Buck was having a great day. The best day. A perfect, perfect day.
He was on the first day of four days off. It was sunday. The sun was shining. He was spending the afternoon with his two favorite people, Eddie and Christopher. It was a cheat day, so he was pleasantly full of carb heavy picnic food. Eddie had gone to get them ice cream for a sugar hit to stave off the need for a food nap. There was literally nowhere else he would choose to be right now than sitting in the shade and applying lotion to Christopher's nose while he giggled and squirmed.
Oh, and Eddie kept taking his shirt off.
He had even got to put lotion on Eddie. Day, no, year made. He kept a nice friendly distance, of course, grumbling as if it were a chore rather than a pleasure. He had seen Eddie's body before, obviously, but touching it was something totally different, and he'd thought of the grossest rescues he'd ever been to so as not to really connect to the actual sensation of Eddie's warm, broad back under his fingers. He kept his own shirt on, partly because he was fair skinned and it took no time at all for him to go from tan to a vivid shade of pink, but mostly because he'd then have to decline the inevitable offer from Eddie to do him.
God, if only.
He was just rubbing the big glob of lotion off of his cheek that Chris had squirted at him in revenge when he heard Eddie's voice approaching. He looked up, expecting him to be talking to them and frowning when he saw that not only had Eddie put the soft, holey t-shirt that had been tucked into his waistband, back on, but that he was talking to a a woman, a beautiful woman, as he balanced a cardboard tray with their ice cream in one hand and happily gesticulated with his free hand.
Buck looked at Christopher in confusion, but he was smiling and waving.
Buck's stomach sank. Ms Flores, or rather, Ana. The famous Ana. And, yes, she was gorgeous, just as described by a reluctant, blushing Eddie all those weeks ago. He remembered the lotion on his face and rubbed furiously at his cheek with a paper towel before he helped Chris put his glasses back on and stood up. Eddie didn't seem to notice him at first, and Buck frowned at being ignored, even for a second.
Ms Flores, Ana, did though, smiling broadly and waving happily at Christopher. She was even prettier up close, and it was hard not to look at her body in what she was wearing, shorts over those cute patterned gym leggings with the cellphone pocket, and a crop top that hid nothing. She really was beautiful. Not Buck's type. In a woman at least.
Eddie seemed to snap out of whatever the fuck he was doing, and looked down at the melting portions of ice cream before he stepped into the shade and handed Christopher his tub, ruffling his hair for good measure before he placed the tray down and came to stand next to Ana, not Buck.
"This is Buck. Buck, Ana, Ana, Buck."
"Tsunami Buck?" Ana said, smiling and looking over at Christopher who nodded and grinned at her. Buck blanched but concentrated on not reacting, putting his hand out to shake. He didn't know why he was being so formal, but maybe Tsunami Buck was fucking formal. Her smile wavered for a second but she shook his hand. "It's so great to meet you. I've heard a lot about you."
"Yeah, you too."
That was true. Eddie would pepper little things into conversation about her, and Buck would say what he thought he should say, and then try and forget all about it. He was happy for his crush on Eddie to stay just that, a harmless crush. Besides, even if Eddie was bi, or gay, or any acronym that existed, Buck wouldn't risk their friendship for anything, so appreciating shirtless Eddie was as much as he would ever allow himself to do.
But this was new. This almost instinctive, primal jealousy, as he stepped back and let them chat out of earshot and rejoined Chris to robotically eat his frozen yogurt. When he was done he helped an annoyed Christopher wipe his face, and busied himself tidying up their picnic trash as Eddie and Ana still talked, only looking over occasionally and getting that awful pang every time he saw Eddie smile or act any differently around her than he did around him.
Romantic, flirtatious Eddie had only been hinted at in conversations that they'd had about Shannon, which were very much few and far between. In all honesty he was still surprised, and a little touched that Eddie had even told about him how disastrously his meetings with Ana had gone so far. Carla had filled him in on some of the stuff from the parents evening, and he'd laughed along gamely, pretending to find it sweet instead of annoying that Eddie was anything except reserved and snarky around people who weren't Buck or people he knew.
Christopher was restless and wanted to go play again, so Buck cleared his throat a little too loudly until Eddie looked over at him just as he was helping Christopher up. He said something to Ana, who laughed and tugged on her ponytail, before she waved again and stayed where she was as Eddie came over.
He was fucking blushing, which Buck hated, and he frowned down at his own sad little tub of ice cream that was effectively liquid. While Buck tried to think of something to say, Eddie brought it to his mouth and drank it, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand while Buck tried to remember how to form coherent thoughts.
Ok, so maybe this crush was getting a little out of hand.
"She was just, uh, out for a run, I bumped into her getting ice cream."
Buck nodded and looked back over at her standing awkwardly as Chris approached her to say hi. She looked hot, and was squinting in the sun. Eddie was looking at him weirdly, so he picked up a sweating bottle of water from their icebox and held it out as an offering, trying to look friendly. He was friendly, this was so dumb. And rude. Maddie would be ashamed of him. He was ashamed of himself.
"Did you want some water?" He managed, surprising himself at sounding nicer than he felt. She nodded gratefully, and he stood up again, tugging at his shirt which now felt tight over his full stomach before he wandered over and gave her the bottle.
She drank quickly, water slipping down and over her chin to slide down her neck. Christopher chattered away to her and she nodded and "mmm hmm'd" in between sips. Buck caught sight of Eddie watching her, enraptured, and he had to look away so that he would never see that look again when it wasn't directed at him. Which it would never be, so what the ever loving fuck was he doing?
With the bottle empty and the school related conversation over the mood fell awkward, with Buck who she didn't know standing there like a third wheel and Eddie pretending not to look at her. Christopher quickly bored of it, nudging Buck towards the playground and thankfully shifting his focus back on to his other favorite Diaz. His most favorite, now.
While they were in the playground Buck's attention was solely on Chris, and he only looked over once, just as Ana was apparently saying goodbye by touching Eddie gently on the forearm before she put her earbuds back in and jogged away. Eddie watched her as she retreated, and Buck would have watched him forever until Christopher tugged on his sleeve to let him know he wanted to move on to something else.
In the car, a few hours later, Christopher asleep in the back seat despite the hour, Buck thought he'd got away with it until Eddie cleared his throat awkwardly outside Buck's apartment.
"So. What did you, uh, what did you think, of Ana?"
"Uh," Buck said eloquently as he tapped his fingers on his knees. "She's nice. Beautiful."
Eddie smiled softly, hiding it too late behind his hand as he tapped the steering wheel with his other hand.
"She said that she would have stayed, but she had to get back."
Good, Buck thought, but said nothing. The last two hours of their trip had been almost back to normal, once the color had gone from Eddie's cheeks and he'd joined them in the playground. They'd even gone to a splash pad, which Eddie told him once Christopher was out of earshot that they'd been avoiding it since the tsunami, but that now Buck was here it was really encouraging that he was willing to go anywhere near it.
Buck had nodded and pretended to be fascinated with his shoe as he tried not to tear up. He was having a rude awakening in his own feelings in just a few short hours, and it was painful how much he wanted to be part of this little, broken family. Whatever Eddie may say, the way that he'd been around Ana had just introduced the idea that one day he wouldn't be invited to come over for the day on a whim. He would be a family friend, sure, but not family.
Buck realized he hadn't said anything else, and Eddie seemed to be waiting for more, so he tried to conjure something up that would sound supportive and normal.
"You should invite her over, for like a barbecue or something?" You could grill my fucking heart on it, maybe, he thought. "A bit more private than the park."
Eddie nodded, more to himself than to Buck, and Buck unbuckled his seatbelt and looked into the back of the car at Christopher. He reached through and stroked his shin gently, not enough to wake him but enough to say goodbye, and when he moved back to open his door he saw that Eddie was looking at him fondly. Fondly. Not like how he'd looked at Ana at all. It stung, and Buck made himself smile before he climbed out and tapped his palm on the door for them to drive away.
