Buck had never really been into the theatre scene. He had done the whole ‘Tree Number 3’ thing in grade school. He signed up for the drama club sophomore year because the girl he had been hopelessly in love with at the time was the club president. They did Fiddler On The Roof that year, with Buck ending up as a villager. He did just fine at the bottle dance. Anna Rugman never did go out on a date with him.
So he’s a little surprised at himself when he agrees so quickly to join his friends production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
He has an afternoon off before he heads in for a late night shift and is meeting up with his old roommates for lunch.
When Buck had first moved to LA, he had zero dollars to his name and no one to show him around. He was the perfect candidate for a trio of struggling artists looking for a 4th roommate. They had met over coffee, Buck telling them he had a few small jobs lined up to make money, but was really looking for something more stable in the future. He had even been thinking about possibly trying to be a firefighter. Markus, Nina, and Autumn liked what they saw and handed him the keys the next day.
Even after Buck finally had a steady job to move out on his own and eventually found himself at the 118, the four of them still kept in touch when they could. Even if they hadn’t seen each other in months, they could always reconnect like not a moment had passed in between. When you live with people for over a year, you share experiences that bond you for life. People would be surprised by how much finding a mouse in your dishwasher can bring people together.
It’s Autumn who’s found herself the theatrical crisis. She rants to the others as she intermittently takes sips of her steaming coffee that she’s loaded with sugar and cream.
“So he acts like some sort of diva, even though it’s fucking LA community theatre, and then he quits! And I have to beg him not to leave because the show is only one night and we open in a week, but nope, he just ‘can’t work in these “conditions”’, whatever the fuck that means.” Markus snorts, asking her what his ‘conditions’ were. “He didn’t want to share the dressing room with our Frank N Furter, he wanted a private one. I told him we didn’t have enough space for that and then the tantrum started.”
Markus and Nina look sympathetic to her plight, while Buck just nods along. He never really got how people could be so self centered to just quit something like that. His friends had told him enough horror stories over the years of nasty directors, rude castmates, drunk choreographers. The list went on and on.
“Well do you have someone to replace him? What’s his role like?” Buck asks.
“All Rocky has to really do is mumble a few lines and look sexy on stage. I mean shit, at this point I’ll just cut ‘ Sword Of Damocles’ . It’s not even that great of a song anyway.” Nina, who is seated next to Buck gives him a quick once over and presses a finger into his bicep. She seems satisfied when the muscle proves to be firm, and Buck can see the light bulb go off over her head.
“Buck. You can do it.” Buck freezes as she says it, completely taken aback by the idea at first. He also can’t help but be a little flattered.
“Of course! How fast do you think you can learn stage directions?”
“Uhh, I mean it's just walking where you tell me to go right?” There’s a spark in Autumns eyes as he says it, and her grin is downright mischievous.
“Oh, you’re gonna be perfect.” She pulls out her phone, texting at rapid fire speed as she sets her plan into motion. “Now tell me Buck, what size do you think you are in gold hotpants?”
When the night finally comes, Eddie meets the others at the theatre and he isn’t entirely sure what to expect. Buck had invited them all as soon as he had taken the part, promising them a hilarious night out. Eddie is picking up his ticket at the box office talking to Maddie and Chim as he tells them he’s never seen it before. Chimney tries not to look offended.
“You’ve never seen Rocky Horror? It’s one of Tim Curry’s best performances! It’s a cult classic.” Maddie just rolls her eyes and pokes Chimney in the side.
“It's fine Eddie. I hadn’t seen it either until Chim showed me last month.”
“Just cause it’s a cult classic doesn’t mean everyone has seen it before man,” reminds Eddie as they head inside to the lobby. The theatre is small but well kept, and full of people awaiting the doors to open so they can take their seats. Eddie is surprised at the mingling of both people dressed in plain clothes, and the high number of people dressed in costume. They find Hen and Karen near the doors, including a table set up where ushers are selling small brown paper bags filled with goodies.
