Buck found out about everything and when Buck finally found out, it did not go well.
His hands shook in a way that they never did while they were out on a job, moving back and forth across his supply bag as he tried to find things to patch up wounds that he knew clearly were not from work.
Neither of them say a word to one another while Buck works on what he can. They hadn't spoken since Eddie had met Buck's wide eyed stare in the doorway ten minutes before. Buck had said his name, opening his mouth to let out a panicked stream of words before Eddie had quickly shook his head, asking him to save the questioning and eventual anger until some later point that night that he didn't want to think about.
Eddie knew Buck, knew that he wanted to rip into any little bit that he can get a hold of and tug and tug and tug until he has ripped Eddie into little shreds that were unrecognizable. But he didn't for the moment, and that's all Eddie can hope for. So instead, Buck settled for angrily dabbling the cuts on Eddie's face with alcohol, his hand lightly moving across different stages of bruising as he glared whenever their eyes happen to meet. It made him want to smile. But he knows that he can't afford another crack across the jaw at the moment.
And then Buck laid the last bandage, running a hand over a final bruise, and stepped away from him to run a hand down his face. His face was unreadable as he suddenly turned to walk into the kitchen to grab a water and aspirin. Eddie got up from the couch with a grunt and followed him, internally holding in a sigh.
"Evan-" He started but Buck swung around and shot him one of the nastiest glares he's ever seen pointed his way, third only to his Abuela and Shannon.
"What could you possibly say to me, Eddie, since we can't talk about why you came to me, looking like some street fight gone wrong?"
Eddie winced. That's the thing about Buck, he always hits the nail right on the head, even when he doesn't know it.
Buck thumped the bottle of water and aspirin on the kitchen island, glaring across at him as he geared up to talk again.
"And don't think I haven't noticed the bruises and-"
"That's because I am." He offered simply, cutting the other off.
Buck stared at him, seemingly in clouded confusion before he blinked and it disappeared. "What?"
"That's because I am a street fight gone wrong." He clarified. His chest expand with cruel relief as he finally told Buck the truth, no matter how utterly pissed he knew he would be.
Buck raised a hand and pressed it to his face, hiding his eyes as he began to stalk back and forth across the kitchen floor. Finally he stopped, dropping down into a crouch against the refrigerator with both hands hiding his face. Eddie couldn't tell if he was laughing, crying or something in between. He stood suddenly, opened his hands and stared at him with a clear face.
"You've been street fighting?" He asked.
"That's where you've been getting the bruises?" He asked, gesturing wildly at his body when Eddie nodded in ashamed conformation.
"Jesus Eddie!" He suddenly exclaimed. "Why the hell would you even-" He began, seemingly at a loss for words when he cuts himself off.
He tried to come around the island to face him, to be near him so this didn't feel like the argument that it was but Buck glared at him harder. "No! Don't touch me! How selfish could you possibly be?! Did Christopher ever even cross your mind when you started this?!"
"I'm sorry, okay! I didn't know who or what to turn to. I was just so angry and I didn't know what to do! Lena brought me to a fight and I just kept going back."
Buck threw up his hands, laughing bitterly. "Why didn't you talk to anyone! Jesus, Eddie, this is what a therapist is for. You have a whole fire station of people ready to stand behind you."
Eddie's gaze turned into a glare at what he felt sounded like hypocrisy. "Like how you did before making life altering decisions?"
Buck stalked around the island towards him, staring him down in his anger. "I'm not a father, I don't have people that depend on me, not really. You do. And I didn't decide that street fighting was a better answer to the problems in my life!"
Eddie backs away from his fiery, laughing bitterly as he took a seat at one of the kitchen chairs. "You're so blind, Evan. You have no idea how many times Christopher has pushed me away since the tsunami, asking for you instead after a nightmare and I have no idea what to tell him anymore. How to get him through it anymore."
It's stood silent for a moment, Eddie wouldn't look at Buck and Buck couldn't stop looking at Eddie.
"I know-" Buck started, breaking the silence. "I know that what I did was selfish to you, it probably was, but it was the only way I felt like I could get back to doing what I love, doing what I love for."
Buck puts a hand on Eddie's shoulder as he continued. "And I'm not trying to judge you, Eddie, but my choices wouldn't have killed anybody. You aren't thinking about how hurt you could get and I'm only angry because I'm worried about you. You could get killed and then Chris would be without both of his parents. I don't want that and I know you don't either."
Eddie suddenly let out a single body racking sob, lowering his head. "I know, I know you're right, Buck. I have to stop. I will."
Buck crouched down in front of him quickly, pressing one hand to his cheek to get him to meet his eyes. "I know you are. I know and I'm so sorry that I wasn't there before to help you or Christopher. All I can promise that I will be from now on, now that I know differently."
Eddie smiled and reached up his own hand to touch Buck's cheek in an identical gesture. "I know. I'm tired of the both of us being sorry though. I want things to start going back to how they were. Can we do that? For real this time?"