He watched their car until he couldn't see it anymore.
Buck didn't mean to keep secrets. Honestly, he didn't. Not about the big stuff, anyway. He had never meant to keep his bisexuality secret from his friends but it had never come up, and his first 6 months with the 118 had been such a dumpster fire that adding awkward conversations about sexual preferences into the mix seemed like a bad idea.
Once Eddie had joined them it had been a conscious decision to stay quiet, especially after they teased him about how hot he was. Yeah, no shit, he'd thought, when they'd waxed lyrical about how good looking he was. So that was an on purpose secret now, one that he had to remind himself to keep even when the topic came up and people looked at him for the opinion of the stereotypical straight guy.
He would just smile and nod and try and say what people wanted to hear. Which was how he ended up keeping secrets in the first place, a general dislike of making people feel bad when they assumed things about him that his demeanor or his appearance suggested.
So when he found himself in Eddie's Abuela's yard in the middle of a family barbecue, he was grateful that they didn't know he could speak spanish as they gossiped about him.
It was hard not to look around when he was being complimented on how great he was, however laughable he found it, and even harder not to blush when Eddie's aunt said he had a nice butt in his jeans. He was trying to concentrate on eavesdropping for mentions of Ana, who Eddie had mentioned in passing a few times over the last few weeks, while also playing a game of Go Fish with Christopher and a couple of other assorted little Diaz children whose names he was struggling to remember while he shamelessly listened in.
He was rewarded at last with his subterfuge when he heard Abuela describing her, and he barely had time to translate to himself what she was saying before he realized she was decribing her actual appearance, as in she was actually there. He made himself count to five and turned around with fake nonchalance as Ana approached him and the kids, holding a casserole dish of something steamy and cheesy.
It smelled delicious. Bitch.
Kicking himself yet again for being such a cliched, mean asshole, he made himself smile and wave like an idiot as she grinned broadly at the kids and greeted them in english and spanish, and he hated how Christopher's face lit up at the sight of her. She did look beautiful, Abuela was right. She was wearing a loose black cotton dress with a flowery blouse over the top that she'd tied at the waist, accentuating her figure perfectly. She was wearing flats, and when Buck discarded his cards and stood up he felt like he was looming over her so took a step back as he offered to take the dish inside.
She handed it over carefully, their fingers brushing as she did, and he looked over at the back door to find Eddie leaning against the doorframe watching them. Ana sat down and crossed her legs, picking up Buck's cards and continuing their game.
As Buck approached the back door leading into the kitchen, Eddie retreated inside. When Buck entered, blinking from the sun, he nearly bumped straight into him, clutching the dish tightly as he saved it from dropping to the floor and shattering.
"Sorry," Eddie muttered, moving past Buck to look back outside. "I didn't think she'd come. Did you?"
"Uh, I didn't know she was coming?" Buck opened the refrigerator and moved some things around so that Ana's dish would fit in. "Did I?"
Eddie came over to peek at what she'd brought and poked the corner of it, licking his finger when it got cheese on it. Buck nearly shattered the jar of mayo that he was holding and looked intently at his game of refrigerator tetris.
"It was your idea, remember?" Eddie said, his arm nudging Buck's as he slotted Ana's dish next to a tub of something that looked awesome and highly calorific. "I thought this would be a better idea, if more people were around."
Buck was stung. When he'd been invited he'd assumed it had been because he was wanted, not just to make up the numbers so Ana felt more comfortable. When he hadn't moved from the now full refrigerator and stayed silent, Eddie moved to close the door and Buck pulled himself together. He decided that he'd stay long enough to be polite and then make his exit. He'd leave right away if he could but he'd only been there twenty minutes himself.
Had Chris really looked happier to see her than he had when Buck had arrived? He tried to play it back in his head, recalling the hug that he always got when he met up with them. From Christopher, at least. Eddie had given him a pat on the back that had burned through Buck's shirt to his very core. He'd busied himself ducking down to kiss as many Diaz relatives as he could to stop thinking about the one that he couldn't.
"You ok?" Eddie was looking at him weirdly again, and Buck nodded, wiping his brow as if he was hot and not brooding. Eddie was distracted anyway, peering past him to watch Ana as she apparently won the game with Buck's hand. "What do you think?"
Eddie tutted and motioned outside, just as Ana got to her feet, daintily brushing invisible grass from her dress and joining Abuela who was starting to serve the food laid out on a picnic table.
"Yeah, she's nice." Buck managed, already wondering how many vague descriptors he could use about her. "Is she, uh, just dropping by?"
"Why?" Eddie stopped with his hand on the screen door. "Did she say she wasn't staying?"
Jesus fucking christ. Buck was so done with this junior high bullshit. He wanted to go home.
"I literally said 'hello' to her, Eddie, I don't know."
Eddie nodded to himself and headed outside, leaving Buck alone to watch as he puffed out his chest and went to help his grandmother. Ana was wearing sunglasses but Buck could tell she was watching him as he helped, his arms flexing in the short sleeved shirt he was wearing. Buck was too, so, no judgement there. High five.
Buck considered just leaving out of the front door when he heard Christopher calling him, and it snapped him out of his ridiculous mood. Ana was nice. Eddie deserved somebody who made him act like he was in ninth grade. And it was perfectly ok that Chris was happy to see somebody who made him smile the way he had. It was all fine, fine, fine.
In another example of the universe kicking him in the balls, he had the bad luck to walk in on the aftermath of what he assumed was their first kiss. He had got tired of listening to Eddie's family gossiping about how wonderful and beautiful Ana was, and after his legs had fallen asleep numerous times as he inexplicably stayed sat with the kids as some kind of weird Nanny he had finally stayed long enough that he could now leave without offending Abuela. He hoped, anyway.
He used his long dormant but ingrained experience of waiting tables to collect as many plates and cups as he could, earning himself a kiss on the cheek from Eddie's aunt that made him forget his sour mood again for a second. That mood returned with a vengeance when, unable to knock to announce his arrival in the kitchen, he nudged the screen door open with his foot just in time to see Eddie and Ana break apart.
Eddie had been doing the dishes, and the suds on Ana's waist said enough about where his hands had been, along with how her blouse had slipped off her shoulder. Eddie's hair, normally smooth and neat, was mussed on one side where Ana had obviously touched him while they kissed.
Buck physically burned with jealousy. It fizzed through him from his heart to his toes, taking him by surprise with its intensity. He knew he was getting dumb with his appreciation of Eddie, but he'd assumed that it was 90% loneliness and wanting to be part of his family, not necessarily with him.
Oh boy, was he wrong. This felt fucking terrible. Faking a levity he didn't feel, he mouthed 'sorry' at a blushing Eddie who smirked and started washing a glass so thoroughly that it would surely soon shatter. Ana was fidgeting with a towel, blushing and looking at the handful of dishes that Buck had somehow managed not to drop.
He smiled at her, trying to keep in mind that she was a nice person who had done nothing wrong apart from like Eddie, who was a great guy. A great guy. One who deserved a better friend than Buck was being.
Easing the pile of dishes down he made himself look at her properly, all nervous and sweet around Eddie's close family. While they worked together to scrape the food onto one plate he thought about how if Ana and Eddie got married then would he still be invited to barbecues, just ones at their house instead.
It was depressing him again, and he dropped a knife a little too loudly, deciding on a whim to pat his pocket as if he had received a text. When he got his phone out it mocked him with his total notifications of zero, but he swiped around as if somebody did actually need him for something.
Eddie accepted his excuses with a distracted smile, and Buck died inside a little to know that he just wanted him to leave so he could kiss Ana again. Ana herself was actually nicer, stepping forward for Buck to place a kiss on her cheek, only inches away from where Eddie's lips had just been.