They’re all encouraged to buy one for the full experience of the show, and once they do Eddie finds a noisemaker, newspaper, a small bag of rice, and a miniature flashlight. Karen explains it’s for audience participation, that half of the fun of seeing the show comes from joining in on the fun.
“Wait so am I really the only one of us who hasn’t seen this show?” The others exchange a look and Eddie simply groans. Luckily for him, the doors to the house opened and they could finally take their seats.
When the show finally starts, Eddie finds himself really enjoying it. The rice turns out to be for the first scene, as they throw it towards the stage during a wedding. The newspaper and flashlight is for some sort of rainstorm, and the noisemakers prove themselves helpful for The Time Warp . Buck doesn’t appear until about halfway through the first act. And when he does, it is something. The audience hoots and hollers when Buc- sorry, Rocky is revealed and with good reason.
The gold short’s he’s wearing fit him like a glove and it makes Eddie sweat. Buck is obviously soaking up the attention, which fits the character and his ‘perfect man persona’ perfectly. And God help him, Eddie swears that they’ve put something shimmery on Buck’s arms and chest. He can spot it whenever his biceps hits the light just right.
Somehow, Eddie makes it through the rest of the show without having to leave the theatre immediately so he can go curse whatever god did this to him. Having to watch your best friend/crush flaunt himself on stage for an hour and forty five minutes can really wear a guy down. He’s originally planning on heading home right after the show, except of course Buck invites them to the cast party at the bar down the street, and of course Eddie says ‘yes’ before his brain can catch up to him.
Thinking back on it, he can’t remember the last time he’s said ‘no’ to Buck. What can he say, he’s got a weak constitution and a strong desire to be a people pleaser. Which is a lie actually. In reality, he just wants to please Buck. The idea of disappointing him gives him the same feeling that you’d probably feel if someone kicked your puppy.
Buck throws his arm around Eddie’s shoulder when he says yes, poking fun at Eddie for the fact that he hardly ever agrees to going out. Eddie just shrugs as they head down the sidewalk, Buck’s arm still around him tightly.
“Well, maybe you’re just special Buck.” Eddie doesn’t mean to look at Buck that intensely when he says it, but it happens nonetheless. The two men feel the air between them change, and this isn’t the first time. This is usually were they got stuck and just ignored each other until the moment passed. And every time they let it pass them by, Eddie swears to himself that next time he’ll do something about it. He just never does.
The moment ends when someone jostles Buck in his side, threading their arm through his. It’s one of his cast mates, a young woman with curly brown hair and a smattering of freckles that cover her cheeks and nose. It takes Eddie a second to recognize her as the girl who played Janet. She looked different without the blonde wig and a face full of makeup.
“Jeeze, I’m glad I caught up to you. You bolted out while I was still taking off my wig.”
“I know, I know.” Buck gestures towards Eddie. “I was making sure I caught this one before he left.” Buck takes his arm off of Eddie’s shoulder, sticking his hand in his jacket pocket. Eddie hates the loss of contact but does his best to bury the feeling. The girl gives Eddie a once over and smiles.
“I’m Nicola. Nice to meet you! Eddie, right?”
“Uhm, yeah. How’d you know?”
“This guy right here only talks about two people, you and his sister, who I can not wait to meet.” Buck laughs, rolling his eyes and throwing his arm around her shoulder, just like he had done to Eddie a few minutes ago. He pulls her tight, giving her a hug and it makes Eddie’s blood boil.
But it’s fine.
It’s all fine.
Nicola is two years older than Buck, a computer tech who does theatre on her nights off. Eddie watches as the two sit at the bar with the rest of the cast. They’re incredibly close, shoulder to shoulder, and it makes something prickle deep down in Eddie’s gut. He knows it’s jealousy. He couldn’t even blame himself really.
