Stage Four Eddie Diaz and this art by @like-the-rest-of-la fried my brain ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (and Buck’s). Someday I’ll write a fic for this account on something besides my phone and will know how many words it is going in.
Rated E for “exceptionally inappropriate use of a club bathroom”
“Oh, sorry to hear that, Buckaroo,” Hen says.
“Yeah, thanks, Hen,” Buck says, a little rote. He should be feeling something about this but he just…isn’t. Except maybe relief, but he doesn’t want to unpack that.
“What did Eddie say?” she asks.
“I mean, I texted him last night,” Buck says, lacing up his other boot. “He got kinda weird about it?”
Like Eddie hasn’t been weird for the past eight months.
“Weird how?” Hen asks.
Buck shrugs and finishes the buttons on his shirt. “Where is he anyway?”
“Sorry I’m running behind this morning,” Eddie says, running into the locker room and dropping his bag on the bench.
“Speak of the devil,” Hen says.
“Thought my ears were burning,” Eddie replies with a warm smile in her direction before he goes to pull off his shirt and grab his uniform. He glances over at Buck while he does and it’s the first good look Buck’s gotten at him since he’s shown up.
Buck misses a button.
“How are you?” Eddie asks, eyes warm and full of concern and not weird at all, except for the — except for the hair.
Which is weird.
Which is fucking hot.
“I’m—” Buck starts and then realises what he’s done with his buttons.
While he starts trying to fix the problem, Eddie continues, “We should all go out tomorrow night. Take your mind off things. There’s this club Karen’s been wanting to go to. We could make it a thing. The four of us.”
“Uh, ye—yeah, sure,” Buck says, still trying not to stare at Eddie’s new haircut. He wants to put his hands in it. He wants to put his hands in it and he wants to pull on it to see if the strands are as silky and soft as they look and then he wants to—
“Hen?” Eddie asks. He’s opted for a short sleeved uniform today and Buck thinks the dry cleaners must’ve done something to it because it’s tight around his biceps, more so than usual, and that’s—
“Uh, yeah, I’ll ask Karen about it,” Hen says, blinking back surprise. “Maybe my mom can look after the boys for a sleepover.”
“Sounds great,” Eddie says, and then claps Buck on the shoulder and leaves the locker room.
For a beat, Buck and Hen stare after him in equal confusion.
“I see what you mean about weird,” Hen says.
“Uh huh,” Buck replies which is about as close as he can get to coherency.
“The only clubs my wife knows are gay bars,” she adds.
“Well, at least no women will hit on me,” Buck says.
“Uh huh,” Hen agrees, and through the glass of the locker room, they watch Eddie soft-shoe through some pre-shift chores, looking almost like he’s whistling to himself. “We gonna be concerned about your best friend just asking us on a double date to a gay bar?”
“We’re not gonna think about it for now,” Buck replies.
Hen nods and they’re saved by the bell.
Buck spends most of the next day sleeping. Their shift had been busy, and he’d been distracted by Eddie’s haircut and good mood. It wasn’t good enough to be infectious, because it was so strange, but it was undeniable.
At the end of the shift he’d made plans to drop Christopher and his truck off at Hen’s and then the three of them could share a Lyft to the club. Buck, on account of already living closer than the others, was on his own for transit.
And so Buck sleeps, and then he showers, and he tries to do something interesting with his hair but it’s the wrong cut for him to really do anything.
Instead he just tries to find decent clothes. Half of his wardrobe — the stuff that makes him look decent at least — he keeps hearing Taylor’s voice in the back of his head telling him it makes him look hot, and he’s gonna have to go shopping. He’s going to have to replace his entire closet.
He winds up with a snug black shirt and jeans and decides to call it good. It’s not like he’s going to pick someone up. He’s just going to have a nice time with friends.
The others beat him to the place and when he gets there, Buck lets the throbbing pulse of the music and the swirling purple and pink and blue lights over the dance floor just completely overwhelm his senses and drag him out of his head. While he heads to the bar to get a drink and a better vantage point, the lights cycle through to oranges and white to go with the pink, and by the time he reaches the bar, they’ve cycled again to the full rainbow.
Buck reaches the bar and smiles awkwardly when the bartender visibly checks him out. At basically any other point in his life, Buck would simply be flattered. But right now he’s…
“What can I get you, handsome?” the bartender asks.
“What IPAs do you have?” Buck asks since he can’t quite make out the stained menu on the bar.
“You made it!”
Eddie’s voice comes from behind him, almost a shout to be heard over the music.
Buck turns to greet him and promptly loses control of his legs and has to drop to the nearest barstool to keep from falling down entirely.
Because it’s not just Eddie’s hair.
