Title: The Shape of You
Author: Keira Marcos
Prompt: Reckoning (Trope Bingo 2020)
Relationship: Evan Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Genre: Romance, Canon Divergence, Episode Tag (Eddie Begins)
Warnings: Mild Angst, Grammarly Beta
Word Count: 3080
Author’s Note: This is AU because Shannon lives. She and Eddie had a very civilized divorce and didn’t try to get back together. It’s not really integral to the story, except to say that Eddie is softer here—he’s suffered less and didn’t end up joining a dumb fight club.
Summary: Buck made a decision—seeking friendship over something fleeting and temporary within days of meeting Eddie Diaz. In retrospect, he really should’ve had a conversation with Eddie about it.
* * * *
Sometime on the very first day that Eddie Diaz worked at the 118, Buck acknowledged that the new guy turned him on. He kept that realization to himself because he was still heartsore over Abby’s bullshit, and he knew physical attraction wasn’t enough of a reason to get involved with a person he worked with. Then they fell into what quickly became the best friendship Buck had ever known, and the thought of damaging that by bringing sex into the equation had left him cold.
He couldn’t really say when the tone of his feelings for Eddie changed and became the kind of love that was life-changing. Buck worked through the initial realization as privately as he could, accepted what he could and could not have, and resolved to be satisfied with what they had. In the end, it wasn’t even about Eddie. Buck wasn’t going to do a single damn thing that would take Christopher out of his life.
The incident with well had sort of ruined Buck and made it clear to their entire team that he was foolishly in love with Eddie. It had been a month, and as far as he knew, no one had mentioned Buck’s reaction at all to Eddie. It was a relief, and a surprise as most of his co-workers thrived on that kind of drama.
“It’s just a regular Saturday night, Buckley. And you’re not going to do anything stupid.” Buck focused on Eddie’s house, and after a few moments of hesitation, pulled the keys from the ignition.
The invite to come over wasn’t an unusual one, but he’d almost said no because he knew that Chris was with his mom for the weekend. The buffer of a kid really did Buck and his heart all kinds of favors. Shortly, he was letting himself into Eddie’s house. He locked the door behind him and shed his jacket.
Eddie appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. “Hey, you’re late.”
He couldn’t very well say he was in the driveway giving himself a lecture. “Traffic.” He hung up his jacket and rubbed his head. “How are things going with Chris and Shannon?”
Eddie made a face. “He doesn’t like his bed over there because it doesn’t have a special pillow. I had to explain to Shannon that you’d bought him a memory foam pillow, and she offered to get him one, but he said it wouldn’t be special if it didn’t come from you.”
Buck winced. “Hmmm, well, we can go get one and take it over?”
“He’s fine with a regular pillow,” Eddie said and sent him a look. “He’s just looking for a reason to complain, honestly. He blames her for the divorce, still, and I don’t know what to do about that. He knows she asked for it, and I told him that I wanted it, too, but there’s no convincing him of that. He said she broke our family, and he’s allowed to be mad about it.”
“Ah, well, if that’s the case, then she did it when she bailed on you in El Paso and ignored that the two of you existed for two years,” Buck pointed out and shrugged when Eddie sighed. “And he’s allowed to be mad about that, too.”
“I don’t want to control his emotions,” Eddie said roughly. “But it’s hard to explain adult relationships in a way that is age-friendly. I mean, hell, I can’t tell him that I didn’t want his mother anymore, and I was relieved when she asked for a divorce. I was worried she’d try to come back, and I’m completely over that.”
Buck nodded and accepted the beer that Eddie offered. “What’s for dinner?”
“I have some ribs on the grill,” Eddie said and checked his watch. “And some potatoes and corn since that’s your favorite.”
“Hmmm, what did I do to deserve all of my favorites?” Buck questioned.
“You’re you,” Eddie said and shrugged.
Buck took a sip of beer then followed his friend out into the backyard. He leaned a hip on the porch railing while he watched Eddie check the ribs and the foil-wrapped vegetables. “What’s going on with you? You were really quiet yesterday.”
Eddie glanced his way briefly before transferring the ribs to the tray. “Ready to eat?”
“Sure.” He took another sip of beer as Eddie took care of pulling the vegetables and followed his friend into the house. “Not like you to avoid a question.”
“I avoid questions like a professional,” Eddie responded. “And you damn well know it.”
Buck laughed. “Okay, you don’t normally avoid my questions.”
“I saw something, and I don’t know what to do with it,” Eddie said. “I’ve been thinking about it, and it’s made me realize that I…” He huffed. “Let’s eat, okay?”
“Sure,” Buck said easily. “But you know, you can tell me anything.”
He got a dirty look for his trouble, which surprised him. Buck hadn’t been subject to that particular look since the first day they’d worked together. After a brief moment, he sat down at the table and swallowed back an apology. He didn’t even know what he’d done, and he was definitely too old to blurt out a blanket apology like a child.
They ate mostly in silence, which Buck normally appreciated. Just existing with Eddie had always been far easier than it should’ve been. But there was a strange tension rolling off of his friend that he didn’t know what to do with. Eddie was the serious sort, and Buck figured most would even call him stoic, but he was normally much more relaxed when they were alone.
