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Karma, Nice to Meet You

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Zero was a sociopathic beast wrapped up in a handsome package that’s tall and muscular with a charm that could probably rival Ted Bundy’s if Zero was inclined to end any relationships violently.

However, words often proved more dangerous and had long-lasting effects than just a sudden end. Sometimes, seeing his enemies suffer from being forced to humility in their pride was the greatest reward Zero could ever experience.

He had always planned several moves ahead of anyone in his social circle, always coming onto someone at an angle and armed with a secret that could be devastating.

Very rarely his plans go awry. Jelena was one of them but he had to admit that it was because of Jude that his head wasn’t fully in the game. It was Jude who warned him that Jelena was a strong player and no one gets out of a fight with her without bearing some scars.

Even during the sexual encounters with the equally dangerous dancer, his thought would always be somewhere else, on someone else. Sure, Jelena was sexy and had deadly ambitions that rivaled his. While he was quite shocked at being outplayed by Jelena, a small part of him clapped in congratulations. Here was someone who beat him at his own game. However, the darker side of Zero wanted revenge and the anger helped him refocus his efforts on just screwing her over as best and as frequently as he could. After all, karma was a bitch.
Jude though was an entirely different matter.

Tall, dark and tortured, the Kincade heir was the complete opposite of his father.
He was quiet and reserved. Hazel eyes were calculating but not in a cold way like his father’s or Jelena’s. They hid an intelligence that few people recognized and boy did Zero see it in their first meeting together in Ohio.

“A land of opportunity for a man who wants to rise to the top.”

That’s what Jude had said during the first round of negotiations. It wasn’t the empty promises of Jude’s immediate superiors that drew him to Los Angeles. Neither was it the ridiculous amount of dollars Oscar Kincade was throwing in his contract.

It was quiet and calculating Jude, who shared the same drive to be top dog and had the shrewdness and the patience to match.

Jude’s flustered face in their first bout of drinks and the way his eyes darted to Zero’s lips, of course, only convinced Zero, even more, to agree in coming to the west coast, to his original homeland.

He’d put so much effort into escaping LA and the hellhole it represented to him – the abuse of his foster parents, the endless fights, and mockery by the world. You’re nothing. You’ll be zero always. That’s what the lazy son of a bitch, Leo, had spat at him after a bout of drinks. Now, all it took for him to return to that same hellhole was a slight smile and the genuine brightness in those hazel eyes.

And so, he created masks of himself, to prevent the world from ever hurting his real self. For some reason though, with Jude, he never had to make bullshit statements. Jude’s eyes never looked at him like he was some hotshot to be used for nefarious means. Instead, they looked right through him. Jude wasn’t the only one who saw through the masks. Jelena had the same calculating mind as well.

However, it was Jude who made him not want to draw up the walls. It was Jude and his ridiculous loyalty to the people who mattered to him, Lionel and Zero, that had Zero do a mental double-take and make him feel stupid, even though words and well-crafted lies came easy to him when dealing with other people.

“Hey,” a sleepy voice murmured to him. The deep tone pulled Zero from his thoughts and his blue eyes took in the waking form that shifted closer to him as if missing the body heat already.

“Hey, you,” Zero’s lips tugged into a smile at the dopey look in Jude’s eyes. Soft and almost hazy looking, with hair sticking at all ends, Jude looked every bit as the lover who got thoroughly fucked the night before.

Which was technically true.

The proposal that was left unsaid at Derek’s wedding yesterday left something smoldering in Zero’s heart. The way Jude’s eyes just looked hopeful and wistful as they glanced from the bouquet to him made his heartache in the best possible way.

As an answer to that, he whispered ‘yes’ in Jude’s ear, pressing the larger frame easily into the door of Zero’s home. Security guards kept watch of the perimeter and Zero paid them well enough to turn a blind eye and ear to what they do in his own home. He didn’t have to tell them of the consequences if they did otherwise.

He proceeded to show Jude how important he was to Zero, regardless if it took all night.
Hence, the well-fucked look on Jude’s tanned face.

“Hey, you alright?” Jude’s eyes became more alert as minutes ticked by and a large hand cupped the side of his face.

Warm and comforting, Zero relished moments like these, when Jude would take his face into his hands tenderly as if the man was a godsend. He always looked forward to pressing his lips against the knuckles and then lightly brushing Jude’s fingertips. The hazel in those gorgeous eyes darkened as Zero slipped his lips over one of them and then the second one.

“Zero” Jude said in breathless tone and Zero’s groin tightened at the way Jude said his name like that. In adoration, in awe as if Jude was the lucky one to have him when it was the other way around.

He swallowed down the burgeoning emotions that threatened to rise and spill out. He couldn’t describe how Jude made him feel so wanted as if the very presence of him would bring out that look of worship and tenderness in those warm hazel eyes.

“We’ve got time,” Jude’s lips brushed against his own, and Zero was a bit startled at how he missed a few seconds. Jude had been laying down at first and now Zero found himself leaning over a half-leaning Jude, his lips dangerously close to the others.

A hint of mint and chocolate from last night’s dessert still lingered in Jude’s breath and Zero unwittingly let out a moan at the fresh memory of Jude licking the chocolate smears from his body, like a devil sent from the carnal pits of hell to torment him.

Jude smiled at Zero’s moan and then wrapped his arms around the baller’s neck, all the while slanting his lips against Zero’s.

It was supposed to be a chaste kiss but anything with Zero was fiery and passionate, sending Jude into a maelstrom of need and desire.

Before Jude could say anything, not that he particularly wanted to, Zero’s tongue had lightly brushed against his lips, asking for permission, which Jude didn’t hesitate to give.

Someone moaned and Zero wasn’t sure who it was but he wanted to hear more sounds from Jude. A soft brush of tongue underneath an ear elicited a light gasp. A sharp nip at that sensitive junction between the neck and shoulder had Jude moaning deep in his chest.

Jude wasn’t an idle lover. He gave as good as he got but in his way. While Zero was aggressive and pushing Jude to the edge, his taller partner would soothe his wants, making him feel even hotter and want more.

Jude’s hands skirted along the lean flanks, with a hand finally landing on a bare buttock and squeezing it before trailing fingers along the cleft.

Before Jude, Zero had never bottomed for anyone. His need for control seeped into bedroom affairs and he always controlled his partners to his sway. Even in past threesomes, he ensured he wasn’t the one sandwiched between two people.

Now, though, as Jude’s fingers trailed teasingly between his buttocks, Zero found himself wanting more and thus spread his legs to allow for easier access.

“Zero,” he heard Jude whisper, and in it was silent permission for the brunette to fuck him.
“Yeah,” Zero replied as he kissed Jude on the area between the pectorals. Above the heart.

A deep rumble could be heard below his lips and Zero chuckled to himself.

“For such a baller, you sure are a closeted romantic,” Jude teased.

Whatever retort Zero had in mind, it was lost in a soft groan as Jude dragged a finger across his hole. While Zero was all about finger fucking, Jude’s was dry and it would sting like a bitch and not in a good way.

“Open up,” Jude commanded and it caused a surge of arousal to spike through him at how hot he sounded. Fingers outlined his lips and, while the dark side of Zero balked at how easily he submitted to another person, the Gideon side reveled in the attention Jude was giving him.

And so, as he pushed himself to lean over the man, with his hands holding his weight against the headboard, he did open his mouth to let in Jude’s three fingers. They were smaller than Jude’s cock but it would help open him up for more teasing.

Jude mouthed at one of his nipples and Zero groaned at the slight sting of teeth that was then soothed by a tender caress of Jude’s tongue.

