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Tripped and Fell into the Deep End (Wading is for Suckers)

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Eddie appreciates Bobby, generally speaking. The guy’s a good leader and a good man. And he’s good at reading people. He figured out why Eddie was feeling so aggressive, back when he was struggling with his anger against a dead woman.

Which is why he’s so fucking frustrated with him.

Bobby and Buck’s relationship is… interesting. It’s a father-son relationship for sure, but even after the entire fustercluck that was the lawsuit, Bobby still seems… unaware?

He can’t possibly be unaware. But whether he’s aware of the particular bond he’s forged with Buck or not, Eddie’s getting really fucking frustrated because Bobby seems to have failed to grasp the very basic concept that Buck needs verbal affirmation.

Buck’s a talker. It’s how he works. It’s why Eddie works hard to talk to Buck, to tell Buck how he feels, tell Buck when he’s done well, even though words have never come easily to Eddie. And it’s why he appreciates Buck doing things for him—finding Carla, helping do the dishes, babysitting Chris whenever—because Buck knows Eddie appreciates acts of service, and Buck making that effort shows he cares.

So every time Eddie sees Buck bust his ass to make Bobby proud, doing everything he can to get Bobby’s attention, and then Bobby doesn’t do anything about it… it makes Eddie’s blood boil, just a little. Buck’s his best damn friend, the only person Eddie could see himself sharing his son with, the only person Eddie feels comfortable around no matter what, and the guy just wants Bobby to tell him good job and Bobby’s just acting like Buck already knows and only speaks up to be firm with him and—

Look, Eddie knows what it’s like to feel like your parents don’t approve. He knows what it’s like to feel like he’s doing everything wrong. He never wants Buck to feel that way.

And, well, all of Eddie’s personal feelings on the matter aside… it’s affecting the workplace.

Because—the thing is—Buck’s really good at listening to what Eddie tells him and respecting Eddie’s boundaries. He rarely argues with Eddie about things, and when they disagree on something it’s a discussion, open and honest. It’s why Eddie’s so comfortable with Buck. If he says he can’t hang out tonight, or needs his space, or tells Buck to take a damn shower, Buck listens. Buck seems to like boundaries and doing as he’s told. He likes to know where the lines are.

Except at work, where Buck has decided to do his best imitation of a wild untamed stallion from those horse girl movies (his sister Sophia had a phase, don’t ask) and kicks the damn building down whinnying every time Bobby tells him to do something. And Eddie suspects he knows why. Buck likes to know he’s valued. If he doesn’t feel valued, doesn’t get that verbal affirmation, then the rules that formerly comforted him now make him feel like he’s not trusted or valued—so he rebels to get attention.

Eddie’s at the end of his goddamn rope. Chim and Hen, he knows, have both separately tried bringing the subject up with either Bobby or Buck and as far as Eddie can tell, it didn’t go anywhere. So now, he’s got to take matters into his own hands.

If Bobby’s not gonna help Buck out, then Eddie will, for the sake of everyone in this damn station.

He starts out small. If he goes too far too fast, Buck will just look at him weird and ask why Eddie thinks he needs a gold star like a first grader. He just, you know, makes sure to thank Buck more openly when Buck helps him out on a call.

Thanks for the lift back there.

Hey, good job on balancing that, thing was shaky as hell.

Buck always smiles and says it was nothing, but his eyes light up and stay that way for a bit afterwards. So, Eddie does it a little more.

Great idea back there, glad you thought of it.

Nice work today.

Damn, you cleaned the truck? Looks like it’s brand new.

Buck practically preens, and the tension bleeds out of his shoulders, and he’s more patient and cheerful. Eddie can’t help but feel a little better, too, both in knowing that he’s helping Buck be happy and in the improved atmosphere in the station. Buck feels appreciated by someone, like he matters as a part of the team, and that’s the most important thing to all this. If Eddie gets a little something out of it too, an odd sense of almost-sort-of-pride, a certain gut rush that he can’t quite place… it’s small enough to be easily ignored.

He finally realizes that there might be a problem when they all go to sit down for dinner one evening after a busy shift. Eddie feels like he hasn’t sat down in days, he’s starting to approach the point where he’s annoyed at everything because he’s hungry, and he just wants to start the damn meal.

Buck, however, is having it out with Bobby, and refusing to sit down.

Eddie’s exhausted. He really just wants to eat. So he’s definitely not thinking when he says, just loud enough for Buck to hear but with the sort of firmness he usually reserves for Christopher in the middle of a tantrum, “Buck, sit down.”

Buck sits down like his legs just gave out under him.

Eddie stares at him. Buck looks a little surprised, like he didn’t expect himself to react like that. An odd buzzing has started up in the back of Eddie’s brain, as his treacherous mind races with the memories of all the times he’s asked Buck to jump and Buck found a pogo stick, all the times Buck jumped for Eddie without Eddie even thinking to ask him to, all the times he’s told Buck he did well and Buck’s looked starry-eyed—

Eddie swallows and looks away, feels his neck getting hot as Bobby sits down and declares the meal started.

He’s not sure he can ignore this anymore.

 


 

Buck doesn’t even realize Eddie’s playing a game with him until they’re halfway through it.

Although maybe ‘game’ is the wrong word to use, because that suggests this is a way to mess with him, and Buck knows Eddie wouldn’t do anything just to fuck with Buck’s head. Eddie’s got a real dry sense of humor, he likes to mess with people just a little because you can’t tell if he’s serious or not, and he’s never afraid to tell Buck when he feels Buck’s made a mistake. But this goes beyond that, and even if it was a simple prank, the chance to say gotcha passed weeks ago.

Besides, Buck’s got no clue what the ‘gotcha’ would even be. Surprise, he likes being told he’s doing a good job at something? That’s not new. Surprise, he’s got feelings for Eddie?

…also not new.

He’ll never tell Eddie, or anyone else, the moment he knew. Most stories of when you know are fun, cute ones, like oh they remembered how I liked my breakfast burritos even though we only ordered from that place once like three months ago.

Buck knew when forty feet of mud fell on his best friend and something bigger and scarier than a tsunami rushed up inside of him and choked him, drowned him, a yawning chasm of truth that devoured up everything else, including his heart.

He’s not even sure Eddie’s into men. Shannon was Eddie’s only serious relationship, Buck knows that much, and Eddie and Shannon started dating senior year of high school. But even if Eddie was into men, Buck knows it’s not ever going to… well. Eddie needed time to process the complexity that was his relationship, and then his grief, with Shannon. And he’s got a son. And Buck wasn’t exactly in the best place either, only recently getting closure with Abby, only recently starting to come to terms with how little he likes himself, how scared he is of loving others more than they love him.

He’s a mess. And he’d rather have Eddie’s friendship—because Eddie’s friendship is amazing and warm and safe and fun and joyful—than have nothing at all because he overstepped and misunderstood and fucked up.

Sometimes, they’ll watch a movie together after Chris has gone to bed and Eddie’s head will fall onto Buck’s shoulder. Or Eddie will give him a knowing little smirk while they’re sipping beers and shooting the breeze. Or he’ll say things like you’re not a guest here and give Buck a key to his house.

And Buck will hope, for that one stupid second, before reality sets in again.

Now there’s this—this thing that Eddie’s doing and Buck doesn’t know what started it or where it’s going but he’s too damn scared of ruining it to ask.

The appreciation stuff, the good job, that was fine. Buck’s not sure where it came from but he can handle it, or at least he thought he could. If his stomach flips whenever Eddie smiles at him and tells him he had a clever idea on the call today, that’s just how his stomach always is when Eddie smiles at him.

And then Eddie says—no, growls—at him, sit down, and Buck finds his ass parked in a chair before he can register anything other than a flush of heat that zings down his spine like he stuck his finger in a light socket.

He avoids Eddie’s gaze, because he doesn’t want to know what his face looks like and he definitely doesn’t want to know what Eddie’s face looks like, and he prays it’ll be a one-time thing.

It isn’t.

On top of the praise, Eddie starts… keeping Buck in line, for lack of a better term. He tells Buck to take a shower, take a nap, take a walk, when Buck’s starting to get testy with Bobby, and Buck finds himself going and doing as he’s told.

It actually does help, even if he curses Eddie under his breath about it. He doesn’t want it to work, damn it, because if it works, that means Eddie’s going to keep doing it, and Buck’s going to keep feeling that building heat and he’s already in so deep but he’s avoided getting turned on at work so far and he’d kind of wanted to keep it that way.

And now—now Eddie’s ordering him. And Buck wants Eddie to… keep ordering him. He just doesn’t want Eddie to do it at work, he wants Eddie to do it at home. In a bedroom. Naked.

Y’know. Make it romantic.

(The fact that he thinks ‘home’ and pictures Eddie’s house also speaks volumes but it is also entirely beside the point.)

Buck doesn’t know what to do. He can’t ask Eddie to stop because then Eddie will want to know why, and Buck can’t explain that. Aside from the whole… in love… bit… it’s kind of a fucking death sentence to say apparently I get hard when you tell me to do things.

Who does that!?

He’s just got to—to get this under control, somehow. He’s managed to get his heart under control, somewhat, so he can get his dick to behave, too. He just has to keep reminding himself that Eddie’s motives, whatever they are, remain platonic. Eddie doesn’t want him like that. Eddie’s his best friend, and he’s doing something (however weird and insane) to help Buck, even if his thought process is currently one that Buck can’t parse. Buck’s not gonna make Eddie feel bad because Buck’s the one who can’t keep it PG.

It’s fine. Really. He’s got this. He can handle this. He’s not Buck 1.0 anymore, and it’s certainly not his first rodeo being unrequitedly in love.

He can totally get this under control.

 


 

Eddie does not have this under control.

The—fuck, does Buck know what he looks like when he responds to something Eddie says? When Eddie tells Buck to breathe, or puts his hand on Buck’s shoulder and thanks him for his hard work, Buck looks at him with these shining eyes and his cheeks flushed and his lips parted, and Eddie’s stomach flips and heat rushes through him and it’s taking every ounce of his self-control not to kiss Buck every single damn time.

But he can’t stop now. If he just stops—well first of all they’ll go back to Buck and Bobby arguing constantly and they can’t have that—but second of all, Buck will wonder what’s wrong. He’ll probably be upset, and confused, missing the support he once got and curious about why Eddie took it away.

He made his bed, and now he’s gotta lie in it, no matter how… blurred the lines are becoming.

It’s not Buck’s fault that when Eddie touches him, he finds his chest going hot and his breath vanishing. It’s not Buck’s fault that when he does as Eddie says, Eddie gets a thrill in his chest like nothing else. He knows he’s started something dangerous, a game where he didn’t even think to look at the rulebook and now he’s swinging blind and Buck doesn’t even know he’s in the field in the first place—and he’s got a sneaking suspicion it’s all going to explode on him, but he also can’t stop.

He finds himself, in some kind of response, echoing Buck’s reactions, making his own behavior shift. He talks to Buck more quietly, and touches Buck while he does it, a hand on Buck’s shoulder or the middle of Buck’s back, his voice pitched low. And the words he’s saying are entirely platonic, entirely PG, but they never feel that way, not when Buck bites his lip or looks up at Eddie through his lashes like that.

For all the years he’s known Buck, and it’s coming on three now, he’s never let himself… look. And that didn’t have anything to do with Buck, or with Buck being a man. Eddie’s never let himself look at anyone since Shannon told him she was pregnant. He didn’t really look at anyone before that, since he was dating Shannon, but if he acknowledged this guy or that girl was hot in the safety of his own head, well, nobody had to know.

But then he had a responsibility. A duty. And he’s fucked up in a lot of ways but he’s never going to be a cheater, not even mentally. Then after Shannon left, well, he had a kid to raise and they were still technically married. Then she died, and he had to clean up that mess in his head and in his heart.

Now, though, he’s looking. He’s watching. And he’s realizing in a way he never really let himself before that Buck is… he’s broad, and tall, and big (all over), and has a soft mouth and big soulful eyes and hair that curls after a shower…

Sometimes he finds his cock filling, just a little, twitching in his pants and stealing all the blood from his brain when he tells Buck, “I know Bobby’s got a stick up his ass today but just ignore it during dinner okay?” and Buck looks at him like he wants to ask or what, you’ll spank me?

It’s all in his head, of course. Buck’s not thinking that. But tell that to Eddie’s cock.

Yeah, he absolutely one hundred percent does not have this under control and it’s all going to bite him in the ass.

 


 

It comes to a head when they’re getting in from a call.

It was a good call, but an intense one. Not a single life lost but a hell of a blaze, and adrenaline is still coursing through Buck like his blood’s turned to lava. He took a risk, one that paid off, but Bobby wasn’t happy with him for it, and that’s just made everything tenser, all that pent-up energy and emotion still needing somewhere to go.

The truth is, Buck doesn’t want to fight about this. He knows it was a risk, and that sometimes he needs to do what his captain says and wait for Bobby’s call before doing something. But he’s getting a lot better at that, and he just wishes Bobby would appreciate it instead of looking for opportunities to bite Buck’s head off. Again.

He’s tired, but also wired, excited but also tense, and Eddie can obviously sense it, because as Buck steps down from the truck, one foot on the concrete floor of the station, he feels Eddie’s hand on his shoulder.

“Hey.” Eddie’s voice is low and warm, and it’s just to keep Bobby from hearing, Buck knows that, but it still sounds so… intimate. Intentional. “You did good back there. I don’t care what anyone else says.”