The show had been fine until he had to watch this girl make out with Buck and sing a whole song about wanting to bone him. He kept telling himself that even if you didn’t know if you were supposed to be with someone, you could still be upset seeing them with someone else.
The cast at the bar cheer, and they finally toast. When they all clink glasses and bottles, Eddie could practically see the leftover glitter and stage makeup flying through the air. Buck places a hand on Nicola’s shoulder and steers her towards the table him and the others are sitting at. He’s absolutely beaming, and it makes Eddie squirm in his seat.
“Guys, this is my friend Nicola! She played Janet. Eddie you’ve already met her of course.” Nicola says hello to the others as Buck introduces Chimney, Maddie, Hen and Karen. Buck explains how they became fast friends due to the circumstance of his casting and well, the nature of the roles they were playing. Nicola talks about how thankful they were that her and Buck clicked so fast.
“When you have to kiss a guy in nothing but your underwear, you wanna get to know him first you know?” The table laughs, and Eddie does his best to chuckle along as well.
Surprisingly to Eddie, Nicola is immediately drawn towards Maddie and breaks away from Buck. She squeezes into the spot next to her. They get into a lively conversation about Buck, his acting abilities and how he’s always had a flair for the dramatic. Maddie explains to the table how Buck got out of many a day of school by playing sick.
“He was a regular Ferris Bueller.” The others laugh, and Nicola asks if anyone would like another round. Once she has everyones order she whisks Maddie off towards the bar to help her. Hen laughs rigorously when the two are finally out of earshot, causing Eddie and Chim to raise an eyebrow. Karen however seems to be in on the joke.
“Man, I used to think you were the Buckley who was getting all the girls. Apparently Maddie is the one we should’ve been watching out for.”
“What are you talking about?” Buck just smiles cheekily, as Hen gives him a stern look. It’s been described before as her ‘mom’ glare, and Buck folds almost instantly. “Okay, okay. I may have ended up talking about Maddie a lot, and Nicola was excited to meet her for...reasons.”
Buck spares a glance at the two women in question as they laugh, and Nicola rests her hand on Maddie’s forearm. Nicola then ‘notices’ Maddie’s collection of bracelets, inspecting them as Maddie tells her the story behind each one.
Nicola’s touch is light, and the rise of blush to Maddie’s cheeks is incredibly obvious. Hen and Karen turn back to the men, simply shrugging their shoulders.
“Now I’m not gonna say that we’re experts…”
“But Buck, your friend has got game.” Karen holds out her hand for a high five which Hen immediately accepts.
Eddie spares a glance at Chimney who looks just about as jealous as Eddie did about 5 minutes ago. Which, to his own credit, he now feels incredibly stupid about. With the two women gone, there was enough room for Eddie and Buck to sit next to one another but keep some space in between them. Except of course, they’re pressed knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder for absolutely no reason. Sitting this close, even in the dim bar lights Eddie can see the way the makeup had tinted Buck’s face just slightly. He hadn’t gotten all of his eyeliner off completely either, his eyes still tinted black around the edges.
The harsh makeup had been from a number called ‘ Rose Tint My World ’ which had half the cast in corsets and fishnets, including Buck. Eddie had been practically bursting out of his skin during the entire scene, and he had to do everything in his power to not steal Buck right off the stage. He was lucky that his friends next to him were too busy laughing and enjoying themselves to notice Eddie’s flushed face and sweaty palms.
Even now, Buck looks dazzling somehow. All Eddie wants to do is take Buck home, trace his adams apple with his tongue, and not do anything for the next two days except be in bed. His train of thought is broken when Nicola shouts for Buck across the room.
“Hey Buck, we’re gonna take a picture!” She trails away from the bar, waving goodbye to Maddie. Buck excuses himself from the table and follows her to the corner of the room as Maddie finally returns. Maddie is smiling wide as she passes out the drinks.
“Guys, she is so nice!” Hen grins is impossibly wide as she accepts the fresh beer from Maddie.
