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been yours longer than i haven't

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Eddie really, really should’ve thought this through.

It's probably karma, or something. Good friends don't celebrate their friend breaking up with their significant other, even if said significant other is a horrid, horrid woman, and Eddie had that drink the night Buck showed up with the Jeep full of his things, and now the fucking universe is taking its revenge.

It's the only explanation for why Eddie's awake to see Buck stumbling through the door at half past one in the morning with his collar just crooked enough to suggest exactly what he'd been doing. Eddie went to bed three entire hours ago, but then one of his pet horrors caught up with him, and he'd woken up choking on what he thought, just for a second, was Buck's blood, and now he's—here. Sitting on the couch, watching as Buck toes his shoes off, a little wobbly.

Tonight's date was named Victoria. Eddie wishes he could forget this information.

“Hey,” he says, and Buck flinches in the dark. He hadn't turned the light on, probably trying not to wake them up, so he's only lit by the TV playing whatever rerun is on this time of night, the deep blue shadows making him look taller, thinner, drawn.

“Hey,” he says, then clears his throat. “I didn't—”

“I was wide awake,” Eddie says, stretching his arms out to indicate the living room, and the TV, and the half-finished mug of sleepytime tea that Buck swears actually helps. “You're late tonight. Good date?”

Eddie would like the record to show that he is, actually, capable of being a good person. He was the one who encouraged Buck to get out there once he'd been single for a couple of months and said he'd like to try something casual. He always asks how the dates went, always pats Buck on the shoulder and tells him he'll have better luck next time, and always manages to hold back the pathetic plea that's been stuck on the back of his tongue for far longer than he's comfortable admitting: just stay. Be with me.

“Eh,” Buck grimaces, shedding his favorite black jacket - the one that makes his shoulders look even wider than they are - and letting it pool on the floor. He crosses the room, throws himself on the other end of the couch. “Kind of the opposite, actually.”

Eddie doesn't say anything. Instead, he reaches over and carefully, pointedly, flips the collar of Buck's shirt back down. He half-expects to see a hickey, or a hint of lipstick left somewhere Buck didn't quite reach, but all he finds is the skin of Buck's throat, dappled with stubble, even paler than usual in the blue light.

Which—Eddie kind of feels like a vampire thinking it, but it's almost two in the morning and he's tired and so fucking in love with his best friend and he just—wants to lean over a maybe leave a little hickey right where Buck's pulse is strongest. Sue him.

“Yeah, that,” Buck says. He shivers, probably ticklish in the spot Eddie accidentally brushed against, and leans away a little. “That's kind of—that's why it was the opposite.”

Eddie freezes. His hand, still halfway between them, drops onto the cushions. “Buck.”

“Not like,” Buck rubs the corner of his eye, “not like that, I know how to say no. She was just handsy.”

“And you didn't want her to be?”

Buck looks at him, then, his eyes dark blue. “No,” he says, “no, I never—” he sighs. “It doesn't matter. I'm just gonna go to bed.”

And he keeps watching Eddie, his pupils wide in the darkness, reflecting whatever weird prescription pill commercial has just come on. His mouth is open just a little, glistening where he'd licked his lip; Eddie finds himself shivering, digging his fingers into his own thighs to stop himself from saying or doing something he might regret.

It takes an embarrassingly long time for him to realize that he's sitting on Buck's bed.

He should get up. He decides to get up, but there's something odd in the set of Buck's face, and when Eddie blinks he still kind of sees the nightmare version of it, covered in blood.

“Well,” he tries, the words a little stuck in the bottom of his throat, “maybe the next one will be better.”

Buck shakes his head. Opens his mouth, closes it, then opens it again.

“Why,” he says, and then pinches his bottom lip between his fingers, like he's deciding whether he'll let the words pass. “Why do you always sound like that when you say it?”

Eddie blinks. “What?”

“When you tell me better luck next time,” Buck says, putting his elbows on his knees, leaning forward. “You don't sound like you, and you have this—your face—” and he waves a hand in the air, like he's looking for the right word.

“My face,” Eddie says, and he probably smiles a little bit too, because it's Buck. “I've always had this face, Buck.”

Buck kicks him in the shin. “No,” he says, but his expression softens into something more familiar. “It's—here,” and he reaches out, his fingertips landing whisper-soft on the high point of Eddie's cheek. “This line.”

Eddie's breathing just—cuts out.

