Buck's always loved Christmas. As a kid, he always loved all the lights on the houses, the smell of freshly baked cookies when he'd visit his friends, the sense of magic that always seemed to permeate the air during the holiday season.
Sure, things may not have been as brightly lit at home. But he and Maddie made their own memories. Buck always swore when he got older and had a family of his own, he'd give them the Christmases he longed for as a child.
Things might not have turned out exactly as he'd planned when he was seven years old. How could they? He barely knew himself back then. But one thing that hasn't changed is his need to make the holiday special.
Sure, he might not have kids of his own. But he has a family. One he never could have imagined but is exactly what he needs. They’ve been through a lot lately, good and bad, and the last two Christmases weren’t exactly ideal.
Which means he's going to do everything he can to make sure the holidays are extra special this year. It’s what they all deserve.
And if he has a certain little boy in mind when he starts his planning, well, that’s his business.
Buck makes a list, filling it with all the different things he wants to do for Christmas this year. When it gets a little long, he checks it again, taking off the things he deems less important. He wants it to be a good Christmas, but he doesn’t want to overdo it. Eddie might never invite him to spend Christmas with them again.
Okay, that’s a lie. Eddie totally would. He’d just forbid Buck from planning anything. And well, the whole point of this is to make this fun. And that’s exactly what he’s going to do.
He shows up on December first, with his arms packed with bags. Eddie eyes them warily. “What is all that?”
“Decorations,” Buck says. “Since you haven’t put any up yet.”
“Because it just turned December,” Eddie points out. “There’s still plenty of time, Buck.”
“You say that now,” Buck says, pointing a finger at him. “But just you wait.”
He ruffles through one of the bags before finding what he needs. “Here, I got these for you and Chris.”
Eddie takes the offered items and looks down at them, “Christmas sweaters?”
“Yeah! We can’t do Christmas without sweaters!”
“Did you get one for yourself?”
Eddie smiles slightly and puts the sweaters aside, “Anything else I should be aware of?”
Buck grins, “I made you and Christopher an appointment with a photographer tonight.”
“What on earth for?” Eddie asks.
“Pictures for your Christmas cards, of course.”
Eddie sighs, “Buck…”
“Do you know how many Christmas cards just get thrown out every year?” Buck asks him. Eddie opens his mouth, but Buck continues on. “Neither do I, but it’s a lot. And that’s because they’re not personal. Statistics show that people are more likely to keep the ones people make themselves.”
“So you want to encourage hoarding?”
Buck throws a bow at him, which Eddie ducks with a laugh. “It’s not hoarding. It’s memories.”
“You’re really serious about this?” Eddie questions.
“Okay, but you’re wearing an ugly ass sweater and coming with us,” Eddie tells him.
Buck laughs, “As if I’d miss an opportunity to see you awkwardly pose for the camera.”
It’s Buck’s turn to laugh and duck when Eddie grabs a handful of ribbons and throws them at him. Most of them miss their target, simply falling limply to the floor. But one lands on his head. Eddie snickers and reaches out to gently pluck it away. Buck forgets to breathe for a moment, as Eddie stays close, and their eyes meet.
Then Christopher is calling Eddie’s name, and Eddie’s hand falls away, dropping the bow into Buck’s raised one. Buck watches him go, not releasing the breath he was holding until Eddie is out of view. He really needs to get a hold of himself. More and more lately it’s felt like his feelings have been all but spelling out of him. It’s a miracle that no one else has noticed. Or well, that Eddie hasn’t noticed. Buck’s gotten more than his fair share of teasing from the team and Maddie.
There are moments, when they’re alone, when Eddie will look at him, his gaze lingering and something in his eyes that Buck can’t quite place, which make Buck wonder if maybe, just maybe, Eddie feels the same. Buck clings to those moments. He tucks them away someplace just for him.
“Alright,” Eddie calls, breaking Buck out of his thoughts. “We’re dressed in these silly sweaters. Are you…?” He stops at the end of the hall and frowns at Buck. “You’re not wearing yours?”
Buck looks down at his plain blue Henley and then back at Eddie. “Oh umm... I’ll just change real quick.”
Eddie shakes his head, “This whole thing was your idea, and you’re not even ready.”
“I’m not the one getting pictures,” Buck says. Although he wishes he was. He’d love nothing more than to get silly family Christmas photos with Eddie and Christopher. He grabs his sweater from one of the bags he brought and doesn’t think before yanking off his Henley right there in the living room. He’s changed in front of Eddie so many times before. Tonight is hardly any different.
At least not until he hears a sharp intake of breath and looks up to find Eddie’s gaze on him before he quickly averts it and clears his throat. “I’ll go make sure Christopher is ready.”
He all but runs back down the hall, leaving Buck standing there, sweater in hand. Buck shakes his head and pulls the sweater on. He tells himself it’s nothing. It doesn’t feel like nothing. It’s one of those moments that give Buck hope. But he can’t think about that right now. They have an appointment to get to.
Half an hour later, they’re walking into the portrait studio. It’s a friend of Josh’s that he recommended, saying she does fantastic work. The studio is empty when they walk in, but Buck can hear movement in the back.
“Hello?” Buck calls.
“Be right with you,” a woman calls back.
“What is this place?” Eddie asks, looking around the loft studio.
“Josh’s friend Sif is a photographer,” Buck says. “This is her studio. I’ve seen her work. Trust me, this is better than anything you’ll get at some department store, and you’ll be supporting small business.”
“I think it looks cool,” Christopher says.
“Just don’t touch anything,” Eddie says. “A lot of this stuff looks expensive.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it.” Buck turns to see a young woman in her early twenties walking towards them. She smiles down at Christopher. “I have kids younger than him in here for sessions. A lot of tantrums. But so far no broken equipment.”
“I’d still rather not risk it,” Eddie says. He holds his hand out to the woman. “I’m Eddie, and this my son Christopher. And…”
“Buck,” she guesses. “You’re the one I talked to on the phone.”
Buck nods, “Yeah. I appreciate you fitting us in on such short notice.”
“No probs,” she says. “Lucky for you, I had a cancellation. I’m Sif, by the way. Probably kind of obvious, but it feels weird not introducing myself.”
“Nice to meet you,” Christopher says.
“Where do you want us?” Eddie asks her.
“I have some things set up over here,” Sif says, walking towards the far corner. Buck can see the camera and screens set up. “Of course, we can always improvise a bit depending on what you want.”
“I think we should start with some of Chris by himself,” Eddie says.
Sif nods, “Good deal.”
