A soft mewling on Eddie’s left and the beeping of the alarm clock on is right, makes Eddie sigh heavily. Turning off one would certainly quiet the other, but his arms are still heavy with sleep, and all he can do is let out a heavy yawn and scrunch his nose.
“Eds,” the mewling turns into a sleepy croak.
Eddie groans finally moving to turn off the alarm clock, “I know,” he mutters, “Go back to sleep,” he sighs heavily, gently rubbing his eyes.
A strong, yet lazy pair of arms slinks around Eddie’s waist as he pushes himself up onto the edge of the bed, “Do you want me to make some breakfast?”
A sleepy smile crosses Eddie’s lips, “Go back to sleep,” he murmurs gently nudging Buck back onto the bed.
“Mkay,” Buck murmurs without another argument, turning over on the bed.
Eddie smiles to himself, gently rubbing his hands over Buck’s bare shoulders, allowing himself the comfort of Buck’s warm skin against his fingertips for a few moments, before dragging himself out of bed.
When Eddie walks back into the bedroom, Buck was sitting up on the bed looking at his phone.
“Who’s up this early Buck?” Eddie teases him, as he walks to the closet pulling on a white long-sleeve t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Buck replies with a soft smile, watching the way the denim moves to cover all of Eddie’s best assets.
Eddie rolls his eyes and smiles, “I’m on carpool this morning, so I’ll see you later,” he says turning to look at Buck.
“I’m not going to see you until later?” Buck asks with confusion in his voice as he meets Eddie’s eyes.
Eddie looks back at Buck trying to figure out what Buck meant by that, “I mean, I’ll be around, I just have some stuff to do around here, I guess.”
“You don’t want me in the way,” Buck says next.
“Buck,” Eddie says softly walking to the edge of the bed, reaching over to gently touch the ends of his blonde whisps, “I want you in my life,” he says softly, “You’re never in my way.”
Buck’s blue eyes meet Eddie’s big brown ones, “You promise?” he asks quietly.
“I promise,” Eddie says gently trailing his fingertips down Buck’s stubbly jawline.
Buck blushes lightly and turns his face away from Eddie’s gaze. Eddie gently guides Buck’s face back to him, looking him in the eye, “You, are not in my way Evan.”
Buck smiles and nods, “Okay,” he says softly, watching Eddie’s tender eyes.
Eddie leans down, pressing a kiss to Buck’s forehead, “I mean it,” he says.
Buck smiles, “Can I have a real kiss?”
“You haven’t even brushed your teeth, you monster,” Eddie says but kisses Buck’s forehead once more, “I’ll see you later,” he says before turning to leave, giving Buck one last glance over his shoulder before he leaves.
Buck goes home for all of two hours before he finds himself back at Eddie’s house, he didn’t mean to be here all the time, this just so happened to be where everyone he cared about spent all their time.
“You know, I’d be done already if you’d move,” Eddie says nudging Buck’s ticklish spot under his ribs.
Buck grins and squirms away from Eddie, at the same time tightening his arms around Eddie’s shoulder.
“Buck,” Eddie says trying not to smile, but failing miserably.
“Hey, you’re the one who tickled me,” Buck insists.
“I was trying to get you to let me go,” Eddie says turning in Buck’s grasp to face him.
“I’m never letting you go,” Buck grins leaning down to kiss Eddie on the lips.
Eddie can’t help the smile as he kisses Buck back, how the hell he ended up so, in love with this man, he wasn’t sure but he knew how much Buck meant to him, and he wasn’t planning on letting him go either.
“Here,” Eddie says breaking the kiss, and shoving a pile of clothes against Buck’s chest, “Go put these away.”
Buck smiles, “Don’t I get paid first?” he teases.
Eddie wants to roll his eyes because Buck is so cheesy but instead, he kisses him once more, “Go,” he says.
Buck smiles, his one-of-a-kind smile, as he treks off to put away the laundry Eddie handed him.
Eddie sits down on the couch and begins scrolling through his phone, sighing softly. Only after an entire text conversation with Carla, did Eddie realize Buck had yet to return from the bedroom.
“Buck there really wasn’t that much laundry,” Eddie calls out as he gets up from the sofa walking to the bedroom.
Buck quickly slams the dresser drawer shut, and spins around the moment Eddie stopped in front of the doorway, “What?” he asks forcing a smile to his face and shoving his hands behind his back.
Eddie stares at Buck, “What’s wrong?” Eddie asks curiously, noticing the nervous look on Buck’s face.
“Nothing,” Buck says quickly, too quickly.
