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What a Lovely Way to Burn

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Buck’s eyes blinked open, groaning a little as the world seemed to spin around him. He was confused, not quite sure what was going on. Hadn’t he been asleep? Hadn’t he been curled up against Eddie, the soft sound of his boyfriend’s breath guiding him off to sleep. 

 

He heard a noise from down the hall and got up, blinking in confusion that he didn’t seem to be in Eddie’s house anymore. He stumbled a little as he made his way down the hallway, the world still spinning slightly. 

 

When he reached the end of the hallway, he was even more confused to find his parents sitting there, disappointed frowns on both of their faces. 

 

“Mom? Dad?” They looked over at him, disappointment fading to that harsh disgusted glare he had gotten so used to as a child. 

 

“You’re just too much, Evan,” His father said with a snarl. “You’ve just been a problem since you were born.” He found himself taking a step backwards, the words a painful brand on his skin.

 

“How could we love you?” His mother spat out. “You couldn’t even do the one thing we needed you for! You couldn’t even save the son we wanted!” Buck gasped for air, unable to believe the words they were saying. His parents had always been harsh, but this...this was just cruel. 

 

A flash of long brown hair caught his eye and he turned, the world spinning as he did. Maddie was standing by the window, her back to them, staring out the window. 

 

“Maddie?” She didn’t respond, still looking away. “Maddie? Maddie!” But she said nothing, her back to him as his parents words were digging deeper and deeper into his skin. He reached for her, needing his big sister. 

 

And then, the room shifted.

 

He was no longer in his parents house, but in the station. The red of all the trucks seemed to be bleeding together, melting across the station floor. He blinked, feeling like he was on a boat in choppy waters. 

 

“You’re reckless.” He turned sharply, Bobby a fuzzy vision before him. “You’re a danger to yourself, to my team, and to the entire LAFD.”

 

“Bobby,” Buck started, his voice thick with tears. But his Captain was unmoving, the neutral look on his face changing to something harder, something that Buck had only seen once when he had crossed a line.

 

“I should have never let you back all those years ago.”

 

“Bobby, please.”

 

“I told you he’d never learn.” Suddenly, Chimney was next to Bobby, a disapproving look on his face. “He’s just a reckless kid who’s going to get us all killed.”

 

“Chim.”

 

“Jee and Maddie are better off without you.” He swallowed hard, the words hitting him so hard he felt like he was going to fall over. He searched around for someone, anyone, who could help him. But the world was just spinning and spinning, faces nothing but a blurry mess.

 

And then, he wasn’t in the station anymore. 

 

Now, he was in a nondescript room, a table set up in the middle. As he moved closer to the table, the world still shifting and spinning around him making his steps awkward and uneven, he spotted three people at the table. 

 

And his heart dropped realizing who they were. 

 

“Too needy.”

 

“Too reckless.”

 

“Too immature.” The three chairs were occupied by Taylor, Ali, and Abby. They weren’t looking at each other or anything in particular. Just staring into the distance, repeating the same phrase over and over again. 

 

But then all of their eyes shot to him and Buck stumbled backwards

 

“How could anyone love a loser like that?” He opened his mouth, but then the room was gone, along with the three women. Instead, he was standing in Eddie’s living room. He felt some relief for a moment, feeling like maybe he’d be okay. That he was finally in his safe place. 

 

“I hate you!” He stared in horror as Christopher appeared in front of him, anger in the boy’s eyes. “You’re not my best friend! You’re just a liar! I wish you’d leave!” Buck felt the tears spilling uncontrollably. Maybe he could get past the pain of everyone else hating him. But Christopher?

 

“Chris, buddy,” Buck begged, reaching out for the boy as he knelt down. But Christopher turned away, Buck letting out a sob as he did. 

 

“You don’t deserve to have him in your life.” He could feel the final knife in his heart as he heard Eddie’s voice. He tipped his head down, not ready for the harsh words from the person he loved the most. “You’re not his parent.”

 

“Eddie,” Buck sobbed, looking up at him. But staring back at him were not the soft brown eyes that he had fallen in love with, that soothed his pain or his anxiety or his stress. No, staring back at him were harsh, cold eyes that wanted him gone, that hated him like everyone else. 

 

“You lost my son,” Eddie spat out. “You left us behind. You chose yourself and you will choose yourself every time. Your love is nothing but lies.”

 

“Eddie, please.”

 

“You are nothing to us,” Eddie sneered. “Christopher doesn’t love you. I don’t love you.”

 

And then, the world shattered around him. Buck felt himself falling, the word fading from a fuzzy, spinning mess to darkness. And as he fell, he couldn’t find it within him to fight. Because his heart was shattered from all the harsh words. He just fell and fell, surrounded by nothing but the pain of it all. 

 

“Buck!” He woke with a start, a sweat-coated shirt clinging to him. He looked around, recognizing Eddie’s room instantly. And there, next to him, concern on his face, was Eddie. 

 

“Eds?” Eddie just nodded, reaching forward, the back of his hand pressing to Buck’s forehead. Buck let out a whimper, the touch almost startling to him after he had just woken up from.

 

“I think your fever broke,” Eddie said softly, his hand gently gliding down Buck’s forehead to his cheek, flipping his hand over to cradle Buck’s cheek. “But are you okay?”

 

And that was enough for the dam to burst open, for the tears to fall. Buck let out a sob before tumbling forward into Eddie’s arms. He buried his face in his boyfriend’s neck, muffling the sounds of his cries. And Eddie just held onto him, soft whispers that Buck could barely understand but knew they were comforting words and promises, attempting to soothe the brokenness that had been there since birth. 

 

“I-I’m sorry,” Buck said, pulling away finally to wipe his eyes. “I’m sorry for…”

 

“For what?” Eddie asked, scooting closer, his thumb caressing Buck’s cheek. “For having a fever? For the nightmares or fever dreams that came with it?”

 

“I’m just too much,” Buck said with a sniff. “And I know that deep down everyone…”

 

“Hey,” Eddie said softly, stopping Buck from continuing on. “Your friends and family, our friends and family, they love you. They don’t think you’re too much.” Buck went to speak again, but Eddie kept going. “And no matter what, no matter what lies your fever-addled brain tells you, I love you, Buck. I love you so much and I’m not going anywhere.”

 

“Really?” Buck asked, tears still dripping down his cheeks. And Eddie just leaned forward, a soft smile on his face. He pressed a kiss to each of Buck’s cheeks, where the tears had been. And then he pressed a kiss to Buck’s birthmark, Buck’s eyes fluttering shut. 

 

And when Eddie’s lips sealed over his, Buck melted into the kiss, all that brokenness starting to slip away. 

 

“Really,” Eddie said softly, pulling away ever so slightly. And Buck just nodded. Because even his fever dreams couldn’t lie about this. Because sitting in that bed, Eddie’s forehead pressed to his as his thumb mapped a gentle pattern up and down his neck, Buck knew that Eddie loved him, knew that he was wanted, that he wasn’t too much.

 

And that had him curling into Eddie’s arms, feeling safe and loved.