And it’s not just the bright smile he’s aiming in Buck’s direction.
And it’s not just the eyeliner smudged underneath his eyes.
And it’s not just the black mesh shirt that shows off Eddie’s formidable musculature or his chest hair.
And it’s not just the leather pants Eddie is wearing.
It’s the combination of all of those things and Buck’s pretty sure he’s gonna have to collect his bottle of beer from the bartender and stick it between his legs to get himself to calm the fuck down.
Eddie says something to him then, but with the combination of the music and Buck’s entirely unreasonable response to Eddie’s outfit, Buck doesn’t pick up a single word. Eddie notices, rolls his eyes fondly, has a quick exchange with the bartender, and then leans up close and personal into Buck’s space. Clasps a hand on his shoulder. Leans in to put his mouth right beside Buck’s ear. Basically presses Buck’s face into the intoxicating warmth of his chest.
“I was worried you were gonna play hooky,” Eddie says in Buck’s ear, lips close enough to brush softly against the shell.
Buck’s only saving grace is that the same loud atmosphere that necessitates this closeness also covers the embarrassing whimper that comes out of his mouth.
“Ha, nope,” Buck says.
Eddie squeezes his shoulder, thumb gently stroking over the muscle at the side of his neck, and smiles when he leans back. He collects their beers from the bartender and beckons Buck along towards a table where Hen and Karen are snuggled up together. Buck watches him go for a second, unable to make his eyes move away from Eddie entirely, and incapable of picking whether to focus on the shifting of his back muscles under the mesh shirt or the gratuitous way the leather pants cling to his ass.
He only remembers to stand up and follow when Eddie pauses to look over his shoulder at Buck in confusion. He’s glad, when he gets to the table, that Hen seems as stunned by Eddie’s transformation as he is. Maybe not with the same result, but while Eddie and Karen chat about something — wildly, Buck is pretty sure they’re talking about PTA stuff — Hen joins him in slack-faced staring.
“So, this isn’t a question I’ve ever thought to ask you before,” she says, leaning into Buck’s side of the booth. “But you seem…comfortable in a gay bar for a straight man.”
Buck lifts an eyebrow at her. “Like half the stories I told you guys when I was a probie about the people I hooked up with were about men.”
He says it a little louder than he means to — honestly just trying to be heard over the music — but there’s a definite pause in Eddie and Karen’s conversation. Neither of them turn to look, but Buck is pretty sure Eddie goes a little pink.
Which, serves him right.
“Oh,” Hen says. “Never mind then.”
She takes a sip of her drink, some kind of house speciality based on a cosmo as far as Buck’s lapsed mixology certification can determine, and then adds quietly, “So you are in love with Eddie, right?”
“That’s what your end question was?” Buck asks.
The mesh shirt shows off all of Eddie’s arms and whenever he lifts his bottle to take a drink, the muscles there flex just a little, and leaves Buck incomparably parched.
“Yeah, I just thought I was gonna have to talk you through a minor sexuality crisis first,” Hen replies.
“Not since I was a senior in high school,” Buck assures her.
Eddie lifts his arm again, muscles coiling and shifting beautifully.
Buck sulkily fellates his beer in response.
“We should dance,” Karen announces.
Eddie’s up and out of the booth almost as soon as she says it, pausing by the end of the table to polish off his drink. Karen copies him, as does Hen. Buck stays right where he is.
“You coming?” Eddie asks him, eyes bright and — and hopeful?
“I’m — you don’t want to see me dance, man, trust me,” Buck says. Which is true, but the truer truth is that he doesn’t know if he’s going to be fully capable of keeping his hands to himself. Not when they’re both single now and Eddie keeps looking at him like that while also looking like that.
“Buck,” Eddie says, fondly exasperated. “The point of coming out here tonight is to cheer you up, not so you can nope in a booth.”
“I’m cheery,” Buck says, forcing a smile. Eddie raises an eyebrow, unconvinced. “Promise. Go have fun.”
Eddie looks like he might argue a bit more but Hen and Karen pull him along to the dance floor. Buck stays when you he is, just watching. Hen and Karen look like they’re having a great time, and Eddie proves to be an exceptional shimmier.
Buck really doesn’t have any intention of dancing with them. Not until some guy dances up to Eddie, getting his hands all over the mesh covering Eddie’s torso, and breathing his introductions into Eddie’s ear. Buck’s stomach churns.
And then Eddie catches his eye, pointedly.
It occurs to Buck after he’s already moving that there’s no way Eddie would actually need saving in this situation. The guy’s flirty by way of being handsy but he’s not threatening. Buck can tell that even from afar.