“Keep your hands up,” Jude breathed hotly in his ear, and Zero shuddered at how Jude’s warm brown eyes just darkened, till there’s nothing but a sliver of brown.

“Or?” Zero always pushed Jude’s buttons and the bedroom was not immune to the playful, sexual banter that the pair were involved in.

“Or I leave you, here, alone, with your cock hard,” One of Jude’s hands palmed the heavy shaft and Zero couldn’t help but release a shaky sound.

“Just remember…nngg…that payback’s a bitch,” Zero managed to say without his voice squeaking as those deft fingers entered him swiftly without preamble.

The shock of the entrance caused Zero to shiver and his head bowed, eyes squeezing shut as Jude played inside him as skillfully as the EVP would play others to his tune. Light touches along his cock had him gasping for more and he rolled his hips, trying to bring their hips together in a sensual dance.

When Jude obliged him by mimicking his thrusts, Zero panted heavily and his hand almost moved till everything stopped – the fingers stilled inside him, deliberately missing his prostate while Jude just smirked at him.

“J-Jude…c’me on,”

“One more shot,” was all the warning Jude gave him before continuing his ministrations, before driving Zero closer and closer to the edge.

And Jude took him there in no time.

Zero’s body grew taut above Jude, the blonde’s head thrown back in ecstasy as warm liquid spilled onto both of their stomachs. A hoarse cry of Jude’s name escaped Zero’s lips and Jude huffed out his sound, reveling at the trust Zero gave him in moments such as these.

He gentled his lover through the throes of Zero’s orgasm, brushing his lips against Zero’s throat and dragging his hands across the smaller man’s back.

“Fuck me,” Zero panted and his response caused Jude to chuckle warmly underneath him.

“Not yet,” Jude teased him. “Do you-?”

Zero threw Jude a look of ‘really?’ but inwardly, he preened at the kindness of his lover, who always asked and never assumed. Consent between them was a big topic, given Zero’s sordid past, and Zero’s heart swelled when Jude smiled at him, all soft and full of affection for him.

“You think you can keep your hands on me?”

“Hmm, you know I love a challenge,” the cockiness in Zero’s voice caused Jude to snort.

“Yeah,” Jude breathed against his warm skin. “And I love you either way.” I love you whether you are up to the challenge or not.

Minutes later, Zero found it challenging to keep his hands on Jude’s shoulders and not attend to his throbbing cock. The sting of being entered, despite having come and then slicked up again, always made the air punch out of his lungs before stilling. He hunched over Jude’s chest, his mouth open, and eyes scrunched close as he allowed his body to adjust the fullness that was inside of him.

Jude was whispering something in his ear, telling Zero of how proud he was in trusting enough for this.

"You’re so good to me. Thank you…Gideon."

Jude saying his name like that, with absolute reverence, had him clench uncontrollably around Jude’s cock and Zero’s fingers dug into the meat of Jude’s shoulders. The clench made Jude moan deeply in between his praises. No one has ever said his name and Zero discovered that he may have found a new kink. Name kink. Who’d have known? Leave it to Jude to be the first of many things – deep friendship, then love that just sent him reeling from the emotional rollercoaster that Jude had sent him on.

“Gideon…fuck…I need to move…please…” It was Jude’s turn to release soft sounds of pleasure as Zero tightened momentarily before finally relaxing.

Zero tested it by slowly pulling himself off enough to where only the head still resided inside of him before gingerly descending.

Jude had unexpectedly lifted his hips upwards, to meet Zero in the middle, and dark eyes narrowed at the sight of the lean figure arching his back, at how Zero’s cock bobbed in front of him.

Zero hissed when a thrust was hard and unforgiving before his jaw slackened in growing pleasure. He was tempted to lift his hand and move it downward but Jude’s eyes sharpened and then the stupid man smirked at him as if daring him to break the challenge.

“Fucking hell,” Zero cursed and his face twisted in pleasure as pressure built up from the steady rhythm of their push and pull.

“You can do it,” Jude praised him but his voice was strained. Zero wasn’t the only one affected by this. As much as Jude liked challenging Zero like this, he didn’t like to cause pain and, seeing the reddening shaft that moved so tantalizingly in front of him proved quite a challenge for Jude not to touch him.

Instead, Jude nuzzled at a sensitive spot, where it was guaranteed to make Zero shiver and gasp. Sharp teeth nipped at the tendon that stretched from the bottom of his ear and down to where the neck met the beginnings of the shoulder.

“Ohh…Jude…Jude!”

The world brightened around Zero and there was an answering groan from Jude before Zero felt an explosive heat spread inside him.

Boneless from their coupling, Zero fell limply against Jude’s chest, not minding at all at the sweat that covered their bodies.

“Man, I love morning sex,” Zero panted against Jude’s neck, and the baller planted kisses from the Adam’s apple to that sinful mouth. He rolled his hips and the motion forced a heartfelt whimper from the both of them, oversensitive from their joining.

“Well, as much as I love to go another round, we do have to go the grand re-opening of the Devils’ Arena,” Jude said and the blonde let out a frustrated huff.

“Do we?” Zero’s hips never stopped thrusting until Jude’s hands clamped on his hips to still his movements.

“How about this,” Jude whispered as he kissed Zero. “The sooner we get this over with, the sooner you can fuck me into the mattress tonight.”

The tantalizing image of last night, of Jude’s body, trembling and shaking as Zero edged him for a time, made the blood pool again in his cock.

“In that case,” Zero cupped Jude’s face in his hands before slanting their lips together in a light kiss. “Let’s get to it.”

Jude rolled his eyes at the innuendo and released Zero from his grip. The baller smirked at Jude at the sight of their hardening erections and then threw a pillow at Jude’s face, provoking the reclining man to toss back a much larger pillow.

2 hours later, the pair found themselves standing in a ceremony, gazing at the speaker of the grand opening.

The other players were present, all impeccably dressed in red shirts and dark suits. A large crowd gathered around the front of the podium, eyes forward as the people listened with rapt attention to what Jelena had to say.

One of the players, Jackson, fidgeted next to Zero, who glanced at the tall basketball player.

“Not a morning person?” Zero asked warmly.

“Hadn’t had a chance to drink my coffee before my girlfriend yanked me here,” Jackson replied. The young dark-skinned man turned his head to a specific area in the audience and a slender arm waved in the air. He smiled at her before shifting his attention to Zero. Then, there was a sly smile on the handsome face as brown eyes darted between him and Jude, who sat on the opposite side, with the board members and a handful of high-profile investors.

“So, you did it?”

Zero tensed at the question. While it was clear that Zero and Jude were in a relationship, with the kiss being on national TV and still being replayed on some stations, the new players were still in the dark about how close Jude and Zero were. He knew that gossip ran rampant in the locker room and, while he can’t stop the players from joking around, Zero still rather not have their relationship be the butt-end of crude jokes.

Jackson must have seen something on Zero’s face before the blonde could school his features into something professional, for the taller player just clapped his shoulder in a friendly gesture.

“Don’t worry, man. We a family. We look out for each other. Besides, I remember the whole fiasco as if it had gone down yesterday.”

Jackson was chatty for him. Tall and quiet, just like Jude, the veteran observed more than talked, a trait Zero respected in the other player.

“Besides, with that ring on your finger,” Jackson continued though in a lower tone to avoid being overheard by other people. “I’m sure Jude said ‘yes’.”

Zero was about to respond with a polite, ‘thanks, man’ before everyone was suddenly standing up, clapping as Jelena moved to the ribbon to cut it.

Jude sought him out and then stood next to Zero, letting their shoulders brush amicably.

More people gathered around them as the paparazzi peppered the LA team and Jelena with bright flashes and questions.

