Eddie leaned up against the lockers at the fire station, gazing down at the small box in his hand. He kept turning it over, tracing his fingers along the edges. He knew Buck was going to be happy about this, but that didn’t stop him from feeling anxious. He’d talked to Athena about this, he’d talked to Bobby and gotten their approval – but what if they were wrong about Buck liking this?
“Nice of you to finally work today!”
At the good-natured heckling, he glanced up sharply and found that Hen and Chim weren’t talking to him. His husband (and Dios what a thrill that still was) was coming into the station to start his shift.
Buck swung around the corner of the doorway, his neck and ears adorably pink from the teasing. His eyes lit up when he saw Eddie, and he moved in for a hello kiss.
“I dropped Chris off at school…” Buck said as he dropped a soft kiss on Eddie’s lips before turning to his locker, “…and I met his new teaching aide today. They’re a she, and she’s pretty hot.”
Eddie growled and bit the side of Buck’s neck. “No gazing at the hot teacher. You’ve got a hot husband now who doesn’t like to share.”
Buck laughed and wiggled his left hand. “Good thing I like to wave around this big hunk of gold that I wear on my finger.” His smirk softened to a smile. “And good thing I love my husband more than almost anything in the whole world.”
Abruptly Eddie remembered that he was nervous about the present he had for Buck. Then the rest of what Buck said sunk in and he frowned. “Almost anything?”
Buck slid Eddie a sly smile as he reached into his locker, looking for his deodorant. “Yeah, almost anything. I mean, Christopher definitely beats you on a list of my priorities. But isn’t that why you love me?”
And damn if Buck wasn’t right. Eddie had been enamored by Buck’s smile and his bravery almost from the start, but it had been watching Buck with his son, seeing him treat Christopher like any kid and giving him the world, that had pushed Eddie right over the edge into love with Buck.
Eddie’s eyes caught on the photo tapped to the inside of Buck’s locker when he bent to dig in his duffle. It’s a picture from their wedding. Christopher is sitting in Buck’s lap, gleefully smashing a handful of cake into Eddie’s surprised face while Buck howls with laughter. He suspects they plotted against him, and got Hen in on the plan, based on the perfectly timed photographic evidence hanging in Buck’s locker. Just looking at the picture makes Eddie feel like a marshmallow. The two people he loves most looking so joyful makes him happier than he’d thought possible.
Buck pulls Eddie out of his thoughts when he stands again, still talking. He doesn’t appear to have noticed Eddie’s inattention. “But I forgot to tell you, I left a premade lasagna in the fridge for you guys to have tonight when you get home. Bobby taught me a new recipe and Chris has been dying to try it! I’ll even let you take credit for it,” he says with a wink.
Eddie laughs. “As if Christopher doesn’t know exactly who makes the best food in the house. I make a mean fajita, I’ll admit that, but when it comes to everything else, Christopher knows which dad really feeds him.”
Buck shrugs, looking smug. “Hey, if you wanted you could also take cooking lessons from Bobby. We could have a cookoff then, have Cap and Christopher judge.”
“And take away bonding time from you and Bobby? Nah, you can hang out with your dad, mi amor.”
Buck blushed. “You know you’re not allowed to tease me for hanging out with Bobby. I’ve earned having a good dad and you know it.”
“I know. I’m sorry babe, you’re just so cute when you blush. You have earned it, and I’m glad you get it now.” Eddie put a hand on Buck’s cheek and swiped his thumb along his husband’s cheekbone. “Besides, you know I reap all the benefits when you take cooking lessons – I don’t have to cook and I get to eat your delicious meals.”
Glancing around to make sure no one was watching, Buck began to strip out of his civies and pull on his uniform. Eddie was not ashamed to confess that he leaned back and watched the show openly. He’d married the man, he was entitled to leering at those abs and tattoos whenever they made an appearance.
Tucking the tails of his shirt in, Buck reached into his locker to grab the chain he kept hanging from a hook on the inside of the door. Carefully he slid his wedding ring onto the chain and hung it back up. Eddie liked to keep his chain around his neck during his shift, but he knew Buck preferred the ritual of coming back after shift and putting on his ring again.
“I hate taking this thing off, you know?”
Eddie swallowed nervously. “I do know.” Buck had mentioned to Eddie once that he loved his ring so much because it was a reminder to him that he had a family who loved and wanted him and had chosen to stay with him.
