Reading Time: 22 Minutes
Title: Love Wide Open
Author: Keira Marcos
Prompt: Holding Hands (Fluff Bingo 2019)
Relationship: Evan Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Warnings: Grammarly Beta’d
Word Count: 5,620
Author Note: Title inspired by the poem To Have Without Holding by Marge Piercy.
Summary: In the aftermath of Eddie getting shot, Buck and Eddie both come to terms with what it means to be in love with each other.
The welcome home party for Eddie was centered around the reunion with Christopher, as it should be. Buck had made sure that they got Facetime conversations whenever Eddie was awake enough for it. Coordinating with Ana Flores, who ended up sitting by Eddie’s bed in the hospital, had been awkward since they didn’t know each other. Buck resented her a little for it, but he knew that wasn’t fair. He’d gone to Christopher because that was the only choice his heart could make. Buck knew where he belonged, and that was with Eddie’s son. The shooting had changed things for Christopher, and Buck wasn’t certain that Eddie was entirely prepared for it.
On the way home from the hospital, Buck had tried to put the situation with Eddie’s will in a box so he could deal with it later. Eddie had enough on his plate without having to deal with Buck’s feelings. The conversation had frankly left him raw and uncertain in a way he hadn’t been in a very long time. Of course, it didn’t help at all that Ana was in Eddie’s house when they arrived as part of the welcome home party. Buck thought Ana Flores was a decent person. She’d certainly went all-in on taking care of Eddie in the hospital and had demonstrated a great deal of grace over the fact that Eddie was honestly an asshole when he was in pain.
Buck saw the strain in their relationship—could see it fraying around the edges. He wasn’t sure if it was a response to the shooting or Eddie’s behavior. She’d clearly been shocked and at times understandably upset over the two weeks following the shooting. Buck was Eddie’s next-of-kin, held his medical power of attorney, and there had been the bombshell regarding Christopher, which Eddie had apparently blurted out to her while high on meds.
Eddie had confessed that situation in the Jeep as they’d sat in the driveway avoiding the welcome home party. Ana didn’t understand how important Buck was to Eddie and Christopher. She didn’t understand how weaved together their lives were, and the reality of it made her uncomfortable since she hadn’t met Buck until after the shooting and considered Buck little more than Eddie’s co-worker.
When Christopher wasn’t glued to his dad’s side, he was with Buck. While he wasn’t ignoring anyone, it was clear that Chris didn’t want to be around anyone but the two of them. Buck was relieved when Eddie admitted that he was exhausted, and his abuela immediately started clearing out the house. Shortly, it was just the four of them in the house. He could tell that Ana expected to stay and for him to leave, but Buck had promised Christopher he wouldn’t go back to his own apartment until Eddie was ready to go back to work. The promise had been spontaneous, and he hadn’t shared that with Eddie yet.
“I have a bag in my car,” Ana said. “I’ll just get it, and Buck, you can go if you want. I know you must be so tired and could use a break.”
Eddie took a deep breath. “Buck isn’t going anywhere, Ana.” He glanced toward the hallway since Christopher had gone to his room to take a nap. “Christopher wants him to stay.”
“But…” She trailed off and flushed. “You’ll need help with dressing and bathing.”
“It won’t be the first time Buck’s helped me take a shower,” Eddie said plainly, and her eyes widened slightly. “He bathed me head to toe after the well accident. I was so exhausted that I could barely function.”
“I thought I was going to have to get a shower chair and strap him to it at the station,” Buck admitted and shrugged when she huffed a little under her breath.
“Don’t you think that is a little intimate?” Ana questioned with a frown as she glanced between them.
Buck was honestly offended by her tone. “Are you implying that I took advantage of him or something?”
“No, of course not,” she said immediately. “It’s just…I’m surprised that two straight men could be so comfortable with that situation. It isn’t like you’re a nurse or a medical professional, Buck.”