Eddie’s hand slides down Buck’s shoulder blade, his back, still pressing firmly, and Buck just barely restrains a shudder as he feels his breath stop and his cock throb.

He gets a death grip on the truck and breathes carefully through his nose. He can’t speak, his voice is strangled—he nods in thanks and then shrugs Eddie off, heading for the shower.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, his mouth was practically at Buck’s ear, his hand a warm steady weight, just like he’d touch Buck other places, other times—

Buck scrambles to get into a stall, get his clothes off, fire in his limbs. He can’t keep doing this, he can’t keep—having Eddie praise him and touch him like this, it’s too much—

He turns on the water at full blast, gets hit with a wall of wet heat, and his cock jerks. Would Eddie be that firm with him in bed? Use that hand to hold Buck in place, to slide around from his back to his front, take Buck’s cock in his hand, whisper praises and orders as he stroked Buck steady and sure?

Buck squeezes the base of his cock, already panting. He’s not sure he’s ever been this hard this fast in his life before, but to be fair, there’s been a good few weeks of what could easily be considered foreplay (and what his dick clearly considers foreplay) that’s built up to this.

He rests a hand on the wall and lets the spray of the water beat on his back, almost but not quite like actual human touch, and uses the sound of the shower as cover as he bites his lower lip and strokes himself. He’s not teasing, like he might normally if he was at home alone in his own shower. He’s quick and economical about it, far too keyed up and honestly, he can’t afford to take his time unless he wants Chim or, oh God, Bobby to walk in on him.

He’s so close, God he’s so fucking close already, fuck, fuck, fuck, Eddie’s voice and Eddie’s hand, his touch burning like a brand, he wants him so fucking badly, wants to be desperate and begging and praised and—

“Buck?”

Shit.

“Buck, hey, listen, I get Bobby was kind of hard on you but sulking in the shower’s not gonna help.” Eddie’s voice carries and echoes off the shower walls so Buck can’t tell how far in Eddie’s stepped just yet.

He should stop, he should switch the water to cold and pray his erection shrivels up in time, but Eddie’s voice

“Buck, come on.” Eddie’s voice gets firm. “Finish up, get out, and we’ll talk about it if you’re really upset. All right?”

A whimper escapes him, hearing Eddie like that. He tries to bite his tongue but it’s too late. The noise gets out.

“…are you okay?” Eddie sounds concerned. “Are you hurt?”

He steps inside, oh fuck, and Buck can’t—he can’t stop himself, he’s too far gone—he knows he should but Eddie’s right there

Eddie steps further in, right to where he can see Buck, only five feet away at most.

It’s too late to stop himself, too late to do anything other than stare at Eddie’s shocked face as he spills all over his fist and comes so hard his knees nearly give out.

 


 

Eddie’d thought that Buck was upset and going into the showers to work his anger and disappointment out in private, so nobody else could see and it wouldn’t become a ‘thing’.

Instead he watches as Buck, hand on his cock, stares wide-eyed at Eddie and comes hard enough the guy nearly faceplants into the tiled wall.

Eddie’s not too far behind himself, his cock straining at his pants. He got so turned on so quickly that now he’s lightheaded. Buck’s flushed everywhere, his pupils blown wide, lips swollen from being bitten to keep himself quiet, his cock twitching with the aftershocks of orgasm. Eddie wants to pin him to the wall and make out with him until Buck can get it up again and then spin him around and take him for a ride.

Jesus Christ.

“Eddie,” Buck croaks, like his voice has forgotten how to work. “I’m—I’m—”

“Sorry,” Eddie blurts out. Clearly Buck wanted to let off some steam a different way, and Eddie’s just stumbled in at the exact wrong moment. “I’m sorry, I’ll just—sorry.”

He spins on his heel and walks out like he’s drunk, slides into the bathroom, and does a very good job of talking his erection down. He’s got a kid at home, he’s used to getting rid of inopportune arousal. God forbid Christopher, or any child, understand that when a door is closed it means privacy. It might as well have a glowing neon sign on it that says BANG ON ME AND DEMAND ATTENTION.

Buck lets off steam by jerking off. Yeah. That makes sense, actually. For Buck. It’s not Buck’s fault that Eddie just—fuck, that was the hottest thing he’s ever seen, Buck losing control completely, unable to stop himself from coming, his hips jerking wildly, come staining his fingers, mouth open on a choked moan—

This is not getting yourself under control, Diaz, Eddie tells himself sternly. He can jerk off to this later, at home, in the privacy of his bedroom. Not now, not with all of his coworkers and the best friend about whom he’s having inappropriate daydreams all right outside this bathroom door.

Once he’s certain a single look at Buck won’t have his dick at half mast, Eddie emerges.

Buck’s upstairs, shoving pasta into his mouth. He doesn’t look at Eddie, but his cheeks flush.

Eddie respects the need for distance, and keeps some space between the two of them for the rest of the shift. Hen gives them both weird looks but says nothing, and nobody else seems to notice.

When he gets home that night, after Christopher’s snuggled up in bed, he bites into a pillow and touches himself slowly, teasingly, takes his time feathering his fingers up and down the shaft, and pictures what it would’ve been like to take care of Buck himself in the shower earlier. How it would’ve felt to mold himself against Buck’s back, to hook his chin over Buck’s shoulder.

For the first time, he lets himself completely give into the truth that’s been growing in his chest for weeks now. He wants Buck. He’s wildly, stupidly, uncontrollably attracted to Buck. He wants to know what Buck looks like writhing on Eddie’s fingers, how Buck will respond to Eddie praising and commanding him while he’s in Eddie’s bed.

Are his nipples sensitive? If Eddie played with them while he stroked Buck with his other hand in that shower, would Buck respond? Would Buck be loud while Eddie ground against his ass? Would he let Eddie bite him, suck a dark bruise onto his neck?

He finally stops teasing and strokes himself properly, pictures himself making Buck beg for him as he fucks his hand and comes into a tissue.

Fuck. Fuck.

He wants to fuck his best friend.

 


 

Eddie doesn’t say anything about what happened, so neither does Buck.

At first, he’s certain that now Eddie will stop. That Eddie will realize how far their little… thing… went, and he’ll end it now that Buck’s crossed a line.

Instead, Eddie just keeps doing whatever he was doing, and Buck figures they’re both going to pretend that nothing happened.

He still puts his hands on Buck, tells him he did a good job, asks him to take a walk to cool off, and Buck still listens. Still gets hard from it, too. But Buck never touches himself, at least not at work, and Eddie never mentions that day.

Not even when Buck’s doing reps and Eddie’s spotting him, and Buck starts to put the pole back on the rack, and Eddie says, mildly, “I think you can do ten more.”

And Buck does.

Not even when they’re heading out for a call and it’s going to be a tough one and Eddie puts his palm flat on Buck’s chest and presses him against the wall of lockers while everyone’s backs are turned and says, his voice firm but soft at the same time, “Don’t be a hero today, just do as the captain says, all right?”

And Buck does.

So what if he’s turned on and semi-hard all day and goes home to fuck himself after every shift? And he does mean that literally, sometimes. Depends on how much time he’s got before he inevitably winds up at Eddie’s to have dinner with him and Christopher and yes, he’s aware of how ridiculous and pathetic this is, thanks.

And so what if Eddie literally just touching him more and praising him or, on occasion, telling him what to do, is the sexiest thing that’s ever happened to him, including literal actual sex? It’s nobody’s business, and what Eddie doesn’t know can’t hurt him.

Eddie’s being a real pal about this whole thing, honestly. He never once mentions the awkward ‘so I made you get yourself off in the shower’ bit. Buck kind of wants to buy him one of those Edible Arrangements, except that would mean they’d have to acknowledge what happened, and Buck is happy with the whole faking ignorant bliss thing they’ve got going on.

They manage like that for roughly a month, and if Buck didn’t know any better—if it was anyone besides Eddie, if he didn’t know how Eddie works—he’d say it was the longest goddamn foreplay he’s ever been in.

His dick’s gonna chafe at this rate.

Once again, it all goes sideways after a long day of multiple calls. Buck’s brain tends to shut off at the end of a tiring shift. But he listened to Bobby all day, they didn’t get into a single argument, and he refrained from making fun of how paranoid Chim is about Maddie’s pregnancy (his sister stabbed a man to death she’s gonna handle this just fine), and Eddie’s been giving him fond warm smiles for the last couple hours, the kind of smiles that feel like nobody’s supposed to see besides Buck…

It’s late, but he’s still a bit wired, needs time to come down, so he offers to clean the truck while Hen and Chim go upstairs to the couches and just about everyone else goes to nap off the last hour of shift. It’s nice, actually. It calms him and gives him something to do, and being unable to see anyone else makes him feel like he’s the only person here, which is oddly soothing.

He’s stretching up on his toes to get one part, humming to himself, when Eddie says, “Hey, you did really well today.”

Buck jolts, drops the sponge. Keeps his back to Eddie. “Thanks.”

“I mean it.” Eddie’s hand lands on the small of Buck’s back and Buck nearly keels over. “You were amazing today, Buck.”

He’s imagining the lust lurking around the edges of Eddie’s tone, imagining that there’s more to this than there is—but when Eddie starts rubbing slow, small circles into Buck’s skin, his hand slowly moving up until it’s between Buck’s shoulder blades, Buck can’t contain a small whimper.

“…Buck?” Eddie’s hand freezes.

Buck freezes, too, scared to move, scared to breathe.

“You should get some sleep,” he says, when the silence has stretched on long enough to officially become awkward. “I’m just finishing up here—”

“Buck.” Eddie’s voice is firm. It’s the we’re talking about this shit whether you like it or not voice, and Buck—his cock throbs. “Turn around.”

He’s so stupid and so helpless.

He turns around.

For a second, Eddie doesn’t get it. He can see the confusion. But then Eddie’s gaze drops down, between Buck’s legs…

“Wait.” Eddie’s eyes are dark, his lips parted. He looks like his mind’s racing a mile a minute. “It’s this, isn’t it? It’s…”

You. It’s you.

“…being ordered around, it turns you on.”

Buck swallows. Has nothing to swallow, his throat completely dry. He nods.

“I thought it was just you… letting off steam, before you dealt with Bobby.” Eddie’s voice is a hushed, almost reverent whisper. “But it’s this. You like—rules, orders, praise.”

Buck nods again. He’d just like to die of embarrassment right here right now, thanks, if it’s not too much trouble, but in lieu of that he’ll take Eddie just leaving him to his humiliation…

Eddie’s throat bobs, and he reaches down between his legs, adjusting himself. Buck’s heart just about stops.

Either Eddie’s hiding a radio in his pants, or this news is making him very happy.

And by ‘very’ Buck means ‘holy shit he’s thick’, by which he also means, ‘oh God please ruin my ass’.

He thinks he might whimper. He’s not sure.

Eddie takes a small, tentative step closer and Buck spreads his legs, just a little, just on instinct. He’s never been with a guy before, but he’s got access to the internet and a healthy imagination, and right now his mind is racing with possibilities, with all the things he wants but can’t find a way to ask for.

Eddie reaches out, and his hand cups Buck’s face. His thumb rubs over Buck’s lips, and Buck gets such a bolt of lust he wonders if he’s about to black out.

“You…” Eddie trails off. His gaze is fixed on Buck’s mouth. “If I…”

“Yeah. Yes.” Whatever Eddie’s asking, the answer is yes.

Eddie leans in so slowly that in a way it feels like he’s not moving at all. Buck can’t breathe, his entire body held in suspension until Eddie’s pressed completely against him, bodies lining up almost exactly. Eddie’s eyes slide closed, like he’s savoring it, and all the breath comes back into Buck’s lungs in a heady instant.

Eddie ducks his head down, but he doesn’t kiss Buck like Buck expects—instead he drags his lips along the column of Buck’s neck and it takes just about everything in Buck’s body not to thrust up against him in response.

There’s a pause, like Eddie expected something different, and then Buck feels Eddie chuckle, from head to toe. “Go on,” Eddie says. “Move for me.”

The permission that Buck didn’t even know he was waiting for now granted, he starts moving all right.

Eddie’s hands wander all over as Buck grinds against him, and oh fuck, Eddie’s cock feels so goddamn good against him Buck just might pass out. He’s not sure where to put his hands, what’s allowed, until Eddie seizes Buck’s wrists and guides them to Eddie’s shoulders in a silent order to hold on.

And hold on he does, because it’s really starting to get deep and harsh in their movements and Buck is going to ride this into the sunset if it fucking kills him. It’s just grinding, second (or is it third?) base, not even a home run, and yet he feels like his blood’s been set on fire. It’s like all that they were doing this past month was foreplay and now that they’re at the main event neither of them can hold back and it’s like throwing a lit match into a barrel of dynamite.

Eddie’s hand gets a proper hold of Buck’s thigh and hikes it up, guiding Buck to wrap his leg around Eddie’s hip, and ohhhh yes, the angle’s perfect now. He ruts up in faster, more desperate movements, the two of them panting into each other’s mouths. He’s so close, he’s going to come in his goddamn pants like he’s seventeen again but he doesn’t care—

“Fuck, you want it so bad,” Eddie gasps, like he’s not pretty fucking desperate himself. He moves his head so that his lips brush against Buck’s ear with each word. “You close? Hmm?”

Buck can only nod.

“You want to come so badly,” Eddie observes. He nips at Buck’s earlobe with his teeth.