But he only has these moments of clarity when he’s already in the process of plastering himself along Eddie’s back and smoothing his palms possessively over the flat planes of Eddie’s abs to fix on his hips and pull him close. It’s the closest he’s been to Eddie since— and fuck but he never wants to let go.
Eddie snakes his arm up around Buck’s shoulders and scratches at the short hair at the nape of his neck.
“Hey, baby, sorry I left you out here alone,” Buck says, loudly enough for the guy hitting on Eddie to hear him.
He’s pretty sure Eddie laughs, and the guy takes a second to look wistfully disappointed before smiling and shaking his head.
“Didn’t mean to intrude,” he assures them.
“No hard feelings,” Eddie promises. He keeps scratching his fingers at Buck’s hair, soothing and electric all at once. “Got him to come dance with me, so, thank you.”
“Happy to help,” the guy says. He looks them over again and Buck tries not to glare. “And thank you for your public service of, like, looking like that.”
Despite himself, Buck laughs, as does Eddie, and the guy dances off.
“Sorry,” Buck says, starting to pull his hands away from Eddie.
But Eddie just twists in his arms and stays pressed to him. “For which part?”
“I — I don’t remember,” Buck says, not entirely able to form full thoughts on account of the way they’re now swaying to the beat.
“The only thing that you should be sorry for is the fact you weren’t gonna dance with me,” Eddie says. He winds an arm around Buck’s neck and scratches at his scalp again. It makes Buck want to purr.
“Okay, seriously, what’s gotten into you?” Buck asks.
Eddie’s bright, flirty expression dims and he sighs — not that Buck can hear him over the music. He unwinds his arm from Buck’s shoulder and steps back out of his grasp. Before Buck can do more than look confused, Eddie snags a finger through one of his belt loops and tugs him away from the dance floor towards the relative quiet of the mens room.
“So?” Buck asks. “What’s going on?”
“I got tired,” Eddie says. He considers and then scrapes a hand over his face, slightly smudging his eyeliner. Because Eddie’s wearing eyeliner and that’s an image Buck’s just gonna file away for later. “No, I got so damn exhausted.”
“Exhausted from what?” Buck asks, concerned. “Are you not sleeping well? Is Chris having nightmares again?”
Eddie laughs, a bit forced and involuntary. “God, you don’t even hear yourself do you?”
“You’re — you’re so sweet and you care so much,” Eddie says, and he’s not meeting Buck’s eye. “No, Chris is fine and I’m…sleeping as well as I ever do. I got exhausted from trying to pretend that I’m — that I’m not who I am.”
Buck frowns, scanning the outfit and the hair and, honestly, their location. “And this is…you?”
Eddie’s laugh is a little less forced this time. “No, this is a drastic overcorrection. I’m just so tired of pretending I’m not…”
He gestures widely at the room around them and then sighs and runs a hand through his new hair. “I don’t know.”
“Is there like a general topic section because I could maybe try and guess?” Buck suggests. “If that helps.”
“Yeah, okay,” Eddie says. “General topic of things I’ve been pretending to myself about is you.”
Buck blinks. “Me?”
“Yeah,” Eddie says. He scrapes his fingers through his hair again and now it’s standing on end and god Buck wants to touch it. “You. And the way I’ve been trying to pretend for years now that the way I feel about you is a normal way to feel platonically about your best friend, but I’m so fucking in love with you I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.”
Eddie is in love with him.
Not in a platonic friend way.
It feels like a warm click in his chest that’s a flintlock against kindling, not hollow and cold.
“And I don’t know, I thought maybe, maybe I’d get a haircut and wear the world’s stupidest shirt and change the status quo enough that maybe you’d see me now,” Eddie continues.
“I always see you,” Buck says when he realises he needs to speak.
“I know, I just meant as more,” Eddie says.
Buck takes a step closer to him. “No, I — Eddie, I always see you that way. I just thought—”
I thought you were straight, for one.
I thought you didn’t feel the same.
“Ah, fuck it,” Buck says and cups Eddie’s face in his hands.
When his lips meet Eddie’s, the kindling that’s started in his chest ignites. A good, warm and long-burning fire.
The kiss doesn’t last long and they part only far enough to rest their foreheads against each other.
“So,” Eddie starts.
“I love you too,” Buck says. “I mean, you knew that part, I mean I’m in love with you too.”
“Thank god,” Eddie replies and cups the back of Buck’s neck to pull him into another kiss.
This one doesn’t end quickly and it doesn’t stay chaste. Buck traces the seam of Eddie’s lips with his tongue and is quickly met with Eddie’s in response. He runs his hands over Eddie’s shoulders and down the long muscles of his back, slips them under the hem of his shirt to rest comfortably on the bare skin of his lower back.
