He doesn't sleep.
For nearly four hours, Buck lays in bed, unmoving, unseeing. His mind cycles through every version of what he could have done differently, what he should have said, what's going to happen when he sees Eddie at the station come morning.
It's an unending parade of hypotheticals and self-recriminations, all the way up until his alarm signals the start of a new day.
It's not a day he particularly wants to face.
But then he remembers the look on Eddie's face just before he left; the self-loathing that hurt to bear witness. Regardless of what happens with their relationship — whatever their relationship is — Buck knows they need to have a conversation about what happened. He's not willing to let this destroy their friendship or cause tension between them at work. There's far too much at stake to allow for either of those things to happen.
So he drags himself out of bed and heads to the bathroom, still naked and coated in dried come and feeling none of the glow that suffused his blood only hours ago. He steps directly into the shower and blasts the water as hot as he can stand it, hot enough to sting his skin and make him flinch away from the heat.
His shower lasts a little longer than usual, but he's not terribly worried about being late. Not today. It's more important to take some extra time to get his head on straight than it is to show up right at shift change. He takes his time getting cleaned up, washing Eddie from his skin with a twinge of loss that he does his best to brush aside, knowing there's a very real possibility that he'll never have the man on him or in him again.
After he finally shuts off the water, he gives his hair a quick once over with the towel before wrapping it around his hips, but he freezes in place the second he catches sight of his reflection in the mirror.
Eddie's hands are all over him.
Red marks, faded but so very real, wrap around his shoulder and the back of his neck, but it's his hips that truly capture his gaze. Peeking out over the top of the towel are clear, finger-shaped bruises, already a deep purple that makes his heart flutter wildly against his ribs. A flick of his wrist and his towel is sinking to the ground, puddling around his feet, leaving himself bared to fully inspect his skin.
The livid marks spark vivid memories, flashes of their encounter looping in his mind, made all the more real by the glorious marks that litter his body. He brings a hand down to press on the bruises, trying to match his fingers up with Eddie's handprints, relishing in the dull throb that resonates through his body.
He gives himself a moment to enjoy the feeling and then hurries to get dressed, and is out the door and on his way to the station less than ten minutes later.
He intends to fix this.
He's in the locker room when Eddie comes in, but Buck doesn't even have a chance to get to his feet before Eddie is having it out with Bosko. Buck watches curiously as she yells something about her cat as she walks away, wondering what the hell that was all about but putting it on the back-burner for the time being. He takes a deep breath and gets halfway to the door of the locker room, fully intending on pulling Eddie to the side before their shift starts to get things sorted out, but Bobby beats him to the punch. The captain calls Eddie up to the loft area before Eddie even has a chance to change, and something about the tone of Bobby's voice has Buck on edge where he stands, still completely unnoticed.
And he knows he shouldn't, that it's none of his business, but his feet carry him to the stairs, going up just far enough to overhear some of the conversation without being spotted.
He hears Bobby tell Eddie he doesn't have to lose everything before he allows himself to feel anything.
He hears Eddie struggle to keep from breaking apart as he talks about letting Christopher down, the crack in his voice saying more about the pain Eddie is in than the man himself would ever admit to with his carefully chosen words.
Then he hears about Shannon asking for a divorce before she died, and Buck's heart drops into his stomach. Eddie had tried so damn hard to make things work with her, opening himself up in a way that didn't come naturally to the stoic and reserved man, so Buck understands intuitively just how devastating that news must have been.
With everything Eddie's been going through — everything he's been keeping bottled up inside — it's no wonder he turned to fighting as an outlet. Buck is in the middle of firming his resolve to be there for Eddie — to make him understand that he can talk to him when things get difficult and life just piles the crap on until it's impossible to move, to breathe — when Eddie's final words float to him, just barely loud enough to hear.
"I wasn't enough."
And those words fucking hurt. Because Eddie is more than 'enough' to Buck, and has been for a long time now. The fact that Eddie doesn't seem to realize his worth leaves Buck reeling, leaves him reaching out to grab onto the railing just to keep himself steady.
As much as he'd love to rush over to Eddie and tell him just how much he means to him, he understands now is not the time. Eddie needs some space to decompress and Buck needs some time to process.
