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Chaos Through The Fire

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Buck groaned as he flicked through the channels on his television, he was bored out of his mind. He glanced at his phone on the coffee table, he could call Maddie and do what? Talk to her, yeah right. She was building her life with Chim and he didn’t want her to start worrying about his loneliness. His eyes landed on the few empty boxes that sat in the corner of the room. He should probably get rid of them, the move from his old place was a bitch. Then again he didn’t want to deal with his stupid upstairs neighbor. Hen and Chim were great help in the move even if they barely spoke to him the whole time. Bobby didn’t seem to care as he filled out the update form of his employment and he made sure that Eddie had gotten the new address even if he never replied to any of his messages. Ugh…He shifted again trying to get comfortable on the couch, another glance at his phone. 

Who was he going to call, not like anyone from the 118 wanted him there anyways. Almost a full three weeks after he dropped the lawsuit and they barely spoke to him, let alone interacted with him. He was glared at whenever he entered a room and often times yelled at for little stupid things by Bobby. He was always the man behind, he didn’t even feel like he was allowed up in the loft anymore. He ate alone in the locker room and oftentimes stared down until he left an area. 

Eddie wouldn’t even look at him and no matter how much he tried to reach out to his best friend, there was often anger and hurt that came his way. Hen and Chim are the only ones who seem to care, they are the ones who do try to be nice to him in any form or manner but that is rare. They only ever do it when it's just the two of them, maybe even the three of them if they're lucky. If the rest of the team was there, there is no reason for them to focus on him, instead joining in the silent treatment. There were points when he missed talking to Bobby, his leader just wanted nothing to do with him anymore. It bothered him but at the same time, could he really blame the man after he sued him. One of the few people who actually seemed to care was Athena but talking to her was maybe a once in a great moon type of thing. He was talking to May more than anyone else, it sometimes still surprised him but even she was starting to message less.

Buck shifted again, his foot going over the edge of the couch, he was bored. He wanted to reach out to Eddie, he missed his best friend and his son. He missed Christopher's laugh and the smile that always seemed to be present on the boy's face. He missed their movie nights, oftentimes crashing at the Diaz household. Buck groaned this was stupid, he should just call Eddie and apologize but he has done it so many times. Snatching up the phone he stared at the date, it was Friday night. He should be at Eddie’s for a movie night but here he was sitting at home alone. He always fucked everything up.  

Unlocking the device, he stared at the screen for a few moments. It was a picture of him, Eddie and Chris all smiling up at the camera. Buck knew he screwed up with that lawsuit, he knew he fucked up but he just wanted his job back. He wanted his family back, like they would want him back after all this. He locked the device once again, he’d apologize tomorrow during his shift. Not like he had much else to do, while everyone left him behind again. Just another forgotten piece, like he was good for much else. Just something to be thrown away, and lost. 

He should have never gone to Chase Mackey, that was his mistake and now he has to make up for it. But he has already apologized time and time again but they just ignore him making him fall deeper into his hole. They don't want him, they don’t need him. He was a mistake for forcing his way back into the 118. What could he do? He had already made enough meals for them to last a lifetime and they never said anything. They never looked at him, even the newest recruits had come to insult and bully him. Buck never fights back, after all he deserved it. He is the one that broke the station, he went and ruined it for everyone. 

A knock filled his apartment, getting him to shift on the couch. He wasn’t expecting anybody, let alone at nearly 8 at night. Grabbing his phone he double checked it to just make sure no one was coming over. Turning off the television, he gets to his feet moving out of the living room and the open kitchen. He glanced down the handful of steps leading to the street below. His eyes trail up the other side to the steps leading up to the bedroom and bath, debating if he should go grab something. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he started down the stairs to the door and looked through the peephole. He can’t see much of anything and that's a bit irritating, was something covering the hole? Perhaps the knock was for the neighbors door, that made sense he could sometimes hear them. He shrugs, preparing to head up the stairs when another round of knocking stops him. 

He swore to god there was no one there, now he was irritated. Was someone playing a prank? Buck flicked the deadbolt, and opened the door slightly before it got shoved fully open causing him to stumble backwards falling on the stairs. Chase Mackey slammed the door behind him, a panicked look on his face and in his hand a pistol, the barrel pointing directly at Buck. 

“Woah… Chase um… what’s going on?” Buck asked, raising his hands. 

“Because of you, my family left me. They are after me for everything, all because you dropped that fucking lawsuit. You are going to pay Evan. Get up.” Chase ordered as Buck slowly got to his feet. He might be able to get the gun away from Chase but one more look over the man, he can see he was shaking. One wrong move and that gun was going to go off, for now it might be better to obey. 

“Phone!” Chase demanded as soon as he noticed it once they were both on a flat surface. Buck grabbed his phone in his pocket, throwing it down the stairs getting Chase’s attention to snap to it for a moment. That’s all Buck needed. He grabbed for the gun, but of course Chase had a pretty good grip on the thing and the two struggled to get the weapon from the other. Buck tried to trip Chase but all it did was get them both wrestling on the ground. 

Bang! 

The sound reverberated through the apartment startling Buck, and a searing pain screamed from his right shoulder. Chase kicked him in the stomach, throwing the younger man off him. Buck pressed his left hand to the wound trying to stop the bleeding. He couldn’t feel blood on his back, which meant there was no exit wound. No, no, no! Not now! 

“Back up!” Chase ordered. Buck hesitated as he was still on the ground and the man ordered him backwards. Slowly Buck got to his feet, as he was forced backwards by Chase moving forward. Chase scanned the living room and kitchen over, not bothering to take the gun’s focus off of Buck. The two slowly moved into the kitchen before Chase ordered him back to the ground, Buck didn’t protest. He focused on the blood, his hand trying to stop some of the bleeding but there was only so much he could do. Chase moved around the kitchen ripping drawers open, and dumping their contents on the floor. What was he looking for? A kitchen towel landed at his side, and Buck immediately grabbed the towel, pressing it to the wound and giving a hiss. 

Another drawer spilled out on the ground and Buck took a shaky breath, the gun still not moving off of him. Just his fucking luck. Another burst of pain escaped the wound, as he pushed harder trying to slow the blood. Squeezing his eyes shut he tried to focus on his breathing, ignoring the commotion around him. Something hit him in the side of the head sending him sprawling to the floor, his hand holding the towel going to the new injury. His head rocked, as he let out a yelp at the impact. He could feel the blood on his hand from the bullet wound but he chose to ignore it as best he could. 

“Fuck...” Buck whimpered. His hands were yanked forward as something was tightened around his wrists forcing them together. He tried to pull on them, feeling the plastic digging into his skin. Blinking, he looked at the black zip ties on his wrists before giving another small pull, pain roaring from his shoulder. He forgot he put those in his junk drawer. 

“Did that hurt? Can’t hurt as much as what those guys are going to do to me.” Chase seemed to watch him, something flicking across his face for a moment. “First aid kit.” Buck stared at the man. 

“What?” 

“First aid kit, where is it? Can’t have you bleeding to death.” The man snapped and Buck had to blink at him a few times to finally figure out what he exactly wanted. 

“Upstairs bathroom.” Buck responded and the man disappeared up the stairs. Taking another shaky breath Buck tried to get to his feet, a sense of nausea swimming in his stomach. Forcing a pained breath in, he slowly pushed himself to his feet losing his balance for a moment. He bumped into the side of the couch, another shot of pain rolling through him as he stumbled towards the door. He could get out of here, he would get out here, he just nee-

“Where do you think you’re going?” A growl came from behind him as a hand grabbed his collar dragging him back into the kitchen. Chase threw him to the ground, there was something off about him, his eyes were almost burning holes through him. “You think you can just leave like that! Well let's fix that.” Chase stated before slamming his heel on Buck’s ankle. 

Snap!

Buck screamed as the bone snapped with the strike.

“Shut up!” The barrel of the gun hit the side of his head, he hit the floor hard and Buck had to bite his tongue to hold the yell. Chase dropped to his knees, unzipped the first aid kit and set to work digging items out. 

“How do I…” He cut himself off, Buck winced against the throbbing as it rolled through his head. 

“Wha-” Buck whispered. 

“Tell me what to do.” 

“What?” 

“How do I patch you up? You can bleed to death if your still on those stupid blood thinners.” Buck blinked at him, another surge of stinging coming from his head. 

“No…” The muzzle of the gun pressed against the side of his head and Buck took a shaky breath. “Clean the wound up… Slow the bleeding with pressure and wrap it up.” Buck stated. This was stupid, this was so stupid. Why was he telling him! “I need to go to the hospital.” Buck mumbled but another strike came to the side of his head. He whimpered his hands going to cover the spot as he clenched his eyes shut trying to push the pain aside. 

“Shut up.” Chase snarled and went back to his work, wrapping up the bullet wound as best he could. Buck glared at the man as he placed a hand on the firefighters knee jostling the broken ankle. Another scream escaped Buck, and then Chase was no longer beside him. His breath came in far too fast for it to be comfortable, and he tried to relax and not move his leg. He pulled a bit on the ties on his wrists testing them once more, what was he even supposed to do if he could get them off. He couldn’t walk. He fucked up, this shouldn’t be happening. He didn’t have his phone, he didn’t have a way to get away. He could scream but he could only imagine that outcome. 

Something went over his mouth, stopping him from making much noise at all. Another rip sounded and Buck’s eyes snapped open and Chase tore another strip of duct tape off the roll placing it over Buck’s mouth. 

“Found these in a box in your bedroom.” Chase stated before pulling the silver handcuffs out of his back pocket. “I think zip ties are better.” Chase tossed the handcuffs on the kitchen table. “One last thing, let's see if I can find something.” Buck pulled at the binds once more, as soon as Chase was out of sight. He was fucked! He was so fucked, he just hoped someone noticed. 

Chase returned a few minutes later carrying Buck’s knife and tearing some type of fabric up. He held it out in front of him, showing Buck exactly what it was. Buck blinked at the long length of fabric before the older man moved forward wrapping it around the firefighters head, cutting off any sight. A moment later he felt another hit to the side of his head, knocking him back to the floor. His shoulder screamed as he whined against the tape over his mouth, his ankle burned and he couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down and soaking the fabric. 

“See now isn’t that better.” Chase stated as his footsteps grew closer. A kick landed to his side, a burst of pain coming from his ribs, but it didn’t stop. Buck lost count of how many strikes Chase got before he decided to stop his assault, everything burned and ached. Buck shook slightly as he tried to calm himself down as much as he could. He was blind, trapped and helpless.

Chapter Text

He heard the glass bottle crack open and Buck almost winced with the thought of what was going to happen. The cold alcohol was poured over him, sending him shivering before the glass was broken too close, shards digging into his skin and the skin under his shirt. He whimpered against the tape, every part of him screamed, every inch where Chase had beaten him. He could feel the bruises and he knew that his ribs were either broken or cracked. He hoped they were cracked but with how hard it was to breath he didn’t know.

He listened waiting for more footsteps but ultimately the room goes quiet, and the soft sound of his television goes on. Fuck, he just needed to do something. He couldn’t raise his hands high enough anymore to get the tape off his mouth, even if he wanted to, he just doesn’t have the strength. This shouldn’t be happening. He shouldn’t have even been home, he should have been out. Now here he was beaten, shot, cold and exhausted. His ankle seared even with the slightest movement. Tears pooled down his face, at this rate he would run out of tears before morning. He didn’t even know what time it was, or how long he had been there tied up like an animal. 

God he fucked everything up, this was his fault. He couldn’t just do anything the easy way, too impulsive to take a step back and look things over. If he hadn’t been so rash he could still be with Eddie on that couch, snuggled close to him with Christopher passed up in his arms. He was a screw up, god his parents even knew he was. He was nothing but a disappointment, he saw it in the way that Bobby looked at him. From the proud beam of a father figure to the hate and disdain that seemed to roll off of him like a cloud. It tore any bridges that seemed to be between the two, destroying it so there was no part to walk across again. 

He could almost feel the disappointment in Maddie, the last time they spoke. She would always love him, and he knew that but there was just a sadness in her, she hadn’t spoken to him in days. He hadn’t bothered to reach out back, he should have. He shouldn’t have been so stubborn. She wasn’t happy with the lawsuit, and he understood he was going against her boyfriend but she never said much to him about it. Their conversations were short and often mumbled, he just wanted to hear her again. 

A shift came from beside him, the soft sound of footsteps coming closer before retreating. God what could the guy be doing this time? He felt the first hit to his face, the fist connecting with his jaw. He wanted to fight back and he tried to raise his arms before a shoe pushed them down on his chest putting pressure on his ribs. Another blow landed on his jaw and his teeth shook, his head screaming at the jolt. The next hit rattled his brain as it landed near his left eye, but the hits didn’t stop. He tried to move away but when he did, Chase’s boot moved from his wrists to his shoulder. Buck wanted to scream as the man pressed hard into the bullet wound, another punch landing. He wasn’t sure what provoked the attack but after a few more hits Chase stepped off him. Everything burned and hurt; he could see spots across his vision. His head rolled a bit, a pained moan escaping him.

“Shut the fuck up.” Chase hissed before landing another kick to Buck’s side. Everything was so loud, it hurt, everything seemed to twist in his stomach. The ringing won't stop, it wouldn’t quiet down and it felt like his head was splitting open. His thoughts were jumbled, almost incomprehensible to himself. Were they always like that? 

“Buck…” He could almost hear Hen’s voice as she spoke telling him to remain still. He probably had a concussion. Was why everything hurt so bad? Why was everything so loud? Why wasn’t Hen here? She cared about him, right? She cared about him, she always said she did… but he was alone. Was he always this alone? He hated being alone, he hated not having anybody around him. He hated every moment at the station, being nothing more than a waste of space for everyone else. He wasn’t of any use to any of them. He screwed up everyone's lives, no wonder they didn’t want him around. 

“You know what this is?” Chase caught his attention. When did he get that close? It was a faint click of something and the scent of smoke, what was that. “You know I don’t smoke but, I went out and bought these special.” He felt the heat against his neck, the burning of his skin as the cigarette pressed into the right side of his neck. He screamed into the tape, trying to get away from the man before he was grabbed by the hair and jerked back. 

“Huh… you know I’d thought with all the alcohol, I assumed you’d catch fire. You know how funny that would be, a firefighter dying to flames that were attracted to his skin.” Chase said as he dropped the cigarette. “Oh well. I guess we have a pack to go but don’t worry I won’t waste them all at once.” Buck tried again to move before another burn went a bit lower on his neck close to the collar bone. He tried to speak through the tape to beg Chase to stop, to stop the burning. 

A knock rang through the apartment and Chase dropped the cigarette, cursing under his breath. Buck was gasping in pain trying desperately to clear the tears from his eyes, he might be able to escape. He could hear Chase leave, he could hear another knock and he tried to move. Tried to get his good leg under him to at least move a bit, perhaps make some noise. 

“Hello.” 

“Evening sir, sorry to bother you so late. One of the neighbors complained about the noise.” 

“Oh, gosh I’m so sorry. We’ll try to keep it down, my boyfriend and I were just doing our thing you know.” Chase lied and Buck tried to shift, tried to move off his back. His leg roared at him, moving it wasn’t much of an option. Just make a noise, just let him know that you were trapped here. They could call the police, he could get out of here. He could see Eddie, Maddie, Hen, Chim, and even Bobby. He just wanted his family and he was so close to freedom, he just had to be loud enough. He tried to yell, to shout against the tape but there was just a chuckle from the door. 

“Honey, I'll be back up in a minute.” Chase called and Buck wanted to vomit. 

“Hahaha. Alright sir, I’ll leave you and your partner to it.” The voice stated. NO! NO! Please don’t leave him, don’t leave him here! Please… The sound of the door closing made him sob, but it was hard to make a noise against the tape covering his mouth. His freedom just left, he was alone again. Trapped in the darkness that seemed to stretch all around him, trapped with Chase Mackey. 

“You stupid fucking…” Chase hissed as he stepped into the main area again. “You know…” Pressure came from his chest as the weight of the other man landed on him. Buck screamed as his ribs sent him back into excruciating pain. He felt hands around his neck, it was getting hard to breathe, was it always this hard? Buck tried to beg, he tried to do anything but he couldn’t think as he tried to get his breath back. Tears stung his eyes, his lungs not gaining air. Black specks flickered across his vision, but it was hard to tell in the dark the blindfold made. The darkness came too fast. 

He gasped awake, who knows how long later but there was no more pressure on his throat as he gasped for the missing air. His lungs roared against him, trying to pull the precious oxygen back into his body. Everything hurt worse than before, his head was swimming and he couldn’t think well with the cloud that seemed to be forming in his mind. 

“Wow, that was dramatic.” Chase huffed as Buck finally got his breath back. Silence expanded once more across the area, the soft sound of the television playing in the background. Why not just kill him? Why do this? Buck shivered again, the cold was getting worse now. The liquid on his skin was making it hard to keep any warmth in him. He was going to freeze to death, all because he couldn’t keep his big mouth shut and not rock the boat. 

“Buck, just don’t be stupid and you’ll be fine.” Buck wanted to chuckle at the statement that Chim said before everything went to shit. He missed his friend, he missed all their stupid teasing. Buck jerked at the sound of a gunshot on the TV, his skin burned against him. Was he sweating earlier? But he was so cold. Chim would know what to do, the guy was a genius in that regard. He knew whenever something was wrong and he knew how to fix it. He fought so hard to get where he was and now he was finally happy. Happy with Buck’s sister, he didn’t know what to say about it at the time. It was of course a bit awkward but ultimately he was happy his sister found someone she loved.

 Another noise made him jump, his senses going wild. He tried to listen if Chase was coming over but he couldn’t hear him over the sound of the television. Was the dark always this close before, was it always this dark? Why did it feel like it was creeping up on him, blocking his senses? Something burned into the other side of the neck, the scent of the cigarette hanging in the air. He yelped and tried to get away from the heat but was only jerked back. He cried against the tape, tried to reason with Chase and begged him to release him. Buck didn't know this would happen. He didn’t know that it would drive Chase over the edge, but he was the one at fault here wasn’t he. 

“You know you deserve this.” Chase hissed into his ear, as another cigarette dug into his skin just a bit below his ear. He knew that he deserved this.

Chapter Text

Buck couldn’t stay asleep, every noise sent another shock of fear rippling through him. Chase was just being quiet, he was just waiting in the darkness that seemed to cover Buck’s world. The fog seemed to slip over him again, just like the fatigue that kept trying to bring him under but he was too on edge. Everything startled him, everything set him off sending another round of pain from every injury. He shifted, another pained pull coming from his shoulder, the burns on his neck acting up. The glass seared in his skin and his leg screamed back at him, he just wanted to sleep. His mouth was so dry but he didn’t think Chase even cared if he died of dehydration.

His throat burned like it would if he had taken in smoke, he probably had plenty of marks from being choked. Buck had lost count how many times the man choked him out. He probably looked like a mess right now, covered in a mixture of blood, sweat, alcohol and pain. He moved his head slightly, the fog settling back in place, was his head always like this? Did it always feel so heavy? He was shaking worse now, and he felt cold and warm at the same time. Was that even possible? Could you feel like you were on fire but still sitting in snow?

It was the sound of the front door opening that shook him fully out of his head but everything screamed at him to stop moving. He groaned, please be someone to help but he doubted it at this point. 

“You kn…. They don… people… stupid…” Buck tried to comprehend the words, but everything was so jumbled he just couldn’t. Did Chase leave? When did he do that? How didn’t he hear him? Everything felt so off, as something slammed down next to him. Buck jerked, another gasp of breath escaped him, the pain from his ribs tore against him. 

“Did I scare you?” The voice still sounded so far away. “Are you listening?” Chase asked, slightly nudging Buck’s injured shoulder, getting a small whimper from the man. 

“They aren’t coming for you. It’s been almost twenty four hours and no one has even bothered to call or text you.” Buck listened as well as he could. Who hadn’t called or texted him? Maddie? Did Maddie not reach out again? Maybe he was talking about Eddie? Maybe Bobby, Chim, or Hen? He didn’t know, at this point he didn’t care. He isn’t surprised that they didn’t reach out. He tried to speak against the tape again, he felt the boot shift before lowering on his neck. Please no… He didn’t want to be out again. 

“You scream, I put you out and put it back on.” Chase stated before leaning down and ripping the tape free from Buck’s face. His skin burned but he couldn’t do anything about it. 

“‘M-m-m… s-s-sorr....” Buck whimpered. The boot didn’t press down harder instead slowly lifting off him and being set close to his ear. 

“What?” 

“S-sor-sorr-r-r-y…” Buck whined. He couldn’t get his words to work properly, everything seemed to cloud his head. His head was killing him, was it like that earlier? He was just so exhausted. 

“That isn't what I expected.” Chase laughed before grabbing whatever he had dropped. 

“Pl-plea-ple-pleas-se…” Chase chuckled at the word before Buck heard that lighter again. He tried to move away, tried to get away, but he felt a foot on his ankle, and he gave a yelp. The hit to his head was fast and his mind seemed to just stop working at that point. Everything hurt and ached, nothing was making sense anymore. 

“Also, was that your boyfriend on your phone. You keep fighting and maybe I’ll have to pay a visit to him and his son.” Chase hissed and Buck stopped. Who was he talking about?  Was he talking about Eddie? Christopher? No, he couldn’t let him hurt them, he couldn’t let him get to Christopher. He would rather die than let that happen, the burning started under his chin and he tried to be quiet. “If you don’t be quiet, then maybe I’ll visit that boy while he’s at school. No one will stop me.” Chase snapped. Tears streamed under the blindfold as Buck tried to be as quiet as possible until the cigarette was taken away. 

“Good, now let's have more of that.” Chase cackled. Buck heard the rip of the tape and he didn’t even fight as it was put back over his mouth. “This is all your fault.” Chase whispered but Buck already knew it was. 

Chapter Text

Eddie huffed as he pulled up outside of Buck’s apartment, like he even wanted to do this on his time that was meant for errands. He only had thirty minutes and it took him almost twenty to get here. He was going to kill Buck, Bobby had said that he wasn’t responding. So here he was going to go check on the guy. Just his luck.

Eddie released that tension, he didn’t want to be mad about this. He didn’t want to have to do this, this wasn’t like Buck to not message or call anyone. Why hadn’t he been told earlier that Buck hadn’t shown up for work yesterday or today. Eddie glanced at the apartment window, the curtains were fully covered, every inch of the glass was dark. Buck never did that, he always said he loved the sunlight, often poking fun at him for trying to block out every inch of sun in the morning. 

He missed having Buck around in truth, and Chris was absolutely torn up about the fact that he couldn’t see his friend anymore. It hurt, in more ways than one, to see a person that meant too much in his life just suddenly disappear. He should have done something. He missed just sitting around and talking with the younger man, laughing together or just watching everyone else in the station. God he really needed to reign in his emotions. He could pursue that feeling later, right now he just wanted Buck back. It has sat on the backburner before and it's going to sit there a little longer. Ugh he was getting stuck in his head again.  

He popped the truck door and got out, locking the vehicle behind him and deposited money in the meter. He was really letting this shit go for too long, he should just apologize and get this over with. It was so stupid, it shouldn’t have even gotten to this point. This should have been dealt with long ago, after all the lawsuit was against Bobby but they all got dragged into it. If everyone had just talked to Buck this probably wouldn't have happened at all. Would Buck even accept an apology at this point?

He stepped up a few steps towards the front door, something seemed off. Eddie shook his head giving the door a good knock before sitting there waiting. He hoped the Buck wasn’t sick, or else this was going to be very bad if the other firefighter was up and about. After a few moments he knocked once more, hoping that Buck was still alive at this point. Was this the right address? Yes he was certain this was the address Buck texted. 