Buck got Tinder.
People may think he acted impulsively, but he actually didn't. Therapy may not have stuck but he did actually know himself pretty well. He knew that he could go to a bar and be with somebody a few hours later. He knew he'd feel better, and then he really, really wouldn't.
So he had actually learned from his mistakes, despite the way he acted sometimes. At first he just downloaded it and ignored it. Keeping it as an option while he pondered the logistics of how he would use it. Would he just look for women? Or be honest? He was worried that any man he was with would just be a poor man's replacement for Eddie, and that was a shitty thing to do. But if he was actually, seriously looking for a relationship that would sure, first and foremost snap him out of his Eddie crush, but hopefully also lead to a real, fulfilling relationship, why cut out 50% of the potential pool?
His schedule was nuts, and most social occasions were spent with people he knew, so it wasn't like he could show up to a bar or a party with some guy, it'd just be too awkward.
After a week of hovering over the little 'x' to delete it, he was spurred into action by Eddie changing in the locker room and blushing when Chim pointed out a lipstick mark on his cheek, barely noticeable but put there by somebody else's lips. Buck joined in with the teasing for as long as he could stand before excusing himself and going upstairs to start writing his profile.
He thought on it some more, and decided he would just keep it to women at first and see what happened. In truth he was nervous of going out with a guy, not only for all the inherent complications of where they would go and how he would raise the subject with his friends, but mainly because he'd never actually dated a guy.
He'd probably slept with more men than women, especially after he left his home town and tried to discover what he actually was into. By the time he'd calmed down and had 2 abortive relationships with women he realized he didn't actually know how to do anything with men except have sex with them. Flirt with them, sure. But as a means to an end only.
Internalized homophobia, or biphobia, whatever. He knew that. He knew that dating was dating was dating. Or at least it should be, anyway. But when he'd been with guys before he'd always tended to be the one who followed the cues of the other. He didn't know how to go to a restaurant with a man, or how to behave at the movies, just to go to his knees in the alley behind whatever bar he was working at that week.
He hated some of the things he'd done, truly. But he was an adult now. A sensible adult who was going to get his head screwed on straight and have somebody who would get dish soap bubbles on his waist and mess his hair up because they just had to kiss him.
The bio was agony. He could fake arrogance along with the best of them, but making himself sound less of a disaster than he felt he actually was, was hard. Even choosing a photo was torture. Did he look serious, or soft? Flirty or stoic?
He settled with an older photo that Abby had taken of him one morning when he'd just woken up, before he could think of what expression to put on. He only still had it as he liked to look at it to remember how it had felt to be the focus of somebody's attention completely, even for a second.
With the photo done he looked around other profiles to see how other people presented themselves, and finally settled on being self deprecating about his cool job and how awesome it was. It made him think for a second what Ali would think if she saw it, using the very thing that she hadn't been able to deal with to try and attract somebody new.
Burying that train of thought, he re-read it one more time and shrugged before he completed his profile, just as a still blushing Eddie emerged at the top of the stairs, followed by a still teasing Chim. Tucking his phone into his pocket he got up to join them, resolutely not noticing how cute Eddie looked when he was blushing. Much, anyway.
He meant to do more with the app. He really did. He got matches, had stilted, awkward conversations with them where they made puns about hoses and being hot, and then either he was brave and said they weren't clicking, or just ghosted them completely.
Even though he knew statistically the amount of people who met the loves of their lives online was now huge, he just couldn't shake the slightly slutty feeling it gave him. It was all too close to how he had used to behave in the past, and he knew that despite his lofty intentions he was only human and it would be all to easy to find quick validation in pursuing people who only wanted one thing.
So he got more picky, only swiping when he sensed that more than a hook up was what was wanted. One girl seemed nice, she worked in some international call center place for a bank, nights mainly, so she was normally awake at the same time he was. They'd had a few conversations that had seemed to lead up to suggesting meeting in real life, only neither of them had pulled the trigger on it yet.
Buck knew why he hadn't. Eddie.
Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.
He was distracted. Kind of happier but quieter somehow, too. Buck wondered if he was thinking about Shannon but he never felt like he could ask. In fact they'd actually hardly seen each other outside of work for a while. When Buck had boldly invited Eddie and Christopher over to watch a movie they had accepted readily, only for Eddie to be quiet and reserved the whole time. Buck kept catching him looking at him only to then look away. He didn't get it, or at least he didn't want to. Was Eddie wishing he were with Ana instead?
Buck could only put things together from snippets of conversations he'd heard Eddie have with other people, or things that Christopher supplied him with innocently. He knew that she wasn't staying over, that he'd got from Hen, who had been musing with Eddie on whether it was ethical for her to come over while her student was there.
Eddie had said it wasn't an issue yet, which an eavesdropping Buck took to mean that they hadn't had sex yet, at least at night, anyway. Or while Chris was there. It made him feel like shit to be so nosy, but at the same time he felt an almost physical need to know. It wasn't competition, he knew that. It was almost like he wanted them to get super serious so that he could let Eddie go.
Either way, it wasn't working. Nothing was.
So when Chim said that he was letting Albert host a party at his apartment Buck thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to meet someone in real life. He couldn't, and wouldn't, be his old promiscuous self as his friends would be there, so he was optimistic about the chances of actually getting out of his head.
It was a great plan until a half hour before he was about to leave Eddie texted him and asked if he wanted a ride as Ana was designated driver. Buck pretended not to see it for ten minutes and finally just sent a thumbs up emoji. He didn't want to be rude, and it would actually be cheaper than getting an uber. Plus ubers were gross.
Much as he liked spending time with Eddie at any time, he had been counting on tonight being an Eddie free zone. And definitely an Ana free zone. The more he thought about how rude he must have come off to her the few times they had met, he felt awful.
Maybe, he thought to himself as he sat outside his apartment waiting for them, having drunk two beers already, maybe tonight would be the start of a nice friendship between them. He would have to get on with her if he wanted to stay in Eddie and Christopher's lives, so he may as well do the groundwork now.
Ana's car was small, and cluttered. It humanized her, which despite Buck's determination to start being nicer to her, even secretly inside his own head, hated. It didn't help that he was far too tall to sit comfortably in the back, and his knees bumped into the back of Eddie's seat every time they took a corner too fast. Plus his window wouldn't go down and all he could smell was a mixture of Eddie's shower gel and aftershave. It was torture.
It soured his mood, and by the time they got to Chimney's he was already climbing down from his lofty ambition of them having a beautiful friendship. It was hard enough to get out of her car without looking like some security camera footage of an animal being born overnight in a zoo, all legs and zero grace. Eddie's stifled laughter just made the whole thing worse. Especially when Ana joined in, hiding her pretty face behind a curtain of hair.
She had gorgeous hair, Buck thought as he walked behind them on their way inside. She really was a beautiful woman. And a nice one. She was nice and he was allegedly nice too, so this jealous asshole behavior would stop right now.
He hovered in the doorway while Eddie made awkward introductions to Maddie and Chim, who kept looking behind them at Buck as if to highlight his third wheel status. He wanted to make a joke of it but couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't make it even more obvious how out of place he was, so he excused himself and went to get a drink. Lots of drinks would make this night a whole lot more bearable than it seemed right now.
There weren't many people there yet, maybe fifteen to twenty, and they all seemed young. Young and carefree. Buck knew that on paper he too was exactly that, but he had learned enough from his total 2 for 2 failure in his recent relationships that he was actually anything but. So he let the young people mill around him as he nursed one beer, and then another, not noticing as the time ticked by.
When nature finally called he realized he hadn't actually spoken to anyone for over an hour. Or to put no fine a point on it, nobody had spoken to him. He must be radiating 'fuck off' vibes, definitely. Or just nobody wanted to talk to him. There were more people here now, he noticed with surprise and a bit of alarm as he made his way to the bathroom, passing at least fifteen extra people who hadn't been there earlier.