Buck stands back and leans against the wall as the Sif gets Christopher set up. He starts on the floor with presents around him. Eddie moves to lean next to him, but his posture isn’t as relaxed. He’s ready to jump in if Christopher needs him.
“Thanks for this,” Eddie says, glancing over at him. “I know I gave you shit earlier, but it will be nice to have some pictures of Chris.”
“Of course,” Buck says. “I know how important memories are, and with everything else going on, it’s hard to think of things like this.”
“But you did,” Eddie says.
Buck shrugs, “I just want to make sure you and Chris get all the Christopher memories.”
“You want to jump in?” Sif calls over to them.
Eddie nods and pushes off the wall. Buck watches with a fond smile as Eddie poses with Christopher. First kneeling down next to him, then side by side, and then in the last few, he scoops Christopher up into his arms as Christopher laughs. Buck already knows that the last one is going to be on the Christmas card.
Eddie puts Christopher down, and Buck is sure that’s going to be it. Then he’s leaning down and saying something to Christopher, who nods, before looking over at Buck. “Buck, come on!”
Buck’s brow furrows, “What?”
“Come on,” Eddie says. He steps closer and holds out his hand. Buck hesitates a moment before placing his hand in Eddie’s. Eddie drags him back to where Christopher is standing. “If I’m getting dragged into this, so are you,” Eddie whispers.
Buck laughs and lets Eddie pull him into place. First next to him, with Christopher in front of them. Then a few silly poses, some with them leaning on their elbows while lying on the floor. The last of the shots has Christopher lying sideways in Buck and Eddie’s arms.
When they put him down, Christopher claps. “Okay, now you two.”
And that’s how Buck finds himself posing with Eddie for Christmas photos. First, it’s standing back to back with their arms crossed. Then Sif directs them to put their arms around each other, something neither object to. Buck’s struck by how right it feels to have Eddie’s arms wrapped around him like this, even through the awkwardness of posing for the camera. For the last shot, Eddie surprises Buck by resting a hand on his chest and leaning up and kissing his cheek. Buck’s eyes slip closed for a moment, as Eddie’s lips linger there, half-raised in a smile.
All too soon, Eddie is pulling back. Buck stands there, his eyes opening slowly as Eddie walks to join Christopher and follows Sif to the counter. It’s only when Eddie’s back is turned that he lifts his hand to his cheek, brushing his fingers softly across it. He swears he can still feel the warm pressure of Eddie’s lips on his skin, and he smiles.
It’s the end of the first week of December when Buck shows up at Eddie’s house, ready to check off the next, and if you ask Buck, the most essential item off their list. The Christmas tree.
Eddie’s just finishing up dinner when Buck arrives. He smiles over at him when he sees Buck enter. “Hey, man.”
“Hey,” Buck says, kicking off his shoes. He walks into the kitchen and peers into the pot on the counter. “Something smells good.”
“Abuela’s homemade chili,” Eddie says. “I’ve had it slow cooking all day, and it’s all good to go. So you’re just in time.”
Buck’s stomach rumbles at the thought of food. “Awesome.”
“I know you have some sort of Spidey sense when it comes to food, but I’m guessing that’s not why you’re here,” Eddie says.
Buck moves to the cabinet, grabs some bowls for the three of them, and throws a grin over his shoulder. “What? Can’t I just want to see my two favorite guys?”
“You can,” Eddie says. “But I know you. There’s something else. I can tell.”
“You’ve been bouncing in excitement ever since you came in,” Eddie says. “This is about the list, isn’t it?”
Eddie really does know him too well. “It is.”
“Tonight is a very important night,” Buck tells him. “It’s the night we go get the Christmas tree.”
Eddie’s brow furrows, “I have one in the closet.”
“Oh no,” Buck says. “No no no. We’re not using that fake thing that’s on its last leg. We’re getting a real one.”
“A real tree?” Christopher asks from his place at the table. “Really?”
Buck looks at Eddie, “Well?”
Eddie sighs, “You’re going to help take care of it. That means watering it and cleaning up any mess.”
“You got it. It’s not like I trust you not to kill it.” Eddie swats at his arm, and Buck laughs. “What? You’re a plant killer. Plants cry when they come home with you, knowing their fate is going to be a slow and painful death.”
Christopher giggles, and Eddie rolls his eyes, “I’m not that bad.”
“You killed my cactus,” Christopher says.
“And cacti are resilient plants, Eddie,” Buck teases.
Eddie sighs, “This seems like a reason for you to not want me to have a real tree.”
“It’ll be fine,” Buck says. “That’s why you have me.”
“Not the only reason,” Eddie mutters. Buck’s heart flips at the comment, but he doesn’t have long to think about it before Eddie is speaking again. “Fine. We’ll get a real tree.”
“Yay!” Christopher cheers.
“But you and Buck are in charge of it,” Eddie tells Christopher. “Okay?”
Christopher nods, “Okay, Dad.”
“You’re not going to regret this,” Buck says as he hands Eddie a bowl to pour some chili into for Christopher. “You’ll see. Once you have the real thing, you’ll never go back.”
Eddie’s eyes meet his as he passes the bowl back to Buck. It’s warm in his hand, close to burning, but it’s nothing compared to the warmth of Eddie’s fingers as they brush against his. “Isn’t that always the case?”
Buck could argue that many things are just as good, if not better when they’re fake. Like fur and leather, and some off brand foods. But he holds his tongue. Knowing him, he’ll blurt out something he shouldn’t. Something about how kissing Eddie would probably be better than anything he could imagine. And he definitely doesn’t need to say that.
So he lets his hand fall away and turns his back to Eddie. If only to give himself a moment to close his eyes and take a deep breath. He brings the chili to Christopher and sets it down in front of him at the table. Christopher frowns down at it. “There’s no spoon.”
Right. A spoon. “I suppose that would help, wouldn’t it?” Buck laughs. He turns to grab one, but Eddie is already there, spoon in hand.
“Seems like Buck is distracted tonight,” Eddie teases.
“You’re distracting,” Buck mutters. Buck internally curses himself. That was real smooth.
Eddie smirks, “Is that so?”
“You’re the one that was, you know…” He waves his hand at Eddie as if that explains everything. It does to Buck. “You’re distracting.”
“So you’ve said,” Eddie says. He’s clearly fighting back a laugh.
“Shut up,” Buck mutters. He walks past Eddie into the kitchen and grabs one of the two remaining bowls.
He’s spooning some chili into his bowl when Eddie steps up behind him, his chest warm and solid against his back. “You’re distracting, too,” Eddie says softly against his ear.