“Well, he is a certified EMT-D, actually,” Eddie said coldly, and they both focused on him. “All LAFD firefighters are, and he’s working his way toward a paramedic certification. But that really doesn’t matter; I would trust Buck to take care of me regardless of his qualifications because he’s honest, loyal, empathetic, and good.” He took a deep breath and held his hand to his shoulder. “And I’m bisexual, so having another man touch my dick wouldn’t be a new thing.”
Buck flushed and huffed a little as Ana gaped at Eddie in shock. “I didn’t touch your dick, Eddie. Stop being an asshole.” He turned to her. “I identify most closely with pansexual. I’ve never seen any reason to limit my options when it comes to love or sex, but also, I really don’t like labels, so I just…don’t really talk about my sexuality with just anyone.”
He walked into the kitchen without waiting for her response and picked up the pharmacy bag so he could sort the medications. Eddie clearly needed pain pills. He tried not to listen to the conversation, but it was hard because there wasn’t even a kitchen door to close.
“I just think I’m the best choice to stay and take care of you, Edmundo.”
“Christopher wants Buck here,” Eddie said roughly. “And he has enough medical training to know if I’m in trouble and need to go back to the hospital. He’s also taken off work for the next two weeks to help me get settled and ready for rehab. Our plans have been made for days, Ana.”
“You didn’t tell me any of this,” she snapped.
“You didn’t ask, and I’m not…look, we’ve only been dating for a few months, and I’m not comfortable with you taking care of my son.”
“Christopher likes me, and it’s been six months!”
“Yeah, of course, he does,” Eddie said wearily. “He likes most people, to be honest. He’s just a happy, loving kid. But right now, he needs…” He sighed. “Buck. We both need Buck, and I’m sorry if that hurts you, but it’s the bare damn truth.”
“I think that’s a pretty big burden to put on a friend,” Ana said. “He has his own life, Edmundo, and a girlfriend.”
Buck made a face because that wasn’t true. Taylor didn’t know what she wanted, and Buck wasn’t going to play that game with anyone ever again, and he’d told her as much. He’d also told her that being friends was the only option on the table for the two of them. She’d clearly been startled and maybe a little hurt, but Buck had figured out that putting himself first was sometimes the only choice he could make if he wanted to keep his heart safe. He got a glass of water from the fridge and realized he’d lost track of the conversation that he hadn’t intended on paying attention to.
“I just don’t think this is going to work,” Ana said quietly. “I deserve better than to come second with any man.”
“Then the next man you date shouldn’t have any children,” Eddie said, and Buck winced. “Because honestly, you really don’t want a man who’d put you above his own kids. Maybe you think you do as you’re sitting here, but assholes like that are terrible fathers. I would know—I was raised by one. What my mother wants has and always come first with my dad, and it pretty much fucked up all three of their children.”
“You need to teach Chris that he can’t expect to get his way all the time.”
“I don’t take parenting advice from my mother, so I’m certainly not going to take it from you, Ana,” Eddie said roughly. “And stop trying to imply Chris is spoiled because I’m trying to mitigate his trauma and grief. I could’ve died, and he knows it, okay. He needs to feel safe, and that means Buck is staying in this damn house as long as I can…keep him.”
Maybe Albert will rent from him, Buck thought, then shook his head. He wasn’t going to let Eddie hold him hostage. Well, maybe he would, but not long-term as that wouldn’t be remotely healthy for him. Buck understood his own nature well enough to know that he would totally nest in the Diaz house if given the time and room to do so.
“Fine, then, I guess…” Ana trailed off and sighed. “This isn’t how I expected this to go. I thought you were serious about me. I thought we were making something special between us.”
“It’s clear we aren’t even reading the same book if you think I should put your wishes and wants above my child’s emotional well-being.”
“That’s not what I said,” Ana snapped. “I said that you need to start teaching him that he doesn’t always get what he wants, and Christopher needs to manage his own emotions when he’s disappointed. The world isn’t going to cater to him because his mother died, Edmundo. He also needs to learn his limitations and accept them.”
“You can go,” Eddie said. “And I’d rather not hear from you again.”
