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just to love you

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Buck was just as wiped out as Christopher, and as soon as they were both inside the house, he suggested they chill out on the couch together and watch some TV while they waited for Eddie to arrive. Christopher dropped off to sleep within the first ten minutes of Shrek, and Buck soon followed, waking only when he felt a hand touch his shoulder.

"Oh," he said, his eyes popping open. "Eds. Sorry."

Eddie held a finger to his lips – Christopher was sprawled out, practically on top of Buck, sound asleep. Eddie reached over and ran his fingers through Christopher's curly locks, and then whispered to Buck, "You missed Abuela and Pepa ripping my parents to shreds for what they said."

"I did?"

"Yeah, they're upset. I don't think you'll get an apology but—"

Buck shook his head. "It's okay."

"It's not okay," Eddie whispered. "It's not."

"I just want to forget it."

Eddie nodded; his brow furrowed. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. My mother is really hard on me, and… I don't even think she knows she's doing it? And so… you got caught in the crossfire. Honestly, they were probably jealous that Abuela likes you so much. And Pepa – she never likes anyone."

"It's really okay."

"It's really not." Eddie gave Buck a long look. "Don't be okay about this. You're allowed to be hurt."

"Yeah, but it's not your fault," Buck whispered to him. "So I'm okay with you. Your parents – I mean, when am I going to see them next? A year? It really doesn't matter."

"It matters to me." Eddie gazed at him imploringly. "You're my best friend – Christopher's best friend."

Buck smiled at him – sometimes, it was just nice to hear him say it. "Well, you know I love you guys," he replied, as Christopher began to stir.

Eddie brushed his fingers through Christopher's hair and whispered, "Hey, kiddo. Come on, it's bedtime."

"Okay," Christopher agreed sleepily, holding out his arms so Eddie could lift him up. "Goodnight, Buck."

"Night, buddy. You had a good birthday, right?"

Christopher flashed him a sleepy, contented smile. "The most awesome."

"That's good. I'll see you in a few days, kiddo."

"Love you, Buck," Christopher said through a yawn, and Buck's heart lifted when he saw Eddie's face light up with a smile.

"Love you too, Chris," he replied softly. "Good night."

"Come on," Eddie said to Christopher, carrying him to the hallway. "Buck, don't leave just yet."

He nodded, yawning, and then sat up, rubbing his face with both hands. He straightened the couch while he waited, and then wandered into the kitchen. Dirty dishes were piled on the sink, and because he had nothing better to do, he decided to do Eddie a favour and wash them all. He was in the process of drying and putting them away when Eddie returned.

"You don't have to do that," he said quietly.

"You wanted me to wait. I'm just keeping myself busy." Buck finished putting coffee mugs away and began to wipe down the sink. "I'm sorry I ruined—"

"You didn't ruin anything. That's just what they're like," Eddie replied, leaning against the bench. "They tried to guilt me into giving them my son, Buck… like… you've only seen the tip of the iceberg."

"I never understood why they did that," he replied, rinsing out the sponge. "They really don't think you're the greatest father in the whole world? Because you are."

Eddie chuckled. "You're biased," he replied. "And no, I think they probably think they could do it better." He watched as Buck began to wipe down the stove and sighed. "Stop cleaning my kitchen."

"What? I'm just making it nice for you," Buck protested, laughing as Eddie physically snatched the sponge from his hand. "Maybe if you kept it clean—"

"Hey, my house is clean," Eddie shot back, nudging Buck away from the sink playfully. "Go sit down."

Buck bumped him with his hip pointedly, and Eddie gave him a light shove, his eyes flashing – and suddenly they were struggling in the kitchen, snorting with laughter, pushing and pulling each other in a battle of strength.

"Give up," Buck said through gritted teeth. "I'm stronger than you."

"You only think you are," Eddie retorted, shoving Buck up against the wall. "Tap out."

"You tap out," he retorted, pushing Eddie back with all his strength.

With a gleam in his eye, Eddie suddenly hooked his leg around Buck's, throwing him off-balance, and the two tumbled to the floor with a noticeable thump. Immediately they began shushing each other, fingers to their lips, trying not to laugh.

"Shh," Eddie whispered, half on top of Buck, their legs tangled together. "Stop it."

"You stop it," Buck hissed back. "You started it. I was just trying to clean your kitchen."

"You're going to wake Christopher."

"You're the one who tackled me!"

Suddenly they were wrestling again on the floor, snorting with laughter, but this time Buck easily gained the upper hand and flipped Eddie onto his back, pinning his hands over his head. "Concede," he demanded. "I'm bigger and stronger."

He waited for some cocky remark, but Eddie's face was flushed, and he bit down hard on his lower lip, gazing up at Buck with hooded eyes.

Surprised, Buck lifted his head, trying to figure out what Eddie was thinking. They stared at each other, a heavy silence in the room, and Buck suddenly thought, I should kiss him.

Eddie licked his lips, tilting his chin up, almost in an invitation – god, he was so beautiful. How the hell was Buck supposed to go on a date with anyone else when the perfect person was right in front of him – well, pinned to the floor beneath him?

He should pull away. He had to pull away, but Eddie shifted beneath him, lifting his hips slightly, and Buck thought, oh my god, this could be happening.

"Buck," Eddie whispered, his voice husky. "I um—"

"Dad! DAD!" Christopher suddenly shouted, startling them both.

Buck quickly released him, moving away, and Eddie scrambled to his feet and hurried out of the kitchen. "What's wrong, kiddo?"

He took a breath, raking his hand through his hair, and stood. From the reassuring noises he heard from Christopher's room, he guessed Eddie had it under control, and was tidying up the living room when Eddie reappeared about five minutes later.

"He had a cramp," he said, hugging himself as he wandered into the room. "He gets them in his calves sometimes. I had to massage it out."

"He's okay?"

"Yeah, he's back to sleep now." Eddie leaned on the back of the couch. "Stay the night?"

Buck shook his head. "Nah, I'm going to go home and get some rest," he replied. "I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"Right." Eddie lingered, eyeing Buck awkwardly. "Hey, um… we need to talk about something before you go."

"What's up?" he asked, and when Eddie gestured for him to sit on the couch, he complied. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong." Eddie sat beside him, twisting his hands together. "Um… the night we got drunk…"

Buck suddenly realised he knew exactly what Eddie was going to say, and as his heart started to pound, he began to sweat nervously. He remembered. Of course he remembered. He'd hardly been hungover – how could he not remember?

"You told me that you loved me," Eddie said carefully, "and I… pretended like I didn't remember because I wanted to figure out how I felt about it."

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Buck internally panicked, wondering if he should simply make a dash for the exit. A trickle of sweat dripped down his cheek, and he wiped it away, hoping Eddie wouldn't realise how on edge he was. I've ruined our friendship, he thought, utterly terrified. He's been nice to me all day but now he's telling me the truth. I completely misconstrued everything.

Eddie met his eyes, his brow furrowing. "Are you okay? You're as white as a ghost."

Suddenly he couldn't stand it anymore, and he burst out with, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I was drunk," and then stood, backing away from him. "I'm sorry, Eddie, I know you're straight – you don't have to let me down gently. You don't have to tell me that it'll never happen, because I already know."

Eddie blinked. "What? I wasn't going to—"

"I'll never get drunk around you again, okay? I'm sorry. You're my best friend and you and Christopher mean everything to me, and I love you guys, but I'm not in love with you, Eddie, so we can just forget this ever happened and move on," he said firmly. "I'm going; I'll see you tomorrow."