Buck nods again. Just one good squeeze around his cock and he’ll fall.

And then Eddie’s hips tilt away, taking all of that friction with him. Buck bites his lip so hard it bleeds, keeping in the noises that threaten to spill out.

“Do you deserve it, though?” Eddie asks.

Buck whines softly, lip still caught between his teeth.

“You were very good today,” Eddie muses. His hand moves around to cup Buck through his pants and Buck’s vision blurs. “But were you good enough?”

Please,” he whispers.

Eddie thumbs open the button on Buck’s pants and slides his hand inside, strokes him. Buck shakes, it’s so fucking good.

“You were more than good enough,” Eddie promises him, and that’s it—he strokes Buck twice and Buck’s coming, making his lip bleed even more as his throat works and he just manages to stifle his sounds.

Eddie bites the fabric of Buck’s shirt as he ruts up against Buck and comes a few moments later, and honestly, that’s almost more satisfying than his own orgasm.

But more satisfying than anything else is knowing he earned it. That Eddie said he was good enough, that he deserved it.

They stand there for a moment, panting, coming down from the high, and Buck wants to kiss him so badly he aches everywhere.

In the distance, Chim yells in frustration—probably losing a game to Hen—and it’s like the real world exists again.

Shit. Fuck. They did that in public. At work. Where just about anyone could see them if they just walked around the side of the truck.

Eddie jerks back. Stares like he’s been caught by his mom with his hand in the cookie jar—and bolts for the bathroom.

Buck’s head falls back against the truck with a clunk.

Great. That ended well.

 


 

His first thought is that this can’t happen again.

He’d like to say he doesn’t know what came over him, except that he very much does know. He wanted to fuck his best friend, and said best friend was staring at him with an erection and a flushed face and slick lips and Eddie’s apparently a whole lot fucking weaker than he expected where Buck’s concerned.

The thing is—if this was all just sex, then Eddie might be able to actually dismiss it. But he can’t. He’s never really done… ‘just sex’. He pretended that was it when he was in high school, trading kisses and handjobs with the boy he never dared call anything other than a friend, but in another world, a softer world, he could have admitted it was more. Shannon he loved, or thought he did, and then she got pregnant and he never got the chance to really figure it out, their marriage tied up in Christopher and complicated family drama and his deployment.

This isn’t just sex.

This is about the fact that he looks over and sees Buck playing Legos with Christopher and he feels his chest get tight, and he thinks there’s nobody else he’d trust with his son like this. It’s about the fact that he hates it when Buck has to go home at night to sleep, that he wants to wake up and see Buck first thing in the morning. It’s about the fact that this all started with Eddie wanting Buck to feel valued and appreciated and that is still, at the core of it, his goal and his touchstone.

And that’s why this can’t happen again, more than any concerns about work fraternization policies or the very real concern about getting caught having public sex. It’s that Eddie’s heart went and fell in love with Buck before Eddie gave it permission or had any awareness and he can’t do this without Buck feeling the same.

Of course, this is Eddie’s first thought.

His second thought is, maybe it’s time he did some goddamn research.

He’s wondered for a while, exactly, why it is that he likes praising Buck and why he likes to be in control with him, especially as it’s gotten further and further down the slippery slope of appropriate behavior. It takes a few ill-advised google searches—thank Christ for incognito mode—until he starts to get some articles that are actually helpful.

As he’s reading, a few things Buck’s let slip about his sex life start to take on more meaning. Buck might have been a kiss and tell kind of guy at one point but by the time he met Eddie he certainly wasn’t, so Eddie doesn’t know much. He knows a lot more about Abby than he did, because after the train crash Buck poured it all out to him over a couple of beers and a carton of Moose Tracks ice cream (Eddie is sworn to secrecy on that last fact). But it’s more about what Abby was to Buck, how she was his first serious relationship, how he didn’t realize what she needed from him was different from what he needed from her, how he didn’t realize he was holding on too long and she didn’t know how to end things.

Sex, though? Eddie only knows a few snippets. But those snippets are coalescing into a whole new picture that explains so much, Eddie feels like an idiot for not figuring it out before.

Like the time Buck winced a little when he sat down on the couch and said he and Ali got a new toy. Or the time he mentioned that Abby had liked being on top. Or how Chimney had said something about Taylor Kelly being a little too cutthroat and Buck admitting he had been attracted to it, not realizing ‘cutthroat’ was not a good substitute for ‘in charge’.

That last one, Eddie overheard, and given that Buck’s never mentioned Taylor Kelly to him—probably because Buck knows Eddie hates her guts—he’s pretty sure he wasn’t meant to overhear that, so he’s kept it to himself.

Still, he’s got a pretty damn good picture now, and Eddie’s only smacking himself that he didn’t figure this out ages ago. Like, oh, around the time Buck started blushing and fluttering his eyelashes every time Eddie touched him and praised him. Or the time Eddie told him to sit down and Buck just did it like it was an instinctive reaction.

He stays up way too late reading up on as much as he can, and he can congratulate himself, at least, on the fact that he hasn’t fucked it up too badly.

But he could have fucked up. He could have fucked up really, really badly.

And the kicker is he thinks Buck would have let him.

 


 

“We need to talk.”

Buck knew those four little words were coming. He’s known it all along. He didn’t exactly expect Eddie to say them at ten o’clock at night while standing on Buck’s doorstep, but hey, at least now the alcohol, ice cream, and his bed are all within easy reaching distance for when Eddie’s finished carefully, unknowingly, breaking Buck’s heart.

So he braces himself, opens his door further, and puts a smile on his face. “Yeah, sure, of course.”

Eddie nods. He looks—not stern, the way Buck would’ve thought. Worried. Yeah, the guy looks worried.

He leads Eddie inside, only for Eddie to take the lead from him and slide around to the front, heading for the couch. Buck follows, sits when Eddie does, and waits. Eddie looks… nervous, now. He won’t look Buck in the eye.

“I’m sorry,” is the first thing Eddie says, and it’s the last thing Buck expected.

“You’re… what?”

“Look, um.” Eddie rubs at the back of his neck. “The shit that we were doing. I had no idea it was… I did a lot of googling? And I… we were. I was domming you, basically.”

Buck stares at him. That’s not what… that’s not what he would’ve called it, until the sex kicked in, but come to think of it…

He’s never put a label on the things he would sometimes do with hookups. The fact that Ali liked to peg him and he liked her doing it, or how a couple times he’s been tied up. He likes it, and that was all that mattered to him.

But he does know the basic terminology. Knows submissive versus dominant. But usually those things are talked about beforehand, right? You set boundaries and shit. They weren’t doing much of anything, at first, it was just Eddie being appreciative, and then stopping Buck when Buck got out of line, that’s not anything…

He remembers all the things he’s imagined Eddie doing to him while he jacks off, and how Eddie pinned him against the fire truck and ordered him to be quiet. How Buck listened to him, and how he got off on it, both of them got off on it, how Eddie was in command the entire time and Buck submitted without a second thought and wanted it…

“Oh.”

Eddie nods as if to say yeah, ‘oh’. “I’m sorry. I had no idea, and I could’ve really…”

“But you know now,” Buck points out.

“Doesn’t change that I didn’t know then! I could have—fuck, we could’ve done something really stupid. I could have done something really stupid.”

“But you didn’t.” Buck’s not seeing the problem here. In fact it sounds like a problem was solved. “Now you know.”

“Buck!” Eddie hisses. He reaches forward, like he’s going to take Buck’s hands in his, and then darts his hands back like he’s thought better of it. Ouch, okay, way to stab a guy in the heart. “This is serious. That could have gone… I could have hurt you. Or put you in a bad headspace. And I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted.” If it’s forgiveness that Eddie wants, Buck is more than happy to give it. “And now you understand.”

“Well. Yes.” Eddie looks a little dubious, like he expected or maybe hoped for Buck to be harsher with him. “Okay.”

Buck fiddles with the hem of his shorts. “So… was that it? That’s all you wanted to talk about?”

Eddie shrugs, his lips pursing a little. Fuck he’s handsome. And he didn’t say anything about… not wanting it, not liking it…

Buck looks down, looks back up through his lashes. “So what’s the deal now? We do it on purpose this time?”

Eddie looks like he’s choking a little. “I—would you—want, that?”

Holy fuck yes please I want it. And can I marry you while I’m at it? “Yeah. If you… want it. Then I’d… um. Yeah. Please?”

Eddie cocks his head at him, like he’s seeing something in Buck he’s never seen before. “You want that. From me.”

“Why wouldn’t I want it from you? You’re my best friend, man, if I couldn’t trust you with this kind of thing who could I trust?”

Eddie mumbles something that Buck can’t catch. Then he says, louder, “I know you need it…”

“Well if it’s such a chore…” Buck huffs and teases to cover up the real hurt that bubbles up inside of him. He’s not even good enough for sex, now?

Eddie gives him a look, the kind that shoots right through Buck and exposes him like nothing else.

Something stutters in Buck’s chest. “Um. It’s not that I need… I mean… sort of?” He runs a hand through his hair. His face is probably bright red. It’s hot enough to be. “I like… knowing that I’m doing a good job, whether that’s at work or as a friend or as a… boyfriend. I guess you could say it’s part of my love language? And you’ve always been good about that. I know you have. I know—you’re not really a talker. So I appreciate how you make that effort for me. But it’s not like I’m going to wither away and die if I don’t get told I’m a good boy.”

Eddie snorts. “Buck, I don’t think you know how you were acting before I stepped in. It was getting unbearable between you and Bobby, for one thing.”

“So, what, I’m a charity case?”

“No, that’s not—” Eddie blows out a breath through his nose. “You’re my best friend. I want you to feel… like you’re being taken care of, and if there’s something missing, something that helps you feel fulfilled, then I want to help.”

“But I don’t want you to do something just because of me. It… felt? Like you were getting something out of it? But if you’re not—I’m fine, Eddie, I promise.”

Eddie clears his throat and looks away, a flush creeping up his neck and staining his ears. “No, I… I liked it.” He sighs. “I like being in control. So much of… everything… people were trying to take control away. Or life was. Shannon got pregnant. My copter got shot down. My parents…”

Eddie closes his eyes as if turning away from something, and shakes his head. “I like being in control. I like when you… do as I tell you to. And I like that I’m taking care of you and helping you feel good. I don’t think I realize how much I needed that until I was in over my head with… this.”

Buck inhales carefully. Okay. So Eddie needs this, needs to feel in control of something, someone. And Buck can admit, he’s addicted to Eddie’s praise and discipline, wants more of it, wants to see just how far they can take this.

“Okay,” he says. “I’m game. I want this. I say we should do it.”

“Not at work,” Eddie says, looking like he can’t even believe he’s actually agreeing to this right now, that this is real life.

Buck nods in agreement. “And… you know… if you wanted to do… more…” He shrugs. “I’d be up for it.”

“Right, because it’d be such a chore for you.” Eddie’s tone is sarcastic but his gaze is hot and appraising and Buck’s throat goes dry.

“We don’t have to do anything you don’t want, though.”

Eddie’s flush crawls all the way up his face. “No. No, I want to do a lot. To you.”

His voice is dark and rough, a few notches lower than usual, and Buck’s entire body goes hot in response. “So when should we…” He trails off.

Eddie cocks his head, like he’s thinking. “How about… we get through the week. At the end of it, depending on your behavior… I’ll think of what I’d like to do to you.”

Buck swallows. He’s so turned on right now he can barely think and if it wasn’t for the fact that they both probably need space to really think about this and make sure it’s what they want, he’d tackle Eddie right this second.

Not that Buck needs to do much thinking about this. He knows what he wants. Is this going to curb stomp his heart and then stab it a dozen times over before finally crushing it into a million pieces? Yes. But will it also be worth it and is he incapable of saying no because he’s majorly in love and also wildly turned on just from Eddie looking at him a certain way?

Yes.

Eddie’s voice gets firm. “Buck, I need to know your thoughts.”

You sure I can’t blow you tonight?

“Please,” Buck blurts out. “Uh, I mean, yes. I like that idea. Let’s do that.”

Eddie’s smirk is everything. “Okay then.”

Buck feels almost like they should seal the deal, but a handshake would be just ridiculous, so he does the one other thing he can think of—he leans in and presses his lips to the corner of Eddie’s mouth, soft, careful not to press too much.

He can feel Eddie’s inhale, the soft tremble of Eddie’s jaw.

Eddie turns his face after a moment’s pause and presses their mouths fully together, no less soft but surer, steadier. His hand comes up to cup the side of Buck’s face.

If Buck could die now, have this moment be his last, that would be great, thanks. Then he can die pretending that Eddie loves him too and this is their first kiss as proper partners, the first moment of something more and intertwined, he can pretend that such kisses will be commonplace and received and returned by Eddie in the same manner that Buck gives them.

The kiss lingers. Eddie’s lips move against his, a tongue both daring and polite teasing against the seam of Buck’s lips, asking permission. Buck parts his mouth at once, lets Eddie in, and somehow gets the sweetest kiss he’s ever received with the other person’s tongue in his mouth.

Eddie kisses with the same careful, relentless, thorough attitude that he uses with everything. Buck has to hold onto Eddie’s shoulder for balance as he sucks on Eddie’s tongue and lets himself be taken on a ride.

He keeps his eyes closed when he has to pull back, out of breath but unwilling to let the moment end the way he knows it will the second his eyes open.

A thumb drags across his bottom lip and Buck exhales shakily. He wants to spend hours kissing Eddie like that.