Buck was silent for a moment as their eye contact held before he let out a small laugh and smile. "I think I can do that."
Both of them carried the conversation from that night with them in the back of their minds, through calls, when they go back home for the day, unwilling to bring it back in the daylight. However, it does not go forgotten, it instead causes an almost palpable change to their daily relationship.
Not in a bad way. Not in ways that make them break the promise that they both made that night. But it feels like they've gone through some huge milestone in their relationship together and made it through the battle bruised but with stronger skin underneath.
They learn to become partners again, slowly but faster than even the first time around, surprising all of their close friends as they remembered the period right after Buck came back. Lena goes back to her old but renewed station, Buck wormed his way back into the good graces of both the firefighters at the 118 and their families that he had come to love and slowly things begin to go back to some new definition of normal.
Neither Buck nor Eddie try to think too deeply about how their relationship just might not be all that normal, in terms of just friendship.
Buck threw himself down on the couch beside Hen between calls with a huge sigh, ignoring the way she gave him an unamused look when she looked up from her phone. Eddie quickly glanced away from the patch of skin on his stomach that his eyes were drawn to with the hitch of his shirt.
"I think I know every screw, nut and bolt on the fire truck." He grumbled.
"You'll only be on light duty for a bit longer, Buck." Hen reassured, unsympathetic, patting him once without looking up. "We don't want to have to save you while trying to save someone else."
Buck seemed to actually think this over for a moment before he got up and crossed over to throw himself on the couch Eddie is sitting on across from Hen. However, this time he laid across the couch, his head coming to lay against Eddie's thigh. His cheek pressed warm against the fabric of Eddie's uniform pants before he turned his head and looked up. Their eye contact held for a moment before Eddie forced himself to be the first to look away. Hen snorted across from them. Neither of them looked at her.
"I'm tired of this long day." Buck sighed, letting his eyes fall closed. Eddie glanced down at him, back over at Hen, who has gone back to her phone, before he slowly let his hand fall to land on Buck's shoulder blade. He feels somewhat ridiculous but didn’t think into it and doesn't pull away, even when Buck glanced up at him again, making his heart jump and his mouth dry at the look.
"Did you sleep okay?" He asked softly, his hand moving unconsciously now as he focused his attention on the man in his lap. Ever since that night they had started the habit of sharing phone calls with one another after Eddie had laid Chris down to sleep and gone to lay down himself. After 3 nights of Buck's name flashing across his phone screen at almost the exact same time every time he kind of put together that he was checking to make sure that he was at home and not off fighting. However, Eddie never mentioned anything about it or got angry at Buck. He knew that Buck cared about him, and this was his way of showing it.
But slowly the calls changed from short and sweet check ins to long talks that made each feel like the other was just sitting in the same room, in the same bed. They would talk about their seperate days, what either might have done with Christopher that afternoon while the other was on duty, just about anything that flickered across their minds at the moment. Each night the calls began to feel more and more like vulnerable insights into the other's lives that no one else got to see or hear about, that even they didn't get to see or hear about before. Each bit and scrap of information is something that Eddie begins to hold staunchly to his chest and he knew that Buck was the same.
Buck just smiled, a soft thing and nodded, pulling himself up but not moving any farther away. "I did, I didn't mean to fall asleep though. I'll make it up to you."
Eddie exhaled and tried not to think deeper into the statement and just rolled his eyes as he broke up the moment. "You don't have to owe me for falling asleep but Christopher has been begging to see you again, come over tonight?" He asked, already knowing that they got off from their shifts at the same time, early enough to pick Christopher up from school.
"Of course." Buck agreed. "You know that I'd take any chance to see that kid. I'd kidnap him if you didn't know where I'd be." He said cheekily, smiling wide at his own humor.
Eddie just glared playfully and pushed against Buck's shoulder as he stood up. "He'd get one cold and you'd be sending him back, Buck."
Buck just huffed in playful irritation, turning to look at him. "I'll have you know that Maddie got a cold once and I was with her every step of the way!"
Eddie just shook his head with a laugh, walking away. He carefully ignored the look that Hen gave him from the other couch when he went by.
"Buck!" Christopher yelled happily as he walked down the school sidewalk to meet the two of them.
"Christopher!" Buck replied in the same tone, opening his arms to catch the little boy into a hug that made him giggle.
“Where have you been, Buck?” Christopher giggled as they walked back to the car together. Buck’s smile dimmed slightly and he looked up at Eddie for a moment with a guilty expression but Eddie just smiled at him, silently reminding him of their promise.
“I just had to take care of a few things after the tsunami.” He said haltingly. “Nothing too important but I’m here to stay now. You’re stuck with me. I’m sorry that I wasn’t around though, Chris.”
The boy just smiled up at him as he and Eddie helped him into the back seat of the car. “It’s okay, Buck. Sometimes chores just pile up. It happens to me all the time.”
