Title: All My Days
Author: Jilly James
Pairing: Evan Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Warnings: Non-graphic memories/thoughts of an asexual person, who is sex averse, having forced themselves through past sexual relations. No beta.
Author Note: Pardon my fumbling through that warning; I don’t want anyone triggered by Eddie’s situation in this story, and I wasn’t sure how to phrase it other than bluntly. I’d considered two paths for Walk Me Down Your Broken Line—one where Eddie was demisexual, and another where he was asexual—biromantic and sex averse. If you’ve read my 2022 QB, you know I went the demisexual path, but I also started this short near the same time I finished that story so that I could explore the other option I’d considered. It wound up languishing because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to conclude it, but I finally got some inspiration on that front. The relationship model within is loosely based on the dynamic of a couple of friends of mine, with their knowledge, of course. It’s not going to match every person’s experience, but how could it possibly? AN2: There are critical takes on a few characters based on some canon events. There’s no bashing, but if you can’t take critical character exploration, don’t read this. AN3: There’s a mention of a character from San Andreas. I didn’t disclose it as a fandom because the fandom is irrelevant and you don’t need to know anything about the character or San Andreas for this story to make sense. AN4: This is largely an introspective character study. Take that as you will.
Timeline: Takes place after the end of 4B but mentions some events in season 5.
Challenge: Every Season Layer Challenge – Alternate Spring, Trope Bingo – Prompt: Best Life
Beta: No beta. This will probably get a better edit at a later date.
Word Count: 3,890
Summary: Eddie wakes on a languid morning ten months into his new life and thinks about how he got here.
Eddie woke slowly, curling into the warmth of the large, firm body in the bed with him. He knew Buck was still asleep, but Buck reflexively pulled Eddie closer, and Eddie reveled in the sense of intimacy and belonging. He used to think Buck must be awake considering the way he’d grab onto Eddie and tuck him close, but he’d learned over time that Buck really did reach for Eddie in his sleep. There was something both heartbreaking and endearing about that.
He could tell by the quality and angle of light that it was barely past sunrise. He’d always been an early riser, and those habits were almost impossible for him to break, but the reason for it had changed so drastically in such a short amount of time. These days, he woke early simply because it was habit. However, it used to be that it was a defense mechanism—ensuring he was awake, aware, and prepared in case any overtures were made toward him, so that he wouldn’t be touched sexually while he was sleeping. But also so that he’d be awake and prepared if overtures were required from him. Having expectations placed on him when he was half awake had been emotionally upsetting in ways he’d only recently begun to deal with.
Like usual, he managed to slip out of bed without waking Buck. He handled the basic morning ablutions and considered making coffee. The sight of Buck sprawled out in bed changed his mind, and he decided that languishing in bed was really what he wanted today. Despite not having any sexual attraction to Buck, there was definitely a sensual attraction present, which partially meant that he just enjoyed looking at his partner. Not to mention that when coupled with the romantic love that nearly overwhelmed him, languishing in bed with a half-dressed Evan Buckley was just about the perfect morning as far as Eddie was concerned.
He slid back into bed and against Buck’s bigger body with the ease of much practice, and Buck was hard to wake up anyway. He let his head rest on Buck’s bare chest, hearing the steady thump of his heartbeat, and thought back over the ten months since everything had changed.
In March, Eddie had been shot by a sniper with a grudge against firefighters. It probably could have been the beginning of something catastrophic in Eddie’s life as he pushed down all the trauma and forced himself to keep going forward. Instead, it was the beginning of them. Instead of them being Buck and Eddie, they became Buck&Eddie.
One drunken night, when Eddie wasn’t taking his pain pills the way he should have been, Eddie had confessed that his issue with his relationship with Ana was that the sex stressed him out. Buck had blinked at him in confusion and then demanded that Eddie explain.
So, Eddie had. He’d finally admitted to another living person that he didn’t actually enjoy sex. That he did it because he was supposed to or as a means to an end in order to get his physical intimacy needs met. He enjoyed kissing and cuddling, but he’d never actually wanted to have sex. With anyone. He’d been able to determine that he was biromantic, but he he was actively sex averse.
Alcohol had perhaps initially loosened Eddie’s tongue but, after that point, it was like a wound that had been lanced and all the poison needed to come out.
Every bit of how Eddie felt about his past relationships and the sexual expectations heaped on by his partner and himself had flowed out, and he’d been unable to stop the torrent of words. He’d gestured wildly as he’d told Buck how much he resented that he could never have the holding and touching without having to psych himself up to have sex. How much he dreaded waking up with someone for fear that they’d be making a move on him in his sleep, and how that had led to him always sleeping poorly with a partner and waking up before them to be sure he was mentally prepared for whatever morning demands were made.