Eddie frowns looking at the dresser trying to think of what could be in there, that could warrant such odd behavior from Buck, “Did you find something in one of those drawers that bothers you?” he asks curiously.
Buck shakes his head, “Nope,” he says.
“Evan, what the hell,” Eddie says, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you act like this,” he says walking over to Buck, “Show me.”
It wasn’t a question or a suggestion, and Buck knew that. The gentleness of Eddie’s voice was enough to allow Buck the confidence to hold out his hand and uncurl his fingers and show Eddie exactly what he had found in the drawer.
“Oh,” Eddie says softly, staring down into Buck’s open palm.
“I’m sorry,” Buck rushes out of his mouth, “I didn’t mean to, they were next to the socks and-“
“It’s fine,” Eddie says next, “They’re,” Eddie stops himself, unsure of what he actually wanted to say about them, it had been so long since he’d seen them, thought about them even.
“Something that you’d probably rather not be reminded of,” Buck supplies.
Eddie wasn’t sure that was quite true.
“I’m so sorry,” Buck sighs, “Bringing up these memories of Shannon,” he rambles.
This brings Eddie out of his trance full stop, “Shannon?” he asks staring back at Buck, “Why would these make me think of Shannon?” Eddie asks genuinely confused because he kept his memories of Shannon on the top shelf of his closet hidden in the gift box they’d given Christopher his first birthday present in.
“I’m sure you gave them to her,” Buck says quickly, “And here I am just pulling her things out of your drawers, I’m so insensitive, I’m sorry Eddie,” Buck continues rambling.
“Buck, stop,” Eddie says reaching out and grabbing onto his hand, “You haven’t disturbed any of Shannon’s possessions,” he says looking at Buck, “Why would you think these belonged to Shannon?”
Buck frowns, “I watch a lot of videos where soldiers give them to their wives,” he admits.
Eddie stops again, thinking back to the time he spent in the Army, he’d watched his friends give their tags to their wives, more times than he’d remembered, and he thought nothing of this interaction. Was he a bad husband for not giving them to Shannon? Why hadn’t he thought to give them to Shannon? Eddie feels Buck’s hand begin to tremble slightly in his.
“Evan, you haven’t done anything wrong,” Eddie says firmly, “You haven’t disturbed any of Shannon’s possessions, or upset me in any way, okay?” he says gently taking the tags from Buck’s hand, placing them on top of the dresser behind him, “Come here,” he whispers holding his arms out.
Buck sighs heavily wrapping his arms tight around Eddie’s shoulders, squeezing him entirely too tightly, but Eddie doesn’t complain he just wraps his arms around Buck’s waist and presses his ear against Buck’s chest.
It’s after midnight and Eddie can’t sleep, he sighs softly turning over to face the empty space on his bed, for the third time this week, the pillow still smelled like Buck, because it was Buck’s pillow. He brought it over and left it here without asking, not that Eddie minded at all. The other firefighter’s scent had become a comfort for him, especially when they couldn’t be together, on nights like tonight. Buck had ended up working an extra shift for John. Their paths would cross tomorrow when Buck was heading home, and Eddie would be going into work, but he did miss the soft breaths against the back of his neck as they slept.
Eddie turns back over, and the metal of the tags lying on the dresser caught his eye in the sliver of moonlight that was peering in through the slit in the curtains. Eddie pushes himself up on the bed, remembering the look on Buck’s face when he’d thought he was going to upset him. Another tired sigh leaves Eddie as he lays back down on the bed staring up at the ceiling, the logical thing would have been for him to give them to Shannon wouldn’t it have been? He was going to, he would have given them to her, but he came home and she was talking about leaving for California, and he was just so tired.
Eddie was just so tired, he didn’t want to keep thinking about what happened before he came home, he just wanted to start his life over from the moment he got home, and push the horrible things he’d seen, and done far, far away from his mind. As far as Eddie was concerned, that could have been a completely different person.
The act of giving your tags to your spouse wasn’t a foreign one to Eddie, he’d seen his friends do it, he’d seen strangers do it, he understood it, it wasn’t about the tags, it was about sharing yourself with someone, even the worst parts of yourself because you knew no matter what they wouldn’t see you any differently. Eddie had loved Shannon with his entire heart, but no matter how stupid it sounded, deep down he always worried about her seeing him differently. He’d worried about her seeing him as a hero, he didn’t think of himself as a hero, and it was bad enough his parents saw and treated him as such, he didn’t think he could handle if his wife started looking at him this way, even though he was fairly sure she wouldn’t see him any differently, he just couldn’t risk that.
