So this part has some not so reliable medical stuff. I am not a doctor or a nurse or a medical professional. And tho I do tend to like watching medical dramas, that really doesn't mean much in this case.
There is also a panic attack in the beginning and close to the end, just so you are warned.
Buck felt like he was wearing a corset, (and yes, he did know how that felt,) that was getting tighter and tighter as he stood in front of the Fire Chief with Eddie by his side. He had just told the Chief what had been going on at the firehouse, leaving out most of Eddie’s, Bobby’s, Hen’s and Chim’s behavior, focusing on Jacobsen, Hedley and Marks.
“Can I see the bruises?” Chief Brooks asked gently.
“I have them on my phone.” Eddie started to pull out his phone but the Chief held up his hand to stop him.
“It’s great that you had the thought of documenting the injuries but to make it all legal we need to use a special camera which takes deep tissue pictures.” Chief Brooks explained but he sounded far away to Buck. “And I need to see the bruises to make it an order for Firefighter Buckley to go to the hospital to document everything.”
Buck stood there for a few minutes not hearing anything but the rushing in his ears. With trembling hands, he pulled up his shirt and turned around. Somehow, he heard the sharp intake of breath from Chief Brooks before the invisible corset tightened too much and he couldn’t breathe.
Trying to take a breath was worse than trying to breathe through a straw and Buck could feel his lungs burn as black spots danced in front of his eyes. His whole body tingled and vibrated, his head hurt, his throat ached and it felt like the walls was closing in on him. He tried to say something but he didn’t know if he managed it before everything went black.
The whole morning had been shit-show from the start but it really went to hell in a hand basket when Chief Brooks inhaled sharply as Buck pulled up his shirt to show him the bruises. Eddie did his best to help Buck calm down but nothing he did seemed to work, it was like Buck couldn’t even hear him.
When Buck managed to gasp out something sounding close to ‘Eddie’ before collapsing, Eddie thought his heart had stopped. “Evan!”
“Christine, call an ambulance!” Chief Brooks called out to his secretary.
At first Eddie didn’t know why they needed an ambulance but then he saw the blood pooling under Buck’s head. How did that happen?
“He hit his head on my desk when he fell.” Chief Brooks told him and Eddie was confused, had he said that out loud? “I didn’t mean to cause him a panic attack.”
“I don’t think it’s your fault, not entirely.” Eddie said as he put pressure on Buck’s headwound. “I think it has been building since this morning and talking about everything made it worse.”
“The bruises are worse than I thought they were going to be and…” Chief Brooks broke off.
“And?” Eddie looked up.
“I don’t know how to help.” Chief Brooks admitted softly. “Buckley is an amazing firefighter, which makes me wonder why he hasn’t been out on call.”
“Bobby, Captain Nash, hasn’t been letting him out on calls.” Eddie blurted out.
“Why not?” Chief Brooks asked incredulously. “Buckley was cleared by three different doctors and the higher ups to go back to work, full time, in full capacity.”
“According to Captain Nash, Buck wasn’t ready.” Eddie shrugged as he stroked Buck’s hair softly.
“What the hell has been going on in that firehouse?” Chief Brooks muttered.
“Right in here.” Eddie looked up as he heard Christine’s voice and saw her leading two EMT’s into the office.
“What happened here?” The male EMT asked calmly, his badge showing the name Clark.
“We were discussing some distressing things and when Chief Brooks asked to see Evan’s bruises, Evan started to panic.” Eddie explained quickly. “Evan had been feeling anxious all morning but showing his bruises seemed to trigger a panic attack. I couldn’t bring him out of it and it ended with Evan passing out and hitting his head on Chief Brooks desk as he fell. I tried to do my best to stop the bleeding but he’s on blood thinners which makes that a lot more difficult.”
“His name is Evan?” The female EMT asked, named Bowers from the looks of the badge.
“Evan Buckley.” Eddie answered. “He’s 29 years old, 6’2 and he can’t take oxycodone due to an allergy.”
“You are good at this.” Clarke smiled slightly.
“I'm a former army medic.” Eddie told him.
A few minutes later they were ready to leave and Eddie was determined to go with Buck in the back of the ambulance. He made to follow the EMT’s but Chief Brooks called him back.
“Here, take this and give it to Buckley’s doctor.” Chief Brooks held out a piece of paper towards Eddie. “It’s all you need to get Buckley those deep tissue photos.”
“Thanks Chief!” Eddie called over his shoulder as he rushed after the EMT’s.
Three hours later Eddie helped Buck out of the car in front of the firehouse. Buck was pale, with dark patches under his eyes and Eddie felt a knot of worry in his stomach. The Doctor had said that Buck had a slight concussion and the cut on his head had needed four stitches, but thanks to the blood thinners, Buck had lost a lot of blood, not enough to need a transfusion but enough to make him really tired and to freak Eddie outs.