"Really? That’s great. She seemed very sweet.” The death glare Chimney throws her way makes the sentence worth every syllable.
“She even gave me her number. Said we should get a drink sometime.” Eddie gets up so Maddie can slide in next to him and be sat between him and Chimney.
Once Maddie is settled, Eddie leans in to whisper in her ear. “Maddie, she was flirting with you.”
“Oh... Oh! She was?” Maddie toys with the bracelets on her wrist as she looks down at her lap to try and hide her blush from the others. “Well, uhm. I’m flattered.”
“You really couldn’t tell?”
“Well, it’s been a while since anyone has really flirted with me. And even longer since it’s been a girl.”
Eddie just clinks his glass with hers and smiles softly. “Well it’s no reason to be embarrassed.” Hen smiles at Maddie as well, and holds her bottle out for Maddie to toast.
“Girl, you’ve got no reason to be ashamed. I should've known Buck got his game from somewhere.” The group laughs again, and this time Eddie laughs along too. His laughter almost makes him miss the protective hand Chimney places on Maddie’s knee. Luckily for her, no one notices the way she blushes at the contact. She makes no move to pull away, and instead shimmies just a little closer into Chimney’s space.
That old chestnut.
They were ‘together’ but they weren’t dating, they weren’t exclusive but neither of them were seeing anyone else. Maddie was positive she was ready but didn’t want to pressure him, meanwhile Chimney was going to explode soon if he didn’t tell her how he felt but he still didn’t wanna push Maddie on accident and ruin the whole thing. They were two people standing on a diving board who couldn't see the water underneath. Neither of them wanted to jump.
Buck had spent many nights telling Eddie the drama between those two. The perils of being the middleman for your best friend and your sister.
Sooner than later, Eddie is getting up again from the booth seat to let Maddie and Chimney out. They claim it’s so they can get the next round of drinks, but both of them have nearly full bottles of beer. Maddie casually makes her way over to a pair of empty seats at the bar, and Chimney follows close behind. Eddie chuckles, taking advantage of the open space next to him and spreading out slightly.
He understands Chimney’s jealousy, since just a bit ago, he was the one who had the same feeling brewing underneath. Eddie had moments of jealousy with Buck in the past, but it felt stronger this time, hell, it even made him feel a little sick. Maybe this time, if him and Buck had another ‘moment’ he would actually do something about it.
Tonight just felt, different.
“Sooo your sister…?” Buck and Nicola were still in the corner with the others, chatting amongst themselves and sending each other copies of the photos they just took. He’s been wondering if she was going to bring up Maddie. He smiles at her, hardly being able to contain the pride he feels for his sister and how much she’s grown since she moved to LA.
“Working through a lot of stuff, but doing really well actually.”
“So is that a yes or no to her being single?” Buck glances over at the bar where his sister and Chimney had moved to and are now pressed close together, thighs touching. They’re as close as they can be to each other without making it completely obvious, which is pretty on par for them at this point.
“That’s uhh, also complicated.” Nicola groans and rolls her eyes, taking a sip of her beer.
“All the cute girls are always taken.” Buck laughs and Nicola playfully shoves him with her shoulder. She nods her head across the room to the table where Eddie, Hen, and Karen remain. “I did see a very handsome boy eyeing you up though.”
“Who, Eddie? Nah he’s uhm-.” Eddie looks effortlessly gorgeous as per usual. His hair is fluffy and loose, and he’s wearing a jean jacket over a white t-shirt that leaves very little to the imagination. He must be able to feel Buck staring out of the corner of his eye because he turns from where he’s talking to Hen and flashes a dazzling smile over at Buck.
Buck is slightly taken aback, and just nods his head in return before taking a swig of beer. Nicola clicks her tongue at her blushing friend.
“He’s what, very into you? That smile was definitely not for me.”
Buck would have to be an idiot to not see how Eddie looked at them when he first brought Nicola over to the table. He had looked a little cold and didn’t relax until after she had left with Maddie. Plain and simple, Eddie had been jealous.