Buck bit his bottom lip as he tried to think of something to say to this wonderful, forgiving boy. He felt like one of the worst people walking on the earth for leaving him so soon after the tsunami but tried to remember the words that Eddie had told him. Tried to remember that they had both forgiven each other for any wrongs that either committed.
“Well, you’re gonna get enough of him buddie, he’s agreed to come and visit you tonight.” Eddie saved him before he could do something embarrassing like cry in front of the kid. They both smiled when Christopher cheered. He closed the car door with a laugh and turned towards Buck with a soft smile that he returned wobbly before they both got back into the truck to go home.
“Okay, okay, bud, Chris. It’s getting time for bed.” Eddie laughed after Christopher’s third knock knock jokes that he said he had been saving to tell “his Buck” the next time he saw him.
Buck just smiled down at the groaning boy. It had oddly felt like years since he had seen the kid and it made his heart ache painfully as he tried to push those types of thoughts from his mind.
“But dad, Buck is here!” Christopher protested hotly and Eddie turned his stink eye to Buck when he just laughed in clear amusement. He knew that there was nothing more that Eddie hated than to be the fun killer of the party.
Buck quickly lifted the boy as he stood up from the couch, giving Eddie a break. He shared a fond glance with Eddie who just shook his head at the two, a smile threatening to break through his stern expression. “I’ll be here in the morning, you know, and you have to go to bed so that you can go to school and become smart to try and get one of those astronaut gigs, you know?”
Christopher just giggled as they began to walk down the hall to his bedroom. “No silly, I want to be a firefighter like you and dad now, don’t you remember?”
Buck could hear a small noise from behind them, where he had left Eddie, but did not turn away from Christopher to look. All he could do was smile and nod his head.
Buck helped Christopher into his pajamas and through the routine of getting ready for bed without any complaint from Eddie, who was still in the living room.
He finally helped the little boy into his bed and sat down at the edge. “Will you be here for breakfast, Buck?” Chris asked sleepily, hiding a large yawn behind his hand that made Buck smile at the image.
“You know it, maybe I can convince your dad to make some chocolate pancakes.” He wiggled his eyebrows, making Christopher laugh, not all that dissimilar to how Eddie looked when he laughed at some stupid joke that he told during a call or at the station.
Buck heard a laugh from the doorway and turned to see Eddie in the doorway of the bedroom. “You can try.” He said, raising an eyebrow at Buck before coming closer and smiling at his son in the bed. “Good night bud, I love you.”
Christopher smiled, closing his eyes as they slowly got up to leave him. “Good night dad, Good night Buck. I love you.”
Neither knew who the last part was meant for but it swelled both of their hearts just the same to hear it from the boy. Eddie closed the bedroom door and glanced at Buck, who leaned against the wall beside the door, staring down at the floor.
Eddie reached out and laid his palm in the groove of Buck’s spine to lead him towards the living room and away from Christopher’s room so that they would not wake him up. Buck straightened up at the touch to his spin and Eddie’s mind began to race when he felt the change in posture, his heart raised into his throat and he felt a spread of heat in the base of his spine. He did not know when things like this had changed between them. Had they changed? Should he think more deeply about where he placed his hands on his friend? Was he thinking too much about something that seemed trivial?
“Are you okay?” He whispered when they made it back to the living room. His hand dropped away from Buck’s back but the other man didn’t step any farther away from him.
“I’m just glad that he doesn’t hate me.” Buck whispered after a moment of thought. He glanced up to meet his eyes across the space that was between them.
Eddie didn’t mean to but he chuckled quietly at the reveal from his friend. “I don’t think there is anything that you can do to make him hate you. You could probably run me over and he’d still want you to visit.”
Buck smiled at that but still didn’t say anything, just leaned back into the wall. Eddie’s smile dropped and he took one step, two steps closer. The toes of his shoes almost touched Buck’s and the younger man looked up at him when he saw this.
“Neither of us could hate you.” Eddie said, barely above a whisper. They feel like secret words, ones that they rarely tell each other and never tell anyone else. “I think it’s impossible at this point.”
Buck’s smile is suddenly bright, the whites of his teeth showing from between his lips. “You think so?” He asked just as softly and Eddie nodded without any hesitation.
“‘I’m pretty sure.” He gave and suddenly Buck is in his space, arms looped around his neck in a tight but welcomed hug that Eddie returned. Eddie’s breath hitched and Buck exhaled, relieved. Buck shifted his weight and their cheeks are pressed together.
“I’m glad.” Buck whispered against his ear and Eddie closed his eyes.
Hey guys! I bet you thought you had seen the last of me. Sorry to disappoint you. XD
Things are getting a bit more obvious, huh? Well, you all better hold on cause this train is getting a move on.
I honestly have a kink for characters that go by their nicknames most of the time but like one person (usually their love interest ;) ) calls them by their given name so you will totally see a lot of that in this story.
Comments and kudos are appreciated. As I said, they feed my poor ass. Cons-crit is something that I actually appreciate too so don't be afraid to make my pansy-ass cry.
Until next time!