The thumb presses a little harder, fingers lift his chin up, and Buck instinctively opens his eyes. Eddie’s looking at him like he wants to devour him.

“End of the week,” Eddie says.

“Yes,” Buck replies, face held in Eddie’s fingers, and wonders if this is what signing a contract with the Devil feels like.

 


 

Eddie knows that they need to be careful about this. It’s important to keep this all compartmentalized or they’re going to ruin their friendship, and Eddie’s not about to destroy the best relationship he’s ever had (barring Christopher) because he allowed the lines to get too blurred and showcased too much of his heart.

Especially when his heart’s so damn messy he doesn’t even know how to read it, never mind show it to someone else.

But God, it’s hard to wait until their last work shift, until they have the same two days off. Kissing Buck felt like kissing sunshine, he’s soft and pliant but participatory, eager without being overwhelming—he’s delicious and Eddie wants to savor him. He wants to get Buck so wrung out and blissful that all he can do is lie there and lazily kiss Eddie back.

Keeping his hands off Buck at work is harder than he expected, too. It’s instinct by now, or so it feels like, to put a hand on Buck’s shoulder or back or even his waist, to lean in close and to praise him.

It’s only in trying to keep himself to himself that Eddie realizes how close they already usually are, how they walk and stand together to the point where they bump into and trip over each other. He doesn’t want to give that up, but…

They’re doing this. That means they have to be careful. If he misses the casual touches, that’s the price he’s paying for getting the rest of it. And God, does he want the rest of it. Sometimes he thinks he’s going to look down at his fingers and find them trembling. He’s not sure if it’s adrenaline or something else or more, but he can’t help but wonder if this is how people feel the first time they take cocaine or heroin, standing on the edge of the cliff knowing you’re about to fall off into something and you can’t wait but you’re also the teeniest bit afraid.

At least he’s not afraid of losing his actual damn mind and only afraid of, well, fucking up the way so many people have told him he has. He’s not sure how much he fucked up with Shannon, still navigating with Frank how much of that was Eddie’s real missteps and how much he’s unfairly placed on himself. He knows he didn’t fuck up as much as his parents think he does. A lot of times he fears he’s fucked up with Chris.

He won’t, he can’t, fuck this up with Buck.

Their days off aren’t the usual Saturday and Sunday—welcome to the life of a first responder—which means that Christopher is conveniently at school and they’ll have time for sex and aftercare (Eddie has been on a complete research binge) and hanging out for a bit afterwards before Chris gets home and ‘fuckbuddy time’ turns into ‘family time’.

He feels like he can’t breathe all morning. Anticipation is making every inhale feel like fire. He wants, he wants, he wants

Buck’s keys jingle in the lock and then the front door opens. He’s dressed in the same kind of clothes he wears to the gym, a pair of soft shorts and a gray tank top, obviously keeping in mind the fact that he should wear items easy to take off.

All of a sudden, Eddie can breathe again.

The adrenaline’s still there but it’s manageable, replaced by beautiful relief. Buck’s here. Buck’s blushing and has a smile teasing at the corners of his mouth and he’s biting his lip, nervous, and those nerves weirdly enough calm Eddie down in response. Buck’s nervous. That’s fine. Eddie will take care of him.

“C’mere,” he says, softly, and Buck comes immediately, stands in front of him.

Somehow, almost without thought, Eddie knows how to calm him. He places his hand on Buck’s chest, like he’s done a million times before, and slowly drags it up to Buck’s shoulder, then to the back of Buck’s neck. Tilts his head until Buck’s making eye contact.

A breath shudders out of Buck and Eddie can feel Buck’s muscles relax.

“There you are,” he whispers. His thumb swipes back and forth along the soft skin behind Buck’s ear and Buck shivers, eyes falling closed.

Fuck, Eddie wants to keep him.

He takes deep breaths and feels Buck mimic him, keeps it up until Buck’s breathing deep and free, all on his own.

Then he squeezes the back of Buck’s neck.

“You ready?” he asks, dipping his voice down low and firming it up, just a bit.

Buck’s eyes open. His pupils are blown black. “Yes, please.”

That’s the moment Eddie realizes, oh.

This will be fun.

 


 

Buck watches as Eddie’s breath catches in his throat, his own breath on fire as he focuses on breathing in and out.

They’re doing this. They’re really doing this.

Eddie’s hand drops from Buck’s neck to take Buck’s hand instead, wrapping it up in a soft, leading grip as he heads to the bedroom, Buck in tow.

Buck’s been in Eddie’s bedroom before, for brief moments when he needed to grab something for Eddie, and he’s always been struck with how bare it is, devoid of nearly any personal touches except for a picture or two of Christopher. It’s always made something in Buck go tight.

Now, though, he’s got no time to think about décor, because Eddie drops his hand, looks Buck up and down in a way that makes Buck want to roll over and beg, and says, “Strip.”

Eddie doesn’t strip, doesn’t do anything except watch as Buck takes his clothes off. Buck knows what the rules are, in a way. He knows the safewords, the limits, the things Eddie won’t do. But he also doesn’t know what Eddie will do. There are dozens of possibilities in the things they talked about.

The lack of knowing just makes his skin buzz, ratchets his anticipation up a notch. But underneath that… there’s a feeling of softness, like leaping off a cliff but knowing you’re going to land on a soft mattress. He doesn’t know, but that’s okay. Eddie’s here. Eddie will make sure he feels good.

And he’s going to be good, to do as Eddie says, make Eddie feel good, and that’s almost more important than his own pleasure. That’s what makes it pleasurable for him.

He finishes stripping and sets his clothes aside, stands in front of Eddie. Eddie’s staring at him, mouth slightly open, eyes black, and Buck… well. He can’t help but preen a little. This is the first time Eddie’s seeing him like this, really seeing him, not just quick glances while changing at work, and Buck has never had a problem with letting people look. Eddie’s… Eddie, he’s gorgeous, Buck’s known it and pined over it from the first second he saw him, and the idea that someone like Eddie stares at Buck like this…

It’s a real boost for the ego, honestly.

Eddie steps in, brings them close enough to touch, and Christ, Buck can smell him. His mouth waters. It’s a good thing he’s not the one making decisions right now because he wants everything and has no idea how to choose.

The power dynamic—Eddie fully clothed, perfectly composed except for the tent in his pants, Buck naked and open—has him flushing a brighter red, has his throat going dry. He knew he liked this kind of thing but he really, really had no idea how much.

“Here’s what we’ll do.” Eddie’s hand slides into his hair, thumb curling behind the shell of his ear, and Buck knows what Eddie wants the second it happens, lowers himself down to his knees. “You’re going to blow me. And if you can make me come before this timer runs out…”

Eddie holds up his phone, showing that he’s pulled up the timer. “…then you can use whatever time you have left to fuck my thigh and try to come. But when the timer runs out, that’s it. Tough luck.”

It should probably be a little pathetic how Buck’s cock jerks with arousal at that statement. “What if I can’t get you to come before the timer runs out?”

Eddie shrugs, petting Buck’s hair. “Then you’ll just have to keep going and when you’re finished…” Eddie’s hold on his hair tightens and Buck’s mouth goes dry. “I’ll think of a suitable punishment.”

Buck’s genuinely not sure which option appeals to him more.

Eddie nods at him, gaze on Buck’s hands, and Buck reaches up to undo Eddie’s jeans and pull his cock out. Eddie’s half hard, which pleases something soft and primal in Buck’s chest—the knowledge that Eddie’s getting something out of this, too, that Eddie needs this like Buck needs it.

He hears the soft beep as Eddie starts the timer, but Buck’s already nosing at Eddie’s cock, starting to get lost in the feel of this. His brain is getting that happy tunnel-vision feeling that it gets when he’s done things like this before with someone, although never this formal, never calling out exactly what it was, and certainly not to this degree. Nothing else exists, not the timer, not anything, just Eddie, just Eddie’s cock and the instructions Buck’s been given.

And he’s really, really been eager to finally get his hands, his mouth, his anything, on Eddie’s cock.

Part of him can’t quite believe this is still real, that this is actually happening, but the rest of him is overwhelmed in a whole different way, by the smell and taste and feel of Eddie, by the sound of Eddie’s deep, controlled breathing as Buck mouths at his cock.

Full disclosure: he’s never done this before. But Eddie knows that—they’ve got several damning text conversations discussing experience, comfort levels, and so on because Eddie is a paranoid control freak and Buck’s so fucking fond of him for it—and Eddie keeps still except for the hand stroking through Buck’s hair as Buck takes his time.

Buck knows what feels good to him, and tries to remember it as he takes the tip of Eddie’s cock into his mouth and sucks on it, runs the tip of his tongue along the head and the underside, half exploring, half testing out techniques. Eddie swears quietly and presses the heel of his hand to Buck’s cheek so he can feel the head of his cock pushing against the inside of Buck’s cheek.

“That’s good,” he whispers, thumb rubbing Buck’s cheekbone. “Get used to it, take your time. Work it in there. Good, very good.”

Buck flushes all over, cock hanging hard and heavy between his legs, his fingers trembling. He can’t quite feel the tips of them, or his toes, like he’s not fully corporeal except for where he’s working Eddie’s cock deeper and deeper into his mouth.

Not that he’s gonna get it all the way down his throat. But he’s determined to do all that he can. And ‘all that he can’ seems to be working as Eddie flushes and his petting gets a little rougher, his words slurring slightly.

Now that he’s got the hang of it, he’s aware that he’s racing against a clock, and he starts moving in earnest, tongue curling and licking, swallowing around what he can to get that contraction. Eddie swears at that so Buck does it again, again, squeezes Eddie’s thighs partly to brace himself and partly because he’s so turned on from this that he doesn’t know what else to do with himself. He’s doing good, he’s good, and he’s making Eddie feel good, it’s a feedback loop and nothing else exists except for the floating-yet-focused feeling he’s drowning in.

Eddie’s cock jerks, bitter precome leaking onto Buck’s tongue, and he moans around it. He closed his eyes at some point, he’s not sure when, and he forces himself to open them again, to look up at Eddie through his lashes. Eddie’s face is flushed, his eyes bright and dark at the same time.

He’s close, Buck can feel it, and he moves faster until Eddie moves his hand to the back of Buck’s head and holds him still as his cock jerks again, hits the roof of Buck’s mouth, and floods him.

Eddie’s grip in his hair is tight enough Buck knows he’s going to feel it later, and he shoves his cock a little deeper into Buck’s mouth. “Swallow it,” he commands.

A hot shiver works all the way down Buck’s spine and he does as he’s told, doing his best even as some leaks out of the corners of his mouth and his eyes water, letting Eddie finish before licking Eddie’s cock clean afterwards.

Eddie shudders with overstimulation but holds still as Buck finishes. “Good, very good. I didn’t even have to ask.”

His touch gentles and he pets Buck’s hair. Buck whines, past words, his cock throbbing.

“You need it so badly,” Eddie murmurs, as if to himself. “And you were good, you still have time left.”

He slides his thigh down, straightens it out, as he pulls Buck up until Buck’s straddling it. Buck smears his cock against the denim of Eddie’s jeans, stains it, but Eddie doesn’t comment, just gets his hands on Buck’s ass and guides Buck to squirm until he’s at just the right angle to thrust.

Oh God. The denim’s a little rough but it feels so good, pressure and touch after having nothing. His head falls forward and he moans, grinding against Eddie’s thigh. It won’t take much, he’s sure of it, please, please let there be enough time left. He can’t not come, not when he’s so close, and he sobs at the thought that he might not get it after so long.

“That’s it,” Eddie encourages, squeezing Buck’s ass. “Go on.”

Buck pants noisily, unable to be coordinated as he chases that high. Oh, fuck, fuck, he’s getting Eddie’s jeans so fucking wet, he can feel the wet patch as he drags his cock against it, the head of his cock occasionally catching on the seam where Eddie’s jeans and shirt overlap.

He claws weakly at Eddie’s shoulders, cheek smearing sweat against Eddie’s, his body on fire.

“Not much time left,” Eddie comments, his tone blithe.

Buck squirms, thrusts hard—if he doesn’t get to come when he’s riding that knife’s edge, if the timer runs out, he’s going to— “God, Eddie, please, fuck, I gotta, I need to—”

Eddie kisses his neck. “I believe in you, go on, you can do it.”

Buck whines, high and reedy, thrusting sloppy and desperate, Eddie’s hands the only thing grounding him to the world. He’s so, he’s so, he’s so

His orgasm feels like spilling beer all over the floor, like getting hit in the face when you turn on the shower, like tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. It’s messy and sudden and uncoordinated, and he grinds against Eddie’s thigh the whole time, chasing it, reveling in it, but the orgasm itself doesn’t quite compare to the rush in his head knowing he did good.

The timer goes off, at some point. Buck hears it, dimly. Eddie turns it off and then strokes Buck’s back.

“You did so well,” he praises. “Fuck, you were so hot. You were so good.”

Buck buries his face into Eddie’s shoulder and shamelessly continues to let Eddie hold him. The praise and the touch sinks into his skin, coats him like liquid gold.

Yeah. He’s not ever going to be able to stop this. He’s not ever going to want to quit.

In the glow of orgasm, with Eddie praising him and holding him, the thought doesn’t feel as scary as usual.

 


 

He finally fucks Buck two months into it.

