“It has to be blue so that I can match my best buddy!”
Christopher laughed from his favourite spot, held in Bucks arms, pressed against his chest. “I thought Daddy was your best buddy?”
Buck smiled at the kid, still using his one free hand to rifle through his drawers, searching for his hoodie. “Yeah, well don’t tell him, okay? It’s our secret.”
Christopher laughed and laid his head down on the man’s shoulder, fluttering hands resting on his back against his shirt from where his arms were wrapped around his neck.
His mind ticked through the thoughts he’d been having since the previous night, worried for his friend.
He replied, distracted and yet still sincere, eyebrows furrowing as he struggled to find what he was looking for. “Yeah, buddy?”
“Are we gonna have another earthquake? I don’t like earthquakes.”
Bucks hand stilled and he looked to Christopher, eyebrows scrunching in a different way as he sighed. “I hope not. I don’t like ‘em either. This building shook way too much for my tastes which is why your bestest uncle Buck is gonna come stay with you and your dad for a bit. Until they can get it up to code.”
Christopher had already been told this by his father before he’d dropped him off but he was just as excited to be told again.
Buck nodded, laughing. “Yeah.”
“Are you gonna sleep in Dads bed like last time?”
Buck froze for a moment before spinning them around and heading for his bed to look there for the hoodie. “Uh...I didn’t think you’d noticed that. I told you I slept on the couch. Were you spying?”
Buck prayed they hadn’t woken the poor kid.
“I saw you come out of there for breakfast.”
“Right. Well, maybe if your dad lets me I will. Anyway we’ve got to get a move on if we want to get to the zoo for the penguin show.”
Buck took a step, whole body going still as the ground shifted beneath them. It had dipped, just a tiny shift but Buck could feel the entire structure move. It must have been damaged in the quake, and now it was compromised. It had been small, but he knew from experience that things could go wrong very quickly.
Buck froze as Christopher started talking about the things he’d learned about penguins the last time they’d gone to the zoo. Buck usually loved listening to the kid talk about whatever his heart desired but in that moment all he could focus on was the way his floor creaked. Shit.
“Chris? We’re gonna have to get off this balcony. I’m not sure how long it’s gonna h-“
There was a snap and a crackle but they were falling before Buck could hear the pop. It all happened so fast and yet Buck could feel every millisecond of their decent and every detail within it. Christopher warm against his chest, his hands gripping his shirt. For a single moment they were weightless, the floor dropping out from beneath Bucks feet. And then gravity was pulling them down too.
Buck pulled in a gasp and tightened his grip on the kid in his arms, his brain sending out a single, clear thought. Fuck.
And then his feet were striking the floor, pain shooting up his legs, body tipping, back slamming against the floor as Christopher let out a scared shout. All Buck wanted was to keep Christopher safe but when his head struck the floor he couldn't do anything but sink into the black.
Christopher didn’t like earthquakes and he didn’t like tsunamis and he did not like falling. But he had and now Buck wasn’t waking up.
“Buck. Buck, wake up.”
He was scared and he wasn’t sure what to do. Bucks’s arms were heavy across his back and when Christopher tried to sit up he could see that the fireman’s eyes were closed and red was spreading across the sloped floor underneath his head, staining his hair and sliding down his neck.
Chris pressed his shaky hands to Bucks jaw, the scratchy stubble against his skin doing nothing to rouse the man from his sleep.
“Buck. Please. I’m scared.”
If his dad was here he’d know what to do. Christopher needed his dad. Buck needed him.
Christopher couldn’t move much but he reached down to try and pull Bucks phone from his pocket, clumsy fingers slipping and making his chest tighten with frustration until he finally got it out and pulled it up to rest on Bucks chest.
“I can do it. I’m gonna call Dad, Buck. It’s gonna be okay.”
“I don’t even want to know what you mean.” Eddie laughed, leaning back in his chair as Chimney tried to explain himself.
“No, no, I didn’t mean it like that.” Hen and Bobby joined in on the teasing as Eddie pulled his phone out of his pocket, standing to answer its ringing call.
Eddie spun on his heel, smile warming up his chest at his son’s voice. “Hey, buddy. Where’s Buck? You guys having fun?”
Eddies blood ran cold and his feet froze, goosebumps racing up his arm. “What?”
“We fell. Buck’s asleep.”
Eddie suddenly found it very hard to breathe. He’d been in warzones, in blazing fires and shootouts but none of those had involved his son asking for help over the phone and his best friend hurt and alone.
“C-Christopher can you tell me where you are.”
“Bucks house. It’s broken.”
