He should have known that it would eventually rear its head back in his life. Los Angeles was a big city but sometimes it honestly didn't feel big enough. He shouldn't be surprised, as it wasn't even the first time it happened. It just sucked that this happened on the clock.
The call came in at almost midnight, dragging them out of the bunks with a collective groan. It was apparently an electrical fire, currently small enough that it hadn't caused too much worry, but they should move quickly all the same.
Eddie and Chim had worked a 12-hour shift instead of the others' 24-hour one, Vasquez and Hill in their place. Buck had been trying to get Eddie to talk to him, not missing the way his face flickered with pain when he thought no was looking, the way he held himself stiffer as he walked. Buck had always been good at reading people, which made him the second-best choice when having to calm someone down, second only to Bobby's experience.
And it was also because of that skill that Buck could tell something was wrong with Eddie. They were mostly back to the kind of routine they had before… everything happened, but Eddie wasn't coming or inviting him over as much as he used to, slightly pulling away from everyone in the station and not just him.
Buck hadn't missed the bruises either, and he had a fairly good idea of where they were coming from. He spent most of their time out on the call thinking back, trying to pinpoint where it could've begun.
He hadn't even realized he spent the entire time on autopilot, doing simply what he was being told to, only coming back to the present when Hen tapped his knee inside the truck.
"Hey, Buckaroo," she called softly. "Are you okay?"
He frowned slightly, glancing at Bobby, who was watching their conversation from the captain's seat at the front, certainly having caught on the shift in his mood as well. "I'm fine, Hen," he said with an easy smile. "Just thinking."
"Careful with that, Buckley," Hill teased, and the banter came easily after that while they rode back to the station.
Buck didn't miss the odd turn taking them further away from the station instead of closer, though, his own commentary trailing off. It led them to a part of the city Buck hadn't been to in a long time, and dread began to rise as Bobby relayed the information from dispatch.
A fighting ring. A broken nose in a fighting ring wouldn't be that unusual, but the man who called knew enough to recognize that a piece of it had gone into the guy's skull and he'd be leaking spinal fluid. Oh, and he apparently managed to get the piece of cartilage out of his airway as well.
The unease settling over him only grew worse the closer they got to the supposedly abandoned warehouse, and the three thugs - okay, they were probably some of the fighters here, not random thugs - standing at the door were definitely not helping things.
"LAFD!" Bobby announced as soon as he stepped out of the truck. Hen and Vasquez followed right behind him, leaving Buck and Hill to bring up the rear. "Let us through!"
Everyone tensed at the way the three men continued to block their entrance, puffing their chests out in a challenge. Buck sighed when Bobby tried to convince the men to let them in, but not one of them moved.
"Listen, I don't care if someone called," one of the men said. Buck narrowed his eyes. He recognized that voice. "We can handle our own."
"Sir," Hen tried beside Bobby, "If he doesn't receive proper care, he could be dead in minutes."
"There's someone with him." He waved his hand dismissively.
With a deep breath, Buck spoke up, "Yeah, and the guy who managed to get a piece of his nose out of his skull called 911, so he definitely needs a hospital."
Buck saw the moment recognition dawned on the man; he stiffened, holding himself straighter just as the rest of his team turned to look at him.
The man looked like he'd seen a ghost, and in a way, Buck supposed he had. He raised a brow in response, not missing how Bobby was watching him somewhat curiously, while the others had confused frowns.
One of the other men was scowling at him for a moment before his buddy's words sunk in. His eyes widened at realization a second later, and he cursed under his breath.
"Going to let us in now?" Buck asked in near-perfect French, facing the first fighter. He was a little rusty, not having had any reason to use it until now, but it still sounded pretty good to his ears.
Buck moved past his team, making to enter the warehouse when the third man, someone he hadn't seen before, tried taking a swing at him. It was muscle memory from there, as Buck sidestepped and smacked his arm away, landing a quick jab at his flank and sending the man stumbling a few steps to the side.
"Again I ask." Buck kept his eyes at the two men he did know, Peter Walters and Raj. He didn't need to turn back to notice the sudden tension of his team. "Are you going to let us in?"