"Buck," Eddie said again, shocked. "Hey! That's not what I wanted to say, at all – Buck!"

But Buck was already at the door, shrugging into his jacket with his back to Eddie, desperate to make an escape. He had his hand on the door handle when firm hands grabbed his shoulders, turned him around and pushed him up against the wall.

"Fight or flight, huh," Eddie said knowingly, his eyebrows lifting. "Buck, you didn't mess up. I'm not rejecting you, okay?"

His heart began to beat again. "You're not?" he asked weakly.

"No." Eddie slid his hands along Buck's shoulders and then up, until he was cupping his face. "I'm not rejecting you," he said again, a little nervously. "But this is the first time this has ever happened to me."

"This," Buck repeated uncertainly.

"Yeah, um… the possibility of not being straight," he said awkwardly. "And being attracted to another man."

His heart began to pound a little faster. "Me," he clarified.

Eddie nodded, a blush creeping into his cheeks. "Yep."

Wow, okay. Stunned, Buck could only stare at him. "Me."

"Yeah," Eddie said again, and laughed nervously. "But I don't know what to do." He took a step back, wrapping his arms around his mid-section, uncharacteristically shy.

"I heard you talking to Hen," he said softly. "About liking someone."

"You," Eddie clarified. "I was talking about you."

And at that, he finally smiled, the weight he'd been carrying around since their night of drinking finally leaving his shoulders. "Me."

"Yes." Eddie smiled at him, still blushing, and then ducked his head. "But uh… I don't know what I'm doing, okay? So… I just need a little time."

"I can give you time."

"I just don't know what… this means for me," Eddie said quietly. "I thought I was straight… maybe I'm not."

"Labels don't matter," Buck said simply.

"They don't?" Eddie looked up, searching his face.

Buck shrugged. "Sometimes you just meet the right person, you know?"

"Yeah," Eddie murmured. "Did you really mean what you said, when you were drunk? About me? About… my face?"

Oh god. He cringed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Yeah… I mean, you've got a great face, Eds, I don't know what to tell you."

"But you were talking a lot about my eyebrows."

He shrugged. "They're really, really good eyebrows."

Eddie laughed – and when he did, his whole face lit up. Buck grinned back, pleased to see the dimples out in full force. "Wow," Eddie said in amusement. "I mean, until you said that I had no idea."

"I've been playing it pretty cool."

"Yeah, really cool." Eddie took a tentative step towards him. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I remembered; I just… needed to figure out how I felt."

"And you're… open to it?" Buck asked hopefully.

Eddie nodded. "But… I need to go really slow. Like, snails place," he said, looking embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I just… I haven't done this before, and it's you. I don't want to screw things up between us."

"No," Buck agreed. "Okay. I'll cancel my date on Wednesday night."

"Actually, um… if you cancel, Maddie will ask you why," Eddie said hesitantly. "And… you're going to have to come up with an explanation. So I'm thinking… you should go, and then call me after, or come over, or… like… text me during, maybe, but… don't have sex with her?"

Buck laughed, amused and delighted. "Okay," he agreed. "I won't have sex with her."

"Good." Eddie leaned against the wall, smiling at him. "And… you could kiss me. I'd really like you to kiss me."

Buck needed no further invitation. He closed the gap between them, cupped the back of Eddie's head and pulled him in for a kiss.

 


 

Oh, holy shit.

There was stubble – that was new – but wow, Buck was kissing him. Buck was kissing him so softly and sweetly, but there was so much behind it that Eddie sort of went weak and clutched at him, returning the kiss just as eagerly.

A tiny part of him had been terrified that some kind of panic would set in and he wouldn't be able to go through with it, but it was like his whole body came alive, responding instantly, and all he could think was 'yes, yes – yes, I want this, I want you, please.'

Buck ended the kiss too soon, and Eddie grabbed at his bicep and leaned in again, their noses bumping together briefly before he found Buck's lips again.

God, this was something else. He'd never… in his whole life, nothing had ever felt so right as having Buck in his arms, like he was always meant to be there.

"Oh god, wow," Buck whispered when the parted, pressing his forehead against Eddie's. "Wow, okay."

Eddie wanted more. He gripped Buck's arms, staring up at him, desperate to be touched. "Stay," he whispered. "With me."

"Oh, Eddie," Buck murmured. "You want to go slow – we should go slow."

"Just stay? Sleep in my bed with me?" He was aware that he sounded pathetic, but he needed Buck. Needed him.

Buck's defences crumbled, and he kissed him again. "Okay."

And then, a few minutes later, they were standing in Eddie's tidy bedroom together, holding hands.

Buck raised his eyebrows and said, "My feet are going to hang over the edge of your bed, you know."

"I'll get a bigger bed," Eddie promised.

"I'm going to hold you to that." Buck released his hand and wandered over to the bureau, examining the photographs arranged on top. Eddie watched him pick one up and examine it close – the three of them together, taken at the beach at sunset, with big smiles as Buck snapped the picture. "I have this near my bed," Buck said, turning to face him, holding it up. "Same picture."

Eddie tapped the side of his head. "Great minds."

"Favourite people," Buck replied meaningfully, setting it down again, and turning to face him. "Um… I need to have a shower."

Eddie grinned, nodding. "Me too. I'll get you a towel and some clothes."

"Okay."

He retrieved a towel from the linen cupboard, and returned to the bedroom to grab out a clean pair of sweats. Buck accepted the clothes and said, "I won't be long."

"Take your time," Eddie replied, perching on the end of the bed.

Buck was sleeping over, in his bed. They would wake up together in the morning and then… go to work? Like normal? Like nothing had changed?

Everything had changed. It was huge and exciting and kind of terrifying, and his gut was twisted in knots as he considered what this meant for him. He was opening his heart to the possibility of falling in love with his best friend. If things went well – and he had no reason to think that they wouldn't, not with Buck – they would have to tell Christopher (who would undoubtedly be fine with it), and Carla (who would also be fine and probably tease him endlessly), and their friends, and his family, and his parents.

He was still mulling that over when Buck returned to the room. Eddie's sweats were almost too short on him, and he was shirtless, still a little damp. He looked incredible.

His worries forgotten, he allowed himself to finally admire Buck, openly and unashamedly – so many times he'd looked away when they were changing; hadn't dared a glimpse, but now… his best friend was tall, and strong, and manly and… really fucking sexy.

"You okay?" Buck asked him quietly. "Is this okay?"

His mouth was so dry he could only nod in response. It had been so fucking long since he'd been touched; since he'd slept beside someone… since he'd had sex.

That could wait – they were going slow – but the thought of sharing his bed and waking up beside Buck was more than enough. Buck lingered near the door, as though he thought Eddie was going to ask him to leave, his eyes trained on him worriedly.

"When you said you loved me…" Eddie began, "you meant that you're in love with me. Currently. Right?"

Buck nodded. "Yes."

"So… are you okay if I… take some time to—"

"Eddie, you can take as much time as you need," Buck cut in. "I'm not going to rush you."

"Because I… can't say it yet," he admitted, "but… what we have is more than friendship to me."

Buck grinned. "Honestly? This is the greatest night of my life and you don't need to say it yet, okay? Just… go have a shower, and come back to bed, and I'll spoon you real good."

"I'm the big spoon," Eddie replied, rising to his feet.

