It wasn’t the first time Eddie was zoned out while in between calls at the station, sitting on the couch and just staring into the distance. His mind had been a mess lately and the reason for it was now making its way towards him. Buck landed on the couch next to him with a loud sigh with his arms and legs all stretched out. While Eddie turned his head to look at the man next to him Buck lowered his arms and looped one around Eddie’s shoulder. And this, this was exactly why Eddie’s mind was going crazy. These last few weeks Buck had been doing things like this, sitting closer to him than usual, touching him a lot more and a part of him felt really hopeful. He’d been in love with Buck for a while now and silently accepted this fact. Sure, it hurt to say goodbye to the man after watching him spend the day with Christopher, they were together so much on their time off that Buck felt like an addition to the family, at the end of those days all he wants is to pull Buck into his arms and chase the loneliness away but he wouldn’t do anything that could break what they have now, for himself and for Chris. Suddenly he felt his shoulder being tapped and saw a disappointing look on Bucks face. Christ, he totally didn’t listen to what the man was saying, too absorbed in his inner monologue.
“Uh-” Not quite sure how to explain that he was zoning out he averted his eyes and felt his face heat up, both from embarrassment at being caught and from the source of his thoughts being so close to him.
“As I was saying, we all spend around 6 months of our lives waiting for red lights to become green, that’s like, a lot? But it’s gonna happen anyway whether you skip this one red light or not, right? So-” Ah, it was time for Bucks fact of the hour. Secretly glad he didn’t miss anything too important he turned back to his best friend and actually started listening this time.
A day later, he was off-shift and he had just dropped Christopher off at school. Instead of driving home though, he had a different plan. He had been so distracted lately and he knew he couldn’t let his feelings affect his job so with a bit of reluctance he dialed Bobby’s number. Talking about his feelings would definitely never be his thing, but Eddie knew he needed to deal with it before… before everything would get out of hand again.
He parked his car in front of the Grant-Nash house and he could feel the fear and dread build up, he knew realistically he had nothing to be afraid of but the realization that he would be talking about his romantic feelings for another man really hit him. He could still turn around now. Standing in front of the door, he took in a large breath and rang the doorbell before he could actually second guess his decision.
He sat down in the living room and Bobby handed him a cup of coffee while sitting down on the opposite side. “So, everything okay?”
Eddie nodded and spoke. “Yeah. Yeah, everything is fine. I just… wanted to talk to you about something.”
Bobby gave him a slight smile. “Does it have anything to do with you being so distracted lately? Because don’t think I didn’t notice you zoning out whenever we’re in between shifts.”
Eddie chuckled at that. “I have been zoning out a lot lately, haven’t I?” His expression turned serious again and he let out a sigh. “Yeah. Okay so uh, I-” And he starts letting it all out.
“I’m in love with Buck. And it’s fine, or at least it was. I was okay with hiding it as long as we stayed friends, you know? But lately, Buck has been acting differently, like he might want something more too. And I just don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, I don’t know. I really don’t want to ruin our friendship or even worse, our working relationship. But if I don’t do anything… I feel like I might go crazy wondering ‘what if?’”
It stays quiet for a couple of seconds, Bobby looks genuinely surprised. If it’s at what he just said or the fact that he’s bearing his heart again Eddie’s not quite sure.
“Eddie, your friendship already endured a lot. The tsunami, the lawsuit. Buck wouldn’t just drop your friendship, you know that. I can’t tell you what to do, that’s for you to decide. But what I can tell you is that love works in unexpected ways sometimes. I never imagined I’d be happy with someone again and look at me now. Yes it was scary to take that chance, but I’m glad I did.”
Eddie looked down at his hands in his lap, still slightly shaking and let those words sink in.
“You’re right. I know you’re right in my head, but I’m still afraid. Not just of losing him I guess, but of being rejected too. I finally allowed myself to feel again when Shannon came back and that didn’t work out. I’m scared of these feelings I have for Buck.”
“Just take your time, Eddie. You’re allowed to feel things again, how unlikely that might seem to you right now. And Buck is a good guy, I can tell he cares a great deal for you.” Eddie could feel himself blush slightly at that last comment.
“Thanks Bobby. I’m sorry for… suddenly dropping this on you. I think I might take that chance actually. I’m gonna invite him over tonight and tell him.”
Bobby let out a laugh. “Not exactly what I meant with take your time, but if you’re sure about it I won’t stop you.”
Later that day Eddie dropped off Christopher at his abuelas house. He was lucky she didn’t mind the last minute calls to watch Chris. He promised her to pick him up first thing tomorrow morning but when she asked what the emergency was he hesitated for a moment. “I uh- I kinda have a date planned for tonight.” is what he ended up telling her. She didn’t ask further, just told him she was happy for him.