Raj was pulling the third man away, harshly whispering warnings to him, as Walters stiffly stepped aside. Buck glanced back to the others and nodded to the inside of the warehouse. The motion drew them out of the surprised stupor, and Hen and Vasquez took the lead the moment they stepped inside.
The warehouse was bare, and the yellow lights didn't illuminate much. In the middle, fences formed an octagon, inside which they could see two figures. Buck let the two paramedics go forward, turning back around to watch Bobby approach just in case one of the fighters tried something else.
"Chief Buckley?" Bobby questioned once he was close enough to whisper to him. Buck grimaced with a shake of his head. "We'll talk about this later, Buck."
Buck turned his attention to the inside of the ring, watching Hen and Vasquez work for a moment until a sharp inhale beside him drew his attention. He turned to look at Bobby, finding the man staring dead ahead with a hardened expression he hadn't seen that often, and followed his gaze.
Black sweats and hoodie, arms crossed over his chest. Edmundo Diaz. He wasn't trying to hide from them but wasn't making eye contact with anyone either. His hair was wet with sweat, and Buck could only sigh.
He'd fought. Tonight. By the looks of him, he was their patient's opponent, and Bobby could tell as much. Hen and Vasquez were focused on the man on the floor, readying him for transport, but Hen had her lips pursed the whole time.
Buck glanced back at the other fighters. Walters had his arms crossed, for once looking like he'd given up the fight. Raj was as expressionless as ever, while New Face was scowling at them all. Or maybe just him. And Eddie, most likely.
With a gentle nudge to Bobby's shoulder, Buck moved inside the octagon with Hill and the stretcher.
"I want to say don't worry," he whispered, standing beside Eddie, as the others got the patient on the stretcher, "But honestly, I have no idea what's going on in his mind right now." Eddie didn't look up, turning his head slightly in Buck's direction. "Or yours, for that matter."
Eddie shrugged, well aware of what he looked like to everyone else. There was no flicker of emotion in his face and oh, wasn't that familiar. Not on Eddie, admittedly, but he could acknowledge that he's seen his fair share of numbness as well as felt it.
Buck knew what sort of thing could lead people to places like this.
Hen, Vasquez, and Hill moved quickly out of the warehouse, giving the three fighters as wide a berth as they could. They hadn't even turned their attention away, though. Bobby motioned at them to get moving, their job in this place done.
With a hand in the middle of his back, Buck gently pushed Eddie forward, bringing up the rear once more. He could feel the tension beneath the hoodie, as Eddie undoubtedly waited for the other shoe to drop, but it probably wouldn't happen until his next shift.
Outside, Eddie began walking toward his truck, the only car visible from where they stood, when Buck heard the commotion behind him. He saw Bobby's eyes widen, heard Eddie call his name, and turned, only to get punched square in the jaw with enough strength to make him stumble sideways. Better than the back of his head, where the guy was likely aiming.
There was a second of stunned silence before the man raised a leg for a kick, which Buck managed to push away as he straightened again. He took on a defensive position and could hear Bobby calling for the LAPD. At least now, he just needed to get the guy to stop.
He threw another punch, easily blocked. The next, aimed at his abdomen, hit his side instead, as Buck tried to sidestep. He gave a step back, willing the man to move forward again while keeping his captain behind him.
Another punch, followed by a kick that landed on his ribcage, had the air out of Buck in a huff. The man was fighting with anger, that much was obvious. It made him vicious but also sloppy.
And that was about all that Buck needed; he managed a jab on the man's stomach, grabbing and twisting his arm on his next punch. He hooked his leg around the other's calf, bringing him down to the floor with a loud oof under him.
"Done?" Buck asked, breathing heavily, keeping the man in place with his weight. He tried forcing Buck off of him, but it didn't do much at all and he soon gave up. "Thought so."
Buck glanced around at the sound of the police siren approaching, finding both Bobby and Eddie watching him, and Walters and Raj long gone. Because of course, they were gone.
"What is going in here?" Athena called out as she approached, frowning at the scene in front of her. Buck practically sitting on top of someone was probably not a sight she'd ever expected.