However, as more and more reporters milled about them, Zero felt something was off and his eyes skimmed the crowd to find anything that was out of place.

He couldn’t see anything other than people jostling about. Some wore the right attire for the occasion – a dress shirt and semi-formal suit for the men while the women had on either a nice dress or dressy outfit.

“Zero!”

Someone shouted his name from the crowd. A lot of people called out his name but the tone, the way the voice hissed his name caused a surge of panic ice through his veins. He recognized it and cursed inwardly at how the former Ohio dancer managed to find him.
His blue eyes darted at the crowd, trying to pinpoint where the voice had originated.

Suddenly voices started shrieking and the crowd parted, only to reveal a young blonde woman, holding a gun in her hand. Security officers were already scrambling to her but it was too late as a loud bang ripped through the cold air.

He flinched and was surprised to not feel any pain.

Zero opened his eyes and then he suddenly knew why.

Jude stood in front of him, his larger frame sheltering him from the crowds and the young assailant. At first, Zero thought that perhaps one of the security guards had fired first and ended her life.

Jude turned and asked if Zero was ok. Numbed and speechless for the second time in his entire life, Zero merely nodded and smiled at his partner.

The smile waned at the crimson stain that spread out alarmingly into the light brown blazer. Jude looked horrified and his hand touched the bleeding wound. Jude’s eyes snapped to his own.

“Jude,” Zero reached for his partner just as Jude’s eyes rolled in the back of his head and his lover stumbled forward, the long legs folding underneath the giant frame.

“Jude!” Zero shouted out and he caught his lover by the chest, using one arm to wrap around the chest and another to hold his back. He gently lowered the limp form and his eyes widened in shock at the blood that seeped through the light brown blazer.

He hurriedly took off his shirt, not caring that it was a $100 Armani top, and pressed it against the chest wound. Jelena was right next to him, already on the phone, and calling for the first responders.

“We need someone here now.”

Ironically, the bullet wound was in the same area as Jelena’s old wound and the irony of it had both Jelena and Zero grimace.

“Don’t fucking say it,” Zero hissed at the young owner. For her part, Jelena kept her face expressionless. For all the scheming and screw-ups, they bore mutual respect and for the man bleeding out.

The sirens blared not long after though those 10 minutes felt as if they stretched for hours.
Jude’s eyes blinked sleepily at Zero and the baller swallowed again – he’s going to lose him and there’s nothing Zero could do about it.

Jude’s hand, bloody and scrapped, clasped around Zero’s.

“H-hey…”

“Shh. Don’t talk,” Zero’s voice sounded harsher than he intended but Jude never flinched from him. It was what he loved about this man – unflinching but accepting of who Zero was.
Jude’s face was getting paler by the second and Zero’s heart leaped into his throat as Jude’s eyes fluttered closed.

“N-n-no, Jude, baby…”

He shook Jude’s shoulders, trying to keep the pressure on the wound that just wouldn’t stop bleeding. As he cupped Jude’s pale face, he realized that he was getting blood on his lover’s face. His Armani shirt was soaked in blood and heavy against his hand.

Jelena was shouting something at him, her sharp blue eyes penetrating through the haze of the shock that started to settle in.

The other players had crowded protectively around the pair, the red wall coming up around and blocking out the paparazzi. Words of thanks got stuck in Zero’s throat. For once, he didn’t have the smooth words to relay his thoughts. All that he saw was red. Red jerseys, the dark red on Jude’s white shirt that brought out a frightening contrast between the two colors and the dark crimson pool that stretched out below Jude’s limp body.

Someone attempted to push him aside and Zero stood firm, not willing to let go of Jude’s hand, which had slackened.

“-step aside, sir.”

“N-no, he needs me. I can’t leave him,” Zero managed to say to the tall blonde. A different set of blue eyes flashed at him, not angrily, but out of concern for him.

“-What’s your name?”

“Zero,” Zero’s true name was only known to Jude and the instinct to hide his true self from everyone else flared up. Gideon was only visible when Jude was around. Smiling Jude. Not bleeding Jude.

“Ok, Zero,” the blonde with the blue eyes gently gripped him on his bare shoulder. “You did a wonderful job slowing the bleeding. Now, let us take care of him.”

“Buck,” someone else called out and the fireman took his eyes away from Zero, only to glance at the man who was kneeling opposite of Buck.

“Ambulance is here. We need to take him, now.”

“Alright, thanks, Eddie.”

A soft smile graced Buck’s face and Zero recognized the smile for what it was. It spoke of something secret shared between two lovers and Zero had an idle thought that maybe these two would know how he feels in this moment.

“I want to go with him,” Zero said in a tone that brooked no argument. He didn’t even bother to ask Jelena for permission nor the other players.

For a quick second, the blonde stared at him, blue eyes boring into his. If Zero wasn’t in a relationship, he’d have flirted with the fireman. Tall and muscular, Zero wouldn’t have doubted that the fireman would have no trouble pressing him against the wall. However, that was neither here nor there. In fact, from the way the brunette’s eyes seemed to darken in jealously, Zero knew that the two hadn’t officially gotten together but they were getting there.

“Only if you keep calm and quiet,” was all Buck said before focusing on Jude.

And Zero did just that, no matter how much on the inside that he wanted to run and vomit.
A hand clapped him on his shoulder and Zero almost jumped out of his skin.

“Hey, man. We got it here. You go with boss man,” it was Jackson, one of the veterans who’d been there throughout the entirety of the drama of the LA Devils. He was also one of the few players who Zero grew to like as a friend.

He didn’t need anyone’s permission but the fact that someone other than Jude cared about his state of being warmed his heart.

Not really trusting himself to say the right words that conveyed thanks without looking weak, Zero just gave Jackson a small smile before hopping into the ambulance. As he held Jude’s hand, he saw that his partner was still wearing his St. Jude’s necklace, a Valentine’s Day gift from Zero. Patron of Lost Causes.

“Fuck,” Zero whispered and he clutched at Jude like a lifeline.

Chapter Text

It was just a day like any other.

Wake up, get dressed, drop Christopher off at the school, and head into work.

Only, that the school was still shut down thanks to the tsunami a month ago and that Buck was still reeling from having lost Christopher in the second wave. On top of that, the blonde was recovering from the lawsuit and the fallout of it on the 118 Fire Station. In other words, Buck was an emotional mess and it twisted Eddie’s heart as he replayed that altercation in the grocery store.

The way Buck’s shoulders hunched down as if the blonde was erecting a defensive wall to block out the harsh words, and the mistiness in those unusually bright blue eyes that darted nervously between him and the 118 crew behind him.

It ate away at his conscience when he deliberately ignored Buck on the blonde’s first day back at work after the lawsuit was dismissed, to everyone’s relief.

As he told Buck to never do that again, he was serious about it. The relief in Buck’s eyes was palpable, however, and Eddie didn’t have the heart to tell the taller man what would happen if this bullshit of a lawsuit happened again.

Although Eddie had forgiven him, the trust between them had almost been broken into tiny pieces. Luckily, both men were unduly patient with each other, and pretty soon their relationship had returned to where it was before the lawsuit.
Only, something had shifted.

Buck’s need for tactile communication narrowed to focus on one person: Eddie.
Sure, the other man gave the rest of the 118 family hugs and claps on the shoulder. With Eddie, however, the touches lingered far longer than necessary. A thumb caressing the meat of a shoulder. A soft smile reserved only for him.

What surprised Eddie, even more, was that he looked forward to seeing Buck every day. He found himself yearning for those light touches that seemed burn right through him. Just a simple grip on the elbow would cause the blood to flow downward, from his brain straight to his cock.