Lost in a flurry of thoughts, Buck makes his way down the stairs and back to the locker room.
"Hey there, Buckaroo," Chimney says, clapping a hand on his shoulder right where he's red and tender from Eddie's grip and Buck has to bite down a moan at the abrupt reminder of last night. "You're not looking so hot. You feeling okay?"
Buck knows he needs to get his head on straight. He can't be distracted by this as they work, and he definitely doesn't need the team checking in on him throughout the day. So he takes a deep breath and lets it all fall away, knowing that it can wait until the end of their shift to deal with.
"Yeah, I'm good, Chim," Buck says, his trademark smile slapped on his face. Chimney eyes him for a few seconds but, thankfully, drops it with a quick pat to Buck's shoulder.
And then they're called to a warehouse to rescue a man who was attacked by a robot after he pissed on it, and the job takes over every inch of space in his mind. He and Eddie work flawlessly together like they always do, like Eddie didn't just show up at Buck's apartment the night before and fuck him raw. Like Buck isn't feeling a pleasant twinge, inside and out, every time he moves.
Once they finish in the warehouse, once Hen and Chimney have loaded their patient into the back of the ambulance and driven away, Buck takes the opportunity to head over to Eddie where he's stowing their gear back in the truck, far away from prying eyes as everyone goes through the motions of wrapping up the call.
"Uh. Hey, Eddie," Buck says, doing his best to keep the conversation light. Breezy. He doesn't want to delve into anything here, just wants to set up a time when they can talk. "I was wondering if you wanted to come back to my place after shift. To talk about…" Buck takes a quick look around and drops his voice to a near whisper as he says, "what happened last night."
"Buck, I'm so sorry." Eddie scrubs a hand over his face but it does nothing to hide the anguish that overtakes his features. "I never should have—" Eddie huffs out a laugh that's full of pain, and God, does Buck ever miss the warmth of Eddie's laughter. His real laugh, though. The one that crinkles his eyes and comes from deep in his chest, lighting up whatever room he's in. Not this poor imitation that holds none of the joy that Eddie's laugh should. "Shit, I never should have done most of the things I did yesterday."
Buck isn't quite sure how to take that, but then the radio is crackling to life, calling for units to an accident, clipped sentences explaining that Hen and Chimney's ambulance was involved in a collision. Just like that, their baggage disappears. Firefighter Buckley and Firefighter Diaz are on the move, ready to do whatever it takes to save a life.
Unfortunately, despite doing everything that can possibly be done, some lives just can't be saved.
The rest of their shift is filled with statements and red tape and by the time they're given the all clear to leave for the night, Buck is more exhausted than he would have been had they been battling a five alarm blaze. Eddie has avoided him since they cleared the scene of the accident and Buck's resigned himself to the fact that their conversation is just going to have to wait another day. He's pretty damned stoked, then, when Eddie catches him just as he's about to head home for the night.
"That offer to come to your place still stand?"
"Uh. Yeah. Of course," Buck stumbles over his words.
Twenty minutes later Buck is leading Eddie into his apartment, trying to disguise the shiver that rocks his body as he glances at the kitchen island and remembers exactly how it felt to have the weight of Eddie's cock inside of him, to feel the strength of his hands as they bruised his hips.
"Beer?" Buck heads to the fridge and pulls the door open.
"No. Thanks," Eddie says quietly. At a questioning glance from Buck he shoves his hands in pockets and adds, "Need a clear head for this."
"Well, that sounds ominous." Buck lets the fridge door swing closed, hands empty of the beer he'd been searching for. He's nervous all of a sudden, worried about where this conversation is heading.
Eddie moves to the far side of the island, keeping a space between them that Buck wants to bridge more than anything else.
"Look, Buck," Eddie sighs. "I'm sorry."
Buck's about to give him hell for apologizing, again, when Buck had been wanting it — wanting Eddie — for years, but Eddie's next words lock Buck's tongue in place.
"Our first time shouldn't have been so rough."
Buck's mind short circuits for just a second or two, stuttering to a halt before he can form the words that he so desperately needs to ask. "Our first time? As in...th-there'll be more?"