“You have unreasonable expectations for him,” Ana said. “Don’t you see that? You’re not teaching him to live within his physical and emotional limits.”
And that was Buck’s limit. “Ms. Flores, he said you could go.” He walked back into the living room with the bottle of pain meds and a glass of water. “Now.” He stared pointedly when she hesitated. “He doesn’t need the stress of this ridiculous and cruel conversation.”
“Cruel?” Ana questioned in shock. “I’m not being cruel. I’m being honest.”
“A lot of people share ugly opinions like they’re fact under the guise of being honest,” Buck said and handed Eddie the glass of water. “Eddie needs peace and quiet right now—not an argument with his…ex-girlfriend.” He opened the pill bottle, poured the appropriate dosage out into his palm, and passed them to Eddie.
Eddie slouched as the door shut with a sharp snap, signaling Ana Flores exit from their lives. Buck went to it and flicked all the locks into place before taking the pain pills back into the kitchen and putting them in the cabinet on a shelf out of Chris’ reach. When he returned to the living room, Eddie had curled up under the blanket on the couch and was staring at the dark television.
“You started that fight on purpose,” Buck pointed out.
“I should’ve never dated her to begin with,” Eddie muttered. “I’ve been trying to piss her off all week because I figured she’d be better off if she dumped me.” He looked at Buck. “Isn’t that better?”
“Neither is great,” Buck said. “But I’ve always felt better about dumping someone than being dumped. Still, you’re a complete asshole, Eds.”
Eddie huffed but relaxed when Buck picked up the remote control and turned on the television. Buck opened up the guide, found a documentary, and left it there since Eddie rarely cared what was on.
“I suggested she leave multiple times while I was in the hospital,” Eddie said.
“You don’t need to defend yourself to me,” Buck murmured.
“She just…didn’t take me seriously or ignored it outright because apparently I was too drugged to make my own decisions.”
“You were,” Buck pointed out and laughed when Eddie sent him a dark look. “Seriously. I had to make a bunch of decisions for you because you couldn’t, and that put her off since she thought that your abuela should be making the decisions if your parents weren’t available.”
“Abuela doesn’t need that kind of stress,” Eddie muttered. “I should’ve just ended it, I know. But, honestly, if I’d broken up with her while I was in the hospital, she might have just dismissed it as me being as high as a kite.”
Buck figured that might have been an issue, but also that Eddie shouldn’t get away with not being an adult about his relationship with Ana Flores. “At some point, you should probably apologize to her.”
“I was going to, then she started talking about that limitation shit, again. And now I’m just pissed at her.”
“I guess we can be glad she’s not still working at Christopher’s school,” Buck said.
“I’d have never dated her while she was in his school. That would’ve been super awkward for everyone,” Eddie said and shifted under his blanket with a low groan.
“You’d rest better in bed,” Buck pointed out.
“I want to be out here with you,” Eddie said plainly. “I’ve been in a hospital bed forever and only got to talk to you on the phone.”
Buck understood that because he’d hated being bed-ridden with his leg and hadn’t been gracious about it in the least. Pain can make tolerating even the most mundane of circumstances impossible. He shifted his leg as a phantom pain snaked along the bone. He pushed aside the memories of that and focused on Eddie, who was staring at the TV.
“You’ll need to set up an appointment with Frank.”
“Or another psychologist,” Buck continued. “But I figured Frank was the best choice—you seemed to work well with him. You were injured on the job in a traumatic event, Eddie. The department will require you to jump through a lot of hoops to come back to work. Rehab is going to be the least of it. You’ll have to requalify as well.”
“I know,” Eddie said and sighed. “I’m just…it’s all kind of overwhelming right now.” He took a deep breath. “I know I’m being selfish. You’ve got Taylor and Bobby’s injured.”
“Bobby is doing okay. Taylor and I are just friends,” Buck said. “She doesn’t know what she wants, and I’m not going to wait around while she figures herself out.” He thought about the kiss and how it really hadn’t done all that much for him. “And I…well.”
