The scene they were getting ready to leave had been brutal - a 30 car pile up as a result of a jackknifed tractor-trailer that had blocked multiple lanes on a two-direction highway. It had taken an extra twenty minutes for the fire truck and ambulance to work through traffic because of the staggered cars – the ones that had managed not to crash. Four different stations had responded to the scene.
The worst was a car that had driven partway under the tipped trailer, the hood of the car folded in like an accordion. The driver was barely clinging to life when Buck and Eddie had pulled him from what had formerly been a Honda Accord. Any smaller of a vehicle and Buck was certain the man would have been DOA. They had handed him off Hen and Chimney, who had to medevac him to the trauma center. That had left Buck and Eddie working with the paramedic team from the 115. Luckily they had been just as capable. Together they got the two kids out of the backseat and into another ambulance. From there everything was a blur as they dealt with all the smaller accidents that had occurred as a result.
Buck was just putting the last of the tools back into the truck when he heard a voice behind him. “Hey Buck,” he turned around to see Emily, one of the paramedics from the 115. She was a good foot shorter than Buck, with long red hair tied up at the back of her neck.
“Oh hey, glad that’s over.”
“Yeah me too. Listen, so Julie and I were talking, and we were wondering if you and Eddie would want to go on a double date sometime? In our line of work it’s so rare to meet others who understand- well everything, you know?” She asked smiling brightly.
“I mean, I can ask him. He doesn’t like to go out much – what with his son and all.”
“I get it, Julie can be like that too. Which is why we thought we would ask. Like I said, it’s rare to find people who really get it.” Buck thought for a moment. It had been a long time since he had been on a date, and even longer for Eddie, he was sure. It might be a good, no-pressure way for his friend to dip back into the dating game.
“Let’s go, Emily, we need to get this patient to the hospital,” Julie called from by the 115’s ambulance. Buck looked over at the tall brunette who was standing with the back door open, waiting for her partner.
“Here, give me your number, and I’ll see what he says. You ladies are pretty awesome, I should be able to talk him into it.” Buck said, handing her his phone.
“Great, just text me when you know, and we can plan something.” With a clap to his shoulder, Emily turned around and ran back over to Julie. Buck watched as the conversed, Julie shook her head at her friend but was smiling. Then with one last wave back at him, they hopped into the ambulance and were off.
“What was that all about?” Buck jumped and spun around to see Eddie standing behind him.
“Nothing much. Just a couple of very cute, very impressive paramedics looking for a date with two of LA’s finest.” Buck said waving his phone.
“Chimney and Hen are both in relationships.”
Buck rolled his eyes. “I’m ignoring that. What do you say? Double date? Me and Emily, you and Julie?” Buck felt his stomach roll uncomfortably at the statement but chalked it up to hunger after the difficult and lengthy call. Why wouldn’t he want his friend to start dating again?
“I don’t know Buck. Are you sure because I thought-”
“Eddie, it’s one date, low key, and no pressure. If you aren’t feeling it, you let me know and I’ll get us out of there.”
“Buck,” Eddie sighed. Buck pouted, widening his eyes while he held Eddie’s stare.
“One date. If it’s a disaster I’ll never bring it up again. I will support you in your monk-like lifestyle.”
“Fine. I’m pretty sure I’m going to regret this – but fine.” Buck bounced on his heels. No one could resist the pout and puppy dog eyes.
“You won’t. I promise.” Buck opened the door to the truck and climbed in, Eddie following behind him. As Buck settled into his seat the odd feeling in his stomach was back.
A week later Buck and Emily were still trying to firm up plans. Between scheduling around shifts and finding a sitter Buck was starting to realize why Eddie never seemed to go out. Finally, they had a night where all four were not working. The last hold up was a baby sitter for Julie’s daughter.
Buck was sitting at the firehouse kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal, thinking. Maddie had, after giving Buck an incredulous look and lecture he did not want to think about, agreed to watch Christopher. Chimney had just laughed so hard he had to excuse himself, texting rapidly to someone, probably Hen. Buck looked over to where Chimney was playing a hand of cards with Eddie at the couches. That was it! Pulling out his phone he dialed Maddie, praying she was either not working or on break. When she picked up on the third ring he did a silent fist pump.
“Hey Buck, everything okay?”
“Everything is great. Well sort of. Remember how you said you would watch Christopher on Saturday night? How would you feel about a second kid joining? Emily said Julie is having trouble finding a sitter. She has a little girl, 8 I think, like Christopher.”
“For this date you have with Eddie on Saturday?” Buck’s heart clenched at his sister’s wording.
“It is not a date with Eddie, it’s a double date.” Maddie snorted disbelievingly, saying nothing. “Maddie,” Buck whined, looking for an answer.
“If she is okay with it, sure. Why not?” Maddie said sounding amused. Buck decided to ignore his sister’s tone of voice.