He doesn't want to get his hopes up. If last night was just a way for Eddie to burn off some pent-up energy, he's okay with that (he has to be okay with that, because he's not going to do anything else to risk their friendship).
But Eddie doesn't look like he regrets anything when he quietly states, "Only if you want there to be."
"Of course I do," Buck says simply. Eddie's smile, small as it is, lights a fire inside of him, lending him a warmth he didn't even realize he'd been missing since Eddie walked out that door last night. "I just wasn't sure if it was something you wanted."
Eddie chews on his cheek for a moment, his eyes cast down. "I didn't exactly handle things well last night. I took you too hard and I left you alone. Fuck, Buck, I really messed up. I'm sorry."
Buck rounds the island, only stopping when he's close enough to Eddie that he can feel the heat of his body where they're so close to being pressed together.
"Pretty sure you didn't hear me complain about how rough you were with me," Buck says, his voice thick with arousal just from being in such close proximity to Eddie. "Frankly, if you want to use me like that more often, I'm game. Seems like a good alternative to cage fighting for you to blow off some steam."
Eddie chuckles despite his obvious attempt to hold it in, and Buck thinks that, just maybe, it wouldn't be such a bad thing to get his hopes up after all.
"Maybe just...stick around next time?" Buck murmurs, slipping his hand into Eddie's and tangling their fingers together. The sex was mind-blowing, but being left alone afterwards was crushing. He needs to know it's not going to happen again if they pursue something more between them.
Eddie uses his free hand to cup Buck's jaw, angling them so they're face to face and Buck is looking him in the eye. "I'm tired of running, Buck. I'm tired of pretending I don't feel this way about you. The accident today reminded me how fast we can lose everything, and I don't want to waste another minute away from you."
When Eddie leans in to kiss him this time, it's so much softer than the night before. All of the need, none of the ferocity. It feels like love and Buck smiles into the kiss, feeling Eddie's lips mirror the movement almost immediately.
"Next time, we do this right," Eddie says quietly, words floating into Buck's mouth. Into his soul. "Next time, I take you apart slowly. Take my time with you. Show you how much I care about you."
"Maybe next time can be, like, now?" Buck grins, grinding his hips against Eddie's. He still hasn't felt Eddie's hands on his cock. Hasn't gotten to taste Eddie's release. He wants it all, and more.
"Oh, that's how this is gonna be, huh?" Eddie chuckles.
He's beautiful when he smiles.
Buck decides then and there that it's going to be a life goal of his to make that happen more often.
"You know you like it," Buck teases, nuzzling into Eddie's neck and breathing him in, letting Eddie fill him in the only way he was missing the night before.
The soft hum that thrums through Eddie's chest is merely confirmation that he's right.
Before he knows it, Eddie is walking him backwards into the living room, dropping kisses to his lips with each step they take, strong arms guiding him to keep him from falling. Ever so gently, Eddie lowers Buck to the couch and climbs up over his body, mouth trailing along his neck, stopping only to suck a light mark over Buck's pulse point before continuing on, kissing and licking and nipping at every inch of skin he can reach like he could explore Buck for days and never get bored.
But as Eddie's fingers move to Buck's pants, popping the button free and moving to the zipper with practiced ease, Buck realizes he needs to say something about what he heard today before things go any further.
"Eddie," Buck says so quietly that it takes a few seconds for Eddie to realize Buck has spoken at all and look up from where he's licking over the shell of Buck's ear.
"Hmm?" Eddie's features have all softened, adoration wiping away the worry lines that have a tendency to crease his beautiful features. He looks...happy. and Buck can only hope he isn't throwing a wrench in the works.
"I um. I overheard something today," Buck admits, waiting for Eddie's raised eyebrow as a sign that he's truly listening before carrying on. "You're enough, Eddie. You're so much more than enough."
For half a second, as Eddie's face begins to crumple, Buck thinks he's ruined everything before it can even start. Again. So it takes a beat to realize it's not hurt that's tugging at Eddie's features. It's love.
Buck pushes himself halfway up, just enough to reach Eddie and slide their lips together, soft and slow, letting it say everything that he can't find the words for just now.