Eddie tapped his foot, irritation starting to cover his features. How hadn’t Bobby been to check on the youngest firefighter yet? If he heard that Buck wasn’t showing up on his scheduled days he would have been over here in an hour. But two days later, here he was. Was Buck even here? That thought rattled through his head, what if he wasn’t. He was just hoping he was. Eddie wouldn’t be surprised if Buck had left without telling anyone and that stung, as much as Eddie didn’t want to think about it.

“Come on Buck.” Eddie whispered, his arms crossed. It took another few moments for him to even hear movement before the door clicked and unlocked. Chase stood on the other side of the door, and he only just peeked his head out to see who was outside. 

“Can I help you?” Chased asked. Eddie took a moment to wrangle his thoughts. Why the fuck was Chase Mackey here? 

“I’m here to look for Buck.” 

“Evan isn’t here right now.” 

“Then why are you?” Eddie questioned. Chase seemed to fumble for a moment shifting a bit uncomfortably. Eddie took a quick glance around the space that he could see, his eyes catching something familiar in an obnoxious orange case. Eddie’s eyes flickered back up to Chase who was still trying to find his words. Eddie’s stomach spun as he took a small step forward just enough to get him close to the door. Every alarm screamed something was off in his head, something happened to his friend. 

“You wouldn’t mind if I came in and checked in on him do you?” Eddie asked, pressing his hand against the door. Chase attempted to shut the door but Eddie pressed himself against it stopping it from slamming shut. Like hell he was letting that happen.

“You need to go!” 

“You need to get out of the way!” Eddie hissed as he slammed his shoulder into the door, sending Chase crashing against the steps before he darted up the stairs. Eddie stumbled into the entrance before rushing after the man, and he came to a screeching halt on the landing. 

Horror warped his features as he stared at his best friend who didn’t even seem to be alive at this point. His face and head was a mess of blood with a few open cuts which seemed to have stopped bleeding a bit ago. Bruises covered every inch of his face that wasn’t covered by tape or a blindfold. Small circular burns lingered all across his neck and up to his jaw line and bruises in the shape of hands marred the skin. Buck’s skin was as white as the stone below them even his birthmark had lost color. Glass was embedded into the skin on his arms and through some of his shirt, and the blood had long since dried. Blood seemed to have been coming from an injury in his right shoulder, if the soaked bandages were anything to go by. His right ankle was obviously broken, as it was sitting at a weird angle. His wrists were zip tied, dried blood clinging to the plastic and skin. He knew there were probably more injuries under his clothes but it was hard to tell. He wasn’t even certain if Buck was alive, but what he did know was that there was a gun pointing at his best friend's head. 

“Put the gun down.” Eddie whispered, trying to be calm in this situation that was anything but.

“Like hell I will. You,” Chase leaned over snatching the silver handcuffs from the kitchen table, tossing them to the firefighter. “handcuff yourself to the stair railing, or else I kill him.” Eddie wanted to resist, until he heard a whine escape Buck as Chase yanked on the man’s hair so the weapon was pressed to his temple. He was alive! Eddie hesitated, slowly leaning down, scooping up the handcuffs and stepped towards the railing. He clasped his left wrists preparing to attach the other end of the cuff to the hand rail. 

“Both hands.” Chase ordered and Eddie sent a glare at the man across the room. Chase pulled on Buck a bit harder, another pained noise escaping the man as Eddie obeyed. He doesn’t want anything more to happen to his friend. There was no way to do this comfortably, he tightened the cuff around his right wrist, his arms forced behind his back. 

“See now that wasn’t so hard.” Chase joked before promptly releasing Buck. He dropped to the ground, and Buck’s head hit the floor hard. Eddie jerked forward wanting to go to his injured friend but the cuffs stopped him from going any further. Chase moved past Eddie descending the stairs and locking the front door. 

“I’m going to kill you Mackey.” Eddie hissed as he pulled on the cuffs. They pinched and hurt, he didn’t mean for them to be that tight.

“You’re doing a great job about it.” Chase stated before he returned to the kitchen and set the gun on the counter. Moving back to Buck, he tore the tape off the younger's mouth. “Now you two can talk.” Chase grinned, getting a wince from the firefighter on the ground.

“Buck. Buck, hey it's me. It’s Eddie, you're going to be okay! I’m gonna get you out of here.” Chase laughed at the statement, getting Buck to flinch away from the sound. Eddie could feel his anger rising, this shouldn’t have fucking happened. Oh dios esto es malo. 

“You're going to get him out of here? It’s been over 50 hours and you didn’t even check up on him once. That’s because you don’t care about him!” Chase grinned as Eddie pulled on the cuffs again. He could feel the metal as it bit into his skin but he ignored the pain coming from his wrists, he focused on Buck right now. He just needed to get to Buck, he needed to make sure he was okay. Even though it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t. 

“I care.” 

“Then where were you?” Chase snapped. “Obviously not here.” Chase chuckled as he stepped over Buck, and moved closer to Eddie before heading up the stairs, disappearing from sight. Eddie yanked on the cuffs again, they had to give, they just had to! His skin burned against him, the railing not moving in the slightest. 

“E-e-ed-ed?” Buck slurred as Eddie’s attention returned to the man in front of him. He pulled on the cuffs again, they’d have to give eventually right. If Buck was slurring he most certainly had a concussion, he could help him. He just had to get to him.

“I’m here Buck. I’m here, I swear I’m gon-”

“Ch-chri-chris…” Eddie had to stop himself from screaming. What had Chase said to him? What had he told Buck? Eddie could feel the tears in his eyes but he pushed them away, he needed to get out of these cuffs. 

“Chris is fine, I’m fine. Right now I’m just worried about you. You’re the one that needs the help and I swear I’m going to get you out of here.” Eddie yanked on the cuffs again feeling the skin starting to bruise from all the pulling. He didn’t care! It was hurting more and more, but he didn’t give a shit about his own skin. 

“F… fa-faul-fault… m-m-m-min-n-ne…” Eddie stopped his pulling and he didn’t want to admit that his eyes were stinging. Buck believed this was his fault? Buck didn’t believe that did he, but with what Chase said with how long he was like this… What could have happened? Dios , he was going to kill Chase. 

“Buck, you gotta listen to me. This isn’t your fault, you did nothing wrong. This is all Chase’s doing, you did nothing wrong.” Eddie begged but he didn’t know if Buck was actually hearing him, he was mumbling, perhaps his injuries were worse than Eddie thought. Eddie tried again on the cuffs, another round of pain coming from his skin but if he got out and got that gun. He just needed to get out of these stupid cuffs, he just needed to get to his friend. How the fuck had he been so blind! His heart was racing in his chest, this shouldn’t have happened. This shouldn’t have happened! 

“Little aggressive there aren’t you.” Chase laughed as he came down the stairs. Eddie noticed Buck wince at the voice, and he tried to steel himself. He couldn’t let Chase see that Eddie was breaking at the sight of his friend. Chase huffed and went into the kitchen grabbing something off the counter and it took Eddie a moment to realize it was a cigarette packet. His eyes snapping to Buck, the marks on his neck. No, no!

“Still a few left.” Chase stated, as he snagged the lighter off the kitchen table. Eddie struggled against the metal again, come on it had to give. It had to give! The clicking of the lighter sounded and Buck flinched away from the noise. Eddie wanted to scream, he could get out of this. He could stop this! He just… Another roar of pain came from his wrists, but he didn’t care. He was going to break this fucking railing or break his fucking wrists, he could feel that the metal was digging deeper into his skin starting to pinch and hurt. If he was bleeding, he didn’t care. He didn’t care if he hurt himself, he just wanted to get to Buck and stop everything that has been happening for the past few days. 

This has been going on for over 2 days, how did no one notice? How was he so stupid to let this bullshit go on for so long. If they had just spoken to Buck, none of this would have happened. He wouldn’t have gone to Chase Mackey, there would have been no lawsuit. Their connection would have never faltered, he would still be coming over for movie nights and crashing on the couch. Buck would still be in Christopher’s life, and his son wouldn’t be begging for Buck after his nightmares. Christopher’s Buck. Their Buck. His Buck.  

The shout shocked Eddie out of his thoughts, before Chase growled something quietly to Buck, getting the younger man to fall silent. The cigarette was burning another hole in his friend's neck, making another mark that may never heal. 

“‘Mmm-mm-ss-sor-ry.” Buck begged and Eddie felt his heart break. No this wasn’t Buck’s fault. This wasn’t his fault, and Chase was making him believe it was. Oh Eddie was going to kill Chase and he was going to walk him to the gates of hell and make sure that he burned in those damned fires. 

“No, no, no, no. Buck this isn’t your fault. This isn’t your fault, you have nothing to apologize for. Please, Buck, you didn’t deserve this.” Eddie consoled but it did little when the next cigarette was pressing into an empty space on his friend's skin. 

“I’m going to kill you Chase! I’m gonna fucking KILL YOU!” Eddie exploded.

“E…e-e-ed...” Buck’s voice died away as Chase pressed into the wound on his shoulder, a whine escaping the younger man instead. Eddie could see red, he was going to murder Chase Mackey. His anger flared as he pulled against the cuffs again, this time he could feel the blood as it dripped down his skin staining the silver bands. 

“I’m okay, I'm okay Buck. I’m gonna get you out of this and we are going to see Chris. Maddie is going to be so happy to see you're okay and the rest of the Team. They miss you so much.” 

“Oh you mean those people that didn’t even care enough to come looking for one of their own. Those people who tried to stop him from doing what he loved.” Chase started before stepping away from Buck. “Isn’t caring actually coming to look for your friend. See you don’t care about him, not since that lawsuit. He ruined all of our lives, he deserves this.” Eddie growled as the tears finally started to run down his face. He was right, they didn’t even bother to reach out to Buck. He always put them first, always tried his best and has apologized more times than Eddie could count. Yet he never forgave him, let alone gave him another look. He ignored the pain that radiated off Buck, he ignored his friend. He was so wrapped up in his own pain that he didn’t see Buck’s now he was paying the price. Buck was paying the price for something that didn’t even belong to him. If anyone deserved this hell it was Eddie and the 118. 

Eddie yanked on the cuffs feeling them dig into his skin, cutting deeper as blood pooled down his hands, painting them crimson. He was trying to control himself as best he could, one wrong thing said or done and god knows what that psycho would do. He would take all the punishment, but he knew that it wouldn’t be aimed at him. His rage was growing and he had to keep forcing himself to breathe, he needed to stay calm. He couldn’t let this get any worse than it already was. 

“Pl-pl-ple-pleas…” Buck was begging again; he was begging for mercy. Eddie pulled again on the cuffs hoping the blood would help him slip out faster, but it seemed that he put them on too tight. Just give damn it!

“I’m going to kill you.” Eddie warned. “I’m going to kill you and make sure that it is the most painful thing you’ve ever gone through. And when you finally die, I’ll make sure that you burn in hell like the fucking monster you are.” Chase opened his mouth to snap something back at him, starting to cross the distance to Eddie. 

It was a knock from the door that stopped the anger, the attention snapping to the entrance. The knocking was growing louder and more incessant, before it turned into banging. Chase was frozen in place before slowly moving around Buck and past Eddie. Eddie’s eyes flickered into the kitchen, he forgot the gun. 

“I have a noise complaint.” The female voice stated. Eddie yanked on the cuffs again, recognizing the voice and he gained as much of his anger as he could before shouting at the top of his lungs. 

“ATHENA!”

Chapter Text

“Why do I have to clean up your mess?” Athena asked over the phone as she pulled down the block of Buck’s address. Eddie hadn’t returned to work after he went to check on Buck, and Bobby ‘couldn't get away ’. Athena was just getting off when Bobby called her asking for her to do a quick wellness check. She had begrudgingly agreed mainly because she was going to swing to a store in the area to begin with. 

“It’s not my mess, first off. Eddie just isn't responding and I’m worried that something happened. Please just do a quick swing past?” Bobby asked as Athena huffed and she scanned the street. Taking note of Buck’s jeep still parked in a spot, and Eddie’s truck only a space behind. So they both seemed to be here, at least she wasn’t getting a call from the ambulance about them going to the hospital. 

“You're lucky I love you.” Athena joked as she pulled into an open spot.

“Thank you and I love you too.” Bobby chuckled back. “Be safe.” 

“Always.” Athena smiled before ending the call and getting out of the Durango and moving to the parking meter. Digging around in her pocket, she found two quarters popping them into the machine, as the 30 minutes flew up on the screen. She could be in and out in half that time. Athena smiled before pulling her aviators off her face and starting towards the apartment. The street was rather quiet, she didn’t even know that Buck lived in this area. She didn’t even know that he had moved until Bobby sent her the address. She understood it, it wasn’t very far from the 118 station, a twenty minute drive on a good day. 

She approached the building and moved up the few steps, she prepared to knock when she heard voices coming from inside the apartment. They were loud enough for her to hear, and  she placed her ear closer to the door, trying to hear the full conversation. 

“I’m going to kill you.” That was Eddie’s voice, was he saying that to Buck. “I’m going to kill you and make sure that it is the most painful thing you’ve ever gone through. And when you finally die, I’ll make sure that you burn in hell like the fucking monster you are.” Athena shifted her hand going to her gun. Eddie would never say that to Buck no matter how much they may not get along at the moment. 

She knocked on the door, waiting a few moments before knocking again. Still hearing nothing inside she banged her fist against the door, hopefully getting whoever’s attention was inside. There was faint movement, just before the door clicked unlock. The door swung open just enough for Athena to see who stood on the other side. She slipped the strap off the back of the gun, her fingers wrapping around the handle, as she met the eyes of Chase Mackey. 

“I have a noise complaint.” Athena started. 

“ATHENA!”  Chase tried to slam the door but Athena was faster, her right foot coming up and kicking the door in. Chase slammed into the stairs but he recovered quickly, scrambling up the steps, as Athena drew her gun. Eddie kicked out, catching Chase’s foot, sending him sprawling to the ground on the landing. Chase scrambled trying to get to his feet, as Athena pointed the gun at him. 

“Put your hands up!” Athena ordered but Chase didn’t seem to care. Athena caught the back of Chase’s foot forcing him back to the ground, before she landed on his back, her knee digging into his spine. A cry escaped the man as he tried to struggle, and Athena grabbed for his left wrist. 

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will b-'' Athena froze her eyes glancing around the apartment, her eyes landing on Buck who was lying motionless across the room. 

“Athena, get these cuffs off of me.” Eddie begged as he struggled against the binds on his wrists, blood dripping down his skin and on the floor below. The blood was splattered across the wall behind him, and staining the railing, Eddie had been fighting to get out of those cuffs. 

“Shit.” Athena quickly finished handcuffing Chase and returned her gun. She sprinted over to Buck, and went to check the young man’s pulse. Buck flinched at the touch and she cursed once more under her breath, his pulse was weak and he seemed to be having trouble keeping his breath. How the hell was he still awake? She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she had to do something. 

“Athena!” Eddie pleaded as he pulled against his cuffs. “I can help him. I can help him. But you got to get these off of me.” Athena glanced back at Buck before rushing over to Eddie checking the handcuffs, these were hers. She knew that someone had taken them, even though May and Harry claimed that they lost them. She might still have the key. Digging through the pockets on her belt, she pulled out both her cuff keys and tried the first one. If Eddie could have moved faster, he probably would have because the second the cuff on his right hand was off he was across the room skidding next to Buck. He ignored the clatter of the band as it scraped against the ground. 

Eddie was almost frozen trying to decide what to do first as he reached into his boot pulling out his knife and making quick work of the zip ties around Buck’s wrists. He tried to do it quickly, getting Buck to whimper as the ties broke and his hands dropped uselessly to the ground. Eddie fiddled with the cuff on his left wrist before Athena offered him the key and she went back to focusing on Mackey. He struggled to get the cuff off, the key nearly slipped from his hands multiple times before he finally cast the silver bands away. 

“It's okay… It’s okay… I got you. I got you.” Eddie reassured as he went to remove the blindfold. Buck winced as Eddie’s fingers touched his skin, anger tried to roll through him. He could just kill Mackey right now, but Buck needed him. Eddie was gentle as he removed the blindfold from his friends eyes, the blood and grime didn’t seem to have touched under the strip of fabric. Buck blinked a few times, his confusion still on his face he looked like he had gone to hell and back. Eddie wasn’t paying attention to Athena as she radioed in, asking for an ambulance. He didn’t need to, right now he just needed all his attention on Buck as he went to check on the bullet injury. 

“Can we get a different fire team, this is a conflict of interest.” Athena asked as quietly as she could. Eddie hushed Buck as a whine escaped him and Eddie undid the bloody bandage on his shoulder, throwing it aside, checking the injury as much as he could without equipment. “Yes I know the 118 is the closest, but they can’t take this call. Another fifty minutes… fine 118 is fine.”  Athena knelt down on Buck’s other side and she took Buck’s left hand only for it to flinch but it wasn’t strong enough to yank free of her grip. 

“Hey, buckaroo.” Athena whispered as Buck’s eyes tried to focus on her but he seemed unable to understand who they exactly were. Eddie searched the area noticing the discarded medical kit and dragged it closer tossing things out of it as he went. There appeared to be no real bandages, nothing to tend to the bullet wound. He pulled out some pills, quickly discovering the packages empty. Was there anything in here? What the hell was he supposed to do anyways? He had nothing to help his friend, nothing to ease the pain. Eddie continued to dig through the kit, hoping and praying to find something. Was there seriously nothing for him to use?

“Buck, I need you to stay still okay. Can you do that for me?” Athena asked but she didn’t know if it got through to the firefighter. Buck was trying to move away from them and Eddie’s attention snapped back to his friend as he pressed a gentle hand to his shoulder making sure not to irritate the injury more. Buck flinched away giving a pained noise before trying to get away from them but he lacked the strength to do it properly. 

“You have to stop fighting. Buck, relax. We are trying to help you, we can’t help you if you keep moving.” Athena tried to reason but Buck wasn’t settling and they were too fearful to force him to be still, they didn’t want to injure him even more. Eddie pushed the medical kit away, it was useless anyway. 

“Athena, we have to keep him still till the paramedics get here.” Eddie stated as he tried to get his friend to look at him. Buck was starting to shake, his eyes were fluttering and he was mumbling but Eddie didn’t want to listen. He had an idea of what Buck was saying and it tore at his heart to see his friend so scared and in pain, begging for it to stop.

“Buck, I need you to stay awake.” Eddie whispered. He heard the noise but he didn’t bother to raise his head but he was aware when Athena was no longer across from him and it took him a moment to realize what happened. He glanced up to see the officer dash down the landing, chasing after the man responsible for this mess.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Athena growled as Eddie heard a yelp, and what sounded like a crash at the bottom of the stairs. The front door slammed shut and a crackle of electricity sounded, another scream following it. Eddie shook his head before he refocused on Buck, coming closer to his friend's head. Maybe if he could properly see him, he could relax and stop moving. He just needed him to be calm, the less he moved the better for his injuries, especially because he didn’t know the extent of the damage. 

“Buck, it's okay. It’s just me, it's me. It’s Eddie. Chase isn’t going to hurt you anymore, he isn’t going to hurt you ever again. I need you to look at me” Eddie whispered. Buck blinked up at him a few times, his breathing was coming in too fast. Eddie tried to ignore the pain from his wrists, right now he needed to focus. He needed to focus, as more blood trailed down his fingers. He gently cradled his friend's face, getting a small flinch in return before Buck relaxed against the touch.

“E-e-e-e… e-ed…”

“Yeah that's right. I’m right here. I’m right here okay, I’m right here.” Eddie reassured and he could feel the tears running down his face, as the ringing sound of the sirens grew. Eddie felt himself relax a bit before glancing over at Athena who was hauling Chase back up to the landing. She raised an eyebrow at Eddie’s look before checking the door and giving a small nod. 

“Make it fast.” Athena mumbled. 

“I’m going to be gone just for a second, okay.” Eddie told Buck and there was a small movement from the younger. Eddie took that as a yes, before getting to his feet the sirens getting closer still. Athena looked up at the ceiling as Eddie swung his fist hitting Chase straight in the nose. 

CRACK!

A shout escaped Mackey as he practically crumbled to the floor, blood pooling down from his nostrils. 

“You bitch!” Athena jerked his arm forcing Chase back to his feet before Eddie rushed back to Buck, who was starting to panic. 

“I’m here. I’m here, it's okay. Help is almost here, it's almost here.” Eddie whispered his fingers light on his friend's face. It seemed to ground him, to calm him down and Eddie would happily do it to keep Buck relaxed. He knew it was a stupid thing to do, especially with his own blood covering his hands. If it kept Buck calm then he would do it no matter how much his head was starting to hurt him. Eddie didn’t care that everything was starting to spin around him, he was losing too much blood. Buck’s eyes were starting to close and Eddie could feel himself starting to panic, he couldn’t let him pass out. 

“No, Buck. You gotta stay awake, please you gotta fight to stay awake. I’m right here. I’m not gonna leave okay. I need you to look at me, I need you to focus on me.” Eddie reassured and he was relieved when Buck’s eyes met his. The sirens were louder now, and soon enough there was the rush of footsteps on the steps.

Chapter Text

“You lost again.” Hen laughed, snatching the remote from Chim only to hear a grumble from the man.

“You are totally cheating.” 

“I am not cheating! I even beat Eddie.” Hen stated as Chim rolled his eyes, his arms crossing over his chest, he was pouting. Hen let out another laugh as Bobby raised his eyes from his phone looking over at the two firefighters sitting in the living area. Shaking his head, he returned his attention to the device in his hands, texting Eddie again. 

Why wasn’t he answering? That wasn’t like Eddie not to respond to him. Did something happen? Did Buck do something stupid again and get Eddie dragged into it? Bobby snorted, that sounded like something Buck would do, the kid was just far too reckless. So in his own world that others didn’t seem to matter. Bobby shook his head noticing his text was delivered. It’ll be fine, he told himself. There was a reason he asked Athena to swing past, she had so much more patience than him. He didn’t have the tolerance to go check on the kid yesterday, he just didn’t want to deal with his bullshit yet. 

“Captain, you wanna play?” Hen called snapping Bobby out of his thoughts. 

“Have you guys heard from Eddie? He’s not getting back to me.” Bobby asked as Hen and Chim both checked their phones, noticing no messages from their coworker. 

“No, nothing. Have you heard from Buck?” Chim questioned as Bobby shook his head no. 

“Did he know he was supposed to work today?” Hen asked with a small smile on her lips. 

“He probably forgot, or overslept again.” Chim joked. “Or maybe he got caught up with someone.” Chim grinned as Hen burst out a laugh and Bobby chuckled a bit. 

“Come on Bobby, I bet you can’t beat me in racing.” Hen yelled as Bobby rolled his eyes and set down the phone. 

“And if I win?” 

“Then I will call Buck and Eddie for you.” Hen smiled as she held out the controller to the Captain. Bobby got to his feet, picking up his phone and stuffing it into his pocket before making his way across the loft. The alarm blared above them, filling the station with the ringing siren. 

“When we get back!” Hen tried to shout over the siren as everyone raced for the fire truck. Bobby was climbing into the front seat a few moments later as Hen and Chim scrambled into the back. “Eddie missed a call, he’s going to be pissed.” Hen chuckled as Chim laughed. 

Bobby dug out his cell phone, scanning the screen over once more. Still no message from Eddie, and he quickly texted his wife hoping she would answer him. He watched as the message was delivered but didn't get a response back and Bobby bit his lip. What the hell was going on?