Friday evening Eddie was at Buck’s apartment, peering into the cupboards trying to decide what they would eat for their night in together, they got so few of these nights alone, Eddie wanted to make the most of this one.
“Eds, really,” Buck says wrapping his arms around Eddie’s waist from behind, “I can do the cooking,” he says pressing a gentle kiss against the side of Eddie’s face.
“You don’t like my cooking?” Eddie teases.
“No, I do not,” Buck smiles.
Eddie smiles turning around to look at Buck, “Rude.”
Buck smiles leaning down pressing his lips against Eddie’s, “Did I mention how cute you are?”
Eddie smiles against Buck’s lips, “Yeah, you mentioned it already,” he murmurs, pulling away from Buck slightly.
“What’s wrong?” Buck asks releasing Eddie from his grasp, giving him some space.
“Nothing,” Eddie says softly, “Nothing at all.”
“Eds, I can hear you thinking,” Buck says leaning back against the counter looking at Eddie.
“It’s nothing,” Eddie says looking back at Buck, as he leans against the opposite countertop.
“Okay,” Buck says, deciding not to push the issue, even though he was worried Eddie wasn’t telling him something.
“I have a better idea,” Eddie says suddenly, “Let’s order in.”
“Okay,” Buck smiles, he wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to not cook something, “You pick,” Buck says handing his phone to Eddie.
Eddie takes Buck’s phone, and quickly scrolls through the Doordash menu, picking their usual, from their usual Chinese restaurant a couple of blocks over.
“So,” Buck drawls, when Eddie hands him his phone back, “What do we do with all this extra time now?”
Eddie doesn’t mean to laugh at Buck, but he can’t help the gentle laugh that escapes his lips, “You don’t have any ideas on how to kill forty-five minutes?”
“I know one thing that will kill exactly forty-five minutes,” Buck smirks.
Eddie looks back at Buck with an equally interested smirk, “Do tell,” he says wrapping his arms around Buck’s waist.
“We could watch the new episode of Vikings!” Buck grins pressing a kiss to Eddie’s forehead, before turning to go turn the tv on.
Eddie stares after Buck for a moment before nodding, “Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking,” he says before he clears his throat, following Buck to the sofa.
Buck grins, “I’ll let you sit on my lap,” he smirks reaching for Eddie’s hand, pulling him down onto his lap.
“Evan!” Eddie says as a light blush rises to his cheeks, at the same time he settles himself against Buck’s body.
In the morning, Eddie watches Buck pour two steaming cups of coffee, “I worry,” he admits.
“About what?” Buck frowns, passing Eddie the sugar for his coffee, “I can pick Chris up, it’s not a problem,” he insists.
“Not about you,” Eddie insists, “About me, not being around that much.”
Buck slowly pours some almond milk into his coffee, “Very shortly, he’s going to be telling you that he wants to be left alone,” Buck says.
“I know,” Eddie says, “I’m smothering him.”
“No, if you were smothering him we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you wouldn’t have let him go to that sleepover,” Buck says, “You’re always right there when he needs you, and sometimes when he doesn’t need you, which is more than some people get.”
“When did you get so insightful?” Eddie says taking a sip of his hot coffee.
Buck glances over at Eddie, “When did we start dating?” he smirks.
Eddie laughs lightly, “Smooth, Buckley.”
Buck smiles, “I wasn’t voted biggest flirt in senior year for nothing,” he teases.
Eddie rolls his eyes but smiles, “So what are you going to do with him today?” he asks curiously, “And you better not say Disneyland.”
Buck grins, “I don’t know why you would say that,” he laughs.
“Because I know you,” Eddie says, “And I know my son, and you spoil him.”
Buck laughs, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says.
“You spoil him,” Eddie says again.
“He’s just really convincing,” Buck insists.
A few hours later Eddie was sitting in the stationhouse, looking at the picture Buck had texted him, and he can’t help the smile that appears on his face when he looks at the photo of his boys.
I see you found a loophole in the one rule I gave you for the day
You said I couldn’t take him to Disneyland you didn’t say Downtown Disney was off limits.
Eddie shakes his head, leave it up to Buck to justify breaking a rule. What Eddie would do without Buck, he really didn’t know, and he did not want to find out, ever.
“Maddie, what does it mean?” Buck asks staring into his hand where Eddie’s tags, for the second time this week. Buck had come home and found them sitting neatly on his dresser, and his mind started running wild.