With all their cards on the table, with no more secrets between them, kissing Eddie is...a revelation. He pours everything he has into it and drinks in Eddie in return, and it feels like his world is rearranging as Eddie lays him back down, following the movement with his own body, taking Buck apart with nothing more than his lips and his tongue.
Soon, though, Eddie's hands are slipping beneath Buck's t-shirt, gently pulling it up over his head, his lips only leaving Buck's long enough to remove the fabric before he's devouring him once again, their tongues performing the complicated dance with an ease that makes Buck soar.
When Buck pulls back to catch a breath, Eddie simply moves down, kissing along his jaw to his throat, then down his chest. He detours to each nipple, one at a time, licking and sucking and biting oh-so-lightly until Buck is moaning beneath him. And then he looks up with that cocky fucking smile as he works on Buck's pants, tugging them down just far enough for his cock to spring free, slapping against his belly with a muted thud.
Eddie pauses as Buck is bared, but it's not because of his newly freed erection; his eyes lock on the bruises on Buck's hips, the perfect match to Eddie's hands. His mouth opens and closes, clearly at a loss for words, so Buck decides to lend him some of his own.
"I like them," Buck says quietly, bringing his right hand down to trace over the marks on his hip, pressing down with a satisfied groan. "I like the reminder that you were here. Like to push on them and feel the ache."
He's already hard and leaking precum just from being kissed senseless, and pressing on the bruises only makes his cock twitch on his belly, proof of the truth behind his words. And Eddie...well, Eddie doesn't waste a second more, wrapping a fist around Buck's cock and guiding it to his mouth, lapping up the moisture there like the sweetest nectar, all while looking up at Buck through those thick eyelashes.
Buck knows he isn't going to last.
Eddie seems to know it, too.
"Come for me, Buck," Eddie says after releasing the tip of Buck's cock from between his lips with a filthy pop. His hand moves in slow steady strokes over Buck's length, jacking him off as he speaks. "Let me taste you. Let me make you come in my mouth."
As soon as the last word is out, Eddie is dropping his jaw and taking Buck deep inside. He works his hand and mouth in tandem, alternating shallow bobs with deep dips of his head, taking Buck all the way into his throat, all while he jerks Buck's shaft and fondles his balls.
And Eddie watches Buck almost the entire time, only looking away when his eyelids flutter closed as Buck's cock presses into the tight ring of his throat. It's like he's cataloging every twitch of Buck's hips, every moan that passes his lips.
Like he's learning how to play Buck's body.
Like he intends to practice until he's perfect.
The thought has Buck shooting down Eddie's throat, orgasm taking him so suddenly that he doesn't even have time to warn Eddie before he's spilling into his mouth. Eddie doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he seems mighty pleased about it as he strokes Buck through it, swallowing every last drop and only pulling back when Buck hisses at the contact.
But Eddie doesn't go far. He lays Buck's cock back down against his stomach then scoots down on the couch, grabbing a pillow to toss under Buck's hips, and then he's settled between Buck's legs, tilting his hips up just enough to bury his face between Buck's cheeks.
If last time was a sprint, this time is a marathon. Eddie takes his time, circling Buck's rim with kitten licks around the muscle, waiting until Buck is writhing beneath him before he even makes it to the center. Then he licks and sucks and drives Buck absolutely wild for what feels like hours before he pokes his tongue through the wet and waiting ring and starts to lick Buck open.
Fingers come next, but by that point Buck is already so far gone, lost in his pleasure, that he doesn't even feel the stretch as Eddie goes from one to two to three fingers. There's never more than a gentle graze over his prostate, but even still Buck can feel himself careening towards another climax.
"Eddie, I'm close," Buck cries, arching his hips off the couch, chasing his pleasure while simultaneously trying to keep himself in check, and Eddie is having none of that.
"Good. Come for me. Show me how much you like having your hole played with," Eddie says, pumping his fingers a little faster. "Let me make you come before I fuck another one out of you."
Buck blames the flood of hormones in his brain for the fact that he's only now realizing that this was Eddie's plan all along, to pull as many orgasms out of Buck as he possibly can.