“It’s okay to miss him,” Buck said. “But he isn’t just going to suddenly demand to live with his mom.”
“I’m not worried about that,” Eddie said roughly. “He knows that his mom only has limited visitation, at my discretion, and he’s fine with it.”
Buck nodded and said nothing else until they were finished eating. “I can help with the dishes.”
“I cleaned as I went,” Eddie said. “Everything left can go in the dishwasher.”
Buck sighed and helped as much as his friend allowed. Then he followed Eddie out into the living room. “Eds, talk to me. Did I do something to piss you off?”
“No,” Eddie said roughly. “You’ve never done a damn thing but be the best friend I’ve ever had, and I don’t know what to do with myself.” He flicked a hand in clear frustration and sat down on the couch.
Buck joined him. “I want to help.”
“Of course you do,” Eddie muttered and crossed his arms. “Chris had a school project—basically a badly disguised lesson around Internet security and privacy. Each kid had to Google themselves. Chris had a bit more than I expected because of the tsunami.”
Buck winced. “Geez, Eddie, did you look at those pictures again? I hope he didn’t—he’ll probably have nightmares again.”
“He only ever had one or two about it,” Eddie said. “He told me it wasn’t a big deal because you kept him safe.”
“Until I lost him.”
“You were separated,” Eddie said. “You weren’t careless with him, Buck. Regardless, he suggested I Google myself.”
“Oh.” Buck took a deep breath. “I see.” Because suddenly, it was very clear why Eddie had been out of sorts.
“Do you?” Eddie demanded. “Because…” He lurched off the couch and started to pace. “What the fuck, Evan?”
“Look, I…” Buck swallowed hard because he’d watched that video of himself having a fucking meltdown over that collapsed well exactly once. The fact that he’d tried to dig Eddie out with his bare hands spoke volumes about his feelings. “I can’t help how I feel.”
Eddie turned to stare at him. “You think that’s the problem? Seriously? Has it crossed your mind, at all, that I might be a little irritated that everyone in the whole tri-state damn area knew how you felt about me before I did?”
Buck flushed. “Surely not everyone.”
“Don’t get fucking pedantic on me while I’m…” Eddie trailed off and waved both hands in frustration. “I don’t have any right to be mad about this, honestly, and I know it. You clearly never intended on telling me that you’re…”
“I have feelings for you,” Buck supplied. “Yeah, I decided quite a while ago to keep myself to myself where you were concerned.”
“I’m sorry wanting me is such a fucking burden,” Eddie muttered.
Buck stood because he kind of felt like he was at a disadvantage sitting while Eddie paced around the room. He chose not to dissect that particular thought. “Sex is easy for me, but I suck at relationships. I can get laid two or three times a fucking day if I have the time to dedicate to it.” He paused when Eddie huffed and glared at him. “But falling in love with you scared the hell out of me. It made me realize that I’d never really been in love before, despite what I thought. I can’t…don’t you get it?” He huffed and rubbed his face with a shaking hand. “It would destroy me if I fucked up with you.”
“Well, you wouldn’t.”
Buck sighed. “You can’t say that because we both know it’s not true.”
“Would you abandon me without a word and no damn closure for years?”
“Would you cheat on me?”
“No.” Buck frowned at him.
“Would you hurt Christopher on purpose?” Eddie asked.
“Then you literally couldn’t fuck this up,” Eddie snapped. “For fuck’s sake!”
“This is me currently standing here with no damn clue how you feel,” Buck said harshly and took a deep breath. “Fuck, I should…” He didn’t want to leave, but maybe he should because his friendship with Eddie meant everything to him, and he didn’t want things to escalate to the point where they said things that couldn’t be taken back.
“Oh, well, don’t you think I’d be a little less pissed off if I didn’t feel the same?” Eddie asked wearily. “In fact, I’d be worried sick about losing your friendship while trying to find some way to tell you it wasn’t going to ever happen. But that’s not where I am, Buck. I don’t know if I’m hurt or furious, to be honest. Maybe both, because I feel like I should be worth the risk.”
“I’d make almost any sacrifice for you,” Buck said quietly. “Except one. I’d never choose you over Christopher. I’m sorry if that hurts.”
“No, that doesn’t…of course not,” Eddie replied, his voice hoarse with emotion. “That’s…just what it means to be a parent, Buck.”
“I’m not his parent—I’ve tried really hard not to overstep, to create a healthy boundary for the two of us because for a while there, the lines got blurry, and I realized I was seeking something I can’t have.”
“You can have it!” Eddie waved both hands in frustration. “I’m right here, Buck, telling you that you can have this with me.” He cleared his throat. “This isn’t how I wanted this conversation to go.”
“I made a decision a long time ago not to allow myself to want a romantic relationship with you,” Buck said quietly.
“Really? Because I don’t remember being a part of any sort of conversation where I just agreed to give up your love.”
“It wasn’t about you, Eddie. It was about me and my terrible record with relationships. Don’t you see?”
“All I see is the love of my life telling me that he doesn’t want to be in love with me,” Eddie said flatly. “And if you were anyone else, I would just tell you to fuck right off! But I’ve already been there—living my life with a gaping hole shaped like you, and I never want to experience it again.”