More than a decade of resentment had likely made it sound worse than it had been, but Eddie had needed to get that out, had needed to bleed off the poison for once in his life. As soon as he’d started talking, he’d somehow known Buck wouldn’t judge him for it.
At the end of Eddie’s tirade, Buck’s own alcohol level had led to Buck blinking at him in confusion and admitting that at one point, during the pandemic, Buck had thought they were in a queerplatonic relationship heading toward something more, and he’d been heartbroken when Eddie decided to date Ana. That he didn’t need sex in his relationship, he just needed love, and that he’d always loved Eddie.
The confession had sobered Eddie, even if it didn’t sober a melancholy Buck all that much. He’d poked at Buck’s comment, getting enough answers to realize that Buck really was in love with him. Drunk Buck for sure was serious about not needing sex in a relationship, but Eddie wasn’t sure if sober Buck would feel the same way. Drunk Buck also had developed an instant hate-on for every one of Eddie’s past sexual partners who didn’t notice how much Eddie didn’t enjoy sex.
Eddie had poured them both into bed, falling asleep listening to all the ways drunk Buck would be willing to troll Ana in defense of Eddie’s honor.
In the morning, he’d made them breakfast, sat down across the table from his best friend and said, “We need to talk.”
Buck had looked panicked, a sure sign that he remembered the night before, but Eddie had reassured him that everything was fine, and then they’d really talked.
That talk had led to the beginning of their romantic relationship. It also led to so much more talking. Eddie of last spring would have happily just talked it all out with Buck, but Buck had insisted they have a therapist on board to help mediate and also assist them in setting healthy relationship boundaries since they were in unchartered waters for both of them.
A side effect of the all the therapist discussions was that Eddie wound up in therapy for a lot more than just their relationship. He’d wanted to talk out a few of the sex issues in a one-on-one setting with the psychologist, and that had led to talking about his marriage, and then his military service, which segued into why he was discharged from the military, which eventually circled back to the shooting. Eddie’d been in talk and trauma therapy for months as a result, and he was still going at least monthly to check on things and get his mental health “tune-up,” as Buck referred to it.
In their joint sessions, however, Buck had insisted on more boundaries than Eddie would have. He’d demanded that they talk out every aspect of what was and wasn’t allowed with the therapist present. They’d actually wound up with more boundaries for Buck’s peace of mind than Eddie’s because Buck had been freaked out about even the possibility of Eddie pushing past a moment of sexual discomfort.
The net result was that Eddie felt a deep sense of safety around sexual matters when it came to Buck that he’d never thought he’d experience. He had all the love and affection he’d ever desired for himself, was free to explore the sensual attraction to Buck, but with none of the demands that made him tense and even angry inside.
For Eddie, one of the biggest hurdles was feeling like Buck was giving up a vital part of a relationship, but Buck had shown him time and again that Buck was getting exactly what he wanted and needed from what they had. Buck would occasionally choose to stay home when Eddie ran errands with Chris, opting to take care of his sexual needs when he had time at the house by himself.
At first, those moments had made Eddie feel like he was failing their relationship, not giving Buck what he needed, but Buck had dragged him back to the therapist and they’d talked. And talked. Until Eddie finally understood how happy and settled Buck was. When Eddie could get over feeling insecure, he could see how Buck was thriving, how he seemed more comfortable in his own skin.
Buck had very bluntly told Eddie that masturbating in the shower covered about 95 percent of Buck’s sexual needs but that, occasionally, he wanted to put a little more attention to it, and he didn’t want to make a big production out of it, so he’d chosen to do it when Chris and Eddie were off running errands or spending an afternoon together.
Time was the only cure for either of their insecurities. Buck had had his own issues to work through; he still struggled with fear of abandonment, which was reinforced and compounded by Maddie taking off, and it didn’t help that she still wasn’t home more than six months later.
Christopher had his own fears and problems that he’d needed to confess to, and therapy had been on order for him as well. Eddie hated therapy with the same passion that he loved it because therapy had been instrumental in how happy he was today—but it was hard, painful work. Each of them only dealt with their fears day-by-day by moving through life and seeing that the worst wasn’t going to happen.
Eddie and Buck were going to keep coming home to Christopher, and Christopher understood that snipers and bombers were not normal job hazards for firefighters, even if his fears said otherwise.