"Not tonight," Buck promised.

And sure enough, when they slid under the covers together, and after Buck had kissed him again sweetly until they were both on the verge of sleep, he settled into Buck's arms as though he was always meant to be there, closed his eyes, and slept better than he had in years.

 


 

Slow and steady, Buck kept repeating to himself over the next few days. Slow and steady.

After their first night together, and waking up in bed with a sleepy but smiling Eddie Diaz, and then trading kisses until the alarm went off – he was done for, totally and completely.

But he knew that already. He'd been in love with Eddie for so long… maybe the first seeds had been planted around the ladder truck bombing, and Shannon dying, with Eddie and Christopher turning up at the loft to keep him company after his break-up. Maybe it was when he began rehab, and Eddie joined him a few days a week, just to keep him motivated.

Maybe it was after the tsunami, when Christopher was safely back in Eddie's arms, and Eddie gazed at him and said, There's nobody in this world I trust with my son more than you.

Maybe it was a combination of everything, but now the world was bright and Eddie was smiling at him, all the time, and finding excuses to brush up against him. But they'd always been somewhat tactile with each other – always sitting too close, knocking their shoulders together as they walked, leaning over each other unnecessarily.

Thankfully, work was busy, and nobody seemed to notice that anything had changed between them. Chimney told Bobby and Hen about Buck's looming date – the one he desperately wanted to cancel – and so they were all interested in the outcome of that, and whether this yoga instructor would be a good match for their Buckaroo.

And Eddie was strangely silent throughout the discussions, a small smile playing on his lips, dark eyes trained on Buck. Buck couldn't escape his eyes, and he didn't want to. He wanted Eddie watching him all the time.

The agreement was that they were moving slowly, and trying not to confuse Christopher, so Monday and Tuesday nights were spent apart, though they talked on the phone until late. Buck awoke with his alarm to find an early morning shirtless Snapchat from Eddie, complete with sleepy smile and rumpled bedhead.

And still, Eddie encouraged him to go on the date, but as they walked out of the station on Wednesday night, he said again, "Don't sleep with her."

Buck shook his head and said, "There is only one person on this planet that I want to sleep with, and it's not her."

Eddie, standing by his truck, blushed furiously.

Afterwards, Buck headed home to shower and dress for his date. Maddie was sending him to a trendy bar downtown, and because he wanted to fit in, he dressed up a little more than usual. Eddie sent him a text asking for a picture, so he posed in the kitchen, and sent him the photo. Eddie sent through a string of distressed emojis in response, and Buck hesitated, and then replied with a couple of hearts.

Eddie had nothing to be worried about.

He arrived at the bar five minutes early and grabbed a beer and a high table near the bar. A television on the wall was playing baseball, and Buck watched that for a while, before checking his watch and realising she was more than ten minutes late.

Ten minutes turned into twenty, and then half an hour, and then forty-five, at which point he downed the last of his second beer, flagged the bartender down to pass him over a tip, and left the bar. The hilarity of the situation was almost too much – he'd been stood up, for a date he wasn't really interested in, and all of Eddie's worries had been for nothing.

Amused, he sent Maddie a text to tell her what had happened on the walk back to his car and was about to pull out of his parking space when she called him.

"What do you mean, she stood you up?" she demanded. "You're at the right bar?"

"Yep. She didn't turn up," he replied, settling back into his seat. "It doesn't matter – don't worry about it."

"No, it's rude!" Maddie complained. "I'm so sorry, Buck. I can't believe this."

"It's okay," he tried to reassure her. "Honestly, I'm fine."

The phone line suddenly went muffled, and he listened to her complain to Chimney before her voice came back on the line. "Why don't you come over?" she asked. "I'll cheer you up."

"No, it's really okay," he replied. "I'm going to go home."

"Please," she begged. "Please come over, at least for a little while?"

He laughed. "Maddie, I'm fine. Honestly. Don't worry about me – this is not the end of the world."

"No, but… this could've been really good," she groaned. "I thought you would've liked her."

"These things happen," he replied.

"Yeah, but I'm annoyed it happened to you." She paused for a few moments. "If you won't come over now, how about I drop by the station and see you this week?"

"I can come over if you really want me to – saves you going out of your way," he offered. "Chim said you've been craving ice cream – want me to pick some up?"

"We have a stash of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer," she replied, "but if you wanted to get me… two cheeseburgers from McDonalds, and some fries, and maybe a vanilla shake, that would be good too."

"Can do," he said. "I'll see you in half an hour."

 


 

Chimney sat down beside Maddie and said, "Would it be rude if I sent him a message and asked him to pick me up some food as well?"

"I'll do it," she replied, grabbing her phone again. "What do you want?"

"A Big Mac, fries and a Coke."

She sent Buck a message and held the phone out to show the thumbs up emoji in reply. "God, I feel so bad. I wonder why she stood him up. I'm going to text her."

"Yeah, you should," he said encouragingly, leaning over her shoulder to watch as she rapidly typed out a message.

Hi Cleo – kinda disappointed you stood up Buck? If you weren't interested, you could've just let me know. Thanks.

"Cold," he remarked, and she rolled her eyes.

"I bet she doesn't reply." Maddie rested her hand on her stomach, shaking her head unhappily. "I can't believe that. What a bitch."

"Maybe she's got a really good reason. I'm sure she didn't take one look at Buck and then leave without him seeing her."

Maddie turned to him sharply. "I showed her a picture; she could've said no."

He grinned. "Or maybe she didn't want to say no to you specifically, so… she agreed to the date, and she'll text you back with a big excuse."

"Hmm." Maddie checked her phone. "We'll see. God, I feel so bad. I'm worried about him, you know? He's been on his own so long."

"He's not alone. I keep telling you. He has Eddie and Christopher."

She sighed. "It's not the same."

"I keep telling you that there's something going on with them," he said, sighing when she shook her head stubbornly. "Maddie, I work with them. Something's different – Hen and I have both noticed it. They can't stop looking at each other. The other day, I swear to god, Eddie was checking out Buck's butt."

"You've said that before," she replied, swatting him. "I don't buy it. Not Eddie."

"All I'm saying is that I bet if you try to set Buck up again, he'll say no."

"I do have someone else I could introduce him to. The new guy from dispatch? He's very cute." Maddie's phone buzzed, and she read the message and then scoffed. "Oh. Okay. Had to take her dog to the vet, right. Nice try."

"Maybe she really has a dog—"

"She doesn't."

 


 

Buck called Eddie after he'd been through the McDonald's drive through, laughing when Eddie answered frantically. "Buck? Is it still happening?"

"No, she stood me up," he replied as he drove down the busy city streets.

There was a pause, and then, "She stood you up?"

"Yeah, she did."

"Is she insane?" Eddie sounded equal parts bewildered and affronted, as though he couldn't believe anyone would have the audacity.

Buck was flattered. "I guess I wasn't what she was looking for," he said simply.

"Well, she's an idiot. What are you doing now?"

"I'm delivering fast food to Maddie and Chim, and then I'm going home. What are you doing?"

"Um… I was kinda hoping you'd come over."

He grinned. "Okay. I might be a little late—"

"I'll wait for you; I'm just about to put Christopher to bed. You want to say good night to him?"

"Of course I do." Buck waited, and when Christopher's sleepy voice came over the phone, he said, "Hey kiddo. I'll cook you breakfast in the morning, okay?"