“Thanks, Maddie. I’ll let you know as soon as I do. Talk to you later.”
“Bye Buck.” Smiling Buck clicked over to the messenger app. He typed up a quick message, shook his head, deleted it, and typed it up again. Reading through once, Buck nodded and hit send. Turning back to his cereal, Buck was surprised when he phone wrung instead of dinged a few minutes later.
“Hey Emily, so what do you think?”
“Actually this is Julie. Your sister used to be a nurse? She works for 911 now?”
“Oh, hi Julie. Yup, her name is Maddie. She’ll be watching Christopher too.”
“And the paramedic from your squad-Chimney, will be there too?”
“Is he the one who survived rebar through his head a few years back?”
“Um, yeah. That’s him.” Buck said, rubbing at the back of his head nervously. Julie didn’t respond right away.
“Can you hold on a second?”
“Sure.” Buck could hear muffled voices as if Julie had covered the microphone with her hand. Buck took a bite of cereal while he waited.
“Buck? It’s Emily. That would be great. We could drop Lily off and pick you boys up, say for 7 on Saturday?”
“Just text me the address.”
“Will do, see you Saturday.”
“We’re looking forward to it,” Emily said brightly hanging up. Buck smiled, stood, and grabbed his cereal.
“So Eddie Saturday is on. Maddie to the rescue.” Buck called out as he walked over. Chimney started laughing, stood and walked away holding his sides. Buck glared at his back.
“I don’t know man. It’s taken a lot of effort to make this work.”
“None of that. It’ll be good for you. Hell, it’ll be good for both of us. You’ll see.” He felt doubt and nerves flaring up. It’ll be a good thing, help you get over whatever this is that you’ve been feeling,” Buck told himself.
“I guess Chim is done playing…hand of rummy before the next call?” Eddie asked, snapping Buck from his musing.
“Hell yeah, deal me in,” Buck said settling in across from Eddie.
It was finally Saturday night. Buck smiled at his reflection in the mirror as he fussed with his collar. He had decided on a powder blue button-down and dark jeans. Nodding satisfied, he grabbed his jacket off his bed. With one last glance in the mirror, he made his way down the stairs, pausing to grab his keys and wallet. Everyone was meeting at Eddie’s house. Maddie and Chimney would babysit the kids there.
The drive to Eddie’s was quick. When he pulled in Chimney’s car was already there. Buck walked in without knocking.
“Hello,” he called making his way into the house.
“In here Buck,” Maddie called from the living room. Maddie and Chimney were sitting on the couch. Christopher was on the floor at the coffee table with coloring books and crayons spread out in front of him.
“Buck!” Christopher shouted excitedly, pushing on the coffee table with his hands to stand up. Buck crouched down in front of him, and Chris launched himself forward for a hug. The motion caused Buck to lose his balance and the two tipped backward, laughing.
“It’s good to see you too buddy,” Buck planted a kiss on his forehead before sitting up, Chris now in his lap.
“Daddy said you are going out with some friends from work, and I get to have a play date!”
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a fun night for everyone. Where is your dad?”
“He’s still getting ready. I think he’s nervous.” Chris whispered.
“He has been in there a while actually,” Chimney voiced. Buck looked up for the first time, nodding to the adults in the room. Maddie just smiled as she watched Buck and Christopher interact.
“Maybe I should check on him.”
“Good idea,” Chimney smirked. Buck pretended he didn’t notice.
Buck gave Chris another big hug, causing him to laugh merrily before depositing him back at his coloring books. Christopher returned to his activity and Buck stood and wandered down to Eddie’s bedroom.
“You in there Eddie?” Buck asked rapping on the door with his knuckles.
“Yeah, come in.”
“Almost read-” Buck stopped short, taking in Eddie’s room. Eddie was standing in front of his mirror, cuffing the simple flannel button-down he was wearing. Shirts and jackets were strewn all over his bed and the closet door was open. Buck stepped inside and closed the door. Eddie was wearing Buck's favorite purple and black flannel over a pair of black jeans. Buck could feel his heart start to race. Telling himself he was probably just feeding off of Eddie’s nervous energy, he moved in closer.
“You look nice.”
“Thanks, you too,” Eddie replied looking up at Buck through the mirror. Buck couldn’t help but notice the way the purple shirt made Eddie’s eyes pop.
“I guess,” Eddie turned around, facing Buck.
Buck stepped closer and squeezed Eddie’s shoulders. “Eddie, it will be fun. It’s just dinner, and not even at any place fancy. And I’ll be right there. If you change your mind halfway through I’ll fake getting sick or something and we can bail.”
“I’m holding you to that,” he said smiling for the first time since Buck had stepped into the room. Buck smiled in back in response, and absentmindedly fiddled with Eddie’s collar. When Buck realized what he was doing his hands froze. Buck could feel Eddie staring at him. Just as Buck summoned the courage to meet his eyes, the doorbell rang.