Buck stands frozen to the spot, even as Eddie chuckles and takes the bowl from Buck with a soft “thanks,” and then disappears from the room. It takes a moment for Buck to realize that Eddie took Buck’s chili for himself, and he rolls his eyes. He doesn’t call him on it, though. He just grabs another bowl and a spoon and joins Eddie and Christopher at the table.
Dinner passes like it usually does. Christopher talks about school and then how excited he is for Christmas break. “I just wish we could have snow,” Christopher says.
“It’s usually too warm here for snow,” Eddie says. “But maybe one year, we can go somewhere where it does snow.”
“Really?” Christopher asks.
Eddie nods, “It could be fun.” He looks at Buck. “Right, Buck?”
Buck blinks. He hadn’t expected to be brought into their vacation planning. Though the idea of spending time away from here with Eddie and Christopher does make him happy. “Yeah, of course.”
“And we could build a snowman?” Christopher asks.
“Sure,” Eddie says. “Though I’ve never built one, so…”
Buck gapes at him, “You’ve never built a snowman?”
“Never had a chance,” Eddie says.
“Oh my god,” Buck mumbles. “Well, we’re going to have to fix that, aren’t we, buddy?”
Christopher nods, “Yeah.”
“Lucky for you two, I am an expert snowman builder,” Buck says.
Eddie snorts, “Really?”
“Yes, really,” Buck says. “I grew up in Pennsylvania, remember? I’ve had plenty of practice.”
“I’m sure you have,” Eddie says.
“Don’t worry, I’ll teach you my ways,” Buck says. “Before you know it, you’ll be an expert too.”
“Are you doubting me?” Buck asks.
“I would never doubt you, Buck,” Eddie replies. “If anything, I’m the one who will be completely hopeless.”
“I believe in you, Dad,” Christopher says.
“I’ve seen you make miracles happen, Eddie,” Buck says. “A snowman isn’t going to defeat you.”
Eddie smiles, and for a moment, that’s the only that matters. Nothing else exists but Eddie and that smile. Then a spoon is clattering against a bowl across from them, and Buck blinks, coming back to the moment. “I’m done,” Christopher says. “Can we get the tree now?”
Eddie laughs and ruffles his hair, “We’re not done yet. Go play, and we’ll go when we’re done.”
“Okay, but hurry,” Christopher says.
Eddie shakes his head with a fond smile as Christopher goes into the living room. “I hope you know what you’re getting into with this tree,” Eddie says.
Buck frowns. “If you really don’t want one…”
“No, it’s fine,” Eddie says. “I don’t have anything against them. I’ve just…”
“What is it?”
“It’s been hard to even think about it the last few years,” Eddie admits. “I’ve been so busy with work and then making sure Chris is taken care of. I didn’t even want to think about making sure a tree didn’t die.”
Buck nods, “You know you’re not alone in this, right?”
Eddie meets his gaze and smiles, a small half-smile. “I know.”
“I’m not just talking about the tree,” Buck says. “If there’s anything I can do…”
“Buck,” Eddie cuts him off and places a hand over his. “I know. I don’t know what I did to deserve someone like you, but I’m grateful as hell.”
“You’re just you,” Buck says. “That’s enough.”
A myriad of emotions pass across Eddie’s face so fast that Buck can’t catch them all. Surprise, confusion, hope, before settling on something Buck will never get tired of seeing on Eddie: happiness.
Then Eddie is clearing his throat and wiping at his eyes. If Buck didn’t know Eddie so damn well, he’d be afraid he’d said something wrong. But he knows. He knows Eddie, and his doubts. He knows the turmoil he’s been battling. How he’s spent years wondering why he’s never been enough. A feeling Buck knows all too well. It’s why it’s so damn important that Eddie knows he is.
“You’re enough,” Buck tells him.
Eddie sucks in a breath. His gaze doesn’t leave Buck’s as he raises his hand to Buck’s face. His fingers brush across his cheek, lingering over his birthmark. “You are too, Buck.”
“Eddie,” Buck whispers.
Eddie leans in and presses his head against Buck’s. His eyes have slipped closed, but Buck’s are wide open, taking in everything he can. There’s so much Buck wants to say, but the words don’t come. But they don’t need them. Not yet. This is enough.
Eventually, they pull away. Eddie gathers Christopher into his coat, and they take him out to the truck. He drives them to the Christmas tree lot, and together, the three of them walk around, looking at all the trees. Christopher walks ahead of them while they browse, and every so often, Buck will feel Eddie’s hand brush against his, never taking it, but always there.
“This one!” Christopher calls from a short distance ahead of them.
Buck and Eddie step up behind him, taking in the tree. It’s a little on the smaller side and a little crooked.
"I want this one," Christopher says.
"You're sure?" Eddie asks.
Christopher nods, "It's perfect."
Buck smiles, "The perfect little misfit tree."
“I love it,” Eddie says.
“So we can get this one?” Christopher asks.
“Yeah, buddy, we can get this one.”
An hour later, they have the tree standing in Eddie’s living room. A few boxes of decorations are on the floor in front of it, some Eddie and Christopher’s, and some Buck brought over himself. Christopher sits next to the boxes, looking through them and picking out the ones he wants on three, while Buck and Eddie hang the lights.
Buck looks down at where Christopher is sitting to see him holding up a Superman ornament. He smiles and brushes his fingers across the cool metal. “I’ve had this since I was a kid. Probably about your age.”
“Yep. It was always one of my favorites.” He kneels down next to Christopher and looks from him to the ornament. He’d always planned to pass them down to his own son one day, but seeing the way Christopher is looking at it, he knows what he needs to do. “You know what I think?”
“What?” Christopher asks.
“I think you should keep it,” Buck tells him.
“Buck,” Eddie says quietly from behind him.
“Really?” Christopher asks.
“Really,” Buck says. “Who better to have this Superman ornament than our very own Superman?”
Christopher throws his arms around Buck’s neck and hugs him, “Thank you, Buck.”
Buck feels tears stinging at his eyes as he hugs him back, “You’re welcome, Christopher.” He clears his throat and looks back at the tree. “What do you say we put that on the tree, huh?”
Buck stands up and offers a hand to Christopher, who shakes his head and gets to his feet himself. They stand beside the tree and examine it, looking for the perfect spot. “I think it needs to be in the front, don’t you?”
Christopher nods, “Yeah.”
“How about….” Buck moves his finger to different parts of the tree before settling on one at Christopher’s level. “Here.”
Christopher lifts the ornament and places it on the branch in front of him, then steps back next to Buck. “Perfect.”
“Yeah, perfect,” Buck agrees.