“What?” Eddie prodded.
“I don’t want her that way anymore,” Buck admitted. “Maybe I never did, and I need to at least be honest with myself about what I really want.” He shot his friend a look. “You should do the same.”
Eddie huffed and turned to stare at the TV.
Buck laughed. “Listen, would you want Chris to force himself into a box to fit someone else’s expectations? Do you want him to twist himself all up to make his grandparents happy? Because that’s the kind of example you’ve been setting for him since you asked Ana Flores out the first time.” He watched Eddie’s cheeks darken with a blush, and his friend continued to stare at the TV where an elephant was prodding her baby with her trunk toward a watering hole.
“No.” Eddie cleared his throat but kept his gaze averted. “I wouldn’t want him to do anything like that at all. I want him to be a good person who lives his dreams.”
“Don’t you think you deserve the same?”
Eddie shrugged then hissed in pain.
“Okay, time for bed.”
“I said…” He trailed off when Buck plucked off the blanket and got him up off the couch. “I want to be with you.”
“I’ll lay down with you,” Buck said and huffed when Eddie offered him a shy smile. “You and pain meds aren’t friends.”
“No, they make me say stuff I’d never say otherwise,” Eddie agreed. “I try to keep things to myself, Buck, because most people don’t really care what I think.”
“I care what you think,” Buck said as he guided him toward the bedroom. “Did you want to sleep in your sweat pants?”
“No, it’ll be hot.” Eddie tried pushing them off even as they walked into the bedroom.
Buck caught his good arm to steady him when Eddie stumbled. “Watch out, crazy person, or you’ll be back in the hospital.” He stopped him beside the bed and hooked his fingers easily into the waistband of Eddie’s sweats. “I got this.”
Eddie huffed. “You’re probably really good at undressing people.”
“Stoned people don’t get to slut-shame me,” Buck told him firmly.
“I’d never,” Eddie said sincerely and caught Buck’s shoulder in a tight grip. “I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean you’re always good at stuff. Also, I am kind of jealous that you sleep with other people.”
Buck focused on Eddie’s face and found his friend flushed and bright-eyed. “Yeah, you’re really gone on those pills.”
“I mean it, though,” Eddie said sincerely.
“And you will also deeply regret telling me so,” Buck told him and gently prodded him onto the bed. “Now, lay down, please.”
Eddie gave him a pouty look. “You said you’d stay with me.”
“And I will. I’m going to check on Chris first.”
Eddie finally laid down and let himself be covered with a blanket. “Okay.”
Chris was reading when he opened the door. Buck sat down on the edge of the bed as the boy lowered the book.
“Is she gone?”
“Yeah,” Buck murmured. “Your dad broke up with her, so you won’t have to tell him that you don’t want her around.”
Chris frowned and smoothed his hand over the cover of his book. “I liked her. I mean, she was a little overprotective and stuff. But I figured she’d calm down once she got to know me outside of school.” He took a deep breath. “I just don’t want to share Daddy with her, and I want you around, and you never stay long when she’s here.”
Buck bit down on his bottom lip. “I was just trying to stay out of the way so your dad could have a relationship with her.”
“That’s because he always paid more attention to you when you were here,” Chris said plainly. “He always looking at you, and you look at him when you think no one else can see.”
“You see a bit too much for my own good,” Buck told him and grinned when Chris laughed. “You really do need a nap, you know?”
Chris nodded and put his book on the nightstand. “Is Daddy okay?”’
“I’ve put him to bed, but I have to go lay down with him, or he’ll probably get up and wander around the house.”
Chris laughed. “He gets weird when he takes pain pills.”
“I know,” Buck said and took Chris’ glasses when the boy offered them. He put them on the bedside table as Chris wiggled a bit to get under the covers.
Eddie was half the bed when Buck came back, so he got him settled again while his friend complained bitterly under his breath about Buck being gone for so long. He toed off his shoes and crawled onto the bed. Eddie shifted closer, so they were practically sharing a pillow.