Bobby explained what happened briefly. Buck couldn't make out all the details of their whispered conversation, but she was by his side a beat later.
"Hey, 'Thena," he greeted with a sheepish smile. She motioned him to stand, and he brought the man up with him as he went.
"Bobby gave me the rundown." She quickly looked him over, surely checking for any obvious injuries. "Said you'll talk about this later."
Buck could only nod in response, as Athena made the arrest for attacking a first responder and reading him his rights. The man dug his heels in and turned around to face Buck once again, scrutinizing him in silence for a beat.
"So, you are Pit, huh?" He smirked at Buck's obvious discomfort. "Nice to meet you. But I don't suppose they know, do they?"
Athena pulled him away before Buck had to think of a response to that, and he let himself breathe a sigh of relief now that it was over. He'd only have a couple of bruises to tell of this whole mess. He poked gently at his jaw, testing how it felt.
"Hey." Eddie strode over, taking hold of his wrist and lowering Buck's hand from his face. "Let me."
Buck did. He stood mostly still, watching Bobby over Eddie's shoulder as he carried on with his examination, falling into medic mode without a problem. Buck supposed that's what had saved his opponent's life tonight, the fact he was a medic and firefighter above whatever the hell was going on.
Bobby, on the other hand, was watching them both with a frown, probably trying to sort everything that just happened out in his head. Buck gave him a small nod, a wordless promise that he'd explain his side of it. The captain pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a deep breath in.
Yeah, some fun conversations would happen soon.
It was afternoon, two days after the fight ring call. Bobby had told them that Buck was getting a couple of days off because of bruises he'd gotten after Hen and Vasquez had left with their patient while Eddie had a suspension for being involved in the fighting altogether.
Hen was still stuck on the fact Buck was involved in a fist-fight and won. On blood thinners. She was sure the boy was bruised to hell and back, but all she got to see was his face as the bruise on his jaw quickly formed. And he'd stayed until the end of his shift, assuring everyone who tried checking on him that it was nothing. She was surprised both at the fact he could fight at all and at the fact it didn't get worse than a pair of bruises.
She was leaning against the railing of the loft, watching Eddie walk away from the station toward Buck's jeep parked out front.
"So," Chim announced himself as he approached her, "That happened."
Hen glanced at him, watching as he calmly sipped his coffee, back to the main garage of the station as he leaned against the railing. "You don't seem surprised, though."
He shrugged. "I mean, we both knew they could fight." He took another sip and frowned. "I hate that it happened, god knows what Eddie got in his mind to even go there, but…" He trailed off when he turned to her, seeing the disbelief in her expression. "What?"
"We both knew, my ass, Chimney," she said, shaking her head. She turned to fully face him, resting an arm on the railing. "How did you know Buck could hold his own?"
"Wait, seriously?" He gulped down the rest of his coffee and started moving toward the kitchen. "You didn't know?" He washed the mug quickly, leaving it on the drying rack. "Buck's been teaching Maddie how to box since she got here."
Hen raised a brow as she questioned, "And you somehow managed to keep quiet about that?"
Chim's whole face scrunched up as he thought it over. "I honestly didn't even consider whether it was common knowledge or not. It was just a thing they did." He crossed his arms over his chest and continued, "It's not like he didn't have a reason to learn how to defend himself."
It was true. Buck had mentioned once, in passing, that he'd left Hershey when he was 18 years old. He didn't talk much about his life before he ended up here, in the LAFD and the 118, and they hadn't pressed.
Hen wondered, though, just what kind of life Buck had led to be able to stop an angry would-be professional fighter.
The drive was mostly quiet, save for the music playing lowly on the radio. Buck kept his attention on the road, and Eddie… Well, Eddie had no idea what to expect of this day right now.
He'd expected to be fired, really, but he got one hell of a dressing down and mandatory therapy sessions to get through instead. It could have been worse, he knew as much.
Buck hadn't spoken a word since he got into the passenger seat of the Jeep, every now and then tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythm of the song currently playing. He didn't seem tense, but the silence was making Eddie wary.
"Hey," Buck broke the silence when they stopped at a red light, "How are you?"