Buck had always been hot-blooded and quick-tempered. Eddie wondered if that same fire would follow into the bedroom.

Thoughts of how Buck might look riding him or perhaps being bent over his kitchen island often haunted his dreams and left him waking up, wanting more.

And the Universe seemed to be mocking him as Buck’s hips swung teasingly in front of him, the man walking up the stairs.

Eddie was so focused on watching the ass sashay that he forgot that he had reached the top of the stairs and overstepped himself.

Off-balance and with nothing to hold unto, Eddie made peace with the fact that he was going to face-plant into the unforgiving floor.

Something much worse happened. Buck had somehow managed to twist around and stop his fall with a firm grip on the shoulder while letting his head tucked into a broad shoulder.

Fuck.

He unintentionally inhaled the smokey odor of Bucky’s cologne. Sandalwood and something that’s unmistakably Buck. They had just started their shift and thus the smell was fresh, teasing, and just so Buck.

He let out a groan of frustration and apparently, Buck mistook that for one of pain as the taller man gently pushed him, far away enough for bright blue eyes to gaze in concern at his own.

“Hey, you ok?”

“Yeah, man. Just didn’t see that step.”

It was the truth, sort of, and he hoped Buck could take it at face value.

Buck’s gaze stayed and Eddie saw an unasked question in those bright blue eyes.

“Buck, breakfast’s getting cold,” Eddie’s voice was a little hoarser than he intended and he swiftly squashed another moan at the full lips pursing together.

“Alrighty, boys,” Bobby called out, amusement heard in his gruff voice. “Food’s disappearing.”

Eddie cleared his throat and sat down next to Hen. And of course, Buck sat on his left, their thighs brushing together for a brief moment before separating a little. Not willing to tilt his head up and show his blushing face, Eddie took a deep breath, thought of the ugliest animal in the world, and finally quelled the rise of arousal.

He was successful, asking for food and then chopping it down. That is until Hen asked him a question about how Buck found Eddie’s bed the night before.

Eddie took a deep breath and then realized that he still had food in his mouth. A small piece of egg lodged into the back of his throat and he coughed, hard, trying to expel the food.

Someone was calling his name and he tried to talk but that only lodged the egg further into his throat.

“Eddie…Eddie!”

Goddamit, this was not how he envisioned his morning to be. Choking to death on a piece of Taco Cabana and then getting rescued by Buck.

Buck’s arms had wrapped around him and Eddie knew that the blonde was performing a Heimlich maneuver. If Eddie wasn’t busy choking, he’d be laughing again at how the universe was against him when Buck’s hands pushed inwards. The sudden force was enough to dislodge the egg and Eddie coughed, gasping for much-needed breath.

“Easy, deep breaths now,” Buck’s deep voice guided him to slow his breathing. He was a medic and he knew what he should be doing. It was far different when experiencing it though and he was thankful that, of all places to be choking to death, it would be in his second home, with his family of 118.

“Easy, Eddie,” Hen chirped, “I was just joking around about Buck being at your place last night.”

Eddie would have believed her genuine apology if she hadn’t secretly winked at him when the other guys were too busy looking at him to see if he was alright.

She mouthed, “it’s gonna happen” to him and he was very glad that he was not drinking anything when Buck still had a firm grip on his shoulder.

He was going to say something to Hen when the shrill of the fire alarm blared out in the station. Bobby asked him if he was ok enough and Eddie, scrapping all his dignity together, nodded in affirmation.

“Alright, got a call of a shootout. 28-year old male, gunshot wound at the Devils’ Arena.”

“Huh, that’s minutes away. We could almost walk there,” Howie chipped in and the middle-aged Asian hopped into the truck.

“Well, that’s a good thing because most likely it’s a sucking chest wound and each second counts. Let’s get to it, people!”

The urgency of the call had the fire trucks out on the road within minutes, a new record for the 118. Eddie sat across from Hen, whose dark brown eyes seemed to turn inward as if the older lady was strategizing on the possible scenarios of what could greet them.

Buck sat in the front seat, joking with Bobby about setting a new record for the 118 and see if they could beat it next year.

Bobby chuckled at that specific comment, dark-eyes focused on the road in front of them as the fire truck sped past all the lights.

Thankfully, it was on a Saturday morning, thus, the morning traffic was relatively light, and only once did Bobby have to press the truck horn.

“So, Howie,” Hen shouted over the deafening noise of the warning horn. “When are you going to propose to Maddie?”

Howie’s shoulders shrugged and it earned a baleful glare from the paramedic as well as a quirked eyebrow from Eddie.

“Howie, I understand you’ve been with her for a year-"

“Technically, 11 months and 12 days,” Howie interrupted, to which he received a hard slap on the shoulder.

“A year,” Hen continued, not at all worried about the technicality of the dating time frame. “I’ve never seen you in a relationship this deep before.”

“Well, that’s because none of them lasted this long,” Howie joked but both Hen and Eddie could see that the Korean paramedic was serious and quite thankful for Maddie.

“You know, if it wasn’t for Buck, you’d never have met her,” Hen continued and Eddie threw a confused glance her way. What was Hen up to?

“Huh, you know that’s true,” Howie agreed and he threw Buck a grateful smile. “If it weren’t for Buck, a lot of things wouldn’t have happened.”

Please don’t say the lawsuit….

“Buck got me Maddie,” Howie said and a small smile tugged at his thin lips. If Eddie hadn’t known any better, it appeared that Howie and Hen were almost tag-teaming him but for what?

“Uh-huh, and Buck got Chris the best care your little boy could have,” Hen chipped in.

“Ok, guys,” Eddie had to put a stop to whatever this is. He could feel himself blushing and begged to God that Buck was too busy joking around with Bobby to overhearing this particular conversation.

“He also saved Chris from the tsunami and tried like heck to dig Eddie out of that damn pipe.”

“Yeah, you shoulda seen him, Eddie,” Hen glanced at him. “That man cares about you. Besides, you’ll treat him better than Abby.”

The woman emphasized ‘cares’ and wiggled her eyebrows at him in a conspiratorial fashion as if she was spouting Buck’s darkest secrets, which in a way, she was

Eddie stayed quiet, unsure of what he should say to that.

Buck and him, they’d been through a lot together. Failed relationships with their respective female partners, dangerous rescues, a freaking tsunami of all things, and that goddamn lawsuit. That was almost the breaking point of their friendship. He could see how his words of ‘You’re exhausting’ hurt Buck, more so than the way others treated him.

They had talked about that altercation over beers and Eddie was so tempted to take Buck up on his ‘ you think you can take me?’ offer. His friend had stood unbearably close to him, to where Eddie could feel the warmth radiating from the other man.

And Eddie was disappointed when Buck meant taking the title over a session of Marvel vs Capcom 2.

“1 minute out,” Bobby shouted and the friendly banter the trio were in was put on pause.

Screams of panic and fear blanketed the environment, with people crowding around something.

“Clear a path! Clear a path!” Bobby shouted his tall figure and the fireman’s captain’s hat-making it easier for the Captain to cut through the crowds.

Hen and Howie’s steps quickened as they finally arrived at where the victim was.

“Holy shit, is that?” Buck exclaimed and the boyish grin plastered itself on that handsome youthful face, making Eddie smile a little bit. No matter the situation, the blonde always found a way to make humorous remarks. Howie had said that he used to never take Buck seriously.

“You can get an autograph from him later,” Eddie muttered, a little bit jealous of the hero worship shining in those bright blue eyes.

“Oh, you bet but first we need to save this guy,” Buck’s smile turned into a slight grimace then. The young firefighter wore his emotions on his sleeve and Eddie could tell that seeing a bleeding victim still bothered him.