“I think you get needy like this when you’re stoned or drunk because you keep yourself to yourself too much when you’re sober.”
“I’m not needy.”
“You are super needy,” Buck retorted but shifted on his side and threw an arm over Eddie’s stomach. His friend immediately relaxed. “Also, you should probably go to sleep to avoid saying something you’ll deeply regret.”
“Sometimes…” Eddie focused on the ceiling. “I don’t say anything, and I regret it a lot.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Buck murmured. “I kind of figure that adulthood is just a long list of things you’ll regret one way or another.”
“What’s going on with Chris?”
“He didn’t want Ana here,” Buck admitted. “I offered to tell you, but he thought he should tell you himself. He’s pretty relieved that the two of you broke up.”
“He liked her, though.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t want to share you anymore,” Buck said quietly. “Not after the shooting. It might be a while, Eddie, before he’s ready for anyone to be in the house but the three of us and Carla.”
“I feel pretty much the same, so…yeah,” Eddie admitted. “I know Chris can’t do all the…stuff.” He huffed and frowned. “You know what I mean.”
“I do,” Buck said. “But if we can help him figure out a different way to do the things that are important to him, then there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone has limitations, no matter their physical ability, but those limitations should never feel like a…prison. People will look at Chris every single day of his life and see a list of things he shouldn’t be able to do. We just have to make sure that he understands that those perspectives can’t be more important than his own belief in himself.”
“Yeah,” Eddie murmured. “Meeting you was one of the best things that could’ve happened for Chris and me. I was floundering, no matter how hard I tried.”
“Go to sleep, Eds,” Buck said firmly. “If you make me cry—I’m gonna go sleep on the couch.”
Eddie huffed and grabbed Buck’s hand, then laced their fingers together as if he could keep him in place. He just relaxed, and in turn, Eddie dozed off fairly quickly, finally giving into a mixture of exhaustion and medication. Buck stayed where he was, his fingers loosely entwined with Eddie’s. It was a level of intimacy that Buck figured he shouldn’t indulge in.
Buck knew he was in love with Eddie, no matter how oblivious everyone thought he was. He just didn’t know if changing their relationship was an option, no matter what Eddie said when his inhibitions were lowered. Eddie’s bisexuality wasn’t a theory, but Buck also knew that his friend had relegated men to a sex-only category in his head. That kind of relationship with Eddie would break him, and Buck didn’t know if he’d survive that kind of wound, again. He’d been discarded time and again by people he let himself fall in love with. Being Eddie’s best friend would be enough, and that’s why he’d stepped back and tried to make room for Ana no matter how much both Eddie and Christopher had balked against it.
Hours later, he woke, and Eddie had essentially glomped onto him like an octopus. He resisted the urge to move because he didn’t want to move Eddie wrong and agitate the injury. After a few minutes of being awake, Eddie woke and shifted away with a soft curse.
“Need more pills?”
Eddie groaned and buried his face in his pillow. “Yes, and no.”
Buck laughed. “Eds.”
“Why do you indulge my crazy, Buck?” Eddie asked wearily and turned his head so he could stare at him. “No one else ever has. When I came home from the Army and spent weeks recovering, Shannon would just…lock the bedroom door on me and let me mope by myself in a drugged haze.”
Buck thought that was probably the worst thing he’d ever heard about Shannon Diaz. He grimaced and sat up. “Hungry?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“You’re my best friend; if you need to hold my hand while you sleep—then you can hold my fucking hand, Eddie.” Buck rubbed the back of his head and slid off the bed. “It’s not that complicated.”
“It would be for practically everyone else on the whole damn planet,” Eddie said huffily.
“Well, I’m not those people. I’m not your parents or your wife, either. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you know.”
“People are complicated,” Eddie said. “And relationships are hard.”
“Harder when you’re trying to force it,” Buck pointed out.
“Is that what Taylor was doing?”
