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Eddie kisses his best friend at a wedding.

At a Christmas party.

On New Year’s Eve.

He kisses Buck in the carpark after a team night at a bar on a cool February night, drunk on more than just beer and cocktails, giddy with the taste of salt on Buck’s lips.

“Come home with me,” he whispers into the space between them.

And Buck smiles, hand warm on Eddie’s cheek, and replies, “Where else am I going to go?”

They’re tipsy and giggling, shushing each other as they stumble through the door—then realising they don’t have to because Chris isn’t home. He’s at the Wilsons’ house, will be all night, which is probably why Hen gave Eddie such a knowing look when he followed Buck out of the bar.

“Buck,” he says now, his back against the wall, Buck’s mouth on his neck, the world dark and narrowed to all the places where they touch and the ache in every place they don’t. He doesn’t know what to say except: “Buck, please. Please.”

It’s Eddie’s house, but Buck takes him to bed, guiding him by the hand through the hallway and pushing him back against the sheets.

It’s Eddie’s house, but is it? Isn’t it—can’t it be—their house?

“I should tell you,” Buck says afterwards, tracing patterns on Eddie’s chest in the moonlit darkness. “I think I’m in love with you.”

Eddie kisses his best friend in his bed, both of them naked and probably still too drunk for these kinds of confessions. Or maybe just drunk enough.

“I should tell you,” he answers, “I think I want to marry you.”

Buck’s inhale is a quick, jagged thing, messy and real and trembling under the hand that Eddie has curved around his side.

“Eddie,” he breathes, an exhale and an exultation.

“I think I’ve always wanted to marry you,” Eddie admits, “even if I didn’t always know it.”

He should probably invite Frank to the wedding, he thinks. Maybe that cardiologist who told him he was repressed as well.

“Eddie,” Buck says again, but this time his voice is wet, almost wobbly. “You can’t just say things like that.”

Maybe.

Maybe if it was anyone other than Buck.

“I mean it,” Eddie tells him. Promises him. “You know I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Another trembling breath, and then certainty: “I know.”

Buck kisses him, slow and thorough, the weight of him pressing Eddie into the mattress in all the right ways. There’s no hurry to it, no hurry to any of it, except for the way that Eddie wants all of Buck, all the time, and he’s tired of pretending that he doesn’t.

“We can’t get engaged like this,” Buck says finally, lips swollen, breathing ragged between them. “The others will never let us live it down.”

Eddie shakes his head. “I don’t care.”

“We’re not even dating, Eddie.”

But it’s not a no.

“I already gave you my heart,” Eddie says. Doesn’t have to say when, or which time, or that he’s been giving Buck pieces of his heart every day since they met, even when he didn’t know it.

Buck’s fingers skim the edge of the scar on Eddie’s shoulder and he bends down, presses his lips there, loving and lingering.

“I just gave you a drawing,” he says ruefully.

As if that drawing isn’t still displayed pride of place on Eddie’s fridge. As if he doesn’t think about getting it framed every time he sees it.

As if Buck alone isn’t everything.

“You can make it up to me with a ring,” Eddie says lightly.

Buck laughs, and kisses him again, and it feels like a yes.

It is a yes.

It’s: “I’ll be such a good husband for you, Eds.”

And: “You already are.”

It’s four and a half years of words and heartfelt actions and weaving their lives together, everything built up to this moment, to every moment that will come after.

“I love you,” Eddie says, because he forgot that before, but maybe he should have led with it. He’s been holding his love for Buck so tight for so long that he almost thinks the words won’t come out, but they do, slipping out as easy as breathing. He’s grinning as he says it, almost dizzy with how light he feels, those three little words finally free. Finally heard.

Buck grins too, moonlight in his eyes, his curls, the dimples of his cheeks. So fucking gorgeous it almost hurts to look at him.

“I love you too,” he says, just like Eddie knew he would.

Because he always knew, he thinks, even before he knew that he did: they were always going to end up here. Together. Forever, if the universe will let them.

Eddie kisses his best friend—his fiancé—at three a.m. on a Saturday night in February, a little drunk, a little messy, a lot in love.

And then they begin the rest of their lives.