“Why don’t you pick out some more, buddy,” Eddie tells him.
Christopher sits back down between the boxes and continues looking through them. Buck turns to where Eddie is standing a few feet away. He’s looking at Buck, an emotion Buck can’t quite decipher on his face. Buck opens his mouth, not sure what he plans to say, but it doesn’t matter. Eddie is closing the distance between them before he can speak, pulling Buck into a tight hug. “Thank you,” he whispers against his ear.
“For loving him,” Eddie says. “For all of this.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” Buck tells him, running a hand down his back. “It’s not…”
“Don’t say it’s no big deal,” Eddie cuts in. “Because it is.” He pulls back to look at Buck and smiles. “You’re an amazing man, Evan Buckley.”
It’s the first time that Eddie has said something like that and floored Buck and then just walked away as if he hadn’t just left Buck’s head spinning. As if he’s not aware that each time Buck finds himself falling more and more in love with him. He never thought it would be possible to care about someone this much, but here he is. And it’s not just Eddie, but Christopher two. These two have found a place in Buck’s heart, one that no one else could ever fill.
“What about this one, Dad?” Christopher is asking. He’s holding up an ornament of a deer. “For our Buck.”
Eddie takes the ornament from Christopher and puts it on the tree, right between the ornaments he and Christopher have with their names engraved in them. “Right where he belongs,” Eddie says.
Buck smiles as he steps up between Eddie and Christopher to look at the tree. It’s still a little lopsided. Not quite perfect, but still thriving and shining brightly. It’s beautiful. It’s them.
After his talk with Eddie and Christopher, a new plan starts forming in Buck’s head. Christopher wants snow, and Buck is going to make sure he gets snow, one way or another.
“Alright, you two ready to go?” Buck asks from the living room.
“It’s not even dark yet,” Eddie points out. "It's the middle of the afternoon."
“Yes, but it will be,” Buck replies. “Plus, we have a little bit of a drive, so we need to go. I want to get there before it gets dark. And make sure you have overnight bags."
"Just trust me, Eddie," Buck says.
"Always," Eddie says. "Though I am still suspicious."
"It's going to be fun," Buck assures him.
“Uh-huh,” Eddie watches him for another few seconds before he steps into the hall, looking down towards Christopher’s room. “You ready, Superman?”
“Yeah,” Christopher calls back.
"Okay, well, we need to pack a bag. So which pajamas do you want?"
Buck smiles as their voices filter down the hall, and he moves into the kitchen to pack a few snacks for the road. He has a bag ready by the door by the time Eddie and Christopher join him.
Eddie nods and pulls the strap of Christopher’s bag a little higher on his shoulder. “Ready.”
“Where are we going, Buck?” Christopher asks him as they head out to Buck’s jeep.
Eddie helps him into the backseat while Buck puts their bags in the back with his own suitcase. “It’s a surprise,” Buck tells him.
“A good surprise?”
“Of course,” Buck says. He closes the trunk and walks to the driver’s side. Once he’s seated, he turns to grin at Christopher. “The best surprise. You two are just going to have to be patient while we drive to it. Can you do that?”
Christopher nods, “Yeah.”
“Good, because your Dad might need help with it,” Buck teases.
Christopher laughs, “He’s not very patient.”
“I am plenty patient,” Eddie says. He gets into the passenger’s seat and buckles his seatbelt before turning to Buck. “I can be the king of patience.”
Buck snorts, “Yeah, okay. We’ll see how long you last without asking a question about where we’re going.”
It’s a challenge, and Buck knows Eddie well enough to know he’s not on to easily back down from a challenge. But he also has a need to be in control and know the details of things. Something that is going to drive him crazy.
Buck puts on his favorite Christmas playlist, and music fills the car as Buck sets off. Eddie sits silently next to him, the only sign that he’s struggling not to ask questions, the tapping of his fingers against his knee.
“Maybe I should have blindfolded you,” Buck says, about halfway into the drive.
He’s not looking, but he can feel the heat of Eddie’s glare that he’s no doubt directing his way. “That would have made things worse.”
“You could just take a nap,” Buck suggests.
“I’m fine,” Eddie mutters.
Another fifteen minutes pass, and Eddie sighs and shifts in his seat. Buck smiles to himself. They’re getting close, but it doesn’t seem like Eddie is going to last.
“Problem?” Buck asks.
Eddie shakes his head, “Nope.”
“You seem a little tense,” Buck points out.
“Just focus on the road,” Eddie says.
“If you were, you wouldn’t know I was tense,” Eddie counters.
“So you admit you are tense,” Buck says.
“I don’t have to look at you to know you’re tense,” Buck tells him. “I can feel it from here.”
“You do look tense, Daddy,” Christopher says from the backseat.
“I just wish I knew where we were going,” Eddie says.
Buck grins, “Ah, so you’re impatient for me to tell you.”
“Because if you really want to know…”
“Just drive, Buck.”
Buck laughs, “Got it. Shutting up and driving.”
A gasp from the backseat has Buck looking in the rearview mirror at Christopher, “Everything alright?”
“Is that snow?” Christopher asks, pointing out the window.
“It is,” Buck says. He looks out at the light flakes falling around them, landing on the already covered ground. It’s been happening for a while, but Christopher was too focused on his game to notice. “Cool, huh?”
“Yeah,” Christopher says. “So cool. Right, Dad?”
“Very cool,” Eddie says. “Did you know it was snowing?”
The last part is directed at Buck, who nods. “I may have been keeping an eye on the weather up here.”
“Where are we going?” Eddie asks.
“Finally giving in, I see,” Buck says.
“I’m not impatient,” Eddie argues. “Just curious.”
“Well, your curiosity is about to be answered,” Buck says, turning off the main road and onto a narrower path. “We’re almost there.”
“Where exactly is here?” Eddie asks.
Eddie sighs but doesn’t question him further. A few minutes later, Buck is parking the jeep outside a moderately sized cabin. Once he’s parked, Buck turns to Eddie. “We’re here.”
“This is where we’re going?”
Buck nods, “I got us a cabin for the weekend.”
“It’s no big deal,” Buck says. “I know a guy, and he got me a good deal.”
“I know how much Chris wanted to see snow,” Buck says. “And sure, we could have waited, but we both had the time off, and he’s on break, so I just thought… is it too much?”
He’s unsure suddenly, afraid that maybe he crossed a line. He’d only wanted to surprise Christopher, but maybe he should have told Eddie first. Eddie must sense where he’s going because he smiles and squeezes his shoulder. “It’s perfect, Buck. Thank you.”