“An attempted homicide, that isn’t going to be fun for anyone involved.” Chim stated as Hen huffed. 

“Not to mention, kidnapping and two injured on scene. It’s going to be rough, especially two men down.” Hen responded as Bobby shifted a bit to look over his shoulder at his two friends. 

“It’ll be fine, I mean we have the best EMT’s in the LAFD. I’m not too concerned.” Bobby grinned as the two firefighters in the back chuckled. Hen looked out the window, a familiar street rolling past them with a large building sporting a unique graffiti snake on it, a crown overtop the snake’s head. She remembered that on the way to Buck’s place, she pointed it out to Chim and Buck, who both commented on it. Hen felt her stomach churn, and she shook the thought out of her head. No it wasn’t Buck, no way it was just a coincidence there were so many buildings in that area. Chim stared out the window, his eyes scanning the familiar buildings as he shifted and noticed Hen starting to fidget more and more. 

“Isn’t this the area that Buck just moved to?” Chim asked and everyone in the vehicle froze. Wait, two people? Oh shit. Bobby bit his tongue trying to stay quiet as he started dialing Athena’s number. Please answer! ANSWER! Panic swam through him as he tried Eddie’s phone number, hoping and praying for an answer. No, there was no way! There was no physical way! Please no. He tried calling Buck’s phone, hoping he would answer him. When the voicemail played he felt his stomach starting to spin. What was the address that Buck wrote on the update form? What was the address! He texted Athena, Bobby remembered before he went digging through his phone. 

“Chim, what was the number on Buck’s apartment?” Hen muttered as she was starting to panic, her heart roaring in her ears. Her panic was growing as they got closer and closer to the location that she remembered as Buck’s place. The address of the incident rolling through her head, there was no way. “Chim… What Was The NUMBER!” Hen screamed her fear overtaking her. Everyone in the firetruck was starting to panic as well, shifting uncomfortably as they grew closer to their destination. 

“Um…” Chim sputtered trying to get his own head under control. “...1902…” Chim whispered realizing that was the location they were going to. No! Hen was already undoing her belt and hauling her bag on her shoulder ready to jump out as soon as she could. 

“That was the apartment… That was it! Oh my god, oh my god, ohmygod!” Hen cried as she noticed the two vehicles coming up alongside the truck as it started to slow. Eddie’s truck and Buck’s jeep came into view and the panic wrapped through the fire truck even more. The truck didn’t even come to a full stop, before Hen threw open the door and jumped out.

“HEN!” Bobby shouted but it didn’t slow the EMT. Chim was out of the vehicle only moments after, ignoring the call of his captain as well. Hen needed to get into the building, she needed to make sure they were okay. They had to be okay, they just had to be! Racing up the stairs she made for the door just as it opened. Athena stared at her for a moment before forcing Chase Mackey out in front of her, his nose was bent out of shape, blood having dried around the nostrils. Hen stood there, stock still, staring at the police sergeant and trying to will herself forward. 

“You need to get in there.” Athena whispered. Hen felt a hand on her back as Chim pushed her forward into the apartment. She remembered carrying box after box up these stairs, as Buck talked about something he had learned the other day while on one of his search benders. She wanted to smile at the memory but she couldn’t when she could see blood on the landing above her. Dread crept through her, clawing at her skin and pulling back on her thoughts. 

“Come on, come on.” Chim pushed her forward again and her feet finally got the memo, and she moved to the landing. Hen could feel the tears stinging her eyes as she almost dropped to her knees, her head screaming at her. She forced herself to move as she sprinted to where Eddie was kneeling by Buck. Blood dripped down Eddie’s wrists staining the floor a deep crimson and discoloring the glass shards and cigarette butts. Hen and Chim quickly cleared away the glass and cigarettes as Eddie kept whispering to Buck, and Hen tried her best to slow her racing heart. She could feel her stomach as it spun, and she had to take a shaky breath to control her feelings. 

“Help is here, they are here Buck.” Eddie whispered as Hen pulled the bag from her shoulder and dropped to her knees at Buck’s side. 

“It’s going to be okay Buck. It’s Hen, it’s all going to be okay.” Hen consoled while trying to keep her tears away. Her eyes scanned over Buck’s head, there was dried blood matted in his hair and down the side of his neck. His face is black and blue, and the skin is peeled and irritated around his mouth. Multiple small circles looked like they were seared into his skin turning it almost a maroon, and black discoloration in the shapes of hands covers his neck as well. A bullet wound was through his right shoulder and it had been covered at one point, if the bloody bandages were anything to go by. Glass was embedded into Buck’s right arm, and pieces were torn through his shirt staining the fabric red. His breathing was painful and seemed too fast. Hen didn’t even need to guess to know that Buck’s ankle was broken. 

“Eddie, I need you to come here.” Chim ordered as he tried to pull Eddie away from Buck. 

“I’m fine, focus on him.” Eddie whispered. 

“You are bleeding everywhere, Eddie. I need to look at your wrists and you’re losing color.” Chim responded as Hen started tearing into her bag. Where did she even start? She needed blood pressure, pulse, check for concussion, and she needed to probably to… She wasn’t even paying attention when Chim practically had to drag Eddie off of Buck. Blood was pooling down Eddie’s hands, painting his skin red but his attention was entirely on Buck. Hen heard Buck’s breathing pick up, and he gasped. Hen dropped the blood pressure cuff back into the bag, she needed him to relax. 

“Buck, hey. You’re okay. You’re okay.” Hen whispered as she tried to get his attention, her hand cupping his cheek gently. He winced at the touch, a painful gasp escaping him. He didn’t seem to hear her though, his eyes staring straight through her. Hen felt the panic starting again, as the young man tried to move. “Buck, I need you to stay still.” Hen muttered as she shifted closer. She needed him to stay still, she needed him to stay calm. What if he crashed? She needed help and with Chim trying to take care of Eddie, where the hell was Bobby? 

Bobby had to force himself up the first set of steps, his eyes scanning over the orange phone that laid just inside the doorway. His heart was throbbing in his chest and a mixture of panic swam through his stomach. What the hell happened?

“Captain.” Athena’s voice cut through his thoughts, as she slammed Chase Mackey into the nearby wall. She was most certainly not being gentle with the man and given the blood on his face she probably should be. 

“Wha-”

“Get your ass in there!” Athena growled and Bobby could only nod, before continuing up the steps. What the hell happened? Why was Chase Mackey here? Is Eddie okay? Is Buck okay? Did he fuck up by not coming to check on Buck last night? His eyes locked on the blood covering the railing, and painting the wall behind it. No! Bobby raced up the last steps, not caring as he pulled his helmet from his head. 

“Buck, you’re okay. I need you to calm down.” Hen stated as she desperately looked over at him. Bobby had to swallow down the feelings that seemed to want to come crawling up.  

“What do you need?” Bobby asked as he moved to Hen’s side. 

“Keep him calm. He could make it worse, and I don’t want the possibility of him crashing.” Hen responded as Bobby felt himself go numb at the sight in front of him. This was… this was so much worse than he could have imagined. Oh god, what has he done! What did he do! Everything was coming crashing down around him. He did this! He did this to Buck! He had to get his head under control, he couldn’t freak out, not now. He needed to focus, he needed to stay calm for everyone.  

Bobby took careful steps around the glass and cigarettes that littered the floor. Kneeling down by Buck’s head he noticed his eyes seemingly being unable to focus on him. He was so hesitant, he didn’t know what to do but he knew he had to do something. It took him a moment to finally get his voice to work. 

“Hey Buck.” Bobby mumbled, getting a flinch from the younger man. Bobby felt his stomach flip as Hen moved to take the firefighters blood pressure, getting a small whine from him. He was gently, as soft as he could be, lightly touching the young man’s face. Maybe it would help him focus. Maybe it would ground him and it would hopefully stop Buck from moving his head. “You’re okay. You’re okay, Buck. It’s just Hen, she’s getting your blood pressure.” Bobby reassured but it wasn’t working, his breath was becoming faster still. 

“Bobby, calm him down.” Chim stated as he started on Eddie’s right wrist, bandaging it up as much as he could. 

“I need you to listen to me, Buck. You gotta relax, we are all here. You’re okay, we got you.” Another pained gasp came from Buck and Hen shook her head, that wasn’t a good sign. 

“His blood pressure is too high and his breathing is getting worse. I can’t tell if it's just broken ribs or worse. I need to start an IV.” Hen reasoned as she started digging in her bag again. 

“E-ee-e-dd-d…” Buck mumbled and everyone froze, almost surprised that Buck had actually spoken. Chim barely had enough time to finish tying off the bandage before Eddie was moving, fully pushing Bobby out of the way. Bobby blinked at him, uncertain what to do but he ultimately let Eddie take over. Bobby’s thoughts were crashing around him, what could he do? He had to help, he had to do something besides sitting here. This was his fault, he had to fix it. 

“I’m here, I’m here. You’re okay. I need you to stay still and focus on me.” Eddie whispered as Chim started digging through his own bag pulling out the neck brace. Bobby slowly got to his feet, was he even helpful at this point? Was he just in the way? He watched as Chim got up to go fetch the backboard and Bobby followed after not wanting to be in the way. 

“Captain Nash.” Athena’s voice called to him as soon as he got to the street level. Two other police officers went past him and into the apartment. Athena grabbed Bobby’s arm pulling him away from the door, out of the way of anyone needing to go in or out. “How the hell did this happen?” 

“I… I don’t know.” Bobby whispered. 

“How the hell didn’t you know! How didn’t you check up on him when he didn’t show up to work this morning!” Athena growled. Bobby rubbed at the back of his neck, his head was spinning. He let this happen. What kind of leader was he? He should have made the time, the attempt to even go check up on Buck. He didn’t even call him, what the hell is wrong with him? Oh god, what about his job? He could lose everything because of his carelessness, oh god what should he do? They can’t know what he did, he needed to figure out what he could say. 

“We are taking him to Valley Health, Trauma Center.” Chim stated as they started heading towards the ambulance with Buck. Eddie sort of stumbled after them, his eyes darting to Bobby and he felt the anger rising again. This was all of Bobby’s fault but he doubted the captain would ever admit to that. 

“Captain.” Eddie snapped, getting Bobby’s attention. Eddie took a careful step forward, his jaw clenched and Athena raised an eyebrow at the firefighter. “Yo-” A hand was on his arm, helping him keep his feet in place under him. Chim glanced up at him with a concerned look on the man’s face. 

“Eddie, you need to get in the ambulance now.” Chim ordered. Eddie stopped mid word, before glancing over at the ambulance before huffing out the anger he was building. He turned towards the ambulance with Chim’s help, climbing into the back and Hen slammed the doors behind him. He’d deal with it later, he thought as Chim was dragging his right arm forward starting to get an IV going. 

Chapter Text

Eddie leaned his head against the wall, it was awkward sitting in the waiting room. At least the 118 were the only group in the space. He kept sending glares to Bobby who sat in a chair near the center of the space with Athena at his side. The officer was just silent, her leg bouncing a bit as she bit at her nails. She was as nervous and anyone who looked at her could tell. Eddie huffed, his head lightly hitting the wall again, and he tried to get comfortable on the floor, he couldn’t stand sitting in the chairs. He couldn’t take the discomfort of those chairs right now, he wanted to be anywhere else but in one of those stupid chairs. He mindlessly picked at the bandages on his wrists and the spot where the IV had been. He had argued the whole time he was here, as the nurses tried to convince him to get a transfusion. He didn’t need it, he felt much better after Chim ordered him to take some medicine. He knew he probably should have done the transfusion but the IV stopped his headache and dizziness. He isn’t even entirely sure how long he has been in the waiting room, it’s felt like forever. Everything's crushing in around him, trying to drag him deeper into his thoughts. 

He scratched at the bandage, this time feeling the tape give a little and he forced his hand away. Eddie hit his head against the wall again, his stomach was flipping. His leg was bouncing uncontrollably, if someone would look at him they would see the word Stressed in big shining letters above his head. He wanted to move, he wanted to do something but there was only so much he could do with Hen hovering around him and making sure that he was eating and drinking something, even if it was just cookies and apple juice from a vending machine. 

He needed to have that discu… argument with Bobby sooner rather than later. But at the same time he didn’t want to bring it up and he didn’t want to do it in the waiting room of all places. He doubted anyone else knew about Bobby’s lack of care when it came to Buck skipping work the other day. If he had gone, would Buck have been found sooner? He might have been saved from that nightmare earlier. What if Eddie hadn’t gone? He could feel himself starting to shake, his panic starting to overwhelm. What would he have told Christopher? Buck died because they were all too stuck in the past to move forward. He had so much to makeup for, this was his own stupid fault. He should have gotten his head out of his ass so much sooner, he should have gotten over it. It was a mistake, that's all it was. A mistake that they should have apologized for already. Dios, would Buck even want him around after all this? His stomach spun at the thought, he wouldn’t blame him. He probably wanted nothing to do with any of them anymore. They left him there.. They left him there to suffer alone. What kind of friend was he? He lowered his head a bit trying to stop the thoughts from tumbling any deeper down the hole. 

The clicking of shoes brought him out of his thoughts as Maddie raced into the room, with Chim only a few steps behind her. She had tears streaming down her face, and she was trying to stop herself from fully breaking down. 

“Someone tell me what happened!” Maddie shouted as the room fell silent, except for her sniffling. Eddie shifted and started getting to his feet, his hand finding balance on the wall behind him. He could feel Hen’s gaze on him but he chose to ignore it as much as he could. Maddie deserved to know, it was her brother after all. 

“Chase Mackey got to him, and I guess…” Eddie mumbled not certain if he was even in the right line, but he can assume. “He wanted him to pay for dropping the lawsuit.” Eddie admitted as he rubbed at the back of his neck. Maddie started crying again, this time her head dropping into her hands and her knees giving out. Chim moved quickly, catching her before she crumpled to the ground. 

“How… how didn’t anyone know…?” Maddie cried as she let her boyfriend pull her closer to his chest. She scanned the room looking desperately at everyone waiting for an answer. Eddie wanted to speak up, he wanted to so badly but where would he even start. What did Maddie know? What did he even say to start apologizing? 

“It’s my fault.” Bobby stated as he pushed himself to his feet and got a look from his wife. “I should have checked on him this morning and that was my mistake.” Wait, what? He wasn’t…

“Oh you know or when he didn’t show up to work yesterday!” Eddie snapped. “The only reason I know is because you asked me to take care of it when I had to run an errand. Because you were too tired to do a wellness check on one of your own team.” Eddie snarled. All eyes were on him, he hadn’t expected it to come out like that but it was the easiest way to get it across. Now the anger was rising in him, and he could feel his fist clenching. Eddie’s eyes locked on Bobby who was standing there with a blank expression on his face, he probably didn’t expect to be called out. 

“What!” Athena interrupted the silence, her teeth grit tight. Bobby took a deep breath before pinching the bridge of his nose. 

“Yes, I should have checked up on him when he didn’t show up at work yesterday. I just thought maybe he needed a break.” 

“That’s your job! Did you not even bother to text or call him? You would have known something was wrong.” Athena hissed as she got to her feet staring her husband down. Bobby took a small step back, putting a little space between them. 

“I didn’t mean for it to happen.” Bobby whimpered as Athena started towards him, her anger rolling off her in waves. 

“Like you didn’t mean for us to basically exclude him from everything at the firehouse. Like he isn’t welcome to be with us while we are just hanging around, and he has to eat alone. Even the most minor thing is wrong, you go off on him how much of a disappointment he is.” Maddie gasped at Eddie’s confession. 

“You didn’t treat him any better!” Bobby spat. 

“I know I fucked up and I’m going to do everything in my power to fix it. Even if I can't, I'm going to do whatever is needed to help and support him to make up for what I did. You’re right I did treat him just as bad, and I will regret that for the rest of my life. But you’re the fucking captain! It’s your job to set the precedent of the entire crew and the new recruits they are going to follow your lead. None of us are going to call you out on your bullshit because we don’t want the same thing to happen to us. You lead by example and your example is fucking terrible!” Eddie yelled and pushed himself off the wall. Oh god he was swaying, Hen was on her feet in moments rushing over to him helping stabilize him. 

“Is this true?” Athena questioned. “And don’t you dare lie to me!” Athena ordered as she got into Bobby’s face. 

“It’s true.” Hen admitted. “He’s been doing it since Buck returned… We all have…” Hen answered as she started helping Eddie back to the ground. Probably better that way, he didn’t particularly want to fall on his face. Maddie was running her hands through her hair, she was becoming overwhelmed.

“Look I-” Bobby stumbled backwards clutching at his cheek, a dark red mark forming on his skin. Athena lowered her hand, her anger overpowering the tense feeling in the room. 

“This has been going on for almost a month!” Athena screamed at all of them and Bobby kept backing up. “None of you even bothered to go check on him!”

“I di-”

“SHUT UP!” Athena yelled as Eddie flinched at the shout. Maddie took a step away from Chim, wiping at the tears streaming down her face. “You all have no right. He is a member of your team and you are treating him like shit! After everything that boy has done for you. After everything he did to get you all back and you do this… And you,” Athena turned her attention to Bobby. “You are their captain and you have the audacity to treat someone like that. Someone who needs you to look after him because it’s your job! It’s your job to make sure they are all treated equally and fairly! You lied to everyone, you lied to me, you're supposed to be a team. You’re supposed to have everyone's back and you could have killed him because of your negligence!” Athena exploded. Bobby didn’t meet her gaze, he just looked like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs.

“I’m sorry, this all got so out of hand. I didn’t mean…” 

“Family of Evan Buckley...” A nurse stated as she entered the waiting room getting everyone to fall silent and Maddie stepped forward towards the woman. “He did well in surgery, they were able to extract the bullet from his shoulder, stopped his internal bleeding, and they were able to patch up his punctured lung. The doctors had to put him into a medically induced coma to bring down his brain swelling. However, we won’t know how serious his brain injuries are until he wakes.” The nurse stated and the room remained tense. Eddie could feel the dread as it crept through him. How didn’t they know how bad his head was? That was their job, their job was to know what was wrong. And Buck was so badly injured he had to be put into a coma… Eddie had to take a deep breath, pushing the thoughts out of his head he didn’t need to spiral right now. Not now, he needed to stay calm. 

“When can we see him?” Maddie whispered, her worry evident in her voice. Everyone could hear Athena hissing at Bobby, but she was doing it quietly enough that no one else could hear the conversation. 

“They should be putting him into a room within the hour.” The nurse informed before leaving the group alone once again. Eddie sat there trying to comprehend what was the next step. Now what? He couldn’t just leave, he had to stay. Even if he left, his mind would be consumed with what ifs. Eddie glanced at Maddie, her tears coming full force down her face and when Chim tried to comfort her, she pushed him away. Did Maddie even want to have them around Buck after this? She had that power, that control. She had the ability to stop him from seeing Buck, she had that control and no one would question her on her decision. God who even knows if Buck will come out of this. He did this… He did this to Buck…

“Maddie?” Eddie whispered, getting the brown haired woman to look at him. There was a look of anger on her face but the more she stared at him the more it morphed into sadness, her tears slowing. “I think you need to figure out what’s next, what happens i…” Eddie cut himself off, don’t think like that. “When he comes out of this. Then what, where does he go?” Maddie nodded before glancing at everyone behind them. She was looking for something, but the only one besides Eddie to meet her gaze was Athena. The officer tried to give her a reassuring smile before she sent another scowl towards her husband's direction.

“He really clung to you Eddie. I think that conversation is between you, and Maddie.” Athena stated from across the room as Bobby kept shrinking back, trying to get away from his wife. Eddie wanted to say something else, he wanted to do something but he finally just nodded. If Maddie wanted him there, then he would be. If she wanted him gone, he would give her that power and respect. It was her decision, in the long run. Maddie shifted looking back to him, and she cautiously walked up to Eddie, offering her hand to help him back to his feet and he hesitantly took it. 

Chapter Text

“You should go home, I’m certain Christopher misses you.” Maddie stated from where she was trying to recline in the uncomfortable hospital chair. Eddie wasn’t in a much better position, he has shifted almost twelve times in the past two minutes. She was sipping on the now lukewarm coffee that she had asked Chim to pick up for them when he swung by before heading to the station. The couple had many different discussions since the whole incident occurred a few days ago. Eddie wasn’t surprised to learn that Maddie had forgiven Chim, after all he wasn’t one of the major players in the whole situation. That title alone sat on his and Bobby’s shoulders. He was surprised however, that Maddie was even allowing him around. 

“And you have a boyfriend that probably misses the hell out of you.” 

“At least mine can function on their own. I’m serious Eddie. Carla, Josephina and Isabel can only do so much, and it's been almost four days… Did you even tell Christopher?” Maddie asked after a few moments. 

“Yeah, he cried and has been begging to come see him.” Eddie mumbled. “I don’t want him to see him like this.” Eddie gestured to where the body of his best friend rests on the sterile white sheets, an endotracheal tube down his throat and so many wires and machines that it makes his head hurt. Eddie scrubbed at his face, he didn’t want Christopher to see him like this, this was so much worse than the ladder truck. He didn’t want to scare his son, he didn’t want him to see his friend, the man that Christopher called out for in sleep, in this position. Buck was covered in so many bandages that it wasn’t even funny at this point especially with how often the guy gets hurt on the job. The doctors had finally taken the thoracostomy tube out of Buck’s chest, and his color was finally back to normal.

“So… your place huh?” 

“I mean if he even wants me around after this…” Eddie whispered as Maddie took a deep breath. She seemed exhausted, just as much as he was but if she wanted him here he would be here. Well… she hadn’t told him no yet. 

“I’m certain he’s going to want to be with you, Eddie… I’m just a bit concerned, you know.” Maddie muttered. Eddie reclined a bit more into the chair, the small twinge of pain coming from the position, he’d have to shift again. 

“I know… so am I in all honesty. I don’t even know how to deal with it Maddie, he was so panicked. What if he’s still like that when he wakes up?” Eddie ran a hand through his hair thinking. “I don’t know how this is going to affect him, who knows how bad his head is going to be? He’s not going to be able to walk at all and I doubt he’s going to be able to use a crutch because of his ribs, and his shoulder.” Eddie groaned, leaning back into the chair before moving again. Dios, these chairs were so uncomfortable.  

“He might be able to walk on it…” Maddie whispered but even she didn’t sound convinced herself. Eddie huffed before shifting in his chair again as Maddie watched him with scrutiny. Swinging his legs over the arm of the chair he stared at Maddie who was sitting in a similar position, the two were just staring at each at this point. A small smile formed on the woman’s mouth, before Eddie started laughing, Maddie’s own burst of laughter following his. He was so happy that the two of them got along, he was so afraid that Maddie would hate him. He was actually surprised how relaxed she was around him but at the same time it might just be that she had someone else with her the whole time. He had to just keep trying to release the tension. 

“We look like idiots.” Maddie snorted.

“I don’t disagree.” Athena stated as she entered the room, two bags in her hand smelling of something salty. Eddie tried to shift again but he couldn’t seem to maneuver himself right and he almost fell straight out of the chair. “I think you need to go home Eddie.” Athena chuckled. 

“What’d you bring us today?” Maddie asked as she, a lot more easily, put herself back to normal. 

“Show off.” Eddie muttered before getting settled in his seat like a normal person. 

“How long until they pull him out?” Athena asked as she handed off the bag to Maddie’s expecting hands. 

“They said if everything looks good after the next scan, they’ll do it tonight.” Maddie informed. 

“Another reason for me to be here. What if he wakes up and freaks?” Eddie pointed out. 

