something new with every tomorrow
buck thinks the universe might be screaming at him.
or—maybe screaming isn’t the right word, exactly. it’s more like nagging. like the universe is sitting on his shoulder whispering in his ear.
he also thinks the universe might be calling him stupid.
and that—well, it might be warranted. he feels a little stupid, now, sitting in his empty apartment holding the key taylor had pressed into his hand.
not for breaking up with taylor. no, he’s pretty sure that’s the smartest thing he’s done in months. but for letting it go as far as it did.
i thought i could learn to live with it, he hears himself saying, and wonders what business he’d thought he had all those months ago, telling eddie that’s not how you talk about someone you’re in love with.
his phone is in his hand before he even makes the conscious decision to call eddie.
“buck?” eddie asks as soon as he picks up, a questioning edge of concern in his voice.
“i need you to come over,” buck says.
“now?” eddie asks. “buck, are you—is everything okay?”
buck pulls the phone from his ear and peers at the time. oh. it’s getting kind of late.
“yeah,” he sighs. “yeah, it’s—it’s fine.”
“buck, what’s going on?”
buck stays silent.
“buck, if you don’t tell me i’m just going to come over anyway.”
“i was gonna say—” he sighs again. “i need you to come over and tell me i’m being stupid. or maybe that i’m not being stupid. i don’t really know. i just feel—”
“stupid?” eddie asks when buck trails off, and buck snorts.
“a little, yeah.”
“stupid how?” eddie asks. “i mean—you’re not gonna call taylor or anything, right?”
“no, definitely not,” buck says. “no, that’s done. it’s over.”
he thinks eddie might mutter good, but it’s too quiet for him to be sure.
“i don’t know,” buck says for what feels like the hundredth time just today. “i just feel—i just feel, i think. does that make sense?”
“yeah,” eddie says. “yeah, it does. i’ll be there in half an hour, okay?”
“you don’t need to—” buck says, even as something in his chest loosens at the thought of eddie leaning on his kitchen island, eddie propped against the railing of his balcony, eddie sprawled across his couch.
“maybe i want to,” eddie says. “i’m just gonna drop chris at pepa’s on the way, she’s been asking about a sleepover anyway.”
“hey,” eddie says, cutting him off. “stop trying to talk me out of having your back.”
“i’m—” buck starts, then swallows. isn’t that what we all want in a partner? ravi’s words echo through his mind. knowing that they have your back?
buck’s changed his mind. the universe isn’t screaming at him, it’s laughing.
“buck?” eddie asks.
“yeah, okay,” buck says. “bring beer on your way, will you? i’ve only got some of that weird shit taylor left behind.”
“yeah,” eddie says, “we’re definitely not drinking that.”
eddie lets himself into the apartment half an hour later. buck hears the sound of the door, but he doesn’t move from where he’s stretched out on the floor of his balcony, angled so he can see the sky between the towering buildings around him. there’s no stars out here, not with all the light pollution, but if buck imagines hard enough he can pretend he sees them anyway.
“buck?” eddie asks. “you good?”
“ask me something easier,” buck mutters.
eddie’s quiet for a second, then: “want a beer?”
“yeah,” buck says and doesn’t get up off the floor.
something cold touches his face, and he realises eddie is balancing the beer bottle on his forehead. “gotta get up if you want to drink it,” he says. buck snorts and grabs the bottle before hauling himself upright. he doesn’t get off the floor, though, leaning back against the balcony railing, arms resting on his bent knees.
eddie sits down across from him, leaning against the wall and stretching his legs out in front of him. “hey,” he says, nudging buck’s foot with his. “what’s up?”
buck sighs and lets his head fall back against the railing.
“remember when you said you were gonna stick it out with ana, and i told you that was dumb?”
“is that what you said?” eddie asks.
“in spirit,” buck says.
“yeah,” eddie says. “i remember. why?”
“why didn’t you tell me the same thing about taylor?”
eddie’s quiet for a while, and and buck hears his throat work as he takes a drink. “would you have listened to me?” he finally asks.
buck picks his head up off the wall just so eddie sees him rolling his eyes. “yeah, probably not.”
“is that what you feel stupid about?” eddie asks. “or—not stupid?”
