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a splash of the sun

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Eddie opens the door to Buck's apartment carefully, unsure of what he's going to find. It's only been a few days, but Eddie isn't convinced that Buck would do great in isolation even when he's perfectly healthy, and Buck is currently battling what thankfully turned out to just be one hell of a sinus infection.

In a normal world not plagued by a global pestilence, Eddie would have been checking in on Buck regularly. Bringing soup, making sure he has enough cold medicine, trying to prevent Buck from going stir-crazy, the usual things you do when you're hopelessly in love with your best friend.

But LA county covid tests have been backed up. For three days Buck's been left to fend for himself with no contact with the outside world, and Eddie is... a little worried.

He calls out Buck's name as he enters the apartment, softly so he doesn't startle him. Buck had texted him a photo of his negative covid test, but he'd never replied when Eddie said he was coming over, so Eddie figures he's probably asleep. 

But when he takes a few steps further, Buck's voice drifts down the stairs towards him. 

"I miss you," Buck is saying, stuffy with snot and just this side of whiny. "I thought you'd be here by now, it's been almost an hour since I texted you. Why aren't you here yet?"

Something twists in Eddie's stomach, violent and cold. Who is Buck talking to? He hadn't seen any unfamiliar cars out in the lot, and it doesn't sound like there's anyone upstairs—is he on the phone? 

God, Eddie hopes he isn't talking to Taylor again. He doesn't know if he can live through watching them together again. The first time had been bad enough.

But then Buck speaks again, and this time it stops him in his tracks. "Eddie," Buck whines. "Where are you?" 

Buck doesn't happen to know any other Eddies, does he?

Eddie takes the stairs two at a time, and when he rounds the top he sees Buck lying in bed, surrounded by a pile of used tissues. He's curled up on his side, and his phone is all the way on the other side of the room on the charger.

Not talking on the phone, then.

"Hey, Buck," he says. Buck turns to face him, and Eddie's breath catches at the joy in Buck's eyes when he catches sight of him.

"Eddie!" he exclaims. "You're here!"

"I'm here," Eddie says, taking a careful seat on the edge of the bed. "How are you doing?"

"I'm—" Buck starts, and is interrupted by a hacking cough.

"Yeah, that sounds about right," Eddie murmurs sympathetically, rubbing Buck's back. 

"It's better than it was," Buck protests weakly.

"Sure it is," Eddie agrees. He wants to believe that Buck is on the mend, but no one's been allowed to see him for days, so he can't know for sure.

And he'd intended to come by to actually check on Buck, but he can't help the next question that tumbles out of his mouth. "Hey, who were you talking to just now?"

Buck blushes a little, which is... definitely not the reaction Eddie was expecting. "I, uh, I named my little plant after you," he says, moving even further from the realm of anything Eddie had possibly imagined he'd say.

His confusion must show on his face, because Buck keeps talking. "Maddie came by to leave some NyQuil behind the door, and she left me a plant so I wouldn't be lonely," Buck says, gesturing at a small cactus on his nightstand that Eddie hadn't noticed before.

"And you... named it after me?"

"It's just like you!" Buck says. "See? It looks all prickly, but all the spikes are actually soft and fuzzy."

"I—" Eddie starts, unsure where to even start unpacking that. Then he catches sight of the cold medicine next to the cactus, and things begin to make more sense. "Maddie brought you the good stuff, huh?" 

"Yeah," Buck says happily. "She's great. And you're great. And plant-you is great." 

Eddie hums in acknowledgement.

"Aren't you gonna tell me I'm great?" Buck asks, pouting, and Eddie laughs.

"You're pretty great," he agrees. 

Buck looks like he's about to say something else, but it's interrupted by a huge yawn. Eddie's glad Buck is out of it on cold medicine, because it means he doesn't have to try and hide the ridiculously fond expression he's sure he's wearing.

"Hey," Eddie says softly. "Why don't you try and get some sleep?"

"But you're here," Buck frowns. 

"I'll still be here when you wake up."

"Do you promise?" Buck asks, eyes already drifting shut.

"I promise," Eddie says, and waits until he's pretty sure Buck's asleep to mutter "and don't think we're not coming back to this cactus thing."