On The Blue Ocean Floor
It happened slowly, like rising up from a deep-dive to avoid getting the bends. If you asked, Eddie couldn’t point to the specific moment he looked at his best friend and thought, it’s you. It was an unconscious thought wading in the back of his mind. It was only when that thought made itself alarmingly present, after suffering through yet another near-death experience, that Eddie knew he had to end things with Ana.
Loving Evan Buckley was as natural as breathing, but he had been holding his breath for a long time. Just when he thought he might come up for air, Taylor Kelly eclipsed his ascent. And who was he to stand in the way of Buck’s happiness? Buck had been showing an interest in Taylor for some time now. Eddie wasn’t going to jeopardize that for his own selfish reasons. And if Eddie Diaz is anything, it’s selfless.
So he holds his tongue, recalibrates, and dives back down.
They’ve been dating for months.
Months and Eddie is in hell. Taylor comes to the station to bring Buck coffee, to meet up after a shift, and hell, even to join in for team dinners. Taylor’s been widely accepted into their little work family despite her initial introduction. But Buck is completely smitten with her, so Eddie bears the burden just beneath the surface. He always happens to be around when they hold hands or exchange disgustingly flirty looks with each other. Eddie always averts his gaze or holds back on making a comment that’ll give himself away. He tries to be polite so he doesn’t lose the best relationship he’s ever had.
Instead, Eddie makes temporary best friends with the punching bag in the fire station gym. And he dives down just a little bit further.
“I see you, Eddie.” The comment comes from Hen one afternoon during a break between calls.
“See me what? Almost bust my ass with that kick just now?” Eddie, dripping with sweat, walks over to the bench she’s sitting on and accepts the towel she holds out for him.
Unimpressed with his obvious attempt to divert the incoming topic of conversation, Hen raises a single eyebrow and smirks.
Eddie shakes his head at her and points an accusing finger. “Don’t do that.”
Hen, dipping her head slightly, raises the other eyebrow. Her eyes dart briefly over to the loft where Buck and Taylor stand, shoulder-to-shoulder while playing with each other's fingers on the railing. Hen’s eyebrows climb higher as she meets his eyes again.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Eddie drapes the towel around his neck and holds on to both ends while giving Hen a nonchalant frown.
“Oh, you don’t?” Hen says, a smirk playing on her lips. “The second that woman walks in here, you make yourself as scarce as possible.”
“Probably just a coincidence,” Eddie shrugs.
“You sneer at her when she gets Buck’s coffee order wrong.”
“I mean, it’s not that hard,” Eddie mumbles. “Venti shaken espresso, extra shot, four pumps of white mocha, and a splash of soy. A four-year-old could remember that.”
Hen leans forward, “You nearly ran over her with the truck yesterday.”
Eddie frowns and looks at the ceiling. “Shouldn’t have been in the bay, then.”
“She was out by her car,” Hen deadpans.
Eddie sighs. “What do you expect me to do here?”
“Not commit vehicular homicide, for one,” Hen mumbles as Eddie plops down next to her on the bench. “It used to be the two of you joined at the hip. What happened? Do you not like her?”
“I almost ran over her with the truck yesterday, Hen. So, no, I wouldn’t say I’m her biggest fan.” He rubs a hand down his face. “That was an accident, by the way.”
“But it’s more than that. Isn’t it?” Hen ignores the quip and fixes him with her keen stare.
Eddie works his jaw, looks down at his feet, and tries to breathe. He tries, but his lungs won’t fill.
“I won’t push you, but I can tell you need someone to talk to about this. I just wanted to tell you that I’m here. If you need me.”
“Thank you, Hen,” Eddie says in a small voice.
“Anytime,” she says, patting his knee and standing up.
Eddie’s gaze flicks back up to the pair in the loft, but they’ve moved over to the couch. She shouldn’t even been here.
He clenches his jaw and stalks back to the showers, but nothing is more suffocating than the water.
The news comes at the end of summer with a quiet knock at the door. Eddie shuffles across the floor, checking his watch as he goes. Buck greets him with a sad smile on his beautiful face when he opens the door. Eddie’s chest feels tight with the pressure.
“Hope it’s not too late,” Buck says, hands stuffed into the pocket of his hoodie.
“No, not at all.” Not for you. Eddie stands back to let Buck pass and gently closes the door behind him. “Christopher’s having one last sleepover with Denny before school starts next week.”
Buck’s face softens at the mention of Chris and the knot in Eddie’s stomach tightens.
“Come on, sit down,” Eddie says, gently prodding him in the direction of the living room. “I know you wouldn’t just show up without warning just because you missed us. What’s going on?”
Buck sits next to Eddie on the couch and sighs. “I think Taylor broke up with me.”
Eddie stills. “You think?”
“It might have been mutual?” Buck scrunches his face up.
Eddie holds his hands out, “Care to elaborate?”
“When you were with Ana,” Buck says, turning in his seat to face Eddie, “did you ever feel like you couldn’t trust her?”
Eddie almost laughs. “Yeah. Yeah, all the time.” He turns to face Buck, mimicking his position.
“Is that why you broke up?” Buck’s eyes squint fractionally closer together with each question. Eddie fights away the fond smile threatening to overtake him.
“It is,” Eddie confirms. “I also wasn’t in love with her. Didn’t feel fair to string her along. But you trust Taylor, right? I figured that’s why you took a chance on her.”
“I did trust her. Well, I thought I did. But now I’m starting to think she was just using me. We got in a huge fight and now...now we’ve ruined any possibility of friendship and I’ve lost the one friend I had outside of work.”