“It means, you need to talk to him,” Maddie says, “This sounds like something deliberate and something very serious, and something that I can’t help you figure out, Evan, only Eddie has the answers to the questions that you’re asking me right now.”
“I’m spiraling, Mads, I can’t talk to him, I’ll sound like a crazy person,” Buck says.
“You’re not a crazy person,” Maddie says, “You just need to take a deep breath and talk slowly, because you do this thing where you start talking then you talk faster, and the faster you talk the more words come out of your mouth and the less sense they start to make, so talk to him, but take it slow,” Maddie says looking over at her brother.
“No,” Maddie says interrupting Buck, “Go talk to him, Evan, Eddie has the answers you’re looking for.”
Buck walks into the stationhouse the next day, and he is surprised to find Eddie standing at his locker, but thinks nothing of it until he’s standing right next to him, and Eddie’s leaning into his personal space.
Buck isn’t sure what he expected to happen but thinks that maybe he should have rethought his decision this morning.
“They look good on you,” is what Eddie says.
“I’m sorry,” Buck says quickly, reaching for the chain around his neck, “I didn’t mean, I-“
Eddie’s hands are on Buck’s, keeping him from removing the tags, “I left them there for you,” he says softly, “I didn’t know how to have this conversation with you, and I’m sorry.”
Buck looks over at Eddie with nervous eyes, was Eddie about to break up with him? Is that why he gave him these? Buck’s mind begins to spiral.
“What?” Eddie asks shocked, “Why would I break up with you?” he asks staring back at Buck.
“Oh shit, I said that out loud,” Buck hisses, “I’m such an idiot.”
Eddie sighs softly, “You’re not an idiot,” Eddie says looking at Buck, “And I’m definitely not breaking up with you, okay?”
Buck nods, and a sense of relief washes over him.
“I’m sorry that I made you think something was wrong between us,” Eddie says next, “I never meant to make you feel like something was wrong, you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s me,” Eddie says softly, “Seeing you holding my tags like that, and the look of horror when you thought you’d done something wrong or hurt me in some way took me by surprise, and you didn’t do either of those things,” Eddie says looking at Buck, “Then the confused look when I said I never gave them to Shannon, it just made me think-“
“Eddie, I-“ Buck interrupts.
Eddie squeezes his hand gently, “I’m almost done I promise,” he says, really wanting to get this thought out before he lost his nerve.
Buck quiets once more and nods.
“You were asking me about why they didn’t belong to Shannon but you were holding them in your hand, and I couldn’t understand why you would be asking me if they belonged to someone else, because in my mind, they were in the hands of exactly who they belonged to,” he says softly.
What? Is the first, and only thought that runs through Buck’s mind, as he stares back at Eddie. What did he mean by that?
Eddie meets Buck’s eyes, “I want you to have them,” he says so softly he’s almost whispering.
“I-“ Buck stutters, searching his mind for anything to say.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Eddie says, “They’ve always been meant for you.”
“Eddie-“ Buck manages a moment later.
Eddie looks up into Buck’s eyes, waiting to hear what he had to say.
Buck can feel the chain of the tags against his fingertips, and Eddie’s hand still wrapped around his, and the only thing he could think to do was to kiss him, so he does.
The kiss takes Eddie by surprise, but he kisses Buck back as his stomach flips with nervous energy.
Eddie breaks the kiss a moment later, “You should get dressed,” he says softly.
Buck nods looking at Eddie with a smile like Eddie had never seen before, and it was that moment, with their hands still touching and Buck’s smile, brighter than the Los Angles sun, that Eddie realized exactly how much he loved this man.
That evening they responded to a call at LAX, nothing too serious, an overworked airline employee had some kind of an episode in one of the tunnels, they were going to be just fine.
“Buckaroo, what’s with all the grinning you’ve been doing today?” Chimney comments, as Buck jumps down from the firetruck, and Chim climbs out of the ambulance.
Hen rolls her eyes, “You know Buck loves calls at the airport,” she says.
“LAX is absolutely beautiful,” Buck grins, “All that beach, how could you not love it?”
“You know Buck likes watching the airplanes take off over the ocean,” Eddie says.
“But he’s been like this all day,” Chimney insists, “Is he gonna be like this all night too?”
Eddie glances over his shoulder, watching Buck as he wraps his arm around Eddie’s shoulder, “All night,” Buck grins.
Eddie smiles, catching a glimpse of the beaded metal chain around his neck, Buck was wearing his tags under his t-shirt, and Eddie was sure his heart skipped a beat, “All night,” Eddie says looking over at Chimney.