“That would be them,” Buck intoned, gently removing his hands from Eddie.
“C’mon, let’s get this over with.” Eddie grabbed a jacket from his bed and moved past Buck, grabbing his wrist.
“That’s the spirit,” Buck deadpanned, as he allowed himself to be pulled along.
While on the date, Buck makes some major realizations that throw him for a loop.
I preface this chapter by saying I am not from LA nor have I ever been there. I choose the neighborhood for the date from brief research on google. The restaurant and bar are completely fictional, and I apologize if they do not sound like something that would exist in the neighborhood I choose.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They had gotten out the door with little fanfare. Julie had already prepared a list of numbers for Maddie, so it was hugs all around before Buck and Eddie followed Emily and Julie out the door and into the car.
“So I thought we’d go to this amazing gastro pub in Silver Lake, and if you boys are up for it there is this little bar that Jules and I love across the street,” Emily said, turning around from her spot in the driver's seat to look at Buck and Eddie.
“Sounds good to me,” Buck smiled. When Eddie didn’t reply right away Buck discreetly elbowed him.
“Silver Lake?” Eddie questioned.
“I know. I promise these places are a bit more low-key than some of the others.” Julie answered.
“You realize having a kid doesn’t make you old and decrepit?” Emily asked, looking at Julie with a fond smile.
“Yes, someone reminds me almost daily.” Julie quipped back, smiling crookedly at Emily.
Buck grinned and elbowed Eddie again. “Good advice for you too.”
“Yeah, yeah,” is all Eddie says, before Emily changed the subject to bizarre calls as she backed out of Eddie’s driveway.
The drive to the restaurant should have been 20 minutes, but it is LA so it was quarter to 8 by the time they walked into the local spot. It was dimly lit and cozy, with metallic colors popping against dark purples and blues. The whole place had a very art deco vibe that Buck dug.
“This place is awesome. Great choice!” Buck exclaimed, breathing in the delicious aroma of the restaurant. A young female hostess whose hair is up in a high ponytail greets them. When she turns around the underside of her hair is dyed all the colors of the rainbow.
“Oh man, I love your hair! How long did it take to get it like that?” Emily compliments as they follow her to a booth.
“Thanks! It took forever and is a lot to maintain. But I love it.”
“I bet. I think my captain would have a coronary if I came in with hair like that.”
“Not to mention it violates the department's dress code. You had to get special permission for those purple highlights you kept for all of two months.” Julie said wryly sliding into their booth. Emily slid in after her.
“You liked my purple highlights,” Emily said. Buck couldn’t quite read the look she gave Julie, who seemed to turn pink at this. Buck tried to catch Eddie’s eye as he slid into the booth next to him, but Eddie avoided eye contact and instead reached past him and took a menu from the hostess.
The hostess left and the table fell mostly silent as they perused the menu. The occasional comment about a dish that looked good was the only conversation. Soon their waiter came and took their drink orders. They were still looking through the fairly lengthy menu when the waiter returned with their beers and a pitcher of water for the table. He left again, and soon they all folded their menus, having decided. They sat in awkward silence for two beats.
“So tell me about Christopher. How does he handle your job?” Emily broke the lapse in conversation. It was like Eddie’s whole mood shifted as he started talking about his son. Buck couldn’t help but add in his own stories here and there.
“So I get home, and it looks like an explosion has gone off in the kitchen, and Chris and this one are just standing in the middle of the chaos, covered in some chocolate goo.”
“Hey, Chris wanted to have milkshakes with dinner. I tried saying no. Then I got these sad eyes and ‘but Daddy had to work all day while we were having fun. It’s so hot out. I think he would really like one.’ The next thing I knew the blender was out; I turned my back for two seconds, and he had turned it on without the lid. Never again, I swear.” Buck shook his head at the ceiling.
“Oh god. It sounds like this one time Emily and Lily thought it would be nice to have movie night set up for when I got home. It looked like a popcorn machine had exploded. The floor was covered.” Julie burst out laughing, and soon the whole table was. The waiter found them like that when he finally came back. They ordered their food and the waiter shuffled off again.
“So your station house must be pretty cool about everything right? I mean Hen works there.” Emily asked. Buck looked at Eddie, not sure of what she meant.
“Yeah everyone at the 118 is great,” Eddie answered. Buck wasn’t sure if he missed something or if Eddie was being purposely vague because he also had no idea what Emily was talking about. Either way, it doesn’t matter because Eddie abruptly changed the subject and asked, “so why paramedics?”
Buck was watching Eddie as Emily and Julie answered the question. He had relaxed his posture and had spread out more in the booth, one arm slung along the back of it behind Buck. Buck sipped his beer and took in just how good a relaxed Eddie looked. Between the smile, the dim lighting, and the way the purple shirt brought out his eyes, Eddie seemed younger and happier than he had in a long time. Buck wanted nothing more for Eddie to always look like that. He had been nervous that he had pushed too hard to get Eddie to come out tonight, but it seemed like things were going just fine.
