie rounds the corner, Buck is still working on something.

He doesn’t look up, just smiles at the sound of Eddie’s footsteps and takes out a red crayon from the box. “Hey. Chris is finishing up an essay. How’d it go today?”

“Really good, actually.”

Buck looks up at that, his smile so big it bunches up his birthmark. It’s hard not to match it. “You’re smiling. You wanna talk about it?”

“I do, actually. Can I have a piece of paper, though?”

Buck raises his eyebrows and pulls out a blank sheet from underneath his own drawing. “Finally joining us? You want our assignment for today?”

“No. I got my own,” he says, and laughs at the way Buck’s confusion melts over his features. “You’re not allowed to look until I’m finished.”

“Fine, then,” Buck says, but he’s still smiling, and Eddie’s so in love with him his heart is trying to beat out of his chest. “Keep your secrets, Diaz.”

He folds the piece of paper in half. Outlines Dear, Buck on the front, fills it in with different crayons. He helped Chris make one of these, back when Buck was coming back to work after the firetruck incident.

They’ve been through so fucking much since then.

“Eddie?”

Eddie opens up the makeshift card and glances up at the love of his life. “Mhm?”

“Sorry to sound like the sappy note I gave you that one time, but I—I just missed this smile. There’s this specific smile you have, when you—you look so happy today.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Eddie says, and he tries his best for his voice to be stable, but it shakes, “I love that note. I read it all the time.”

Oh. You do? That’s—that’s nice.”

Eddie hums. His feels a little insane as he draws his own version of the heart Buck gave him so many weeks ago. He remembers to draw the heart nose. Scatters little hearts around it. It’s rough, but his hands are trembling and this is probably the most important moment of his life, so he thinks it’s the best it can be, given the circumstances.

He takes the blue crayon. Robin egg blue, the same color Buck made his own planet in their galaxy of three. He scrawls, I LOVE YOU.

“Hey. I’m done,” Eddie says. He sounds normal, thank Christ. “It’s for you.”

Buck looks up from his paper, a small smile already in place. “For me?”

A little hysterically, his mind supplies him with a memory of that first night they really saw each other.

You’re badass under pressure.

Me?

“Yeah, for you,” Eddie says, and then hands him his heart.

Dear, Buck,” Buck reads. He takes a moment to smile at the bubble letters, and then he’s opening it.

Eddie—shakes with it.

“I—”

“I love you,” Eddie interrupts. Buck is frozen, eyes still on the card. “I love you so much. It’s actually pretty embarrassing how much I love you, because I just talked Frank’s ear off about it.”

There’s a terrible second in which Eddie thinks that maybe Buck is going to look up at him like a sad puppy and tell him thank you, the sentiment is nice, but he doesn’t feel the same way. He’s just—he’s frozen, he hasn’t moved an inch, his mouth is parted and nothing is coming out.

And then—

Eddie,” he breathes, and it sounds a lot like an I love you, too. Eddie lets out a breath. “You—are you sure?”

“I’m, like, very sure. Extremely sure. I’m sorry, I should have said something sooner—”

No, no, now is perfect. You needed time. This isn’t something you could’ve just—I would have waited forever, Eddie. However long you needed.”

Eddie reaches out. This time, he touches Buck’s hand, his knuckles, and smiles at the way Buck loses his breath a little. “What was your assignment today?”

Buck looks a little startled by the abrupt change in topic, but he looks at his paper and huffs out a laugh. “Another note with doodles. Do you want to read it?”

He doesn’t have to say yes, because Buck slides the paper towards him anyways.

Eddie,

Christopher said something today and it reminded me so much of myself that I had to lie and say I needed a glass of water so I could tear up in the kitchen. I already had a glass of water right beside me, so he probably thinks I’m weird. I don’t know why I’m telling you this in a note. I miss you and I wish you were home already so I could tell you in person, but I also want you to get your fifty minutes in with Frank so I guess I’ll just have to be okay with missing you a little bit longer. I can’t wait to make Bobby’s mac and cheese while you nap, and I can’t wait for you to hear about Christopher’s day while we’re eating dinner, there’s a good story about math class.

Love,

Buck

Love, Buck,” Eddie says. And he’s crying, because how could he not cry at that, really, he’d have to be a monster, but he’s not embarrassed. Not one bit.

Buck takes his hand properly and soothes over the skin with his thumb, and with the other, reaches out touch his jaw, his cheek. He doesn’t wipe away the tears, just lets them be.

“I love you, too, Eddie,” he says, voice wavering, and Eddie closes his eyes, vows to remember this moment forever. “You rambled to Frank, I rambled to a piece of paper.”

“We could’ve been rambling to each other.”

“Hm. Maybe. But now we can make a cute scrapbook starting with these cheesy letters to each other.”

“Our grandkids are gonna be, like, grandpa Buck was so lame, getting that glass of water in the kitchen—”

“Stop! You should’ve seen the look Chris gave me. He’s definitely going to tell his kids about the time I cried in the kitchen because he said something about how penguin shit is visible from space.”

Eddie hums, squeezes Buck’s hand, and kicks at his shoe underneath the table because he’s somehow back to being a lovesick teenager. His sisters are going to be so unbearable about this. “Maybe we can get them off your back by saying how weird we both are for having our first kiss after talking about penguin—”

“Don’t say penguin shit before I kiss you,” Buck says, and he sounds so serious that it makes Eddie giggle into sleeve.

“Okay. None of that.”

“Okay. Good.”

And then they’re kissing.

It’s the second time Eddie comes home that night.