“Then we call you and you will probably drop everything to get here. But I think I can manage my own brother.” Maddie added before digging out the french fries and putting them on the table between the two. 

“How are your wrists?” Athena asked as she slid her thumbs into her belt. She had been spending most meals with the two of them, bringing something new every time. 

“They are doing better.” Eddie responded. The bandages weren’t as heavy as they were a few days ago when Chim tended to the injuries. Then again, Chim didn’t want to take any chances of him losing more blood. “How’s…” 

“He slept in his vehicle last night.” Athena responded and Eddie sputtered a laugh. “Still very much in the dog house and I’ve gone directly to the Chief, and this won’t be tolerated. Bobby was moved to a different team and is under a probationary period until the Chief determines what to do. He won’t be leading anyone for a while.” 

“Bobby’s got a lot to make up for.” Maddie whispered as she unwrapped her burger digging in. 

“We all do, and like hell I’m going to let Bobby near Buck.” Eddie responded. 

“Don’t blame you. Does that mean you two are going to patch everything up then?” Athena asked as she opened her hand, and Maddie dropped two burgers into her hand. 

“Katrina, lunch is here.” Eddie said loud enough for the nurse at the station to get up from her seat. 

“Swear you guys are around here too much.” The thirty year old brunette walked into the room, taking the burger from Athena. “Thank you, Athena.” The nurse smiled before heading out of the room. For as long as Eddie has known Buck, he’s pretty much known Katrina. She always, somehow always, ends up being his nurse. 

“What do you mean?” Eddie asked as he grabbed two fries and started munching on them. He hasn’t eaten much since everything happened, let alone slept. Everytime he tries to sleep, he just sees Buck laying there on the ground. The blood is everywhere and he can't get to him, he can’t help his friend. He often wakes up screaming only after an hour. He can’t sleep the rest of the night, because every time he closes his eyes he just sees blood. 

“You know.” Athena smiled but Maddie still looked confused. Oh Dios, was she seriously talking about… 

“I told you that in confidence.” Eddie hissed. 

“Okay, I don’t like being out of the conversation.” Maddie piped up. 

“Eddie…” Athena gestured to Maddie. 

“Can we not….” Eddie huffed he didn’t particularly want to talk about this, not now when everything was still so tense. He had been trying to joke with Maddie and release more of the tension and yes it has been working. He just didn’t want to start talking about his feelings like this. Yes, Athena knew but that came out by a freak accident before the whole lawsuit. Maddie was staring at him though, he didn’t feel comfortable sharing it with Maddie. But yet… he should tell her… right? 

“Fine… I’ve…. I’ve… beenwantingtobewithyourbrotherforawhilenow…” Eddie said it too fast and Maddie was just blinking at him. “ Pues mierda… before everything happened. I was trying to pursue a relationship with Buck, and then shit happened. The feelings never went away but things got complicated and they went on the backburner.” Eddie admitted, Maddie’s eyes widened. She gave a quick glance at Buck before returning her attention back to Eddie. Was she processing that confession? Maddie was almost frozen in her movements, not speaking and just staring at him. It took Maddie a few minutes to get her words back. 

“You still want to be with him?”

“Yeah.” 

“Well you know what they say.” Maddie grinned as she leaned back into her chair taking another bite of her burger and confusing the hell out of Eddie. “You fight better with your lover watching.” Maddie smirked. 

“I have never heard that saying.” Athena whispered as she glanced at Eddie. 

I think she made it up.” Maddie chuckled digging more into her burger, satisfied that she confused her friends.

Chapter Text

Maddie was flipping through the magazine, scanning the different sections of the articles. It was something to keep her busy, something to focus on. Chim leaned against her, his head resting on her shoulder as he snored softly. He had told her that it was a lot of calls and with Eddie, and Evan out of commission and Bobby on a probationary period, the team was spread pretty thin. From what Chim had said, there were at least eight separate calls in different parts of their districts. She, on the other hand, had finally gotten Eddie to go home to have dinner with Christopher. 

She had to promise Eddie that as soon as there was any change in Evan, that she would text him immediately. Maddie was at least happy to report that he left almost three hours ago, and she could bet that Chris was loving having his dad home. She glanced up at Evan, his endotracheal tube had finally been removed and he was breathing on his own even with the help of a nasal cannula. She hoped he would wake up soon, but she was a bit scared. Maybe Evan would be fine and he would be back to his old ways but the whole situation was… he probably wouldn’t recover for a while. She wasn’t even certain if he could return to being a firefighter. That thought tumbled through her head for a few moments, he would hate every moment of it. If he couldn’t be a firefighter, Maddie could only imagine what would happen. She closed the magazine, staring down at the gloss coated paper. 

Maddie looked at the bandage wrapped around her brother’s neck, hiding all the cigarette burns. She had cried when she saw it the first time, and she had to leave the room while Katrina tended to his injury. What kind of sister was she? She couldn’t even protect her baby brother. She hadn’t even reached out in weeks, she just trusted what Chim said. She shouldn’t have, she should have done her own research. Heard Evan’s side of the story, and come to her own conclusions. She screwed up! Evan was always there for her, always willing to help her with anything. He tracked her across state lines when Doug took her, and she couldn’t even give him the courtesy to make sure he was okay. The shift next to her made her realize she was crying, as Chim sat up to look at her. 

“Maddie, it's okay.” Chim whispered as he brushed some of her hair behind her ear. She shook her head, it wasn’t okay. Nothing was okay! 

“No, it's not. I should have gone to him, I should have reached out so long ago. I know he has so many…” She cuts herself off. Evan is going to blame himself for this, that’s just who he is. He takes everything on as his fault, even things that he can’t control. The tsunami, the ladder truck, god he takes it all as his own fault. 

“It’s not your fault.”

“Yes, it is Howie. If I had reached out maybe he would have been with us that night. Maybe we could have gone out to dinner, or just sat around watching movies. Maybe he would have been comfortable enough to reach out to us.” Maddie mumbled. “I’m a horrible sister.” The tears flowed as she felt her boyfriend's arms wrap around her shoulder. 

“You are not a horrible sister. We all make mistakes, Maddie. We should have all gotten over it faster than this.” Chim reassured. A groan snapped the two out of their thoughts, and Maddie is on her feet in seconds moving over to her brother’s side. Evan’s eyes flutter open a few moments later, and she carefully takes his left hand. The flinch she gets is instant, but not enough to wrench his hand free from hers. 

“Evan… it's me. It’s Maddie. You’re okay. It’s okay.” She whispered, Evan winced at the brightness of the room around them. “It’s okay, we can turn the lights off. It won’t hurt then.” Maddie stated before glancing at her boyfriend. 

“...n...n-n-o…” Evan rasped. Chim stopped mid motion, his hand inches from the lightswitch and he turned to look back at Maddie. Chim moved away from the switch instead, going to grab a paper cup and fill it with water, and handed the drink off to his girlfriend. 

“Drink it will help with your sore throat.” Maddie muttered, Chim made a small noise catching her attention. “I’m going to help you drink okay.” Maddie whispered, getting a small blink from her brother. She tried to be careful, she really did but she doesn’t expect the hiss of pain the moment her hand goes behind his head. Chim is right there in moments taking over her place and helping Evan get a drink of water. It isn’t even a minute after that Evan is back asleep. 

“Maddie, are you okay?” Chim questioned as he walked around the bed to her. Maddie shakes her head no as more tears stream down her face and she can feel her breath hitch. 

“This shouldn’t have happened.” Maddie whimpered, her hands pressing into her eyes. “This should have never happened. It could have been so easily avoided.” Maddie cried as Chim’s arms were around her guiding her back into the chair. 

“It’s okay. He’s safe now. He’s going to be okay, he’s Buck. He’s going to pull through this, just like everything else.” Chim whispered into her hair, before placing a kiss. She pulls his arms closer, her head digging into his shoulder, the sobs shaking her body.  “I promise it will be okay. I promise you.” Chim tried to reassure her. There is a soft knock at the door and Maddie’s head snapped up to look at Hen who was holding a bouquet of flowers. The woman was still sporting her uniform, she must have come straight from the station. Maddie was surprised to see her, after all if you weren’t in a room for the night, you weren’t technically allowed in the building. 

“I brought flowers.” Hen held up the bouquet and Maddie thanked her before wiping her eyes. “Can I ask what happened?” 

“He didn’t want us to turn the lights off.” Chim answered as Maddie dug her head into the side of his neck. Hen closed her eyes and lowered her head, taking the information in slowly. 

“He’ll recover.” She whispered. 

“And if he doesn’t?” Maddie questioned. 

“Then we’ll support him.” Hen reassured. “He’s not going to be going through this alone.” Hen stated as she stood gripping Maddie’s shoulder, trying to give her some confidence. 

“We should text Eddie.” 

“And freak him out?” Maddie whispered, her heart hurt. 

“He needs to know.” Chim responded. 

“He should stay with Chris. I don't want him to worry and come back. Christopher needs him.” Maddie whispered as she glanced at the bed, satisfied that Evan was indeed asleep. She knew Chim was right and she silently picked up her phone firing off the text. 

Chapter Text

Eddie shot up from the bed, his head rolling and his heart racing. It was a nightmare, just a nightmare. Buck was safe in the hospital, he was safe with Maddie and Chase was locked away. Then why did he sleep like shit?  There was nothing that he could do to stop the onslaught of pain that seemed to continuously bloom from each doze. He grumbled flopping back down on the bed, and stared up at the ceiling to the fan that silently spun above him. Eddie groaned and ran a hand over his face, his eyes falling shut for a minute.

Blood soaked every surface and the scream of his best friend tore through his skull.

Eddie forced his eyes open, Dios puto maldito!  He sat up, rubbing at his eyes for a few moments before getting out of bed and pulling on a pair of loose fitting sweats to go with his shirt. Unplugging his phone, he scanned the time over. 2:21 pm. 

He trudged to the kitchen, mumbling under his breath about how stupid this all was. Flicking the lights on he scanned his phone again, seeing if Maddie texted in the hour and half he was out. There was a small update that said Buck woke up for a minute or two, but other than that nothing. Yanking open the fridge, he digs out a water bottle before retreating to the couch and flipping the television on. Pulling up Netflix, he turns on a random show and turns the volume low. He didn’t want to bother Christopher, his son needed all the sleep he could get. 

He watched the image as it filled with light and color and he tried to focus on something. Anything else but the thoughts that wanted to drag him back under, back into that constant turmoil that seemed to live in his head. Eddie huffed trying to get comfortable, he should be comfortable it was his furniture after all. Then why did he feel like he was back at the hospital trying to get comfortable in those plastic chairs. He groaned, rubbing at the back of his neck why was everything so difficult. 

He could smell smoke, and burning flesh. Buck’s scream filled his head, rattling all his thoughts. 

He jerked again, forcing his eyes more open than they were just a moment ago. Taking a deep breath, he tried to relax. Buck was okay, Buck was fine. He was going to be waking up soon, he’s going to get back on his feet in a few weeks. Of course he would, he was Buck… He was Buck… 

The metal dug into his skin, the blood dripping down his hands. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t breathe. Buck’s blood covered everything, and there was nothing he could do. Another scream ripping through his system.

Eddie gasped, trying to calm his racing mind. When did he start shaking? When did he start sweating? He couldn’t catch his breath, he couldn’t breath and tears streamed down his face. His head was screaming at him, everything was just a mixture of noise that seemed to overwhelm everyone of his senses. He fumbled for his phone, not thinking, dialing a number he couldn’t read. Just someone on the other end, someone to help him at this point. He couldn't get a breath into his lungs. 

Buck could have died! Buck could have been killed and he wouldn’t have known! What if he walked in and found Buck... What kind of partner was he? Partners are supposed to look out for each other and make sure that they have each other's back. He hasn't had Buck's back in so long. What the hell was wrong with him? The television screen was suddenly too bright, everything was becoming too loud. He tried to get another breath, he fought to take in air but it seemed like the pressure wouldn’t let him. Constricting the life from him, forcing him to take in his reality. He fucked up, he keeps fucking up! Can’t he do anything right? 

Hello?” A groggy voice asked. Eddie didn’t know who he called but he didn’t care, he just needed a voice to focus on. “Eddie? Eddie, are you okay?” 

“C-can’t… bre-br-b-breat-the.” There was some mild swearing on the phone. His heart was racing in his chest and it was starting to hurt, his stomach wouldn’t stop spinning. Buck could have died!

“Eddie, I need you to listen to me okay. Everything is going to be okay, I promise you everything is going to be fine. I need you to breathe slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Follow me. In…” Eddie tried to listen to the words, and he carefully gulped down a breath of air. “Out…” Eddie sort of coughed in the air that tried to leave his lungs. He couldn’t even hear the voice anymore. Everything ached and he tried to get another deep breath in but it just seemed to become harder.

He couldn’t do this, he couldn’t be who everyone needed him to be. He wasn’t a hero, he was a failure. That much has become clearer after everything that has happened. He was so lucky to have everything he does have, and yet he knows he can lose it all so easily. He’s an idiot. He nearly let his best friend die, he almost lost his son in a tsunami. He probably lost his friend not long after that tidal wave, they didn’t interact as much after. His own fault. His own stupid fault, he just kept screwing up. He had no control, he had no way to stop things from happening. He was…

“Dad?” Eddie snapped his attention forward meeting his son’s eyes. Christopher looked so concerned from where he was standing in front of him, his hands wringing at the hem of his shirt. “Are you okay?” Christopher asked. Eddie tried to get his breath back, and he forced the air back into his lungs. He was fine, Chris was here of course he was fine. He was in control of this, he was okay. 

Estoy bien, estoy bien. No quise despertarte .”   Eddie whimpered before pulling his son to his chest. He was okay, he was going to be fine. 

“Thank you, Christopher.” The voice on the other end of the phone stated. Eddie blinked at the device for a moment before snatching it, realizing he called Bobby in his panic. 

“Sorry for waking you, Captain.” Eddie whispered as he released his grip on his son before starting to get to his feet, and his head swam with the movement. Gripping the side of the couch, he was able to ground himself just a bit more, as he tried to force the lightheadedness away. 

“You don’t need to apologize, Eddie. I’m the one that needs to apologize.” Bobby mumbled and Eddie quickly turned the phone off of the speaker, putting the device to his ear. He scooped up Christopher, letting the boy wrap his arms around his neck. 

“Sir, I don-”

“No Eddie, you were right. I’m sorry for lying to everyone, and trying to save my own skin and causing more harm than was necessary. I was a terrible leader, I didn’t listen to anyone and I wasn’t thinking about the good of everyone else. I wasn’t fair to Buck, I wasn’t fair to you and I’m so sorry for that. I take a hundred percent responsibility for this happening, and I should have been the one to go find Buck. I’m sorry that I pushed that responsibility on you. I’m sorry for everything that happened.” Eddie shifted a bit on his feet before walking to Chris’s room. Christopher whined when Eddie tried to put his son down in his own bed, instead clinging to his dad more tightly. Eddie took a shaky breath, before moving slowly to his own bedroom, settling his son on the bed. 

“Yeah…” Eddie whispered. 

“I know that I have a lot of making up to do, for everyone. I need to be a better leader for the team, if I even get the opportunity to come back to the department.” 

“It’s not me you have to make up to, Cap.” Eddie muttered before laying down next to Christopher. 

“I know. I just wanted you to know. I am truly sorry, if you need anything. Anything at all, don't hesitate to reach out.” Eddie let himself mull over those words, storing that into the back of his mind. 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Have a good night Eddie.” Bobby hung up leaving just Eddie and his son alone in the house. Depositing the phone on the nightstand he leaned back to look at Christopher who was watching him intently. 

“Hey mijo. ” Eddie whispered before brushing some of Chris’s hair out of his eyes. “Try to get some sleep alright.” Eddie mumbled. 

“When am I going to be able to see Buck?” Christopher questioned and Eddie shut his eyes taking a deep breath. 

“He’s going to be coming over soon.” 

“Really?” 

“Yes, however. He’s not going to be able to play with you like he used to. He got pretty badly hurt and he can’t go home, so he’s going to be staying with us for a while.” 

“That’s okay, we can watch movies together and just hang out.” Eddie gave a soft smile. Dios, how did he get the best kid in the world? So full of brightness that it even makes the night seem just that much lighter. 

“I’m certain he would love that.” Eddie smiled. “Alright, time for bed now.” Eddie shifted to look at his son, noticing his eyes were already shut.  A ping came from his phone and he quickly glanced at it seeing Maddies text come through. Only a minute. Eddie huffed before turning his attention back to his son as he pulled the blankets up around Christopher. Eddie huffed shifting onto his back and he looked to the spinning blades above him. 

Chapter Text

His hands were sore and ached a faint pain seeming to linger over his whole body. He felt the scratchy blanket around him, the strong scent of antiseptic seemed to overwhelm his senses. Even with his eyes closed, he could still see the light that seemed to be all around him penetrating the dark. He could hear the heart monitor as it beeped along his side and he slowly blinked his eyes open. The stark white of the room threw him off for a minute, his eyes burning from the lack of light for so long. He groaned, flexing his right hand a bit but it didn’t move as much as he had hoped. A weight sat in his hand, and he gazed over to see Maddie. 

Her left hand was twisted into his right, her head resting against her shoulder, her hair blocking parts of her face. She was sleeping, and it eased Buck just a bit more before noticing Chim passed out in the chair beside her. He was mostly sitting up right, his head was leaned down against his chest and his arms were crossed. Buck wondered how long they had been there? He felt the pull of exhaustion, and his eyes fell shut a few moments later. 

His eyes flickered, who knows how long later. He didn’t know how long he was out but Maddie and Chim were still fast asleep. Were they always there? He flexed his right hand again, feeling his sister's fingers in his. Was he in a hospital? When did he get here? Buck scanned the area around him, he was certain it was a hospital now. How did he get here? He moved his head a bit, a pull of pain coming from the bruises on his face. The only thing that he really remembered was… Pain exploded from the side of his head.  

He gasped, his left hand going to his head but he felt a bandage instead of skin. The monitor beside him spiked for a moment and he unfortunately jolted Maddie awake. She seemed stunned before she realized he was awake, tightening her grip on his hand. 

“Evan...” She was smiling but there were tears forming in her eyes. “You’re awake.” She whispered. 

“How… how’d I…?” Buck whimpered, his voice burning. Everything hurt, why was he in so much pain? Did he throw another clot? Why wasn’t his mind working?

“You’re okay. Eddie and Athena found you, they got you out. You’re going to be okay.” She stated but that didn’t clear anything up. “You’re okay.” She whispered and her words seemed to stir Chim awake.  

“I-I…” He wanted to say something but the words weren’t flowing, was his mind always this foggy? He leaned more into the pillow trying to remember what he was going to say. Why was everything so hard to concentrate on? “How…?” He managed to croak out. The look he got from Maddie seemed to be more of confusion than anything. 

“How?” Chim asked as he got to his feet stretching a bit. 

“I… I don’t remember.” Buck whispered. Chim glanced up at Maddie for a few seconds before shifting away from his girlfriend and moving to the table near the door. 

“What do you remember?” Chim asked as he picked up a cup and started filling it with water. Buck tried but his head screamed at him and he forced his eyes closed trying to stop the nausea that seemed to kick up. He could feet the heat that burned at his neck, the scent of his burning flesh filling his nostrils. He gasped for breath, tears welling up in his eyes and he could hear the monitor as it spiked but this time it wasn’t slowing.

“Evan! It’s okay. It’s okay, you're safe! I promise you’re safe. It’s over.” Maddie tried to convince him but all he could feel was burning as it seared into his neck. Chim was at his side in moments, his hand resting on Buck’s shoulder and Buck tried not to feel the sting of the touch that made his stomach roll. 

“Buck, look at me.” Chim started getting a small glance from the man in the bed, but Buck was still having trouble getting his breath. “I was so panicked when I woke up from my surgery. You remember? When I had that rebar stuck through my head, and Buck I remember you talking to me, saying I could do the maneuver next time. Even though you knew I didn’t know how to do the maneuver.” Chim smiled as the heart monitor started to normalize. 

“Ho-how’d you stay calm?” Buck asked through gritted teeth, another wince leaving him as his head spun. 

“I listened to you. I listened to Hen, and Bobby. I knew I was going to be okay, and I pulled through. Now look I’m back at my job, doing what I love. I’m going to make sure that you’re going to be okay.” Chim stated as the monitor returned to a normal rhythm and the EMT pulled his hand from Buck’s shoulder. You keep fighting and maybe I’ll have to pay a visit to him and his son. Those words rattled through his head and the monitor spiked again. 

“Chris, Eddie! Are they okay?! Please tell me, are they okay! They have to be okay! Please are th-”

“They are fine. They are fine. Eddie dropped Christopher off at school and he was on his way over. He’ll probably be here soon.” Maddie reassured before glancing at the doorway and noticing Katrina watching them. She seemed to relax as Buck did before she left the room leaving the trio alone.  

“I’m sorry…” Buck whispered. 

“No, you don’t have to apologize. I shouldn’t have asked.” Chim stated as he went back to filling the cup with water. “I bet your throat is sore.” Chim grinned before carrying the cup of water over to his friend. Buck took it with a shaky hand, he still wasn’t fully calmed down but he knew that would take time. 

“How… I shouldn’t ask that…” Buck whispered. “What happened after… my… leg...” Buck whispered as he noticed his right leg in a cast, was he going to be off his feet again. What about work? He took a shaky breath feeling a pull from his shoulder injury, and he slowly took stock of where the bandages were. One around his neck, another wrapped around his head, one on his right forearm, one on each wrist and he could feel the tightness around his ribs and stomach. He could feel the nasal cannula, at least it was better than an oxygen mask.  Buck groaned he could only imagine the recovery time. 

“Well…” Chim mumbled before glancing at Maddie who pulled her hand out of her brothers. The two quickly returned to their chairs, pulling them close as Buck took a sip of the water. His body screamed for more and he immediately downed the rest of the cup. Was he always that thirsty? It felt good as the water cooled his burning throat. 

“Um…” Maddie glanced at her boyfriend. “It’s not the bad leg at least.” Buck huffed that made him feel better. “Evan, you're still shaking.” Was he? Huh, he didn’t even notice that he was indeed shaking pretty badly actually. 

“I’m not cold though.” Buck mumbled. 

“Might be a side effect of the concussion.” Chim stated as he got to his feet and was about to put a hand to Buck’s forehead. Buck involuntarily flinched away, he knew that Chim would never hurt him but his head was screaming at him. Chim stopped, looking him up and down for a few moments. “Can I check if you have a fever?” 

“I… I think I’m okay.” Buck responded. 

“I just want to make sure Buck.” Chim advised. 

“Please… just don’t touch me…” Buck confessed. 

“Okay.” Chim was silent. 

“Maybe another blanket or something?” Buck whispered as Chim glanced at him once more. 

“I’ll go ask. I’ll be right back.” Chim smiled. Maddie slipped her hand into her boyfriends, giving him a reassuring squeeze before he slipped his hand free and left the room. 

“So…”

“How bad is it?” 

“Grade 4 concussion, and a cerebral contusion. You have two linear skull fractures on the right side of your head but they said that those don’t need surgery. Your ankle won’t require surgery at this point in time, which is good but it’ll have to be in a cast, then a boot. They are concerned that it won’t heal properly and you’ll eventually need surgery on it.” Buck shivered at the statement. More surgeries, of course. “You cracked a few ribs and four were broken. One punctured your left lung but they were able to treat it with needle aspiration. You have a lot of internal bruising and they were able to stop the internal bleeding into your abdomen.” Buck winced at the statement, that didn’t sound pleasant. “Your wrists were cut pretty deep but hopefully by the time you leave they can be unbandaged. The burns, they have burn ointment on but they don’t think those will ever heal.” Buck winced at the statement trying to ignore that thought of seeing those marks every day. “But they were most concerned about your head.” Buck groaned; he sounded like a trainwreck. What else could be wrong? 