“Earth to Buck,” Eddie said, shaking Buck gently by the shoulder. Buck fought the blush he felt creeping over his face. It probably was bad form the be caught mooning over your friend while on a double date with said friend and two very cool women, who should have been holding his attention.
“Sorry, lost in thought,” he mumbled, forcing his most charming smile onto his face as he looked over at Emily. If she was offended by his behavior she didn’t show it, instead, a soft smile appeared on her face.
“It’s okay. Eddie was telling us about how you gave him a hard time when he first joined the team. Clearly, that didn’t last.”
“Ah, no. I was…different. A lot has changed.” Buck rubbed at the back of his neck nervously. “How long have you two been working together?” Buck shot back, desperate to change the subject. He could feel the tension building in his shoulders. Eddie’s hand dropped down and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. The heat from Eddie’s hand seeped through Buck’s shirt making his head swim and when it didn’t move right away he found it hard to concentrate. He hoped that neither of the women found it odd, but he couldn’t bring himself to move out of the grasp. Buck forced his focus to Julie who was talking.
“That was four years ago. I can’t imagine going back to life before.” Julie’s hand dropped off the table. Buck nodded.
“I wouldn’t want to,” Emily smiled, and the two shared another look he that had Buck feeling like he was intruding on a private moment.
Luckily the food showed up, breaking the moment and getting Eddie to move his hand from Buck’s shoulder. As the quartet dug into their meals the conversation petered out, and Buck felt his mind wandering again. The night was going great, but he really couldn’t see himself feeling anything other than friendship for either woman. He had the passing thought that he hoped it was the same for Eddie but stomped that thought down. His friend deserved happiness. Though I could make him happy, a traitorous corner of his mind offered. Buck shoved a large bite of steak into his mouth.
“This food is so good. I officially love this place,” Buck said, needing conversation to distract him from his thoughts.
“I told you. It’s our favorite. They do a top-notch kid's lunch menu, so even Lily likes it here.”
“Oh man, I bet Chris would too. We definitely need to bring him some time.” Buck bumped Eddie’s shoulder with his excitedly.
“Sure Buck. Maybe in a couple weeks when he’s on break.” Eddie smiled softly at Buck.
The group finished eating and was waiting for the waiter. Buck half-listened to the conversation. Eddie had once again spread out, his arm along the back of the booth behind his back. This time though he had shifted slightly and they were pressed together from hip to thigh. It was odd that it didn’t feel odd. What was odder was the whole evening really did not feel like he was on a date with Emily. Buck couldn’t say he was disappointed, she was funny and cute but he felt no real attraction to her. The waiter interrupted his musings, and before long they had settled the bill and were walking out of the restaurant.
“So it’s only just after nine. You boys want to grab a drink or two across the street?” Julie asked.
“I’m up for a drink.” Buck looked to Eddie for his reaction.
“Yeah, a drink sounds good.” Eddie agreed, smiling. Buck was a little surprised by the mixed emotions. He was glad his friend was having fun and letting loose a little, but he was also felt a little jealous of the smile Eddie had for the pretty brunette. Buck took a quiet breath and reminded himself that he needed to be supportive and happy for his friend.
“Great, it’s literally right across the street.” The group made their way over. Buck was surprised when Julie stayed next to Emily instead of walking with Eddie. Eddie didn’t seem to mind as he walked next to him, swaying into his space and bumping their shoulders like always.
The bar didn’t look like anything special from the outside but was packed inside. Most of the other patrons seemed to Eddie’s age. The music playing is halfway decent, and there was a small dance floor that currently only has a few people on it. Buck was glad that this bar was absent of drunken partiers – he hoped Eddie would actually enjoy himself.
They manage to find a table and the girls offer to get the first round. Julie and Emily disappear together up to the bar. Buck takes the opportunity to check in on his friend. “You seem to be enjoying yourself.”
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool. And you were right. I did need a night out.”
Buck grins. “Of course I was right. I’m always right.” Eddie rolls his eyes, but Buck is sure he is amused.
“I don’t know about always.” Eddie has that expression that Buck has been noticing more often, the one that is usually reserved for him.
“Whatever. You and Julie seem to get along. Think you’ll ask her out?” Eddie quirks an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything for a minute. Buck can feel his heart pounding faster the longer Eddie takes to respond.
“Buck,” he starts. But whatever he was going to say Buck never finds out because the girls come back each holding two drinks.
Emily set one of the drinks in front of each of them. “These are the best drinks not on the menu. I accept gratitude in forms of food and flattery,” she quipped and took a drink from Julie. They all laughed and sipped at their drinks.
“Damn, this is good,” Buck said approvingly.