He had sent Buck a text earlier in the day asking if he wanted to come over for dinner. As expected, not much later he received a very enthusiastic confirmation. When Eddie got back home he immediately went to work in his kitchen, grabbing all sorts of pots and pans, finding his best silverware completely covered in dust in some long forgotten drawer. It’s been a while since he went all out in the kitchen like this, Eddie remembers. Once the chicken enchiladas are in the oven and the kitchen is back to what it was before the chicken and sauce where whipped out he allows himself to take a breath. He looks at his watch and realizes Buck could be here any moment now. Looking around the house he makes a dash for one of his cabinets and fishes out a small candelabrum with three candles and lights it. Just as he is admiring his work he can hear the sound of an engine turning off and not much later there’s a knock on the door.
He opens the door and steps aside to let Buck in. Buck opens his mouth as if to say something, then glances alongside Eddie to look at the fully decorated dining area and his mouth closes again. Eddie’s so distracted by all the emotions passing by on Buck’s face, surprise, confusion, a shy looking smile, that he belatedly realizes the door is still wide open. He clears his throat and all but subtly closes the door. This is going to be more nerve wracking than anticipated, he realizes.
“The food is almost done, just a couple of more minutes in the oven. Can I get you a beer or something?”
Buck’s eyes were still going over his surroundings when Eddie asked him. His eyes moved back to Eddie’s and stared at him for a second before answering. “Uh, yeah sure. Beer is fine.”
Eddie quickly turned around and stuck his head in his fridge more than necessary to grab two beers. He needed to cool down, take a breath and just… be cool. He could do this. Just act normal.
He turned around and almost walked right into Buck, who apparently had followed him to the kitchen. Quickly taking a step back he stretched out one of his hands and handed Buck one of the beers.
“Thanks.” “Yeah, no problem.” And there it was again, the awkward silence, not meeting each others eyes. Just as Eddie was about to break the silence with some small talk about Christopher, the kitchen timer went off.
A couple of minutes later they were both seated at the dining table across from each other, candles burning in between them and their plates full of steaming chicken enchiladas. The conversation was finally going again, Buck telling Eddie about Maddie and how they were shopping together earlier in the day. After a while, their plates become emptier and the conversation drops again. Eddie looks up and catches Buck staring at him, again with that small smile on his face. Eddie takes a deep breath and reaches out to grab Bucks hand across the table. He can see Buck’s cheeks become redder by the second and he has to look away.
“Buck…” He can feel Buck tracing his thumb over his hand which is what encourages him to go on. “So I uh. I kinda invited you over today because I wanted to uh.” God, had this always been so difficult? Buck was staring at him, still holding onto his hand, an unreadable expression on his face.
Eddie lets go of his hand and stands up. He paces around for a bit and then covers his face with his hands. After a couple of seconds he removes them again and looks Buck in the eye again. “I wanted to show you how much I appreciate you. I really enjoy having you around here, we really enjoy it, me and Christopher. But lately I uh. I don’t want to let you leave in the evenings, I want you here for breakfast and I want to make dinner for you just like I did just now. You’ve become… someone special to me. And I’ve been so afraid to lose you, so afraid to lose another chance at happiness. I want to be happy again. And I would like it if that was... with you.”
Silence. Utter silence fluttered between them for at least 5 seconds. Buck was gaping, his mouth reminiscent of a fish on land. Then he just looked confused. “Just uh, just to be clear. You mean like, you’re in love with me. Right?”
Eddie chuckled lightly. “Yes Buck. You really have to ask?”
Buck let out a laugh. “I mean, you could’ve just said so.” Buck, who stood up during Eddie’s whole speech, took a step closer towards Eddie. “But yeah, yeah I would like that. I’ve been kinda in love with you for a while now” He says, blushing vividly now, looking sideways and rubbing his neck in that endearing nervous way he tends to do.
Eddie steps forward and wraps his arms around Buck and pull him in a close hug. He can feel Bucks arms circle around him. “Y’know, I’ve been thinking of hugging you like this for a while now. Every time you leave I just want to hold you like this and ask you to stay.”
Buck moves back a bit and looks at Eddie. He smiles brightly. “Then do it.”
“Do what?” Eddie questions.
“Ask me to stay.” He says it in such a soft whisper, it took a bit for Eddie to realize what Buck had just said.
Instead of asking him, Eddie lays his hand on Bucks cheek and leans in. Their lips meet in a soft, simple kiss that lasts just a few seconds. After they separate Eddie can’t help but to wrap his arms around Buck again and to just hug him very, very tightly.
Sometimes taking that chance at happiness, how scary it may seem, might just work out.