Word Count: 3518 words
Buck comes back to himself slowly.
It’s in increments, the wakefulness that sheds some of the sleepiness from his mind to give back to the afternoon sunlight streaming through half-closed blinds.
He feels the couch pressed into his cheek first — a rough velvet that is somehow the most comfortable fabric Buck’s ever slept on. He has enough presence of mind to note that he’s accidentally drooled onto the couch cushions, and moves a lazy hand to swipe fruitlessly at the stains that are already disappearing into the dark material.
He’s laying on his stomach, arms curled tight around a pillow that smells like Eddie and Christopher and home, and dust motes float around him, welcoming him back to this reality. The sunbeams warm the striped sections of skin they land on, leaving other parts of Buck slightly cold, even as the warmth spreads underneath down to his marrow.
He hears the low shuffle of familiar footsteps next, and presses his smile into the cushions.
Eddie has a very particular, silent way of moving around the house. His feet, even in shoes, hardly make the sounds a man of his size should have been making. Buck doesn’t know if that’s a remnant of the army, or a remnant of his childhood, but something in his chest always clenches as he watches Eddie move quietly, as he watches him take up the least amount of space that he can.
But Eddie is the sun. He can’t be contained in the measly form of a human, his light reaching every corner of the house Buck privately calls home. Buck doesn’t know how to tell Eddie that, so he doesn’t — he simply shows him by seeking him out, by following the rays of light until he finds him, by memorizing every inch of him, every last quirk of his.
His eyes crack open last, hardly enough to let the light in, but enough to reaffirm that this is not a dream — he is on Eddie’s couch, waking up from the best nap of his life with his best friend mere yards away.
Through Buck’s bleary eyes, he sees the kitchen door just past the arm of the couch, and hears the low humming of Eddie’s voice drifting through it as he works on something.
In his mind’s eye, all the sounds of Eddie puttering around in the kitchen transform into a mental movie. He can picture the exact way Eddie moves from the shuffle of his feet, can picture the contented smile on his face as he hums — a smile hard-won after years of pain — and can picture the way that smile with morph into the one Eddie will give him when Buck finally drags himself off this couch.
Want slams into Buck’s chest as soon as his mental image of a ruffled Eddie turns into Eddie with that devastating smile — the soft curve of his mouth, the gently-creased laugh lines at the corners of his eyes, the blush in the apples of his cheeks, the dimple that only winks out at Buck when Eddie’s truly happy.
A smile that reaches his eyes, one that Buck treasures above everything else.
It’s the need to see that smile that gets Buck to sit up. He doesn’t need a mirror to know his hair is a rat’s mess, and he’s probably got pillow creases tattooed into the thin skin of his face, and there’s probably drool stains on the side of his mouth. There are creases pressed into his arms, the signature trademark of a great nap, and his fingers tingle slightly as blood returns to them.
Buck doesn’t care.
The blanket rolls out in waves across Buck’s back as he stands on unsteady legs — one that Buck doesn’t remember going to sleep with. That means that Eddie must’ve covered him while he slept, and the thought makes Buck feel warm all over in a way that has nothing to do with the blanket.
Eddie’s back greets Buck as he pads into the kitchen. His steps aren’t as silent as Eddie’s, but Eddie doesn’t seem to notice that Buck’s there. His humming becomes recognizable as a song Buck’s heard from Abuela’s music player, and slowly, some of his tensed muscles relax with each note.
It’s a privilege that Eddie feels safe enough to drop all pretenses with him, to drop his guard enough that he’s not paying attention to his surroundings, and Buck drinks him in like a man starved.
A loose pink sweater that Buck vaguely recalls leaving behind covers broad shoulders and falls to skim Eddie’s waist. The sleeves are pushed up his forearms, the edges of both dusted in flour from the dough he’s busy working out of the bowl with deft hands. Gray sweatpants complete his lazy Sunday ensemble, and he looks so soft that Buck’s heart swells another five sizes.
The dip between Eddie’s shoulder blades sweeps up into the gentle curve of his nape, short hair blending into thick strands along his scalp before falling loose on his forehead, not unlike the way it looks after he peels his helmet off. From his vantage point at the door, Buck can see the soft, coarse dusting of weekend stubble along his jaw, and it only makes him look more rumpled.
Buck’s filled with the sudden urge to go to him, and he doesn’t curb the impulse as it propels his feet forward.