Thankfully the one bonus of everyone being at least old enough to drink and vote, the bathroom was still immaculate, and Buck took his time, appreciating the peace and quiet. He studied himself in the full length mirror, trying to replicate the expression he'd obviously had on his face to make him look so unapproachable. He was wearing one of his favorite outfits, a green button down that he knew looked reasonably good, so hopefully it was just his grumpy face that was the deterrent.
With yet another promise to himself to lighten the hell up and have a good night, he jostled past even more people and headed back to the kitchen. He took two beers to save transit time and also to make it look like he wasn't alone, and set out to find his friends. Or make new ones, whatever came first.
He couldn't find Maddie and Chim anywhere, and he said as much to a bleary eyed Albert, who told him that they'd gone to stay at her apartment with threats of violence if he trashed the place. Buck was happy for his sister, of course, but the fact they hadn't even noticed him to say goodbye stung. He was too fucking sensitive when he was drunk. The only solution was to get even more drunk so that he could climb the levels into happy drunk, and he made headway on that as he sat on the couch and flicked through his phone while he polished off the two beers.
More time passed in a montage of people stumbling past him in various states of drunkenness, and he almost didn't recognise the laughter that was unmistakably Eddie's until he was sat opposite him, pink cheeked with shiny eyes. Ana was nowhere to be seen, and Buck felt something release inside him as he relaxed for the first time that night.
"Hey," He said, raising his voice over the godawful Chainsmokers shit that Albert had playing. "Where have you been?"
Eddie shrugged and motioned around him, his movements loose in a way that Buck hadn't seen for a while. It hit him that if Eddie was drinking then he definitely didn't have Christopher tonight, and Ana had driven them together - conclusion, they were spending the night, maybe their first night together.
Buck felt nauseous, and he sat forward to rest his head in his hands. Eddie wobbled and stood up, patting his shoulder a little too hard before he sat down next to him.
"What is with you? You disappeared and now you're being weird."
Buck refused to feel the line of heat from Eddie's leg next to his, and he was saved from answering by Albert appearing with a tray full of neon looking shots. Eddie was already shaking his head but Buck stood up and took four, showing off his bartender dexterity by doing it one handed. Eddie smirked and raised his hands in surrender, and took one from him, downing it straight away.
Buck followed suit, and he was about to put the empty cups back on the tray when his phone dinged on the couch. It was face up, and Albert grinned at him and went for a high five before he remembered the tray and stood straighter.
Buck just pasted a smile on and put the upside down cups on the tray, grabbing another two and putting the total four down on the coffee table. Eddie was looking at Buck's phone which had gone dark, frowning at it. Weird.
Buck sat back down and downed another shot, deliberately clinking the plastic to break Eddie out of his reverie. It worked, and Buck watched as Eddie did that thing he did where you saw him decide which face he was going to put on. It was a happy one, so Buck copied it and handed him a shot.
They finished the last two just as Ana arrived, sober and clear eyed but comfortable and loose in a way that Buck never felt. She sat primly on the edge of the couch next to Eddie, and Buck made a concerted effort to shuffle along so that they had more room, swiping his phone as he did.
It was Becca, his call center match. She was off work and at a party, she said, and did he want to join her. Looking from his phone, to Eddie's face as Ana spoke to him but he looked at Buck, something told him to pull the trigger finally, just a different one.
He concentrated hard as his finger mistyped a few times, but the gist of the message he sent was 'Actually i've realized i'm not over someone. Have a great life. xoxox'
He actually sent the xoxox, and he laughed out loud when he read it back, making Ana jump and look up.
"Sorry, I was just, uh, messaging someone."
Ana smiled at him warmly, and Buck was about to try out some of his absolute bestest friendliest conversation starters on her when he noticed Eddie still looking at him, head cocked to one side.
"You joined tinder? That's great, man. Good for you."
Buck nodded and pretended to be doing other things on his phone rather than deleting the very app that had failed spectacularly to get him out of this stupid situation. He listened in as Ana and Eddie chatted about Christopher, and he felt jealous in a totally different way hearing her talk about him. The fact that she had cute stories about him, experiences with him that he wouldn't have now that she would see him in school and out of it.
"I love that kid."
He hadn't meant to say it out loud, but Ana stopped mid sentence and they both looked at him, waiting to see if he had anything to add. He didn't, so he stared back at them, noticing now that Ana's hand was resting on Eddie's thigh. He loved Eddie's legs. They were really great legs.
"He loves you too."
Eddie was trying to meet his eyes but Buck looked anywhere else, unwilling to let himself get pathetically upset about nothing in front of Ana.
"Yeah, you're really great with him." Ana took her hand off Eddie's leg and leaned closer to Buck, copying Eddie in trying to make eye contact. When Buck met her eyes he saw nothing but kindness. And pity, Was that pity? Did she know? Was he that obvious? Fuck. "You do a lot for him, you help him out a lot."
Help him? Do a lot for him? He loved that kid. He wasn't a project. Buck realized he was being rude again and slapped his knees harshly, standing up and absolutely not looking at Ana intertwine her fingers with Eddie's.
"Shots. More shots."
He never found Albert again with the shot tray, so he settled for killing time in the bathroom before he saw how drunk he was starting to look, and then chugging a bottle of water and grabbing two beers instead. He realized he should get a drink for Ana and chose a can of coke, hoping that would be a peace offering and make him look more normal and less like Eddie's weird, tearful friend.
Eddie and Ana were where he'd left them, and he took the opportunity to spy on them without them noticing. They weren't talking, but not not talking either. They were still super close, and Buck chose to sit someplace other than the couch so that they would have it to themselves.
Ana took the can with a bemused smile, although she did open it, which was a start. It fizzed onto her fingertip and she giggled, licking her finger with a little pop of her lips. Buck was watching her, smiling too, and he looked at Eddie, expecting him to be watching her too, maybe even a little turned on, but he was looking at Buck.
Buck concentrated on getting the cap off his beer, finally despairing and using his teeth, and taking a long cool sip just to have something to do. At some point he was going to have to go and actively socialize with all of these new people if he wanted to make friends who he wasn't in love with or related to.
That would involve moving though, and as the beer settled in his stomach and dulled some of his obsessing he couldn't find the will to care. Ana was telling Eddie about something that sounded super boring, and if he hadn't have been uncomfortable perched where he was, he would have drifted off.
He was snapped out of it by Eddie clearing his throat, and Buck realized he was being spoken to. He sat up straight and went to drink his beer only to realize he'd drunk it on autopilot. Eddie hadn't touched his, and he looked more like his normal self, leaning forward and focusing intently on Buck.
Ana wasn't there, Buck finally noticed, and it cleared his head immediately. Eddie waved in the direction of the bathroom and cleared his throat again.
"So, do you, uh, have any matches? On tinder, or whatever?"
"Yeah," Buck didn't know why he lied. He didn't know why he did a lot of things these days. "A few. Yep."
Eddie nodded and drummed his fingers on his knee, looking up at the dark tv screen as if it were showing something fascinating.
Buck nodded and put his empty beer down. He may be a little drunk, but Eddie definitely sounded off, and he wanted to push his luck a little and find out why. He felt daring somehow, even though he knew that was the alcohol talking.
"Some nice people, yeah."
Eddie raised his eyebrows, nodding to himself as he twisted the cap off the top of his beer. He didn't drink any, just tossed the cap on to the coffee table as they both watched it roll off. Buck picked it up and ran his fingers around the edge. He could see Ana talking to a wildly gesticulating drunk girl as she tried to get back over to Eddie.
"Some nice people, huh?" Eddie said quietly. "People?"
Buck met his eyes, refusing to look away as he saw the drunk girl hugging Ana in his peripheral vision.