“Hey,” Eddie says, mildly wounded, “just because your friends are at work, it doesn’t mean they’re somehow less. I don’t have any other friends outside of work.”
Buck pauses to consider this.
“It’s not in the quantity, Evan,” Eddie says gently. “And it doesn’t matter where you find them. It’s the quality. And you’ve got some pretty top-tier friends if I do say so myself.”
Buck smirks. “I like it when you call me Evan. It sounds better coming from you than it ever did from my parents. Less accusatory.”
Eddie winces and looks down at his hands in his lap. “Your name isn’t supposed to be a weapon. I hope you can change the way you view it one day.”
Buck laughs, “Only if you keep saying it like that.”
Eddie’s eyes go soft as he and Buck stare at each other. After a few moments, Buck clears his throat and shakes them out of their reverie.
“I don’t know,” Buck sighs. “Maybe love just isn’t in the cards for me. I’ve put myself out there over and over again and I’m always the one getting hurt. Maybe some people aren’t meant to find someone that’ll love them through the best and worst parts of life, you know? Maybe some people just have to brave it alone.”
You’re not alone. You’ve never been alone. I’m here. I’m drowning and I’m right here. I’ve always been here. See me. See me.
Eddie swallows and plays with the hem of his gym shorts. “I...love you,” he says, starling himself with how clear his voice sounds.
It’s out, he said it. He can’t take it back. He loves him. I love you. His heart is racing, his stomach is inside out, but he’s steady. He’s sure.
Buck smiles and ducks his head, a small blush spreading across his cheeks. “Well. Thanks, man, for trying to make me feel better and all, but...it’s not the same.”
“It is, Evan,” Eddie says, a smile slowly growing brighter as the weight of his secret is finally lifted. His eyes lock on to Buck’s ocean blues. He clings to them like a life-line, letting them drag him to the surface. “It is the same.”
Realization dawns across Buck’s face.
Eddie’s eyes glisten with unshed tears and a shaky breath escapes from his throat.
He can breathe.
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All right so...did Hen once say that the way she knew about herself was because she wanted to kiss her best friend? Or am I imagining that? She had said that’s how she explained it to her father, right? I was thinking Mama Hen knows. She’s just waiting for the dense boys to realize. She was in the same boat once before and she’s watching it before her eyes. One day and somehow I think it’ll be Eddie asking, “how did you know? You know, that you liked women? I know I like women but...”
“Oh. It’s simple,” Hen smiled. “I wanted to kiss my best friend.”
Eddie bites his lip; Hen could see the gears turning. “That simple, huh?” Suddenly, Buck is bouncing up the stairs.
“That simple,” Hen repeated. Buck squinted his eyes at them but didn’t think anything of it. Instead he asked Eddie, “Is it my turn to get food for game night or...?”
“Oh. Yeah. Game night,” Eddie cleared his throat. “I think it’s your turn.”
“What if I cooked something?” He asked so nonchalant.
“So simple,” Hen drawled. “Or maybe it’s obvious. Or maybe it’s just him,” she whispered.
Eddie gave her a please be quiet look. She laughed. “What would you cook Buck?” She returned to their conversation.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to give a go at Cap’s Mac and cheese.”
“Is that so?” Bobby said appearing from out of thin air.
“So can I have the recipe?” Buck eagerly asked.
“Why not?” Bobby found some pen and paper in the kitchen and got to writing. Buck hovered over his shoulder. No surprise there.
“Come on,” said Hen to Eddie, still speaking in a low voice. “It’s really laid out for you and I wasn’t going to say anything until one or the both of you did. Go for it. Like I said I knew when I wanted to kiss my best friend. So what are you waiting for?”
Eddie slightly chuckled. What was he waiting for? Hen is telling the truth. So maybe he should just go for it?
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Eddie has been unconsciously been dropping hints to Buck that he sees him as far more than a best friend since the grocery store scene.
- the way he is yelling at Buck as if he’s husband and they are arguing over their son
- the whole time Eddie is yelling he is demonstrating how really crap he is at coping without Buck in his life
- When buddie make up and Eddie says “did you ever stop for a minute to think about what that could do to us” about the lawsuit, and when Buck is panicking about the 118 losing touch “that won’t happen to us” both times this is disguised as Eddie talking about the 118 but really he’s just talking about him and Buck
- “there’s no one in this world I trust with my son more than you”
- CHOOSING BUCK AS LEGAL GUARDIAN FOR CHRIS AND NOT TELLING HIM FOR A YEAR
- the way he reacts to seeing Abby and knowing that Buck is prepared to do a really dangerous rescue to help her fiancé
- trying to change Marjan’s opinion of Buck because he knows how much it would mean to Buck if she followed him back on insta
- every time Eddie demonstrates how well he knows Buck and lets him know that his feelings are valid and he’s there for him
- jealous Eddie in “Treasure Hunt”
All of the above it’s possible that Eddie wasn’t even aware of how deep his feelings for Buck ran, (although I think he possibly realised after the tsunami), but then he got shot, and he knew he needed Buck to understand how important he was to both Eddie and Chris and how much they needed him.
- “no one will ever fight for my son as hard as you”
- “you act like your expendable but you’re wrong”
I’m convinced that when Buck said that he thought it would have been better for everyone if he had been shot instead of Eddie that that hurt Eddie far more than the bullet did, because Eddie loves Buck so much and knowing Buck feels that way about himself and the thought that Buck himself could have been hurt would have been so painful.
I really hope these hints of Eddie’s feelings continue and that Eddie gets increasingly bad at hiding them and that one day Buck realises what Eddie is really trying to tell him. They love each other so much and they deserve to be happy in their family with Chris.
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