“i just—i feel like it made sense while i was in it, but now i have no idea why i stayed so long,” buck says.
“it’s not stupid to try and make your relationship work,” eddie says. “even if—” he cuts himself off, wedges his beer bottle between his lips like he’s trying to stop himself from speaking.
buck finds himself a little mesmerised by the movement.
“even if what?” he asks when he’s been staring for maybe a moment too long.
eddie says nothing, keeps the bottle in his mouth, darts his eyes to the side.
“even if it’s with someone like taylor?” buck asks. “that’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it?”
eddie finally takes his beer bottle out of his mouth, and buck tries not to look too hard at the slight imprint it’s left on his bottom lip. “you said it, not me,” eddie says, and buck reaches for the closest projectile to throw at him. it turns out to be a leaf that’s fallen from one of his potted plants, so it’s not the most effective weapon, but it’s the thought that counts.
“i know you never liked her,” buck says. “not since the moment we met her.”
“when we met her you only liked her because she was hot,” eddie says, and buck raises his beer in acknowledgement.
“i really did think she’d changed, you know,” buck says. “i guess i thought—i’m not the same person as when we first met, so i thought maybe she wouldn’t be either.”
“i know,” eddie says.
“but then she—you know she wasn’t even sorry?” buck asks. “or—she said i’m sorry you’re still upset. that’s bullshit, right?”
“yeah,” eddie says. “yeah, it is.”
buck doesn’t know if he’s just agreeing with him or if he actually thinks so, but he’s grateful either way.
“but like—she had no remorse,” buck says. “for what she actually did. i don’t think she even understands how bad it could have been. what could have happened.”
“but that’s not on you,” eddie says. “none of it is on you.”
“rationally, i know that,” buck says. “i think. i just keep thinking i should have seen it earlier. that i should have—i don’t know.”
“maybe there was nothing to see earlier,” eddie says. “maybe she thought she’d changed, too, until the situation came up.”
buck squints at him. “you don’t like taylor,” he says, accusative. “you’re being weirdly charitable about her for someone who doesn’t like her.”
“nah,” eddie says, easy, and inclines his beer bottle at buck. “i’m being charitable about you. she’s just collateral—i don’t know, what’s the opposite of collateral damage?”
“nothing,” buck says, “because that’s not a thing.”
“is that why you wanted me to come over?” eddie asks. “to tell you you’re not stupid for not breaking up with taylor sooner?”
“maybe,” buck mutters. “i don’t know, i was just—”
“in your head about it?” eddie asks, and buck laughs.
“yeah,” he says. “that.”
“i don’t think anyone expects you to just snap your fingers and be over it,” eddie says. “it was a long-term relationship. you’re allowed to be a little in your head about it, i think.”
“yeah,” buck huffs. “maybe.” he takes a drink. “tell me something good,” he says to eddie. “i don’t want to be in my head about it. i don’t want to dwell.”
“i’m coming back to work on monday,” eddie says, his face spreading into a grin. “back to the 118. it was gonna be a surprise, but—”
buck sets his beer down and craws across the balcony, landing halfway in eddie’s lap in an awkward sort of half-hug.
“uh, hi,” eddie says, arms coming up around buck as if on instinct.
“oh, uh, sorry,” buck says and tries to extricate himself, but eddie holds on.
“no, hold on, just—” he says and tugs at buck until they’re arranged a little more comfortably, buck resting against his chest. “good?”
“yeah,” buck murmurs. “just, god, you don’t know how happy i am to hear that. it’s not the same without you there.”
“not as happy as i am to say it,” eddie says.
“wanna bet?” buck asks. eddie’s laughter rumbles in his chest, and his arm tightens around buck.
“agree to disagree,” he says.
buck lets his head rest against eddie’s chest, and feels eddie’s chin settle on the top of his head. eddie’s hand traces absent-minded patterns on his hip and buck feels goosebumps rising in their wake, and he flashes back to the image of eddie’s lips wrapped around his beer bottle, the brief stab of curiosity about what those lips would feel like on his. he burrows in closer to eddie and eddie shifts to accommodate him, easy and instinctive like they do this every day.
and maybe the universe is screaming at him, buck thinks. maybe it is calling him stupid for not seeing what was right in front of him.
but maybe the universe isn’t talking about taylor.