“You get a line right here when you smile really big,” Buck says, and trails his fingers down as the corner of his own mouth curls up. “Or when you're happy and it reaches your eyes. And every time you tell me you're sorry about my shitty date,” his fingers stop just above the line of Eddie's jaw, lingering, “you look like you're happy about it.”

“I'm,” Eddie manages, but the I'm not he really wants to say just won't come out. After everything, after months and months of pretending that it doesn't kill him a little bit to watch Buck dress up and leave the house for someone else, this is his downfall: Buck touching the side of his face with a couple of fingers at two in the goddamn morning, because Eddie, apparently, has a line.

And his mouth is so, so dry.

“Are you?” Buck asks. “Happy about me scaring off everyone I go out with?”

Eddie frowns, and his hand comes up to circle Buck's wrist before he's even aware of it. “Buck, that's not—”

“Because I do,” Buck says, and he starts trembling, tangible where their skin is pressed together. “I scare them off. Do you really think I'm bad enough that no one ever wants a second date?”

Eddie's traitorous, traitorous eyes fall to Buck's lips, to the tendons in his neck exaggerated by the blue light shifting around the room, to the way his shirt hugs his shoulders. He's pretty sure Buck could say nothing all night and get second dates.

“Then why,” he swallows, and hates himself a little for feeling hope when Buck's pulse quickens under his fingers, “why do you go?”

“Because you told me to,” Buck replies, and he smiles for real this time, wide enough for the corners of his eyes to crinkle, and—oh.

Buck has lines around his eyes, too, little wrinkles that run together in the corner of his eyelid. It's only now that Eddie realizes he could draw them all from memory if someone asked him to.

“But I'm kind of tired of it,” Buck shrugs. “It's a lot of money to throw out for something I don't really want, and I'm starting to feel bad for all these people, because they show up expecting someone who actually wants to date them, and I—don't.”

Eddie swallows, and it feels like it takes forever. Buck trails his hand down, over the side of Eddie's neck, leaving goosebumps long after it settles on Eddie's shoulder, Buck's thumb resting at the hollow of Eddie's throat.

“You sure?” Eddie asks, because he has to. With his luck, he's misreading the gentle set of Buck's mouth, the intent behind his touch.

“Eddie,” Buck says, and it sounds so soft coming out of his mouth. Eddie feels a little like crying at hearing his name with so much care behind it. “I decided I didn’t like Victoria because she was eating her spaghetti wrong.”

“Oh God,” Eddie says, “did she cut it up? Because you know that’s—“

Buck is looking at him. Buck’s looking at him with little sparks in his eyes, and Eddie's—oh.

“Oh,” he says. “I see.”

“I would never date someone who cuts their spaghetti,” Buck says earnestly. “Mostly because I'd never date someone who isn't you.”

Eddie doesn't know where to put his hands. Or how he's supposed to move, do anything other than squeeze Buck's wrist and look at him in disbelief, because—because this entire time, Buck has wanted to be home as much as Eddie has wanted him to be here.

“Did you,” Eddie says, with no idea what's about to follow with all of his feelings spilling everywhere, “did you just confess your love via pasta?”

Buck smiles even wider, so wide it makes him squint. Eddie loves that face, loves him so much he wants to fall to pieces about it, but then the pieces couldn't pull Buck in and kiss him, and Eddie can, as soon as they get this cleared up.

“I mean, I didn't say the L word,” Buck grins, his thumb pressing a little more insistently at the base of Eddie's throat, and Eddie just manages to swallow and honest-to-God whine, “but I—”

“I love you,” Eddie interrupts, because the words suddenly won't stop, “I'm so fucking in love with you, and I hate Victoria and I haven't even met her—”

Buck cuts him off with a kiss, but it's shaky at best because he's laughing into it, clumsily shuffling closer on the couch. Eddie's hands finally decide to start working, and he tries to pull Buck closer, but he's just as clumsy about it, overwhelmed with possibility.

Then Buck solves that problem by pushing him back and climbing onto his lap, and the next kiss is something else entirely, deep enough to take Eddie's breath away, and then Buck bites Eddie's lip and the world whites out at the edges a little bit and—

“I love you,” he says, “even if you are a spaghetti purist. Just in case that wasn't clear.”

And he wraps his arms around Eddie's neck, tangles a hand in his hair, keeps grinning and grinning and grinning as Eddie desperately chases his mouth.

That night, after several months of moonlighting as Buck's bed, Eddie's couch goes back to being a couch.