“What about my head?” Maddie opened her mouth to continue just as Chim returned carrying three blankets. 

“Katrina thought we all needed one.” Chim grinned as Buck chuckled a bit. 

“Of course she did.” Buck mumbled as Maddie got to her feet and wrapped one of the blankets around Buck’s shoulders. He still wasn’t cold but he looked down at his hands to notice they were still shaking. 

“What’d I miss?” 

“All the boring stuff. So what’s wrong with my head?” Buck questioned as Chim unfolded his blanket before throwing it over Buck’s legs. 

“Gotta make sure you're good and warm.” Chim grinned as Maddie rolled her eyes. 

“Well… since your concussion went untreated for a bit as did the contusion. They are concerned with some complications in the long run, such as headaches, vertigo, impairment of cognitive function, memory issues, sensitivity to noise and light, di-” Buck had to hold up his finger asking her to stop. His breath was coming in harder now, making it a bit more painful than it was just moments ago. 

“Go back... Impairment of cognitive function?” 

“You will have memory issues, sometimes you lose your train of thought, become overwhelmed easier and trouble understanding instructions, you become more impulsive… if that’s possible.” Chim whispered. 

“Wait… these are things that could happen?” 

“It might not but they are just concerned. Plus…” Maddie cut herself off. “It’s going to be a while, Evan.” Buck took a few moments to let that all sink in. He was fine, he felt like everything was on fire but he was going to be fine. He was going to make it out of this. 

“I’m okay.” He’ll be back at the station soon enough. Going on calls, doing what he loved to do. Saving people’s lives, being the hero that someone needed that day. 

“Then hold my hand, Buck.” Chim said as he reached out his hand to Buck, who flinched away from the offer. 

“I get it.” Buck felt sick with himself, of course he wasn’t fine. Was he ever going to be normal again? For god sakes he survived a ladder truck falling on him, a tsunami, and a pulmonary embolism. This! This is was what fucked him up? He could feel his heart starting to race, the monitor picking up speed beside him. 

“Hey, Buck, relax okay. Take a deep breath.” 

“How can I take a deep breath, when everything fucking hurts. It’s like someone is taking a hammer to my chest with every breath. I might never be... Me again… I just…” Buck whispered, his hands rubbing at his eyes. Pain rolled across him at the touch of the bruises making themselves known. Everything shook, the panic and pain mixing into one, and he flinched at his own contact. What the hell was wrong with him? Why did everything have to fucking hurt! He fucked up again, he fucked up again!

“Buck, we need you to relax. Breathe.” Chim stated as the monitor kept steadily rising.  How could he relax? Everything was going wrong, and it was happening again. 

“Evan, breathe please?” Maddie asked as she jumped to her feet. Was he not breathing? He was having trouble getting air, he was shaking worse now. Everything seemed to come crashing down around him, again and again. His stomach spun and his head pounded. He couldn’t hear any voices, they seemed so distant, his chest burned against him. He could barely make out people as they moved around him, his body screaming against him. Why couldn’t he breathe?

“Buck… look at me. Look at me.” Eddie ordered, drawing Buck’s attention upward. “It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re going to be okay, just breathe for me. A big deep breath in and then out. I’ll show you, alright follow my lead.” When did Eddie get here? Was he seriously not paying that close of attention? He coughed on the breath coming in, trying to focus on anything else but the pain that ran through his system. Tears clouded his vision, another cough ripped through him, pain erupting from his ribs. 

“Keep that up, you’re doing great.” Eddie reassured before continuing the steps himself. He felt the chill run up his veins coming from his left wrist and it took him a minute to realize someone was putting something into the IV. Buck could feel his breathing becoming a bit easier, not less painful but just easier to control. He could feel the medicine starting to take effect easing some of the pain from his injuries and he just barely saw Katrina disappear out of the door. You keep fighting and maybe I’ll have to pay a visit to him and his son. He winced at the words, and he wished he could just go hide away so no one would see him while he was like this. “You okay?” Buck shook his head, trying to get off the feeling. Off the memory as fast as he possibly could, he didn’t want to think like that. You know you deserve this.

“I’m sorry…” Buck choked out. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…” Tears streamed down his face.

“No, no, no. I'm the one that is sorry, I was horrible to you. I wasn't there for you when you so desperately needed me to be there. You're my partner, I should have never ignored you, I should have never let my anger control my thoughts and emotions. I’m sorry, Buck. I’m so sor-” Eddie whispered. 

“No, Eddie… I fuck everything up. I always fuck it all up. I can’t do anything right.” Buck cried.


“Evan…” Maddie stepped forward, her own tears gushing down her face. She wanted to reach out to him, and he could tell but his entire body shuddered when she got too close. 

“This was none of your fault, Buck.” Eddie mumbled.

“Yes it was, if I hadn’t gone for the lawsuit this wouldn’t have happened. If I…” Buck tried to continue but his head was getting foggy. 

“No, you don’t get to do that. That was our fault, not yours we didn’t tell you anything. We just let you think you didn’t have a place and that was our mistake. And Chase coming after you, how could you have known that, there was no possible way. There is no blame on you Buck.” Chim clarified. “We never meant to put that pressure on you and we are sorry for that.” Buck shook, trying to stop the tears from falling. Arms were around him pulling all his attention, all his senses shouting at him. 

“Don’t touch me!” He screamed and Maddie leapt backwards, like he had just burned her. “Don’t touch me… don’t…” His palms dug into his eyes, trying to slow the tears. He hadn’t meant to yell, he hadn’t meant to scare her. All he could feel were the strikes, the pain that bloomed from each hit, and each touch amplified that feeling of being trapped again. “Please… don’t…” 

“Okay no one is going to touch you.” Eddie stated as he looked at Chim and Maddie. “We promise.”

Chapter Text

“I can walk.” Buck tried to tell Katrina as the nurse rolled her eyes, continuing to push the wheelchair. He knew it was a lie, but he just was so tired of not being able to do things on his own. He was struggling to just stand on his left leg, and even with all the nurse’s help he couldn’t do it for long. His arm wasn’t in a sling, something about being afraid it would injure his neck more. He didn’t know, Eddie and Maddie knew almost everything that was going on with him. The fact that he was even allowed to go home surprised the hell out of him. It didn’t make sense but then again he wasn’t a doctor. Maybe they just didn’t want him around, yeah that made sense. 

“You can walk as far as I can ride a unicycle.” Katrina grinned as they finally got the elevator. Buck was so fucking excited, he’d been in the hospital for almost a week since he woke up. He was finally getting out and he was so thrilled to finally get away from the bright lights and stupid machines. He was thrilled to see Christopher, even though they couldn’t do everything Buck wanted to do. He couldn’t watch TV for long periods, and he was still pretty sensitive to lights. Drawing would be good, they could sit at the kitchen table and draw and color. He was so excited to just sit there and listen to the kid talk about his day and let Eddie have a little bit of a break. He doubted Eddie would take any type of break. 

 “I would love to see you try.” Buck stated as Katrina scoffed, the elevator finally dinging as it arrived. He winced a bit at the noise, damn was that always that loud. 

“Still pretty sensitive to noise then…” Katrina whispered as she spun the chair around, wheeling him into the elevator. He was thankful no one else was in there, he didn’t think he could stand being with anyone else but his family and Katrina. 

“Just irritating.” 

“That’s what concussions do. But you know that Buck, you’ve had them enough to know them inside and out.” Katrina smiled as Buck rolled his eyes. 

“I’m not that bad.” 

“Do you want me to start listing things off?” Katrina questioned as the first floor pinged past them. 

“Not particularly.” 

“You know as much as I enjoy seeing you come in and out. Please try to stay out of the hospital for at least a year.” Katrina suggested getting a laugh from Buck, which quickly turned into a painful cough. She went to put a hand on his shoulder but pulled her hand back at the last moment. “Just breathe, it’ll be okay.” Katrina reassured as Buck got his lungs back under obedience. 

“Fuck… Sorry…” Buck hissed his left arm going to his ribs. 

“It’s okay no need to apologize, cracked and broken ribs will do that to you.” Katrina smiled down at him and he licked his lips before glancing up at her. His mind was trying to figure out what she was exactly talking about. 

"Apologize?" Katrina took a deep breath. Changing the topic as soon as she could before Buck was aware that he forgot the conversation. 

 “So tell me about you and Eddie?” 

“What?... There isn’t much to tell.” 

“Oh, please. When you first got here, you were practically screaming out for him. I’m guessing no one told you that.” Katrina said as the doors opened to the main floor and she pushed him out. Had he been yelling for Eddie? No they would have said something, wouldn’t they have? “So spill the beans, you're going to go stay with him. Is this a relationship type thing?” Katrina questioned. 

“No… he’s just my friend, my best friend.” Buck stated. 

“Well he’s been here every day since you got here, so that seems a bit more than a friend to me.” Katrina smiled as they finally got to the main doors of the hospital. The evening sun beamed down outside and it hurt a bit but Buck didn’t mind. He missed the sun, he missed its warmth and the life it brought. It chased back every fear that seemed to want to take control, pushing the darkness back for hours. The black truck sat across the portico, with Eddie leaning against the side of it. Hen stood next to him talking a bit as they waited, before they noticed his arrival. 

“I don’t need all your help.” Buck stated as the two firefighters got to him. 

“Oh yes you do. Because you are a handful and I just want to make sure everything is going to be okay.” Eddie smiled as Buck rolled his eyes. 

“How exactly am I going to get in there?” Buck asked as Katrina wheeled him next to Eddie as they approached the vehicle. 

“That is the question isn’t it.” Hen responded as she looked at the truck, trying to gauge an easy way to do this. “As much as it’s going to suck, Buck. Eddie is probably going to have to pick you up.” Hen stated. Buck felt his stomach roll at the suggestion, and his skin crawled at the thought. 

“You couldn’t have brought Hen’s car?” Buck asked. 

“It’s not big enough, cause we got a bunch of your stuff in the bed. Also even if we did, I doubt we could get you inside without some helping hands.” Buck squinted at the statement. He chose to ignore the second half of Eddie’s statement.

“Thought my place was still under police control.” 

“You do know that one of our friends is a sergeant, right?” Hen questioned, getting Buck to snort at the statement. “Come on, I'll sit in the back with you.” 

“I think I’ll be okay alone in the back. Sorry…” Buck whispered. 

“It’s okay, no need to apologize but we gotta get you in there first.” Hen pointed out and Buck took a shaky breath. Fuck he didn’t want to do this.

“Let's just do it fast.” He grumbled before shifting himself a bit in the wheelchair. Eddie moved forward carefully, and gently wrapped an arm around Buck’s back. Buck squeezed his eyes shut, taking deep breaths to stop himself from screaming out, just as Eddie slid his other arm under Buck’s knees pulling him out of the wheelchair. Buck’s left arm wrapped around Eddie’s shoulder trying to stabilize himself as much as he could. Was his head spinning earlier? 

“Breathe, Buck. I need you to breathe.” Eddie whispered as he stepped up on the running board and was able to get the younger man into the vehicle. Buck took a shaky breath slowly getting his head back under control. His mouth was dry, god he was thirsty. 

“We should be good.” Eddie smiled, thanking the nurse once again for all her help. Katrina waved at him to follow her taking a few steps away from the vehicle and Eddie quickly followed. 

"I just wanted to make you aware that on the way down he forgot, mid conversation, what we were talking about." Katrina informed as Eddie took in the information. Buck was able to go home, because his scans were clear but his memory is still a bit hazy at best. "I know he's in good hands but I just wanted to bring it to your attention." 

"Thank you for taking such good care of him." Eddie smiled as Katrina chuckled. 

"Anything for my favorite patient." 

“Need anything Buck?” Hen questioned from where she was climbing into the passenger seat. 

“Got any water?” 

“As a matter of fact I do. Here I’ll open it for you.” Hen said as she grabbed the unopened bottle from the cup holder, cracking the seal and gently handing it back to him. Buck almost immediately downed half the thing, getting a concerned noise from Hen in return. “Are you trying to drown yourself?” 

“No…” Buck said as he pulled the half empty bottle away. “Just really thirsty.” 

“Never would have guessed.” Hen smiled just as Eddie climbed into the driver's seat. 

“Are we good?” 

“Yep.” 

“I’m going to take some of the backroads, so hopefully we won’t hit any pot holes.” 

“I swear if you somehow get us into a crash.” Buck joked as the vehicle started moving. 

“I’m not that bad of a driver, Buck.” Hen snorted at the statement before getting a glare from the man driving. The music in the vehicle was soft and it relaxed Buck just that much more. Sun shined through the window, warming his bandages and skin as the streams of light ran up his face. God he missed the sun. He lets the warmth overtake him, his eyes falling shut as he soaks in the heat that was comforting...

“Good back there, buckaroo?” Hen asked after a few minutes. 

“I missed the sun.” Buck whispered. Hen sent a small glance to Eddie who was checking the mirror before his eyes returned to the road. 

“I was thinking about ordering from your favorite Chinese place for dinner, how does that sound?” 

“Can’t eat anything tough.” Buck started remembering the words Katrina drilled into his head before she showed him how to get into the wheelchair. Eddie knew that too, he had been given a rundown of everything the other day, he had a list on his phone at this point. 

“I was going to order you lo mein, I know you always steal mine.” Eddie grinned, noticing a small smile on Buck’s face. 

“Sounds good.” Buck answered, his head lulling a bit to the side. Hen watched him for a few minutes, satisfied that he had fallen asleep. 

“How’s Athena doing?” Eddie asked as soon as he was confident Buck was asleep. 

“Blah… you know… still having issues with Bobby… I don’t know Eddie. Bobby is still on probation and he’s currently working with another team until the Chief decides if he can come back to work full time. As of now, who knows if he’s going to be a captain again. I think that Athena is learning to accept what he did, but it’ll still be rocky…” Hen responded. “Athena still needs that statement, you know. So they can put Mackey away permanently.” 

Eddie huffed he didn’t like that thought, with how reactive Buck was just to touch. He could only imagine trying to get him to recall anything might send him spiraling. They need that information though, Eddie gave as much of his statement as he could but he only barely scratched the surface. Athena swears that Buck won’t have to go into a court, but it still doesn’t sit right with him. Eddie doubts that Buck even wants to be in the same city as Mackey at this point. Dios, no quiere pensar en eso. No estaba allí antes, pero está aquí ahora y tiene que protegerlo.  

“You know I can’t read your mind, Ed.” Hen pointed out, before casting another glance at Buck. 

“I just don’t want him to spiral. He sent himself into a panic attack yesterday just by staring at his unbandaged wrists, Hen. How is he ever going to make that statement?” Eddie questioned as they made a turn, they weren’t far away now. Christopher will be so excited to see them, and Eddie couldn’t help the small smile that plays at the corner of his mouth. 

“I get that, but if he doesn’t… Mackey might be able to walk.” 

“Even with the pictures?” Eddie whispered. 

“He’s a lawyer. Who knows.” Hen shrugged. His place came up pretty fast and he turned into the driveway. The truck coming to a halt, seemed to have woken up Buck. 

“Rise and shine.” Eddie grinned as he turned the vehicle off. 

“I slept the whole way?” Buck asked, seeming more confused than anything. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to.” 

“It’s okay, Buck, you need sleep. The more you sleep, the faster you’ll heal.” Hen stated as she opened the passenger door and caught the keys that Eddie tossed to her. 

“Where is…” Buck cut himself off as Hen unlocked the front door before stepping inside and pushing a wheelchair into view. “You got me a wheelchair?” 

“Would you have preferred to walk?” Eddie asked as he got out of the driver's seat and moved to the side where Buck was sitting. “This is the last time I’m going to do this. Once I get you into the chair, you should be able to take care of everything yourself, but I got to get you into that chair.” Eddie stated. Buck shook at the thought but ultimately he couldn’t complain, it needed to be done. 

“How did you even… Fine.” He ground out as Eddie stepped up on the runner, preparing to pick up Buck. “Wait… just give me a minute.” Buck interrupted his hand going up as Eddie froze. 

“Of course, just take your time.” Eddie whispered. “If you need, I can unload some of the things in the back.” Buck nodded his eyes falling shut and Eddie stepped down from the board, sending Hen a small look. The EMT stepped out of the house to help Eddie collect the few bags of items that were in the bed of the truck. 

Why was he like this? Buck ground his teeth together, just the thought of being touched freaked him out. It shouldn’t be, Mackey is gone. He was gone and he wasn't coming back. So why was he so panicked at just the thought of having Eddie help him. Why had he snapped at Maddie whenever she tried to comfort him? He was a touchy guy, he didn’t mind the pats on the back or shoulder. He craved them almost, he longed for the touch that came with sex. That was why he sought it out so much, that was just his way of getting the feelings to dissipate for a while. Now… now he didn’t even want the soft touches that would satisfy that urge. 

“Hey?” Hen spoke up, her eyes scanning him over. “You ready?” 

“No.” Buck whispered. 

“You can’t sleep in the truck.” 

“Why not, it's really comfy.” Buck responded as he put his good arm over his eyes. He heard a snort from Hen at the statement before she shifted on the runner trying to figure something to say. 

“Buck, you know why. Your leg is going to start hurting soon, and sleeping sitting up isn’t exactly the most comfortable with broken ribs.” Hen pointed out. 

“I know…I’m sorry… just get me in the stupid chair.” Buck mumbled as Hen stepped down allowing Eddie to take her place a moment later. He whimpered as Eddie picked him up bridal style and tried to keep himself calm. He unthinkingly gripped Eddie’s hand that was under his arm and he paused for a moment. Something felt off, and it pushed his discomfort aside, just as Eddie placed him in the chair. Trying to pull his arm back, Buck pulled Eddie’s hand closer, unwrapping the arm from around his back so he could get a closer look at the man’s knuckles. 

“Buck, what are you doing?” Eddie asked. Buck stared at Eddie’s knuckles; they were bruised and scraped but they were mostly healed now. Buck studied them for a few moments just before Eddie pulled his hand away from the younger man. “Come on…” Eddie whispered before stepping around the wheelchair and pulling it inside so he could shut the door. “Let’s get you settled.” 

“We are discussing that later.” Buck stated quietly enough for Hen not to hear. Eddie shut his eyes for a moment regaining his composure before pushing Buck down the hall and into the bedroom. “I’m not taking your room Eddie.” 

“Yes you are, because sleeping on the couch with that leg isn’t going to work. Plus I can’t have Christopher accidently waking you in the mornings while we are getting ready for school.” 

“Speaking of, where is he?” Buck questioned. 

“Abuela should be bringing him back any minute, they went to the park down the road.” Eddie informed. “We got some of your stuff; a bunch of clothes, your ipad, computer, and your phone.” 

“Also I picked you up a book or two since you know you aren’t supposed to stare at a screen for too long.” Hen commented as she unzipped the first of the bags on the bed. Reaching into it, she pulled out the phone handing it over to Buck who happily took the device. It didn’t appear to be broken, only a small crack on the screen. He was happy he opted for that watersafe case after the tsunami. 

Phone!  He almost dropped the device on his lap, a flicker of memory trying to get into his head. He could feel the looks he was getting, and he quickly tucked the device against his left leg. 

“Thanks.” Buck whispered he could hear Eddie behind him, he must be trying to figure out what to say. 

Hola?” A voice called into the house. Buck felt a smile on his face as he lowered his arms to the wheels, preparing to turn. A pain came from his right shoulder and he quickly pulled his hands away, Katrina would have his head if he screwed up his shoulder. 

“I got it.” Eddie grinned, turning the wheelchair around and wheeling him out into the hallway. Chris was beaming down the hallway, and nobody bothered to slow the eight year old. 

“Hey superman.” Buck smiled as Christopher stopped a bit in front of his friend. He was looking him over, almost uncertain of him. Buck felt his heart in his throat, he didn’t want to frighten the boy. 

“Buck, are you okay?” Christopher whispered. Buck could feel the worry on the boy and he hated that the kid had to see him like this. Maybe it would have been better if he had gone to stay with Maddie, but his sister was adamant that it would be better for him to stay here. 

“I’m fine buddy. I’m happy to see you.” Buck glanced up at Isabel who was standing near the door. She had concern written across her features as she watched them, and Buck felt his stomach spin a bit at that. He probably was scaring her, and he had to try to keep his stomach from rebelling against him. He didn’t want to make them upset, he didn’t want to make them concerned. He hadn’t noticed Christopher moving to his side until he spoke again. 

“Buck?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Do you wanna see my school project?” Chris asked getting Buck to smile. 

“Of course I’d love to se-”  He froze mid word and he heard a faint curse from behind him. Christopher's arm was warped partly around Buck’s neck and he was only faintly aware of Eddie pulling Chris’s hand off. His heart started racing in his chest, the feeling almost burning against his skin. No this shouldn’t trigger it! This was Christopher! He shouldn’t be reacting to this! This wasn’t fair, he couldn’t be freaking out over this. Christopher just wanted to be close, he just wanted to be near him. This… this was punishment! 

“But dad…” Christopher whined. Buck’s left arm went around Christopher’s waist pulling the boy up and off the ground, hauling him up onto his lap. It hurt, it hurt to do that and he could already feel his muscles screaming at the lack of use. His chest roared at him, the weight pressing against his injuries. He didn’t care, he didn’t care how much his skin screamed against him. His arms wrapped around Christopher and the kid happily embraced him back. Buck could feel himself shaking, and the tears threatening to leave his eyes. Taking a shaky breath, he forced the air out of his lungs and his head was yelling at him. He could do this, if he made the move first it wasn’t so bad. But he hadn’t and his head was trying to overpower his feelings but he wouldn’t let it. He was fine, this was Christopher! This wasn’t Chase, this wasn’t just anyone. He shouldn’t be reacting to Christopher.

“Buck… I’m going to take him from you okay?” Eddie whispered, noticing the tears streaming down Buck’s face. His trembling was getting worse, his heart pounding against his chest and it was getting a little hard to breathe. Eddie moved slowly, extracting his son from his best friend's arms. Hen was pulling Buck backwards a moment later, as Eddie knelt down to speak to his son. Shutting the bedroom door, Hen looked at Buck who was trying to get his breathing back under control. 

“Why? Why am I like this?” Buck begged as the EMT knelt down in front of him. 

“It’s a panic attack, Buck. Touch is triggering your attacks. Why did you hold him?” 

“I wanted... It’s not fair.” Buck whimpered.

“I know it isn’t, but you're only going to stress yourself out more by doing that. You need to take it slow, Buck. It’ll get better I promise.” Hen smiled just as a knock came from the door. Eddie peeked in before getting a small nod from Hen, and Eddie pushed the door open the rest of the way. 

“What do you say?” Eddie asked as his hand rested on Christopher’s shoulder. 

“I’m sorry, Buck.” 

“You… you don’t have to be sorry bud. That was my mistake too.” 

Chapter Text

Eddie closed the bedroom door quietly behind him, Chris was out like a light after hanging out and talking to Buck and Hen all evening. Hen having left just an hour ago which gave Eddie the time he needed to get his son ready for bed and settled in. Now… he needed to figure shit out with Buck. He glanced down the hallway for a moment before heading to the living room where Buck had been watching television. He peeked into the room, he really didn’t want to have this conversation. Maybe he could postpone it until after he took Christopher to school tomorrow. Buck was sprawled out along the couch, fast asleep and Eddie has never been more relieved for pain killers before. 