They’ve been very careful, scheduling things only for their days off, and sometimes not even then if something comes up. Eddie wishes he could just text Buck hey come over or could spontaneously drop by Buck’s place, perhaps even persuade Buck to stay the night a few times, but that’s not how this works. If he lets the lines blur even a little, they’ll be overboard.

But he’s only got so much patience, and so finally, finally, he gets Christopher to a sleepover and asks if Buck can come over after his post-shift nap.

There’s an added layer to this, too. He might have told Buck not to touch himself all week.

Buck’s body is loose, easy as he enters the house, the relaxed posture immediately telling Eddie that Buck did as he was told. Buck wears shame like a neon sign and broadcasts his emotions in technicolor. He’s proud of himself for doing as he was told, for following Eddie’s orders, and that warms Eddie up inside like nothing else.

Eddie slides his hands up Buck’s arms, down his chest, revels in the pleased hum Buck gives as Eddie pushes his fingers underneath the hem of Buck’s shirt. Buck cranes his neck in a blatant plea for kisses.

Eddie really should discourage such behavior, otherwise Buck might get some out of place ideas about who’s running this show. But he really is rather addicted to kissing Buck and he believes in rewarding good behavior.

He skims his hands around to Buck’s back and rubs in slow, soothing circles as he kisses him, slow and sweet to start out with but then teasing with his tongue, darting it in and out as Buck parts his lips and whines into Eddie’s mouth.

They didn’t do this at first. The kissing. Not until after, when Buck was skin-hungry and pliant and oh so sweet—clinging to Eddie and completely putty in his hands.

Honestly, that might be Eddie’s favorite part. When Buck’s fuzzy and completely in the present moment, not analyzing or bursting with information or bouncing around. Not that Eddie doesn’t love him like that, because he does. But Buck afterwards is so peaceful, and that makes Eddie peaceful, too. Knowing that Buck feels safe, and all his worries and ping-pong thoughts are silent for a little while. He does that to Buck. No one else.

Not that Eddie’s not getting something out of it. Because he is, and it’s not just sex, either. Right now he can already feel it, building in the base of his spine, that clear-headed razor-sharp focus that makes him feel like finally he can silence everything else in his head and there’s just one task, one moment, one thing that’s real. It gives him a sense of clarity and purpose and he clings to the memory of it on the days when everything’s going to shit and he feels like he’s failing and like there’s a black pit of tar in his chest that’s going to swallow him whole.

Buck makes a tiny noise of discontent and Eddie realizes he’s slipping away in his thoughts. He pulls himself back to the present moment and kisses Buck harder, slides his tongue into Buck’s mouth good and proper, and feels Buck already hard against his hip.

He likes that they kiss before, now. Almost like a ‘hello, I missed you’ sort of thing. He loves—it.

“Mm, already desperate,” he notes when they split apart for air, Buck practically humping Eddie’s hip.

“You said—”

“I know what I said.” Eddie scrapes his teeth over Buck’s jaw and thumbs open the snap on Buck’s jeans. “And you were good for me, weren’t you? You didn’t touch yourself all week. Now I’ve got you.”

Buck whines but stops moving, holds still as Eddie slowly pushes his shirt up and off him. “That’s it,” he praises.

He never tells Buck ahead of time what they’re doing. Buck seems to like the surprise of not knowing, it seems to make it more intense for him, and Eddie loves the surprised, genuine reactions he gets out of Buck when he does something like blindfolds him or makes him watch in the mirror as Eddie stroke him from behind.

“Strip me,” he orders, because Buck knows by now that he can’t touch unless Eddie tells him, and Buck immediately starts helping Eddie out of his clothes. Eddie’s a little unfair, guiding him down the hallway at the same time, but Buck’s a multitasker.

By the time they get to the bedroom, they’re both naked, and he can feel Buck trembling, already keyed up. Eddie lets them fall so that Buck’s on top, relishes the broad weight of Buck on top of him, and reacquaints himself with the feel of Buck’s muscles under his hands. Once a week is rapidly starting to feel like not enough, and he has to be careful not to get greedy. They have rules for a reason.

He’s careful not to grind too much, no matter how tempting it is. That would just be cruel, to tease Buck when he’s already so keyed up.

Eddie rolls them, takes Buck’s wrists in his hands, and drags them up. “Hold onto the headboard. The moment you let go, if it’s before I say you can, we’re finished and this ends. Okay?”

Buck does as he’s told, his fingers tightening around the slats until his knuckles are white, and Eddie kisses his neck to soothe him. “Spread your legs.”

He gets out the lube and condoms, and that’s when Buck gets a clue. “Holy shit.” He grins up at Eddie and wiggles his hips. “Funny, I don’t remember it being my birthday…”

“You’re such a little shit.” Eddie slicks up his fingers with a grin. “Keep those legs spread.”

Buck hums and arches into it as Eddie circles him with one finger, tests him out, goes slow. He’s done this to himself from time to time so he knows how it goes, but it’s still different to do it to someone else for the first time. And he wants to do this right.

He keeps one hand braced on Buck’s thigh to help balance himself and keep Buck spread open as he slowly works one finger in, kissing along the jut of Buck’s hip, the wide planes of his stomach. Buck’s already leaking and Eddie laps it up with the tip of his tongue, follows the trail of it down the underside of Buck’s shaft, and Buck groans, long and loud.

“You’re close already, aren’t you?” It’s more hushed and reverent than Eddie intended it to be, lets more emotion leak out than he meant to, but he can’t help it. Buck’s beautiful like this.

“What—what do you think?” Buck huffs out, his voice cracking a bit.

Eddie adds a second finger and curls them, shifting his angle around until—

“Oh Jesus mother cocking fuck!” Buck blurts out.

“It’s like you’ve never touched your prostate before,” Eddie says dryly.

“Fuck you.”

“Be good and that’s exactly what will happen.”

Buck has that look on his face that says he’s gearing up for a sassy comeback, so Eddie crooks his fingers again and strokes the swollen gland. Buck moans, foot kicking a little, instinctively, and Eddie laughs as he dodges, twisting his fingers and biting at Buck’s thigh.

He hears the bed creak a little and sees Buck’s fingers tighten again around the slats. Eddie licks at the bite mark he just made, soothing it. They agreed, no marks where anyone could see, but this is high enough up that Buck’s underwear will cover it.

Somehow, that makes it feel more intimate, a mark just for Buck alone.

He brings Buck to the edge and back again with two fingers, working his prostate until Buck’s cries start to reach a fever pitch and then bringing him back down. This might be the first time he’s done this to Buck but it’s not the first time he’s heard the guy close to orgasm, so he’s got that knowledge to go off of, at least.

As he works Buck up to the peak again, he kisses him everywhere he can reach, feeling a strange envy that he can’t kiss him on the mouth right now as he does this, not from this angle, not when it’s his first time and he wants to see what he’s doing.

Buck’s close, he can feel it, can hear it, see it, and he’s approaching that clarity, that moment where the only thing that matters is doing what Buck needs and everything else, every worry and care and frustration, stops existing.

He could touch Buck’s cock but… he wants to see. He wants Buck to orgasm just like this.

“Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” Buck’s chanting like he’s about to die. “Please.”

He’s not sure if Buck’s begging to come, or begging for Eddie to stop and get his cock inside, and Eddie doesn’t care either way. He’s got a plan and Buck’s good, he’s so good for him, and he trusts Eddie, and Eddie will take care of him.

He keeps stroking his fingers into Buck, and Buck gives a sob that sounds like it’s ripped from him and comes, staining his own stomach and Eddie’s forearm.

Eddie doesn’t stop the movement of his fingers, but he does stop stroking Buck’s prostate, giving him a bit of a break. Buck’s loose after orgasm, making content noises and pushing back into Eddie’s fingers.

He knows that Eddie’s far from done with him. Eddie’s tactically promised him something and Eddie always delivers on his promises to Buck.

Now that Buck’s looser he can add a third finger, really make sure that Buck’s prepped. He’s not necessarily making judgments about his own size, more that he’s just paranoid about hurting Buck. He scissors his fingers carefully, adds a bit more lube, kisses the mark he made, bluish-purple against Buck’s skin.

“Eddie…” Buck’s voice is slurred a little around the edges. “Come on.”

He slurs when he gets really into it. Eddie’s careful, he doesn’t want Buck to go nonverbal on him. He needs Buck to be able to tell him what he wants. But he does like it when Buck’s riding so high, feeling so relaxed and pleasured, that he can’t even form words all the way.

Eddie slips his fingers out and puts the condom on. “Only because you’ve been good.”

Buck gives him a look that screams yeah right, like that’s the only reason.

Eddie’s too fucking gone himself to really argue or tease any further. He should probably tell Buck to turn around, but he wants to see Buck’s face this first time. He doesn’t want to miss any expression, any scrap of ecstasy, or any warning sign of pain.

He pushes Buck’s leg back (Buck started yoga as a part of his PT and he’s kept it up ever since and dear God the noise Eddie’d made when he’d found that out…) and carefully guides his cock inside. Fuck, it’s tight, and he almost pulls out, scared that he was wrong this whole time and Buck still isn’t ready, only for Buck to let out a whine of protest and squeeze around him when he tries.

“Holy shit.” Buck’s staring at Eddie like Eddie’s gone and gotten himself a halo when Buck wasn’t looking. “That’s really—keep going, don’t you dare stop, please.”

“Who’s the one giving orders around here?” Eddie reminds him mildly, but he finishes sliding in anyway, inch by careful inch, until he bottoms out and Buck’s gasping like a fish out of water.

Forget Buck seeing halos, Eddie’s pretty sure he found God. He was already keyed up fingering Buck, watching Buck orgasm and go sloppy and addled with pleasure, but now that he’s surrounded by nothing but tight, unrelenting heat…

He counts backwards from twenty. Gets himself under control again. Maybe after they’ve done this a few times they can have some quickies but he is not going to be a two-pump chump the first time he fucks the man who’s been trailing Eddie’s heart behind him like a dog on a leash for months.

Buck clearly needs a moment, too, because he’s staring unseeing up at the ceiling. Eddie massages his sides. “Hey, Buck, look at me.”

Buck does as he’s told, hands rhythmically squeezing and releasing around the slats of the headboard.

“How many fingers am I holding up?” It’s simple, but hey, it works. He holds up two fingers.

“Two. From your left hand.” Buck’s eyes are focused again now.

Eddie pries Buck’s fingers off the headboard. “Good. Very good. You can hold onto me now, if you want.”

Buck’s grip is loose and weak, his fingers probably a bit numb and Eddie’s sweat sure doesn’t help, but he finally gets a good hold on Eddie’s shoulders as Eddie braces himself, pulls back out, and slowly thrusts back in.

The noise that Buck makes should be fucking illegal. Eddie’s going to hear the goddamn echo of that noise as long as he lives.

Eddie does it again, still slow but just as deep, and Buck keens like he’s being broken in half and he fucking loves it. Eddie’s bones ache with how good this feels. Buck’s noises, the feel of him, the sight of him, Buck…

He realizes he’s starting to speed up, and he slows down again, trying to savor it. Buck whines, claws at Eddie’s arms, tries to push his hips back into Eddie to urge him onward.

Eddie doesn’t really have a whole lot of self-control left, so he supposes he can indulge him. “Brace yourself.”

Then he fucking goes for it.

Buck swears up one side and down the other, coming up with outrageous combinations of words as Eddie fucks him until Eddie feels like his brains are leaking out of his ears. He’s so good, Buck’s perfect, and Eddie can’t think, for once, he can only feel, and it’s okay to feel, here in this moment he can feel whatever he wants and it’s okay, it’s good, it’s amazing—

He watches as Buck flushes all over, as his cock hardens again, fucks Buck right through another orgasm and out the other side until Buck’s writhing and making pathetic little noises that worm their way through Eddie’s skin and muscle and blood, feels like he’s emptying something vital of himself when he comes and he doesn’t mind it at all.

Training and instinct are the only reason he’s able to fall to the side of Buck instead of right on top of him, and he pulls Buck to him with only a little clumsiness, tucks Buck immediately into his side as Buck drapes himself across Eddie, nuzzles him like an oversized dog.

Eddie strokes Buck’s hair, Buck’s back, and kisses him in that lazy, contented way that only ever happens after a long, exhausting round of sex, the combination of satisfaction and hard work creating a strange bubble that Eddie can’t remember experiencing in… since before Christopher, actually.

“You were amazing,” he promises Buck, because he can see the question in Buck’s eyes. He uses the words to tide Buck over as he tears off the condom and grabs some tissues to clean up. Buck’s not exactly logical in these moments, and takes any distance from Eddie as a sign of displeasure, so Eddie talks him through it, soothes him with words until he can hold Buck again.

“’S… so great,” Buck mumbles. He presses a kiss to Eddie’s sternum and then rests his head there, and it feels in a strange way like a blessing.

Eddie’s chest feels tight. “God, I…”

God, I love you.

It almost slips out, and Eddie only barely clamps his lips together in time as the dangerous words form on his tongue.

It’s not that he hasn’t known. He just hasn’t let himself think it. And now he has, he’s gone and done it, and he can’t put that back in the box.

Buck’s going to leave in a minute. He always does. It’s one of the rules—no sleeping over. But he’s not back to himself yet, and there’s no harm in a little nap. The guy clearly needs it. Eddie strokes Buck’s curling hair, his tattoos, his jaw. It’s dark, and Buck’s falling asleep, and no one can see him, so he just holds Buck and sits with it, sits with the mess he’s always known, on some level, that he would make.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

 


 

It’s been a while since he and Bobby had a real fight.

