“Oh shit .” Buck thinks this is the one time it is absolutely a-ok to curse in front of a child.
Christopher’s eyes are as wide as he’s ever seen them; he watches the wave get bigger and bigger as it heads towards the pier. Towards them .
The initial fear, which froze Buck up, finally turns into alarm, and then he’s scooping the kid into his arms and running like mad, yelling at others on the pier to do the same.
After that, it’s total chaos.
Buck tries to keep a firm hold on Christopher, but when the tsunami hits, it is so much stronger than he could have ever imagined, and he feels little arms scrambling in the water to keep their grip on his shoulders.
Christophers’ small body is ripped away from his instantly. Buck screams but he can barely hear himself among the others. “CHRISTOPHER!” he sputters, salt water in his lungs.
Buck coughs, trying to keep above the water as wave after relentless wave crashes over his head. “CHRISTOPHER! I’M COMING!” he yells out, even though he can’t see a thing, has no idea where the boy is.
“KEEP CALLING ME!” he coughs again, trying to stay afloat, kicking as hard as he can.
He starts swimming against the current, in the direction where he heard his name. He’s nearby, thank God. “CHRIS!”
There, in the not too far distance, up against a long, surprisingly sturdy pole, is Christopher, holding on for dear life. “BUCK!” he cries out again, when he sees him.
“HOLD ON! I’M COMING!” the ex-firefighter continues to make his way towards him, but it’s hard going, the current is strong and pushing him further out to sea.
“BUCK PLEASE!” Christopher sobs, one hand attempting to reach out. “BUCK!”
Buckley’s muscles scream in protest as he pushes them beyond their limit. “I’M COMING!” he shouts, just as a piece of debris (what must have been a part of a small row-boat at some point) comes ricocheting towards him.
Instead of ducking out of the way, Buck grabs onto it and uses it as leverage, kicking against it to propel himself forward. To his surprise, it works. He’s just in reach of Christopher!
“BUCK!” Christopher reaches out again, his fingers brushing against Buck’s.
Buck pushes himself the rest of the way there, kicking with all his might. He flings himself around Christopher, breathing out a deep sigh of relief, arms wrapping securely around the kid.
Christopher turns around to grip at Buck and tucks his face up against his shoulder. “You came!” he cries. “I was so scared for you.”
Buck’s whole heart nearly breaks then and there. “You were scared for me ?”
He feels the eight year old nod frantically. “Yeah, couldn’t find you.”
Buckley holds on just a little tighter, “Me too, Christopher. I thought I’d lost you.” his voice shakes on the last few words. He doesn’t know what he would have done if--he doesn’t even want to think the thought.
Another wave crashes down over their heads and all the warning they get before the pole they’re using as support to keep them in place breaks, is a very loud screeching sound.
“HOLD ON!” Buckley screams, one hand going to protect Christophers’ head, the other tight around his waist.
The current drags them fast and hard, and Buck kicks frantically to keep them afloat, panic clawing at his mind. What if he’s not strong enough? What if his stupid leg gives out? What if his grip is too weak? What if he gets separated from Christopher again?
“BUCK! A TRUCK!” Christophers outburst snaps him back to reality.
Buck turns in time to see the top of a sunken fire truck. “Chris, bud, I need you to use all your strength to hold onto me so I can get us to that truck, ok?”
Christopher tightens his hold around his neck and nods in affirmation, determined.
“Good job!” now able to use at least one arm to swim, the other still wound about the kids’ waist, he directs them over to the truck, narrowly avoiding debris around the vehicle. “Ok, ok, now I need you to let go so I can hoist you up there, buddy.”
Christopher’s grip tightens. “I’m scared.” he admits softly.
Buck’s heart does break into pieces this time. “I know, Christopher, I know, because I am too, but you’ve been so brave , and I’m so proud; as soon as you’re up there I’m gonna’ join you and we’ll be together again, ok?”
Christopher’s grip loosens enough for him to look Buck in the eye. “You promise?”
Buck nods. “I promise.”