“Yeah, of course, you know I’d do anything for you two,” Buck says earnestly.
“I know,” Eddie says.
His thumb brushes against Buck’s collarbone, and Buck has to fight back a shiver. “We should get unpacked,” Buck says, albeit reluctantly. He doesn’t want to leave this moment, but he’s afraid if they don’t, he’s going to do something foolish like lean across the small space between them and kiss Eddie senseless.
“I want to see the snow,” Christopher says.
Eddie smiles, and with one last squeeze of Buck’s shoulder, pulls back. “Alright, let’s get you out of here.”
“I’ll get the bags inside while you get him,” Buck calls from the back of the car.
“Can we play in it?” he hears Christopher asking.
“Not yet,” Eddie tells him. “Let’s get settled first.”
“And then we can build a snowman?”
Buck joins them next to the jeep and grins down at Christopher, “I packed some buttons and carrots just for that reason.”
Christopher beams up at him, “Yay!”
“You’re going to spoil him with all this,” Eddie says as they walk towards the cabin.
“He deserves good things Eddie,” Buck says. “And so do you.”
He puts one of the bags down as he searches the porch for the otter he was told to be here. It’s better than looking at Eddie to see his reaction.
“What are you doing?” Eddie asks him.
“I was told the key would be under the otter,” Buck says. “Do you see it?”
“Next to the swing,” Eddie says.
Buck turns to where Eddie’s pointing to see a stone otter next to the porch swing. He lifts it up and finds the key there, just like he was told. He unlocks the door and lets Eddie and Christopher walk in first, before following them inside with the bags. It’s a decently sized cabin. The living is right next to the door on the left, with the kitchen off to the right. The hall in front of them leads to what Buck assumes are the bedrooms and the bathroom.
“It looks like Christmas,” Christopher says.
“It sure does,” Eddie says.
They’re not wrong. There are decorations scattered all around the place, and in the middle of the living room is a large tree. It all gives off a nice homey feel that Buck knows will only get cozier once they light the fire later tonight.
“It’s nice,” Eddie says.
Buck nods, “The rooms are down the hall if you want to bring the bags back there. I’ll get the snacks and food put away.”
He leaves Eddie and Christopher standing there and heads into the kitchen. There are already some things in the fridge like he’d requested. The rest he unloads himself. He’s finishing up when Eddie calls for him.
Buck frowns at the uncertain tone in his voice. He walks down the hall to see Eddie standing in one of the bedrooms. “What’s up?”
“There are only two rooms,” Eddie says.
Buck rubs the back of his beck, “Uhh yeah. I know. It was cheaper than a three-bedroom. I figured you and Chris could take the bedrooms, and I’ll just take the couch.”
Eddie frowns, “I’m not making you sleep on the couch.”
“You’re not making me,” Buck says. “I’m offering.”
“Well, I’m still not allowing it,” Eddie says.
“Well, you’re not sleeping on the couch either,” Buck says.
“Never said I was.”
“This bed is more than big enough for the two of us,” Eddie tells him with a shrug. “We’ll share.”
That is a bad idea. A very bad idea. Buck in no way should be sharing a bed with Eddie. Knowing him, he’ll wake up to find himself octopussed around him, and that would be very awkward. But how can he say no without giving away the reason why?
“I’m a bit of a cover hog,” Buck tells him.
“And I’m a cuddler, we’ll live.”
Buck is left gaping as Eddie walks away. Eddie being a cuddler is not something Buck needed to know. He still files that information away for later. Way later. Not when he’s going to be sharing a bed with his best friend, who just admitted to enjoying cuddling. Maybe for his sanity, he should have splurged on the three-bedroom.
It’s nearing dark when Buck drags Eddie and Christopher back outside. Buck can tell Eddie wants to ask where they’re going, but he keeps his mouth shut. Christopher, though, asks for him.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll see,” Buck tells him. “It’s going to be fun.”
“Are we building a snowman?” Christopher asks.
“Not tonight, buddy,” Buck asks. “We’ll do it tomorrow when it’s light out. For now, I have another surprise.”
“You are just full of surprises lately,” Eddie says.
“Are you complaining?” Buck asks him.
Eddie smiles, “Not tonight.”
Buck drives a few minutes down the mountain. He hears Christopher gasp from the backseat. “The lights!”
Buck gets his excitement. From up here, the Christmas lights have cast the town in a colorful glow. It really is beautiful. “Do you want to go down and look?”
“Did you know there were going to be lights like this?” Eddie asks him as Buck drives the streets with houses, buildings, and trees decorated for Christmas.
“I had hoped,” Buck says. “I figured if we didn’t find any lights, we’d just grab a pizza.”
“Always a solid back-up,” Eddie says. “But I’m glad we found this. Christopher’s always loved looking at all the decorated houses.”
Buck knows. In the few years he’s known them, Eddie has always taken Christopher out to see the Christmas lights at least one night during the holidays. He wasn’t going to let them miss that this year.
“It’s so pretty,” Christopher says.
Buck idles in front of one of the houses that’s playing music and looks over at Eddie. His head is turned as he looks out at the decorations, but Buck can still see his smile. The lights from outside have cast his skin in a red and green glow, and Buck swears he’s never seen anything more beautiful.
“Yeah, it is,” Buck whispers.
Eddie turns then, and their eyes meet. Buck doesn’t look away. How could he?
“Are we going to get pizza still?” Christopher asks them.
Eddie chuckles, his eyes crinkling at the corners. Buck had been wrong before because this, Eddie smiling and happy, is far more beautiful than any Christmas light display could ever hope to be.
“You should have known he’d want pizza as soon as you mentioned it,” Eddie tells him.
Buck laughs, “Yeah, well, I figured we’d get some either way.”
They stop at a local pizza place that Buck has read good reviews for. It’s mostly empty, save for a few teenagers at a table in the back.
“You can seat yourselves,” a woman calls from behind the counter. “And someone’ll be right with you.”
They take a booth on the opposite side of the restaurant from the other patrons, wanting a little bit of quiet. Eddie and Christopher sit on one side, with Buck taking the other. It’s nice and familiar, something they’ve done so many times before. But something still feels different. Maybe it’s the small smiles Eddie throws his way every so often, or the soft press of his foot against Buck’s leg under the table. Whatever it is, it has the hope in Buck’s chest growing.
He tries to push it down, though. He doesn’t want to misread things. Not now. Especially not when in a few hours he’s going to be having to share a bed with Eddie. The last thing he wants is to make things awkward between them when they’ve been going so well.