Buck was always affectionate with his friends, that’s just who he was. At the firehouse, when they went out, he was always touching. Except this time instead of that friend being Hen or Chimney, it was someone Eddie didn’t know. Someone Eddie perceived as...a threat? The idea makes Buck want to laugh, because there was only so much blatant flirting he could do before Eddie finally saw that he liked him. Buck liked him, and only him.
“I just...it’s complicated.”
“Is it, though? Or are you two just making it complicated?”
“Hmm. You got me there.”
Buck watches as Eddie excuses himself from the table and heads over in the direction of the restroom. He must feel particularly crazy tonight, because Buck simply tells Nicola he’ll be right back and starts after Eddie. He follows him into the small hallway, catching him just before he heads in, Eddie looking confused when Buck grabs his arm.
“Uh Buck, this bathroom is kinda only built for one.”
“I know that,” says Buck as he release the grip he has on him.
“Are you drunk?”
“No. Just feeling brave.” Buck doesn’t think he means to, but he licks his lips as he says it. Eddie certainly notices because he checks to make sure the coast is clear and yanks Buck into the bathroom with him. Buck locks the door behind him. He can’t help but feel smug at the surprised look that Eddie has as he leans against the sink in the tiny bathroom. Eddie attempts to keep his cool as he runs a hand through his hair trying to appear casual, like he isn’t in a tiny enclosed space with Buck right now.
“Well, you’ve got me cornered. Now what do you want?”
“I saw the way you’ve been looking at me. You’ve been jealous all night. And you know, I never knew you had a thing for fishnets.”
“I guess you learn something new every day.”
This is the easy part for them, the banter, toeing the line between just friends and something definitely not PG-13. They both know what the next step is, but they’ve always backed down. Not this time.
Buck gets closer, crowding Eddie against the sink.
“I should’ve gotten half naked in front of 100 people a long time ago, since that’s clearly what gets you riled up.” Buck is close enough to touch now, and Eddie brings a hand to his hip, letting his thumb slide under Buck’s shirt. Their faces are only inches apart, and the corners of Eddie’s mouth tick up.
“Maybe I don’t like people looking at what should be mine.” Buck’s breath catches at that, which Eddie relishes in. Eddie files the reaction into the back of his mind for later use. Buck’s hands are still at his side, looking lost. Eddie pulls him closer, as Buck’s arms instinctively wrap around his middle. Eddie chuckles, resting his forehead against Bucks.
“While I’d really like to kiss you right now, I’d prefer if our first wasn’t in a public bathroom.” Somehow, that breaks the tension, and Buck can’t help but laugh. God help him, Eddie loved that laugh.
“So how about you let me take you home Buck? Just you and me.” Buck’s smile is all teeth and almost too wide for his face. It makes Eddie’s heart pound in his chest. He is so screwed.
“I’d like that. I’d like that a lot actually.”
Before the two men rush out of the bar hand in hand, Eddie drops a twenty off at the table to help pay for the drinks. Hen smiles as Karen pockets the money and thanks them for the contribution.
“Now be safe you two, make good choices!” Buck looks over his shoulder as him and Eddie leave the table and gives her a thumbs up.
“Thanks mom!” Hen just rolls her eyes and thats the last thing Buck sees before he’s pulled out of the building and into the warm night air. Now outside, Buck doesn’t want to keep his hands off Eddie. “Do I really have to wait to get to your place to kiss you? Seems a little unfair.”
Eddie just laughs and starts heading down the sidewalk, expecting Buck to follow him. He turns to look at Buck as he continues walking backwards, albeit slowly.
“It’s more fun this way.” Eddie winks. “Besides, I like seeing you shiver with antici….pation.” Buck is taken aback for a split second before his face breaks out into a lopsided grin. Eddie starts walking away again. Buck finally breaks from his spot on the sidewalk, running to catch up with him so they could head into the night, together.