"You're coming over? Can I stay up?"

"No, no," Buck heard Eddie say quickly.

"I'll be there when you wake up," Buck promised.

"Okay, Buck. Good night."

"Night, buddy."

When Eddie came back on the line, he said, "Text me when you're on the way. And just so you know… that woman is crazy. I'd never stand you up."

"I know," Buck replied. "That's why I love you."

He heard a hiccup of laughter and could picture Eddie blushing clearly in his mind. "Well," Eddie finally said, a little gruffly. "Yep."

"Yep. See you soon, Eds."

"Bye."

He couldn't stop smiling, tapping his hands along to the music on the radio as he drove through the city. The fact that he'd been stood up didn't bother him – in fact, it was probably for the best, as he wasn't sure if he would've been able to successfully feign interest. He had Eddie waiting for him, which meant that he needed to not let Maddie hold him hostage for too long.

When he arrived at Maddie and Chimney's, brandishing a bag of fast food, he was instantly set upon by his ravenous sister and future brother-in-law, who practically snatched the bag from his hands before tearing into it on the kitchen counter.

"Nice to see you both," he said sarcastically, taking a seat at the counter.

"Sorry," Maddie said, already crunching on some fries. "I'm so hungry."

"Me too," Chimney replied, and then took a huge bite out of his burger. "Mmm."

Buck could only laugh at them as they stuffed themselves, and when Maddie had finally finished eating, she wrapped him up in a big hug.

"I'm so sorry I set you up with a dud," she apologised. "It won't happen again."

"It's okay," he replied. "You don't need to set me up with anyone else. I'm good."

He noticed Chimney react with surprise, but before he could question it, Maddie gasped and said, "No! Don't let this setback knock you down! There is someone perfect out there for you, Buck."

"Maybe," he said, thinking of Eddie, and trying not to smile. "Maybe not. It's okay."

Looking confused and upset, Maddie took his hand. "What's going on? Tell me the truth. This reluctance doesn’t have something to do with Abby, does it? Are you still in touch with her?"

Amused, he shook his head. "No, I'm not. She's married now. Carla went to the wedding, showed us the pictures. She's happy with Sam."

"You're not still pining or anything?" she asked gently. "The one that got away?"

"No. Honestly, we weren't ever really compatible," he replied. "The thing about Abby is that she made me see myself differently – she made me see that I could be in a relationship and have it mean something. And not just be about sex."

"You realised that sometimes monogamy is cool," Chimney said knowingly.

Buck nodded at him. "Yeah, I'd been pretty lost. And she was different – not the kind of person I would ever have pursued. But I'm not in love with her anymore. I haven't been in love with her for a long time. I got closure, and that chapter is closed."

"Is there someone?" she asked hesitantly. "Someone you might like, and that's why you don't want to date?"

He noticed Chimney leaning forward with interest, but said, "No. Not really."

 


 

Eddie had every intention of staying awake until Buck arrived, but he passed out on the couch in the middle of an old episode of Friends. He awoke when he felt a soft kiss brush his lips, and murmured, opening his eyes.

"Hey," Buck whispered, on his knees beside the couch, one hand splayed on Eddie's chest. "Hi."

"Hey." Eddie sat up, yawning, and then smiled sleepily at Buck. "You look nice."

"Date clothes," Buck said, resting his hands atop Eddie's knees. "You look good too."

That wasn't true – he was in a ratty t-shirt and shorts – but he figured Buck thought he looked good in anything. "Did you find out why she stood you up?"

"Apparently her dog was sick. Maddie wants to set me up again, but I told her no." Buck smiled up at him. "I didn't tell her about you; just that… I'm good. I don't need to be set up."

"Okay," Eddie replied, leaning in to kiss him impulsively – relieved? He'd been the one to push Buck into still going on the date, but this was the absolute best possible outcome.

Buck's eyes were sparkling when they parted. "I'm really glad you asked me to come over."

He nodded, biting his lower lip. The truth was that he wanted to ask him both Monday and Tuesday, but he'd had to keep reminding himself that they were moving slowly.

Buck was still smiling up at him, so he leaned in and kissed him again – hating the fact that he looked so nice, that he'd obviously put effort into dressing up for this date and she hadn't even turned up.

Buck made a little noise, kissing him back tentatively, their lips sliding together. Eddie clutched at his collar, pulling him in closer – the stubble still felt a little strange, but everything else about it felt great.

When they parted, Buck rubbed his nose against Eddie's and then sat back, gazing up at him with bright blue eyes. "What do you want?" he asked, licking his lips. "Can I… do something for you?"

Eddie suddenly felt hot, all over. "Like what?"

"Maybe… we could go into the bedroom, and I could make you feel good?" Buck suggested, arching his eyebrows. "Or is it too soon? Too much?"

No, it wasn't too much, at all. In fact, his shorts weren't doing a great job of hiding how excited he was by Buck's mere presence – he didn't have to fight it anymore, the attraction. He could just feel it.

"Bedroom," he said, rising to his feet. "Okay."

"Okay." Buck stood as well, but his gaze fell upon the rock tumbler, still in its box, waiting to be unpacked. "Did Christopher change his mind?" he asked worriedly.

"No," Eddie replied, slipping an arm around his waist. "We sat down and looked through the instructions, but when I went to put it together, he had a fit because you weren't with us. Apparently, I don't know enough about rocks."

Buck laughed. "That kid, god, he cracks me up."

"I'm not sure why I couldn't do it. They're just rocks."

"They're gemstones; it's a little different. You need someone with a science brain there to assist," Buck teased.

Eddie grinned at him. "Sure. Whatever makes Christopher happy."

"This is why you're the best dad," Buck said, his arms hooked around Eddie's waist, gazing at him with unabashed adoration. "You listen to what he wants, and you don't make fun of him for having interests. He's going to be a much more interesting adult because you've fostered all these things for him, you know? He loves to read, he loves history, he loves learning… man, he's going to be so cool. I can't wait to see it."

Eddie felt a little breathless. "You think?"

"Yeah, definitely. You're the best dad." Buck leaned in and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "You never make him feel like his interests aren't worthwhile. That's really important, Eds."

"Is that why you don't get along with your parents?"

Buck smiled sadly at him. "There are a lot of reasons why we don't get along, but yeah, that's one of them. Why do you think I go crazy over stuff now? I don't have anyone telling me how stupid it is to be interested in things. Even if you think rocks are dumb—"

"I don't," Eddie cut in.

"No, I know, but even if you did, he would never know. That's why you're a good parent." Buck kissed him again. "Bed?"

"Bed," Eddie agreed, still in awe of the way Buck could reassure and encourage him about his parenting so easily. He worried, of course, that he was doing the right thing by Christopher; that he was a good father. He wanted to be the best father he possibly could – he didn't want there to ever be a time where Christopher felt like he couldn't come to him with a problem.

After they'd done the rounds, and turned off the lights, they retired to the bedroom together. Eddie pulled his shirt over his head, watching as Buck rid himself of his clothes – stripping down to his boxer briefs confidently, and glancing over at him with raised eyebrows.

Well, Buck was definitely attracted to him – that was for sure. Eddie drank him in and realised how much he wanted this; how desperate he was to be with him, and crawled onto the bed.

"Slow," Buck said as he joined him, on his knees, eyes locked on Eddie. "I'll go slow, but I want to do something for you."

"I'm okay," Eddie replied, sliding in close to him. "I want you – I'm not scared."