Sure, he’s in love with Eddie. And maybe there’s a part of him that hopes that Eddie feels the same. But he doesn’t want to risk what they have. Because it’s good. He’ll always take these small moments with Eddie and Christopher over anything.
Christopher is asleep before they even make it back to the cabin. He passed out almost as soon as Eddie had him in the jeep. Buck walks ahead of Eddie and opens the door for him, letting him go by with Christopher passed out in his arms.
They walk down the hall together, and Eddie veers off into Christopher’s room while Buck continues on to the one they’re sharing. He changes quickly into his pajamas and then heads into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he returns, Eddie’s in the middle of pulling his shirt on.
“Bathroom’s yours,” Buck tells him.
Eddie nods his thanks and grabs his toothbrush from his bag. Buck hesitates by the bed, looking down at it as if it’s going to jump up and attack him. He’s still standing there when Eddie walks back in. He looks at Buck with a raised eyebrow.
“Did the bed wrong you somehow?” Eddie asks, crawling in under the covers as if it’s nothing.
“Yes,” Buck says. Then just as quickly. “No. I just…”
“What is it?”
“Are you sure this is okay?”
“Of course,” Eddie says. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
And that is a question Buck cannot answer. With a deep breath, Buck pulls back the covers on his side and crawls into the bed. He lays there, right on the edge, staring up at the ceiling. He’s completely still, afraid that if he moves, he’ll find himself too close to Eddie, and Eddie will regret even suggesting this.
He hears Eddie give an annoyed huff from the other side of the bed, “Buck.”
“You need to relax,” Eddie tells him.
“I’m completely relaxed,” Buck argues.
“No, you’re not,” Eddie says. “You’re tense. What was it you said in the car? You could feel the tension coming off me? Well, I can too. So what gives?”
“I just don’t want to take up too much space,” Buck whispers into the dark room.
There’s silence on Eddie’s side of the bed, and for a moment, Buck thinks that’s going to be it. Then a hand grabs his arm, and he finds himself pulled to the middle of the bed. Eddie hovers over him, his palm warm against Buck’s cheek. “You could never take up too much space. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, Buck.”
“Eddie,” Buck whispers, leaning into his touch.
Eddie sighs and leans his head against Buck’s, “I just wish you could see how important you are. How much you mean to us. To me.”
Buck’s afraid to breathe, afraid to move, but now for a different reason. This moment feels too big, too important, too fragile. As if any little thing could shatter.
“You’re important to me too,” Buck tells him. “So important.”
“I know how much you care about Christopher,” Eddie says.
“I’m not just talking about Chris,” Buck says. “I mean you.”
“Dad! Buck! Dad!”
Eddie jumps back, his eyes wide as he looks towards the door. “Chris?”
He’s jumping off the bed and running out into the hall, leaving Buck there, staring into the darkness. He takes a moment to collect himself, and then pushes the blankets off and follows Eddie into Christopher’s room. He’s sitting on the bed, with Christopher in his arms.
“Everything okay?” Buck asks, hesitating by the door.
Eddie looks over at him, “Yeah. He just heard something at the window.”
Buck frowns and walks over to the window. The curtains are still partially opened, and Buck can see a shadow on them. It’s clearly a tree, but he remembers how terrifying shadows and noises could be when he was younger.
Buck looks out to see the branch in question scraping against the window. He opens the curtain further and nods his head towards it. “It’s just a branch, buddy. Nothing’s coming in here.”
Christopher looks over at the window, still unsure. “There’s no monster?”
“No monster,” Eddie tells him. “Just the branch blowing in the wind.”
Christopher nods and relaxes a bit in Eddie’s hold. “I woke up and saw the shadow. It looked like claws.”
“That must have been scary,” Buck says, kneeling down next to him.
“You know nothing is going to get you as long as we’re here,” Buck tells him.
“I know you and Daddy will protect me,” Christopher says.
“Do you want me to stay, or do you think you can fall back asleep?” Eddie asks him.
“Can you stay?” Christopher asks softly.
Eddie nods, “Of course, buddy.”
“Buck too?” Christopher asks.
Eddie looks to Buck, who shrugs. “I would, but I don’t know if this bed is big enough.”
“What about yours?” Christopher asks.
“We could try,” Buck offers.
Christopher smiles, “Okay. And then we’ll be away from the scary branch.”
“That’s right,” Buck says. “And we can wake up early and have breakfast.”
“And then build a snowman?”
“And then build a snowman.”
“Alright, let’s get you up and down the hall,” Eddie says. “You need your sleep.”
Christopher pats his cheek, “You do too.” Buck laughs quietly until Christopher turns his gaze to him. “And you, Buck.”
“Yes, Buck certainly needs his beauty sleep,” Eddie teases.
“Buck’s already beautiful,” Christopher says. “Especially his heart. You’ve said so.”
Buck raises an eyebrow, and Eddie clears his throat, “Right. Let’s umm… bedtime.”
“You think my heart is beautiful?” Buck asks as he follows Eddie out of the room.
“All of you is,” Eddie says.
“We’re not talking about this now,” Eddie tells him. “We’re all sleep-deprived.”
“Right, of course.”
Just because they’re not talking about it doesn’t mean Buck doesn’t think about it. It’s all that’s on his mind as he falls asleep that night, Christopher snuggled between him and Eddie.
The next morning, Christopher wakes them up early, and Buck makes them pancakes, bacon, and eggs. After they’re done, they go outside, and Buck keeps his promise on teaching them how to build a snowman. It ends with Buck and Eddie pelting snow at each other while Christopher laughs. The snowman itself winds up a little lopsided, but it’s still perfect.
Two days before Christmas, Buck shows up at Eddie’s house on a mission. It’s time for something very important on his list. Something he’s been looking forward to all season. He doesn’t see Eddie when he walks in.
“In the bathroom,” Eddie calls. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
"Do you not have stuff for cookies?" Buck calls from the kitchen.
When Eddie walks, Buck has his head in the pantry. "Well, you're not going to find them in there. They're in the fridge."
Buck turns to him with a frown to see him leaning against the counter. "What's in the fridge?"
Buck's frown deepens as he moves to the fridge and throws the door open. He looks inside and clearly doesn't like what he sees. "Eddie. There isn't anything here."
"The cookies are right there, Buck," Eddie says, stepping up next to him. He nods his head towards the shelf. "The ones with the reindeer and snowmen."
Buck looks from the package to Eddie a few times, his mouth opening and closing. "No!" He shouts, pointing a finger at Eddie. "No. Those are not cookies."
"Pretty sure they are," Eddie says. "Says it right there on the package."