Especially once Eddie started… offering his services, so to speak, Buck’s been able to rein in his impulses, his words, his actions, knowing that there’s a reward waiting for him at the end of it. Even just knowing that someone notices and cares really helps.

But it seems he and Bobby are uniquely designed to push each other’s buttons, because one thing leads to another today, and they have a doozy of an argument in the kitchen that surely everyone in the station can hear.

Honestly, Buck doesn’t know what stings more—Bobby’s assumption, the fact that it was so public, or the sneaking suspicion that maybe, just like with the lawsuit, Bobby started it but Buck was the one who took it too far.

He’s already thinking about texting Eddie when shift ends, but then, like shit icing on a shit cake, Mom and Dad call.

The last thing he wants to deal with is Mom and Dad. Even though he knows it’s not fair because Maddie’s been dealing with them ever since Karen took that picture of Maddie and Athena at a group picnic and Maddie was visibly pregnant and then it went up on Facebook and Karen took it down once Maddie asked but it was already too late and Mom saw… Maddie’s pregnancy has only shone a hotter spotlight on Buck, too, reminding his parents of all the things he hasn’t yet accomplished (namely the career they want, a wife, and children) and so here they are. Calling him. ‘Just checking up.’

Buck wonders if it’s a little too cruel to fake a car accident to get out of this conversation.

He calls Eddie the second Dad’s hung up.

“Hey.” Eddie sounds pleasantly surprised but relaxed. “What’s up?”

“Can I come over?” Buck blurts out. “Or—sorry, you could come to mine, if you want.”

His head feels like it’s pounding. Not exactly like a migraine, but like someone’s banging the same sentence over and over against the inside of his skull, you failed you failed you failed you failed—

“Are you okay?” Eddie’s voice sounds sharper now.

The thing is he knows, intellectually, that he didn’t fail his parents, that they just wanted different things for him and that he has a good life here, he’s made a happy, solid life, but it doesn’t feel that way. Not with the previous argument still hanging over him, not with the fear that he said the wrong things to Bobby and fucked it up and everyone got to watch his drama play out all over again publicly you stupid selfish—

“I need,” he chokes out, and doesn’t know how to finish the sentence. “Eddie, I’m…”

Loststrugglingaloneanimposterfailing—

“Breathe,” Eddie orders, and Buck does.

“Please.” It comes out as a whisper. “I need you.”

There’s noises in the background, and then Eddie says, “Christopher’s getting ready for bed, drive slow and he’ll be asleep by the time you get here.”

He drives slow, and when Eddie lets him in, the house is quiet. Christopher’s door is closed.

“What do you need?” Eddie asks. His gaze and hands skim over Buck like he’s checking him for injuries.

“I fucked up.” You disappoint you fail you always it’s how you are selfish this is why you’ll always end up alone always disappoint fail never who you want to be— “I need you to take care of me.”

He knows he’s chosen the wrong words when Eddie molds them together like ocean to sand and kisses him with even more gentleness than that. Buck breaks away, shakes his head. Clarifies. “Discipline me.”

Eddie doesn’t call it punishment. He never calls it that. He seems averse to the word, and so Buck never uses it, either. But that’s what he wants. It’s what you deserve.

Eddie stares at him for a moment, and Buck has the strangest sensation that he’s looking through a mirror, except he’s the reflection and Eddie is the original.

Without a word, Eddie takes his hand as he has every single other time and leads him into the bedroom, closing the door behind them. But when he kisses Buck, it’s the same rolling ocean tide.

Buck can’t pull away. He tries, but Eddie doesn’t let him.

“You said I’m in charge when we do this,” Eddie reminds him, his voice quiet but no less firm for it. “That I say what goes. And I decide what you deserve.”

He kisses Buck again, again, gets them undressed as Buck makes meager attempts at protestation over the soft, gentle treatment, as he tries to push for bruising hands and biting kisses that never come.

Eddie takes his time, but he doesn’t tease, turning Buck onto all fours and working him open. Buck misses being able to see Eddie’s face, but he realizes why Eddie picked this position once Eddie gets going.

From behind, like this, Eddie can hold him.

His mouth is right at Buck’s ear, nowhere for Buck to run or hide as he listens to Eddie whisper, “You deserve everything you think you can’t have.”

Like a curtain pulled back, if only for a moment, Buck realizes he’s so seen by Eddie because Eddie feels the same way about himself, and it makes something in him crack open. Eddie kisses him, calls him good, calls him amazing, and holds him as he fucks him slowly, deliberately, until the pounding words inside Buck’s head are drowned out by the way his body moans.

He asked for discipline—discipline he knows Eddie can give, because Eddie’s given it before, firm actions for immature behavior. Instead he was rewarded.

Buck doesn’t know what to do with that. He doesn’t know what this kind of love feels like. He’s been this person for other people, but never had it for himself, and he’s at a loss.

He cries, afterwards, but that’s different. Eddie holds him, forehead pressed between Buck’s shoulder blades, and Buck’s grateful for the lack of words, now.

Eddie doesn’t say anything until Buck’s helped him change the sheets, throw the dirty ones in the washer, and has taken a shower and eaten something. It’s like a shadow parody of their usual afternoons together with Chris.

“I see Frank,” Eddie says. “Bi-monthly. I think you should see him.”

Buck finishes putting his shirt on. He wants to protest. He wants to give in. He doesn’t know what he wants.

“And I think,” Eddie’s words are careful, “that you should see him with Bobby.”

Something of Buck’s lost emotions must show on his face, because Eddie beckons him closer and wraps Buck in a final embrace.

Buck melts. It’s the one time he can let himself melt around Eddie as much as he wants to.

“How’d you know?” he asks.

“It’s kind of my job to give you what you need, not what you think you want.” Eddie pauses. “Not just in this, I mean. In… everything.”

He pauses again, and Buck just knows, instinctively, that Eddie’s prolonging the hug so he can say this without Buck seeing his face. “I learned that from… Christopher, being his parent. Give a kid what he wants and you’ll go nowhere. Give ‘em what they need and… hope you did the right thing.”

“You did the right thing,” Buck says, immediately, and he’s not just talking about the two of them, tonight.

Eddie hugs him a little tighter, and Buck feels the ghost of it the rest of the night.

 


 

Eddie’s not expecting it when Buck yanks him into the supply closet.

He can’t see a damn thing, lets out an oomph when his back collides with a wall of shelves, but he sure gets on board when he feels his pants being undone and then his cock enveloped in that tight, confident heat.

Buck’s not messing around, either, bobbing up and down, lips firm, tongue tracing little patterns into the underside of Eddie’s cock, and before Eddie knows it he’s hard and on the edge of coming. He’s fucking dizzy with the speed of it.

He pants and stares up into nothing as Buck pins his hips to the wall so he can’t thrust and he can’t do anything but hold still and enjoy the sweet sensation ripping through him until he tips over the edge and shoots off like a star.

“What—what was that for?” he asks, breathless, as he’s carefully tucked back away into his pants and he hears Buck stand up.

Little kisses are scattered along his neck. “You were just so… so good to me, yesterday. You took care of me so well. You always take such good care of me. I wanted to thank you.”

Eddie finds Buck’s waist without even trying, like his body knows Buck’s even in total darkness, his hands able to see what his eyes can’t. “I was just doing what we agreed on.”

Buck presses their foreheads together. “The fact that you think that is why I—why I trust you.”

There’s a soft, warm kiss to the corner of his mouth, and he can’t tell if Buck was aiming for his mouth and missed, his cheek and missed, or if the corner of his mouth had been the intended goal all along.

Either way, there’s something oddly intimate and unusually playful about the placement of that kiss.

The warmth stays in Eddie’s chest all day, to the point that Frank comments on it at their session the next day.

“You seem lighter,” Frank notes.

Eddie shrugs. “I feel… nice.”

“I’m glad. Any particular event?”

Frank knows how to gently prod, and when to let Eddie sit and take his time with his own thoughts.

“Buck told me that I was a good friend,” he says, hedging on the language a little. “He had a bad time the other day and I helped him relax, and so yesterday he said that I took care of him and that he…”

Eddie’s throat closes up and he has to clear it. “He said he trusted me.”

“And that helped you feel good?”

“People don’t really trust me to do well. I feel like I’m always letting everyone down. To have him say that to me…” Eddie pauses. “Buck really needs praise. He needs to know he’s doing a good job and he needs to know when he fucks up. When he doesn’t get that verbal communication he gets in his own head. And I think I… I don’t think I realized… that maybe he’s not the only one who needs reassurance.”

Frank smiles at him. “It’s good to realize that we all need help and support, and that it’s all right to ask for it.”

“I think I will,” Eddie says. “Ask for it, I mean.”

They move on after that, but Eddie keeps that knowledge for himself, wonders how to bring it up to Buck that he’d like that more in their sessions afterwards, Buck assuring Eddie he did things right.

He never gets the chance.

 


 

Buck’s aware that he’s panicking, just a little bit, and he’s aware that there’s no need, and he’s aware that this is definitely not their designated ‘fuck day’ and that he’s breaking all the rules.

But the last time Eddie was in danger—when Eddie was trapped underneath foot after foot of dirt—Buck couldn’t touch him afterwards. Not really. Not the way Buck wanted to touch him. And now—now it’s under the guise of pure sex but he can, he can, and he needs to, because the floor collapsed and Eddie was standing on it and Buck’s heart fucking stopped.

He’s okay, just a little banged up, lucky landing, not that Buck could tell with all the fire and smoke. Not until he got down to ground level, inhaling and exhaling too fast and yet not breathing at all, and saw Eddie stumbling out shaking debris off.

Fire’s out. Shift’s over.

He has to make sure Eddie’s okay.

Eddie knows, immediately, that something’s wrong, because as they walk out to their cars he bumps their shoulders together, the way he used to all the time before they started this, before the rules about when and how they could touch became embedded in cement, and he says, “Hey, you okay?”

Buck looks at him, and wonders how Eddie can be fine after something like that. “I should ask you the same thing.”

Eddie looks away, eyes dark. He shrugs.

Buck bumps their shoulders together in return. “Let me come over.”

Let me touch you, let me love you, let me hold you.

Eddie doesn’t say anything, but he nods.

Buck parks on the street, since Carla’s taking up the other parking spot in the driveway, follows Eddie in the house. Smiles and nods at her as Carla whispers that Christopher’s asleep, as she pats both of them on the chests and says it looks like they went through the wringer, get some rest, as Eddie bids her goodnight and then softly checks on Chris.

Buck stands in the living room. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands.

Eddie comes back in from looking in on his son, and he looks… tired. Eddie doesn’t really let himself look tired, Buck realizes. Not around other people, anyway. With Carla, just now, he was all smiles and politeness.

Now, it’s like he’s no longer holding the weight up by his hands and is letting it press down on his shoulders.

Buck knows this isn’t how they do it. He knows this isn’t allowed, that this breaks all of the rules.

He doesn’t care.

He crosses to Eddie, puts his hands on his face, and kisses him, presses them together, molding them against each other like two pieces of clay and if maybe, just maybe, he does it right and does it insistently, he can make them meld together and become one.

Eddie makes a strange sound that might almost be relief, and he kisses Buck back. His hands bury themselves in the back of Buck’s shoulders, grabbing fistfuls of Buck’s shirt, as if Buck might get crazy ideas like moving away.

It’s the first time they’ve kissed without thinking about it, without Eddie having any kind of plan, without Buck following Eddie’s lead. It’s just pure passion, no finesse or thought beyond Buck’s desire to crawl into Eddie’s mouth and live there, and he doesn’t care if he never breathes again so long as he keeps getting to do this.

They stumble without finesse down the hallway to the bedroom, making it only by muscle memory, uncoordinated like teenagers and sacrificing every bit of motor function to the cause of keeping their mouths sealed together.

Once the backs of Eddie’s knees hit the bed, Buck finally moves his hands down, fumbles with Eddie’s pants to get them open. There’s still no talking. He doesn’t feel like he should, and more than that, it doesn’t feel like there’s a need. He knows what to do, and Eddie knows, and it’s just the two of them working in off-kilter harmony to get each other naked.

Eddie falls back onto the bed and Buck crawls up after him, kisses him, braces his hands on Eddie’s thighs.

He wants to take care of Eddie, he wants to worship him, touch him, press devotion into every inch of him. He’s not Catholic, just vaguely Christian (he thinks Mom was raised Protestant?) but he and Eddie have talked about it, sometimes, and he thinks for the first time he understands the concept of supplication, understands penance, understands asking for absolution.

Eddie rolls them, but Buck rolls them again, kisses the hollow of Eddie’s throat, pushes himself farther down the bed and kisses Eddie’s stomach. “Please. Let me.”

Eddie’s fingers slide into his hair and he falls silent, lets Buck take Eddie’s cock into his mouth, lets Buck serve him in a new way.

Normally, Buck’s role in this is submissive, and this is just as much so, in his eyes, but another kind. He’s not doing what Eddie orders, but he’s doing the work, giving Eddie pleasure, some kind of twisted apology for not being able to protect Eddie every single moment on a call, unable to be what Eddie wants in their friendship.

Eddie’s breaths changing timber is the only cue that he’s close, his cock twitching hot and heavy in Buck’s mouth, and Buck pulls off, gifts a kiss to the base of it before setting his mouth to the rest of him. Eddie’s body is all muscle, broad and thick and wide, and Buck could spend hours on him. Maybe he does spend hours. He’s not sure. Time doesn’t really effect him right now.