As Hen and Howie got the victim, Jude, situated, Eddie observed how tightly Jude’s friend clutched at the wounded man. The raw panic in those blue eyes and the shaking hands were telltale signs that this guy was more than just friends with the downed person.

Buck asked the panicking player his name and offered reassurances that the sooner Zero could allow them to help Jude, the sooner the man would get better.

Eddie’s heart ached a little bit when, after telling Buck about the ambulance had arrived, the two men seemed to stare at each other. His eyes narrowed a little bit when Buck looked away first and Zero had quickly glanced in his direction.

The LA Devils’ Captain was easy on the eyes, Eddie had to give him that.

Lean and muscular, the player cut a fine figure with well-defined pectorals and square jaw.

Blonde hair was slicked back but now laid in sweaty locks across the forehead. If it wasn’t for the current situation, Eddie would have guessed that Zero had just hopped out of bed after a good lay. Given his reaction to Jude’s state, Eddie assumed that the lay was lying and bleeding out right in front of Zero.

The fact that Zero was bare-chested didn’t help either and Eddie wasn’t sure how he felt about Buck seeing that. He’d known that Buck was a self-proclaimed sex addict, that the younger man had no qualms dating men or women. While it was clear that neither Buck nor Zero were flirting with each other, jealousy flared up and his stomach turned.

When Zero demanded to go with the unconscious man, Eddie was about to refuse him, with an excuse that there was no room for a third body in the ambulance.

“Only if you keep calm and quiet,” Buck said in an unusually serious tone.

Zero nodded and had turned to one of the other basketball players to talk about something.

“You sure about this?” Eddie asked his best friend.

“You saw how he reacted,” Buck pointed out and his hand pushed the backboard with him.
“They’re not just friends. They’re partners. Didn’t you see their rings?”

Buck was right. It was the smallest of details that the blonde had picked up on. A silver ring was covered in slick blood but Buck had somehow cleaned it off before placing the man on the board. Upon closer inspection, the band had two deep lines scored into the ring. But how did Buck know that these two weren’t just friends with wives at home?

“C’me on. Let’s see if we can keep them together,” Buck’s voice strained a bit underneath the weight of the patient as the pair pulled up the cart over the ramp of the ambulance and settle it further into the vehicle.

Zero bounded quickly after them, with a red jersey hanging off his lean shoulders. Eddie was thankful that the player was properly attired. He didn’t need Buck to be distracted by the half-naked player.

The player didn’t hesitate to hold a slack hand and Eddie noticed that he kept fingering the ring, rubbing along the lines where there was a phrase on it. From afar, the inscription was ineligible but whatever it said, it kept getting caressed by long slender fingers.

Hen and Howie then jumped into the back and promptly kicked Buck out, much to Eddie’s disappointment even though the older fireman understood why.

If this Jude ever coded on them, they’d need all the extra space. Eddie was surprised that he wasn’t kicked out as Howie and Hen had considerably more experience with this type of experience. Sure, his military background came in handy, especially when certain weapons were involved such as that stupid live round in a 65-year old gentleman. But treating basic wounds under fire was the extent of his medical expertise.

The look on Buck’s face was indecipherable for once as Buck kept stealing glances between Zero and Jude. Was Buck checking Zero out or something? Eddie wasn’t sure what to make of that if that was true. His stomach churned and he shifted a little, discomforted by the idea of Buck being with another man.

Which shocked Eddie.

Eddie, a formerly devout Catholic who’d never truly considered batting for the other team, was falling for a man.

It just took a total stranger to help him realize it.

-o0o-

Eddie usually didn’t revisit a patient but there was something about Jude that drew the older fireman to him. Maybe it was the way his lover, Zero, hovered over him – not exactly a mother hen but more like an angry bear that lashed out at any potential dangers.

A nurse must have said something to Zero, however, as the visitor gave him a charming smile, one that made those youthful features even younger.

“Hey,” Zero warmly greeted him, a little too warm for two strangers who only met for a few hours and over a bleeding patient. The player’s hands were dug into the jean’s pockets and Eddie had thought that the man was deliberately making himself approachable but would rather be sitting alone at his lover’s side.

Eddie knew that feeling too well and the last time he was at Buck’s side in a hospital was in the aftermath of the tsunami, when Buck had fainted after seeing Christopher alive and whole.

The blood thinners worsened the bleeding from the numerous scrapes and cuts found on Buck’s body. However, it was the sheer stress from having lost Christopher that took Buck down and Eddie mentally kicked himself in the head when he failed to realize just how devoted Buck was to his son. Was it unusual for a best friend to be that devoted to him and his son?

“You’re a thinker,” Zero cut into his thoughts like cold water splashing unto a pan of hot oil. A set of blue eyes, dark and stormy and so different from the crystal blues of Buck’s, peered at him curiously.

“What makes you say that?” Eddie replied, a little uneasy on how Zero could read him so effortlessly. He had prided on keeping his emotional guard up. So much so that Shannon could no longer read him and abandoned him and their son.

“I have a thing of being able to read people. It’s part of my charm,” Zero’s smile was indeed charming but it did nothing for Eddie.

Then that smile turned serious and Zero offered a hand, which Eddie took though the fireman wasn’t sure why.

“I just want to say thank you for saving him,” Zero said in a tight voice.

“Oh uh, we’re just doing our jobs. That’s all, man.” Ok, what’s this guy’s angle?

“Yeah, sure. I’m…he’s all I got. He’s family to me.”

Eddie swallowed at the admission and he could tell that the player wasn’t used to be being genuine and truthful to random strangers. He couldn’t explain how but he knew Zero meant all his words.

An awkward silence took a hold of the two men, which was thankfully broken by Buck entering the room, apparently having been looking for Eddie.

Eddie shook his head at the photograph held in Buck’s clean hand. How the younger man had time to get changed and grab a photo of the LA Devils team was beyond Eddie’s comprehension.

“Eddie! What-what are you doing here?” Buck asked, his words stammering a little bit at the presence of the famous basketball player.

Zero seemed the most amused by all this and gently took the photo in his hands, to which Buck blushed furiously. Whether it was due to Zero signing it without even being asked to or if Buck had the hots for the player, Eddie didn’t know. What he did know was he grew hot with jealousy. He wanted to be on the receiving end of those crystal blue eyes, of being the cause of the admiration in Buck’s face.

“Oh wow, this is, this is…thank you,” Buck stammered again and Eddie shook his head, really just wishing that he hadn’t come by at all. He didn’t want to see Buck flirting with another man, regardless if the player was already someone else’s partner.

“Eddie, you coming?” Buck’s smile was still there but not as big as it had been. The allure of having received an autograph wore off and Buck seemed to be back to himself – goofy and frustratingly handsome.

“Yeah, we got a party to go to.”

Buck clapped Eddie on the shoulder and Eddie had to repress a shudder at how hot the younger man’s hand was.

Zero stayed quiet throughout the entire exchange and the player waited till Buck left Eddie before talking again.

“You know, you should go for it.”

Eddie’s head swiveled so fast that the room tilted until it righted a bit, with Zero smirking at him.

“What are you talking about? We’re best friends.”

Zero laughed at that and Eddie felt anger rise to the top. Who does this stranger think he is?

“Yeah, that’s probably the best way to start. I-“ Zero’s eyes turned a bit misty as if the player was having an epiphany of some sort. “I was an asshole. Took him for granted until someone else almost got him.”

Eddie had a feeling that Zero wasn’t just talking about the shooter. That there was a rocky history between this man and the one lying on the bed, still pale and passed out from a successful surgery.

