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The Nature of Pain

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Buck had never felt pain like this in his entire life. Flames dance around his blurred visions, he tried to blink the tears and blood out of his eyes. His ears ringing, head pounding, he saw a figure approaching. Buck tried to focus, to see who it was. It was then he noticed the vest and detonator. It was the bomber.

“You’re new,” the bomber said as he eyed the pinned firefighter.

Buck focus was fading in and out as he heard the man shouting. It wasn’t until the felt a hand on his collar that he became painfully aware that the man had returned to him.

“I want the captain!” The man shouted, before slamming Buck’s head into the ground. Black spots danced around the firefighters vision and he groaned. The man repeated his command, lifting Buck again. The firefighter felt a blinding pain through his skull and he choked back the bile rising in his throat. He heard Chimney voice but couldn’t make out what he was saying. The man was shouting again. The only thing he understood was hearing their true captain’s name, Nash. Buck tried to focus again hands going to his head only for his arm to be pulled violently, tearing a scream from his lungs. His vision blurred around the edges as someone approached them. It was then Buck heard Bobby’s voice. Buck tried to focus.

“Freddie,” Bobby called out to the bomber.

“I thought you’d be on the truck.” Freddie, that was apparently the bomber’s name, said, dropping Buck’s arm as he stood up, the firefighter groaning from pain in his shoulder. Buck could hear them speaking but the pain made it hard to focus. He forced himself to listen closer when just barely saw Bobby gesturing at him.

 “He’s got parents, a sister, a girlfriend,” Buck felt a new fear grip his Bobby spoke. Ali, Maddie, the team, he may never get to see them again. He looked over to where he knew the rest of the team was waiting, just waiting for a chance to get to him. Bobby continued, “And he never did anything to you. He wasn’t even a firefighter when your father burned down that restaurant.”

 “You care about him, don’t you? Well how do you like it?” Freddie kicked the pinned firefighter in the ribs. “How does it feel to watch someone you care about kicked while they’re down?” He kicked the injured firefighter again. Buck’s body curling around itself as much as it could with the way he was pinned. Freddie pulled him up by the collar again, turning to speak to Buck. “How does it feel to be Collateral damage?” Freddie shook him when he didn’t get an answer from the injured man. Buck groaned at the burning pain in his chest.

“Is that how you see yourself?” Bobby asked, trying to get Freddie’s attention back on him. “An unintended victim in all this?”

“Stop.” Freddie held the detonator out. “One more step and we all go boom.”

Buck gave up trying to listen. He didn’t want to die like this. He’d just got his sister back in his life. He had people who cared about him. He didn’t want to be another loss added to an already grieving team. Eddie’d just lost his wife. Now his best friend might have to bury him. And Bobby, oh Buck just hoped Bobby’d be able to come back from all this. Buck didn’t want to be the one thing that pushed Bobby back over the edge. They’d fought so hard to get Bobby back to a good place. Buck hated to be the one that would ruin that progress. He just hope Athena’d be able to pull him back

The next thing Buck knew, there were hands on him. He felt hands at his neck and terror gripped him. The feeling of Freddie smashing his head repeatedly was still fresh in his aching mind. He tried to fight them. All the fight he had vanished as he heard his best friend’s voice in his ear, telling him it was okay, and that they had him. When the injured man stopped fighting they immediately started asking him question and checking his vitals. They asked him how he was, and he honestly didn’t know.

“Head hurts,” Buck managed to say, his speech somewhat slurred. He started to fade out, the voices around him becoming unintelligible until a hand on his head brought him back.

“Hang on, Buck.” Eddie’s voice was in his ear, latching on to his best friend’s hand like it was his life line. He weakly squeezed the older man’s hand to let him know he was trying. He really was trying, but everything hurt. He could hear Chim calls for help moving the truck and to clear a path to the nearest trauma center.

They scrambled to try and lift the truck off. Buck screaming in agony as they tried and failed, Hen and Eddie telling him to hang in there. He wasn’t sure he could take it. Hen kept telling them to lift higher. He heard his best friend’s voice beside him saying something about leverage but he wasn’t sure what. It was then people started breaking through the police barrier to help. The crowd managed to lift the truck enough for Hen and Eddie to pull Buck free of the truck. Buck’s agonizing scream only fading when the movements stilled and they said he was clear. Buck was eerily silent as the loaded onto the backboard and again onto the stretcher. He could hear a jumbled mess of voices but he couldn’t fight the darkness that was dimming the world around him until it was gone.

Buck woke up to the sound of beeping and hushed voices. He tried to turn his head towards the voices but groaned in pain as he did. He heard a gasp.

“Buck? Buck, can you hear me?” It took him a second to realize it was Ali’s voice.

“Squeeze my hand if you can hear us, Buckaroo.” Buck recognized Carla’s voice and did as his friend asked. “That’s good Buckaroo. I’m going to go get a nurse.” Carla said, giving Buck’s hand a gentle squeeze before she left.

Buck tried to speak but Ali stopped him. “No, Buck, sweetie, you wont be able to say anything until they take the tube out.” He blinked up at her. “It’s okay.” She reached up and put a hand on his cheek. “Just relax, you’ve been through a lot.” Buck had so many question he wanted to ask but just thinking about them hurt his head. He let himself relax into the pillows. He was almost asleep when a nurse and a doctor entered the room. He tried to focus as the doctor explained what had happened. He felt like he was going to cough up a lung when the removed the breathing tube. The nurse helped him take a drink. When the doctors left and Carla returned Ali excused herself to make some phone calls.

“A week?” Buck asked.

“Mmhmm,” Carla nodded.