Walking into the living room he flipped the TV off, and moved the wheelchair out of the way. He looked Buck over, he seemed so much more comfortable then he had been in the hospital. He looked peaceful, no wincing at the memories of nightmares or pain that seemed to come up constantly. Eddie took a shaky breath, trying to ignore the yellow colored bruises with purple edges, covering Buck’s face. It made him sick to his stomach. The bandages still threw Eddie way the hell off every time he saw them. They were stark reminders of the reason that Buck was here to stay and he hated it. Buck didn’t look like himself, he had lost weight, everything was so big on him now. There was something off with his behavior and it upset Eddie, he just wanted his best friend to be happy and healthy for once. 

Taking a deep breath he moved closer, he wanted to run his fingers through the younger man’s hair but he restrained himself. Buck wasn’t like his old self, and he didn’t want to freak him out. Eddie gently pulled the blanket from around Buck’s form and draped it over the back of the couch. Buck jolted his eyes snapping open and he stared up at Eddie, he hadn’t expected that reaction. Buck didn't fully look at him though, it reminded him of how he was at… don’t think like that. 

“Buck?” He whispered but there seemed to be no reaction. He took a step forward, careful not to get too close to freak Buck out when he snapped out of it. “Buck? Can you hear me? Can you come back to me?” Eddie kept repeating until he finally saw some recognition in his friends eyes. Buck blinked at him a handful of times before groaning and shaking his head. 

“Eddie, what?” Buck asked as he rubbed at his jaw before he started to push himself into a sitting position. 

“You okay? You seemed pretty out of it.” Eddie stated as he got to his feet and moved to one of the chairs beside the couch. 

“I’m okay. Where is everyone?” 

“You fell asleep sometime between Hen leaving and me getting Christopher ready and put to bed.”

“Oh… Sorry…” Buck mumbled. Eddie huffed before rubbing at his face a bit, it was going to be a long time before Buck understood he didn’t need to apologize all the time.

“Buck, why are you apologizing?” Eddie asked.

“I… I should have helped.” 

“No you need to rest and rest is where we are going. Come on, you should head to bed too.” Eddie pointed out as he stood moving to get the wheelchair and bringing it close to Buck. He saw the movement out of the corner of his eye but he froze when Buck grabbed his wrist pulling Eddie’s hand closer to himself. He scanned his knuckles again, his thumb running over the injury. Eddie had to stop the butterflies that wanted to flutter through his stomach and ignore the look on Buck’s face. Buck could tolerate touch if he initiated it, noted. 

“What happened?” Buck whispered looking up at his best friend. What was he supposed to say? That he was in an illegal fight club because he lost control of himself, and went off the rails. That he was struggling to control his anger and his control over situations that he had absolutely no control over. He was surprised that he hadn’t gone to a fight while Buck was in the hospital but now here he was staring down at his best friend who was injured and hurt because of him. Eddie took a shaky breath before moving to sit beside Buck, making sure there was room between them. 

“I… I punched Mackey and broke his nose.” It wasn’t a lie, he told himself. That was the main injury and the one that was the most pronounced, however he knew Buck was holding the wrong hand. Buck glanced up at him, a look that screamed that he knew it was a lie. 

“The truth.” Buck whispered, his eyes burrowing into Eddie. Rubbing at the back of his neck, Eddie tried to think of a believable lie but nothing was coming up. 

“Look… I think we need to discuss this lat- OW!” Eddie yelped as Buck pressed his thumb between Eddie’s knuckles. “What are you doi- OW! Stop it!” Eddie snapped as he tried to get his hand back. Buck dug his nail deeper into Eddie’s knuckle sparking the nerve even more. 

“Tell. Me. The. Truth.” Buck hissed. Eddie bit his lip, trying to ignore the pain that came from it. 

“Fine, I got into a fight club!” Eddie blurted. Buck stopped, pulling his thumb away from Eddie’s knuckles. 

“What?” Buck let Eddie pull his hand back and rubbed at the spot. 

Por joder, ¿cómo demonios? What a way to extract information Buck, where’d you learn that?” 

“Stop changing the topic. What do you mean you joined a fight club? How do you join a fight club, Eddie?” 

“Lena Bosko. She was transferred temporarily after the tsunami.” Eddie answered. 

“So your solution to whatever it was, was to start getting into fist fights…” Buck hesitated as he watched Eddie, trying to gauge his thoughts. 

“I didn’t know what else to do.” Eddie snapped. 

“So you decided to go and join a fight club?...” Buck asked and Eddie grumbled dropping his head into his hands. 

“I didn’t have a choice, Buck.”

“Yes you d-”

“No you don't understand. I can't control anything, I can’t fix anything. I can’t stop Christopher’s nightmares, I can’t…” Eddie whispered and he felt the shift of the couch. 

“Hey.” Buck’s hand was on Eddie’s shoulder. “It’s okay, I get it…” 

“No you don’t. I don’t know how to deal with it, Buck. Shannon’s death, the tsunami, the nightmares, everything just keeps piling up and I don’t know how to deal with it.” Eddie sighed, rubbing his eyes. “I needed a way to let it all out. The fights were just… I was just supposed to watch… Then I joined one and it gave me such a rush, a sense of everything in control again. Like when we were out on calls and it took the edge off. It all became bearable again.” Eddie mumbled. “It got too out of hand and that’s my fault.”

“It’s not your fault Eddie.” Buck whispered. “Look it sucks to not be in control, to feel like everything is crumbling around you. I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you.” Eddie almost laughed at the statement. 

“It's not your fault either, Buck. We both were too far gone to see that the other needed help. I kept myself and Christopher away from you and that was the wrong decision. We should have stuck together and none of this would have happened.” Eddie said as he got to his feet dragging the wheelchair closer so Buck could get in it. 

“We were both a bit lost in our own misery.” Buck responded as he pulled himself into the chair. “Did you stop?” Buck asked as Eddie started pushing him towards the bedroom. 

“I…. I’ve been a little preoccupied.” Buck nodded his head as Eddie wheeled him up to the bathroom first. 

“I can do this on my own.” Buck responded as Eddie rolled his eyes. “Katrina made sure of it.” 

“Alright, alright. I’m going to get you some of your clothes for you to change into.” Eddie raised his hands in surrender before leaving Buck to his own devices. Entering the bedroom he started to dig through the articles of clothing that belonged to his friend. Digging out a baggier shirt, shorts, and undergarments he took them to the bathroom knocking on the door. Buck opened the door a bit as Eddie handed the clothes through before the younger shut the door in his face. Eddie huffed as he leaned on the wall outside the bathroom. He could be of help but he knew Buck would never allow that, if he had a choice in the matter. Heading back into the bedroom he retrieved his own sleepwear, tossing it into the hallway haphazardly. 

A ping came from his phone, as he dug it out of his jeans pocket scanning the screen over. Mierda. He scanned the message over once again, unlocking the phone fully before reading Athen’s words for a third time. She wasn’t letting this go, and he understood but he didn’t know how this would turn out. She would be over tomorrow with a detective who was assigned to Buck’s case. This was going to be happening one way or another.

“Eds, you good?” Buck asked from where he was sitting in the bathroom doorway. He was wearing his sleepwear and he was giving Eddie a concerned look. “Something wrong?” 

“Um…” Eddie shook his head before slipping into the bathroom, noticing the sink was still on. “You forgot to turn off the sink.” Eddie pointed out before flipping the faucet off. 

“I didn’t turn it on.” 

"It's okay, I just don't want a swimming pool in the bathroom. Even though Christopher would probably love that." Eddie joked. 

"But I didn't turn it on." Buck mumbled and Eddie paused. He didn't want to confuse him more than he already is, and Eddie rubbed at the back of his neck trying to think of a way out of it.

"Or maybe Christopher left it on." Eddie added and that seemed to calm the situation a bit. “Athena is coming over tomorrow…” 

“What’s wrong with that?”

“She’s bringing a detective to get your statement.” Buck practically froze his body going rigid with the new information, he can hear Buck’s breath hitch a bit. “Hey, you know this is Athena we are talking about. If you need to stop, then you can stop and they will take all the information that you gave and work with that. Don’t worry, I’ll be there with you as well.” Eddie reassured. 

“I know. I just…” 

“I get it. Come on, let's get you situated.” Eddie whispered as he got the wheelchair to the bedside. “You're certain you don’t need help.” Eddie asked only to get a small glare from the younger man before he pulled himself up and into the bed. 

“Still don’t agree...” 

“Look Athena…”

“What about Athena?” Eddie stood there frozen for a moment, staring at his friend. Eddie saw how Buck was at the hospital and he had hoped he would have gotten better at least just a bit by the time he got home. It appears that wasn’t the case, in fact he almost seemed worse. He doubted that the pain meds made it any easier. This was going to be hard. 

“Athena is coming over tomorrow.” 

“Oh… why?” Eddie sighed, and then repeated himself.

“She is coming over tomorrow, with a detective to get your statement.” Eddie informed as he wrung his hands. This was going to be a lot harder than he thought, if he had to keep repeating himself. He’d have to figure out a system to help Buck remember things. “Come on, let’s get you to bed.” 

“I’m not taking your bed Eddie, I’m your gues-”
“No! You aren’t just my guest, you are my friend. And my hurt friend should be comfortable, and not in pain because of where he sleeps.” Eddie added before, he grabbed one of the decorative pillows placing it by Buck’s foot. “Up.” Eddie ordered as Buck rolled his eyes before raising his leg and allowing his friend to put the pillow under the foot. 

“You're bossy.” 

“Deal with it.” Eddie grinned, getting a small chuckle from Buck before a cough tore through his lungs. Eddie froze, he didn’t know how to help but he wanted to. Slowly Buck got his lungs under control and Eddie pulled the blankets up around his friend. “You okay?” He got a nod from Buck. “Alright, I’m going to be just down the hall. I’m going to leave the door open, so if you need anything just yell.” 

“I can function on my own Eddie.” 

“See you say that but I don’t believe you.” 

“Rude.” Eddie couldn’t stop the smile or the laugh that escaped him. 

“Like I said, just down the hall. Also lights on or off?” Eddie asked as he moved towards the door. 

“On.” Eddie nodded before going to shut the door partway. 

“Night, Buck.” 

“Night Eds.” Eddie moved down the hall turning off the hall light as he went and he could still see the light from his bedroom streaming into the corridor. Eddie huffed trying to relax himself as much as he could before going to clean up the kitchen. It was something to keep him occupied, yes he was tired but sleep probably wouldn’t come as easily as it did for his son and friend. He moved around silently, wiping down the surfaces, and cleaning the dishes that were in the sink placing them on the drying rack as he finished. 

He just lets the silence and repetition of the work fill his thoughts, everything would be fine, it always was. He hadn’t expected that conversation with Buck, he hadn’t expected to feel so much lighter after it either. Talking to Buck seemed to do that though, relieving some of the pain that seemed to come from everywhere. Eddie shook his head as he rinsed another dish, letting the warm water rush between his fingers. 

It was only going to start getting easier, he knew it would. Buck’s presence always relaxed him, made him feel safe no matter what the situation was. Maybe that was why he jumped all over Buck, coming to stay with him? Then again, Eddie had the accommodations in the house for a wheelchair, the wide halls and large doorways. His phone went off filling the space and he quickly grabbed it reading off Maddie’s name before answering and putting it on speaker. 

“Hey Maddie.”

“Hey Eddie, how's he settling?” 

“He’s doing really well, just got him to bed about, oh…” Eddie glanced at the microwave. “Thirty minutes ago.” Has time really flown that fast? 

“I talked to Hen.” Eddie closed his eyes, taking a deep breath before he dried off his hands. 

“It was an accident, Christopher didn’t think. I… I didn’t make sure he understood.” Eddie admitted as he picked up the phone, turning off the speaker and putting it to his ear before moving to the living room.

“I’m not talking about that. I know it was an accident, Eddie. But he pulled Chris into his arms?” Eddie breathed out, feeling a bit better. 

“Yeah, he just pulled him off the ground and on his lap. He knew that it was triggering an attack but he did it anyway. Honestly a bit surprised he had the strength.” Eddie admitted as he grabbed the blanket off the couch going to fold it. 

“He’s going to fight it, Eddie. Of course he is, he’s Evan.” 

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Eddie grinned as he put the last few things back into place. He glanced around the living room once more debating which blanket he would sleep with. Finding the biggest one out of the pile he threw it on the couch before going to the hall closet to get a pillow and retrieve his pajamas from the floor. He glanced into Christopher’s room satisfied that his boy was still fast asleep, the blankets wrapped tight around his shoulders.

“Oh please… I think he’ll be okay.” 

“It’s going to take time but that is to be expected. His memory isn’t good, Maddie.” Eddie whispered before he gazed into the other room.

“How bad?” Maddie questioned. 

“I mean, he forgot that he turned on the sink and got flustered when I pointed it out. Then he forgot that I told him Athena was coming over tomorrow.” Eddie admitted. Buck appeared to be fast asleep, and Eddie contemplated turning the light off but he ultimately decided against it. Heading back to the living room he dropped the few items he carried on the couch. 

“I’m surprised that it’s only his memory. I was concerned he wouldn’t even be able to speak, or that he would have extreme behavioral changes. It’ll get better, it just takes time.” Maddie whispered. “Are you certain it isn’t an inconvenience? We can figure out a living situation, I mean we only have the one-” Maddie went silent as Eddie heard Chim talking to her in the background. He couldn’t make out what the other firefighter was saying but it seemed to calm Maddie down a bit. 

“It isn’t an inconvenience. He could never inconvenience me. He’s my best friend… and I pushed him away.” Eddie mumbled the last part and he hoped that the woman on the other end didn’t hear that. He heard Maddie take a deep breath, before she spoke again. 

“We all pushed him away. That’s one of his biggest fears, being forgotten and left behind.” Maddie muttered. Eddie froze and he tried to not feel the tears threaten themselves in his eyes. That was Buck’s biggest fear and he went and left him behind, forgotten. ¿Qué clase de amigo era?

“I… I didn’t know.” Eddie whispered. “I’m a horrible friend.” 

“No you're not. You are there now Eddie. And he needs you now more than ever. I… how about I try to swing over tomorrow after work? When do you go back to work?”

“Three days.” Eddie informed he didn’t like it. He didn’t like the idea of leaving Buck alone but he needed the income. He needed the money to put food on the table for all of them, certainly the others were helping where they could but he needed it as well. It would take his mind off of things. “How about I talk to you tomorrow Maddie? I’m really exhausted.” 

“Okay, goodnight Eddie.” Eddie heard Chim yell goodnight in the background and he couldn’t help a small snort before the call hung up. He ran his fingers over the device for a few moments, the conversation playing over and over in his head. Buck was scared of being alone and that was exactly what he was for over two days. For all that time he was alone and tortured not knowing if anyone was coming to his rescue. Eddie let the phone fall to the ground as he pulled at his hair and his feet just started moving, he was pacing without realizing it. 

He was scared to be alone and Eddie ignored him. He ignored him for three weeks... No, it was longer than that, he stopped listening after the tsunami. He stopped looking out for his friend but Buck never stopped trying to reach out to him. He would leave message after message, call after call trying desperately to see Christopher and Eddie … and Eddie just separated themselves. He put his own comfort above his friend, when in reality he was probably breaking apart as much as Eddie was. He didn’t even listen to Buck tonight, instead just talking about himself. What if Buck had wanted to talk to him about something important, about the tsunami, about the embolism, about… God he didn’t even listen! He just made it all about himself again. 

He felt his knees give as he crashed to the hardwood ground, but he didn’t care as the pain rolled through him for a moment. What kind of friend was he? A shitty one, and he wanted to date this guy. He wanted to have a more personal life with this man and he couldn’t even let him say what he wanted to say. He just cut him off like his life didn’t matter, because Eddie just wanted a word in. His hands scrubbed at his face, and he just needed to do it all over again and make sure that Buck got his say in. He needed to fix this. Eddie froze, how long had he been like this? He grabbed his phone, scanning the clock, almost an hour. He had been in his head for almost an hour! He knelt in the semi dark living room, why did something feel off?

His knees ached as he got to his feet, and he heard the faint clicking of the door down the hallway. He stepped into the corridor glancing at Chris who was peeking his head out. Eddie gave a soft smile before he started heading towards his son but he quickly realized why Chris was awake. He moved to his son’s door, the look of concern in the boy’s eyes startling him more than it should.

“Is Buck okay?” 

“He’s going to be okay. Go back to sleep, Chris.” Eddie whispered before quickly guiding his son to bed. Once he was satisfied that Chris was back into his spot, Eddie slipped out of the room shutting the door behind him before moving to his own bedroom. Another shout rocked his system and he had to take a deep breath in order not to rush to his friend's side. It might startle him more than he intends it to. Buck’s breath is coming in far too fast, and there is sweat dripping down his skin. Eddie doesn’t know what to do, if this were any other circumstance he would have bundled up Buck in his arms and held him until he either woke up or settled back down. He just felt useless in this situation, like he can’t help his friend when he is in such distress. Another scream ripped from Buck’s throat and Eddie numbed for a moment before moving to the other side of the bed. Unthinkingly he pulled his best friend over and into his arms, Buck whimpered for a moment, his hands digging into Eddie’s arms trying to push him off. Buck’s nails dug into his skin, getting Eddie to bite his lip before he started talking. 

“You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re safe, you’re safe. I’m not going to let anything hurt you.” Eddie recited over and over whispering it into Buck’s ear. Slowly, the man’s struggle started to lessen and the cries on his tongue went quiet. His head fell against Eddie’s chest, and into a calm state that Eddie hoped would remain. Carefully, he shifted Buck back to his spot and Eddie started to slip out of the bed. A hand wrapped around his wrist, and Eddie gazed back at his best friend whose eyes were partly open. Tear trails stained his skin and he was shaking trying to get his breathing back to normal, he tightened his grip on Eddie’s wrists.

“Don’t leave me, please...” Buck whimpered and Eddie had to force his own panic down. He hadn’t been expecting this, he should have but his heart was racing too fast in his chest. 

“Okay, but I gotta change first and make sure Christopher is in bed.” Eddie responded and sluggishly Buck released his grip letting his arm flop down to the bed. Eddie slipped off the bed, opening up a drawer in the dresser pulling out shorts and a t-shirt, changing quickly. He casts Buck another look, noticing his friends eyes mostly shut. Taking a quick peek at his son, he noticed the boy’s eyes meet his for a few moments. 

“You gotta go to sleep, Christopher.” Eddie whispered, moving to the bedside. 

“Is Buck okay?” 

“Yeah, just a nightmare.” 

“Adults can have those?” Eddie gave his son a soft smile. 

“Yeah, when scary things happen. They sometimes come back as nightmares, but he’s okay now. Get some sleep, Christopher.” Eddie mumbled before placing a kiss on his son’s forehead and tucking him in the rest of the way. Chris squirmed for a few moments before settling and Eddie took that as his moment to slip out of the room. Returning to the master he shut the door making sure that it's slightly ajar just in case Christopher needed him too. He can feel the eyes on him, and he moved to the nightstand beside Buck and quickly flicked on the lamp. 

“Can’t sleep with the lights on.” Eddie whispered. “So I thought I’d compromise.” Buck gave a small nod before Eddie moved to the other side of the room, turned off the main light and slipped into the bed. 

“Chris okay?” Buck mumbled he sounded so exhausted. 

“He’s fine, worried about you.” 

“I didn’t mea-”

“I’m sorry.” Eddie started. “I didn’t listen to you when we talked earlier. I just went on about myself and I’m sorry for that.” 

“It’s okay, you needed it.” 

“So do you Buck.” 

“I’m okay, and sorry for freaking you out.” Buck muttered his eyes threatening to close fully. Eddie huffed it was going to be hard. He heard the shift in the blankets before Buck’s head was pressed against his shoulder, his left hand twisting in Eddie’s right. “Thank you.” Eddie gave his hand a small reassuring squeeze, they were going to be alright.

Chapter Text

“Are you certain you’re going to be fine?” Eddie asked as he grabbed his keys off the counter and picked up Christopher’s backpack. Buck groaned from where he laid on the couch, his right leg propped up on a pillow. Eddie has asked him so many times now that it was starting to get irritating.

“Eddie, I’m fine. You're only going to be gone for like an hour and a half to two hours. I’m not going to die.” Buck stated as Eddie raised an eyebrow at the statement. Chris was pulling his shoes on, giving Eddie a few moments to cross into the living room. 

“Are you certain? You know you can always come with and I mean...” 

“Eddie, I’m okay. I have my phone right here,” Buck touched the device near his good shoulder, “I have the television and a book on the coffee table. You said you’ll be back before 10:00. I’m okay.” Buck insisted. 

“Dad we are going to be late.” Chris chimed in as Eddie huffed out a breath. Too many things were pulling him in different directions. 

“I’m coming, I’m coming. When I get back we are goi-”

“Eddie I know you’ve told me four times already, go over the few things I need to cover with Athena. Go take our boy to school.” Buck grinned, and Eddie stopped processing that wording for a moment. “Go.” Buck laughed, a round of coughing coming with the action. 

“Don’t do anything too crazy alright.” 

“Can’t move that much.” Buck responded as Eddie rolled his eyes, before going over to Christopher and opening the front door. 

“Be back soon.”


“Bye.” Buck called as he heard the door shut and lock. He’d actually been looking forward to some silence, there was no beeping of machines in the background. No noise, besides the documentary that Christopher picked out about the jungle. Buck leaned his head against the arm rest, relaxing a bit more into the lounge. Just some silence was good. 

He woke up as the credits rolled on the documentary, how long had he been asleep? He groaned, grabbing the phone from its spot but it wasn’t there. Huh, did it fall? He looked down below the couch trying to spy the orange case, and was a little confused when he didn’t see it. Did he put it somewhere? Buck pushed himself into a sitting position looking around the living room once more but he still couldn’t see the phone. 

Huh? Grabbing the remote he paused the documentary taking another look around the house and into the dining room. Was Eddie back? It didn’t appear so but he wanted to make sure. He leaned over reaching for the wheelchair, his hand finding nothing but air. Wait wasn’t it right here? He looked around the space again, what was happening? 

Hey Evan.  

He nearly jumped out of his skin, he spun on the couch to see Chase standing in the dining room. The gun spinning on the wood surface, his eyes trained on Buck. Buck tried to move, he tried to push himself off the couch but his hands refused to move. Zip ties burned around his wrists, digging into his skin turning it black and blue, blood dripping down from the injuries. He tried to move, he tried to get away but Chase was stalking closer with the gun almost glowing in his hand. Buck attempted to speak but his voice wasn’t working, the binds on his wrists becoming tighter, he could feel the tape over his mouth pulling at his skin. Tears were forming in his eyes, as Chase towered over him the gun pointing at his head. 

Any last words… oh right you can’t speak.

Chase laughed at himself, and Buck tried again to move, he tried to do anything. 

Oh you want to fight then let’s get this done first.  

The gun turned away from him pointing to something just out of the corner. Christopher. Panic swam through him, as he tried to reach forward towards the weapon in a desperate attempt to get it pointing back at himself. BANG! He shouted, blood covering the ground and blank eyes stared back at him. 

Oops. Maybe I should try again.  

“CHRISTOPHER!” Buck screamed as he shot up, his head rebelling at the action. His stomach rolled, pain screamed from his chest and he shook trying to get his panic under control. He looked around the space, he was alone, there was no one here. He scrambled for his phone, so relieved when he felt the device in his hands. 8:45 . It’s only been forty five minutes! Fuck! The phone was hard to hold in his shaky hands, and he barely caught it as it slipped. He could call Eddie, yeah he could call him and ask him to come back… Eddie would panic. 