Eddie raced back to the table and grabbed a napkin, ripping his pen from his pocket as he scribbled across it, still talking to his son as he tried to focus.
Bus to Bucks NOW.
“Are you hurt? Are you okay?”
“I’m okay, Dad. Buck needs help.”
That was one worry taken care of.
“Christopher, buddy I need you to tell me what happened. Where are you two?”
Everyone at the table jumped to their feet, scrambling and calling out orders, grabbing supplies and racing to the trucks. Eddie hurried after them as he held his phone tighter, trying to hear his kid over the noise.
“Bucks bedroom fell down. His head is bleeding, bad.”
Eddie closed his eyes for a moment, feeling Hen’s hands buckling him in as the truck rumbled beneath them. He took a breath, fighting to keep his voice steady and falling back on his training to settle his heart rhythm into something more manageable.
“Can you tell me if he’s breathing?”
The faces around him were pale with worry, picking up whatever clues they could from the one side of the call they could hear.
Christopher laid his head down on Buck's chest and listened before sitting up again, working hard to get himself on his butt and off of Buck, those heavy arms thumping to the ground as he moved.
“He’s breathing. His heart’s slow.”
He could hear his dad take a breath before he started talking again, sirens and honking coming through in the background.
“Okay, you said his head was bleeding? Can you find something to press against it? Something like a towel or-or a-”
Bucks clothes were scattered around them, furniture broken and gathered on one side of the room where the balcony had sloped towards the wall and Christopher reached a hand towards a hoodie laying close, curled fingers catching the edge of the sleeve and dragging it close to scrunch into a ball.
“Be really careful with his head, okay Mijo? Don’t move it around too much, he needs to stay really still.”
Buck didn’t wake up when Christopher moved him, trying as hard as he could to make sure that he didn’t hurt his friend any further. He pushed the hoodie under Buck’s head, watching the blue stain into dark purple almost immediately.
“Buck’s really cold.”
His dad’s breath shook over the line and his voice was muffled for a moment as he yelled at someone to drive faster before his voice came back, out of breath but clear. “We’re coming. You hear me? We’re almost there, Chris. I’m coming really soon. I just need you two to hang on. Can you tell Buck for me?”
Christopher knew it was bad, then, when he could hear his dad fighting for breath, and his vision blurred behind his glasses.
“Rub his chest, try to wake him up. He needs to wake up, Chris.”
Christopher tried, rubbing his hands up and down over Buck’s chest but it only made his head wobble. “Wake up, Buck. Dad said you have to get up. Please. I think he’s scared.”
Eddie’s breath hitched over the phone before he cleared his throat and his voice came back strong and focused. “I’m okay, little guy. I’m not scared, you know why?”
Christopher couldn’t see anymore. His tears were confusing his vision and making his nose tickle and he let out a hiccup, voice breaking as the sound split his dad’s heart in two. “Why?”
“Cause I know you’re taking care of him. Bucks going to be okay, Christopher. Everythings going to be alright and I’ll be there really soon to help. I promise. You believe me?”
Christopher sniffled, pulling his glasses off and rubbing his eyes. “Yeah.”
He wished his dad was with him. He didn’t want to wait. “Dad. There’s lots of blood.”
Eddie didn’t reply for a moment but when he did his voice was quieter. “You can close your eyes if you like, Bud. Just hold onto Buck’s hand and keep talking to him. Make sure he knows that helps coming. Can you do that for me?”
Chris hiccupped again, sobs hurting his chest as he found Bucks limp hand and squeezed it, closing his eyes tight. “W-wake up, Buck. Dad’s coming. You h-have to wake up.”
Eddie wanted to break down right then and there. The agony and panic of needing to be there and having to wait until they arrived, felt as if it could crush him. Not being able to do anything to help, not knowing exactly what was happening terrified him but his two favourite boys in the entire world needed him. He couldn’t break down just yet. He needed to focus.
But hearing his son start to cry while begging his best friend to wake up split something inside him open and all he could feel was blind panic. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do anything to make it better for Christopher.
Hen reached forward and gripped his hand, squeezing his fingers until they turned white and the pain cleared his throat, allowing him to suck in one gulp of air and then another and another. She grabbed his phone and put it on speaker.
“Christopher, you’re doing great, baby. We’ll be there in two minutes, okay? And we’ll get Buck some help. He’ll be okay.”
Chim and Bobby joined in, calling out to the kid and making him feel better when Eddie couldn't. “Good job, buddy. We’re almost there.”
“You just hang on for us, alright?”
Christopher’s shaky voice came through the phone and broke Eddie’s heart all over again. “Okay.”