“See I told you! We love this place because the drinks are good and fairly priced, and the bar isn’t overrun with college kids.”
“I can appreciate that,” Eddie says tipping his drink towards Emily. The chatter continued and Buck looked around. He was trying to figure out where he’s seen those flags that line the ceiling over the bar when Julie asks him a question, bringing his attention back to the group. They chat as best they can over the pulse of the music and mingled voices of the other people in the bar, sipping on their drinks.
Buck had just finished his drink when the lights dimmed and the music volume turned up. A sexy song that Buck kind of recognized came on.
“This is my jam! Let’s dance!” Emily grabbed Julie’s hand and started pulling her to the dance floor. “You coming boys?” She asked, looking back.
“C’mon,” Buck smiled, and pushed gently on Eddie’s shoulder to move him toward the dance. But Eddie didn’t move. Instead, his hand shot up and grabbed Buck by the elbow.
“Buck, wait, you need to - ”
“Eddie, when two beautiful girls want to dance, you suck it up and dance,” Buck interrupted.
“Yeah, I get that. But look around you for a minute.” Eddie said his other hand grabbing Buck by the hip and turning him to face the dance floor. Buck sighed and tried to focus, but his shirt had ridden up some and Eddie’s thumb was touching skin.
“Alright, what am I looking for?” Buck managed to ask, his voice sounding shaky. He really hoped Eddie hadn’t noticed over of the dull roar of the bar.
“Look at the people Buck. The couples.”
Buck looked over his shoulder and quirked an eyebrow in confusion, but decided to humor his friend. He turned and scanned the bar. It seemed like an average bar. People were at tables drinking, heads bent close together to talk. Couples littered the dance floor; bodies slotted together moving to the beat of the music. There were Julie and Emily by the corner of the dancing area, they looked like they were having a great time and luckily didn’t seem to notice that Eddie and Buck hadn’t joined them yet. People were at the bar, leaning forward so the bartender could hear their orders. Buck had no idea what Eddie was talking about.
He started to turn to again ask Eddie what he was supposed to be noticing when his brain finally caught up with his eyes. He whipped his head back to Julie and Emily. Emily had a leg in between Julie’s, arms wrapped around her neck. Julie’s arms were around Emily’s hips holding her close. And okay, Buck had seen more his fair share of women dance together like that when it meant nothing, just a way to attract the attention of the men in the room. But this was different. Their heads were tilted towards each other foreheads touching, and they were whispering back and forth, small secretive smiles on their faces. It was intimate. Buck stopped to look closer at the other couples and his brain supplied the helpful detail that most of the couples appeared to be same-sex. His eyes snapped back to the flags decorating the wall above the bar, particularly to the pink, purple, and blue one. Those were not flags of states or countries. Buck can’t believe he missed it; he knows that flag. Feeling like a moron Buck finally turns back to Eddie.
“I am the world’s biggest idiot. Eddie, I am so sorry. I really thought this was a you-and-Julie date and an Emily-and-I date. Wow, I misread that one.” Buck reached for his drink, and when he found it empty he put the glass down a little harder than necessary and sighed.
“You’re not an idiot Buck. And there is nothing to be sorry about. Tonight has been a lot of fun. And it was definitely no pressure.” Eddie said wryly, handing Buck his glass. Buck finished off Eddie’s drink in one gulp. “I’d offer to go get the next round but Emily never did say what she ordered.”
“It’s okay. Probably shouldn’t drink too much more anyway between the blood thinners and,” Buck cut himself off as another realization ricocheted through him like a pinball. It knocked the air from his lungs, stirred up butterflies in his stomach, and buckled his knees. Buck gripped the edge of the table. Had he and Eddie been on a date tonight? Did the girls think they were a couple?
“Buck you okay? Shit. I didn’t even think about alcohol and the blood thinners. Maybe I should go ask Julie exactly what was in this. Tasted like rum but who knows how much,” Eddie rambled, as he gripped Buck’s shoulders and scanned Buck over.
“Yes. No.” Buck managed. “Yes, I’m okay. No, don’t ask about the drink. One beer with dinner and one drink are fine.” Buck takes a deep breath and pulls himself together.
“I know it’s a little embarrassing, but honestly I don’t think either of the girls noticed your err, misconception. Don’t worry about it.” Eddie squeezed Buck's shoulder and gave him that wide-eyed soul-piercing stare of his. Buck took another breath and forced a smile onto his face.
“You’re right. Oh god, thank you for not letting me follow them onto the dance floor,” Buck cringed at the thought of how he really could have embarrassed himself.
Eddie laughed. “Hey, I have your back, remember?”
Buck allowed himself to smile. “Yeah, I remember.” They were staring again, and Buck didn’t have the will power to turn away. Not when Eddie was looking at him with such a soft and fond gaze. The moment was broken when Julie and Emily returned to the table.
“I thought you were going to come dance?” She asked, drinking from a water bottle she had acquired.