"Yeah. A real range of different people. They're nice."
Eddie nodded again and took a long drag of his beer.
"Interesting pronouns there, Buck."
"Mmm," Buck nodded, deadly serious as his heart tap tap tapped on his breastbone. This felt dangerous. And weird. "Yeah, I guess so."
Ana had stopped to look at her phone and Buck kept an eye out for her as he leaned in closer to Eddie, who was biting his bottom lip.
"Guys?" Eddie said, so quietly that Buck wouldn't have understood if he wasn't watching his lips. When Buck gave a tiny nod, Eddie made a weird face and sat back in the couch, cradling his beer. "Fuck."
It wasn't even true, and Buck didn't know why he'd said it now of all times. Something was happening and he didn't know whether it was good or bad, but it was definitely something. With a quick glance up at where Ana was still standing ten feet away scrolling through her phone, Buck stood up and sat next to Eddie, keeping a distance so they weren't touching but could talk without anyone hearing.
"Why? Is that a problem?"
Eddie scoffed and shook his head vehemently. He seemed to realize that he was next to Buck instead of Ana suddenly and looked around until he spotted her. She looked up at the same time and waved, and Eddie returned it, his smile not quite meeting his eyes. Ana looked back down at her phone and Eddie found Buck's eyes again.
"So, have you, um, gone on any dates?"
Buck shook his head, unable to look away for a second from the little bubble they seemed to be in. Eddie licked his lips and looked down at the beer bottle, tugging at the corner of the label with a blunt nail.
"Hooked up with anyone?"
Eddie wasn't looking at him, so Buck tapped his knee to get his attention. He wanted to snatch his hand away as he felt an intense pang of longing and jealousy at how easily Ana could touch him and he couldn't.
"No. Just talking."
Eddie worried his bottom lip again and looked behind him quickly, whipping his head back when he saw Ana locking her phone and rummaging in her purse.
"So this guy you're, uh, talking to?"
Buck waited, still feeling bad for poor banking Becca and making her into a dude just to create this strange atmosphere. Eddie looked again at Ana, who was zipping up her purse and obviously on her way. He met Buck's eyes.
"Do you like him more than me?"
Buck's mouth fell open, and he would have stumbled if he hadn't have been sitting down. As it was, Ana approached and hovered awkwardly next to the seat that he'd stolen, and he stood up, grateful to break eye contact with Eddie as he tried to think of something to do with himself. Ah, fuck it, he thought.
"Not even close."
Eddie's eyes widened, and Ana looked in between the two of them, an indulgent smile on her face as she no doubt assumed they were talking about something innocuous. If only, Buck thought, as he was overcome with regret about the bomb he'd just dropped.
"I, uh. I'm gonna get some air."
He left them without looking, pushing past Albert's increasingly dishevelled friends, if they even were that, as he tried to get outside. He snagged a bottle of water on his way, and drank it greedily while he was finally outside and alone.
His mind was racing. Not only had Eddie been suspicious this whole time that he'd been into guys, but that he was mooning over him too. It was so humiliating. And why had he lied in the first place? He was so fucking dumb, He had the perfect excuse, the fucking truth. A nice, normal girl, just like Ana, and nothing like Eddie.
Fuck. How long had he known?
Buck found a wall and sat down heavily on it, rubbing his head as he tried to order his thoughts. He was drunk. Everyone said dumb things when they were drunk. He would just either deny all knowledge of the conversation, or if push came to shove, lean into it and profess his undying love for everyone. Easy.
But he couldn't stop thinking about the way Eddie had asked if he like the non existent guy more than him. That had to be jealousy, right? Was it? He was so confused. More water would help. And food. Or alternatively, excessive drinks so that he wouldn't actually remember any of this.
Deciding on that plan of action, he stood up and smoothed his no doubt crazy hair back down before he finished the water and went to head back inside. As he crossed the threshold he came face to face with Eddie, who tapped him gently on the arm and nodded back outside. Buck looked behind him for Ana, but he couldn't see past a group of people.
When Eddie didn't budge and was obviously not waiting for Ana, Buck turned around and headed back to the wall. Eddie sat down first, looking up at Buck expectantly until he joined him, again, carefully maintaining a distance.
"We should talk."
Eddie sounded stone cold sober now, and kind of pissed, which Buck hated. He decided to go with his tactic of acting dumb, and shook his head.
"I was just fucking around, sorry."
"No you weren't," Eddie sighed and looked around them. Some voices drifted over to them, but they weren't being overlooked by anyone. Buck watched as he seemed to slump in on himself, and he resisted the urge to move closer to him. "Is there a guy?"
Ah. Buck decided to be honest. At least he'd stop feeling bad for one thing.
"But," Eddie looked up at him, under his stupid long eyelashes. "There could be? A man. Hypothetically?"
Buck shrugged and looked down at his feet. One of his shoelaces was about to come undone and he leaned down to tuck it in to the side of his sneaker. He realized Eddie actually wanted an answer and nodded.
"But there isn't. Right now?"
Buck risked looking at Eddie, who was studying him intently. Why was this any of his fucking business? He had Ana. Ana who was sweet and nice and had come to this awful party as a designated driver only to be left babysitting Eddie's weird best friend. Ana who was probably looking forward to having sex tonight. Something in him snapped and he felt the hold that he normally kept on his temper starting to fray.
"How did you know?"
"That I felt, uh, like that? About, I mean, you?"
"I didn't," Eddie sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. "You've been acting weird, and I thought it was something to do with Ana, but, I don't know, tonight, you just were, weird still. And I thought it was because you didn't like her, but you never look at her, really. Just me."
Buck breathed in deeply. He tried to review every interaction he'd had with Ana so far that night. And Eddie. He'd been trying so hard not to look at him. For weeks. This was all just so fucking ridiculous. Anger and embarrassment bubbled up inside him again.
"Why do you even care?" He stood up and took a few steps back, still conscious of Chim's neighbors as he made sure to keep his voice down. "Why, Eddie?"
Eddie took a deep breath and stood up, coming to stand close enough that their shoes touched. He met Buck's eyes.
"I don't want you to be on tinder. I don't want there to be a guy. Or a girl. Or anyone."
Buck couldn't breathe. He was stuck in place, watching Eddie's eyes flick over his face. He dared to hope that Eddie was hinting at what he thought he was, but was still aware that it didn't matter anyway. When he remembered Ana, and the fact that for all he'd known up until fifteen minutes ago that Eddie didn't give two shits about who Buck liked, he felt his anger and frustration build again and took a further step back until his back hit the wall. Eddie followed, and Buck put his hand out to stop him, snatching it away when it landed on Eddie's chest. He was so warm.
"Why?" He managed to get out, hating how dumb he sounded. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Why can't I have someone?"
Eddie sighed again and retreated a step. Buck let out the breath he'd been holding and watched as Eddie obviously wrestled with what he wanted to say. He was expecting it to be a longer wait than it was, and Eddie stepped back into his personal space and lifted his eyes to meet Buck's.
"I don't want anyone to touch you."
Oxygen and Buck were not friends for a few beats, and he struggled to think of anything he could say back until his temper flared again, and he put his hand out to rest gently on Eddie's chest. He may have been imagining it, but he swore he could feel Eddie's heart beating as fast as his own under the soft cotton.
"But you don't want to touch me either."
He sounded sad to his own ears, so god only knows how he sounded to Eddie, who didn't move, just stayed looking down at where Buck's fingers were splayed out on his chest.
"I don't know how-"
Buck shook his head and snatched his hand away, moving past Eddie and staying a few paces away.
"You don't know how to what? How to deal with me liking guys? Or liking you? Or not being the fucking third wheel like-"
"I don't know how to touch you!" Eddie hissed, getting up in Buck's face and putting his hand on his chest in the same way Buck had. Buck watched, dumbstruck, as Eddie stroked his thumb gently over the buttons on his shirt and slipped his fingertip inside to touch his skin. "I don't know how."