His nose meets the curve of Eddie’s neck, his lips only barely brushing the freckle on the slope of it, and his forehead rests perfectly on the back of Eddie’s head. Buck wraps his arms around his best friend’s waist, the blanket dragging uncaringly through the mess of flour and dough on the countertop.
“Good morning,” comes the gentle tease as Eddie’s floured hand comes to squeeze Buck’s hands once before going back to his task. He doesn’t flinch away, doesn’t move when the hug drags on longer than it probably should. He simply shifts his feet to let Buck fit better against him, plastered chest to hip to toe.
Buck hums, his eyes slipping closed from the solid warmth of Eddie’s body. Despite being the one to hold him, he feels like he’s surrounded by his best friend in ways that he wouldn’t be able to dream of.
Buck moves with the movement of Eddie’s shoulders, unable to let go of him long enough to let Eddie do what he’s set out to do. The soft material of the sweater presses into the thin fabric of Buck’s T-shirt, and Eddie wearing Buck’s clothes makes him smile sleepily against Eddie’s skin, where the collar drapes a little looser than it does on Buck.
“What’re you makin’?” he asks around a yawn, forcing himself to crack his eyes open. Long, strong fingers form the dough back into a ball before pressing it down to let the air out, then pick up a rolling pin.
Eddie’s stubble-dusted cheek flushes lightly as he murmurs an answer that stops Buck’s heart in his chest. “Cinnamon rolls.”
He freezes, peering over Eddie’s shoulder. Buck hadn’t noticed it before, but Eddie’s makeshift recipe book is sitting out on the counter, flipped open to his cinnamon rolls recipe.
Underneath is a note scrawled in Buck’s quick handwriting, a smudge of icing on the page flaking off.
Bad Day Certified, must make them every week for Buck and Buck only.
Underneath that is Christopher’s careful handwriting.
(and Christopher, because he’s my dad, so I get first dibs)
Buck pictures the smile on Eddie’s face as he’d watched Buck and Christopher play-fight over his recipe book, both of them trying to get the last word in, to leave their own mark on this representation of all the ways Eddie was learning to heal. He had looked...proud of himself, for the first time that Buck could remember in a long while, and it’s that contentment that Buck calls to mind every time the fear of losing Eddie squeezes his ribcage.
Eddie has always been a decent baker — a product of spending so much time with his Abuela as a kid. Buck hadn’t passed out the first time he’d tasted the coveted Diaz brownies, but it had been a close thing, the perfect burst of chocolate and fudge paired with a crinkly top that Paul Hollywood would be jealous of.
Becoming better at cooking has only made Eddie better at baking, somehow. Every week, he tries something new and places it in front of Buck and Christopher, and every week, Buck finds a new recipe of his to be obsessed with.
If he wasn’t so concerned with the idea of slipping into a sugar coma, Buck would be scarfing down every single one of Eddie’s treats, possibly not even leaving the crumbs on the plate.
The cinnamon rolls were another experiment from a few weeks ago, but they were such a hit that Eddie even brought some into the firehouse. Buck had snagged two for himself by taking a page out of Christopher’s book and calling dibs as Eddie’s partner, winking at his best friend as he’d stuffed one in his mouth.
( Eddie had rolled his eyes, but his nervous fidgeting had faded in place of a pleased little half-smile that had Buck’s heart doing cartwheels and somersaults for days afterwards.
It’s selfish, but Buck is always willing to get greedy with those, especially if it means Eddie will look at him like that.)
Eddie’s cinnamon rolls themselves are Buck’s idea of heaven, but the idea of this man getting up on a Sunday to make them because Buck had one of those bad days, the idea of Eddie looking like this in Buck’s clothes while carefully rolling out the dough into a long sheet, makes every last cell in Buck’s body tremble.
Whatever the level after heaven is, that’s what this sight is.
“Cinnamon rolls?” he repeats.
Eddie hums, pushing the blanket off the counter so he can keep rolling the dough out. Buck shrugs the whole thing off with a roll of his shoulders, unwilling to let go of Eddie at all, even if it hinders his process.
The dough flattens into a long rectangle that nearly spans the length of the counter. Buck watches quietly as Eddie spreads softened butter across the whole surface before picking up a bowl of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg, carefully mixing them together before sprinkling the mixture all over the butter, pressing down to make sure the sugar sticks.
Buck doesn’t let go, and Eddie doesn’t ask him to.
