The shift had started off slowly, a few minor car accidents with enough time at station for the team to catch a meal and even a nap. However, they were an hour from finishing when the call came in for a large and out of control house fire.
The 118 was first on scene and were met with the distraught pleas of a woman who had also just pulled up on scene, screaming for her kids who were apparently still inside the house.
"Buckley and Diaz I want you to head right in and do a sweep. The homeowner states there should be two kids, a boy and a girl. I want you in and out, the house isn't going to hold for long."
"On it, Cap," they replied in unison.
Bobby watched as Buck and Eddie slipped their masks on and refitted their helmets, Buck gave Eddie his usual up-to-no-good grin and Eddie shoved his shoulder good-naturedly before they both disappeared into the cloud of smoke pouring from the front door. He knew they were good, some of the best firefighters he's ever worked with, and they worked so in sync that he rarely even heard them speak as they seemed to instinctively know exactly what the other was thinking. Regardless, he felt the usual anxiety spike as they disappeared from his sight.
Despite years of running into fires and sending his team in, Bobby knew his heartrate wouldn't slow and the feeling of dread in his gut wouldn't dissipate until both Eddie and Buck had emerged safely from the fire.
Hen was busy preparing the ambulance for the arrival of the two kids and double checking with the bystanders that none had been injured while Chim was quietly talking to the children's mother, while also keeping a firm hand on her shoulder to prevent her running into the burning house. The 116 had arrived on scene and were rolling out hoses, ready to hit the fire with all they had once Buck and Eddie had cleared it.
Speaking of Buck and Eddie, it had been about a minute since they had run into the house and the smoke was beginning to darken.
"Diaz, Buckley. Report. You've got about a minute to get out of there."
Eddie's voice crackled out from the radio, "Roger, Cap. I've got one kid and am on my way out, Buck's right behind me with the other."
Moments later Eddie burst out of the front door, and quickly handed off the girl to her mother before ripping his mask off and stumbling over to where Bobby was standing.
Both Bobby and Eddie continued to watch the smoke pour from the front door, but there was still no sign of Buck. The smoke was getting thicker and was now almost pitch black in colour.
"I swear he was right behind me," Eddie huffed out as he hurriedly began to refit his oxygen mask and helmet.
Bobby felt an anxious dread settle in the pit of his stomach as he grabbed his radio, "Buckley report. You have about thirty seconds before the whole house comes down."
There was radio silence.
"Buck get the hell out of there right now."
Both he and Eddie looked between the radio and the house, as though their staring would make Buck appear or talk but neither happened and Eddie began to move quickly back towards the house.
Despite wanting nothing more than to run into that fire himself, the smoke was thickening and the whole structure groaned. He knew he couldn't let Eddie back in there, and he reached out his hand and grabbed his wrist.
"Not a chance, Diaz. That house is seconds from coming down, you can't go in there."
Unlike Buck, who would've argued and yelled before running in anyway, Eddie simply looked between Bobby and the house a few times, as though considering his options, before ripping his arm out of Bobby's grip and sprinting towards the entrance.
Three things happened at once. There was an almighty explosion and the house began to collapse. Buck's name tore from Eddie's throat in a heartbreaking scream. And finally, thankfully, Buck was thrown from the collapsing entry way of the house, his large frame taking most of the hard landing as he held tightly onto a boy who looked no older than five.
Eddie was the first to reach them, followed shortly by Hen and Bobby. Hen pulled the child from Buck's grip and disappeared back towards the ambulance while Buck took a few deep breaths. Eddie's hands moved quickly, pulling the mask and helmet from Buck's head before rapidly unclipping his turnout jacket.
Finally, Buck was out of his gear, sitting on the ground trying to catch his breath while Eddie's hands roamed his face, neck and chest, looking for injuries.
"I'm fine Eds, I swear. My shoulder took the brunt of the impact but I'm alright."
Eddie continued to search Buck for injuries as though he didn't take his word for it (and honestly, Bobby agreed. That boy had a knack for hiding injuries).
Bobby's eyes roamed Buck, and he did admit that he looked fine and the anxiety gnawing at his chest began to ease. A small part of him was still concerned as to why Buck took so long in there, "What happened in there, kid? Eddie said you were right behind him and then you were radio silent."
Buck shrugged, "The kid didn't want to leave his spot under the bed, it took a little coaxing. I swear I wasn't trying to do anything heroic or make you worry. I think something's up with my radio though, all I tried twice to get through to you."
Bobby knew these new radios were less than ideal, and other stations had already reported faults. Combined with the earnest look in his eyes, he knew Buck was telling the truth.
"Alright then, you did good in there Buck, and we can check out that radio when we get back to station. Don't go too hard on him, Eddie," Bobby said with a chuckle, watching as Eddie continued to look over Buck, muttering under his breath in a mix of concerned sounding English and Spanish.
Bobby stood a few paces back from Buck and Eddie while he double checked the rest of the team were going alright. Hen and Chimney had sent the kids off in another ambulance and were finishing up putting away their equipment while the 116 were nearly finished putting out the last of the flames.
Bobby turned back to where Buck and Eddie were now standing, ready to tell them to get to the truck, but he paused when he saw how they were positioned.
Their foreheads were pressed together and Buck had both his hands gently on Eddie's face while Eddie was gripping Buck's wrists tightly. Eddie's hands were shaking and he was looking at Buck as though he couldn't believe he was there. From where he was standing Bobby could hear Buck repeating, "I'm fine Eddie. I made it out. I'm alive."
Eddie pulled Buck towards him in a fierce hug and buried his face in Buck's shoulder, and the whole scene felt a little too intimate, Bobby felt like he should look away. Not for the first time, Bobby shook his head at just how oblivious Buck and Eddie were. There was obviously something more than friendship between those two, but they were both too stubborn to see. As much as he wanted to give Buck a nudge in the right direction he knew they needed to work it out themselves. He didn’t t want to accidentally spook them.
The hug was broken by Buck who pulled back before swinging an arm around Eddie's shoulders and exclaiming, "Come on, let's get out of here. I'm starving and I know for a fact it's pizza night in the Diaz household."
The ride back to station was short, and filled with friendly banter between Chimney and Buck. Bobby snuck a glance in the rearview mirror and saw that Eddie, who had been awfully quiet, was holding Buck's hand in a white-knuckled grip. Buck seemed for all the world to not even notice Eddie was holding his hand, but would occasionally bump his knee or shoulder gently against Eddie's, as though still repeating the mantra from earlier of 'Hey, I'm still here. I'm alive.'
Hen made eye contact with him in the mirror and nodded towards the boys before rolling her eyes in shared exasperation, Bobby just grinned before turning his eyes back to the road in front of him.
Buck and Eddie had time to work it out. Bobby was sure they would eventually, and if it took too long maybe he would take Hen up on her idea of locking them in a storage room until they worked it out.