Eddie and Christopher were going to keep being Buck’s family for the rest of Buck’s life. Buck understood that on a deeper level when Eddie had asked him to move in, and he continued to absorb it every time he was told he was loved, even when he was having a bad day.
Eddie wasn’t going to fail Chris, something Buck was helping him really take in as he saw how much Chris was thriving under the love and attention of his two fathers. And Eddie himself could have all the love and affection he’d ever desired and not have to pay a price for it. Every time Buck held him and kissed him and didn’t push for it to go “further,” Eddie believed anew that he deserved to have this life.
Buck was the one who put a stop to the use of the word “further” when Eddie would talk about their intimate life. He’d said there was nothing further, that the life they had was the end. There was no more, there was no hurdle coming, there was no sexual door that was yet to be opened. In Buck’s words, “You don’t like sex, Eds; end of discussion. Quit waiting for the shoe to drop on me trying to take our intimate relations ‘further.’ There is nothing else.”
The safety of that was such a comfort to Eddie that he barely knew how to express it. There’d been an unfortunate conversation around Eddie’s insecurity that had left Buck horrified before throwing Eddie back at the therapist to deal with his “toxic masculinity issues that your mother planted in your head.”
Buck hadn’t been wrong about the toxic masculinity or Helena’s role in it all.
The more he deconstructed everything he’d ever been taught, the more he questioned why so much of the world was so fucked up. He also wished more people were like Evan Buckley.
Whatever he’d done in his life to deserve Buck, he was grateful for it. He was now long past constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for Buck to realize Eddie wasn’t enough. He reveled daily in the safety and solace he found in their partnership.
Months of physical and emotional recovery meant that Eddie and Buck were both better prepared to make difficult choices about their lives. When Maddie had left unexpectedly, it was Eddie who told Buck he needed to tell Chimney about Maddie’s call with her vague allusion to something having happened to Jee, regardless of whatever promises he’d made to Maddie in ignorance.
Chim hadn’t taken the news of the call well. Despite the fact that Buck hadn’t made any of Maddie’s choices, Chim had been looking for someone to blame and had cut off contact with Buck before taking Jee on an ill-advised trip to find Maddie. Only Hen had heard from them since.
Buck had been wounded, but the therapist had tried to help Buck frame it as Chim trying to shift his own feelings of guilt about Maddie’s deteriorating mental and emotional condition onto someone else, and Buck was an easy target.
That had brought Eddie up short because why was Buck and easy target? It had led to a lot of soul searching about things he’d let slide or overlooked in Chim’s behavior. The end result was that Eddie had broached the subject with Buck about them transferring. Both loved the 118 and had considered it like a family, but too much of the team, including Bobby, were too enmeshed in Chimney as some sort of iconic figure, central to the function of the “family.”
Buck had been reluctant, but Eddie had pointed out that they needed to live their lives, not try to preserve some sort of status quo at the 118. Bobby’s hurt over their transfer requests had been the hardest to deal with, but Buck especially made a point of staying in touch. Since he only saw Bobby outside of work now, they actually got to spend more time with the rest of the Grant-Nash family even if they saw Bobby himself less.
Buck and Eddie were able to move as a team to LA County FD Search and Rescue under Ray Gaines. The man was a legend in the SAR community, and had actually tried to recruit Buck after the tsunami videos had popped up on YouTube, something Buck had never told anyone. Gaines used to be with LAFD helicopter rescue but had been recruited to start up a larger SAR unit for LA County shortly before the tsunami, and he’d been trying to round out his roster when Buck had come to his attention. He’d left the door open for Buck, and Buck and Eddie as a pair had walked through it.
The work was harder in some ways, but just as rewarding, and Gaines put an emphasis on teams that worked well together. He had no fucks to give about Buck and Eddie being in a relationship as long as they kept it professional in the field.
Ray had become a good friend to Eddie, and had even started teaching Eddie how to fly a helicopter. Helicopter rescues weren’t a huge part of their work, but they always gave Eddie anxiety due to Afghanistan. Ray felt exposure was the best solution and that more control was more power, hence Eddie working on his pilot’s license.
Things were difficult on the professional front due to the changes, but they weren’t bad. In fact, their lives felt satisfying and fulfilling despite the people they missed seeing at work.
The 118 had their own difficulties in the aftermath of Buck and Eddie’s departure, and Buck struggled over that more than Eddie did. A fair number of people on shift were quite loyal to Buck, Hen, and Eddie, while Chim was apparently vaguely disliked by many. That revelation had been difficult for Bobby and Buck, in particular, to absorb and process.