“Just saying that he’s a good catch and you need to grab him before somebody else does.”

“He doesn’t…he hasn’t…” wait why in the hell was he having trouble explaining himself to this Zero guy? The one who was rumored to have slept with prostitutes and then had that bombastic kiss with Jude on national TV?

“A ‘best friend’ doesn’t stand that close to you without feeling something.” Zero wryly commented and Eddie was a little startled at how true that statement was. Buck was always the person who hugged people but he never really stood right next to them for any longer than necessary. He even kept a professional distance from Bobby and the Captain was Buck’s father in everything that counted. Yet, in all the moments he and Buck were in, the two were in constant proximity, shoulders brushing and stolen glances, though mostly from him as far as Eddie knows.

Zero gave him a knowing smile before going back to the unconscious patient’s side, a hand grasping his partner’s.

Zero sure knew how to begin, lead, and end a conversation. Eddie felt sucker-punched and he watched Jude’s eyes flutter open before turning his head to avoid seeing the two men lean inwards. He didn’t want to impose on their intimate reunion.

-o0o-

Like many times before, he was thankful to Carla for her willingness to take care of Chris that whole night. Bobby had offered to host a party at his and Athena’s place, to celebrate their monthly Saturday night off together. However, it was an adults’ only party – Athena’s kids were at their friends’ sleepover and Christopher would be on his own if he attended.

As Christopher settled in with Carla, Eddie checked out the time on his watch.

7:15 pm

Shit, he’s running late and Buck has already texted him several times.

“Go and pick up your man,” Carla said and Eddie blushed at how casually she threw that possessive pronoun around.

“Uh…you’re good here?”

Carla responded by putting her hands on her hip and gesturing to the door.

“Go and get. We good here.”

Eddie threw Carla a grateful smile before leaving, confident that his son was going to be in good hands.

It didn’t take him long to pick up Buck and he knew he should have worn baggy jeans from the get-go.

As he knocked on the door, though he had Buck’s spare key on his keychain, he wondered why Carla even said that. His man? Buck was his best friend, sure, but the undertone of Carla’s statement implied that she thought they were dating or something.

The door clicked open and any thoughts of Carla flew out of the door.

There, standing in the doorway, was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome.

Buck’s naturally blonde hair had darkened under extended time in the sun, the shade now becoming more of an auburn color.

His dark blue jeans did a wonderful job in highlighting the long legs that lead up to a broad chest and even broader shoulders. His maroon shirt made his blue eyes stand out even more and Eddie’s pants suddenly grew too tight.

He knew he was staring too long when Buck smirked at him and throwing his hands out, only to turn in place. Dios, that ass…

“I must look good, then,” Buck said, clearly having fun teasing Eddie and playing into his fantasies.

“You always look good,” Eddie blurted out, and, as soon as he spoke the words, he stood stock-still, unsure of how Buck would react to that non-platonic reply.

The younger man sharply inhaled and those crystal blues looked shocked. His own eyes looked everywhere but Buck, not wanting to see the kind rejection.

Buck then did something Eddie had not expected. He wrapped an arm around Eddie and used his ridiculous strength to pull the man in, slamming the door shut while also pinning Eddie against it.

“B-Buck…” Eddie warned. The heavyweight of Buck easily pressed him against the solid wooden door behind him. However, instead of feeling cornered, Eddie relished in the way Buck so easily pinned him in.

Buck slid a hand up to his cheek and searched his face as if asking for permission to continue.

Not trusting his voice, Eddie swallowed hesitantly and then nodded.

Soft lips covered his own and it was so easy to return it, like everything else.

He gasped and inhaled, breathing in the expensive cologne of Buck and the fresh soap that Buck loves to use.

The first brush of tongue had Eddie gasping for more and he rolled his hips, delighting in the quiet moan that escaped Buck’s mouth. A breath here, a tight grip on his left hip.

If they kept this up, they weren’t going to make it to the party, and Athena would give the both of them hell the next day.

“Buck-we…we gotta…”

“Later. We can do this later,” Buck promised and Eddie shivered at the heat of it. “C’me on.”

Eddie let out a hapless moan when that tantalizing heat of Buck’s body disappeared as the younger man leaned back, his eyes glancing up and down.

Eddie must look rumpled at best and he pushed himself off the wall, righting his shirt by tucking it back in and then fixing Buck’s shirt as well. Buck’s smile turned soft as Eddie fixed his hair and kissed his cheek as an afterthought as if they did this every time before going out to a party.

His chest ached at the sheer domesticity of their actions and Eddie had a sudden urge to kiss him again, to pull the taller fireman down to him and envelop him in his arms.

His longing must have been visible for Buck did lean down, only to whisper in his ear, “later, you can bend me over but we gotta go now.”

Images of the handsome blonde being fucked over the kitchen table had Eddie groan deeply and he shifted, trying to alleviate the rising tension in his groin. When he finally reigned in his arousal, he looked up, only to find a smirking Buck.

“Damn it, Buck,” Eddie cursed underneath his breath.

“C’m on, handsome,” Buck sounded so confident that Eddie failed to notice the slight shivers in the handsome firefighter’s body.

After quite a few delays, a kiss here and a grope on the ass there, the two men finally managed to get into the car and arrive at Bobby’s and Athena’s house, where their friends were waiting for them.

Chapter Text

Loud R&B music could be heard from the other side of the door Buck had knocked on. It was a short minute before someone unlocked the door and Maddie shouted a gleeful, ‘Buck! Eddie!’ before standing aside to allow them in.

Buck, ever the gentleman, let Eddie go in first. Of course, that was his primary excuse. The real one was to see how tightly the dark jeans fitted around his new boyfriend’s ass.

When he looked up, he saw a mischievous twinkle in his sister’s eyes.

“Hmm, someone’s fashionably late,” Maddie said as she closed the door after them and locked it again.

“Well, yeah. We got distracted,” was all Buck could manage to say before Hen bust in, throwing her arms around the both of them.

“Oh my gosh! You two made it and looking like someone else’s dinner,” Hen pointed out.

Were they that obvious? Buck painfully took the time to ensure nothing was out of place on either him or Eddie. Hair was put back into place; their shirts neatly tucked into their jeans, and no hickeys could be visible.

What he didn’t count on was the flush that came over his face as he pointedly stared at Eddie, who gave him a soft smile in return.

Hen and Maddie, of course, did not fail to notice the lingering stare, and Buck jumped a little bit when Hen let out a loud, ‘Athena, you won!’

Maddie pouted, her arms crossing underneath her bosom.

Everyone else suddenly gathered around the new arrivals, with various degrees of disappointment and excitement.

“What?” Buck was stunned at Hen’s reaction. Athena’s smug smile was targeted at both of them but Buck had no idea why.

“Never bet against Athena,” Chimney moaned and he reached into his jacket pocket only to dump a generous wad of cash in her waiting hand.

“A bet? What bet?” Buck’s head swiveled between all of his 118 family, before finally stopping at Eddie, who just shook his head at him, obviously amused by his slowness.

“Dios,” Eddie cursed softly but without any vehemence at the 118 folks. “They betted on us, Buck.”

“Yup and, thanks to you boys, I’m gonna have fun shopping tomorrow.”

“You may need a box to carry all this cash,” Maddie teased and Buck noticed that the only ones who held back from giving cash to the proud mother of the group were Maddie and Bobby.

Bobby wrapped his arm around Athena’s shoulders and kissed her on top of her head before catching Buck’s questioning glare.

“Maddie and I had to be excluded. Conflict of interest and all,” Bobby said as easily as if he were ordering a simple meal in a drive-thru.

Buck’s mouth gaped open like a fish and that prompted another good-hearted laughter from the group.