"It's easy. You're doing it, see?" Buck whispered, terrified to break the spell. Eddie smirked and looked up at him. "Easy."
Something broke the mood, whether it was a noise from the party, or Eddie realizing he'd left his girlfriend inside while he had a big bi or whatever freak out with his best friend. Either way, the atmosphere changed suddenly, and Buck moved away to sit back down on the wall.
"Go back inside. Go to Ana."
Buck looked down at his sneakers, waiting to hear Eddie's footsteps retreat as he left him. When nothing happened he looked up to find Eddie looking at him with a closed off expression.
"I don't cheat."
Buck sighed. He was tired. Tired of the endless dumb situations he got himself into. Tired of being wrong. The wrong age. In the wrong job. The wrong fucking gender. He shrugged and motioned for Eddie to go back inside.
"I know. So go back to your girlfriend."
Eddie narrowed his eyes and started to say something, but Buck shook his head and stood up.
"I'm going home."
He jogged home, hoping that the air would snap him out of what he had surely imagined. There was no way in hell that Eddie had said he didn't want him to be with anyone else, and had actually touched him. His actual, real, skin. It still tingled. But whenever he'd get that little bubbly excited feeling he'd remember the way Eddie had totally shut down, effectively shutting him out and ending anything before it could even be thought about.
When he got home he turned his phone off, put a pot of coffee on and took a long, cold shower, scrubbing at his chest where he could still feel Eddie's touch. When he was done he went downstairs to sober up and watch mindless bullshit on TV until the memories faded.
Strangely he wasn't worried about work. He knew how to do his job when people didn't like him, so that part would be easy. Maybe after a while they could get back on friendly terms, as long as Buck kept his feelings to himself for once and didn't go getting them on people. Maybe, after some time had passed then he could be allowed back into Christopher's life. He had waited before and could again. If Ana didn't mind of course. Because Eddie would have to tell her, obviously.
That's what couples did. Besides, she was smart, she would have know something was up. Buck had thought he could see it in her eyes, anyway. Empathy for the poor guy who was crushing on her amazing boyfriend. She could forgive him that, he was sure.
So, all in all Buck convinced himself he felt ok about the whole thing. He knew damn well what he was doing, rewriting history and closing parts of himself down, but why change the habit of a lifetime. Time didn't heal things, but it did make them bearable, so there was that.
It was just after 1 when he realized that his TV had frozen on an episode of Gold Rush that he hadn't even been paying attention to, so he turned it off, brushed his teeth and got into bed to resume his mental gymnastics there instead.
He must have dozed off after all, as he was woken by knocking and the unmistakable sound of a key in the lock. The only people who had keys were Eddie and Maddie, and he highly doubted it was the latter. He stayed silent, listening as the door opened and Eddie called his name quietly. A light went on, and Buck groaned.
Eddie called him again, and Buck heard his foot on the stairs. He didn't want him to see him like this, in fact he didn't really want to see him at all if he was being honest, so he rolled out of bed and stood at the top of the stairs, ready to tell him to go fuck himself. Or even better, Ana.
He was stopped in his tracks by how defeated Eddie looked. His hair looked damp and he was wearing sweatpants and one of the shirts that Buck knew he wore to bed. When Eddie saw him he sighed with what looked like relief, and sat down at the table, his back to Buck.
"You turned your phone off. I was worried."
Buck stopped halfway down the stairs and sat down. He said nothing, and Eddie turned quickly to look at him before he faced front again. The light seemed too bright somehow, and Buck got up to turn it off before retaking his place on the stairs. He could only see the back of Eddie's head and the tension in his shoulders reflected in the lights from outside.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Eddie. I'm sorry."
Eddie laughed, surprising Buck.
"You're sorry. Why are you sorry?" He glanced over his shoulder briefly and Buck shrugged, confused. "You haven't done anything wrong. I have."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, tonight. You know what tonight was supposed to be?" Buck said nothing, assuming correctly that the question was rhetorical. "We were going to sleep together. We haven't, hadn't, yet."
Eddie stole another look over his shoulder and Buck stayed silent and still. His feet were cold. Eddie took another deep breath and turned back around.
"After you left I told myself that I'd made the whole thing up, that it was the shots. That I was excited about being with Ana and had just got confused with you."
Buck's mind was racing. He hardly dared to breathe in case it threw Eddie off. He didn't even want to hope about why he was here with him in the middle of the night instead of in bed next to Ana.
"But I knew it wasn't that. These last few weeks have been really weird. I thought it was just 'cause I wasn't used to being with someone again, or that I was nervous about somebody new being around Christopher. And me, in, like, that way, you know?"
Again, Buck said nothing and waited for Eddie to continue.
"I realized when we came over here to hang out that i'd hardly seen you, and Christopher was so happy to see you, and to be here, and I felt, like, relaxed, and not tense for the first time. I thought it was because Chris was happy, but it was because I was. I wasn't trying to be whoever I thought Ana wanted, or on eggshells in case I said something wrong, like I always did with Shannon."
Eddie sighed and his shoulders slumped. It took everything Buck had not to go and try and comfort him, but he knew he'd risk him bolting if he did.
"So tonight. You left, and Ana was confused, and she was asking about you and I hated it. Hated hearing her wonder about you. I was so mad, honestly."
Buck swelled with pride despite himself. He moved to get more comfortable and Eddie turned around and caught his eye briefly before he faced the skyline again.
"I made myself not be, and that pissed me off even more, that I was consciously changing the way I really felt. The way I had to act. And I couldn't stop thinking about what happened, about, uh, touching you. Really. Or about other people touching you, and why I couldn't think about it for a second without wanting to pull them off you."
Buck held his breath. So hopeful and happy but so desperate to keep it at bay in case it ended badly. It was 50/50. Either Eddie was here to tell him he couldn't have anything else to do with him ever again, or it was the other. The option that would just be too great to contemplate. Regardless, Eddie should get a chance to say his piece.
"So we got back to my place, and she was all over me, and I really tried to be into it, but I just kept thinking about you. About how you would feel, how you would-" Eddie looked back at him again and Buck stared at him, unblinking. "How you would kiss."
Eddie looked away and Buck stared down at his cold toes, wiggling them as a distraction as his thoughts went crazy. Eddie wanted him. Eddie had thought about him. Eddie would let him kiss him. Although, whoa, he scolded himself, he couldn't forget that he could also be here to say that it could never happen.
"Are you freaking out? Buck?"
Buck looked up and over at Eddie's back. He bumped down a step closer and cleared his throat.
"No. I'm pretty confused. But kinda happy? Sorry."
Eddie laughed and some of the tension broke between them. Buck watched as Eddie took another deep breath and clenched his fists.
"She, um, well, we were kissing, and I was thinking about everything, and I, uh, well I was getting hard."
Buck could practically feel the blush radiating across the room from Eddie, but he stayed respectfully silent even as he started to feel telltale tingles himself.
"She started to- Fuck," Eddie laughed to himself and balled his fists into his eyes before he took a deep breath and started again. "This is awful. She started to, uh, blow me, and I couldn't stop thinking about how would it feel different if it was a guy, any guy, but mainly you, and then I knew that I was gonna come, and I felt so bad that I was with her but not with her that I pulled her off and said I couldn't do it. I didn't say why but she was pretty pissed."
Buck said nothing. It sounded horrible, and he could only imagine how shitty Eddie must feel. Still, excitement buzzed away under his skin and he tried to dampen it down a little.
"She went home and I took a shower and came here."
The chair scraped and Eddie turned around to face Buck, looking him in the eye across the dim room.
"I realized when I said I didn't cheat, that that's so stupid, because that's what i've felt like i've been doing, just with her."