Eddie raises an eyebrow, "Yes?"
"Eddie, we cannot make those cookies," Buck tells him. He closes the door to the fridge and moves to the drawer next to it, where Eddie keeps a notepad and pen at Buck's insistence. He starts jotting stuff down, and Eddie watches him.
"What's wrong with the cookies?" Eddie asks him. "They're quick and easy, and Christopher loves them."
"Of course he does. They're filled with sugar," Buck says. "But they're not real Christmas cookies."
"Because they don't come with the experience."
"Yes!" Buck throws up his hands, the pen he was holding clattering to the floor. "The experience. Mixing the ingredients and decorating the cookies yourself. It's a whole thing. And I'm not going to let you deprive him of that."
“You’re really serious about this?” Eddie asks.
“Okay,” Eddie says. “But you know I’m hopeless with baking, so…”
“I’ll talk you through it,” Buck says. “You can help with decorating and cutting, and I’ll make sure they don’t burn.”
Eddie nods, “Deal.”
Buck stops by the store on his way over the next evening. He grabs everything they’ll need, and maybe a little extra. He knows how messes and accidents can happen, and he’s not going to risk running out of anything.
Eddie’s in the living room with Christopher when Buck walks in. He kicks off his shoes and drags the bags into the kitchen. “Are you two ready for this?”
“Uh oh,” Eddie says. “Buck is here for the cookie experience.”
“Experience?” Christopher asks.
“Yep,” Eddie answers. “We’re about to find out exactly what it is.”
“We can set up at the table,” Buck tells him. “It might make it easier.”
“What exactly are we doing?” Eddie asks, watching Buck as he sets the supplies on the table.
“Baking,” Buck says. “But first we need to make the dough, and then mold it and cut the cookies. I have cookie cutters here too. Snowmen, reindeer, trees, Santa. All kinds of things. And then we have the icing and some candy for decorating.”
“You weren’t kidding about this being a whole experience,” Eddie says.
“Nope,” Buck grins. “It’s going to be fun. Just you wait.”
“Okay, Hamilton,” Eddie chuckles. “Where do you want me?”
Where don’t I want you? Buck thinks. He pushes the thought away. “Sit there,” Buck says, nodding at a seat across the table from him. At least that’ll put some distance between them. “Christopher, you next to him. You can help your dad.”
“Okay, Buck,” Christopher says. He takes the seat next to Eddie, and they both look at Buck expectantly.
“We’re not starting just yet,” Buck tells them. “We’re just waiting on…”
A knock sounds at the door, and Buck grins, “Ah-ha! They’re here.”
“Who’s here?” Eddie asks. “Who’d you invite to my house?”
“Hen, Karen, and Denny,” Buck says. “I thought he might want in on the Christmas cookie action. Athena, Bobby, May, and Harry are coming too.”
“So it’s a whole baking party,” Eddie says.
“The only way to do it.” Buck runs to answer the door and calls over his shoulder. “Don’t touch anything!”
He opens the door to see Bobby standing there, eyebrow raised. “Were you talking to Christopher like that?”
Buck shakes his head, “No, Eddie. I don’t trust him with the baking.”
Behind Bobby, Hen laughs, “I don’t blame you.”
“Hey!” Eddie calls, clearly able to hear them.
“We’re setting everything up in the dining room,” Buck tells them.
“And we brought extra just in case,” Athena tells him.
“Always a good idea,” Buck says.
“I know my kids,” Athena says. “Half the candy will be gone before it even makes it on the cookies.”
“We’re not that bad,” May says. “Or well, I’m not.”
Athena doesn’t look the least bit convinced.
“Buck laughs, but we all know he’ll be eating most of the candy too,” Eddie says.
Buck doesn’t deny it. He just shrugs. “I love chocolate.”
Hen pats his shoulder, “We know.”
It’s nice having a house full of people scattered around, laughing and talking as they make cookies. Buck mingles a lot but spends most of his time with Eddie and Christopher. Buck is pulling the third batch of cookies out of the oven when Bobby joins him.
“It’s a nice set up you have here,” Bobby says.
“Yeah, it did turn out pretty great,” Buck says. He puts the cookies aside and then movies to put another batch in. It seems like a lot, but with so many people here, he wanted to make sure everyone had enough to take home. He wanted to make sure Eddie and Christopher had plenty left over to last through Christmas. Christopher had been excited about setting out homemade cookies for Santa.
“Something on your mind?” Bobby asks him.
“What? No,” Buck says. “I was just thinking about cookies.”
“Buck, I know you,” Bobby says. “There’s something nagging at you. I can tell.”
Buck sighs. He sets the timer and then leans back against the counter, facing Bobby. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, with Eddie. I umm…” He laughs and rubs the back of his neck. “Bobby I…”
“I know,” Bobby says. When Buck’s eyes snap up to meet his, he chuckles. “As I said, I know you. You haven’t exactly been subtle. And you know we’re aware of your feelings for Eddie.”
“But it’s more than that,” Buck says. “It’s bigger. It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever felt. I love him, Bobby.”
“And what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know,” Buck says. “I don’t know how he feels. Sometimes I think he might feel the same way, but I don’t want to push him or ruin things. Him and Christopher mean too much to me.”
“I think he might surprise you,” Bobby says. He rests a hand on Buck’s shoulder. “Talk to Eddie, Buck.”
The word doesn’t come from Bobby, but somewhere behind him. Buck peers around him to see Eddie standing in the doorway. Bobby smiles and pats his shoulder. “You’ve got this.”
Buck wants to believe he does, but it’s a little different seeing Eddie standing there, looking so handsome in the sweater Buck got him. Still, Bobby had said Eddie might surprise him. He supposes there’s only one way to find out.
Eddie steps into the room and closes the door behind him. Buck watches him, only able to stand rooted to the spot as Eddie walks closer. Bobby had said they needed to talk, and Buck knows they do. But still, the words don’t come.
He watches Eddie as he moves his hand out from behind him and raises it into the air between them. Buck looks up at the green and red plant in Eddie’s hand and then back at Eddie’s face. He’s smiling, but Buck doesn’t miss the hint of vulnerability in his eyes. “What is this?” Buck asks.
“I know you’ve seen mistletoe before, Buck,” Eddie teases.
Buck huffs out a laugh, “Of course. But umm… why?” No. That hadn’t been what he meant to ask. The why should be obvious. “Why now?” No, that’s not right either. Eddie had to hear what Bobby said about them talking. So...
“Why not?” Eddie asks. “Figured you might want to check another Christmas tradition off your list.”