“Sorry, ladies. I wanted to finish my drink.” Eddie answered.
“Uh-huh,” Julie eyed them with a knowing look. “Well if your drink is finished we aren’t leaving until you boys dance at least once. I am under strict orders from Maddie to ensure that you ‘blow of some steam,’ one song and then if you want to leave we can.” Buck silently cursed his meddling sister.
“Your sister has been hanging around Chimney too much,” Eddie grumbled.
Julie laughed. “She cares for both of you. Your very lucky to have a family the loves you.” Buck couldn’t think of anything to say to that, and so he and Eddie followed the girls to the dance floor. Buck was so nervous he was surprised he was not visibly shaking. This night had lurched in a direction quickly, and now he found himself expected to dance with his friend - who he was definitely attracted to – as if it were something they always did. He just hoped that Eddie wouldn’t be too upset or weirded out.
The song that was playing had a fast beat, and so the four stood in a circle and all danced together at first. Buck was thankful because, by the time one song blended into the next, his nerves had calmed down. But of course, because this was Buck’s life, the next song was slower and sultry. Emily and Julie paired off to dance together as they had been before and it left Buck feeling awkward while he swayed to the music, looking at Eddie. He thought about making a break for it, and from the look Eddie had on his face he had too.
Before they could do anything, Emily looked over Julie’s shoulder and yelled at them to enjoy themselves and dance. That no one here would judge them. Buck contemplated just ignoring her and hightailing it to the bathroom when Eddie grabbed him by the hips and spun him around. Buck froze for a moment, but Eddie’s hands moved his hips for him.
“Just relax Buck.” Eddie's breath tickled Buck’s ear. Buck moved his hands to grip Eddie’s thighs, in an attempt to ground himself. But it just made him hyper-aware of everything. He could feel the hard muscle flexing through his jeans. He was aware of the gentle pressure of Eddie’s hands on his hips, the scorch of skin on the skin where Eddie had tucked his thumbs up underneath Buck’s shirt. Their slight height difference allowed Buck to feel Eddie’s puffs of breath against the curve of his jaw. How even though Eddie is shorter than him, somehow they still fit together with Eddie behind him like that. Then there was the drag of denim on denim from where their bodies were slotted together. Without thinking, Buck leaned back against Eddie’s strong chest and pressed their faces together cheek to cheek. Eddie’s stubble felt ragged against his face, and the smell of his aftershave assaulted his senses. The sensory overload had his brain in a fog, had him hardening in his pants, had him viscerally wanting there to be no layers of clothing between them.
There was nothing innocent about how they were dancing. There was certainly no going back. If the steadily growing bulge that Buck’s ass kept grinding against was any indication, Buck’s feelings were less one-sided than he had thought. Buck closed his eyes and pushed aside all thoughts about later and tomorrow. He focused instead of the sensation of being so close to Eddie and decided to enjoy it.
The song ended, and the next one had the same kind of beat and tempo but Buck stopped moving and turned around to face Eddie. What he saw sent fire shooting through his veins. Eddie was biting his lip, his pupils were blown wide, and his eyes were glossy. He looked as wrecked as Buck felt. He said nothing and spun Eddie around, then pulled him back against his chest. They resumed dancing with Buck in the back, Eddie’s hands gripping Buck’s thigh. Buck was desperate for more contact. He moved a leg in-between Eddie’s then slid his hands from Eddie’s hips up under his shirt, moving his fingers in time with the music and their dancing. Buck bent his head down and placed an open-mouthed kiss to Eddie’s jaw. Buck felt Eddie’s stifled moan reverberate through both of them. Bringing a hand up Buck encouraged Eddie to turn his head, and caught his lips in a searing kiss. Their movements slowed as their mouths moved together. Buck deepened the kiss, licking his way into Eddie’s mouth. Their tongues slid together slow and dirty, and Buck tightened his grip on Eddie’s waist, wanting to be closer still.
The music changed again, to another fast and upbeat song, reminding Buck where they were. Buck had to force himself to pull away. They rested their foreheads together, breathing heavily. Eddie leaned up and caught Buck's lips in a sweet kiss.
“Let’s see if the girls are ready to go. It’s probably getting late.” Eddie murmured against Buck’s lips. Buck didn’t trust his voice and nodded before separating their bodies. He grabbed Eddie’s hand and, and they walked off the dance floor to find Julie and Emily.
-Hope you enjoyed this chapter. It has been a long time since I have danced this way with anyone, so I hope by depictions were not terrible.
-I have some work left to do on the last chapter, but I am aiming to have it up for tomorrow so I can start working on the 12 days of buddiemas prompts.
-Again I apologize for mistakes, but my only beta is grammarly.