Buck moaned he didn’t want to worry his friend, he didn’t want him to drop whatever he was doing to run to his aid. Buck wasn’t a child, and he most certainly wasn’t Eddie's problem. He would be fine, of course he was. It… it was just a nightmare… yeah it wouldn’t happen again if he stayed awake. He was okay, he was in a safe place. When did he feel so hot? Tossing off the blanket, he threw it on the wheelchair this time within reach of him. 

He was fine, he was fine. He was just having a bad nightmare, just like last night. Except Eddie was there and he held him. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t bother him at all. It felt good in all actuality and he longed for it again he’d have to say something about it later. 

A creak came from the kitchen and he tried to maneuver himself to see what it was. It was nothing, he mentally whispered hoping it was true. There was nothing there, of course there wasn’t he was alone. Safe and alone. He shook his head, a small ringing filling his ears, was there something on? No Eddie had said that everything was turned off. He clicked the lock on the phone again, 8:50 . It’s only been five minutes! 

Evan…  

A voice called and he nearly dropped the device searching the living room over with a quick scan. Grabbing the wheelchair, he dragged it closer quickly getting into it. He was just hearing things in his head. Yeah there was nothing here, there was no reason to panic. His hands went down to the wheels and he carefully moved the wheelchair forward. Katrina had said that he could do it but she would prefer it if he didn’t. The kitchen was empty with no sign of what could make the noise. Glancing down the hallway, he saw Chris’s bedroom door open; he knew that no one else was home. The darkness from the bedroom startled him, even though he was aware that nothing was here. Why was he freaking himself out?

He steeled himself, wheeling back to the couch and settled back down on the cushions. Grabbing the remote, he turned off the documentary going back to Netflix’s main screen and started flicking through the titles. He was just being paranoid. There was nothing here, of course there wasn’t anything here. He’s fine, he’s safe, he’s at Eddie’s. He’ll be back soon, yeah he’ll be back sooner than Buck realizes. 

He finds something that looks half decent, after searching far too many categories that he had no interest in. He clicked play and the black loading screen popped up. He only caught it for a second but it's there, the outline of a person standing behind the couch. Buck freezes, his eyes staring at the screen, his head screaming at him to do something, but he can’t will his body to move. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, it’s all in my head. There’s nothing here, there is nothing here. 

Evan…  

It whispered along his neck, and he looked over his shoulder. Please don’t be anything, please don’t be anything there. He can feel his heart pumping against his ribs, a small spike of pain coming from his injuries. Were his palms always this sweaty? He was just hallucinating, he was just hallucinating. Digging his palms into his eyes, he tried to relax. There was nothing there, there was nothing here! He forced a deep breath, he was fine. It was just the medicine, yeah it was just the medicine! 

Another noise made him jump, and he swore to god that this house was never this noisy. Was it always like this, was it always this loud? He tried to relax, he tried to force everything out of his head. He clamped his hands over his ears, if he couldn’t hear it, it wouldn’t startle him. 

Evan… You know you deserve this…

It was so loud, it was right by his ear but he shook his head forcing his eyes closed. It wasn’t real, it wasn’t real! There was a rattle coming from the kitchen, he barely heard it. His eyes shot open.  No, no, no, no. He’s gonna kill him, and there isn’t going to be anyone or anything to stop him. Air was becoming harder to get into his lungs, and he could feel himself shaking. He couldn't breathe, why couldn’t he breathe? 

Eddie huffed as he finally unlocked the side door connecting to the kitchen, the groceries around his feet. Of course he would be the one to forget the house key in the truck, just making everything so much more complicated. He picks up the groceries, carrying them into the house and depositing them on the kitchen counter. 

“Buck, I’m back.” Eddie called as he started pulling the cold things out of the bag. “Did you hear, they came out with a new kind of cheez-it… cheez-it flavor? I don’t know, there is something weird about the cracker…” He waited for a response not getting one and he stopped, glancing over his shoulder a bit in the direction of the living room. 

“Buck?” Eddie asked again, setting down the milk he was holding. He still didn’t get a response and that was starting to scare him. He moved to the living room, hoping that his friend was just asleep. 

“Shit, Buck!” Eddie skidded to his knees in front of his friend. He didn’t even know if Buck was hearing him, he was just staring off into space not really focused on anything, his hands clamped over his ears. He was shaking bad, his skin almost snow white, and he was struggling to get his breath. What the hell happened? He hadn’t even been gone that long. 

“Buck, hey. Hey? I’m here, I’m here.” Eddie whispered. He glanced around the area, he had to be able to do something and he grabbed the blanket off the wheelchair tossing it around his friends shoulders. Buck flinched slightly as the blanket’s weight landed on him, he blinked a few times, his hands moving from his ears and digging into the fabric. 

“So, Christopher wanted to make spaghetti tonight.” Eddie started talking, he didn’t know what else to do. Touch wasn’t an option and he didn’t know if Buck would start coming back with just doing breathing techniques. “He also really wanted to watch a movie with you and maybe draw something? He got a new coloring book a bit ago, and he’s been marking pictures up but not really coloring them. He likes to say that he has been waiting for you to come back and do it with him. He’s just super excited th-” Eddie stopped mid word, his fingers wrapping around the ones tangling into his own. He looked up at Buck who was watching him. 

“I’m sorry…” Buck whispered, getting Eddie to take a deep breath. 

“What happened?” Eddie muttered. 

“I… I guess it was a nightmare… I’m sorry… I should have called… I’m sorry..” Buck whimpered and pulled his hand free from Eddie. He rubbed at his face, scrubbing the fear and panic away. Eddie tried to get his thoughts in order, what does he even say? 

“It’s okay. It’s okay. Hey you did nothing wrong, I’m sorry I didn’t know how bad this was.” Eddie mumbled as Buck made a noise against his hands, he couldn’t tell if it was a laugh or a sob. 

“You have nothing to apologize for.” 

“Well then neither do you.” Eddie responded as Buck reached his hand out again, taking Eddie’s. Eddie wanted to do something, something to comfort Buck, but what could he do without freaking him out more. Where was that line between friend and something more?

 “I’m really sorry, Eddie. I thought I could handle it.” 

“You aren’t alone Buck. You know that right? I’m here whenever you need me, you just got to let me help.” Eddie whispered, he just needed to ask. Buck pulled their joint hands towards himself and Eddie took a small breath, he probably wasn’t ready for anything. He was barely stable, and Eddie understood he wasn’t going to make a move if Buck wasn’t ready. He tried to pull his hand free, but Buck didn’t let him leave. 

“Buck, I have colds. I got to put them away.” 

“Be fast.” Buck mumbled, releasing his grip on Eddie’s hand getting the older man to laugh. 

“Only got a handful of cold things. Do you want anything? I got your favorite.” Eddie said, pulling the box of cheez-its out of the bag.

“Don’t think I can eat them right now.” Buck stated as Eddie finished putting away the things that needed to go into the fridge. 

“Yeah but they are here when you're feeling better.” Eddie stated before he went back to the couch where Buck was waiting. 

“Are you certain you’re okay?” Eddie asked as he sat down. Buck groaned, leaning against Eddie, his head resting on his shoulder. 

“Just sucks. I can’t even be alone.” Buck whined as Eddie smiled down at him.

“It’ll get better, you can’t expect it to happen overnight.” Eddie reassured, his hand hovered over Buck’s back. His hand clenched before dropping back to his side, he wanted to do something else to reassure the younger man but he guessed his words and presence would have to do.

Chapter Text

Buck dug his nails into the kitchen table, his attention snapping between the piece of wood underneath his hands and Eddie who was pacing the length of the main room. Eddie was running his hands up and down his face, irritation and concern covering his features. Buck watched the firefighter mumbling in Spanish, he wasn’t thrilled... Why exactly was Eddie pacing? Buck tried to wrack his brain but nothing was coming up.

“Eddie?” 

“Yeah?” Eddie responded, stopping mid step. 

“Why are you pacing?” Eddie thought for a few moments, before responding. 

"Just... do you not remember what is going on today?" Eddie asked, stepping closer to the table. Buck shifted, did he know what was going on today? Did he misremember something again? He could try to play it off, right? 

"I mean... yeah I remember." Buck lied as Eddie raised an eyebrow at him. He most certainly didn't believe him, if that look he was getting was anything to go by. 

"Really? Then what's going on today?" Eddie questioned as he leaned on the table. "You know it's okay if you don't remember." Eddie stated and Buck hesitated. 

"Fine, I don't remember. What's going on today?" Buck asked Eddie, chuckling, before standing up straight. 

"Athena is coming over with a detective to get your statement." Eddie informed, getting Buck to stop. He didn't want to talk about it! He didn't want to relive it, there had to be a way out of it. 

"Can we postpone?"

A knock came from the door and Buck felt everything almost creep to a standstill. Eddie moved to the door, and Buck could feel the bile that threatened to come up. Taking a shaky breath he heard the tick of the door as Eddie swung it open greeting Athena and the detective. The blonde haired detective stepped inside, in her hand a video camera and tripod, Buck’s heart dropped. They were going to record him, he shouldn’t be surprised it was a sensitive case. 

“Eddie, how are you?” Athena greeted as Eddie shut the door behind them.

“I’m good.” Eddie mumbled.

“Buckaroo.” Athena grinned her smile bright. “How are you feeling?” She asked as she walked over to him holding her hand out to him palm up, giving him the choice to take it or not. He slipped his hand into hers getting a small reassuring squeeze in return, it was some comfort at least. Buck watched the detective set up the tripod making sure that everything was working on the camera. “You got this.” Athena whispered but it did little to help his nerves. 

“I’m going to do a quick introduction before we actually start recording. I’m Detective Foster and I wanted to thank you for allowing me to come and do this statement in your house.” The detective stated. 

“It’s no problem.” Eddie responded. “I… I’m Eddie Diaz.” He offered his hand out to the detective and she returned the gesture. 

“You ready?” Athena asked as Buck gave a small nod trying to control his rolling stomach. He was by no means ready, but it was either now or later and he didn’t particularly want to do it later. Detective Foster sat down beside the camera, as Eddie and Athena retreated out of sight of the device but still stayed in Buck’s sight. Something he was actually quite grateful for, he didn’t know what he would do if they would leave him alone in this situation. Eddie was already fidgeting, his arms going from crossed, to behind his back, to loose at his side before finally settling with one crossed and the other hand up by his mouth. His nerves were loud and clear about the whole situation. Athena on the other hand, stood there almost stock still, her arms in front of her one hand clasped over the other. Buck could only imagine how many of these she has seen or been a part of. A beep came from the camera as the detective turned on the video recorder. He hated this already and they haven’t even started. 

“I’m going to record this statement due to the sensitivity of the case, and you can take a break whenever you feel like you need it.” The detective looked at him with a soft smile on her face, she was waiting for his confirmation and he quickly nodded his head.  “Alright, I’m going to ask a few basic questions for you to answer. Which is what we call the five W’s and an H which is the who, what, when, where, why and how.  So if you would, please state your name.” Buck shifted in the chair trying to get a bit more comfortable but there was only so much he could do with his leg. 

“Evan Buckley.” 

“Alright, Evan, do you remember when the incident occured?”

“Uh… yeah it was on Friday between 8 and 9.” 

“Do you remember the date?” Detective Foster asked. Buck thought for a few moments, did he know the date? 

“I’m sorry… I don’t…” Buck admitted as she gave a small nod. 

“That’s okay, we’ll keep going. Do you remember where the incident occured?”

“Yes, it was in my new apartment. I moved in about a month ago, I had some problems with some of my old neighbors.” Buck glanced up at Eddie who was just watching him, all attention focused directly on him. 

“Can you start from the beginning and tell me what happened?” Buck licked his lips, trying to get his rolling stomach under control. He could do this. 

“Uh… I was… j-j-just relaxing before I had to go into my shift at work the next morning.” 

“Where do you work?” The detective asked. 

“I-I… I’m a firefighter for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Department 118.” The detective nodded. 

“What happened next?”

“I heard a knock at my door and I checked the peephole and I didn’t see anything… I just assumed… It was my neighbor's door and I was going to continue what I was doing… There was another knock, and I got irritated so I opened the door. That is when… Chase Mack, my old lawyer, kicked the door in and pointed a gun to my head…” Buck takes a deep breath, the feeling of chills running up his spine. How could he feel cold when his hands were getting sweaty? His head was pounding behind his eyes, and he took another breath trying to calm his racing heart.

“Do you need a break?” 

“No, no, I’m sorry… I’m okay… um…” Buck scrubbed at his face for a moment, focus! “Um… he said it was because of me, that his family left him. That there were people coming after him, all because I dropped that lawsuit. I was going to pay and he told me to get up…”

“Can I ask about the lawsuit?” 

“Um… I filed a lawsuit against the city, the department and my captain for wrongful termination.” He didn’t want to go into more detail about it and it seemed that Detective Foster understood that because she didn’t push the topic. 

“Continue.” 

“H-he… he noticed I had my phone in my pocket and told me to get rid of it. I threw it down the stairs and while he was d-di-distracted… I went for the gun. We got into a fight and the gun discharged into my shoulder.” Buck takes another deep breath, his stomach spinning more than it was a few moments ago. His breath comes in a little shaky and he glances up at Eddie and Athena for comfort. Athena stands at attention, and her face is laced with concern. He can see her hands wringing against each other, a nervous tick but he can’t do anything to comfort her. Eddie is much worse off, he is slowly losing color in his face and he is biting his nails. 

“Do you want to keep going or-”

“I’m sorry, I keep stopping… I-I-I can keep going… he ordered me into the kitchen and to-to get on the floor and he… he kicked me in the head…” Buck whispered but he knew it was loud enough for the camera. He didn’t want to look at the device, trying his best to focus on something else where, anything else. “H-h-he zip tied my hands and went to look for a medical kit.” He saw the shift from the detective, a look of curiosity on her face. 

“Why did he go look for a kit?” 

“I’m on blood thinners… and he didn’t want me to bleed out bef...” Buck cut himself off; he didn't want to continue that train of thought. “Um… when he left, I tried to escape but Chase caught me. He threw me to the ground and… bro-broke my ankle… can-can I...”

“Of course.” Detective Foster said as she turned off the recording. Was his heart always going this fast? Snap! Buck flinched at the noise that filled his head, the memory burning at his ankle. He heard the footsteps approach as Eddie came into his eyesight, a soft smile on the man. 

“You’re doing great. Keep it up, and it’ll be over soon enough.” Eddie whispered as he squatted down to get eye level with his friend. Buck didn’t even hesitate before taking his friend's hand, feeling a bit more reassured about the whole situation. His heart wasn’t slowing and the pain in his head only seemed to get more intense. He heard the clicking before he saw the glass of water be set down in front of him. 

“Drink, you'll feel better.” Athena ordered as she stood to his other side, her presence just as comforting as Eddie’s. God he needed all the comfort he could get, the detective was waiting for him. Grabbing the glass, he practically downed it before Athena slipped the cup away from him, putting it beside the sink. “Feel any better?”

“God no.” 

“Can you keep going?” Athena questioned. 

“Yes…” Buck gulped before Eddie gave his hand a small squeeze before pulling away, and the two headed back to their places. Detective Foster glanced at the two as they went silent, and she glanced at Buck. 

“Ready?” 

“Yeah...sorry.” Buck muttered as she leaned over hitting the record button. 

“You don’t have to keep apologizing.” 

“Okay, sorry…” Buck groaned. “Uh… what happened next… after he broke my ankle, he told me to shut up and he… hit… pistol whipped me... I guess that is the right term... Chase then asked how to take care of the bullet wound, I refused and he put the gun to my head so I told him what to do.” he started fidgeting with his fingers, he could feel the sweat starting to form on the back of his neck and he was starting to shake. Detective Foster watched him intently, probably deciding what to do. Eddie was shifting back and forth, trying to remain still and Athena had to put a hand on his shoulder to keep him steady. 

“I… i-it all b-b-blurs together… I remember duct tape over my mouth and he blindfolded me… then he kicked me in the side and… cracked my ribs…” 

“Do you remember anything else?” He didn’t know if he should answer, he was having a little trouble keeping his breath, and his throat felt tight. 

“I...h-h-he…” Buck’s hands dug into the table. “He… t-t-t-torture-e-ed me…” She was silent for a few moments, before casting a glance over her shoulder at Athena, almost uncertain if she should keep going. 

“If you aren’t comfortable, you don’t have to answer but I need to ask. How did he torture you?” Buck tried to gather his thoughts, he tried to focus on what the detective was asking. He could answer her, he could do this. She needed this information. He licked his lips, he could continue but it wasn’t comprehensive. It didn’t make sense in his own head. 

“I… he… remember…” his brain wasn’t working, as he heard the footsteps coming closer. He could feel the hits, as they stung his skin, breaking bones and bruising him. “Beatings…” Why was everything coming so fast, was he breathing this fast? Everything hurt, the loud smashing of glass seemed too close and loud to be fake. “Glass bottles breaking…” He flinched again, his skin felt sticky and he could feel the hands around his throat. “Ch-choking…” The burns on his neck, roared his sense’s screaming against him. “Ci-ci-cigar-r-r-rette b-b-b-burn-n-ning…” 

Detective Foster watched Buck, as he whispered the last word before she reached over and flicked the recording off. Eddie was at his friend's side in moments, trying to figure out why he had stopped talking. Buck’s eyes were glazed over, no reaction as Eddie snapped his fingers in front of his friends face. 

“He either had a flashback or he dissociated.” Detective Foster whispered as Eddie slowly reached up cupping Buck’s cheek, horrified that he didn’t get a flinch. Eddie could hear Athena talking to the detective behind him but he didn’t care. He didn’t know what to do, he didn’t know anything about this. This… this was new. “I have everything I need, so he shouldn’t have to do this again.” Foster stated as she started taking down the camera and tripod. 

“Buck?” Eddie mumbled, taking Buck’s hand but he got no response. His fingers didn’t curl around Eddie’s when he squeezed, it was like Buck left his body behind. 

“Thank you detective.” Athena whispered as she escorted the detective to the front door and locked it. “Eddie?”  

“He’s never done this.” Eddie muttered as he slowly pushed himself to his feet. “How long can he be like this?” Eddie asked as he turned to look at Athena who was rubbing at her eyes. 

“Um…” She gestured a bit not entirely towards anything as she rubbed at her eyes. “I think it can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.” Athena answered and that did little to ease Eddie’s thoughts. Hours? Buck could be like this for hours?

Meirda… ”  Eddie hissed. 

“I didn’t know he was this bad, Eddie. If I had known, I would have waited longer until he was more stable.” 

“I didn’t know this would happen either, Athena and it needed to be done one way or another. Now we just play the waiting game, I guess.” Eddie whispered as he walked over to the couch pulling the blanket off of it and draping around his friend's shoulder. Maybe it would help him come back to them faster. 

“Do you need help with anything Eddie? You can’t be doing this on your own.” 

“I don’t know… he had a panic attack when I took Christopher to school. I don’t know if I can leave him alone, especially after this. I start work in two days, Athena. What the hell am I going to do?” Athena shifted her thumbs slipping into her belt. 

“Do you think talking to a therapist would help?”

“Probably, but he can’t even talk about it, Athena. This proved that. I’m not saying I’m against it but he has to get to the point where he can actually talk about it.” Eddie answered. “I just… ugh… Dios, could this get any worse…” 

There is a knock at the door. 

 

Chapter Text

There was silence as the two got back into the rented vehicle, the hospital smell still lingering on their clothing. They sat in the quiet, trying to figure out their next game plan. Where do they go now? Maddie had said at one point that Evan was working at a fire station but they just had to remember the number. 

“Was it 121?” Margaret asked her husband. Phillip shrugged, not entirely certain if that was the right number either and he pulled up his phone trying to figure out the fire station’s areas. 

“He might be at 118.” 

“We can go ask. I’ll try Maddie again.” Margaret stated as her husband started driving, he had typed the address of firehouse 118.  The blonde haired woman tried her daughter's number again, hearing it ring out but not be picked up. 

“She must be busy at work.” Phillip mumbled as his wife called Maddie again. “Perhaps try, Evan.” 

“He’s not going to answer us Phillip, he never does.” Margaret replied as they fell into silence once again. Not even a sound escaped the radio, and they slowly approached the district of firehouse 118. “What if it’s not the right one?”

“Then we go talk to whoever is in charge and we get the address he’s staying at.” Phillip informed. 

“And if they don’t.” 

“We are Evan’s parents, they have to tell us.” Phillip confirmed as Margaret bit her lip. She trusted her husband, he knew what to do whenever situations got stressful. They would find Evan, of course they would. The fire department came into view and Phillip pulled the rental car up across the street. Phillip was the first out of the car and he waited for his wife to catch up with him before they headed into the open rolling doors of the fire department. 

Chimney stared down at his phone, reading over Maddie’s text for a third time. He had already confirmed with her each time that he was going to head over to Eddie’s to help the guy out with whatever he needed. That she needed to relax and that he would take care of it until she got there. He wanted to call her but at the same time he didn’t want to disturb her while she was at work. 

Slinging his work bag over his shoulder, he ran a hand through his damp hair. Eddie would have not been happy with him coming over to his place smelling of ash and sweat. He started towards the open rolling doors, Hen was a little peeved that he was able to get out before three but there was little she could actually do but verbally comment on it. 

“Excuse me.” Chimney stopped mid step, his eyes snapping upwards. He stared at the two people in front of him a bit confused for a moment, they weren’t a part of the fire department. It was rare for civilians to come into the station, so this was interesting. The man looked vaguely familiar but he couldn’t quite place it. 

“Yes?” 

“We are looking for our son, Evan Buckley. We were wondering if this was the fire station he worked at.” Chim froze, his mind reeling. No way, there was no way this was happening. Maddie had spoken about her parents rarely but he understood that they weren't the best especially to Buck. He bit his lip, uncertain what to do. 

“You are correct this is his station but he is currently not in today.” Chim tried to be quick about it, the faster he got them out. The faster he could call Maddie and figure out what to do, with this situation. 

“Oh… do you know where he is? We went to the hospital, we aren’t hospital people you see, and they said he was discharged the other day.” Margaret informed but that didn’t make Chimney feel any better. They were looking for Buck, why? 

“I… uh…” 

“If you don’t know, then we’ll go ask the captain.” Phillip stated and started to walk past Chim. No, no, no. He can’t have that, he doesn’t want them to know anything. God Maddie would have his head, he was in a lose, lose situation. He either let them go up to the captain, and have the possibility of them learning a lot about their son or he took them to Eddie’s and prayed to god it was going to be okay. 

“Actually!” Chim called as they were about to pass the fire truck. “I’m on my way to visit him as we speak. I can show you the way.” Chimney saw the two parents stop and look at him. 

“What did you say your name was?” Margaret asked as they came back. 

“Howard Han.” Chim stated as the parents nodded. 

“It's nice to meet you Howard and thank you.” Chim took a deep breath, oh this was going to be hell. He could at least give Eddie a heads up while he was driving over. They headed to the vehicles, and waited for Chim to get into his car before they pulled out behind him. 

He fumbled for his phone, dialing Eddie’s number. It rang once, twice, three times, nothing. 

“Come on, Eddie.” Chim hissed dialing the number again, still no response. He tried again, hoping and praying that he would answer, come on just answer! He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, god this wasn’t going to be good. He had to answer, he just had to. After the fifth attempt, he started changing his tactics. Dialing Maddie’s number, he came to a stop light. They weren’t that far away at this point, maybe fifteen minutes at most. He needed to give Eddie some type of warning. The answering machine went off in his ear before he recalled the number again and again. He needed Maddie to answer him. 