Buck flinched because he didn’t need any reminders of the lawsuit he’d filed. He’d withdrawn from it shortly before depositions began, much to the displeasure of his lawyer, when the union had offered him a better solution. Still, he’d gone two months without speaking to anyone at the 118, and that included Eddie. He’d had Facetime with Chris, though, arranged through Shannon, who’d gone out and bought her son a little iPad so he wouldn’t be without his Buck.
The union had worked with the chief’s office, and he’d been offered positions in several different firehouses. He’d gone to work for the 133 and spent three months there before Bobby had asked him to come back to the 118. Sometimes, he regretted giving in so easily as he really didn’t think that Bobby had learned the lesson Buck wanted him to learn. Still, he’d missed everyone so much that he’d gone back and endured their anger and hurt feelings for a few days before everything had returned to almost normal. It would never really be the same because none of them, except Eddie, had been on Buck’s side during the whole situation.
“I’m sorry for that—I’ve apologized multiple times.”
“I forgave you,” Eddie said shortly. “I’m not angry about the lawsuit anymore, and I know you were right about all of it. I just know what it feels like not to have you in my life, and I never want to experience that again.”
“Yeah, well, getting on the train wreck of my love life is exactly how that will happen,” Buck muttered.
“Have you ever had a serious relationship where you bailed first?” Eddie asked curiously.
“No, I mean…” Buck shrugged. “No, I always get left.”
“Me, too,” Eddie said. “Same thing goes for friendships, as well.”
“So you’re saying that I’m already stuck with you.”
“Yes, exactly, and that’s probably not healthy, but I trust you enough to take that risk.” He crossed the room and took Buck’s hand in his own. “I just don’t know how to make you trust me back.”
“Of course, I trust you,” Buck protested.
“With your life, sure,” Eddie said easily. “But not with your heart, and that’s the problem.”
“I…” Buck took a deep breath because he hadn’t expected that kind of reframing. “That’s…I don’t trust me. I don’t know how to be good at this, Eddie.” He tried to pull his hand free, but Eddie tightened his grip. “Please.”
“No, what?” Buck demanded.
“I’m not going to be another one of those people who just let you go, Evan. I’m never letting go.”
Buck’s mouth quirked. “So you’re saying you’d share the door with me?”
“I hate that awful, sad movie,” Eddie muttered and cupped the back of his head. He pressed their foreheads together. “Let me in, Buck; I won’t let you down.”
Buck surrendered between one breath and the next, turning his head a little and pressing his mouth against Eddie’s. Eddie trembled against him, and Buck couldn’t help but move closer and wrap his arms around his best friend. The kiss deepened, and Buck curled his fingers into Eddie’s t-shirt.
No matter his fears and failures when it came to love—Eddie was the truest thing in his life, and giving in was the easiest thing he’d ever done. He laughed a little when Eddie pushed him onto the couch and crawled onto his lap. Buck caught Eddie’s hips, pulled him close, and sought another kiss.
“Buck,” Eddie murmured against his mouth. “Say it, please.”
“I love you,” Buck said, and something loosened in his chest. He blinked back unexpected tears and buried his face against Eddie’s throat. Buck pulled him close and shook with emotions that he’d been ignoring for years. “I thought…you were going to die down there, and I didn’t know how I was going to exist without you. It hurt so much.”
“I’m sorry,” Eddie said and pressed a kiss against his forehead. “I can’t promise to live forever, but I’ll never stop trying to come home.”
“Sorry the whole tri-state area knew I was in love with you before you did,” Buck muttered and huffed when Eddie laughed. “I mean it.”
“I’d have responded no differently in your replace,” Eddie murmured and cupped Buck’s head. “It would’ve broken me wide open, Buck.”
“I tried to dig you out with my bare hands,” Buck said. “I don’t know how anyone we work with has refrained from teasing me about it.”
“Because you looked like someone had torn your heart out,” Eddie said. “And no one we work with is that damned soulless. Though I suspect neither one of us is ever going to live down being obliviously in love for years. I feel like an idiot for not noticing it before—it’s written all over your face and has been for a very long time.” He stroked his fingers down the side of Buck’s face. “I’ll share everything with you, Buck, including that stupid door.”
“Okay?” Eddie questioned. “Just okay?”
Buck raised an eyebrow. “What? Did you want a big speech about love, marriage, and adopted babies? Because once, when I was really drunk, I wrote you a long email detailing all of that.” He wiggled a little as he worked a hand into his front pocket and pulled out his phone. “I got so freaked out when I found the draft that I almost closed my whole Gmail account. It’s been sitting in my drafts for two years. I should probably delete it.”
Eddie snatched the phone. “I don’t fucking think so. I’m looking forward to reading your drunk love letter.”
“Later,” Buck said and pulled him closer. “Kiss me again before I freak out, and fuck this up.”
“I already told you,” Eddie began gently as he tossed the phone on the sofa. “You can’t fuck this up.”
“Just keep telling me until I believe it,” Buck murmured.
“Deal,” Eddie agreed and kissed him.