“I know you said this is a stupid shirt,” Buck mumbles against Eddie’s mouth. “But I really, really like it.”
“Yeah?” Eddie asks, kissing the corner of Buck’s mouth and then along his jaw. “I think I’d like it better on you.”
“That’s fine, I can wear the shirt as long as you keep the leather pants,” Buck says, and dares to slide his hands down to get a good grasp on Eddie’s ass.
Eddie groans against his neck and steers Buck into one of the stalls, fumbling for the lock. Buck helps him with it and then gets his hands back on Eddie’s ass, pressing them together at the hips.
It’d be embarrassing to have to go back into the club this hard.
If only there were things they could do about it.
“I have a suggestion,” Buck says, rolling his hips against Eddie’s while Eddie shoves his hands under Buck’s shirt.
“Yeah?” Eddie asks, leaning far enough from him to pull Buck’s shirt over his head. He takes a moment to hang it on the hook on the back of the stall door, which is both sweet and conscientious of him and then Buck can’t think full words because Eddie’s tracing the tattoos on Buck’s chest with his tongue. In an organised enough way that it seems like something he’s been thinking about and planning for a while now.
“One I think you’re gonna like,” Buck says, pulling Eddie’s shirt off for him as well. It’s only fair and he wants to get his mouth on Eddie’s chest too.
“What is it?” Eddie asks and then interrupts his answer to kiss him again.
Buck lets himself dissolve into Eddie’s mouth for a moment and then clears his throat. “We get off quick, and then make our excuses to Hen and Karen and go home and do it right.”
Eddie nods and runs his hands across Buck’s torso like he’s mapping it and reaches for the button on his jeans. As he undoes it, he says, “And then you stay the night and forget to ever go back to your apartment right?”
“Something like that,” Buck says, reluctantly pulling his hands away from their new favourite resting place and undoing Eddie’s pants too.
He loves that by “home” Eddie understood he meant Eddie’s house.
“Good,” Eddie says. He reaches his hand into the front of Buck’s jeans to draw him out and Buck has to bite down hard on his bottom lip to keep his reaction quiet. Eddie gently — too gently — runs his hand over the length of Buck’s dick, almost like he’s measuring. The soft, “Jesus Christ, Buck,” he utters at the end of his examination is punctuated with a very sticky kiss.
Buck finally gets his own hand into Eddie’s pants and it’s certainly not like Eddie’s anything to scoff at. Buck strokes him a little harder than Eddie had and gets a sharp exhale into his mouth.
“I just realised,” Buck says. With his free hand, he pulls Eddie closer and now it’d only take a quick adjustment for them to rut up against each other.
“Hm?” Eddie asks, nibbling down Buck’s neck.
“We never actually had that dick measuring competition,” Buck says.
Eddie snorts out a laugh and rests his forehead against Buck’s collarbone to look down. The back of his head is blocking Buck’s own view.
Eddie swallows a second later and looks back up. “I think it comes out to just working better together.”
Buck nods in agreement and kisses him again. They can do a more thorough investigation back home if they want.
For the time being, he presses Eddie close enough to get a hand around both of them and groans when Eddie follows suit. The feel of Eddie’s cock sliding beside his, wrapped in both their hands, is one of the better things he’d had the pleasure to experience.
Between Eddie’s hand, and his cock, and the feel of the muscle under Buck’s hand flexing and unflexing, and the headiness of I’m in love with you, it doesn’t take long for Buck to finish, spilling over both of them. Eddie moans against his bare chest and follows.
It takes them a moment of heavy breathing to untangle their hands, and then longer to be willing to separate enough to reach for cleanup stuff.
In the lull time, Buck kisses along Eddie’s jaw and his neck and revels in the feel of his skin.
“I love you so much,” Eddie says.
“I love you so much also,” Buck says, and finally reaches for the tissue.
When they’re clean enough to pass public inspection for as long as it takes to get home, Eddie hands Buck a shirt and pulls on his own. They’re all the way back to the dance floor to find Hen and Karen before Buck realises what Eddie’s done.
“We’re gonna head out for the night,” Eddie says to Karen when they find them in their booth with fresh drinks flashing smitten eyes at each other.
“Okay!” Karen says.
“Nice shirt, Buck,” Hen says.
Eddie smirks and Buck glances down at the mesh covering his own torso.
“Thanks, Hen,” Buck says. “We’ll see you at work.”
“Hopefully, I’ll see—” she gestures at his mostly naked chest. “—less of you.”
Buck nods, and then has to laugh, and is grateful when Eddie pulls him away, fingers tangled through Buck’s.
Hen and Karen’s giggles follow them until they’re lost in the noise of the club.