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Winding Down

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“Muscles I didn’t even know I had hurt,” Mateo whined as he plopped down at one of the tables set up for the first responders on the scene of the wildfire to sit and eat at.

“C’mon Probie, all you did was cut a fire line. We were out saving lives!” Marjan teased, taking a seat next to him and nudging his shoulder.

“Well, I helped save a dog from a burning car,” Mateo retorted, “And I was there to help save Cap and the paramedic lady.”

“Her name’s Hen,” Eddie interrupted, opting to plop on the ground and lean against the table leg rather than sit in a hard chair.

“Quit squabbling. You’re like children,” Judd complained as he stood next to his teammates, stretching his arms above his head to work out the kinks in his sore muscles.

“They are children,” Paul agreed, making his way to the team, juggling 7 water bottles in his arms. He handed one out to everyone and set the two extras on the table, “TK and Buck are grabbing us some pizza,” He explained, opening the water bottle and taking a few gulps of the cool liquid.

“Those two are the actual children,” Marjan tittered, pointing towards where TK and Buck were emerging from the food tent, TK laughing at something Buck said as they walked toward the table with pizza boxes in hand.

Eddie snorted, “I can’t argue with that. Sometimes I feel like I have two children when Buck’s around, instead of just one.” The 126 all let out chuckles as the two in question strolled up.

“What’s so funny?” Buck asked, setting his pizza box on the table with TK’s, a confused look on his face.

“We were just talking about how you and the kid should never be left alone again,” Judd stated, nodding toward TK as he reached for a slice of pizza, the entire group breaking into another peal of laughter when both TK and Buck let out an indignant ‘Hey!’ at the same time.

“How’s Cap?” Mateo asked anxiously as everyone helped themselves to the pizza, Buck handing Eddie a slice so he wouldn’t have to stand.

“Vitals are good,” TK reported around a bite of food, “His lungs are clear. Minor concussion and he’ll probably have a headache for a while.”

“And Hen?” Eddie asked, looking up at Buck.

“She awake, everything looks good but I told her to rest a bit more,” Buck reported and the group all let the final thread of tension leak from their bodies.

“Ok, I gotta ask,” Paul said after a moment, “Who’s dumbass and who’s dumbasser?” the other tired firefighters broke into cackles of laughter, Judd’s booming laugh the loudest of them all.

“Buck’s definitely dumbasser,” Eddie barked out through his laughter, his eyes and smile finding Buck’s.

“Watch it Diaz, it’s a long ride back to LA,” Buck retorted, kicking lightly at Eddie.

“Sorry, babe,” Eddie apologized, reaching up and tugging on Buck’s hand. Buck got the message and moved to stand between Eddie’s spread legs before turning and plopping down on the ground between them, his upper back and head resting against Eddie’s chest. Eddie pressed a gentle kiss to Buck’s temple once the other man was settled.

It took a moment to recognize that everyone around them back gotten quiet, both LA firefighters turning to look up at their new friends who were staring in surprise, “What?” Buck asked with raised eyebrows.

“Nothing,” Paul was quick to say, “I just don’t think any of us realized you two were a couple.”

“Yeah, man. You didn’t give any signs. Kept it real professional out there,” Judd pipped up.

“And here I thought you were staring at me like a creep earlier,” Marjan laughed as he took a bite of her pizza.

Eddie snorted and buried his face into Buck’s sooty neck as the blonde sputtered, “I wasn’t staring,” he protested, making Marjan and TK raise an eyebrow, “Okay, maybe I was, but it was because I recognized you but I didn’t know where from.”

“I thought you were hitting on me,” TK laughed, making Buck’s jaw hang open and Eddie throw back his head in loud laughter.

“What? I wasn’t…I didn’t…why would you think that?”

“You did say he had nice moves,” Mateo offered which made everyone laugh harder.

“I meant he reacted fast to the danger!” Buck groaned out above the laughter, “He pushed me outta the way of that car that was on fire. I was just thanking him.”

“Well your thanking was a bit like flirting,” TK teased with a warm smile.

“You’re just overly nice sometime,” Eddie offered, “Sometimes if feels like you flirt with everyone, but you don’t even realize you’re doing. That’s why it took me so long to realize you were really interested in me,” Eddie said softly to his boyfriend who just sagged against him even more.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable,” Buck apologized.

“You didn’t,” TK shook his head, “At least now I don’t have to turn you down gently. I already have a boyfriend, and it’s pretty serious.”

“Speaking of your boy toy,” Marjan nodded for TK to look behind him.

Walking through the smoky air like some sort of action movie hero, was Carlos in full uniform. The mere sight of him made TK’s heart flutter and his muscles relax.

“Hey stranger,” Carlos greeted, reaching out for TK the moment he was close enough. TK took the offered hand immediately and pulled his boyfriend to him, leaning heavily against the man. “What’s this I hear about you stealing a fire truck?” Carlos asked after pressing a kiss to TK’s sooty and sweaty temple.

All of the 126 had the decency to look guilty, “It wasn’t my idea,” TK said into the juncture of Carlos’ neck as the man continued to hold him close.

“Accessory is still a crime,” Carlos chimed back.

“You’re dating a cop and you were still going to steal a fire truck with me?” Buck asked from his place against Eddie’s chest, drawing Carlos’ attention.

“It was for my dad,” TK protested softly, finally pulling himself away from Carlos so he could look at him properly. Carlos’ gaze got soft.

“I know,” he cooed, reaching out to cup TK’s cheek and press a quick kiss to his lips.

“Are you here because someone really reported us?” Judd asked as he sipped at his water.

Carlos shook his head and laughed, “No. I heard what happened with Owen. Wanted to make sure everyone was doing okay. I’m off shift anyway, just didn’t have time to change.”

“With the wind shifting and the fire almost contained, we’ll probably be shipping out soon,” Eddie said, nudging Buck to sit up so he could stand. Buck protested weakly, but allowed Eddie to move and then pull him up as well.

“Carlos, this is Buck and Eddie. They’re firefighters from the 118 in Los Angeles.” TK explained, Carlos shaking hands with both men, “Their paramedic was with Dad in the helicopter. She’s okay too, thankfully. They helped us find them.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Carlos replied with a smile, wrapping and arm around TK’s waist and letting the exhausted man lean against him. “As for shipping out, you guys are as well,” Carlos revealed, looking at the 126. “I stopped in and saw Owen on my way over. He and the incident commander were talking. They said all original relief crews were dismissed. The newer crews will handle the cleanup.”

The 126 crew all let out cheers of joy, “I can’t wait to not smell like smoke!” Marjan stated.

“I can’t wait to sleep for 12 hours,” Paul countered.

“Why do you look so sad Chavez?” Judd asked, and all eyes turned to Mateo.

“It’s like when you’re friends move away and you know you’ll never see them again,” Mateo pouted, motioning at Eddie and Buck.

“We’ll stay in touch,” Eddie reassured, “Especially now that Marjan and I follow each other on Insta.”

“You followed him, but not me?!” Buck protested loudly, making both Marjan and Eddie snicker as Eddie steered Buck away from the group and towards the medical tent where Hen was resting. “If you guys are ever in LA, make sure you stop by!” Buck called over his shoulder as Eddie continued to push him along.

“See you later Hollywood!” Judd called back, making the 126 and Carlos all chuckle as they waved at the two retreating LA firefighters