“And that’s all it is?” Buck asks, stepping closer. “Checking something off a list?”
“Not to me,” Eddie says. “This is just me, taking a chance and hoping that I haven’t been reading things wrong and we’re on the same page.”
His arm starts to lower, and Buck reaches out. He takes the mistletoe from his hand and tosses it aside. Eddie frowns, probably thinking Buck is about to turn him down. Buck can’t have that, though. He steps closer and fists a hand in Eddie’s shirt. “You don’t need mistletoe to kiss me, Eddie.”
“No,” Buck says. “And you haven’t been reading things wrong. I’m kind of crazy about you, if you haven’t realized.”
“Kind of?” Eddie asks.
“More than kind of,” Buck says. “We’re onto the over the moon in love with you part.”
Buck isn’t nervous as he says the words. He knows he’s not alone in this. Eddie is here, smiling up at him, looking as hopeful as he feels.
“We’re definitely on the same page then,” Eddie tells him.
“Yeah,” Eddie says. “I’m over the moon in love with you too.”
Buck just has to kiss him. So he does. He leans in, pressing his lips to Eddie’s. It’s just a quick press of lips, and then Buck is pulling back, his eyes searching Eddie’s face for any hint that isn’t what he wanted. Their eyes meet, and then Eddie is grabbing Buck by the back of the neck and hauling him back in. This kiss is slower, deeper, and Buck’s head goes a little fuzzy. It’s everything he always dreamed of, but so much better.
“Knew the real thing would be better,” Buck murmurs against his lips.
Eddie chuckles, “Yeah?”
“So much yes,” Buck says. “But maybe we should test it more.”
“We can test it all you want,” Eddie tells him.
And they do. They’re still kissing when the timer goes off behind them. Buck sighs and rests his head against Eddie’s. “It’s the cookies.”
“You should get them,” Eddie says. “We don’t want them to burn.”
Buck is tempted for a moment, especially with Eddie still looking so damn kissable. But then he thinks of how disappointed the kids would be and reluctantly pulls back. He takes the cookies out of the oven and sets them aside to cool with the others.
“We should…” he trails off when Eddie’s arms snake around his middle and he rests his head on his shoulder. He turns his head and kisses Buck just below his ear. “Eddie?”
“I love you,” Eddie says softly.
Buck’s hand comes to rest on Eddie’s and leans back in his hold. He turns his head slightly until he can meet Eddie’s gaze and smiles. “I love you, too.”
It’s amazing that he spent so long wondering if he would ever be able to have this. And now here he is, standing with Eddie in his kitchen, pressed close together as Eddie tells him he loves him. It’s like something out of a dream. Except it’s real. It’s real, and it’s beautiful.
His eyes drift to the fridge and he smiles when he sees the pictures there. Eddie had placed quite a few of the Christmas ones they took there, most of him and Christopher. But there’s one of the three of them, and then there among them one of Buck and Eddie, with Eddie kissing Buck’s cheek. Buck may have taken a copy of that one and put it on his bedside table. The pictures really had been a fantastic idea.
He leans up and kisses Eddie, just because he can now. Eddie smiles against his lips. “We should get the cookies out there,” Eddie tells him.
“I was going to say that before you distracted me,” Buck says.
“Well, you have said I’m very distracting,” Eddie says, running his nose along Buck’s jaw.
“I don’t mind it,” Buck tells him. “You can distract me all you want.”
“Later,” Eddie promises. “For now, we have guests and kids that want to make cookies.”
Buck places one last soft kiss on Eddie’s lips before pulling back. “Well then, let’s get the cookies out there before the rioting starts.”
He grabs a tray and is about to walk out of the kitchen when Eddie stops him with a hand on his arm. “Hey, Buck?”
Buck places a kiss on his cheek and winks. “If you’re good, I’ll show you just how merry later.”
“Honestly, there are children,” Hen tuts from the doorway.
“I didn’t say anything the least bit inappropriate,” Buck says.
“Sure you didn’t, Buckaroo.”
“I was just wishing my… Eddie a Merry Christmas,” Buck says.
“Your Eddie, huh?” Hen teases.
Buck feels his face heating up. He doesn’t have long to be embarrassed before Eddie is sliding up next to him and kissing his cheek. “Yeah, his Eddie.”
Buck really could get used to that. They’re halfway out the door when something flies past Buck’s head and lands on the cookie tray. “You forgot your mistletoe.”
A half dozen eyes turn in their direction as Buck and Eddie freeze. Buck half expects Eddie to roll his eyes and toss it away again. Instead, he picks it up and hangs it in the air between them. He leans up and kisses Buck, a little quickly to Buck’s liking.
“I was wanting to use that,” Eddie says. He winks at Buck, takes the tray of cookies from his arms, and then walks to the table where Christmas, May, Denny, and Harry are waiting. Bobby joins Buck, looking a little too pleased with himself. “So looks like the talking worked out.”
“It did,” Buck says. “That and a few Christmas traditions.”
“I’m happy for you,” Bobby says. “Both of you.”
“Buck,” Christopher calls. “Buck!”
“Looks like you’re needed,” Bobby chuckles.
Buck grins, and half skips over to the table where Christopher is sitting. He leans down next to him to see what he’s making. “What’s up?”
“Dad said no more sprinkles,” Christopher says.
Buck looks up at Eddie, who’s looking down at him with a raised eyebrow. “Oh umm…”
“I told him he should see what your rules are on sprinkles,” Eddie says.
“There is one very important sprinkle rule,” Buck tells them. He leans in close and lowers his voice. “You can never have too many sprinkles. Though I will tell you one thing.”
“What’s that?” Christopher asks.
“It might look pretty, but it might not taste that good.”
“I love sprinkles,” Chris says. “And I’ll eat them all.”
“Then have at it,” Buck says.
He stands up and joins Eddie by the wall. Eddie shakes his head with a laugh. “If he tries to eat that cookie tonight, you’re going to be the one trying to put him to bed.”
“It’ll be worth it,” Buck says.
“You say that now,” Eddie whispers. “But you know what he’s like coming down from a sugar high.”
“Worth it,” Buck repeats. He places a quick kiss on Eddie’s lips and grins. “Always worth it. As long as he’s happy.”
“God, I love you,” Eddie murmurs.
Buck’s not sure he’ll ever get used to hearing Eddie say that. He doesn’t want to. He wants to always feel that same giddy rush every time he hears the words. He wants to make sure Eddie always feels the same. That a day never goes by without Buck making sure Eddie knows just how loved he is. Him and Christopher. He doesn’t need a holiday to show them. He’s going to do that each and every day of their lives.