“Move your hands up,” is all Eddie says when he gets ready to roll the dough up into a log.
Buck complies, slipping his arms from around Eddie’s waist to wrap them around his shoulders instead. Eddie’s scratchy chin tucks into the divot of Buck’s forearms, and the ticklish feeling makes him smile wider.
“Why are you making these?” Buck asks as he watches Eddie’s deft fingers carefully roll the rectangular sheet upwards.
“Just because,” he replies, but his voice has that same inflection it does when Eddie’s trying to hide something.
It’s not that Eddie can’t just make something for the hell of it. But these cinnamon rolls take a good three to four hours to make, and the last time Eddie had made them, he’d warned Buck and Christopher that they were only getting made for special occasions.
There aren’t any special occasions that come to Buck’s half-asleep mind, but by the way Eddie’s teeth fiddle nervously with the corner of his mouth, a dimple creasing into the skin of his cheek, there isn’t a special occasion at all.
But Buck did have one of those bad days.
Not in a way that meant overwhelming losses, but the shift had been long without any of his team to keep him company. He’d picked it up as a favor for someone on B-shift, and by the end of it, his exhaustion had led him straight to Eddie’s couch instead of his own king-sized bed.
He hadn’t wanted to be alone, but more importantly, he hadn’t wanted to be outside Eddie’s orbit.
The lingering tiredness from the gruel shift he’d picked up fades away as he watches Eddie pinch the ends of the dough to keep the log in place, and then pick up a piece of floss.
Buck smiles as Eddie meticulously cuts the dough at equal intervals, each cinnamon roll looking practically uniform by the time he’s done.
“Mind helping me butter that tray?”
“Yes,” Buck says simply, because that will require him to let go of Eddie, and that’s not something he wants to do.
Eddie’s laughter rumbles in his chest, through Buck’s arms and straight into his own chest where the rich sound wraps around his heart. He doesn’t push, though — he simply lets Buck siphon his warmth.
It’s easy, nestled here between Eddie’s shoulder blades, lungs full of nothing but his warm scent, for Buck to give in to the allure of more sleep. The repetitive motion of Eddie greasing the tray only serves to lull him further into oblivion, but it’s the image of Eddie’s nervous smile in front of that very first place of cinnamon rolls that Buck calls to the backs of his eyelids as he lets himself slip under.
A thought occurs to him then, and before he can find the wherewithal to call it back, he lets it slip out.
Eddie, all loose-limbed and limber, stiffens underneath Buck.
For a second, cold panic tries to weasel its way through the warmth of those two words having been torn straight from a need Buck has been pushing down for months and months, but Eddie’s hand comes to curl around Buck’s forearm to keep him in place and he forgets about it.
“Marry me,” he repeats, more awake this time, the words pressed into that same freckle at the back of Eddie’s neck.
And the thing is, Buck knows Eddie’s insecurities far better than he can even recognize his own. He hears the man that’s scared of messing up this relationship, hears the man who doesn’t think of himself as relationship material at all, hears the man who’s been burned by marriage once already.
But he sees the man who got up on a Sunday to make three-hour-long cinnamon rolls because he knew Buck had a bad day, sees the man who constantly gives him a place to land without question, sees the man who doesn’t hesitate to trip over his tongue to tell Buck how important he is to the Diaz house. He sees the quiet smile on Eddie’s face as Buck had stumbled into the house a few hours ago, sees the kindness in his fingers as they’d stroked through Buck’s hair after Buck had unceremoniously face-planted into his lap, sees the mental image of Eddie draping a blanket over his sleeping body.
He sees his partner, and he wants him forever.
It hasn’t been an easy road to that realization, but it’s been as easy as anything to see that all roads lead right back to Eddie. Every single thing he has looked for in any relationship, he’s found with his best friend. Buck could leave bits and pieces of himself at the Diaz doorstep over a thousand years and Eddie would still find a way to collect every single piece to make him whole again, to carry everything Buck can’t on gentle shoulders and an even gentler smile.
“Eddie,” Buck whispers, when the silence drags on too long. “Marry me.”
His voice wavers slightly, the fractures splitting into letters for Buck to read.
Carefully, he turns Eddie around, uncaring of the flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon stuck to his hands. “How long are we going to do this?”
Eddie’s eyes search his own, and Buck fights to keep them on him, suddenly feeling vulnerable.