It was all Buck could think of to say. Information overload. He looked down at his toes and tried to think clearly. He was about to speak when the chair scraped again and Eddie stood up. He stayed standing next to the table, looking at Buck with his usual unreadable expression.
"Oh?" He raised his eyebrows. "Oh? That's all you're going to say? You're not gonna, like, come here or anything?"
Buck's pulse whooshed in his ears. He bit his lip and tried to make himself look calm instead of nervous, no doubt failing miserably. He went for a shrug, and Eddie smirked even as Buck could see his knuckles were white where they gripped the top of the chair.
"You might, um," Buck whispered as he stood up slowly, suddenly conscious of his loose pajama pants. "You might hate it?"
Eddie shook his head slowly as he released his death grip on the chair and took a step closer to the stairs.
"Wanna find out?"
Buck breathed in deeply and nodded. They both stared at eachother for a beat, and Buck wondered whether he should go down or up the stairs. Up was suggestive, because of the bed, obviously. But down would mean he would have to make the first move, and he didn't trust himself not to fuck it up. Eddie took another step closer and he made his decision, giving him a curt nod and walking slowly up the stairs.
For a very long few seconds he thought he'd made the wrong call, until he heard two soft thuds as Eddie took his sneakers off and padded up the stairs behind him.
Buck stopped at the edge of his bed, again trying to think of the best way that Eddie would feel most comfortable. The whole night had that weird sheen of early morning about it where nothing felt really real, and if his life were a movie he would pinch himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming.
Eddie waited at the top of the stairs for Buck to make a decision, his head tilted to one side, always assessing. Buck smiled tightly and sat on the edge of the bed, resisting the urge to pat the mattress next to him, although just like when they were at work Eddie read what he wanted him to do and sat next to him, keeping a small distance between their legs.
Buck was hard. He couldn't help it. Not fully, but it was obvious in his thin pants, and he so badly wanted to look at Eddie to see if he was too. Thinking about Eddie's actual dick made him grip the sheet below his hand, and he bit his lip and looked away when Eddie's hand covered his.
"Calm down," Eddie said, rubbing his thumb in soothing circles. "I have no idea what i'm doing. It should be me who freaks out."
"Why aren't you?" Buck managed to get out, daring to look at him. "What if you hate it and it ruins everything?"
Eddie mulled it over for a second and squeezed Buck's hand once before he intertwined their fingers.
"No harm, no foul, I guess? Nothing bad will happen, I promise."
Buck nodded and retrieved his hand, taking advantage of Eddie's momentary confusion to rest it gently on Eddie's forearm and shuffle himself a little closer. Eddie's eyes flicked up at him and Buck said a quick hail mary to himself before he kissed him.
It was a nice kiss. Nice, then pretty great. No initial fireworks, but they built steadily, at least for him. It took a few seconds for Eddie to kiss back, but he did, just as Buck was braced for the soft rejection. He hadn't kissed a man in so long that he'd forgotten how different it felt, the scratch of stubble, the taste. It was intoxicating. Mindful of not pushing his luck, he pulled back, looking away to lick his lips.
When he steeled himself to look back Eddie was looking at his hands in his lap. Fuck. He tried to laugh but it didn't really come off. Eddie looked up at him, his lips still shiny. Buck already wanted to kiss him again but he had a feeling that wasn't on the agenda anymore.
Eddie smiled, and Buck felt a little of the tightness in his chest dissipate.
"Well I didn't hate it."
Eddie answered by kissing him, cupping his face with his hand. He was more forceful this time, nudging Buck's lips open with his tongue. At the more intimate contact Buck felt something in him let go, and he gave as good as he got until he felt Eddie's hand slip from his face to his shoulder, pushing him gently to lay down.
He did, painfully aware that he would now be tenting his pants and hoping that Eddie wouldn't stop kissing him to notice. He didn't seem intent on stopping anytime soon though, and Buck felt dizzy with how into it he seemed to be. He was so glad he was sober now so that he could take every sensation in.
The hand on his shoulder slipped down his chest to rest above his waistband, Eddie's hand dipping under his shirt but holding still. Buck broke away and looked up at him. He really wanted to touch him back but he still didn't dare to. Eddie would set the pace and the limits.
"What do you want?" Eddie asked him, and Buck loved that he was out of breath slightly. He was also pretty convinced that Eddie either had something in his pocket or was half hard in his own pants after all. "Buck? What should I do? What do you want me to do?"
"I don't want you to do anything," Buck whispered, risking a gentle, and he hoped soothing, touch on Eddie's chest. "Whatever you want to do is fine."
Eddie nodded and reached down to adjust himself in his pants. Buck couldn't help it and smiled, leaning back and looking at the ceiling. He followed suit in adjusting himself and caught Eddie looking at his crotch when he leaned up onto his elbows.
"Kiss me again," Eddie said, moving closer so that he was now actively nudging his cock against Buck's leg. He knew what he was doing, and Buck was happy to let him call the play. "Or touch me, you can touch me."
Buck nodded and shuffled up onto the bed so that his legs weren't hanging over the side. Eddie joined him, laying closely next to him again and moving his hips to get some friction. He was fully hard now, as was Buck, and he sneaked a quick few tugs over his pajama pants. Eddie looked down at him and then away, so Buck pulled back again, settling for copying what Eddie had done and cupping his face with his hand and kissing him deeply.
Something had definitely shifted, and Buck twisted onto his side so that he could deepen it even further. Eddie's hand rested gently on his waist and when Buck moved it slipped under his shirt to touch his stomach. He gasped and broke the kiss, getting his breath back as he kissed down Eddie's jaw and burying his head in his neck.
Eddie moved his hand up to brush Buck's nipple, and he nipped at his neck in revenge when it made him seek out Eddie's body for friction. Their cocks touched, through fabric but enough to make Eddie pull back, laying flat on his back and stare up at the ceiling as he breathed heavily.
"Do that again," He said, sounding wrecked, which, aside from life or death situations, Buck had never heard him like this. "I like that."
Buck obliged, clambering on top of him and instantly happy about being able to. He knew he was heavy, and knowing that Eddie could take it was such a turn on that he couldn't help but grind down. Eddie bit his lip and covered his eyes with one hand, the other snaking up Buck's back and slipping under the cotton of his shirt. He tugged on it gently and Buck cleared his throat.
"Do you want me to take it off?"
Buck watched Eddie carefully, so conscious of not letting himself get too excited and go too fast. When Eddie nodded he sat back, straddling him. Eddie's hands instinctively landed on his hips and he was surprised he had any coordination left to get his shirt off without getting stuck in it and falling off the bed.
He managed to, barely, and was about to lean down to kiss Eddie again when he surprised him by moving to remove his own shirt. Buck tried not to stare, it was ridiculous, he'd seen Eddie shirtless plenty of times, but this was completely different. He hovered his hand just above Eddie's skin, and when he received an assenting nod he finally touched him.
It was wonderful. To be able to touch what he'd only been able to imagine before now. You just couldn't get the warmth of another person right when you fantasized about them. It was always just slightly off.
Eddie cleared his throat, and when Buck looked up at him he just raised his eyebrows. And then his hips. Buck sucked in a breath and captured his mouth in a filthy kiss, settling down back on top of him. He kept his hands strictly above the waist, even as he felt wetness from his own cock leak onto his pants. Eddie must feel it, surely. He tried to slow down, to give Eddie space, but he had resumed his stroking of Buck's back, and he couldn't concentrate.
One thrust hit a sweet spot and he had to pull away, catching his breath by flopping down on to the bed. When he looked sideways at Eddie he just smirked at him, and Buck could see his pupils blown wide. Feeling daring, he turned onto his side again and rested his hand just above Eddie's waistband.