The question caught him off guard, and he simply shrugged in response. What the hell was he even supposed to say? Buck nodded at his wordless response and didn't say anything else.
The light turned green, and they continued on their way. He tapped his fingers with some consistency, lips pursed in thought, his expression only going back to careful neutrality once they took a turn Eddie didn't recognize.
"Where are we going?" Eddie looked out the window, not exactly recognizing the street they were in.
Buck briefly glanced at him, smirking as he kept most of his focus out on the street. "What, you thought I picked you up just to drive you to the station and back?"
"Trust me, Eddie," Buck interrupted, voice firm, "I would never take you somewhere that wouldn't do you good."
Eddie relented with a sigh. Unless Buck had decided to take the long way around, they weren't going to either of their places. It could be the case, he could be thinking of how to start talking about the street fighting before taking them home.
And Eddie had his own questions. Those people recognized Buck and even seemed to respect him a great deal, but the further off he could put talking about the whole thing, the better. He could deal with not knowing the story.
The silence didn't last much longer as Buck parked just outside a boxing gym. He quickly took the key out of the ignition and walked out of the car, opening the back door and pulling out a pair of bags Eddie had no idea were there.
"Come on, we got two hours before he kicks us out," Buck said, closing the door and walking around the car to the entrance of the gym.
Eddie didn't have much of a choice, considering this place was probably outside of the 118 area and he still hadn't gone exploring LA beyond what was closest to him. He followed Buck inside.
"We are here!" Buck shouted as he closed the door behind Eddie. He moved further in without preambles, motioning Eddie to follow him. "You better have things ready!"
Past the reception desk, the gym opened up to a larger room with several punching bags hanging all over the place, and what he presumed was a locker room sectioned off to the side.
A dark-haired man was walking across the area, dropping the equipment he had in his arm in one of the three rings in the back. "I heard you the first time, Buckley," he shouted back once he saw the two walking over. His attention rested on Eddie, brow furrowing as the man's green eyes scrutinized him. "He's the one?"
"Yeah, he's the one." Buck rolled his eyes and lightly punched his shoulder to get his attention. "Go get changed, Eds," he said, handing him one of the bags and pointing over his shoulder to the next room. "Locker's that way, you're going to spar for a bit."
Eddie stared at him for a moment. Buck couldn't possibly think this was a good idea, but the mischievous smirk he had told him otherwise. He shook his head, a protest on the tip of his tongue, but Buck simply pushed him in the direction of the locker room.
The place was neater than a lot of gyms Eddie had been in before, organized and pretty much spotless. In the bag, Eddie found his gym clothes as well as a clean set of clothes for later. Buck had been thorough, packing everything he could need in here.
Truth be told, Eddie had expected Buck to be at least a little pissed off at him. Bobby had been, even after a whole 24 hours. He hadn't seen or talked to Buck at all yesterday, and he supposed that would have been because he was angry or disappointed.
Whatever it was, there had been no trace of it when he stopped by to pick him up at his house with Abuela beside him, or even now, as he left the locker room to find Buck and this guy talking and laughing over something.
"There you are!" Buck said, smiling at him as if it were just another day. "Okay, so," he strode over, looking back and forth between the two of them. "Eddie, this is Thomas Hansen," he pointed to the man beside him. "Tom, this is Eddie Diaz."
"Nice to meet you," Thomas greeted warmly. He didn't waste time, though, walking to the first ring. "Either one of you wanna tell me why I had to come here on Sunday?"
He threw a roll of tape and a pair of gloves to Buck, who immediately passed them to Eddie.
"Not the one boxing today, Tea." Buck nudged Eddie toward the ring. "He is; I'm just here to supervise."
Thomas turned a raised brow at him, wrapping tape around his wrists. He looked Buck up and down, frowning as he focused on his face. "You've got your sister's concealer on, haven't you?"
Buck rolled his eyes, and Eddie turned a frown of his own at him. "Better than looking like I took a bat to the face."
"Excuse me?" Eddie spoke up. He had no idea that the punch he'd taken was enough to warrant that description. Buck might not have been his usual talkative self the whole time they'd been together so far, but not once did he show any signs of discomfort or pain.