“Ugh, you guys couldn’t have waited until tonight to get together?” Karen scowled at them but she hugged Buck and whispered in his ear, “good catch, lover boy.”

Buck blushed at that and he didn’t trust himself to speak, not sure if his voice would squeak out a reply to her or not.

“Ohh, you guys are making the poor kid blush,” Bobby saved him from further embarrassment by waving his arm to the other side of the house. “C’me on. We got drinks and food. The night’s still young!”

Even in this relaxed atmosphere, where the 118 could ease the boundaries of professionalism and personal life, the captain still guided the ship and the crowd eventually moved over to the long table, where a literal feast was held.

Out of the corner of his eye, Bobby’s tall figure took Eddie to the side and the pair was talking too softly for Buck. Only once did they turn their attention to them, Bobby with a relieved expression on his face while Eddie’s held a wistful look, one that made Buck ache at the love he could see, even from afar.

Athena approached him then, offering a small shot of clear liquid while she held a glass of red wine in another hand.

“I heard about that poor man,” Athena started the conversation. She took a small sip before looking pointedly at him.

“Which one? We rescued three poor men today,” Buck laughed a little, trying to make a serious talk light-hearted. Athena made a soft scoffing sound, the eyes rolling in exasperation.

“Well, it seems that the one who shot him was a hired hit,” Athena took another sip, a much longer one this time. “Hired by his father.”

“What? Why?” Buck was floored by how someone’s own father could do that to their son. Sure, he and Maddie didn’t have the best of relationships with their own parents. However, they never physically abused them. They just ignored them, both emotionally and physically. Maddie virtually took care of Buck herself until he was big enough to take care of himself.

“The suspect in custody said she was hired by an Oscar Kinkade; nasty piece of work.” A look of disgust scowled the hostess’ face. It was clear that Athena found this guy to be as bad as it gets when it comes to a corrupting influence in LA.

“Who?” Buck had no idea of who this Oscar was. All he knew was that the LA Devils won the championship some time ago and that Zero was a member of the team.

“Hmm, it’s better you not knowing who he is. This guy may as well be a Don of a mafia the way his criminal record is so clean despite his involvement in a variety of cases – corruption, murder, assault. Anyways, we’ve got solid evidence now to put him away for good, without probation. Unless he gets a damn good lawyer.”

“Damn,” was all Buck could say. He was happy that he had already taken that first shot of tequila. He may have to ask for another just to get rid of this nauseating feeling from Athena’s news.

“Anyway,” Athena raised an eyebrow and gestured to where Bobby and Eddie were at, still conversing in low tones by the front door. “It’s about time you two got together.”

Buck laughed at that. “Not according to Hen. She was hoping it would be tonight, here.”

Hen must have heard her name being mentioned for she took Karen’s hand and walked to where Athena and Buck were.

“Uhh, yeah,” Hen said with such a disappointed frown though the smile offset it.

“Your timing cost me $5000.”

Buck was very glad he was tipsy already as the bet’s total would have made him spit out a drink if he had any. Instead, he snickered and clapped Hen on the shoulder.

“That’s a lot of dollars there.”

“Believe me, I know. With the way you two were mooning at each other over the past two years, I’m amazed it wasn’t more.” Athena snorted, rolling her eyes again.

“Oh my god, you guys were betting on us for 2 years? 2?!” Buck’s voice went shrill as the young fireman couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

The 118 was a family to him and they looked out for each other. The fact that they also betted on the when, not if, he and Eddie, threw him off. They knew that the two would get together. It was just a matter of when. The certainty of that caused something to ache in Buck’s chest and it wasn’t like the pulmonary embolism. It was a slow burn, a pressure that made him want to gasp and shout out to the heavens that he’d found a family. That he wasn’t going to be like Red, alone in the end and forgotten by everyone in his team.

“There were some moments that you two had us worried,” Hen smiled at him. “Ali, Shannon, that thing we’re not gonna mention, like ever.”

Of course, Hen was thinking of the lawsuit. Who couldn’t ever forget that? Buck’s eyes got a little teary at the memory of the altercation and how Eddie’s words cut him more than the rest of the 118’s reactions.

Hen wrapped him in her arms and she kissed him on his cheek. “Buck, you’re all good. I’m just joking with you.”

And, of course, it was at this point in the conversation, that Eddie walked up to them with two beers in hand. Buck gave him a gentle kiss, seeing as how the entire 118 knew they were a couple anyways. When he drew back, he was relieved to see that Eddie wasn’t bothered by the small public display of affection as he feared. Instead, Eddie smiled softly and squeezed his hand a bit before letting go and brushing shoulders with him.

“Oh gosh, you two are just so adorable,” Karen chimed in.

At her comment, Buck blushed and Eddie squeezed his hand, a knowing smile lighting up the tanned face.

“Stop, honey. You’re making them blush,” Hen bumped her shoulder into Karen’s and pecked her lover on her cheek.

The party passed uneventfully, with no Buck coughing up blood and passing out, unlike the first time they had the party at Bobby’s and Athena’s.

Maddie and Chimney were both laughing at a joke, something that Buck had a sneaking suspicion centered around one of his antics.

“…and there stands Buck, all covered in whipping cream as the can exploded, with Eddie asking if he could come.”

At that joke, Buck almost spat out the third beer he was in, with the liquid getting caught in that awkward place between the throat and the windpipe. Eddie thumped him on the back a couple of times, asking if he was ok.

“Chimney, not a cool joke to make at my expense,” Buck managed to say in between the coughing before finally doing a steady exhale.

Chimney just shook his head and raised his IPA in the air, prompting the others to do so.

“To the family,” Chimney toasted and the others joined in unison, the glasses clinking together. Everyone took a long drag of their beverages, each person sighing as the alcohol warmed their bodies.

Buck couldn’t help but smile at the sight in front of him.

Bobby and Athena with their arms around each other’s waist. Karen and Hen ducking their heads together as if sharing a private joke that excluded everybody else. Maddie winked at him and mouthed ‘finally!’ before Chimney wrapped his arm around her shoulders. The pure delight of being loved and wanted could be seen on his sister’s face made Buck grin in turn, especially when Eddie tugged at his shirt to get this attention.

“To the family,” his partner said softly, brown eyes glistening with emotions that were too strong to be verbally expressed.

-o0o-

It wasn’t until several hours later, with an equal number of glasses of water as the drinks he imbibed in his system, Buck found himself with his back against the wall and Eddie’s solid frame leaning comfortably into his chest.

Whiskey-laced breath eased into his own and Buck let out a shaky moan at rough hands fumbling with the belt buckle. It was supposed to be sexy. The way Eddie’s sure hands roamed down his chest and deft fingers attempting to undo the simple mechanism of his belt. Instead, Eddie cursed softly, prompting a smirk from Buck as the taller of the two cupped the side of his jaw with one hand, while the other batted Eddie’s away and then unclasped the lock easily. The deft way Buck undid it elicited a frustrated huff and then a laugh as Eddie tucked his head into Buck’s broad shoulder.

“Of course, you make it look easy,” Eddie snorted and Buck was about to make a snarky comeback when soft lips latched unto the side of his neck, right underneath his ear. How in the heck did Eddie know that was his weak spot?

“…Ed-Eddie…”

He tangled his hands in soft brown hair and he mused at he couldn’t tug at them, the strands too short to be clutched tightly. Instead he threaded through the short hair, letting Eddie suck and lick at him like a damn vampire. Crap, that’s gonna leave a deep bruise. Good thing they were off for the next few days.

As if reading his thoughts, Eddie pulled back, taking away the warmth that Buck missed.