Relying on whatever kind of telepathy they had, he studied Eddie's face until he gave a small nod. Buck returned it, and slid his hand underneath the elastic. Eddie wasn't wearing any underwear, and Buck scratched his fingers through his pubic hair before he took the leap and stroked the back of his hand along Eddie's cock.
Serene, implacable Eddie just held his gaze, the only sign he was affected by what Buck was doing, his parted lips and the quick breaths he was taking. And his cock, obviously, which was fully hard and leaking. Buck closed his hand around it and gave a few experimental pulls, watching Eddie for signs.
He seemed to like it when he was more gentle, so Buck relaxed his hand, and settled down into the mattress, resting his head on his elbow so that he could keep an eye on Eddie and not get a crick in the neck. Eddie surprised him by kissing him again, deeply. When Buck stopped moving his hand Eddie shifted his hips to make him move again, which he did.
Buck could have done it all night, but his hand was getting tired and he couldn't get as much leverage as he liked because of Eddie's sweatpants. He pulled back to speak, laughing with happiness when Eddie chased his lips.
"Can you, uh, take your pants off?"
"Can I?" Eddie smiled, "I can. Do you want me to?"
Buck nodded, leaning back to give him room. He snaked his hand into his own pants to ease some of his own tension. If Eddie even breathed in the vicinity of his lower half he knew he'd come. He was so sexually frustrated. Eddie frustrated.
He snapped back from getting a little too into stroking himself when Eddie touched his arm gently. The arm he was jacking himself with. Gasping with overstimulation he stopped, groaning when the fabric settled back on top of his aching dick. Eddie looked at him, his eyes wide.
"Take yours off, too."
Buck didn't need asking twice, much as he knew he was treading a fine line, he was operating instinctively now. He eased his pants down carefully and kicked them away, turning slowly back to look at Eddie's body. He could feel his eyes on him, but he was too nervous to see if Eddie was looking at him or suddenly regretting everything. He must have been thinking too loud, as Eddie hummed quietly and tapped his fingers along Buck's thigh.
"Am I ok?" Buck said, incredulous. "Are you ok?"
Eddie smiled and shrugged, his fingers stroking the hair on Buck's thigh with just enough pressure not to tickle. They still weren't close enough to be actually touching though, and Buck noticed that Eddie resolutely wasn't looking anywhere in particular.
"I've seen dicks before. I've seen your dick before, Buck," He said eventually, meeting Buck's eyes and shuffling closer so that they were so close to touching but not quite. "Can I touch it?"
Buck couldn't talk. He nodded, and bit the inside of his cheek when Eddie copied what he had done and teased him with the back of his hand. He liked it hard and fast usually, but he would take anything at all right now. Eddie seemed tentative despite his bravado, so Buck decided to carry on letting him decide what they were going to do.
He was up for having actual sex, getting fucked, to be indelicate. But he knew that it was a big deal, regardless of who it was with. Also it could be the thing that broke the spell of whatever it was that was happening. He didn't mind if, hypothetically, Eddie wanted to be on the receiving end, although whatever radar, or esp, whatever it was that you wanted to call it, told him that Eddie would be a top.
Thinking about it was making him even more excited, and Eddie's hand sped up slightly, his thumbnail catching the tip of Buck's cock and making him cry out. He didn't want to come yet, in his fantasies he always got Eddie off first, and he was determined to at least try.
Gripping Eddie's wrist tightly, he shook his head. Eddie's eyes widened in surprise for a second, and Buck soothed him with a kiss as he reassured him that he definitely hadn't done anything bad. On the contrary. He maneuvered him onto his back and stroked his chest a few times, before going lower and feeling along the v of his muscles as they dipped into his groin.
When he looked up at Eddie's face his eyes were closed, his mouth slightly open and his lips shiny from Buck's own mouth. Fucking awesome. Ignoring his own aching cock he resumed stroking Eddie's, alternating between gentle strokes and pressure at the tip. He watched his chest rise and fall, listening for changes in his breathing when he learned something that he obviously really liked.
When he was satisfied that he could get him off, he used his free hand to stroke Eddie's face, making him open his eyes. There was so much warmth in them that Buck felt actual heat in his chest as he leaned down to kiss him, slipping his tongue in as he increased the speed of his hand.
The kiss turned into breaths as Eddie reached up to clutch his back, digging in when Buck flicked his wrist for the last time. Eddie went still and leaned back, and Buck watched, enraptured, as he came all over Buck's hand where it rested on his stomach. His chest was heaving, and Buck slowly moved his hand away, careful not to move too quickly.
He was going to wipe his hand when he had a hotter, if not very ill advised sexual health wise, idea. Laying back down he wiped his sticky hand on his own cock and started jerking off. He heard a soft noise and looked over to find Eddie watching him, his eyes wide and shocked.
Buck trusted his instincts that it was a good shocked and not a disgusted one, and called to mind everything he had had the pleasure of doing for the last ten minutes.
It took barely any time at all before he felt himself fall off the edge, and he let himself go and rested his hands on his thighs, feeling come hit his stomach as he controlled his ragged breathing.
When he was starting to come back down to earth he felt the bed shift, and opened one eye to see Eddie looking down at the mess they'd made of themselves. He still didn't look like he was about to run away, so Buck tried to test the waters.
"Well," He said shyly as he moved to sit up, impulsively swiping a finger through a drop of come on Eddie's chest, and then rubbing it between his finger and thumb. "Did you hate it?"
Eddie tutted and pushed his hand away gently. Buck laughed and reached over to his nightstand, fumbling around until he found a pack of tissues. He got one out and cleaned himself up before he tossed the pack at Eddie.
On shaky legs he shuffled to the edge of the bed and found his pants. They were still damp in spots and he discarded them, taking a deep breath before he stood up and went to get some clean underwear. Again, he could feel Eddie watching him, and he tried to act naturally.
Knowing that Eddie would be in the same situation as him he retrieved two pairs and wandered nonchalantly back to the bed. Eddie had pulled the covers up to his waist and seemed sleepy. Unsurprising considering they'd been drinking, fighting and then having sex all within a few short hours.
He pulled the underwear on, childishly throwing the other pair at Eddie's head and grinning when Eddie laughed. He kept waiting for the awkwardness to descend, but it just wasn't. Yet, anyway.
He trusted that he'd read it right, and that Eddie was actually going to sleep next to him, in the bed where he'd dreamt of holding his hand, let alone the things he'd actually done, wearing his underwear, and potentially being, well, whatever they potentially were to eachother, Buck wasn't sure yet.
Eddie was quiet, and Buck intuited that he was thinking about Ana. Now that it had all come out, so to speak, he felt terrible about the things he'd unkindly thought about her. He couldn't help but hope that maybe she would forgive him? If she knew. Maybe she really had known, it was probably why she was so nice.
When Buck got out of his own selfish thoughts he looked over at Eddie, who was laying on his side, facing away from him.
"Eddie, are you ok?"
Eddie nodded, and Buck didn't push it. He settled down into the mattress, pulling the covers all the way up until they were cocooned. He took a chance and rested his hand on Eddie's back, just for a second. To let him know he knew that he was feeling bad? Or to say thank you, maybe? It may have had its emotional whiplash but it would go down in hindsight as one of the best nights of Buck's life.
Or mornings. Whatever. Buck was tired too. Rolling back onto his own side, he yawned, loud in the quiet room and covering the sound of Eddie turning to face him. He stroked the top of Buck's arm gently.
"I'm picking Christopher up in the morning, do you want to come hang out with us tomorrow- Shit," He looked over at the clock on the nightstand. "Today, you know what I mean."
Buck nodded, trying and failing to keep a straight face. When he smiled finally, Eddie squeezed his shoulder and kissed him lightly.
"Cool," Buck said, suddenly fifteen again. "Good."
Eddie smirked at him and kissed him quickly before he lay back down, his back to Buck again but this time with no tension.