“The pandemic has taken a lot out of her,” Buck said. “Maybe I look like something normal, and she wants to cling to it. I don’t know, but I’ve been down that road before with more than one person, and I just deserve better.” He slid off of the bed. “You need to take your antibiotics and probably some more pain pills.”
“Just Tylenol for now,” Eddie said roughly. “Let’s save the hard stuff for sleeping.” He started to sit up and groaned. “Yeah, I’m gonna need help.”
“I was coming around to do it,” Buck said and offered him a hand.
Eddie accepted it with his good one and just huffed a little when Buck wrapped an arm around him and lifted him into a sitting position. “That’s…what I remember most, you know.”
“What?” Buck questioned as he grabbed the sweat pants they’d discarded earlier and took a knee so he could work them up Eddie’s legs. He looked up and raised an eyebrow. “Eds?”
“You grabbed my hand and pulled me under the truck.” Eddie took a deep breath. “And picked me up.”
“I was afraid I’d made your injury worse,” Buck admitted.
“You saved my life.” Eddie closed his eyes briefly. “But the only thing I remember feeling is your hand in mine, and it was such a comfort. When I woke up, you weren’t there, and it was devastating. I thought you might not have made it. I couldn’t remember if you were shot, too. I just remembered blood on your face and your hand in mine.”
“Is that why you tried to get up?” Buck questioned. “Because they told me they almost had to strap you down to the bed.”
Eddie flushed and averted his gaze. “I…Ana wouldn’t answer my fucking questions about you, and I was furious. She also wouldn’t hand me my phone. The nurse finally gave it to me and told her to if she wasn’t going to help, then she’d have to leave.”
“I had no idea, you should’ve said,” Buck said tightly. “We would’ve made other arrangements. I had to stay with Chris—that wasn’t even a choice because he was so scared. But, Carla and Karen both volunteered to go sit with you and make sure you got the care you should.”
“Ana was just trying to manage me,” Eddie said wearily. “And keep me calm, but frankly, the only thing that was going to calm me down was you.”
Buck cleared his throat and swallowed hard. “I…don’t know what to do with that, Eddie.”
“You know, a lot of people think I don’t remember the things I say when I drink more than I should or when I’m on pain killers, but I remember it all,” Eddie said.
Buck huffed a little and stood. “I never thought you forgot it. I just thought you liked to pretend you did so you wouldn’t have to explain yourself.” He helped Eddie stand and pulled the sweat pants up. He let his hands fall to his friend’s hips. “Did you want to explain yourself?”
Eddie took a deep breath. “I asked Ana Flores out because my parents had been berating me for a while about getting out there and finding Christopher a proper mother. Of course, they had a very specific kind of woman in mind, and I figured Ana would meet that burden, at least at first glance. Unfortunately, for my parents, Ana would’ve never let them have their way the way Shannon did.” He paused. “The way I asked Shannon to. It was easier to give my mother what she wanted, and I basically ran away from El Paso to escape that situation. I think Shannon did, too.”
“Okay.” Buck frowned. “Geez, Eddie, you owe Ana Flores a big apology.”
Eddie exhaled sharply. “For part of it, sure, but I don’t want her to get the idea that I want to start our relationship again because I’m done with that. I won’t have a person in my life who is more interested in putting limits on my son than helping him figure out how to make things work for him. You know?”
“I do know,” Buck said. “You should eat.”
“Wait.” Eddie caught his hand and held it tight. “I’m not finished explaining myself.”
Buck gave his hand a little squeeze. “Okay, carry on.”
“It’s just…Bobby told me that I could be missing out on something right in front of me. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t about you when I know damn well he was basically telling me about myself in his own way.” He paused when Buck laughed. “I’d say that I don’t know how to do this with a man, but hell, I don’t know how to have a healthy relationship with anyone, and that’s pretty embarrassing to admit at my age. I…fuck.”
“I fuck as well,” Buck said in amusement. “Very well, I might add.”
“You jackass,” Eddie muttered and huffed. “I really miss sex.”