Dark brown eyes peered into his own and Buck couldn’t help but lick his lips, not missing at how those eyes tracked his movement.

“This is later, Buck,” Eddie’s voice was deep and rough. Buck’s cock would have jerked had it not been confined within his jeans. A problem that Eddie knew about. A smirk tugged at those lips.

Cocky bastard.

Eddie leaned in again, lips slanting over his and it was frighteningly chaste the kiss. It contrasted sharply against the firm grip Eddie’s hands had on his shoulders, as if the man was afraid that this moment would disappear, that he would disappear.

“I’m here,” Buck breathed heavily in between. Eddie made a noise in the back of his throat before literally taking his breath away in deeper kisses, ones that Buck got lost in and didn’t want to break away, even if breathing was essential.

A warm hand slid down his back, the fingers trailing along the spine and causing a bolt of pleasure to spike through him. Gasps and the soft rustles of his pants coming off echoed in Buck’s loft. The sounds bounced off the acoustic walls and Buck’s cheeks flushed as those same sounds reverberated right back at them.

Then his cheeks grew even more heated at the sensation of a hand palming a now exposed buttock.

“Goddamit…” Buck cursed underneath his breath and he leaned his head back, exposing his throat.

A mumbled ‘Dios’ escaped Eddie’s mouth which seemed to now have a fascination with the new territory.

“Eddie…bedroom…”

All he got was a ‘hmm’ but Eddie slowed down enough to allow Buck’s thoughts string together.

Between the two of them, they clumsily left a trail of clothes behind. Awareness of the outside was retained just enough to avoid missing a step. Buck idly saw how Eddie stayed in front of him, so the older man could catch him if they did fall. The blonde wondered if that was part of Eddie’s military training or if it was Eddie unconsciously wanting to protect him. Or maybe it was both. Another question for another time.

A hand firmly pushed him down unto his bed, the satin cool and making his skin feel even hotter.

Buck fell backward but not before dragging Eddie with him, a hand clasped around the neck, and lips pressed hard against each other. Except for the bathroom light, the bedroom was a little dark and Buck wished the main light was on so he could clearly see Eddie’s face. The blown-out pupils and kiss-swollen lips. He’d seen Eddie naked before at the station. The sight had always caused arousal to flare up and Buck would have the urge to slink home and jerk off.

“Oh, carino,” Eddie whispered against his sternum, the lips pressing chastely on his skin.

Slender fingers stroked his flanks, following the outline of his body until they reached his jawline.

Buck loved being kissed but Eddie’s set him afire.

Love. Lust. And everything in between.

God, this was nothing in comparison to Abby or even the hottest one-night stands in the past.

Where Abby was soft in all the places, Eddie was hard in some places and soft in others. The caresses. The gentle press of lips as the older man murmured praises into his very skin. They were all soft and yearning as if reminding Buck that he was the center of his world, that he deserved so much more than failed relationships.
Eddie’s mouth left a trail of fire, one which only intensified when deft fingers pulled at his nipples and making him groan and arch his chest upwards.

“Almost like a woman’s,” Eddie’s comment brought a short bout of laughter and Buck tugged at Eddie’s hair in revenge.

“I’m not a woman,” Buck huffed and Eddie nodded.

“No, you’re not and that doesn’t change how I feel about you,” Eddie replied.

Oh…that…that made Buck’s heart melt into a puddle of goo.

There was only one way to reward his lover for that.

Eddie smirked at him as if reading his mind on what Buck was going to do, and he slithered upwards like a sexy demon set out to turn him into a sinner.

“Eddie,” Buck’s voice shuddered at Eddie thrusting his hips into his own, their cocks slicking together as precum started to trickle down and making the frottage even slicker and easier for them to rut.

Buck tried to stave off the impending climax. He wanted to last longer but he couldn’t. Not with the rising pressure that started at the base of his spine and curls up to his throat, only to have Buck clutch at Eddie’s shoulders and tilting his head up, his lip parting to release a breathless cry of ‘Eddie!’

Liquid heat spilled out and collected on his stomach.

Buck moaned, sighing softly into Eddie’s mouth as the haziness of his orgasm settled over him.

“You’re beautiful when you come,” Eddie’s praise made his cheeks flush in embarrassment and Buck averted his gaze by pointedly looking at the nightstand.

A hand underneath his chin tilted his head up to regard Eddie.

It was dark in the room but the bathroom light shining behind his partner made Eddie look so handsome and ethereal. The hair, had it not been shaved close to the scalp, would have stuck out all over the place. Strong shoulders framed the upper body easily and Buck’s mouth watered at how the happy trail went down to the v of those hips. Hips that had no problem lifting an unconscious person. Or walking with confidence in front of Buck on any shift.

Seeing this handsome figure in front of him made his heart ache and he reached out to Eddie, to make certain that he was not a dream.

When lips touched the palm of his hand, it drew a smile.

“So, uhh…” Buck started to say though he was distracted by the wetness moving up from the palm until those kiss-swollen lips popped over a finger.

If Buck was still in a refractory period, then the sight of his digit disappearing behind the folds of Eddie’s lips hastened it.

“Jesus,” Buck whispered and he noticed that, while he had come, Eddie’s cock jutted out, red and hard against those tanned abs. It looked uncomfortable and he reached forward, leaning into that small gap between them.

He’ll never forget that soft, low groan emitted into the room as he clasped a hand around Eddie’s cock.

Eddie was the quieter one out of the two but every small grunt that turned into a low growl of Buck’s name turned Buck on more and more until the pain of desire settled down into his bones.

Eddie soon had three of Buck’s fingers slicked up and the light scrape of teeth against a pad of a finger caused his cock to twitch.

A slight twist around the top caused Eddie to clench his eyes shut and push Buck down into the mattress again. They started to grind together, panting into each other’s mouths. Buck nuzzled into an area below an earlobe, licking the sensitive skin in an aim to throw off Eddie’s rhythm. His hand tightened a little bit at the top, letting his thumb rub the precum over the head.

Eddie cursed, saying something in Spanish before a sharp nip at the earlobe cut it off, causing the older man to bite off a choked moan of Buck’s name.

Buck sighed as Eddie suddenly grew taut and heat spilled onto both of their stomachs.

Eddie slowly let his body fall onto Buck, as if afraid that he might break him or something. Buck was still on blood thinners, after all, and Buck had a sneaking suspicion that it was the main reason why Eddie was unusually gentle with him tonight.

It was their first time with a guy for either of them and Buck was unsure of how to proceed from there. If Eddie was a woman, he’d flip them over and go straight down on her. But he wasn’t.

Their limp cocks were evidence of that.

“So, uhh, while Buck 1.0 would undoubtedly know what to do, Buck 3.0 is not sure.”

There was a snort and Eddie rolled to the side, throwing an arm over Buck’s chest as if trying to prevent him from getting up. The way his hand splayed almost possessively across his pecs made Buck warm on the inside.

“Well, we’ll figure it out together. We’ve got each other’s backs, quite literally.”

Hearing those familiar words caused Buck to peer down at Eddie’s face, needing to see for himself that Eddie wasn’t regretting this.

What he saw instead had him pulling Eddie up again, not caring about the drying come on their stomachs.

“Is that another way of you saying ‘I love you’” Buck teased but there was a vulnerability underneath it.

Eddie’s smile was amorous and soft, open of affection.

Fuck, he doesn’t deserve this.

Buck must have said this thought out loud for Eddie shook his head in disbelief before bumping his forehead against Buck.

“You deserve everything, mi amor. Everything.”

And if it would take all night for that to sink into Buck’s psyche, well, Buck was never the one to turn down all-nighter of this kind.