"Blood thinners, Eddie," he waved him off. "No big deal."
"No big deal," Thomas repeated, shaking his head as he secured the last of the protective gear. "Well, a bat to your face might've shut you up, for once." He pointed to the locker room. "Go wash it off, we'll be the judges of how bad it is."
"At least nothing is broken," Eddie mumbled mostly to himself as Buck took the other bag with him to the lockers and Eddie finished with the gear he was given. When he turned his attention back to Thomas, the man was watching him. "What?"
He glanced over his shoulders, minutely nodding at something Buck did before he closed the door behind him. "You're the army medic?"
Eddie tensed, standing straighter almost instantly, and nodded.
"Listen, Pit talks a lot about you guys," he explained, walking into the ring and gesturing to him to follow. "Out of everyone he mentions, thought you'd be the one."
"What did he say?" Eddie asked, filing the nickname away for another moment. The fact Buck had been talking about them- Eddie sighed, walking into the ring after Thomas. Buck was allowed to know other people, damn it.
"That a coworker could use some distraction," he shrugged, standing a few feet away from him and beginning to warm up. "How about you tell me why Pit brought you here and why he's not the one sparring with you?"
Eddie didn't want to answer. He began his own warm-up, delaying the conversation he knew was coming. Thomas was a stranger all the same, no matter how familiar he was to Buck.
"Buck got bruised on a call a couple of days ago," he said, opting to give something a minute later. Thomas nodded, not looking surprised. "You're not the only one that called him Pit." The man raised a brow at his comment. "Where did you meet him?"
"A story for a story, Diaz." He smirked. "Tell me what happened at that call." Thomas started moving around the ring, steps that grew into little hops as Eddie matched his movements. "Were you there?"
Eddie grimaced, raising his hands and preparing for the sparring match. He didn't answer, but with the way that Thomas was watching him, he thought that maybe he didn't have to.
"You were," he stated and tilted his head slightly. "And not on duty."
Eddie rolled his shoulders, trying to dislodge some of the tension he was carrying because he was either being too easy to read or simply confirming whatever Buck had told him with it. He couldn't even tell whether Buck had told him the full story or not.
"What was the call, Diaz?"
Something on the man's voice made him snap, and he took the couple of steps it took to put him within reach, throwing the first few punches. Thomas was ready for him though, blocking the punches easily enough and only letting his guard down so he could get his own hits in.
Eddie stumbled backward after a kick to his stomach took the air out of him. He was back where he'd started, across the ring from Thomas, when he repeated the question, "What was the call?"
"Street fighting," he finally said through gritted teeth.
"What?" His hands lowered slightly, clearly surprised. Eddie frowned at the reaction; maybe Buck hadn't said much, after all. "What the-"
Buck's voice was resounding in the otherwise empty gym, firm in a way Eddie didn't think he'd ever heard him. They turned to face him, slightly startled at the interruption. Thomas stood minutely straighter, not too different from one of the fighters on Friday.
From where he stood, Eddie had a good view of the dark bruise on the right side of his jaw and he could hear the hiss Thomas let out. "Damn, Buckley," he muttered, walking closer. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yes." Buck rolled his eyes, stepping into the ring. "I got this."
Thomas stared at him for a beat, before he started removing his gear and passing it to Buck, who had changed to gym clothes and wrapped the tape around his knuckles before making himself known again.
Eddie watched Buck's movements somewhat curiously as he talked quietly to Thomas. There was a certain practiced ease to the way he handled the protective equipment that made Eddie question how it had never occurred to him that Buck could come to a boxing gym. He'd seen him in the station gym area, at the punching bag, but that didn't necessarily translate to knowing how to fight.
Which Buck did. Something he hadn't known until two nights ago.
"Since when can you fight?" He asked as Buck walked closer to him. Looking back, Eddie didn't really know what Buck did in the free time he didn't spend with anyone from the station. Or what he's been up to at all in the past couple of months, actually. It could stand to reason that he'd picked a hobby or two.
"Some years, now," Buck says easily, moving around him. "Started bringing Maddie here after she got settled."