Buck smiled, colour flooding his cheeks. "Good," he replied, and leaned in to kiss him again.

Eddie had always been in the position of power in bed – he'd only ever been with women – but without even really thinking about it, he submitted to Buck, putting up no protest when Buck lay him down against the pillows and covered him with his body.

It felt right in a way that nothing ever had before. Having Buck grinding against him, kissing messily, their arms around each other, the hard length of his cock press up against him - it felt amazing.

And when Buck's lips dropped down to his throat, his collar-bone and then latched onto a nipple, he arched up into his touch, twisting his hands in Buck's hair. Buck's hands were on his waist, and then his hips, and then his shorts were being dragged down his legs. His cock stood to attention, stiff and hard, and then a large, strong hand wrapped around it and began to stroke.

And Eddie, who hadn't had sex in over a year, who only masturbated infrequently in the shower if he really needed it, nearly lost his mind.

 


 

All Buck had wanted was to make Eddie feel good, and he guessed he'd succeeded – he had a blissed-out, naked man in his arms, on the verge of sleep but still trading lazy kisses with him. It turned out that Eddie really, really liked to be touched, and so Buck made sure his hands were on him at all times – long fingers splayed against tanned skin.

Eddie hadn't spoken for a while – not since the second orgasm, after Buck gave him an enthusiastic blow job, followed by desperate frotting, their cocks sliding together as they'd traded open, hungry kisses. Buck guessed Eddie would want to take back the reigns eventually, but he liked having him soft and pliant beneath him. He'd never seen this side of Eddie before, and he loved it. Loved him, wholly and completely.

"When you come to the loft," Buck whispered in his ear, "I want you to fuck me."

Eddie made a hungry noise, deep in his throat. "Okay."

"Too fast?"

"No." Eddie shook his head, his hair falling across his forehead. "No, this is good. I want more."

"You do? Tell me what you want," Buck encouraged him, but Eddie just laughed, turning red. "Come on."

"I don't know, I want… everything," he said, swallowing hard. "All of you."

"You can have whatever you want." Buck licked his lips, and whispered, "And I want all of you, okay? I want you in me, Eddie – I want you to hold me down and fuck me until I can't remember my own name."

Eddie's eyes were dark and glittery. "Yes," he said breathlessly. "I want that too."

"When?"

"Um…" he closed his eyes briefly, thinking, and then said, "I don't know. Christopher wants to use his telescope – do you want to come camping with us on Saturday night?"

"You have to ask?"

"I don't know; you might be busy with a date," Eddie teased him, snorting with laughter when Buck kissed him in response.

They pushed and pulled at each other, rolling over on the bed, and when Eddie was on top and smiling down at him, Buck said, "No dates."

"Until she wants to set you up again."

He shook his head. "I'll just say no."

"Then she'll wonder why." Eddie cupped his face, running his finger over Buck's lips. "God… I wish I'd figured this out sooner. I wish I hadn't been so afraid. I should've gotten you drunk sooner."

Buck raised his eyebrows. "It's the tequila, I'm telling you. It loosens my lips."

"I bet that's not the only thing it loosens," Eddie replied, and brazenly reached down to wrap his hand around Buck's cock. "Right?"

His confidence was back. Buck nodded eagerly, and Eddie began to stroke him with one hand, leaning in to kiss him again.

God, he was a lucky, lucky man. Blessed, even.

~

By morning, it was confirmed.

He was the luckiest man on the planet.

Eddie awakened him with soft kisses, well before the alarm – and usually Buck liked to sleep in, but not when Eddie was naked beside him in bed, and he was being groped all over. Fuck, he loved it, and flipped Eddie over so he was on his back, returning kisses before wasting no time in dropping between his legs to wrap his lips around that gorgeous cock of his again.

"God, I could get used to this," Eddie gasped.

Buck lifted his head and said, "So could I."

~

"Hey Buck!" Christopher exclaimed as he made his way into the kitchen, freshly showered, with Eddie at his heels.

"Morning, kiddo," Buck said, kneeling down to embrace him. "Ready for some breakfast?"

"Yes, please," Christopher said enthusiastically, taking his seat at the table.

As Buck scrambled some eggs, Eddie organised the plates and cutlery, bumping past him every so often – on purpose. Christopher was telling him about school as he dished the eggs out, and when he was finished and settling into his seat, Eddie said, "How about we go camping on Saturday night? The three of us?"

"Yes!" Christopher exclaimed.

"We can set up your telescope and look at the stars," Buck suggested, pouring a glass of juice. "It'll be fun."

"It'll be awesome," Christopher said happily. "Where will we go?"

Eddie glanced at Buck. "I'm not sure," he said thoughtfully. "We'll need to go somewhere without any city lights, so we can actually see the stars."

"Into the mountains," Buck suggested.

"Big Bear?"

He had his reasons for never wanting to go back there, but it was just a place. Maddie was safe and sound, Doug was dead, and nothing bad would happen. "Yeah, I think there are some decent campgrounds," he replied. "I'll do some research."

"Great." Eddie smiled warmly at him, and Buck felt his foot brush up against his leg under the table.

~

Eddie had clearly relaxed into the idea of being a couple with Buck – at work he was his usual self, and Buck was sure nobody had any idea that things had changed between them, but when they were alone, Eddie was delightfully flirtatious – and handsy. Buck quickly adapted to the fact that Eddie wanted to touch him all the time, and even when they were sitting on the couch together watching TV, with the others around, there was usually some part of them touching.

Whether Eddie was struggling or coming to terms with his sexuality he wasn't quite sure, but there was a gleam in his eye that hadn't been there before, and he seemed happier.

It eased some of Buck's concerns – especially when Eddie made a point of saying that he wanted Buck to sleep over Thursday and Friday nights as well –but he was still worried that they were moving too fast, or that there was some inner turmoil going on that he wasn't aware of. Eddie's parents were obviously a huge factor, but they hadn't talked about it – or really anything – since they'd first begun… hooking up? Sleeping together?

He had no idea what they were even doing, and by the time Saturday rolled around, a seed of doubt had planted in his mind. What exactly did Eddie think this was? Did he feel the same way as Buck, or was he so starved for affection that he'd turned to the easiest option for relief?

He tried to put it out of his mind. Eddie and Christopher were both thrilled to be leaving Los Angeles for a night, and they sang along with the radio, stopped whenever they saw something interesting, and ate greasy burgers and fries at a roadside café before heading into the mountains.

Buck had booked them into a campground near the lake, and there was a meadow nearby where they'd be able to set up Christopher's telescope and look at the stars.

Thankfully, the skies were clear, and after they set up their campsite and had an early dinner, they carried the telescope to the meadow and assembled it. Eddie was a bit hapless when it came to putting it together, so Buck showed him what to do, and finally they had it erected, and pointed at the sky. Eddie sat cross-legged, and Christopher used him as a chair, while Buck sprawled out on his side on the grass beside them with his star-gazing app open on his phone, helping Christopher to zero in on the different stars and constellations.

When the moon rose over the mountains, Buck adjusted the telescope, peering through the viewfinder to make sure it was lined up, and then moving aside so Christopher could take a peek.

"Wow," he heard Christopher gasp. "Dad, look. Look!"

Eddie leaned in and had a look for himself, letting out a laugh. "Wow, that's amazing."

"Pretty cool, huh?" Buck asked, as Eddie sat up straight again, and Christopher returned to his viewing position.