The knowledge makes his toes curl, but it's not until Eddie licks up his perineum and sucks his sack into his mouth, tugging playfully while he massages Buck's prostate with his fingers that Buck comes a second time. It's like a jolt of electricity through his entire body, muscles pulling taut, head arching back as he comes all over his stomach, shooting his release as far up as his chest.
And Eddie sees him through it once again, pumping his fingers nice and slow, the suckling of his balls becoming a series of gentle kisses as Buck comes down, slowly but surely. It's not until Buck turns into a puddle of jelly on the couch that Eddie pulls out completely and kisses his way back up Buck's body until his lips are just next to Buck's ear.
"Nightstand," Buck breathes out. His eyes are still closed but he can sense Eddie's smile at just how fucked-out he sounds. He can't bring himself to do more than aimlessly swat his hand in Eddie's general direction, but Eddie's heat has already disappeared from on top of him and the sound of footsteps padding up the stairs announces Eddie's arrival in the loft above.
By the time Eddie gets back, Buck is laying boneless and spent on the couch but has at least managed to drag his eyes open. He feels almost drunk as a crooked smile tugs at one corner of his lips, watching as Eddie crouches down next to him and cups his face with a tenderness that makes Buck sigh.
"I'd really like to fuck you now. You up for that? Or do you need to wait a little?"
It's entirely possible that Buck has never wanted anything more in his life.
"Yes. Please," Buck murmurs. There are few things he loves more than being used after he's already come and his sensitivity is dialed up to eleven. The thought of Eddie fucking into him after two orgasms has his blood buzzing before Eddie's even moved from next to him.
"Fuck, you're beautiful like this," Eddie whispers kissing him one last time before he's pushing up from the floor, dropping the lube next to Buck's hip on the couch.
Eddie had remained fully clothed during their last encounter, but now, he's pulling his shirt over his head and kicking off his shoes the minute he's upright. As much as Buck would love to lean back and enjoy the view, though, he finds himself pushing up and leaning forward as Eddie's torso is bared.
His body is a Jackson Pollock of bruises, shades of livid purple and blue tempered by healing hues of green and yellow, all splashed across Eddie's skin with no apparent rhyme or reason.
"Jesus, Eddie," Buck whispers, reaching out until his fingertips are grazing the marks.
How had he not noticed this?
"It's fine," Eddie says quickly, a gentle hand coming up to meet Buck's, wrapping around his fingers and giving them a quick squeeze. "It looks worse than it is."
Buck has basic medical training. He knows it's not as severe as it looks, but he also knows exactly how bad it could have been. His biggest concern right now is making sure that Eddie isn't going to do this again. Ever.
"I need you to promise me that you're done with this," Buck says, looking up at Eddie from his perch on the edge of the cushion. "I can't lose you. Neither can Christopher."
"I know," Eddie says, eyes cast down to the ground. "I'm done with fighting. I promise."
Buck doesn't doubt Eddie's word for a second. He can feel the sincerity in the promise and knows that Eddie is finished with his life as a cage fighter. Buck hopes that, together, they can move forward. Support each other. And if a rough fuck works anywhere near as well as a fight to relieve the pressure when it builds in Eddie, well, Buck is more than happy to step in and take that kind of pounding.
"Okay," Buck says simply. He doesn't want to weigh down the moment with heavy discussions and vows to do better, so in lieu of all that, he tugs his hand free and trails his fingers to the waistband of Eddie's pants, intent on finishing the job Eddie started.
And Eddie lets him. Soon enough, Eddie is in front of him, gloriously naked for the first time and Buck's mouth waters at the sight. He's just considering taking that gorgeous cock into his mouth, tasting the man and putting the considerable skills he earned as Buck 1.0 to good use, when Eddie's chuckle draws his attention back up. Warm eyes look down at him, paired with an amused grin that makes Buck's heart sing.
"Maybe next time?" Eddie suggests. He lifts a hand to Buck's chin and tilts his face up, leaning down to kiss him, sucking on Buck's lower lip for a moment before pulling back and adding, "You've got me so turned on, I'm not gonna last long. And I still want to get one more orgasm out of you."
Buck's honestly not sure if he's going to be able to come again. Coming twice in such a short span of time was already pushing the limits of his refractory period. But the fact that he's half hard again gives him hope and, frankly, if Eddie wants to try, he's definitely game.