“Well, I’m all set for shift! I’m seriously jealous you get to go home soon. You want to see if we can find the Bachelorette on TV for the last hour of your shift?” Buck waggled his eyebrows and started to head for the door.
“Evan.” Eddie’s voice stopped him, and he turned back to where Eddie was still standing by the lockers, looking down at the box in his hand. “I’ve got something to give you.”
“You know I always love presents, babe.” Buck walked back over, ducking his head a little to try and look into Eddie’s eyes.
Eddie shoved the box into Buck’s hands. Glancing between it and Eddie’s face, Buck slowly pulled the lid off. In it was a ring. As he inspected it though, he could tell it was different than his wedding ring. It seemed to be made of silicone, and it shone a faint gold in the light of the locker room.
“It’s just like Bobby’s wedding ring that he wears on shift – you know, the rubbery one. They make them so that people with rough jobs like ours can wear rings safely at work. I got Bobby and Athena’s professional approval before I bought it, so you’re all clear to wear it whenever you’re on shift. I wanted you to be able to wear a ring all the time if you wanted. I know how much your wedding ring means to you, and I love that our family is that important to you. It’s not a big gift, but-,“ Eddie couldn’t seem to stop talking. He’d asked Buck to marry him, a Dios. Giving him a second ring shouldn’t be this hard.
“Eddie.” Buck’s voice drew him from where he’d turned his head to the side in an effort to stop rambling. He was surprised to see tears brimming in Buck’s eyes. “You’re the best husband. This means the world to me.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re the best husband,” Eddie said, horrified to find tears welling up in his eyes too.
“You wanna do the honors?” Buck asked, holding out the box and his left hand at the same time.
“Yeah, I do.” Carefully Eddie took the ring from the box, and gently took Buck’s arm by the wrist. Slowly he slid the ring into Buck’s finger, getting the same thrill he’d felt when he’d proposed, and when they’d married.
“It never feels any less special, does it?” Buck murmured, seeming to read Eddie’s mind.
Eddie was powerless to resist kissing Buck. He leaned forward to kiss the smile on Buck’s face, that soft one that seemed in awe of the love he was being given. He had no idea how he’d ever resisted Buck.
When they parted, Eddie leaned his head onto Buck’s collarbone. This, he thought, was what marriage was supposed to be like. He missed Shannon every day, but he wasn’t afraid anymore to admit that with distance and time had come clarity. They’d been incredibly young when they’d married. Shannon had been the only one to understand Eddie for a long time and he loved her for that, but Buck… Buck was everything. Buck was his partner, his best friend, the other father to his son, the love of his life.
“I love you.” Buck said softly, kissing Eddie’s temple.
“I love you too. I could just see how sad taking your ring off made you, and I’d vowed not to let you be sad if I could help it.”
“You can’t say things like that at work, babe, or else I’m going to have to sex you up, and this is not the time or the place.”
Eddie laughed. “I’m sure Hen and Chim appreciate your sacrifice.”
“You wanna go watch the Bachelorette before Hen makes fun of us for being too sappy?” Buck asked with a watery smile.
“Yeah, that sounds about perfect right now.” Eddie grabbed Buck’s hand and kissed the back of it before tugging him out of the locker room.
Before he left the station at the end of his shift, Bobby stopped Eddie with a hand on his elbow.
“So? Was the ring a success?” Bobby asked with a gentle smile.
“Yeah, I think he liked it.” Eddie couldn’t stop the pleased blush from spreading across his cheeks.
“Well, be glad you’re escaping now. I think the rest of us are in another 12-hour shift of ‘guess how much my husband loves me’.”
“I don’t know, I think if I stuck around it’d be a 12-hour shift of ‘those two are super gross in love’, so pick your poison, Bobby.”
Bobby laughed. “Okay I get the message! Go home, Diaz.”
Eddie grinned and climbed up into his truck just as his phone dinged with a notification. Unlocking his phone, he opened Instagram to see a photo Buck had posted of his hand, new ring on full display. He’d captioned it “Husband goals: mine got me a second ring just for working #loveofmylive”. Eddie couldn’t keep himself from smiling even as he rolled his eyes.
Yeah, even if Eddie was leaving early and missing the lovey sighs he knew his husband was making, he wouldn’t call it escaping. Escaping was only something that happened when you weren’t exactly where you wanted to be.