Eddie and Buck have been best friends for years, closer than close. Every day is embedded with one another and ever since Buck broke up with Taylor, that has been even more true. He’s been practically living at Eddie’s anyway, helping drop Chris off at school and pick him up, cooking dinner, and having (family) movie nights. It’s become second nature to exist peacefully in Eddie’s space.
Maybe that’s why it feels so easy to place a hand on Eddie’s shoulder and give him a quick, chaste kiss before heading out the door for work that morning. It was a rare day that the other had off, so Buck was going into work alone instead of carpooling as they had for the majority of their shifts over the years. So, they had breakfast together and Eddie had stood by the door to watch him head out for work, ready to close it behind him. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except maybe the fact that Eddie was still in his plaid pajama pants with an old L.A.F.D t-shirt over his shoulders and his hair was rumpled in the way that always made Buck wanna run his hands through it. Still, everything was normal.
The kiss felt normal, too. He always imagined kissing Eddie would be. Everyone joked for years that he and Eddie were an old married couple who didn’t know it yet and Buck didn’t have the heart to tell them it would never happen despite how much he wanted it to. Eddie was Eddie. There was nothing that would ever ruin the bond the two of them had, but for some reason, Buck felt as if confessing his feelings would be a catalyst for destruction; an unfixable crack that he couldn’t risk.
It appeared his brain had other plans, as Eddie stands by the door with his arms crossed and that worried look on his face as he says, “Be safe today, okay? You don’t have me watching out for your dumbass.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Buck laughs quietly as he heads out the door with Eddie close behind him. Without even thinking, his hand comes down to squeeze Eddie’s shoulder reassuringly, and then he’s kissing him and muttering, “Bye, love you.”
He doesn’t realize what he’s done until the door is closed behind him and he’s sitting in the driver's seat of his jeep. Oh, God. He kissed Eddie. He kissed Eddie and the other said nothing. And now he has to walk into a twenty-four-hour shift and pretend he did not just ruin the best thing that has ever happened to him. His life as he knows it is over because his stupid brain went on autopilot and took too many old married couple jokes to heart.
“Why do you look like someone killed your cat?” Chimney asks the moment he walks into work because he’s always been one to wear his traitorous emotions all too plainly on his face.
“I don’t have a cat,” he mutters, heading towards the locker rooms so he can change into his uniform. He pulls out his phone and sees nothing and he can’t decide if that’s better or worse than hearing from Eddie would be. Great, only twenty-three hours and fifty-five minutes left. This is going to be the longest shift in the world.
He sits down on the bench just to bask in his own stupidity for a moment when he feels Chimney’s presence behind him. “Okay, Buckley, spill. Something’s up with you.”
Chimney can’t keep a secret to save his life. Buck knows this, everybody knows this. But he thinks if he does not tell someone he is going to explode. “I kissed Eddie.”
“You kissed your boyfriend. Monkey climbs tree,” Chimney shrugs and Buck looks at him with bewilderment in his eyes. “What? Is you kissing Eddie supposed to be some sort of surprise? I thought you guys have been together forever? Unless you were being good little Christians and saving your lips for marriage.”
“First of all, I really don’t think that’s a thing people do,” Buck says with a furrowed brow as he processes all the information that has just been given to him. Was Chimney being serious? There’s no way he actually thought he and Eddie were dating, not with how much they joked about it. Right? It makes no sense. Was Buck really that blind that he couldn’t realize his friends had read him and Eddie completely wrong? “Eddie and I aren’t dating.”
“You’re not?” a new voice joins the group as it seems Ravi had entered the room unnoticed. “I clocked that the moment I met you guys, did you guys break up or something? If so, kill me now, love is dead.”
“What the hell are you guys talking about?” Buck stands now, getting more confused by the moment. “No. We’ve never been dating and I doubt we ever will, definitely not now because I kissed him without even thinking about it, and then I walked away because I didn’t even realize I’d done it until it was too late.”
There’s silence between the three of them before both Chimney and Ravi burst out laughing in sync. Buck stands there and takes it because yes, he is well aware he is an idiot. He just stands there with his hands on his hips and waits for them to regain their composure.
“I still don’t believe that you guys aren’t dating,” Ravi breathes out as he catches his breath. “Lucy is gonna have a field day with this, she kept telling me that she wasn’t sure about you guys even though everyone else certainly was.”
“I literally had a girlfriend! That lived with me for months and you guys, what? Thought we were just close friends?”
“No, we knew about Taylor, trust me,” Chimney says through breathy laughs, “We just… you practically moved in with Eddie after the break-up, we, well… we thought maybe you broke up with Taylor and finally confessed your feelings. I mean, we’ve all seen this coming for years. He literally put you in his will, Buck. I don’t even think I updated my will to include Maddie or Jee-Yun yet.”
“You should get on that because Buck looks like he’s going to kill you right now if I’m being honest,” Ravi says with a laugh.
The alarm sounds throughout the firehouse, sweet relief from this conversation as the three of them race towards the ladder truck and ambulance. He hopes the shift is busy, something to keep his mind off of the events of this morning before he goes crazy. His mind still hasn’t caught up to the fact that the firehouse, well, at least Chimney and Ravi, both believed that he and Eddie were dating.
Once they’re in the ladder truck heading to their call, he can’t take it anymore. “All right, enough. How many of you guys thought Eddie and I were dating.”
Everyone raises their hands, even Lucy, although she hesitates. “Seriously? Even you, Bobby? Wouldn’t you make us sign, like, HR paperwork or something?”