"Here," Eddie echoed, just turning to keep Buck in his sight instead of matching his movements. His focus momentarily shifted to Thomas when the man came into view. "Did you meet on a call?"
"We're out of our area, Eddie." Buck shook his head.
"Doesn't mean it couldn't happen," Eddie said with a shrug. "This is clearly not a home."
He could hear Thomas' laugh. "He has a point," he said evenly, if not a little loudly from the side of the ring. "I live on the other side of the city, though, I only come as far as my gym."
"How did you meet?" Eddie kept his attention on Buck, and he tilted his head seeming to consider the question for a moment.
"No," Buck said softly. "Not before you tell me how the hell you ended up at that fight club."
"Of course," Eddie scoffed. "Why the hell do you even care, Buckley?"
Eddie knew he was raising his voice in frustration but he didn't quite manage to bring it down in face of the constant deflection.
"Because," he started, rounding on him, "I know just what it takes to go there." Buck's voice was still soft, somehow calm despite him closing the distance in just a few steps. "I get it, alright?"
"And how the hell do you get it, Buck?" Eddie snapped, opening his arms and taking half a step closer. "You weren't around!"
Something flashed in Buck's eyes, a flicker of emotion that seemed truly unlike him. "I wasn't around- Did you try?"
The tone of his voice made whatever argument Eddie had die on his tongue. "What?"
"You are telling me I wasn't around," Buck shrugged without breaking eye contact, "So, did you try reaching out? Did you call or text?"
Buck didn't need an answer; they both knew he hadn't, that Eddie couldn't contact Buck. He could barely take a breath in before Buck was speaking again.
"You didn't try," Buck pointed a finger at him, "And let me tell you, Eddie, I would have answered."
"You filed a lawsuit, for God's sake!" Eddie saw Thomas move from the corner of his eyes, hovering on the side of the ring and looking between both of them. "I couldn't talk to you, and you made your choice pretty clear."
"I filed that suit so I could go back!" Buck snapped, voice louder and harder than Eddie could remember ever hearing outside of a call. "So I'm sorry things got out of hand, but I won't let history repeat itself."
That brought Eddie short. As far as he was aware, Buck hadn't ever been as badly injured as he was at the truck bombing. Not a lot of things could even compare to it in his mind.
"It's good, Tea," Buck waved Thomas' concerns off, still looking at Eddie. "I already had to tell my captain anyway."
Eddie frowned and began taking off the gloves and tapes from his hands. As worked up as he was, he refused to raise a hand against Buck, friendly sparring or not. The man was already bruised and on medication. "Tell what?" He asked instead, hoping that he'd finally get his questions answered.
"Why I was in your place, once."
Eddie's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief, and Buck smirked at the pause of his movements. With a quick shake of his head, Eddie tossed the gloves to the side with a grumbled curse.
"Like I said," Buck started, yanking his gloves off, with amusement in his voice, "I know what it takes to go there, I've been there. Don't think I've ever kicked someone's nose into their skull, though."
"¿Que carajo?" Eddie asked under his breath. Buck walked to the edge of the ring and sat down, gesturing for him to come over as well. "Where did you-"
"Where did I even learn to fight?" Buck finished with a knowing expression. He shrugged. "Mostly in the Navy. It's where I met Tom."
The fact that Eddie was confused probably went without saying, and given the way that Buck started laughing, it most likely showed in his expression too. He shook his head, smiling once again, and patted the space beside him. "If you're not gonna spar with me, at least sit down."
Buck waited until Eddie complied before continuing. "We served for about seven years. I would've stayed, if uh…" Buck trailed off, looking ahead. He sighed. "Medical leave kept being extended. A month turned into six before we got the discharge papers, and then there was nothing to do about it."
Most of the fight had left Eddie as Buck spoke, enough that his own voice was even once again. "SEALs, right?" Eddie remembered Bobby and Chim discussing training, months ago, and the captain had mentioned Buck's attempt. At the time, it had sounded like Buck didn't go through with it, but as Buck nodded, Eddie was guessing Buck had lied about some part of the story. "Why don't you talk about it?"