Now they had to go through some paperwork with Bobby and then Buck needed to get some stuff from his locker after which he was supposed to take it easy for a few days. Eddie had called Chief Brooks and managed to get both Buck and himself a few days off of work so Buck wouldn’t be alone.
“Buckley, Diaz!” Eddie turned towards the call to see Chief Brooks walking towards them.
“Chief Brooks.” Eddie greeted, a confused frown on his face. “What can we help you with?”
“I got the report from the hospital and the damage is worse than it looks.” Chief Brook sighed sadly, before turning to Buck. “How’s the head Buckley?”
“Achy with a sort of cottony feeling to it.” Buck muttered with a one-sided shrug, then he smiled slightly. “The doctor decided to take me off the blood thinners at least, that feels like a win.”
“He said that there seemed to be a bigger risk of you getting injured and bleeding out than you having a blood clot thanks to those blood thinners.” Eddie huffed. “He also joked about naming a room after you with how often you're there.”
Buck did the mature thing and stuck his tongue out at Eddie, making him laugh and the Chief chuckle. Then Eddie froze feeling like someone had poured cold water on him, “Wait, what did you mean when you said the ‘damage is worse than it looks’?”
Chief Brooks looked at Buck, who nodded, before he turned back to Eddie. “Buckley’s bruises are worse that they look. According to the doctor, Buckley’s left shoulder blade is so badly bruised that the discoloration might never fully disappear.”
“Chief Brooks?” Bobby’s question interrupted Eddie from asking about it more from Buck.
“Captain Nash.” Chief Brooks nodded. “Can you gather Firefighters Jacobsen, Hedley and Marks and meet me in your office?”
“Of course, Chief…” Bobby trailed off as Chief Brooks walked away towards Bobby’s office.
“Captain Nash, I need you to sign some papers for me.” Eddie could hear the slight tremble in Buck’s voice and squeezed his hand gently.
“Buck… Eddie was right.” Bobby spoke up slowly. “The way we have been treating you, that I've been treating you, is wrong on so many levels and I wanted to apologize. I am truly and deeply sorry for how I treated you. I don’t expect you to forgive me, because frankly, I don’t really deserve it, but I will spend as much time as it takes to prove that I am sincere in my apology.”
Eddie could see that Buck really didn’t know what to say, like he couldn’t believe that someone would actually apologize to him. Buck opened his mouth to say something but closed it again when no words would come out.
Bobby smiled sadly at Buck before he made his way over to collect Jacobsen, Hedley and Marks. Eddie smiled slightly to himself and led Buck up towards the common era but felt himself stiffen as he saw Marks leering at Buck from the corner of his eye.
“Buckaroo.” Hen’s unexpected voice made Buck flinch and grab at Eddie’s hand with a tighter grip.
Somehow Eddie and Buck had managed to get up to the common area while Eddie was distracted with glaring at Marks and imagining some sort of ‘accident’ occurring around him.
Eddie didn’t really listen as Hen and Chim apologized to Buck, but he stood there, fingers interlaced with Buck’s, lending him strength. He wanted to take Buck out on a date, but he also wanted it to be special and show that Eddie really cared. As he looked up as Hen hugged Buck his eye caught on a poster on one of the walls and he finally had an idea.
“What?!” The outrageous cry from Bobby’s office made them all turn towards it. “That’s bullshit!”
Buck flinched hard and tried to hide behind Eddie and Eddie angled his body to protect Buck instinctually. Hen and Chim seemed shocked at Buck’s reaction but moved closer to him anyway, seeing the fear in his eyes.
They could hear the muffled argument coming from Bobby’s office, sometimes some words were loud enough for them to hear but mostly it just sounded like raised voices without words.
“Come on, let’s get some hot cocoa.” Hen said after a couple of minutes. “Karen finally caved and taught me how to make her famous hot cocoa, but I’ll warn you, it won’t be as good as hers.”
“The one with the cinnamon?” Buck asked quietly and a bit uncertainly.
“Exactly.” Hen smiled, but Eddie could see the worry lurking in her eyes.
Buck was acting skittish and scared, so unlike the man they had all gotten to know. If Eddie was being completely honest, Hen’s comment about Buck being like a golden retriever was not far off the mark.
He thrived on being told he was doing good, lit up a room with his smile when told. Energetic and loving, almost like he lived to make people happy, even if it wasn’t good for himself. Eddie had already noticed that before the lawsuit, noticed that Buck would forego sleep, food or other things just to make sure that those he loved and considered family were taken care off.
Suddenly the door to Bobby’s office slammed open and an enraged Jacobsen stormed out. “You! This is your fault! You pathetic piece of shit!”
Buck whimpered and stumbled back, eyes wide with fear as Jacobsen stalked towards them and Eddie saw the tell tail signs of someone ready to start throwing punches so he did the only thing he could at that moment, he stepped in front of Buck, using his own body as a shield.