Bobby shrugs from the front seat, “It wasn’t affecting your work and I figured it was a sensitive subject after Taylor so I was waiting until you felt comfortable enough to tell me.”
“We’re not dating!” he exclaims, his expression wild as he looks at all the skeptical glances he’s receiving from his crew. “Seriously guys?”
“But you kissed him, so there’s that,” Chimney reveals with a shrug and Buck starts to think Ravi was right about him needing to update his will because the younger man’s got murder in his eyes right now. “What? It’s funny!”
“It’s not funny because the first time I kissed the man I’ve been in love with for years was an accident!” Buck exclaims with a whine before he can stop himself.
Hen wears a satisfied expression as he says this, nodding her head softly, “Yup, there it is. So, we were half right.”
Lucy nods, “Everyone thought you guys had bit the bullet and confessed already, but Hen and I had a feeling you guys weren’t quite smart enough for that yet. Anyway, how do you kiss someone by accident? Did you slip and fall on his lips or something?”
Buck’s head drops into his hands because he can’t believe he’s having this conversation with his crew. He can’t believe he’s having this conversation at all, if he’s being honest. His feelings for Eddie were something he was content to bottle up and never share until he dies and it’s not his problem anymore. However, thanks to his stupid brain, it is now very much his problem.
“I don’t know! It was like my brain went on autopilot or something, I didn’t even realize I’d done it until I was already in my car! And now I haven’t heard from Eddie all day, I’m going crazy,” Buck sighs, fully aware that they are on their way to an emergency and now is not the time to be doing a deep dive into his feelings. Still, if there’s anyone in the world he trusts the most besides Eddie, they’re all in this truck right now.
“Well, what’s done is done,” Bobby says with his token advice-giving tone, “So, just focus on work and let it take your mind off of things and deal with it when you get home. You won’t be able to figure this out without Eddie present, so just take your time to work things out and talk it out when you go home.”
The home in place of Eddie’s house feels far too purposeful and Buck knows this because he’s never considered the loft home, not the way Eddie’s is. Whenever he goes back to the loft it just feels… empty. He doesn’t think he could ever have a home that doesn’t have Eddie in it.
Buck drops the subject, knowing that his captain is right and there really is nothing he can do about it now. So, he lets his mind be distracted by work and thankfully, it is a busy day with calls up in the double digits, so he doesn’t have a lot of time to be alone with his thoughts even if he wanted to be. He thinks of all the ways he imagined confessing his feelings to Eddie as he packs up his gear bag at the end of the shift. The sun is rising over the hills, rays spilling through the windows of the firehouse. He never thought he would just kiss Eddie and leave. He never thought Eddie would even let him leave in that situation, but he had. Buck can’t shake the feeling that he’s just ruined everything they’ve spent years building and nurturing, all over a stupid accident.
Even so, he goes home to Eddie. He doesn’t knock, inserting his key into the lock because he knows it’ll always belong there until Eddie tells him it doesn’t and Eddie has told him no such thing, not yet at least. When the door opens and he pushes inside, he can hear Eddie rustling about in the kitchen.
“Hey,” he says quietly, lingering in the doorway as he watches Eddie make his morning cup of coffee. “Where’s Chris? Asleep still?”
Eddie seems caught off guard by his presence, looking up as if he was surprised that Buck would be here. “Yeah, asleep. He’ll be up within the hour, probably. You’re an asshole.”
He sighs, expecting this. He prepares himself for the beginning of the end, “Listen—”
“You listen,” Eddie takes a step closer to him, his mug abandoned on the counter. “You do not get to kiss me like I have been waiting for you to do ever since you and Taylor broke up like it was nothing and then leave me, dumbstruck, and just go to work like normal. That is cruel, even for you Buckley, leaving me here on my day off, a mess, waiting for you to come home.”
“I wasn’t even thinking, Eddie, I’m so sorry, wait—” he starts and then stops as he begins to process just what exactly Eddie had been saying. He looks up and sees a smile tugging at the corners of Eddie’s lips as he realizes, “I-how would you have preferred I do it, then?”
“Like this,” Eddie mutters, unable to bite back his smile as he grabs Buck’s face in his hands and presses their lips together. It’s filled with intention and purpose, something Buck had accidentally lacked in their first kiss, passion dripping through every movement as Buck melts into Eddie’s hands. He isn’t sure he’s not dreaming yet, he thinks he may need Eddie to pinch him a couple of times before it fully registers that Eddie is kissing him, that Eddie had been waiting for Buck to kiss him. Secretly pining all this time just as Buck had. When they pull apart, Eddie leans his forehead against Buck’s, “I can’t believe the first time you kissed me was by accident. After all this time.”
Buck just laughs, his arms coming to wrap around Eddie’s waist and pull him closer, “Hey, we got there eventually, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, we did,” says the other with affection dripping from his lips, “I love you, Buck. I’ve been in love with your for years.”
“Me too, God, I love you so much, Eddie,” Buck finally admits, feeling as if the biggest weight in the world had been lifted off of his chest. “Oh, and did you know the entire firehouse thought we were already dating? Chimney was incredibly confused when I told him we weren’t.”
Eddie smiles, his eyes crinkling up in a way that Buck just wants to reach out and brush his fingers against, so he does. “Well, good thing we can reassure them that they were definitely onto something.”
Buck grins into another kiss, “Yeah, I think they were.”