"Yeah, really cool," Eddie murmured, gazing at him affectionately. "You're very cool."

Buck smirked. "You are."

"Not really." Eddie reached out to touch his cheek, nodding at him. "Good thing we've got you here. I wouldn't have had any idea how to set this up."

"You would've figured it out," Buck replied confidently. "You're a pretty smart guy."

"Pretty smart," Eddie complained.

"Really, really smart," Christopher said loyally, still peering up at the moon.

"Thanks, buddy." Eddie hugged him, smiling over the top of his head at Buck.

~

It was late when they returned to the campsite, and Christopher promptly fell asleep, wrapped up in his sleeping bag in the tent. Eddie emerged and sat on the stump, leaning over to poke at the fire with a stick.

Buck was seated on the ground with his back to the tree stump, a blanket over his legs, nursing a cup of hot chocolate. They were both quiet, until Eddie slipped down beside him, and Buck lifted the blanket so they could share it. Buck slid his arm around Eddie's shoulders and pulled him close.

"Can we talk?" he asked quietly.

Eddie nodded. "What's up?"

"Um… I know we're going slowly – or that we were trying to go slowly," he corrected, "but…"

"We're kind of sleeping together."

"Yeah."

Eddie rested his head on Buck's shoulder and said, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know that it feels right – being with you feels… great. And I have no reservations or worries, or anything like that."

Relieved, Buck said, "Well, that's good to know."

"And I was thinking that we'd tell Christopher, because… you're going to be staying over more," Eddie said delicately, "in my bed, with me."

"Am I?" Buck asked, rubbing the side of his neck with his thumb.

"Yeah, if you want."

"I really want that." Buck paused, and then said, "But if you're thinking about telling Christopher, that makes this… serious, right?"

Eddie glanced up at him with concern. "Did I give you the impression it wasn't?" he asked worriedly.

"No, just… I don't know. It's been a long time since you've done this… I guess I thought we'd be keeping it from him for a while."

"I can't keep anything from him," Eddie confessed. "He already knows something has changed. He keeps asking me why I'm so happy."

Buck chuckled. "That kid – he's the best."

"Yeah, I know. And I know he'll be thrilled… and I guess I'm not really worried about whether or not this will work out between us," Eddie admitted, "because… it's you and me. I wasn't expecting this to feel as right as it does, you know? I thought I'd be more freaked out."

"Your parents," he guessed.

"Yeah, them… but honestly, Abuela and Pepa made me feel good about telling you how I feel," he admitted. "And there's a part of me that knows I'll never make my parents happy… but I can make myself and Christopher happy, right? And that's more important."

"I think so," Buck agreed.

Eddie was quiet for a moment, and then said, "I like you. Like, more than I've ever liked anyone. Since you told me you loved me, all I can think about is you… how you make me feel. I had a good feeling about you from the start and now… there's this part of me that is starting to believe that soul mates are a thing, and that you might be mine."

Almost instantly on the verge of tears, Buck nodded, resting his chin atop Eddie's head. "Me too."

"And I guess my biggest fear is fucking this up, because… I was kind of a lousy husband, and I don't want to make the same mistakes over again."

"You just have to talk to me," Buck murmured. "We can't bottle stuff up."

"No," Eddie agreed. "Communication, right?"

"Right." Buck played with his earlobe. "So you're okay with sex, then. Obviously."

"Yeah – I even surprised myself, you know? I just never thought about being with a guy before - until I started thinking about you and me, and then… that made me feel a kind of way."

"I'd be interested to hear about that."

Eddie chuckled, and then shook his head. "No. How did you know you liked guys?"

Buck shrugged. "I don't know; it kinda hit me in high school that I liked looking at guys and girls equally, but I never did anything about it until college."

"But what is it about guys, specifically?"

Buck glanced at him, and then clarified, "Physically?"

"Yeah."

"Oh. Um… the strength thing, first and foremost… being with someone equally as strong is a big turn-on," he said, keeping his voice low. "And… I like the way men look, you know… broad shoulders, flat chests, narrow hips… I like that v-shapedmuscle, you know? Above the groin? And… strong legs… yeah, I don’t know," he said, and chuckled. "I don’t know. I think guys are hot."

Eddie nodded slowly. "And the sex… actual sex. That's… different, right?"

"Yeah, it takes more prep, but… in some ways, I like it more than being with a woman."

"You do?"

"Um, yeah. When you’re with someone you really trust, and you… let them take control, it’s the best feeling. I mean, orgasm-wise, like… the best."

Eddie nodded thoughtfully. "Okay."

"Yeah, it’s… not easy at first, to let go, but… when I did, I never regretted it. I haven’t been with a guy for a long time but in some ways it’s easier than being with a woman - you almost know exactly what to do to make the other person come, you don’t have to guess or question or even spend a lot of time doing foreplay, you know? Guys are different to girls."

"Right." Eddie nodded, shifting closer to him under the blanket. "Okay. When we get back… we'll pick a night."

Buck shook his head. "We can go really slow, Eds. Super slow."

"But Maddie's going to keep setting you up."

"I'll just tell her no."

"You think your sister is going to accept that as an answer?"

"I don't know, but… if I go on a date with anyone else, it'll feel like I'm cheating on you," he admitted. "And I'm all in with you, Eddie. You're the only person I want to be with."

Eddie smiled up at him. "Me too," he said, and leaned in for a kiss.

~

On their return to Los Angeles the following afternoon, and before Buck could head home for the night, Christopher declared it was time to set up the rock tumbler. Unable to resist the younger Diaz – or, truthfully, the older one as well – Buck carried the machine out to Eddie's garage, knelt on the floor with Christopher at his side, and put it together.

Eddie watched while they loaded a bag of gemstones into the container and added the grit, before setting the timer for seven days.

"Why does it take so long?" Christopher asked.

"This gritty stuff wears down all the minerals around the gemstones," Buck explained, "and it takes a few days for it to really work. When we open this up in a week, it'll be full of sludge."

"Ew."

"Yeah, but we'll wash off the gemstones and you'll see how shiny they are. And then we put them back in for another cycle, and they'll come out shinier again."

"One week," Christopher said. "Next Sunday."

"Next Sunday."

"And you'll come over and help."

"Buck will be here," Eddie said, resting his hand on Buck's shoulder, "because Buck's going to spend more time here with us. Is that okay with you, kiddo?"

Christopher nodded. "Yes! That's awesome."

Buck laughed. "You really are my biggest fan, aren't you?"

"Yes," he said again, and gave Buck an awkward hug. "I love you."

Buck hugged him back, glancing up at Eddie, unable to believe how lucky he was that he'd found these two perfect people. "I love you too," he said hoarsely.

Eddie knelt beside them and said, "Chris, Buck's going to be my boyfriend. Are you okay with that?"

It was the first time he'd used the word boyfriend, and Buck glanced at him with surprise.

Christopher was beaming. "That's cool."

"So cool," Buck agreed, extending an arm so Eddie could join in their huddle. "The coolest."

"The best," Christopher declared. "Can we have pizza for dinner?"

Eddie snorted with laughter. "Sure," he said, ruffling Christopher's hair, "but Buck's got to go home."

"Yeah, we have an early start in the morning, and I have no clean clothes," Buck said to Christopher, who wrinkled his nose. "But I'll be over during the week."

"Good." Christopher grinned at them, and then turned to the rock tumbler. "Can we start it?"