The pain burst to life like fire on his face and Eddie felt his head snap to the side, but he refused to move out of the way and only straightened up again and planted his feet on the ground. He could feel the itch to hit back, to go full fledge Rambo on Jacobsen but hearing Buck’s small, scared whimpers helped calm him down.
“Jacobsen!” Chief Brooks called out in anger as he and Bobby grabbed Jacobsen’s arms. “That’s enough!”
“You have fifteen minutes to gather up the things in your locker and then I want you out of my firehouse.” Bobby declared coldly.
Eddie didn’t move from his position as Buck’s shield, even as they watched Chief Brooks basically herd Marks and Hedley down towards the locker room while he dragged a cursing Jacobsen by the arm.
“Eddie…” At Buck’s whimper Eddie turned around.
“Evan, can I hug you?” Eddie asked softly as he saw Buck in the middle of a panic attack, coming closer but not touching without Buck’s consent.
“Please… I can’t breathe…” Buck pleaded softly.
Eddie slowly wrapped his arms around Buck from behind and slowly lowered them to the floor so that Buck was mostly in his lap and Eddie was wrapped around him. “I know that what you're feeling is scary, but it is not dangerous.” Eddie whispered, turning Buck so he could bury his face in Eddie’s neck. “You are doing so good, cariño, so good.”
“Help… me…” Buck begged and Eddie’s heart hurt.
“Okay let’s try the grounding method we read about.” Eddie offered gently. “What are five things you can see?”
“Bobby… the pinball machine…” Buck began haltingly. “Hen’s shoes… the dinner table… the railing.”
“Very good.” Eddie smiled into Buck’s hair. “What are four things you can feel?”
“You… The floor… the sweat on my back… my shoe digging into my leg.” Buck murmured.
“You're doing great, cariño.” Eddie praised, feeling Buck starting to calm down. “What are three things you can hear?”
“The music from the speakers, the refrigerator.” Buck paused to listen. “A dog barking.”
“Not much left now, mi amor.” Eddie hummed. “What are two things you can smell?”
“Your aftershave and cinnamon.” Buck nuzzled closer to Eddie’s neck while taking a deep breath.
“Good. And finally, what is one thing you can taste?” Eddie asked slowly.
“Crayon.” Buck chuckled wetly, remembering the disgusting medicine he had to take at the hospital.
“You did so good, mi amore, I'm so proud of you.” Eddie kissed the top of Buck’s head. “Ready to get up now?”
Buck nodded before slowly standing up from Eddie’s lap. “Thank you.”
“Oh, no tienes que agradecerme, mi amor.” Eddie murmured with smile. “Estaré a tu lado mientras me dejes.”
“I have no idea what you just said, but okay.” Buck chuckled quietly, never letting go of Eddie’s hand.
“Buck, Eddie.” Bobby walked over to them, he had ushered Hen and Chim away, after Eddie asked Buck about things he could hear, to give them privacy. “I have signed the necessary paperwork and Chief Brooks filled me in about what had been going on so you two can get out of here.”
“I'm sorry…” Buck began but was interrupted by Bobby.
“You have nothing to apologize for, nothing at all.” Bobby reassured. “Do you want me to tell Hen and Chimney about why you two are going to take some personal days or do you want me to keep it to myself?”
Buck looked at Eddie with a question burning in his eyes. “That’s entirely up to you, pequeño.”
“You can tell them, but…” Buck broke off before taking a breath. “But can you wait until me and Eddie are gone?”
“Of course.” Booby easily agreed, then he smiled. “I’ll see you both in a few days.”
“Come along, pequeño, let’s go get some milkshakes.” Eddie said with a smirk as Buck laughed.
“We can’t get milkshakes without Chris.” Buck protested as they walked down the stairs.
“So, we’ll just go and kidnap him from abuelas first then.” Eddie declared brightly.
As they got to the car Eddie stopped and turned to Buck, “Earlier I remembered that I haven't really asked you out on a date yet.”
“You haven't.” Buck agreed looking down.
“Evan ‘Buck’ Buckley, would you do me the outmost honor and go on a date with me on Friday?” Eddie asked as he brought up Buck’s hand to his face and kissed the back of it.
“I would love to.” Buck murmured with a fetching pink tint to his cheeks.
Eddie smiled brightly and suddenly he had a flash of seeing Buck walking down the aisle in a suit towards him. He shook his head, it was a little early to think about a wedding, but he knew that Buck was it for him and that was the moment Eddie decided that he was going to marry that man. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day he was going to be able to introduce Evan as his husband, that was a promise.
Oh, no tienes que agradecerme, mi amor. Estaré a tu lado mientras me dejes. – Oh, you don't have to thank me, my love. I will be by your side as long as you'll let me.
Pequeño – Little one.