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help me help you

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When Eddie arrived, Buck just saw him as competition. He was suddenly the center of attention and if Buck liked anything, it was the spotlight. To have it stolen bothered him.

Eventually he realized that there was so much more to Eddie than a pretty face and a handsome body. He was a professional, a single father to a disabled child, a kind person. He was so much more than than his image that it made Buck feel insecure, superficial, made him feel like he should work harder, become a better person.

But he did try, and being with his colleagues and friends changed him a lot, in a good way.

It broke his heart to watch Eddie try to keep control of his life, trying to keep a job and care for a child that needed more attention.

"I'm not going to pretend to understand what's it like being you." Buck said one evening, just as they were changing into their civilian clothing. Eddie seemed surprised by the softness in Buck's tone, maybe even a little confused, but he waited.

Buck swallowed.

"I mean, I respect you. Not a lot of people can do what you do." Buck continued, and Eddie's gaze made him a little nervous now. He felt like he had to pick his words carefully. "I think you need some help. I don't think you have to do this alone... It's hard."

Eddie smiled because he has heard this before but to hear it from Buck somehow made him feel good and bitter in a peculiar way.

"It's hard to find someone competent to look after Christopher..." Eddie paused, looking away, "and I have a hard time letting him in the care of just anyone. I've been trying to make my case with the state, but it's a bureaucratic hell that makes no promises."

When Eddie looked back to Buck, he smiled slightly. He could see the other man process everything he was told and Eddie could almost hear him thinking. Buck was such a open book. You could read every emotion on his face and then some. There was innocence in that and Eddie liked it. Buck didn't really know how not to be genuine.

"Hey," Buck shouted to get his attention. It was the end of a shift and Eddie was exhausted, but he waited. When Buck caught up with him, Eddie looked at him expectantly. "I was thinking..." he paused, licking his lips, "I can help. I know someone who took care of my ex-girlfriend's disabled mother. She was an amazing person and I think she would be a good fit for Christopher. I can talk to her. I want to help."

To Eddie, Buck looked desperate. Not in any negative way... just young, open, desperate to help. It made Eddie feel warm inside but he knew things weren't as easy as Buck sometimes thought they were.

"I'm not sure it will work, Buck. But I appreci-"

"No, listen, it could. She's a really caring woman. She knows what she-"

"it's not that. It's just... I spend a lot of money on medical things Christopher needs that the insurance does not cover and there's a lot of other non-medical things he needs and someone that competent's gonna cost a lot, Buck, especially with the hours we work..." Eddie saw Buck visibly deflate so he smiled and placed his hand on Buck's arm, "I appreciate that you want to help. You're a great guy. You don't have to worry about me though... I'll work it out somehow."

With that, Eddie thought it was the end of it, but Buck was staring at him like everything he said went through one ear and came out the other unprocessed. Like he determined to see this work.

"I will help you with money. I'll even stay with Christopher whenever I'm free and you aren't."

"Buck don't be silly. This isn't your responsibility."

"I'm not, I'm not, hear me out..."

Eddie wanted to protest but Buck placed his fingers on his lips which made Eddie give him an amused look, the kind of look he gets when Christopher's doing something silly and endearing.

"It's not my obligation to help or anything, I just want to help. You can't live forever like this. You need some sort of balance and right now you're always running from one place to the other. And I can help you figure something out. I'll help you with money because God knows I'm not doing anything important with it these days and whenever I'm free and you're not, I'll keep an eye on him too." Buck paused, eyes pleading with Eddie, "I know you probably don't trust me enough, but-"

"I trust you." Eddie said immediately, like there was no doubt about it, and Buck gave him a surprised look that melted into the dorkiest grin he's seen in a while.

"Then let me help you."

It's been two months since Carla was employed by Eddie and he can finally feel like everything's not as chaotic anymore. Carla's amazing with Christopher and Eddie can't get enough of the countless selfies Buck sends him whenever he's taking care of Christopher on his free days. Chris seems to like Buck a lot and both of them have this amazing energy despite whatever trouble they're facing. It's kind of contagious if you as Eddie.

It still bothers him that Buck helps him with money but he plans on paying him back somehow. It's a lot to take in for Eddie, but Buck's always so optimistic, so genuine... so hard to ignore.

There are other things he would like Buck to give him, but he knows that's not something realistic and he'd never do anything about it.

Eddie starts casually dating Marc. Marc's nice and polite and handsome but there are no sparks. It's something Eddie thinks he has to learn to live with.

When Buck finds out about the whole thing, he's confused at first. He doesn't seem disgusted or anything, Eddie reckons, but he doesn't seem very pleased either. Eddie supposes he can live with that. Buck does get quite a bit cranky whenever Marc's around but Eddie knows it's just because Buck likes to be in the center of attention.

"Are you in love with him?" Buck asks one night when he's preparing to leave after watching Transformers with Chris. Eddie almost chokes on his water. Buck can be very blunt and very oblivious about his bluntness sometimes.

"We've been dating for just three weeks-" Eddie pauses, trying to find his words, "I mean, I don't know... not really." he sighs, "No."

Buck tilts his head slightly and gives Eddie a slight smile before saying his goodbyes.

Eddie has a hard time falling asleep that night.

Despite the fact that he had been working for the last 13 hours, Buck insisted to come over to Eddie's that night, to watch E.T. with them. Eddie told him he should go home and rest but Buck wasn't having in it. And truth to be told, Eddie had gotten used to his presence.

After putting Chris to bed, Eddie poured himself a glass of wine. Buck didn't want any.

"You seem a bit upset." Buck stated after a while, looking at Eddie with concern.

"A bit..." he trailed off, "Broke up with Marc."

Buck's brows shot up. "How come?"

"It just wasn't working out I guess. We want different things." Eddie finally said, downing the rest of his wine.

For a long time, they just started at each other, lost in the moment. Eventually Eddie smiled bitterly and looked away, placing his glass in the sink. Before he could even process it, Buck was next to him, reaching for his face and pulling him into a kiss that knocked the air out of Eddie. At first, Eddie felt frozen on the spot but then he eased into the kiss. It was probably a moment of madness but he couldn't help enjoying it.

And then Eddie placed his hand on Buck's chest and pushed him off gently.

"Don't fuck around." Eddie's tone was serious, sharp. Because while he enjoyed that kiss and would like more, he couldn't deal with an identity crisis, if that was what Buck was going through.

"I'm not gay," Buck simply said, which would be comical if it wasn't for the fact that Eddie wasn't in the best of places, emotionally. He didn't even know how to respond.

"I'm not gay... I mean, I usually like girls. But I like you now and I don't know what that means. I don't know what I am or if it matters at all." Buck seemed agitated, his speech a little messy, "If you don't like me like that it's okay. I just," he paused, looking away "I like you a lot and I didn't know how to tell you. And then you were dating someone. And now... now was my moment of courage."

When no answer came from Eddie, Buck looked at him all nervous. "Say something please."

Eddie let out a breath he didn't know he was holding.

"Buck... if this is some identity crisis-"

"It isn't. It's been a little over 6 months since I realized and it's been growing ever since."

Eddie laughed airily, something warm rushing through his whole body. He kept count.

"What?" Buck asked, frowning.

"I'm sorry, querido," Eddie stepped closer to Buck, "it's just... I've been hoping for this." he smiled widely before kissing him.