"Sure," Buck said, brushing his lips against Eddie's in a kiss before releasing him. "Let's do some tumbling."

 


 

Buck was his boyfriend.

In his whole life, he never would've guessed that he'd ever have a boyfriend, but things had changed. Eddie's whole life had changed since they'd moved to California, and god, he was thankful for it every day.

Buck spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights with them at their place, and once Christopher was in bed they'd retire to Eddie's bedroom and get to know each other in an entirely new way. Eddie, who had initially worried that he wouldn't be able to adjust to not being with a woman, soon forgot entirely why he'd even been worried about that, because there was so much to enjoy about being with Buck.

Buck loved having his nipples played with, and he had a particularly sensitive spot right on the curve of his neck – when Eddie put his lips there, Buck would practically shake beneath him. He had a particular fondness for Eddie's ass, and when his tongue had slid lower and lower, Eddie had almost rocketed off the bed.

He liked it when Eddie was on top, and they'd set aside Friday as the night in the loft, where they were finally going to have actual, penetrative sex. He'd never had anal sex with a woman before – Shannon had been completely against it, and he would never, ever push, but Buck… Buck kept whispering about how amazing it was going to be for the both of them, and he couldn't wait.

~

It was on an uneventful Friday morning at work when there was a sudden commotion – Maddie had arrived, so pregnant she was almost waddling as she made her way between the fire trucks, and as soon as Chimney spotted her, he dashed down the stairs two at a time to greet her.

Buck trailed after him, and Eddie was about to follow Hen and Bobby down the stairs to say hello when he heard Maddie snap at them, "Honestly, you two, I can climb some damn stairs! Get out of my way!"

"Uh oh," Hen murmured to him, and Bobby winced at them both, quickly ducking back into the kitchen.

"Let me help you," they heard Chimney plead.

"I'm fine," she retorted. "Buck, hold my bag."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied meekly.

"Don't call me that! Oh my god, if I don't get a cold glass of water and somewhere to sit down, I'm going to die. Seriously."

Bobby hurried to the fridge to pour a glass of ice water, and when Maddie finally made it to the top of the stairs, he presented it to her gallantly. "Here you are."

"Oh, thank you," she said gratefully, pausing long enough to take a sip before heading over to the couch. "My feet are killing me."

Chimney and Buck hovered around her anxiously. "What can I do?" Chimney fretted, grabbing extra pillows to tuck behind her back.

Maddie settled onto the couch, and let out a sigh. "Nothing; I'm good now. This is nice." She smiled at them all in turn, and when her eyes settled on Eddie she said, "I haven't seen you in so long, Eddie. How's Christopher?"

"He's great," he replied, lighting up with a genuine smile. "He aced his science test on Monday."

"Oh, nice! Hopefully I'll get to see him soon." Maddie had another sip of water, and then turned to Buck. "Now, little brother – do I have news for you."

"Oh god," he said, instantly cringing. "What do they want?"

"They? Who? Mom and Dad? No – this is much better. I have a date for you," she said, waggling her eyebrows at him, and then instantly deflating when Chimney groaned, Hen laughed and Buck cringed even more. "What? What's wrong?"

"Maddie, after being stood up, I think I'm good," he said, holding his hands up. "I give up."

"You can't admit defeat this easily!" she protested. "Buck, come on. I have a great guy for you."

Eddie's heart sank. He took a step back, away from the group – Buck would give the entire game away if he so much as looked in Eddie's direction, so he decided to make himself scarce.

However, he didn't notice Hen, who was watching him intently.

Maddie took Buck's indecision as an invitation, and said, "His name is Pete – he just started at dispatch, and he's gorgeous. Tall, blonde, green eyes – super handsome, like – so good looking."

Chimney cleared his throat.

"Not as good looking as you," Maddie said to him diplomatically. "But still, hot. Super hot."

"So set Josh up with him," Buck replied, folding his arms across his chest.

"Josh has a boyfriend," she replied patiently, "and he thinks you and Pete would be a great match. We've shown him your picture—"

"Um, excuse me," Buck said, affronted – and this time he did turn to search for Eddie, who, satisfied that he couldn't be seen, shrugged at him helplessly.

 


 

Hen, standing off to the side with Bobby blocking her, had a clear view of Eddie, who was trying and failing to stay emotionless.

There was something going on – she knew it. The two boys had been suspiciously happy all week, and she just knew that something had finally happened between them.

Chimney was doing his best to dissuade Maddie. "I mean, if he doesn't want to date, he doesn't want to date," he said diplomatically. "You did set him up with a real dud the first time."

"Yeah, about that," Maddie said to Buck. "Her dog really did have to go to the vet, and it… died. So she was very apologetic but…"

"It's okay; no hard feelings, it's fine," he replied, "but… I'm good. I'll just go on Tinder."

"But Pete is so nice, Buck."

"Nah, I'm – I don't want to date guys right now," he said, folding his arms across his chest. "I'm good."

Maddie screwed her face up, clearly unwilling to take no for an answer. Hen flicked her eyes towards Eddie, who was staring at the ground unhappily.

"Come on," Maddie pleaded with Buck. "I'm sorry the first date didn't work out, but I promise you this will be different."

Clearly torn, Buck glanced at Eddie again, who almost imperceptibly nodded. "Fine," Buck relented, letting out a sigh. "Okay. Fine."

"Tonight," she said triumphantly. "I've arranged it. You just have to meet him at 7.30, and I'll send you the details."

At that, Eddie looked totally stricken. He slipped away and went down the stairs.

A look of panic crossed Buck's face before he said, "Yep, okay. Okay, but if this doesn't work out – no more, all right? Promise me."

Maddie held up her hands, beaming. "I promise."

"Okay. I just gotta… I gotta check something," he said, backing towards the stairs. "I'll be back; don't go anywhere."

"I really can't right now," she said with a laugh, totally and completely unaware of what she'd done.

Hen was about to join her and Chimney when she heard Bobby murmur, "They'll be okay."

She glanced at him sharply. "What?"

"The boys." A small smile was playing on his lips. "They're together."

"How do you know?" she murmured, keeping her voice as low as possible.

"Buck is on cloud nine, and Eddie's a lot happier as well – plus they were holding hands on the couch the other day and thought I couldn't see," he replied, just as quietly. "I guess they want some time, so I haven't said anything, and you shouldn't either."

"I won't," she promised, mimed zipping her lips, and went to join Maddie on the couch.

 


 

Buck found Eddie in the back parking lot, pacing back and forth.

"I will be the worst date," he said desperately. "I'll make him wish he never wanted to meet me."

"You won't; you're too damn nice." Eddie wouldn't meet his eyes. "It's okay. I'm fine."

"You're clearly not."

"No, because I don't want you dating anyone but me, but I have to be okay with this, and so I am." Eddie was spiralling into self-pity, and Buck couldn't have him doubting the depth of his feelings for him.

"Listen," he said firmly – and at the tone of his voice, Eddie turned to him with surprise. "You are the only person I want to be with, okay? So I will go to this stupid date and I'll make him hate me, and then I'll meet you at the loft. I'll be done in less than an hour."

"Where is it?" Eddie asked quietly.

"I don't know, she hasn't told me yet." Buck took a step towards him. "I'm yours, Eddie. All yours. One hundred percent, totally and completely in love with you, okay?

Eddie blinked rapidly, and then said, "Don't sleep with him, or kiss him, or do anything."