"So what are you waiting for?" Buck tosses on his cockiest smirk, egging Eddie on and before he knows it, he's laying back on the couch again, one leg over Eddie's shoulder and the other wrapped around his waist, sucking in a deep breath as the lubed head of Eddie's cock nudges up against his loosened hole.
Buck is still tender from Eddie pounding him so hard last night, so the first slide in, as slow as Eddie takes it, is still a beautiful combination of pleasure and pain and Buck absolutely adores the sensations. He only realizes he was holding his breath once Eddie is fully seated, his balls nestled up against Buck's body, and the air rushes out in a needy sigh.
"Beautiful," Eddie whispers as he moves his hips in tiny circles, waiting for Buck's legs to tighten around him and pull him in further before he starts to move in earnest.
And it's fucking glorious.
The slick slide, gentle where it was hard and fast the night before, is everything Buck's ever wanted. Everything he's ever needed.
The pace Eddie sets is slow, steady, his muscles tensing and releasing as he moves inside of Buck, drawing moans and sighs and curses from them both. And watching Eddie like this, chasing his pleasure and Buck's alike, is a sight to behold. He's breathtaking.
"Can you come on my cock, Buck?" Eddie grits out after a while. His pace is becoming a little more halted the longer they go, and Buck suspects he's keeping himself from coming until Buck does. "Or do you need a hand?"
When Buck reaches for his cock, knowing he's going to need a little more if he has any hope of coming a third time, Eddie bats his hand away and takes hold of Buck's cock himself, stroking him in time with his thrusts without ever breaking his rhythm.
He's so fucking sensitive and having Eddie brushing over his prostate with each pump of his hips while jerking him off is almost too much.
"Fuck," Buck pants, fingers scrambling for purchase on the couch below him as his body rocks and shakes. "Eddie."
"I got you," Eddie grunts, strung so tight that Buck doesn't understand how he hasn't blown yet. But then Eddie reaches down with his free hand and wraps his fingers around Buck's hip, the heel of his hand resting on the darkest part of the bruises there and he squeezes, and every single thought in Buck's mind vanishes.
He's vaguely aware of his own climax and even more distantly aware of the warmth that blooms inside of him as Eddie follows him over the edge and comes with one last thrust into Buck, but he's mostly just lost in the ether, untethered from his body.
When Eddie's weight drops on top of him, hot breaths sliding over his neck, Buck thinks it's possible that he's never been happier.
They lay there like that, silently wrapped in one another's arms, until both of them have caught their breath, until their heart rates approach something bordering on normal. Until Buck's mind comes back online and starts firing off a million rapid-fire questions about what this all means and where they go from here.
"So, um," Buck asks eventually, "Are we like, dating now?"
He really hopes the answer is yes.
"Hate to break it to you, but I think we've been dating for like, a year." Eddie says, the words slightly muffled since his face is still buried in the crook of Buck's neck and shoulder. There's a happiness in Eddie's tone that makes Buck damn near giddy.
Buck thinks back to all the times they've gone out for drinks after a shift, or back to Eddie's place to spend the evening playing video games with Christopher. All the weekends they spend together, all the times people have mistaken the three of them for a family.
"You know, you might be right," Buck says, attempting to keep a straight face and failing miserably as a determined smile breaks through. "Did you know Maddie asked me about my crush on you back when I was still living at Abby's?"
"That long ago, huh?" Eddie asks, shifting them around so that Eddie is in the crease of the couch and Buck is laying half on top of him. It's surprisingly comfortable and there's not a single place Buck would rather be.
"Don't let it go to your head," Buck laughs and nips at the nearest bit of skin he can reach, startling an answering laugh from Eddie.
The way Eddie holds him a little bit tighter at the admission, though, and the way he kisses him so softly it steals Buck's breath away, it tells Buck that he's not alone in his long-harboured feelings.
It may have taken them a good long while to get there (with a few heartbreaking detours along the way), but laying there with Eddie, sated and feeling cared for in a way that he's not sure he's ever experienced, Buck thinks he wouldn't change a single moment. Their journey was theirs, and it led them here, to this, to each other.
And the view from here — the view of their future, together — is pretty fucking stunning.