He fumbles for the lube in the drawer once he gets up to Eddie’s shoulder, Eddie’s fingers creating invisible trails all over Buck’s back and arms, his hips shifting restlessly. Buck can’t see him, and that’s the one tragedy of this, but he likes the dark at the moment. It makes this feel sacred, keeps him free to express this.

Eddie cranes his head up to watch as Buck spreads his legs and slides his fingers between them. His mouth drops open, touching himself more with an aim for speed rather than pleasure, and Eddie groans softly, takes advantage of Buck’s open mouth to slide his tongue inside.

Buck presses down, lines their cocks up, and grinds in short, sharp thrusts as they keep kissing deep and sloppy. A questing hand slides over his thigh, the curve of his ass, down between his legs and Eddie’s fingers slide in against his, two and two, in and out in a counterpoint rhythm, and Buck shudders and spreads his legs even further.

He could come just from this, his own hand falling away to cup Eddie’s cheek as Eddie keeps his fingers inside, their cocks slip-sliding against each other as he sucks on Eddie’s tongue. But he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want this to be about him. Every time, Eddie makes it about him. And yes, he’s doing as Eddie says, following orders, being spanked when he’s a brat and fucked when he’s good, but it’s still Eddie doing the work, it’s still Eddie focusing everything on him, and Buck—doesn’t want that right now. He doesn’t want Eddie to have to think. He wants Eddie to just—to just feel and know that he’s loved, he’s loved, he can’t die, he shouldn’t ever die, because he’s so goddamn loved.

He gently pushes Eddie’s hand away and reacquaints himself with the dip by Eddie’s hip, the bullet wounds in his chest, the curve of his pec, the ridge of his ribs. Licks a hello again stripe up the underside of Eddie’s cock and then braces, legs spread, and lowers himself down.

Eddie’s hands slide up Buck’s chest, dragging, almost but not quite clawing, as Buck twists his hips around a little to get himself properly seated. Eddie’s hands move to Buck’s shoulders, his biceps, his forearms, gripping hard as Buck pushes himself up on his knees and then lowers himself back down.

He wants Eddie all the way inside him, makes sure it happens every time, and Eddie watches him with black hole eyes, swallowing up all that Buck is, all that Buck has to give. Buck doesn’t mind. He’ll give it all every time, for Eddie.

Either he moves forward and down, or Eddie moves up, or maybe it’s both—because they’re kissing again, tangled, and his hips only keep moving out of instinct as their fingers interlock and he can’t keep still, he squeezes Eddie’s fingers, pants into his mouth as he clenches, twists his hips, asks for it with his body, come on, come on, come on—

He’s never been so goddamn glad they got tested, because he doesn’t normally have a thing one way or another regarding barebacking but right now, he wants it, wants Eddie marking him, wants something to match the stain he feels on the inside of his ribs, his heart, his lungs.

Eddie’s still hard, won’t start softening just yet, and he uses it, thrusts frantically into Buck as he bites at Buck’s jaw, murmurs something Buck can’t quite catch but has a tone so warm and fond and secret that it rips something up inside of him and stripes up Eddie’s stomach.

He presses himself even closer, uncaring of the mess, and scratches his fingers through Eddie’s hair as he kisses him. It’s not quite the same as after a scene. He’s not nonverbal, he’s not floating or fuzzy, he’s not desperately skin hungry. He just… needs to hold Eddie. He needs to be close to him.

Eddie wraps his arms around Buck and doesn’t seem inclined to let him pull away, either, so at least Buck’s not alone in that. Eddie’s tired eyes from the living room haunt him, his slumped, weighted shoulders stalk his mind’s eye, and Buck kisses those shoulders, those eyelids, those cheekbones, all of it, all of him, as much as he can get away with so long as he doesn’t leave the circle of Eddie’s arms.

I love you, I love you, I can’t ever lose you, I love you…

Eddie yawns into one of the kisses and Buck huffs out a laugh, presses his mouth to Eddie’s hair when Eddie’s response is simply to slot his leg between Buck’s and bury his face in Buck’s neck.

He needs to leave, but Eddie needs him. Eddie deserves to be held.

He’ll just stay for a little while (I love you), just until Eddie’s asleep (I love you), just…

…Buck’s eyes open to sunlight.

Eddie’s now underneath him, Buck’s head on his chest, legs and sheets tangled, one of Eddie’s hands in Buck’s hair.

His other hand is caught up in Buck’s. Their fingers are intertwined.

Buck’s heart feels like it’s flung itself out the window. He was—he was desperate last night, far too obvious, he broke every rule—he fell asleep, he stayed the night, he—fuck, shit, fuck, he’s fucked up everything.

He has to leave, he has to get out before Eddie wakes up and it’s awkward and Eddie asks questions that Buck can’t answer and he—he can’t fuck this up he can’t lose Eddie he can’t ask for more he can’t—

Buck manages, somehow, to slip out of bed without waking Eddie. Shit there’s still dried—great. He’s filthy. Eddie’s also filthy. He feels like a frat boy fuckup all over again.

The one thing he can’t, shouldn’t, fuck up. Fuck.

He broke all the rules, he showed too much, but he’s gonna fix it. This isn’t going to be like Abby. He’ll just—where the fuck is his shirt—he’ll just leave and they’ll pretend nothing happened and Eddie will forgive him the transgression and it will all be normal.

Eddie rolls over as Buck silently opens the door (I love you), and Buck pauses. Takes in the golden lines of Eddie’s body in the morning sunlight (I love you).

(I love you.)

He slips out.

 


 

Buck snuck out.

At first, Eddie doesn’t believe it. He wakes up to a bed that’s empty but still just a little warm, and he thinks, Buck is in the bathroom. Or, Buck is making breakfast.

In the cotton-swaddled moments between sleep and awake, he doesn’t feel anything other than content. The way Buck touched him last night, the way he let himself touch Buck… it has to mean something. It felt like he was communicating without talking, for once in his life being heard and understood without having to utter a single word, and understanding completely in return, a give and take as natural as the flow of a river.

It’s the start of something. It has to be. Hope buoys him up, wakes him up further, whispers that maybe he can have this, too. Maybe he can have Buck all the time.

Then he realizes that there’s no sound of the shower running, and no smell of food sizzling in a pan.

That’s when he gets up and realizes Buck’s gone.

For a second he just stands there, his heart between his feet, gravity broken. Buck would never—Buck doesn’t do that. Not anymore. Especially not—why would he? Unless—

Unless Eddie showed too much of himself. Unless Eddie was obvious—of course he was obvious.

Now Buck’s left, to avoid an awkward conversation.

Gutted is a feeling with which Eddie is, unfortunately, already familiar. When Shannon left, when his parents told him they wanted to take Christopher, when Shannon said she was leaving again, when she died… he’s intimately acquainted with the sensation of feeling like his insides have been scooped out with a serving spoon leaving nothing but echoing, empty chambers hung with hollow bones.

He just never thought Buck would make him feel that way.

He’s got the next day off, which is good. It gives him time to brace for seeing Buck at work the day after. To his surprise, Buck isn’t there. ‘Called out’ is the answer he gets when he asks Chim—he doesn’t dare ask Hen or Bobby, who both have an unfortunate habit of seeing through him—and he can only assume that Buck doesn’t want to see him and needs more time.

Today is the same day as his appointments with Frank. Eddie’s not sure if he’s grateful for that or not.

He goes, and he knows that Frank knows something’s up, and he knows that he’s going to spill his guts eventually, so he might as well get it over with.

Frank nods appropriately, waits patiently until Eddie’s finished, then says, “And have you told Buck how you feel or asked how he’s feeling?”

Eddie stares at him. “I—no?”

Frank gives him a fond but slightly exasperated look. “Eddie, how can you know how Buck’s feeling or what his choices are if you haven’t spoken to him about them?”

“He’s my best friend. I know him.”

“I’m sure you do. It seems you know him better than almost anyone. But we can’t read minds. It seems to me that you’ve set yourself up to fail in this relationship by refusing to let it start.”

“Because I know he doesn’t feel the same way.”

Frank raises an eyebrow. “You can’t know that until you ask him. What’s held you back from doing that if you’re so convinced you know what the answer will be?”

Eddie doesn’t have a response for that.

Frank nods, apparently satisfied. “There’s a quote from Nelson Mandela, that goes something along the lines of… it’s not that we fear we’re powerless. It’s not our failure that we fear. It’s that we fear we are in fact more powerful than we ever dared to imagine.

“I think that’s true for many things in our life. Wouldn’t you say?”

Eddie gets what Frank’s suggesting. That maybe… maybe he’s afraid Buck will reciprocate. That Buck will say I love you, too. And it’s the reciprocation, the love, the joy, that Eddie doesn’t know how to deal with.

Maybe Frank’s right.

“I’m used to people telling me no. I’m used to being… unhappy.”

“Unhappiness can be addicting, in its own way,” Frank agrees. “But wouldn’t you say you deserve better?”

Eddie thinks that maybe he does.

 


 

Buck doesn’t know what to do, where else to go, so he goes to the one person he can always run to, has always run to since he was a kid, until she ran away too and he couldn’t follow.

Maddie looks confused as she opens the door, one hand on her stomach, like it needs the support. “Evan?”

Clearly he must look even more of a mess than he thought. He winces, tries for a smile. “Hey. Um. Do you have a minute?”

“Sure, um, of course.” Maddie swings the door wide and lets him in, asks if he wants something to drink, waves him away when he tries to help her settle herself onto the couch. “So what is it?”

Buck sits down on the lounger and braces his hands on his knees. Rubs his hands together. He has no idea how to start with this. How to explain the mess this turned into, the mess it started out as, even.

“Eddie and I are… uh… so we’ve been… sleeping together. For a good few months now.”

Maddie doesn’t look as shocked as Buck would’ve expected. “How did this happen?”

Buck winces and dives in before he can second guess it, spilling the whole sordid story out while Maddie’s eyebrows steadily climb higher and higher up into her hairline.

When he finishes, she heaves a sigh. “Buck, sometimes, I swear, you are the stupidest person I’ve ever met.”

Yeah, he’s aware. He shouldn’t have slept with Eddie, he let it go too far, he…

“You snuck out and left him?” Maddie, oh, shit, Maddie’s angry. “Are you out of your mind? The man’s in love with you and you just slipped out after spending the night?”

“He’s not—”

“No, no, no, we are not doing this.” Maddie holds up a hand and shakes her head. “We’re not doing this. Buck, how many people has Eddie slept with in his life? Because while you might know something I don’t, I was under the impression he was only ever with Shannon. In my experience people don’t go from a messy but committed relationship like that to an intense sexual relationship like yours because all they want is sex. I mean, Buck, you practically live at his place! You’ve told me how much you work with Christopher. You’re his other emergency contact after Eddie! Maybe I’m crazy but what you’re describing to me isn’t a man who’s looking for—you’re describing a relationship and I think the only person who doesn’t realize that you’re in it is you.”

“You can’t assume that,” Buck fires back, feeling flayed and pried open and not sure what to do other than be defensive.

“Why not? You’re assuming things just fine.” Maddie throws her hands in the air. “Maybe instead of deciding you know what he wants, you should talk to him. Tell him how you feel. It can’t hurt at this point. It can’t possibly make things messier than they already are.”

Buck finds his eyes wet without permission and wipes at them furiously. “I don’t want to lose him.”

Maddie leans over and takes his hand. “Look, even if I’m wrong, Eddie cares about you. I know that much. You’re not going to lose him.”

“I lost everyone else,” he points out.

Maddie squeezes his hand. “But I came back. The people who matter, the people who love you… even if sometimes they do leave, they come back. Eddie—I don’t think you’ll lose him but even if you do, I know he’ll come back. Because he loves you. I think it’s the same way you love him but even if I’m wrong in that… you’re his best friend, Buck. Honestly, we all talk about you as one unit. I don’t think Eddie would want to give that up, either.”

Buck wouldn’t normally let himself hope. He’d shake it off. But he’s so… he’s so tired. He’s exhausted. He doesn’t want to fight anymore, he doesn’t want to hide anymore. Maybe it’s better to just… take a stand and face it.

For a second he’s kind of mad that Maddie’s pregnant because it means that he can’t curl up with her completely the way that he’s used to. Even though he knows that’s completely irrational. “You really think so?”

Maddie gently smiles at him, her head tilting to the side. “I think there’s even a betting pool on you two. I wouldn’t give up hope yet. But you know that no relationship is going to fall magically into place, right? I know it did with Abby, but…”

“No, it didn’t fall magically into place with her. I just thought… hoped… it did.” He frees his hand from Maddie’s grasp with a final squeeze. “I did everything right with her and it still… maybe fucking up with this will get me a better result?”

Maddie rolls her eyes. “Go talk to him.”

Yeah. Easier said than done.

But he’s tired, and he just wants this over with, so he goes.

He has a moment of… not relief, exactly, but meta, almost, as he drives to Eddie’s house and realizes that he knows Chris won’t be there because it’s Chris’s day with Abuela. That’s how well he knows the Diaz family schedule, it’s just ingrained into his mind to the point of subconscious understanding.

Can he really risk giving up the privilege of having that knowledge? Of being that intimately a part of the family?

Or—the voice in his head sounds a lot like Maddie—it’s a sign that you should have hope.

Eddie doesn’t let just anyone into his home, into his life, and not at this level.