"Why don't you?" Buck asked knowingly. Trauma was a bastard, they both knew that. Buck let out a soft chuckle, taking Eddie's silence for the unwillingness to share it had always been. "Personally, I don't like who I was very much," Buck was speaking with levity, but none of it reached his eyes. "I enlisted as soon as I turned 18, and I really don't think we would've gotten along back then. It was all I had at the time," Buck added before he could ask what had happened, "I didn't take the discharge that well."
"Understatement of the century," Thomas quipped, sitting on the floor some steps away from them. "Took Matt and I shoving you in a plane for you to get your shit together."
Buck waved his hand in dismissal of his comment, but Eddie raised a questioning eyebrow. Buck groaned, "You just couldn't wait, could you?"
"Why?" Thomas laughed warmly. "I don't wanna be here all day, man."
Buck tossed one of the gloves at him at the same time as Eddie cleared his throat, drawing their attention back.
"Right." Buck took a deep breath. "I only had the Navy at the time, then we got discharged, and I was a little lost and a lot numb," he said pointedly, turning his body as well as his full attention to Eddie. "I came to L.A. with two of my teammates," he nodded toward Tom, "But I got restless pretty quickly." Buck gave a tiny shrug. "You can guess the rest of the story here."
"You took to street fighting." Buck nodded at the non-question, and Eddie rubbed his face with a hand. "Damn."
"Yeah, it was a whole thing," Tom spoke up, with much more amusement in his voice than Eddie thought the conversation warranted. "I guess it doesn't show as much nowadays, but he could be vicious in a fight." Tom tilted his head in consideration before adding, "He was called Pit, as in pitbull. All bubbly and warm and affable, but the moment there was a threat, he was pretty much unstoppable."
The smile Buck had was small and rueful at best, and Eddie let the silence fall as the things he'd just been told sunk in. Buck had served, had been left with a similar numbness than he was feeling - similar, not the same, that much he was sure of. There was too much swirling in his mind, but- "Wait." A single thought got caught on the metaphorical gears of his brain at that moment. "You said a medical leave was extended." Buck nodded. "You thought it was happening again?"
Buck's smile was softer, undoubtedly having heard the hurt Eddie was trying to hide at the idea. "We don't really know why we were discharged," he said softly, "But Bobby admitting he was the one keeping me from the station? It hurt, Eddie, and it brought back… A lot of shit.
"After a couple of weeks, the doctors cleared me to go to work at the station as long as I stuck to light-duty, being the man behind and all. And I would have done it." He shook his head. "Bobby didn't want to risk it, though, and I get it, he worries about me."
"But the doctors and the department had cleared you, he shouldn't have stepped in like that." Eddie's voice was soft, and his gaze was somewhere between Buck and Tom. "I'm sorry, Buck, I should have-"
"Eddie." Buck's hand on his forearm was a warm weight, bringing his eyes back to him before he could start rambling. "You couldn't have known when I didn't talk about it." He was smiling again, this time more genuinely. "Bobby and I talked it out yesterday, it's alright." He patted his arm before the smile turned a little more teasing. "See, people like us," he gestured between the three of them, "Have the annoying habit of keeping things close to heart, of not letting ourselves feel, but that's really bad, as I've learned."
"And where did you learn that?" Eddie asked with a small smile of his own, feeling lighter with the unexpected understanding than he had for a while.
"Therapy, actually." Eddie frowned, instinctively trying to move away, but the hand on his arm stopped him. "I know you hate the idea of asking for help, but you don't have to do things on your own." Buck held his gaze, willing him to just listen. "And I know I didn't really help with the lawsuit." He raised a hand, stopping whatever argument Eddie was going to offer. "I don't regret it, but I can admit it wasn't…" He grimaced. "That well thought out."
"You did what you had to."
"Or what I thought I had to." Buck bumped his shoulder against Eddie's, leaning against him for a moment longer. "You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to, but you should talk to someone." Buck chuckled, "Especially if you're going to rant about whatever stupid thing I do next."