Christopher lets himself be unceremoniously placed atop the truck, and then it’s Buck’s turn. He’s weak from all his impromptu swimming and fails to lift himself up the first time, and the second time. His third attempt he manages to get most of himself up there, and with Christophers’ help, he pulls the rest of himself onto the truck safely.
“Thanks.” he breathes out, suddenly beyond exhausted now that he’s stopped moving.
Everything hurts .
Regardless, Buck lifts Christopher up onto his lap, so that he’s not sitting in the water filling the truck. He rubs his hands up and down the kids’ back and sides to generate some type of warmth. They might be stuck waiting for rescue for a while, and Buck would rather hypothermia not be the thing to do them in.
He fishes his cell out of his pocket, shocked it’s even still in there. His wallet is probably somewhere in the middle of the pacific by now.
His phone is waterproof, but the cracked screen means it’s definitely taken some damage. He tries it anyway, dialing Eddie’s number. It starts ringing. “Please please please.” he half-whispers into the speaker.
“Buck?” he hears Eddie’s voice on the other end just as his phone fizzes out and dies.
He nearly curses again, before remembering Christopher’s there. “Was that my dad?”
Bucky nods. “Yeah, but my phone’s busted so I didn’t get to tell him where we are.” he sighs. He hopes that the call was at least enough to alert them to something being amiss, but Eddie could very well be in the middle of a rescue opp, and think of it as nothing more than a bad signal on his part.
“It’s ok.” Christopher taps his shoulder encouragingly.
Buck smiles down at him. The kid is seriously a rock. “Thanks Chris.” he squeezes him in a bear hug, smiling wider when that gets a giggle out of him.
They pass the time with silly games like truth or dare and i-spy, but eventually Christopher’s eyes droop shut and he falls asleep. It’s almost nighttime, after all, and he’s had a hell of a day. Buck tries to keep him awake, but to no avail.
At the very least, the day was sunny enough that Christopher, who he’s managed to keep out of the water, is now dry, and no longer shivering. Still, Buck rubs his hands up and down the kids’ back while he sleeps, determined to keep him warm as the sun goes down.
Buck wonders how many other people must be in perilous situations, that not one rescue boat has been sent their way. He also hasn’t seen any other people--well, not alive at least--since they hopped on the truck. They can’t be too far from shore.
Buck has been trying his phone every hour on the dot for the last few hours, with no luck. Despite that, he decides to try again. The screen is fuzzy at best, but that’s better than a black screen. He can’t get into his contacts or even past the home screen, so he tries the emergency call, hoping that function is still available.
Less than two rings later he hears a very familiar voice. “9-1-1 operator, what is your emergency?”
“Maddie?!” he half-shouts into the phone, making sure not to wake Christopher. “Is that you!?”
“Buck? Wait, what, are you ok?”
“We were on the pier when the tsunami hit. We need rescue asap, we managed to climb up on a firetruck, but it’s definitely sinking, I can feel it.”
“I’m with Christopher.”
“Oh god, ok, ok, umm,” Maddie feels like all her training’s gone out the window. Her baby brother and Eddie’s actual baby are in the middle of this disaster?! “Do you know where you are?” she’s already working on tracking the gps coordinates on his phone.
“Not really. I don’t see any buildings, just a lot of ocean...and bodies. Listen, I need you to call Eddie, tell him Christopher’s alright. I tried phoning him earlier but my phone’s broken and we got cut off before I could even say anything. It’s a miracle I was able to get through to you.”
Maddie nods, even though she knows he can’t see her. “I will. We’re tracking your signal right now, we’re gonna’ send a team to your location as soon as possible, but stay on the phone with me, ok?”
“Yeah, trust me, I’ve never been happier to hear your voice.” he chuckles in relief. She’s got them. Everything’s going to be ok.
He hears her laugh in return, “Same goes to--” BEEEEEEP !
“Shit, shit shit.” Buck stares at the phone in his hand in disbelief. It’s pitch black again. He tries to get it to start up again but all his efforts are in vain. The thing is fried. He really really hopes she got his coordinates before his phone decided to spazz out.