Buck lets that thought carry him to the driveway, out of the car, up the front steps, and to the front door.

He knocks. He has a key, but it feels impolite, right now. After what he did.

Eddie stares at him for a long time after he opens the door. Buck’s not sure what to say. Eddie’s looking at him like he did after they ran into each other in the grocery store, like he doesn’t even know what to do with all the hurt he feels so he might start flinging it verbally to hide the vulnerability that’s making his eyes too bright.

Buck doesn’t know how to explain everything. That’s the problem. Once he starts he’s sure he’ll be fine but it’s starting at all that’s the issue.

Eddie raises his eyebrows. “Funny, I kind of assumed you were here to say you were sorry, but maybe I was wrong?”

“I’m not,” Buck blurts out, and then winces because that didn’t come out the way he’d wanted. “I’m not—sorry that it happened, I’m sorry for sneaking out afterwards. I shouldn’t—I panicked, I’ve been panicking this whole time, I—I’m—please can I come inside?”

Eddie steps back, although Buck’s pretty sure it’s only so that they don’t have this out in the doorway where the neighbors might overhear. Eddie’s sensible about his privacy that way. Back in the day, Buck had so many women sneaking out of his house to avoid his roommates that he’s ninety percent certain the neighbors across the street had some sort of bingo card about him.

Buck steps inside, and Eddie closes the door behind him. He doesn’t look all that softened, and Buck can’t blame him, and he wants to just—kiss Eddie so fucking badly and he wants this over and he wants to breathe free for the first time in what feels like decades and so he blurts out, “I left because I’m in love with you.”

Eddie looks… well, Buck’s seen Eddie in a lot of situations. He’s see Eddie get peed on by a dog they rescued from a burning house, he’s seen Eddie take a cloud of chalk to the face, he’s seen Eddie upside-down with the upper half of his body inside of a pipe and then witnessed the sheer disappointment with his situation on Eddie’s face when he crawled out of it, covered in sludge.

He’s never really seen this look on Eddie’s face before, a strange mixture of shock, vague disbelief that this is really happening, and residual frustration, but if he had to compare it to anything he’d say it’s akin to the time a chunk of ceiling fell down onto Eddie’s head and would’ve probably hurt him if it wasn’t for the helmet, but thanks to said helmet, just made Eddie stop, then look up at the ceiling like really, God?

Buck’s only solution is to keep talking. “You never wanted anything more. You were doing a favor for me. And I know—I know I should’ve told you right away that we couldn’t do this. I knew I was setting myself up for some shit. But I—I was selfish, and I’m sorry. I wanted you so badly, any part of you that you were willing to give me, and I wanted to… pretend that you loved me, even if it wasn’t true. And when you were taking care of me, I could pretend.”

Eddie’s expression is easily recognizable now. It’s shock. The kind of shock he tries to cover by looking deadpan, sure, and maybe it would fool someone else, but Buck knows him. He loves him, and so he knows him. He knows him, and so he loves him. On and on the worm ouroboros consumes and is consumed.

At least there’s some comfort in knowing he managed to hide his feelings better than he’d thought?

“I’m sorry,” he repeats. “You were… you needed… I took advantage of what you needed. I hid… so much from you and I’m… it all came out, that night, and I couldn’t handle it, and so I left. I ran. After—after Abby I couldn’t—I couldn’t let myself be tricked into thinking someone loved me the way that I loved them.”

Not that he thinks Abby tricked him. More that he tricked himself.

Eddie runs a hand through his hair. He looks—frustrated—but then, oddly enough, he laughs and shakes his head.

This isn’t really a laughing matter, thanks. Out of all the reactions Buck thought he’d get, this definitely isn’t it.

“How long?” Eddie asks. “How long have you felt this way?”

Buck swallows. “The farm. When you were buried.”

Eddie exhales slowly. “All this time. And I thought… I missed it.”

He’s not sure why Eddie sounds like he’s disappointed, and he’s about to ask to leave because there’s only so long he can hold the trembling pieces of himself together, thanks—when Eddie closes the distance between them, takes Buck’s face in his hands, and kisses him.

Buck’s got no idea what to do with his hands. Or his mouth. Or anything. Eddie pulls back for a brief moment and then tilts his head and dives back in, and that’s when it hits Buck like the smack of an ocean wave that this is real. Eddie’s kissing him, and Eddie would never do that if he didn’t love Buck in return.

He slides his hands around Eddie’s hips, fits the curve of his fingers into the notches of Eddie’s bones, and kisses him back.

Eddie moves him back a step, another step, another, until Buck has no idea where he is, just that his back’s against a wall—literally instead of just figuratively—and Eddie’s still licking into his mouth with the intensity and precision of a surgeon at the table.

“I didn’t know,” Eddie whispers, like he can only say it if it’s slipped into the space between their lips. “I didn’t know how—because I’d never felt that before. I didn’t know what you were to me until I was in over my head.”

Buck lets Eddie kiss him again, because he’s long since replaced his morning caffeine fix and daily sugar intake with kisses from Eddie instead. “When did you know, then? After we had our… talk or…”

“Before.” Eddie pulls away properly now and rubs at the back of his neck, sheepish, shoulders drawn together and tight. “I knew, but I didn’t… want to know. I didn’t want to look at it. That’d mean I’d have to face it. And then when I couldn’t… deny anymore, I just couldn’t—I couldn’t tell you.”

That only confuses Buck more. “Then why’d you agree to do this?”

“You trusted me,” Eddie blurts out. “Nobody trusts me, Buck, you don’t get it, nobody ever wants me to be in charge of anything. My parents tried to take my kid away from me. Shannon never… nobody… but you trusted me. You wanted me. And I couldn’t—I can’t—I was scared that if I took too much, asked for too much, you’d take it all away.”

Buck can’t judge. Look at what he did. “I wouldn’t.”

“We had one round of sex that meant something—that we let mean something—and you ran.” The hurt is clear in Eddie’s voice, like a splinter lodged in his throat.

“I thought you’d realized how I felt and you’d—that I was too needy. That I had asked for too much.” Buck pauses. “I’m aware of the irony, here.”

He reaches for Eddie again, and wonders when he’d slipped so far away. “Of course I trusted you. You’re—in my life, everywhere. I’m sorry—I fucked up, and I’m sorry—I love you.”

It’s all he can say. He knows it’s not a cure-all for whatever wound Eddie might be nursing. He can’t just say those three little words and have everything always be better. But it’s the only thing he can think of, now, unable to literally take all that it’s his heart and place it on his tongue.

Eddie lets Buck pull him in, and Buck doesn’t kiss him, just presses their foreheads together, holds him tight as he can. “I trust you, I’ll always trust you.”

Eddie’s hand slides up to grasp Buck’s neck, fingers pressing against the bolt of Buck’s jaw and the soft hollow behind his ear. “You deserve to be loved, Buck.”

Of course he gets right to the heart of it. Buck’s not sure what sound he makes, but it doesn’t seem human.

Eddie kisses it all away.

They end up on the bed again, alternating between frantically kissing like there’s a timer set and kissing slow and indulgent as they remember there’s no reason to rush. Eddie’s on top of him, solid and warm and grounding, and he feels so fucking good.

Eddie pulls his mouth away with an audible pop from the suction and presses his lips to Buck’s ear, not like it’s a secret, but like it’s sacred. “I thought it. That whole night. I think it every time. I love you.”

Buck kisses the tendons in Eddie’s neck, his pulse where it thunders in his throat, and he’d kiss Eddie’s jaw but then Eddie’s mouth is on his again so he’s got no choice but to suck on Eddie’s tongue instead, which is far from a hardship.

He curves his arm over Eddie’s lower back, settles Eddie between his hips, cradles him, feels like he’s sinking into the mattress, like he’ll never emerge. He smiles at that, and then Eddie’s smiling, and they can’t kiss as well because they’re both grinning like maniacs but he doesn’t mind. No, he doesn’t mind at all.

That seems to be the switch that flips it. They go slower, giving shallow kisses that skim the surface of each other’s mouths, moving onto sucking kisses that are more about keeping them occupied while their hands explore each other.

“I think Maddie almost sent me back here with a sign around my neck,” Buck admits in a murmur. “Something like ‘I snuck out on my boyfriend’.”

Eddie chuckles. “I haven’t been someone’s boyfriend in over a decade.” He brushes his nose against Buck’s. “You’ll have to help me get used to it again.”

Honestly, the word ‘boyfriend’ feels a little too casual for what they are, so wrapped up in each other’s lives and hearts and bodies, but at the same time, he gets a wild thrill out of it. He’s only ever been someone’s boyfriend a couple times before and it never felt like this. It never felt like he was finally given a name for something he already was, something he was always supposed to be.

“Does this mean we can have normal sex?” he teases. “Because I love the rest of it, trust me, but dude, you have no idea the fantasies I’ve been storing up—”

“Oh my God.” Eddie kisses him firmly, clearly to shut him up, and Buck ruins the motion by laughing wildly into it. “Yes, we can have ‘normal sex’, you dumbass.”

Eddie gets quiet, then—not in his voice but in his whole body. Most people might not notice because Eddie’s quiet a lot of the time, doesn’t say much at least around strangers or when focused at work, but Buck knows the difference.

“I just want the… two parts of our lives together,” he murmurs. “The… when we stopped… when we started… there was this divide, and I hated it. I couldn’t be—casual with you, anymore, and I realized how close we already were, how much we touched and how much we shared and—I just want, that. All of that. I don’t want to hold back anymore. That’s all I want. If it’s you, and you’re not holding back, and I’m not—then I don’t care about anything else.”

Buck kisses him to disguise the sting in his eyes. “That’s all I want.” That’s all he’s wanted for months.

Eddie gives a sigh of relief that moves through his entire body, one that Buck can feel in every inch of him, and there’s definitely no more talking after that. Finally, after years of feeling empty and not knowing why, after years of searching and not finding, after months of pining—he made it. He made the love he wanted and it’s here, it’s always been here, it always will be.

Buck never wants to leave this moment, ever.

Of course, that’s exactly the moment the front door opens and he hears Christopher say, “Dad?”

Because of course.

 


 

“Dad?”

Ah, fuck, Christopher. And Abuela.

Fuuuuuuuuuck.

Buck gives Eddie a look of complete panic and Eddie—well, Eddie’s spent enough time fucking Buck and ordering him around to know what Buck means when he has that look on his face. He’s waiting for Eddie to tell him what to do next.

For a second, Eddie considers bundling Buck out the door. He’s pretty sure they both look exactly like, well, like they were just furiously making out as if an asteroid was headed for Earth.

Except…

Why would he hide Buck? They’re together, they’re… dating feels like such a casual term, feels like it doesn’t fully, truly encapsulate what they are, who they are to each other, but he can’t think of any other word in the moment as his grandmother and his son both barge into the house…

Screw it. He’s not hiding Buck. Christopher sees Buck just about every day and Abuela adores him, always forcing more tamales on Buck like she thinks he’s on the brink of starvation. This isn’t like… other times. There’s no big surprise, no shock. There will be no judgment.

Besides, whether he realized it or not, whether they admitted it or not, he and Buck have been dating for months now. It’s about time others knew, and nobody gets to know before Christopher.

He just hopes Christopher’s okay with it.

“We’re in here!” he yells, lightly pushing Buck off him. “Get your shirt on,” he hisses.

Buck stares at him, mouth open, then scrambles to do as he’s told, putting his shirt on and fixing his hair. Eddie glances in the mirror, makes sure he doesn’t have any hickeys he didn’t know about, and then grabs Buck by the hand to enter the living room.

“Dad!” Christopher smiles and holds his arms out for a hug, then spots Buck. “Buck!”

“Hey, buddy.” Buck squeezes Eddie’s hand and grins at Christopher, easy as breathing, but Eddie would bet money that Buck’s heart is racing.

Eddie’s is racing, too.

Abuela glances between them, then raises an eyebrow.

“Is Buck here to hang out?” Christopher asks, finished hugging his dad and now moving on to Buck.

“Um, yeah.” Eddie takes a deep breath. He feels like he’s standing on a diving board for the first time and realizing it’s a lot higher when you’re on it than when you’re looking up at it. “You surprised us, little man, this wasn’t how I planned to tell you, but, uh, Buck and I are… together, is that okay?”

He feels like a complete idiot with absolutely no eloquence, but Christopher just looks him dead in the eye and says, “I know.”

This is definitely his kid.

Buck laughs and Abuela scoffs. “It’s about time you found someone new, Eddie, I keep telling you…”

She keeps lecturing him, fond and stern as she always is, and something inside him unravels so fast that Eddie nearly bursts into tears.

He gets Buck to stay the night, and it’s just like any other time Buck hangs out with them, except he can touch Buck as much as he wants, and he can wink at him and make Buck blush, and at the end of it all Buck crawls into Eddie’s bed like he belongs there (he’s always belonged there).

Eddie’s almost asleep when Buck murmurs, mouth against Eddie’s collarbone, “I thought you were gonna… tell me to sneak out.”

Eddie buries his face in Buck’s hair and inhales. “’M proud of you. I wouldn’t hide you.”

The kiss that Buck presses to Eddie’s neck is soft as mink. “Proud of you, too.” He hears Buck’s jaw crack around his yawn. “Love you.”

Of course it’s already instinct to Buck to murmur it. Eddie smiles into Buck’s hair, and for the first time in his life it’s easy to reply the same.

He’s proud of himself, too.