That drew a laugh out of Eddie, but it died quickly as the past few weeks - hell, the past few months - caught up with him. "There's just… A lot going on." A divorce that didn't even go through, Shannon's death, the truck bombing, Buck's pulmonary embolism, a tsunami of all things that could've taken the two best people in his life away from him, and then, admittedly, the lawsuit… It all tested his already tenuous grasp on his life. "I guess I thrive on routine more than I realized," he said with a weak, nearly humorless chuckle. "Haven't had much of that lately."
"Yeah, this has been the year from hell," Buck agreed. He looked around them, examining the gym as if he hadn't been here before. "You know," he started, a knowing smile growing on his face, "I've been here a lot lately-"
"He really has," Tom interjected.
"Shut up, man." Buck groused. "The point is, I've been here," he pointed at Tom, "Pestering him almost daily, so I don't fall back into bad habits." He nudged Eddie once again. "So, I was thinking, coming here could actually help you out? When you get restless?"
"That was the whole idea, actually," Eddie said softly, almost a whisper. "Burn through some energy, get home and rest." His eyes fell on his hands, fidgeting where they rested on his lap. "Don't take it out on someone I care about again." He sighed, turning his head to look at the high ceiling. "I don't think it's a good idea."
"It's a better idea than going street fighting," Tom countered with a raised eyebrow. "Here you have people to keep you in check."
"Who knows." Buck's falsely serious expression didn't take from the lightness in his tone as he said, "We might be able to talk some sense into you."
"You? Talk sense into me?" Eddie snorted, unable to help the smile forming. "That'd be interesting."
"It could happen." Buck stood up, and Tom tossed his glove back at him. "Come on." He extended a hand toward Eddie, who simply stared at him for a beat before frowning. "Right now, what I can do is get you moving so some of that frustration leaves you."
"What?" He asked, confused. Buck had already tried this today, but… "I wouldn't- I won't fight you. You're on blood thinners."
It wasn't the whole truth, not exactly, but that was a conversation for another time altogether. If it ever happened. Buck was looking at him with an unimpressed expression as if he knew it was mostly a weak excuse.
"Eddie, the meds didn't change a thing on Friday, they sure won't change it now." He wiggled his fingers to try and coax Eddie into standing up. "I can still take you."
Buck said it with conviction and a smug grin, enough for Eddie to narrow his eyes as he looked at the man currently standing next to him and ask, "You think so?"
Eddie took his hand at that, letting himself be pulled to his feet. He grabbed the gear he'd discarded from the floor, putting it back on as Buck did the same with his gloves. "Nothing above the neck," Eddie declared, eying the bruise on Buck's jaw.
He nodded, then they were both moving.
Buck stepped around him rather graciously, moving in circles with confidence that spoke to how Buck had apparently never stopped practicing. Eddie's own service and fatherhood had made him turn away from boxing as an activity, despite the recent stint.
He barely noticed the distance closing, a series of feints and jabs that were easily blocked bringing his attention back to the present and to Buck's smug little smile as he stepped away again.
Eddie could tell he wanted him to make the first move; they were in the gym for him and not Buck, after all. But this whole idea still didn't settle well in him and he'd stand by what he said.
He hesitated, moving a beat too late with jabs that were half-hearted at best and easily avoided. Later, he supposed Tom would be able to tell him just what happened, but Buck's huffed breath was the last thing noticed before the man rounded on him and his back hit the floor of the ring with a dull thud.
"You're distracted," Buck said, leaning over him, part of his weight keeping Eddie on the floor as he smirked. It wasn't nearly as immobilizing or heavy as he expected; he wasn't putting his full weight on Eddie, and he could shake him off, he knew that. Buck's smirk grew into a full grin, wider by each second Eddie laid there in stunned silence, though.
"That… Happened," Eddie settled on saying, not taking his eyes off of the playful glint in Buck's eyes.
"Are you two done or should I move to a chair?" Tom asked tiredly from the floor. "I don't even open on Sundays!"
That broke through whatever sort of stupor they were both in. Buck started laughing first, but Eddie wasn't too far behind. He was feeling lighter right now than he had all week, even before things went wrong on Friday. It was a good feeling, knowing he had someone in his corner despite all this - through this.
And if it did end up becoming a new habit, a better one, it was only between him and Buck - and, he supposed, Tom as well.