Buck frowned. “Dude, you were in a relationship for six months.”
“I just…didn’t want her,” Eddie admitted and sighed when Buck’s mouth dropped open. “So, I told her I wanted to wait until things were more serious, and she took it to mean that I was a devout Catholic. Which is probably why the bisexual thing really shocked the hell out of her.” He wet his lips. “Carla told me I needed to follow my own heart instead of Christopher’s, and I didn’t understand what she meant at first. I started to explain to her that Chris wasn’t 100% on board the Ana Flores train, but when I was in the hospital, I came to realize she meant that I didn’t need to find him a mother.”
“He doesn’t really want another mother, ever,” Buck admitted. “I don’t think he’d have called her mom or any variation of it.”
“No, agreed, but I let my parents get in my head in a way that I promised I wouldn’t allow again. For weeks after I got buried alive in that fucking well, every single time they called me, they lectured me about dating and finding a good woman to marry so my son would have a mother.” Eddie rolled his eyes when Buck laughed. “Why are you making this so difficult?”
“You’re the one taking a world tour to say five words to me, Eddie,” Buck said gently.
Eddie frowned. “Five?”
“I’m in love with you,” Buck said, and Eddie took a deep, shuddery breath. “Easier than it looked.”
“It looked stupidly hard,” Eddie muttered and took a deep breath. “I think I have more than five words.”
“Okay,” Buck said.
“I love you in a deeply co-dependent way that I don’t want to fix, and I want to make a family with you.”
Buck stared for a moment, heart thundering in his chest as he went over the words in his head. “I…I didn’t think you’d ever say it.”
Eddie frowned at him. “You knew already?”
Buck raised an eyebrow. “Would you say that I know you pretty well?”
“Better than anyone else,” Eddie admitted and flushed. “Oh.”
“I mean—you knew, right?”
“You’re really transparent, though,” Eddie said. “Everyone knows you’re in love with me. Every single person we know, including my own abuela, gave me the shovel talk just in case I ever decided to make a move since none of them believed you ever would. The betting pool at the station must be in the four figures at this point. I just wasn’t sure if you wanted this with me. I know…well…you can’t always help who you love, right?”
“Why wouldn’t I want this?” Buck questioned.
“I’m not actually all that great of a catch,” Eddie admitted wryly. “My parents are awful, I have PTSD, I’m emotionally unavailable, and…well. Honestly, Chris is the best part of my whole deal, but not everyone is on board with an instant family.”
“On any given day, Eddie, I like your kid more than you,” Buck admitted. “And my parents are also awful, and I’m not that great on the mental health front either. I have terrible nightmares about bombs, giant waves, collapsed wells, and snipers.”
“I honestly think you’re kind of perfect,” Eddie admitted.
“Love really is blind,” Buck said and rolled his eyes.
“God, shut up,” Eddie muttered and cupped Buck’s head with his good hand. He pulled him close and pressed their mouths together.
Despite his best intentions, Buck leaned into the kiss but kept his hands firmly on Eddie’s hips to keep the man steady. Then, after a few moments, he pulled free and let his forehead rest against Eddie’s.
“Let’s take this slow, Eds. We’ve been through a lot lately, but we’ve got time to figure this out.” He brushed another soft kiss against Eddie’s mouth then stepped back a little. “Also, we’ve got a kid to feed. He’s probably sitting on the couch wondering how long he should wait before he wakes me up.”
“Can you make French toast?”
Eddie shrugged. “And bacon.” He paused. “And eggs.” He wet his lips. “And maybe you could do that stuffed cream cheese French toast with the strawberries instead of just the regular.”
“You’re lucky I bought strawberries,” Buck said.
Eddie grinned, then winced when he moved his shoulder wrong. “Fuck.”
“Let’s get you some meds then onto the couch so you can pretend you like whatever Chris is watching.”
“Yeah,” Eddie murmured as he caught Buck’s hand again then laced their fingers together. “We’re good, right?”
“We’re…perfect,” Buck murmured.