Thank you all for the kind notes! Without further ado, here is the conclusion to the story!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The ride back to Eddie’s house was quiet. The space between him and Eddie felt like a mile after how closely they had been dancing in the bar. There had not been time to talk, and Buck was feeling anxious about where they stood. Shyly he stretched his hand into the middle seat, an unspoken invitation. Buck felt his nerves ratcheting with every second that passed. Eddie looked down and then caught his eye. Buck offered a nervous smile and looked away. He was about the pull his hand back into his own lap when he felt calloused fingers thread through his. Buck smiled wide and watched the lights flicker by the window. All too soon they pulled into Eddie’s driveway and the group ambled into the house.
Maddie and Chimney were tucked under a blanket on the couch, the TV volume turned down low. “Hey, did you have a good time?” Maddie greeted.
“Yes, thank you so much for watching Lily. A grown-up night was definitely needed.” Julie answered, her arm slung around Emily’s waist. Buck could feel Maddie’s eyes on him, and he looked past her, refusing to meet her eyes.
“No problem. She was really good. They both were.” Maddie nodded to where Lily as asleep on the reclining chair, only a tuft of her hair visible under a fleece blanket. “So did you make these two follow my strict orders?” Maddie asked, throwing a sly smile over to where Buck and Eddie were standing, shoulders brushing.
“They were hesitant at first, but yeah I’d say they blew off some steam tonight,” Emily smirked. Buck could feel himself flushing. “Actually we should get going. We need to get Lily home, and I’m sure these two want to be alone.” Buck could feel Maddie and Chimney’s eyes on him as Emily gathered Lily’s backpack and Julie carefully picked Lily up, trying not to wake her. Buck tracked the girls’ movements, and then followed them to the door, Eddie two steps behind him.
They said their goodbyes, and after the door was closed Buck and Eddie turned and looked at each other. Buck reached down and took Eddie’s hand in his. Eddie stepped closer, holding his gaze with a heated look, and Buck felt confident that what happened earlier would not be a one-off. Buck brought his free hand up and tugged Eddie by the back of the neck into a kiss. It started out gentle and sweet, but Eddie opened his mouth and soon was tongue on tongue and roaming hands. Eddie squeezed his ass and slammed their hips together just as Buck had gotten his hand up Eddie’s shirt, fingers digging into his back.
They were interrupted by someone loudly clearing their throat. Buck reluctantly separated from Eddie, and they turned to see Maddie and Chimney packed up and waiting to get out the door. Buck was too wrecked to even feel embarrassed. He knows Maddie said something, but his brain doesn’t process it. Then Eddie pulled him away from the door and Chimney and Maddie were gone.
He and Eddie were finally alone. Buck swallowed hard, “So…”
“Let’s check on Chris. You’re staying tonight,” Eddie said, his voice rough.
Buck was pretty sure the second part wasn’t a question, and it had his body vibrating in anticipation. “Yeah, okay.”
He followed Eddie through the house, and they paused to turn off the lights in the living room. When they got to Chris’ door Eddie opened it slowly and they peered in. Chris was sound asleep in his bed breathing evenly. Eddie’s hand came up to the small of Buck’s back and guided him away, gently closing the door behind them. Eddie moved his hands to Buck’s waist and walked him further down the hall.
Eddie stopped outside his door. “I have a confession to make before this goes any further.” Buck’s breath caught in his throat. Rarely does anything good come after a sentence like that. If Eddie noticed Buck’s sudden anxiety he continued on pretending he didn’t. Eddie moved closer to Buck and put a hand on the side of his face, forcing him to maintain eye contact. “I want this Buck. I’ve wanted this for a long time. I-I was sure that you had misread Emily’s intent when she asked about a double date. I didn’t really try to correct you, because I didn’t want you to cancel. I wanted to go out with you.”
Buck let out the breath he had been holding. He brought his hand slowly up Eddie’s chest, stopping with his hand over Eddie's heart. “You know, almost as soon as I talked you into tonight, I started regretting it. I was jealous. I realized that I didn’t want you going out with anyone that wasn’t me, but I had no idea you even liked guys, let alone possibly returned any feelings I was having. Then in the bar when I realized my idiotic mistake – I was embarrassed but relieved. When we started dancing,” Buck paused as he felt blood rushing south at the memory. “Well, I guess it became a lot clearer to me that my feelings aren’t so one-sided after all.”
Eddie didn’t say anything and instead slid his down to Buck’s neck. The two men sized each other up for a few moments. Then they were colliding together again, moving into Eddie’s room. Eddie closed the door behind them. He kissed Buck hard, then moved past him, and threw the mess of shirts and jackets on his bed to the floor. Buck let himself be manhandled to sit on the foot of the bed. Eddie slung one leg on either side of Buck and settled in his lap. The two were kissing again, and before long they had each other out of their shirts. Buck moaned at the skin contact, his hands finally freely roaming Eddie’s naked back. Eddie pulled away from Buck's lips with a loud pop and got off his lap. Buck watched through hooded eyes as Eddie shucked off the rest of his clothes. He could feel the electricity pulsating through him as he took in every inch of his soon to be lover.