The second Bucks place was in view Eddie was out of his seat, Hens hand shooting out to grab him and shove him back into his seat until they were halfway parked. Eddie was out of the truck before it had fully stopped regardless but there was no more holding him back and the team were left to grab the gear while he sprinted inside screaming his son’s name.
He could hear him and he ran faster he could hear the terror in his voice and he pushed his legs further. He slammed against the door, finding it stiff from the shift of the building and flew through into the destruction of Buck’s home.
It was a mess, dust and debris littering the floor but it was the huge platform that had crushed Buck’s living room that took his attention because laying atop the wreckage was his best friend and his son.
Eddie sprinted forward, the others coming in behind him, shouts reaching them but not Eddie’s ears as he reached his kid and grabbed him, lifting him from the wreck.
“Christopher! I’m here, I got you!”
The kid was shaking, hands winding around his dad's neck even as he asked him to focus on someone else. “Help Buck!”
Eddie held his son close, rocking him from side to side as he ran his hand over the back of his head, smoothing his hair while his eyes took in the damage to his friend. He was pale, unresponsive, the hoodie beneath his head soaked and likely sporting a dislocated knee if the swelling beneath his sweats had anything to do with it.
But the others were coming in to help and he needed to make sure that Christopher was okay. “I got you, buddy. Buck’s getting some help, now let me check you over huh? Come here.”
He carried him over to one of the overturned couches and lowered Chris down, facing him away from Buck so that the others could help without worrying about scaring the kid.
“Buck, can you hear me? Evan? Open your eyes man, come on.”
“I need some help here. This head wounds not stopping.”
“Buck, if you can hear me, open your eyes. That’s an order, kid.”
Eddie was listening to it all, eyes staying focussed on Christopher as he knelt in front of him, checking over every inch of him for any sign that he was hurt. “Mijo, I know you’re worried about Buck but I need to know if you’re hurt. Is anything sore?”
“I’m okay, Dad. I wanna see Buck.”
Christopher shook his head and tried to turn around to see, Eddie’s hand finding his chin and turning him back to face him.
He lifted the kid’s glasses and set them on his nose, tucking the arms back behind his ears as he put a calm mask over his worry. “I know you do, but right now I need to focus on you. Look here, I’m going to shine a bright light in your eyes, just keep looking at me.”
Christopher swung a hand to his dad’s pushing the light away, frustrated. “No! I need to help Buck!”
Eddie caught his son’s hands in his and squeezed tight, meeting his worried eyes and letting his mask slip away. “You did! You helped him, Christopher. You called me. You helped stop the bleeding, you took care of him but now, you have to let me take care of you. Okay? Do you know how scared I was when I heard that you were in trouble? I was so worried that I would lose my little man-”
His voice broke and he blinked, taking a breath and evening out his voice again. Christopher was quiet.
“I can’t lose you, buddy. You’re my favourite person in the whole world. And I was scared. So, you just gotta let me take care of you for a little while, okay?”
Eddie needed to be strong for his son but Christopher wasn’t stupid, pretending he was fine wasn’t going to fool him and telling him how worried he was only made Christopher sure that his dad was going to do everything he could to make sure that Buck was okay. Because he knew that his dad loved Buck too.
Christopher leaned forward until his cheek was pressed against his dad’s shoulder, red-stained hands curling in his dad’s shirt. “Okay, Dad.”
Eddie let out a shuddering breath and wrapped his arms around his kid, letting his butt hit the floor as he pulled Christopher into his lap. His best friend was hurt and his little boy had to see it happen. How many times was this kid going to go through hell?
“Okay, his heads stabilised and his pulse ox is coming back up. Get those straps tightened, we’ll move as soon as his blood pressures stable enough.”
“Come on, Buckaroo. Let me see those baby blues, would you? That’s it, that’s it. Come back to us, kid.”
Eddie looked up, watching Chim rub his knuckles up and down Buck's chest, Hen catching the younger man's hands when he tried to reach up and push him away, a few grunts of pain escaping his mouth.
Eddie stood, still holding onto his son and watched as Buck began to come around, body jerking as he met the resistance of restraints holding him to the backboard, bad leg strapped down and head and neck immobilised.
“Buck, calm down. You’re okay. You took a bad fall but you’re okay. Open your eyes.”
Bobby brushed the backs of his fingers across Buck’s cheeks, voice loud and familiar and finally, with a panicked grunt and a full-body flinch, he was awake.
“Christopher! Where is he?”
His hands fought upwards, pushing the others away as he tried to sit up, panic and adrenaline making his whole body shake.