"I won't. I wouldn't," he promised him, taking another step forward. "It's you, Eds. You are it for me."

A glimmer of a smile appeared on Eddie's face. "You love me too much," he said quietly.

"If I do, it's only because you deserve it." Buck shrugged at him, and Eddie finally relented enough to smile. "Okay?"

"Okay," Eddie agreed softly. "All right."

~

He agreed to meet Pete at their usual hook and ladder bar, and didn't bother going home to change. Eddie left work before him, presumably to see Christopher before heading to the loft.

To say that Buck was a little annoyed about the development was an understatement, but how could he say no to his heavily pregnant sister? He figured he'd just end the date quickly, tell her that it hadn't worked out, and make a beeline for the loft so that he and Eddie could spend the night in bed together.

He arrived at the bar early, and nursed a beer at the bar while he waited. Right on time, the man himself slipped in beside him, and introduced himself with a smile and a handshake.

Pete was thirty, and had worked at a few 911 call centres in California before his move to Los Angeles. He'd been a paramedic for a couple of years before being injured on the job and deciding to take some time off. That time off led to him training to become a 911 dispatcher, and he'd decided he liked that more than being on the frontlines. Buck learned all of this information in the first three minutes of conversation – Pete also loved to talk about himself.

They moved to a table in the back. Buck was still on his first beer, but Pete ordered a Long Island iced tea, and offered to buy one for Buck until he shook his head.

"Sorry, I'm driving," he apologised.

"Too bad." Pete gave him an appraising look. "God, you're handsome."

He flashed a smile. "Not really. So… I get the feeling you've moved around a lot."

"Oh yeah," Pete replied, nodding ruefully. "From the East Coast to the West, back again and then up to Alaska for a year."

"Alaska?"

"Yeah, funny story – I was going to go to Hawaii, and ended up in Alaska," he said with a laugh. "I met a guy who was heading up there for work and tagged along with him. We spent a year together and then we broke up, so I came back. Spent a couple of months in Seattle before heading back down to LA."

"Wow."

"Yeah, it's been a crazy few years. What about you?"

Buck reminded himself not to be open and friendly, but it was his goddamn default setting and he didn't think he had it in him to be a dick. So he said, "I did some travelling when I was younger; spent some time in South America before moving out west. I'm pretty settled now."

"You're looking for something serious? You're not on Grindr?"

He shook his head. "No, I want to settle down. I'm not interested in sleeping around."

"That's fair. You're what, thirty? But I mean, you could get any guy you want, for sure. You're stunning. If you wanted to head back to my place right now, I'd be up for it."

Shocked by his boldness, Buck could only say, "Uh, no. Sorry, dude."

Pete shrugged, his eyes twinkling. "Just thought I'd throw it out there."

Buck decided to change the conversation. "So my sister had only nice things to say about you," he said, and then furrowed his brow when he realised Pete was staring over his shoulder. "What's wrong?"

"Don't look," Pete murmured, "but the hottest guy I've ever seen in my life just walked in. Holy shit."

Well, that was a little rude – and if it'd been a real date he might've been offended. He sipped his beer, raising his eyebrows, and said, "Cool."

Pete's eyes were still trained on the mystery man. "Wow, okay… he's looking over here. Um… he's walking over here. Uh, do you – be cool."

Buck grimaced, glancing over his shoulder, and found that his very beautiful, very handsome and extremely jealous boyfriend was striding towards him. He'd even dressed up for the occasion, in a black button-up and slacks, and a sudden surge of lust flowed through him.

"Hey," Eddie said as he reached them, grasping Buck's shoulder.

"What are you doing here?" Buck blurted out.

"Ending this," Eddie said, casting a sharp look Pete's way. "Sorry dude, he's taken."

Pete's eyebrows flew up. "Uh… okay?"

Buck could only gape at him. "Are you for real?"

Eddie nodded, and cupped his face with both hands. "I'm in love with you too," he said, swallowing hard. "I love you. Please come home with me."

All Buck could think of to say was, "Yeah, okay," before Eddie leaned in to kiss him firmly.

He heard Pete let out a low whistle, but all he could focus on was Eddie, who pulled away with a grin.

"You fucking dramatic bastard," Buck whispered, and Eddie laughed, tugging him up and out of his seat. "I was coming home to you."

"Yeah, you are," he replied, throwing some cash down on the table before regarding Pete apologetically. "Sorry dude. I'm not out, and he's… trying to cover for me. Sorry."

Shocked, but trying to play it cool, Pete shrugged. "Okay."

"Don't tell Maddie," Buck pleaded. "Just tell her I was a dick or something."

"Well, you kinda are," he said bluntly. "But… okay."

"Good luck," Eddie said to him, one hand locked around Buck's arm.

"Hey wait," Pete said before they could leave. "Threesome?"

Eddie's eyes narrowed. "No," he said bluntly, and dragged Buck out of the bar.

 


 

Maybe it was ridiculously uncool to drag Buck out of the bar like he was some kind of caveman, but he really didn't give a fuck, and as soon as they were in Eddie's truck they were all over each other.

Eddie could've easily thrown him down in the backseat and had his way with him, but instead he pulled away, jammed the car into reverse and backed out of the parking space, ignoring the tightness in his pants, and the way Buck was grinning at him from the passenger seat.

Once they were inside the loft, all bets were off. Eddie's nice shirt was torn in his haste to take it off, and Buck would need to ask Maddie nicely to sew the buttons back onto his shirt after Eddie ripped it open. He had a one track mind – mine, mine, mine – totally focused on one thing.

Thankfully Buck was clearly thinking the same thing, and when they were upstairs in bed together, he tossed condoms and lube at Eddie, arched an eyebrow at him and said, "I hope you read those articles I sent you."

Eddie leaned over him, nipping at his lower lip, and said, "You really think I didn't study for this test?"

"I fucking hope you did."

Buck was in for a treat, because if there was one thing Eddie was good at – it was sex. He'd never brag, but he'd never had any complaints, and the articles had been incredibly informative about what he needed to do to make sure Buck had a night he'd never forget.

~

A few hours later, Eddie had a blissful Evan Buckley sprawled across the bed beside him, head on his chest, chuckling every so often. Eddie ran his fingers through his curls and closed his eyes, exhausted, but in the best way possible.

"Well," Buck finally said. "I'd give you an A for that."

"A-plus," he corrected.

"Nah, your technique needs some work, but we'll get there. We've got time."

Eddie huffed, and then muttered, "You're lucky I love you so much."

"Yeah, really lucky," Buck marvelled, looking up at him with a smile. "So lucky, Eddie. When you walked in there tonight, all jealous… I got rock hard."

"You made that pretty clear."

Buck laughed. "I've never been so turned on in my life."

"Good." Eddie let out a sigh, trailing his fingers across Buck's shoulder blades. "We better get some rest. I'd like to get some practice in, you know – really bump up that grade, get a perfect score."

"Well, you know – practice makes perfect, Eddie. If we've got to work at it every single day, we'll just have to put the time in," Buck said ruefully.

"I'm willing if you are."

"Oh yeah," he agreed, glancing up at him again with a wicked grin. "Anything to get you on the honour roll."

Eddie leaned in to kiss him, and then said, "I know we're joking, but like – it was good, right?"

Buck's eyes twinkled. "Yeah," he whispered. "You rocked my fucking world."

Pleased, Eddie kissed him again.