But then, Eddie’s hand lands on his waist, even with the mess of ingredients on them, and his thumb strokes an even pattern on the bare strip of skin exposed by it, and Buck forgets about feeling vulnerable.
He points towards where the cinnamon rolls are proofing again. “You made those today for a reason, didn’t you. You made them for me.”
“Yeah,” Eddie admits, teeth fiddling with his bottom lip again. Buck lifts a thumb to gently tug it free, marveling at the feel of his mouth under his skin for the first time.
“Okay maybe…maybe we don’t have to do the whole marriage bit. But…” Buck licks his lips, looking up at the ceiling like all the words are printed there. It’s only Eddie’s thumb that brings his gaze back down to where warm brown eyes lock onto his own, and the words come easier that time around. “But I’m tired of pretending I’m not in love with you. And maybe...maybe you love me too, and honestly? I don’t think either of us do a good job of hiding it.”
Eddie laughs quietly. “I wasn’t trying to pretend or hide. It’s a fact. I love you.”
Buck mock-scowls at him, even as his heart swells three sizes. “You don’t have to out-romance me.”
“I’m not the one who proposed,” Eddie says, his smile gentle and quiet, a private thing for the two of them. It’s Buck’s favourite smile.
Buck thinks he’s never been luckier in his whole life for the way those two words dripped off his tongue like honey. “And I meant it. I…I want that with you. I want to come home everyday to you making something sweet, and I want to lay on that couch without dreading the time that I’ll have to go back to my loft. I want to play video games with Chris and cuddle with you and do other R-rated things with you, and I want us to do it all for the rest of our lives. So just…think about it, okay?”
“I don’t need to think about it.” Eddie shakes his head, a hand cupping Buck’s face. He nods over to the cinnamon rolls. “I did make those for you, because you had a long shift where I couldn’t be there with you. Not just because you had a bad day, but because I wanted you to have something nice when you woke up.”
Buck tugs the sweater Eddie’s wearing lightly. “This is something nice. You and me, and this quiet. Somewhere to land. Safe spaces. This blanket.”
Buck’s not sure he’s even making sense as he gestures to the pile of fabric at their feet, but Eddie’s gaze softens like he understands it anyway.
“Okay,” Eddie says, his thumb still sweeping patterns over Buck’s skin. “I just…I didn’t know if we were ready, and I’m willing to do anything for you, but the idea of something going wrong and falling apart is so fucking terrifying. But I’ll marry you anyway, and I’d marry you any day because I’m so in love with you, Buck.”
Buck kisses him.
Eddie doesn’t balk at that either.
Belatedly, Buck remembers that he probably has drool stains on his face, and his breath is probably stale as hell, but Eddie clearly doesn’t care. He doesn’t let Buck pull away, his mouth opening beautifully under Buck’s like he exists just let Buck in.
Eddie tastes a little like cinnamon, like everything sweet in this world, and Buck chases the taste of him as they kiss and kiss and kiss. Eddie deepens it with a tilt of his head, his hand twining into Buck’s hair and tugging gently to elicit a low groan from Buck’s throat.
It’s not a sound he ever remembers making.
Their lips are sticking together by the time they pull away.
“I love you, Buck,” Eddie whispers against his mouth, a private thing for the two of them. “Ask me again.”
Buck’s lips curve into a smile as he presses one last kiss to Eddie’s lips. His fingers tuck into Eddie’s pushed up sleeves, holding him close as he looks into his partner’s eyes.
“Marry me, Eddie.”
Eddie’s smile is like the sun when he says, “Yes.”
(The lingering scent of cinnamon and sugar hangs in the air, sweet icing on their tongues as they share a plate at the kitchen table. Buck thinks this batch of cinnamon rolls somehow taste sweeter, the best batch Eddie’s ever made.
“You owe me a ring, Buckley,” Eddie jokes as he peels off the end of his cinnamon roll. He’s rolled down his sleeves, and they come past his knuckles, giving him sweater paws and somehow making him look even more cozy than he had before.
Buck watches his fingers work for a minute before he unrolls his own, bringing the ends together to shape the dessert into a behemoth-looking ring that could be more of a bracelet. He presents it to Eddie with a flourish and a cheeky grin. “This work?”
Eddie’s laugh brightens the rest of the house, and over the plate of freshly frosted cinnamon rolls, they share a third kiss — this time, as fiancés.)