With Eddie and Buck gone, and Hen soon to be headed full-time to medical school, many questioned staying at the 118 with a second-in-command coming back that they didn’t like all that much. Bobby was still trying to juggle the issue of his bad assumptions around Chim’s standing at the station, but he’d handled the turnover on A-shift by promoting someone else to be second-in-command. Even if Chim came back to the LAFD, the second-in-command distinction of the 118 A-shift was not something his FMLA leave guaranteed him. He would be able to return to work as a paramedic, but that was all.
Buck had struggled with guilt for a long while, but a lot of conversations with Dr. Copeland had helped him reframe it. As it stood, he was pretty pissed with Chim for cutting him off from his niece. When Maddie came back, Buck was determined to be civil for his sister’s sake, but he’d probably never be close to Chim again. Buck just could never trust a man who’d weaponize visitation with his niece, regardless of how difficult or stressful things had been for Chim. Decent people just didn’t do that.
Eddie wanted to see Maddie and Jee come back for Buck’s sake, but he also worried about the day it finally occurred because of the impact it might have on their little bubble of peace. Still, he had faith in Buck and in their relationship. They’d weather whatever storms came their way.
He slid his hand over Buck’s shoulder and dropped a light kiss on his chest. He wanted to hold on to every peaceful moment they had.
And today’s peaceful moment was cuddling in bed. He loved that he could cuddle, touch, and kiss and not have expectation that more would be required. Eddie had forced so much physical reserve on himself when he actually longed for more physical contact. Buck was perfect for him in that way… He’d never met anyone as physically affectionate as Evan.
Buck’s arm tightened around his waist and he turned his head, making a little humming noise deep in his chest. It was how Buck woke up almost every single time. A tightening of his grip and a sound of contentment. It never failed to make Eddie feel like he was doing something right.
When Buck was fully awake, he smiled at Eddie and then stretched languidly. “Morning.”
Buck pressed a kiss to Eddie’s temple then slid out of bed, moving to the bathroom. When he returned a couple of minutes later, he was clear eyed and smelled like the lemon toothpaste he’d been favoring these days. He sat at the edge of the bed in nothing but low-riding sleep pants and gave that endearing, soft smile that Eddie loved.
“What’d you want to do today, Eds?”
Eddie tugged at Buck’s arm. “I think I want to stay in bed a little longer. Maybe make out for a little while.” It was the weekend, and Chris would sleep for at least another hour and a half.
Buck readily slid back in bed next to him. “I think we can find some ways to occupy ourselves until Chris demands our time and attention.” He pulled Eddie into his arms, nudged his chin up, and placed a soft kiss on the hollow of his throat.
Eddie shivered and pulled Buck over on top of him. It had taken the longest time to allow Buck to loom over him this way, but the minute he’d truly felt safe with Buck, he’d wanted it. He felt sheltered and comforted by the way Buck’s body caged him in, by the weight of the bigger body pressing down on him.
Buck was better than even Eddie at interpreting Eddie’s intimacy moods, and he seemed to get that Eddie needed to feel the safety that only Buck could provide. The safety of loving touches, gentle kisses, and murmurs of praise and affection.
An hour later, they were on their sides, heads on the same pillow, foreheads pressed together.
“Can we do this every day?” Buck whispered.
“We have to work two days this week,” Eddie responded practically.
“You’re so literal sometimes.” Buck smiled fondly at him.
Eddie skimmed his fingertips over the side of Buck’s face, feeling grateful that he’d found his match. He’d been thinking about something for a while now, and he realized there would be no better time. He reached blindly into the nightstand for a small bag, fumbling with it a little to get the items curled into his hand.
“What are you up to?” Buck asked with a grin.
Eddie let his head rest on their pillow again, enough space between them this time that he could see Buck’s face. “I want to offer you something.” He tucked his closed hand under his chin.
“An offer? Can I counteroffer? Will there be bartering involved?”
“I figure we’ve bartered everything else, so why not?”
Buck’s smile got bigger. “All right, then. What are you offering?”
Eddie hesitated, then reached out and stroked over Buck’s cheekbone before cupping his face. “I offer you all my days.”
Buck’s brow furrowed, and he looked a little perplexed.
“And all my nights.” Eddie opened his palm to reveal the two rings. “I offer you all my love, my family, and my name. If you’ll have me, Evan.”
And because it was Buck, Eddie wasn’t at all surprised by the tears. “Really?” The whisper was small, tremulous.
“I’ve never meant anything more.”
“Yes.” Buck’s lower lip trembled as he curled his hand around Eddie’s, the two rings pressed between their palms.