“Buck, just stay still. Stop.”
“You gotta find him, Bobby. He was right here! I had him with me when we fell. Where is he? Christopher!”
Eddie rushed forward as the others held Buck down, his hands fighting his restraints, pulling against the straps until one of them popped and he kicked out, desperate.
“Buck!” Christopher called out before they could even get there and Buck stilled, hands reaching for them as Eddie got closer, climbing over broken furniture to get to his friend.
Bucks wide, slightly unfocussed eyes zeroed in on the boy, Christophers searching hands reaching Bucks own outstretched ones as Eddie placed his kid down beside him.
“Christopher! Oh my god, buddy. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
Tears ran down Bucks temples and disappeared into his bloodstained hair as Christopher fell against his chest, the two of them hugging each other so tightly that Eddie was sure he'd need a crowbar to pry them apart.
Even hurt and confused Buck was still only thinking of the boy and his shaking hands tugged at Bobby as he begged his captain to check him over.
“Is he hurt? Check him. Just take care of Chris, please-”
Eddie clenched his teeth against a sob and scrubbed a hand over his eyes, moving closer and leaning over the beautiful, wonderful man that loved his son every bit as much as he did.
“Buck- Evan, he’s okay. I checked him, he’s okay. You’re both going to be okay.”
Buck’s eyes locked onto his and suddenly his face was scrunched and his breaths were coming as sobs. With one hand wrapped tight around Christopher, he used the other to reach for Eddie, already apologising for something that wasn’t his fault.
“Eddie. Eddie, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was this bad, I thought that-”
Eddie shook his head and leaned down, brushing his palms over Buck’s cheeks as his thumbs swept the tears from his temples.
“Hey, it wasn’t your fault. How many times do I have to tell you that natural disasters aren’t your fault, huh? You kept my son safe, you broke his fall with your own body, Buck and you’re still worried about him.”
He shook his head in disbelief, a sudden, slightly hysterical laugh bursting from him as he pressed in close, forehead resting against Bucks. “You’re unbelievable and stupid and I love you so, so much.”
He leaned back, allowing just enough space to see Bucks eyes when he whispered the words back, shock making his words small and quiet, just for them. “I love you too, Eddie.”
Eddie couldn’t wait any longer. He didn’t care that they hadn’t told the crew about their relationship or even that they hadn’t talked it over with Christopher, he leaned down, fingers sliding down to grip the collar of Bucks shirt and pressed his lips to Evans.
He tasted like salt and dust, a stark contrast to the first, spice and whiskey kiss they’d shared a few months prior but it didn’t matter because he was safe and he was his.
Evan kissed him back, teeth biting at his lip in his desperation for contact and everything else slipped away around them. Everything except Christophers small voice beneath them. “Dad, do that later.”
Eddie laughed again and pulled back, ruffling the boy’s hair where he was still curled against Buck’s chest. “Okay, okay. Come on, kid. Let’s get moving.”
Buck reluctantly let go and let Eddie pick him up again, the two of them watching as Hen strapped Buck back in.
“Let’s get you to the hospital and fixed up and then we’ll have a talk about how HR is going to feel about relationships in the firehouse.” Bobby patted Bucks shoulder with a smile as the gurney started to roll out, Eddie finding Bucks hand and squeezing it tight as they went. And he had no intention of ever letting go.
“I want to say thank you, for saving my little brother. I heard you were really brave and took care of him. You made sure that he was going to be okay so that we could all see him again. So, thank you, Christopher.”
Maddie smiled at the boy, genuinely grateful but Eddie only rocked his son side to side where he sat in his lap and nudged Bucks shoulder where he sat up in bed, happily drugged and stitched up. “Yeah, more like you did all the work while this perro perezoso took a nap, right Chris?”
Christopher tilted his head back and let out a peal of giggles, which only increased when Buck looked offended. “Hey, I know what you’re saying!”
He leaned to Chris and whispered to him conspiratorially, only making him laugh more. “Alright, what did he say?”
Eddie hugged his kid and pressed a kiss to his hair, face sore from smiling so much. It had not been an easy day, even in his long line of difficult days it made the top ten but it was over and they were safe.
Christopher was happy, his hand held tight in Bucks, Evan stitched up and assured a complete recovery. They’d be okay.
They hadn’t talked much about their relationship, he and Buck, and it may have been too soon to have him move in but Bucks place was destroyed and someone was going to have to take care of him while he was laid up. But imagining getting to wake up every morning in the arms of the man that he loved, making breakfast with his kid and being a family, somehow Eddie didn’t mind at all.