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Author's Note: This is an AU scene from the extended edition of Partnership.

Partnership, extended edition: Scene 4

by shalott

"Starved to death," Bud says, sweeping them out and putting away his dishes and the food he brought over. "Jesus, this is fucking pitiful."

He makes dinner Sunday night after everything's unpacked, and afterwards he stares meaningfully until Ed gets the hint and tentatively starts clearing away the dishes. "Wait, what the fuck are you doing?" Bud says, taking the silverware out from between the wobbling stack of plates. "Exley, tell me you've never done dishes."

"Well," Ed says, and shrugs; he's got a maid who comes in once a week and washes his coffeepot, and the mug and spoon he just rinses out.

"For Christ's sake." Bud starts the water running, then rolls Ed's sleeves up for him and stands him in front of the sink. Ed can figure out wiping the plates on his own, but he doesn't say so when Bud covers his hands and puts him through the motions, standing close up behind him. The hot soapy water is milky-white: they can't see their hands under the surface, but their fingers are interlacing.

"Just like that," Bud says, a little hoarsely. "Keep doing that." He takes his hands out dripping dishwater and unbuttons Ed's pants, shoves them down. Ed keeps washing the same last plate, as long as he can manage; then he puts it down and braces himself against the counter while Bud works the rest of the way in, slick with soap.

There's a small window over the sink. It's dark out in the backyard, and Ed can see his own reflection while Bud fucks him: dazed, heavy-lidded, and so smugly satisfied he wonders if maybe he was planning this all along without even realizing. Afterwards, Bud spreads out their current casefile on the coffee table while Ed showers, and they work out their approach for tomorrow sitting on the couch in boxers. They climb into Ed's big bed still talking about it and fall asleep facing each other.

Ed wakes up in sunlight and spends ten minutes trailing his mouth over Bud's back, shoulders, neck before Bud starts to stir. Bud crawls out of bed and goes to shower with his eyes still mostly closed. Ed gets up and makes the coffee.

"We could take some time off after we close this case," Bud says, coming in, towel slung around his hips, water beading across his shoulders. Ed thinks about a couple weeks on a beach in Mexico, licking salt and tequila off Bud's skin in some little shack, orange sun filtering down through layers of mosquito netting. And coming home after, dumping the luggage in the living room and just going straight to bed: even better.

"Sure," he says, and pours the coffee, two cups instead of one on the kitchen table.

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