There’s a bear at the foot of Buck’s bed when he wakes up, so he guesses it’s just a dream and goes back to sleep.
The bear is still there the next three times he presses the snooze button. It’s not a bear like the ones he saw at the zoo with Chris and Eddie, more like a cartoonish realistic version of a bear. Very tall, with one of those pointy birthday hats on and a joyful expression on his face.
“What are you?” Buck asks, finally acknowledging the bear in the room.
“I’m Hank,” the bear says. “Hank Ourager.”
“Encourager?” Buck frowns.
Hank nods. “I’m here to encourage you.”
“Encourage me? Why?”
“Someone put on a request and your file seemed to demand urgent treatment so here I am.”
Hank shakes his head. “Bear-client privilege, can’t tell. Sorry.”
“I need to shower and go to work,” Buck says, deciding to just go with whatever this is.
“I’ll wait,” Hank says. “I can make breakfast, if it’s okay?”
Buck narrows his eyes, staring at the bear. “Are you gonna encourage me to eat healthy food?”
Hank shakes his head no. “Your file says you’re good on that matter, paying attention and all, especially since the blood thinners.”
“Thanks,” Buck says. At least there’s one thing in his life he’s doing well, so that’s a start.
Hank gets in the car with Buck, who only mildly pays attention to him. “Do people see you, or only me?”
“So no talking while others are here I guess.”
“Oh we can talk,” Hank says, “it’s kind of tricky to explain but I exist in a pocket of your life that others can’t see, and when we talk they just don’t register any of it.”
The rest of the ride is quiet, Buck not sure he wants to find out more about what’s so wrong about his life that someone, somewhere, sent him a bear.
“You shouldn’t help this one,” Hank says when Buck goes into a restaurant after a client made a fuss over the size of the napkins and he burned himself while yelling at the waitress.
“Someone should bring them burgers,” Hank says when Buck faces an angry and scared dog blocking the team from entering a crashed car.
Hank seems to share whatever comes to his mind and Buck still doesn’t get how it’s supposed to help him, but it’s fun at least. Surprisingly it turns out to be one of Buck’s most ordinary days in a long time. Hank doesn’t do more than his own brain, feeding him bad ideas half the time, encouraging him to think harder to find good ideas that actually work.
They’re back at the firehouse and cleaning up the gear and the trucks, one hour left into their shift.
“Care to explain what you were trying to do out there? I thought you said you were here to help?”
“I never said I’d help with good ideas,” Hank says and Buck sighs.
“How can you help then?”
“Bad ideas are better,” Hank smiles like a 5 year old who thinks he just came up with the most hilarious joke ever. “Besides, you don’t need me to be an amazing firefighter, that’s not why I’m here.”
“Why then?” Buck asks, as Eddie exits the locker room to join Buck near the truck. Hank gets distracted from answering Buck, eyes kinda stuck on Eddie. Buck chuckles. “Yeah he gets that a lot.”
Hank seems to blush and look away from Eddie very quickly.
“Come on,” Buck asks, “don’t tell me you have a crush on my teammate, dude, focus please. Why are you here?”
“I’m not the one with the crush,” Hank deadpans, looking Buck right in the eye, and Buck knows there’s nothing he can say that wouldn’t sound like a lie.
“Oh shit.” He pauses. “Wait I’m not telling him, if that’s why you’re here.” He shakes his head no.
“Then you’re stuck with me,” Hank shrugs. “And you’re taking the couch.”
Buck sighs and Eddie looks at him intrigued. “How’s your day?” Eddie asks. “We barely talked, with all those idiots hurting themselves.”
“Fine, I guess,” Buck says. He can’t tell Eddie about Hank and he’s definitely not gonna tell him how his heart seems to beat faster when he’s around, or how he misses him more than anyone else when they’re apart even for one day. There won’t be any love confession here, in the firehouse, with all their teammates around. “You?” he asks in turn.
“Would you believe me if I told you there’s been a bear following me since this morning?” Eddie asks Buck, putting down the cleaning products he brought.
Buck freezes in place. “A bear. Like-- Wait, is his name Hank?” he asks and Eddie furrows his brows.
“No it’s-- wait, Hank? How do you--?” Eddie looks more confused than ever.
Buck shakes his head.
“It’s Dave. Dave Elopment.” Eddie admits, waving at the empty space beside him. “He’s just standing there, repeating mantras and trying to empower me so I can-- whatever, it’s not important..”
“Wait Dave is here???” Hank says with excitement, and Buck turns towards him. “Unbelievable,” he huffs.
“Tell Dave I say hi,” Hank says.
“Tell him yourself.”
“Can’t, we’re not in the same timespace pocket, remember?” Hank looks at Buck like it should be obvious.
“Eddie, bear with me here,” Buck starts, “no pun intended,” he turns to tell Hank. “But can you please tell Dave that Hank says hi?”
Eddie seems silent for a while, and Buck doesn’t know if he’s processing the madness around or actually talking to his own bear.
“Dave says hi back,” Eddie says, closing his eyes. “This day is an absolute mess and I just wanna sleep.”
“WITH HIM,” Hank shouts at Buck who jumps in surprise, “tell him you wanna sleep too but with him, come on Buck, come on come on come on, you can do this.”
“I’m not asking him to sleep with me,” both Buck and Eddie shouts back at the same time, perfectly hearing the other’s words in sync.
“Oh I love double missions,” Hank says with heart eyes, before vanishing into thin air.
“What the-” Eddie says.
“Hank’s gone, is Dave...?”
“Yeah, gone too.” Eddie sighs. “So. About that sleeping thing...”
“Dinner at my place tonight, we can talk about it?” Buck suggests, smiling. The entire day was a mess but there’s one thing he’s sure of now, he’s not wasting anymore time not telling Eddie how he feels.
Eddie leans in to press his lips against Buck’s mouth, smiling through the kiss. “Or not talk,” he says.
“I love those idiot in love missions,” Dave says once they’re back at headquarters. “You can mess with humans a little while on the job. Being paid.”
“I didn’t think it’d work that fast to be honest,” Hank says, opening his mission file to start typing his report. “That’s two satisfied clients in one day, I’m so proud of us.”
“Cheers to that,” Dave says. “Cheers to-- he looks at Hank’s file, “Maddie Buckley, and Christopher Diaz, for the best mission of the year!”