“Move back on the bed,” Eddie demanded as he prowled toward Buck.
Buck scrambled to follow the direction without taking his eyes off the gorgeous man in front of him. Eddie was all muscle under tan skin, and Buck yearned to feel Eddie’s weight on top of him. Buck moved to remove his own pants but stopped when Eddie shook his head. Eddie climbed onto the bed and crawled towards Buck, one leg on either side of his body. He stopped at Buck’s waist and balanced his weight on his legs and knees, so he would have his hands free. While maintaining eye contact Eddie undid the zipper and button on Buck’s pants, before he slowly teased them down his hips, over the curve of his ass, past his thighs, down and off his legs. Before tossing them to the floor.
Eddie repositioned himself so he was leaning on his hands and arms. Then he placed a hot open-mouthed kiss on Buck’s thigh. Skating past the part Buck most wanted him to lavish attention to, Eddie continued trailing kisses at Buck’s hip, then all the way up his stomach and chest. When he reached Buck’s neck he spent extra time sucking at it before he moved to his jaw. Eddie bit at it gently then soothed it with his tongue.
“Eddie, please,” Buck pleaded, his voice two an octave lower than usual. Buck moved his head, trying to catch Eddie’s lips, but Eddie evaded him. Buck brought his hands off the bed to Eddie’s hips, fingers digging into the bare skin before sliding them up Eddie’s stomach, feeling all the hard ridges of Eddie’s abs. He slid a hand down, nails dragging through the trail of soft hair, eliciting a gasp from Eddie. Buck wanted desperately to be closer, to feel more skin, but Eddie stilled his slowly wandering hand and moved it back to his hip.
“Soon,” Eddie murmured back, lips skating over Buck’s ear, nipping at the lobe before moving up to place a gentle kiss over his birthmark. Eddie caught Buck’s lips in a searing kiss. Eddie’s sucked Buck’s tongue into his mouth dragging a deep, throaty moan with it. Buck’s hip canted upward of their own accord, his body making brief contact with Eddie’s. Eddie gasped again, and then finally lowered his body down onto Buck.
Buck relished in the feeling of Eddie’s weight on him, as a fully encompassing heat spread through his body at the many points of contact of skin on skin. And when Eddie wrapped a large hand around both of them and gave a gentle tug. Any coherent thoughts Buck had left flew from him as he lost himself in the sensation of being so intimately pressed against Eddie.
“Oh my god Buck, I can’t believe you thought, you thought…” Emily’s shoulders heaved in laughter. She put her head down on the table, her coffee cup still grasped tightly in her hands.
“In my defense, I had no idea you thought Eddie was my boyfriend. I’m still not sure why you thought that.” Buck said hotly. His response sent the rest of the table into their own peels of laughter. It was several weeks later, and Buck found himself sitting in the station having a cup of coffee with Eddie, Emily, Julie, Hen, and Chimney.
“Buck, while we were on that pile up call you got a text from Eddie’s son’s health aide. I saw your phone’s lock screen. It’s a picture of the three of you. Then there was the way you looked at each other and talked about each other. And I mean, we weren’t technically wrong,” Julie answered for her partner, gesturing to where Eddie had brought a hand up to the back of Buck’s neck in comfort. Buck grumbled under his breath but didn’t respond.
“You should probably be thanking us. From what Hen said you two seemed destined to dance around each other forever.” Emily smirked, finally having composed herself.
Hen snorted. “You have no idea how true that is.”
“You hush Henrietta. You knew the whole time and said nothing.” Buck reprimanded.
“And I stand by that choice. I was tired of watching you fools moon over each other.”
“C’mon Buck. It wasn’t so bad. It was a good night,” Eddie squeezed the back of Buck’s neck, smiling at him softly. Buck looked up his boyfriend – god he was so happy to get to call Eddie that – and returned the smile, his indignity fading.
“It certainly was. And I have to say, life it a lot better since then.” Buck took Eddie’s other hand, and brought it up to his lips, kissing Eddie’s knuckles softly while looking into his eyes. The moment was ruined moments later by Chimney's fake gagging. The two men tore their gaze from each other and looked back to the group.
"Real mature Chim," Buck said rolling his eyes. Chimney smirked unapologetically
“So did Emily like that mac and cheese recipe Buck sent?” Eddie changed the subject. Buck smiled and leaned back in his chair, only half listening as the conversation carried on. Instead, he watched Eddie interact with their friends, and thought about how much he loved the man. If one embarrassing misconception was what it took to end up here, then it was a price he would gladly pay a thousand times over. Buck looked down at his hand that was still holding his boyfriend’s. Eddie and Christopher meant everything to him. He was the luckiest man in the world.
Again apologies for any glaring mistakes, I am my own beta.
Thanks for reading!