“I’m busy.” Maddie whispered. 

“I know, I know but I gotta tell you. Your parents showed up to the firehouse.” Chim stated as Maddie fell silent, and he heard her talking to someone. 

“I’m sorry, what?” 

“They showed up to the firehouse looking for Buck.” Chim repeated. 

“How… how did they even know where to go? Is that why they’ve been texting and calling me all morning? Is that why they kept leaving these weird voicemails to call them back? Oh my god… please tell me they left.” Maddie whispered and Chim bit his lip. 

“Yeah about that…” 

“Oh no, what did they do?” Maddie grumbled. 

“They wanted to see the captain.” Chim informed as he heard a groan escape from his girlfriend. 

“They didn’t figure out where he was, did they?” 

“Ah…” 

“What does ‘ah’ mean Howie?” Maddie hissed.  

“Um… I may have done something.” 

“Howie…” Maddie hissed. 

“I’m taking them.” 

“What! Why! Why would you do that! What were you thinking! Evan can’t be around them right now!” Maddie growled.

“What was I supposed to do?”

“Nothing, you were supposed to do nothing!... Fine, you know what I’ll get there as soon as I can. Don’t let them get close to Evan, do you hear me Howard Han!” Maddie snapped as Chim pulled up along the side of the road outside of Eddie’s house. Huh, Athena was here. 

“Well, it appears Athena is here so I’m certain she’ll be able to keep things calm.” 

“You are in so much trouble when I get there.” Maddie snapped before hanging up the phone. Chim hit his head on the headrest, letting a groan out, yep he knew that would happen. Taking a deep breath, he popped the driver's door and looked to where the Buckley’s were getting out of their car. They were looking at the house in front of them, he didn’t know if the looks were good or bad. 

“He owns this?” Margaret asked. 


“No, he’s staying with a friend.” Chim informed, before heading up the steps and stopping in front of the door. 

“Why is there a cop here?” 

“She’s a friend.” Chim stated before knocking, this was going to be hell. 

Chapter Text

Eddie glanced at Athena a bit confused as to who would be knocking at this moment. The detective was gone, she had taken everything with her unless she forgot something. Athena started towards the door unlocking it and swinging it open. Chim gave them an uncomfortable smile and a small wave before he stepped into the house. 

“Why are you here, Chim?” Eddie asked, crossing his arms. He wouldn’t be surprised if Maddie had asked Chim to come over after his shift. His eyes snapped to the two people coming up behind the firefighter. He feels his mouth go dry at the sight before stepping back a bit, and glancing at Buck. This wasn’t good. Athena gazed at Eddie a small raise of her eyebrow before she looked back at the two people stepping up onto the porch. Eddie sends a small glare to Chimney who is slowly shrinking back and around the table so he is beside Buck. 

“What happened?” Chim whispered to Eddie. Chim scanned Buck over, taking note of his glazed over eyes, and blank stare. He tested the younger man’s hands, getting no reaction when he squeezed it. 

“Why are they here?” Eddie hissed, sending a glare to the paramedic. Eddie slid further back, fully putting himself between the couple and their son. 

“I fucked up... he’s having a flashback.” Chim muttered under his breath but Eddie and Athena still heard him. 

“Would have never guessed.” Eddie snarled back before turning his full attention to the Buckleys. 

“I’m Phillip, and this is my wife Margaret. We were told that our son, Evan, is here.” Athena glanced at Eddie for a moment not entirely certain what to make of this situation. 

“Maybe… I’m Eddie Diaz and this,” Eddie gestured towards Athena, “This is Athena Grant.” 

“Is he?” Margaret asked, tears pricking at her eyes. Eddie wanted to say no, he wanted to send them away. If what little Buck talked about his parents is anything to go by then the faster they are gone the better. Yet he couldn’t find the words, this was still Buck’s mother looking for him. It didn’t sit right with him, to just send them away especially after they came all this way. But he couldn’t make himself move out of the way, because a part of him hissed that something wasn’t right and he has learned to trust that feeling especially when it came to Buck. 

“He is bu-”

“Oh thank gosh, we’ve been looking for him. We even went to the hospital, and we aren’t hospital people, to try to find him.” Phillip stated. Why didn’t that sit right? “We have to thank Howard for helping us find our way.” Athena shifted as Margaret noticed Buck in the wheelchair.

“Buck’s um… A lit-”

“Oh, you call him Buck? That is such a childish thing to do.” Margaret stated as she started forward, but before she got more than a step or two Athena slid beside Eddie cutting off the path. Perhaps it was just the way Eddie was holding himself, all defensive with his arms crossed and his muscles tense. Or perhaps it was just the way they were talking that set the police sergeant off. Phillip takes a huff crossing his own arms as his wife slowly makes her way back to him. Chim slowly gets up from where he was examining Buck, and moving in between the two groups. 

“How about we all sit and talk things out?” Chim gestured towards the living room. Margaret is the first to move into the living room, settling on one of the two side chairs. She watched her husband, before he slowly moved to sit in the chair beside her. Eddie is hesitant to move, but eventually does when Athena gently touches his shoulder encouraging him to follow after her. She should be returning to work, but he doubted that the sergeant would let him be alone in this situation. Chimney doesn’t really leave Buck, instead hovering to the side and not bothering to sit with Athena and Eddie on the couch. 

“How was your drive here?” Chimney asked. “I remember Maddie said you liked to drive to different places.” 

“We flew.” Phillip responded quickly, not really in the mood for small talk. Chim bit his lip, swinging his right arm a little before snapping his finger, the fist meeting his flat hand. 

“Ohh...kay then.” Chimney whispered. The room falls into an awkwards silence, and Eddie doesn’t know what to do but his eyes keep snapping over to Athena. 

“Can you tell us what happened? We only know he was put into a coma and was in hospital for a while.” Margaret inquired. Eddie’s eyes narrowed if they were searching for Buck wouldn’t they have the full story already? Athena cleared her throat before taking a breath and answering with as little information as humanly possible. 

“Someone attacked him and he just got out of the hospital the other day.” Athena stated. 

“Oh… who is taking care of him?” 

“I am.” Eddie responded. 

“Oh, are you and your wife experienced with stuff like this?” Margaret gestured in the direction of Buck. Eddie opened his mouth to snap something but closed it again, trying to think about what to say, he didn’t want to be too mean. These were Buck’s parents after all and he probably wanted to make a decent impression… maybe...

“I’m widowed.” Eddie responded, getting the parents to almost blink at him a bit surprised. 

“I thought because you know all the toys, I just thought… I’m sorry for your loss.” Margaret sputtered as she took a deep breath looking around the living room once more, her eyes scanning all the toys and coloring books. Her eyes stopped on a pair of crutches that were sitting in the corner of the room, Christopher had outgrown them the year prior.
   
“I do have a son.” 

“Does your son have problems?” Phillip asked and Athena shifted to glare at the man, trying to contain whatever was rising in her. She was doing an awful better job than Eddie was, his shoulders tensed and his breathing picked up a bit.  His hands clenched and unclenched, his jaw tightened as he took a sharp breath. 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Eddie fumed. 

“What Phillip is saying is he saw the crutches, and don’t you think Evan might be too much on top of your son.” Margaret cut in. 

“My son isn’t an issue, in fact he loves to have Buck around.” Eddie retorted, Athena’s hand went over Eddie’s trying to calm the man down a bit. 

“Eddie isn’t taking care of him alone, his whole team at the 118 is pitching in to help.” Athena informed keeping her voice monotone. 

“You shouldn’t have to be taking care of him. That isn’t your job.” Phillip stated. 

“Well he’s our family, so we are going to take care of him.” Athena responded, getting a mixture of confusion and anger on the couples faces. 

“But you aren’t his family and since he is our son. We think it is in his best interest to come home with us and go to a center.” Eddie jerked a bit, startled by the news. Wait, they wanted to take Buck away from them and stick him in a center? 

“We are more than capable of taking care of him, it's not in his best interest to leave.” Eddie snapped trying his best to keep his anger down but even with Athena’s calming presence there was no way he was going to keep relaxed and not blow a gasket. Eddie could hear Chim talking behind him, but to whom he wasn’t paying attention.  

“Look at him,” Margaret gestured towards where Buck was sitting. “He needs help.” Athena ground her teeth before slowly shifting to fully look at the couple.

“I believe you have oversta-” 

“He is our son, and we are going to do what is best for him. You have no say in his treatment, this is all a family matter.” Phillip interrupted. 

“A family matter… So what brings you here now, because you didn’t bother to come after the tsunami, when the ladder truck fell on him, the embolism? Why is this the thing that brings you out of the woodwork?” Eddie shot back as Margaret started tearing up, an exasperated noise escaping her. 

“I already told you, we don’t do hospitals. I already told you that.” She cried but it did little to help their case. 

“He’s your son, that isn’t an excuse.” Eddie scolded. There is a click from the door as Maddie practically rushed into the room, and she came to a halt a few paces in front of Chim. 

“Mom, dad, what are you doing here?” Maddie panted, it’s obvious she probably rushed here. She looks a bit of a mess, her hair is falling out of the pony tail she had it in. There is a thin sheen of sweat on her skin and her clothes are a little wild.  

“We came to get Evan.” 

“What do you mean, you came to get Evan?” Maddie questioned. 

“Maddie, listen, your father and I think it would be best for your brother to come home with us and go to a center. He can get all the help he needs and he won’t be a burden to anyone.” Eddie was on his feet in moments and if it wasn’t for Athena rising with him, he probably would have physically thrown the pair out of his house. 

“A burden? Are you kidding me, is that a joke? He’s your kid, and you are seeing him and this situation as a burden. When it has absolutely nothing to do with you. You can’t come barging into my house and making demands of someone I love and care about when you haven’t even bothered to reach out once, in any of his previous accidents. Have you even tried to reach out to him just for a simple check up, or to say hey we care about you. Because for as long as I have known Buck, you haven’t!” The couple just stared at him, their mouths slightly open. He wasn’t even certain of what he had said, his anger was getting the better of him. He wanted to hit something, or someone at this point. 

“You need to calm down.” 

“How can I calm down when you are coming into my house and insulting my family.” Eddie snarled and Athena grabbed his arm pulling him backwards. Eddie could see Chim out of the corner of his eye as he slowly started wheeling the chair backwards down the hall. 

“You need to relax, amigo.” Phillip ordered. Chim was trying his best to be careful but he was also aware that Buck was starting to come out of his dissociation. Chim hushed Buck as much as he could as the younger man shook his head trying to clear it of the intrusive thoughts. 

“I need you to stay quiet, Buck.” Chim whispered. 

“Wh-wh-what’s going on?” Buck asked before he noticed Maddie, Eddie, Athena and his parents? What the hell was going on? 

“Shhhhhh… I’m getting us out of here.” Chim mumbled as he finally got them out of view and into the hallway. 

“DAD!” Maddie shouted. Athena had to forcibly push Eddie backwards, in order to stop him from going on the attack.

“It’s not worth it.” Athena whispered. He can hear Margaret starting to cry and Maddie is cursing under her breath. 

“Maddie, you are just going to let him talk to us like that. We are just trying to help your brother.” Phillip stated. 

“And how are you going to talk to Eddie that way? He's taking care of your son, while you are here trying to get rid of him and have him be someone else’s problem because he’s too much to handle. You aren’t even wanted here.” Athena snapped, finally losing her own temper. 

“You have no right, he is my son.” Margaret cried, the tears streaming down her face. 

“Like you were good parents anyways, if how you are acting right now proves anything.” Athena growled, still holding tight to the firefighter trying to keep him still.

“Yo-” Phillip started. 

“ENOUGH! You have no say here, I’m Evan’s power of attorney. I think it's best for him to stay here, in his pattern so it doesn’t confuse him. You can’t demand something when I have the last say, so please leave.” Maddie shouted before pointing at the door. “If you dare to try to take Evan by force, that will be kidnapping and I’m certain that Athena will happily arrest you.” Eddie huffed letting the anger dissipate as Margaret and Phillip slowly started out the door. Maddie didn’t give her parents the time of day before slamming the door at their backs the moment they were out. Locking the door, she groaned sliding down the piece of wood until she was sitting on the ground. She dug her head into her hands, trying to calm her frazzled nerves. Eddie took another breath, before moving around the couch to where Maddie was sitting. 

“Thank you.” 

“Ugh, it shouldn’t have even happened and I’m sorry.” Maddie whispered. 

“It’s okay… I get why Buck hates his parents.” Eddie smiled as Maddie chuckled. 

“Let’s hope he didn’t hear you.” Maddie mumbled before gesturing down the hallway to where Chim was checking on Buck, making sure that he was actually fully back to the present. 

“What do you mean?” 

“Oh, you know ‘making demands of someone I love and care about’ .” Maddie grinned up at Eddie, his face losing color for a moment. Did he really say that? “That would be a sucky way to tell him that you love him.” Maddie smiled. 

Chapter Text

“You brush your teeth? Eddie asked as Christopher climbed into his bed.

“Yeah.” 

“Did you tell Buck goodnight?” Eddie questioned as he scanned the book shelf trying to find the book they started the other day. Christopher yawned, stretching a little before settling into his pillow. 

“Yeah, he seemed sad today.” Christopher pointed out. Eddie huffed, it was rough to fill Buck in on what his parents were doing here. Maddie and Athena had chewed out Chim for almost half an hour before she turned her attention to her brother. Maddie had done her best to make sure that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed and Buck had held it together until she and Chimney left for the night. The breakdown wasn’t pleasant, and Eddie did everything he could to comfort him. 

“Yeah.” 

“I heard you crying.” Christopher stated as Eddie shut his eyes, cursing a bit under his breath. He had hoped Christopher hadn’t, he really did but his kid was just too observant. He knew that it was bad even from his bedroom. “What happened?” Eddie took a deep breath before picking a book at random from the shelf not really paying attention to what he grabbed. 

“Well… Buck’s parents came to see him.” 

“Oh, isn’t that a good thing.” 

“No, mijo. Buck doesn’t get along with his parents.” Eddie responded. 

“Why?” 

“They aren’t nice people.” Eddie hoped that would be enough to satisfy his son’s curiosity.  

“He needs a new mom and dad then.” Christopher stated so pointedly that it caught Eddie a bit off guard. He let out a soft laugh, trying to stop the smile from crossing his face. 

“Yeah he does mijo. He needs a new family. ” 

“He’s a part of our family though, right dad?” Eddie smiled, placing a kiss on his son’s head. 

“You’re right he is. Now, let me read to you so we can go to sleep.” Eddie grinned before opening the book. 

“Dad?” Eddie hummed finally looking at the book he picked, what the heck was this? Where was the book they were reading yesterday? “We should get Buck something to make him smile.” Eddie turned to look fully at his son. 

“Oh yeah and what do you think that is?” 

“A puppy.” Eddie snorted. 

“You just want a dog.”

“I’m being serious… we should get him something. Like a present to welcome him to the family.” Christopher proposed and Eddie contemplated that statement for a moment. It actually wasn’t a bad idea. 

“Okay, how about this. You brainstorm and tell me what you come up with tomorrow.” Eddie suggested getting a nod from his son. “Also where is the book we were reading yesterday?” Eddie asked as Christopher shrugged. 

“I can’t go to sleep without a story, so I gotta stay up.” Christopher giggled and Eddie groaned before shaking his head. 

“That’s not how this works and you know it.” Eddie teased. “I’m just going to read this book I guess.” Eddie stated as he settled himself beside his son and started reading. It didn’t take long for Christopher to fall asleep and as soon as Eddie was satisfied he would stay asleep, he shut the book. Tucking the blankets around Chris, he gave him one final kiss before slipping out of the room. 

“Are you still awake?” Eddie asked as he walked into the bedroom, shutting the door almost all the way. Buck groaned, his arm shielding his eyes, from the light above. “Chris was worried about you.” 

“I feel like that’s a thing that he’s doing more.” Buck stated as Eddie chuckled digging out his sleeping shirt. Pulling off his own, he quickly replaced it before glancing back at the bed noticing Buck hadn’t moved. 

“He heard us crying.” 

“Of course he did… What’d you say?” Buck asked slowly, pulling his arm off his eyes as Eddie finished changing into his pajamas. 

“I told him the truth. That your parents are mean.” Eddie stated as Buck sent a look at his friend. 

“Was that wise?” 

“He’d figure it out eventually, no reason to beat around the bush.” Eddie informed before moving over to Buck’s nightstand flicking on the lamp. 

“And?” 

“He said you needed new parents.” Eddie informed and Buck snorted at the statement. 

“He’s not wrong.” Eddie let the silence cover them, it has been a rough day and he was ready to be done with it. Flicking off the main light, he climbed into bed laying a bit away from his friend. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t get to say that.” 

“I am, though. It shouldn’t have happened, they shouldn’t have…” Buck trailed off. “I heard what they said to you.” 

“It’s not a big deal, Buck.” 

“Yes, it is Eddie. It’s a big deal and I should have done something t-”

“No, you don’t get to blame yourself for their shit. They came of their own volition and made a mess of everything, you weren’t even here to defend yourself.” Eddie mumbled with a small wave of his hand. He glanced at the phone on the nightstand, 9:45 p.m, he made sure to set his alarm correctly this time. He didn’t want to make Christopher late for school because Eddie couldn’t get out of bed for Athena to pick him up. “It was a bad day. Let’s just… get some sleep alright, Buck.” 

“Night Eds.” 

“Night Buck.” Eddie whispered but he didn’t hear Buck nod off. Eddie listened to Buck as he kept shifting, unable to sleep or get comfortable. Something was on his friend's mind, something was bothering him and Eddie just had to be patient. Eddie huffed as he closed his eyes hoping and praying that Buck would either speak up or get settled. He heard a murmur escape the younger man. He finally decided to just say something.

“Buck?”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” 

“Wasn’t asleep… you okay?” Eddie asked as he shifted on his side and blinked at his friend. 

“Fine…” 

“Liar… Come on, you've been picking at me since you got here. Might as well pick at you back.” Eddie joked as he heard a snort escape Buck. 

“Not wrong.” Buck hesitated, biting at his lip, thinking. Eddie shifted again, waiting for Buck to decide what to do. “Were they right?” Eddie looked at Buck. 

“What are you talking about?”

“I mean… were they right? I mean if I went with them…” Buck petered off and Eddie shifted off his side, so that he was sitting up. 

“No, they weren’t. I want you here, I want you to be here with me and Christopher. You ar-”

“I remember the last thing you said to me during the lawsuit…” Buck started cutting Eddie off. “I just… you said I was exhausting… would it be better if I went with them so I wouldn't bother anybody?” Eddie stared at Buck in horror, he did say that didn’t he. He said that to Buck’s face, he let his anger get the better of him. Eddie took an unsteady breath, trying to calm his frazzled nerves and tried to get a grasp of the whole situation. 

“No… Buck… I was so lost… I was so angry with myself and…” Eddie tried to get his words to form sentences, he tried to get his head that was running so fast under control. Dios , he fucked up again! His hands tugged at his hair as he tried to calm himself, he was working himself up. He didn’t need that right now, he needed to quiet his head, and slow his thoughts. "I... didn't mean... I was just..." Oh Dios , why couldn't he get the words to work. Why wouldn't they just come out? He's overwhelming himself again, just like earlier. He just needed to get his shit together. "I made.... shouldn't have..." 

"Eddie, hey. Hey, look at me." Buck encouraged finally getting Eddie's attention. When did Buck get this close? "Hey, it's okay. Calm down, take a deep breath. Gather your thoughts, and try again." Buck added as he gripped Eddie's shoulder with his left hand and slipped his right into Eddie’s, he was trying to ground him. Eddie groaned, why the fuck was he like this? It was his job to reassure, and comfort not Buck's. Buck has been through enough, he shouldn't have to add onto his plate. Eddie took a deep breath, finally gathering his thoughts. 

"You shouldn't have to do this." 

"Do what?" 

"You calming me down, that's supposed to be my job." 

"Eddie, it works both ways. I'm allowed to take care of you too." Eddie scoffed at the statement. 

"That's not how it works Buck. You asked me a question and I couldn't find the words to answer it. I should have been the one to comfort you." Eddie responded by pulling his hand free from Buck's.  It took him a moment to notice the confused look on Buck's face. 

"I asked you a question?" Eddie just stared at him. He forgot... Meirda ... Does he even bring up the question again? Is it worth it at this point, or would it be easier to just let it go? Eddie took a deep breath gathering as much of his frayed composure as he could.

"Yes, Buck. You asked me a question." Eddie murmured. "You asked if it would have been better if you went with your parents, so you wouldn't bother anyone. And to answer that question, no. I don't want you to go, I like having you around. You are not a burden, you have never been a burden. Please stop thinking like that, it hurts when you say stuff like that."

"I don't remember saying that, but I'm so-" 

"No, Buck. You gotta stop apologizing, because you did nothing wrong!" Exasperated Eddie, as he rubbed at his eyes and Buck’s hand left his shoulder. "You're apologizing for no reason. You have to stop being so hard on yourself, it's not your fault that you don't remember. None of this is your fault. I just... don't know how to get it across to you." Eddie huffed, dropping his hands back to the mattress, he just wanted to sleep at this point. 

"I ge... it's been a long day and we are both just tired and I keep forgetting th-"

"Buck." Eddie said sternly, cutting off the rest of Buck's sentence. "Stop blaming yourself for things you don't have any control over. Do you blame yourself for the tsunami?” Eddie asked before noticing the look on the younger man’s face, guilt seemed to radiate through the man’s whole body. “You… you blame yourself?” 

“I mean…” Buck whispered as he rubbed at the bandage on his arm, his fingers digging into the fabric. “If I hadn’t taken him there…” Why would Buck blame himself for that? Why would he take the blame for a natural disaster? Eddie couldn’t find his words. 

“Buck…” 

“If I hadn’t taken him there, then we wouldn’t have been caught in the tsunami, none of that would have happened. Christopher wouldn’t be having his nightmares, and you wouldn’t have....”

“Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa… His nightmares are not because of you. He is alive and still breathing because of you Buck, what about everyone you saved?”

“Someone would have saved them. I didn’t do anything special.” Buck mumbled and Eddie had to control himself. Why was he thinking like this? Was this how Buck thought? 

“Buck, you saved over twenty lives that day including Chris-.”

“I lost him Eddie! I lost him on that truck, and then I couldn’t…” Eddie waited for him to continue, but Buck wouldn’t even meet his eyes. 

“I don’t blame you for anything that happened, god I could never blame you.” Buck was running his hands through his hair and biting at his lip. 

“Stop lying to me!” The shout startled Eddie. “You're saying you didn't blame me, but it's so obvious you did. If something goes wrong, I'm the person that gets the blame. It's how it's always been, something goes wrong, oh it's probably Buck's fault. Everything just keeps going wrong. You blame me for the tsunami, I know you do. I saw you Eddie, I saw that look you gave me when I tried to tell you what happened. You couldn't even look at me." Buck snapped and Eddie slowly put his hands up trying to calm him. 

"Wait, B-"

"No, I'm not done!" Buck exploded, cutting off Eddie's attempts, "Do you understand how confused I was when you showed up to my apartment the next day, dropping your son off like it was no big deal. You said that Christopher had to save me now and then, what oh a few days later, he's gone. You took him away from me and I couldn't get him back. You weren't answering me. You weren't answering my calls or texts, I didn't understand Eddie. I still don't fucking understand! And what about you? You left me just as quickly if not faster, I needed you Eddie and you left me. I needed your help. I wasn't sleeping, I was struggling so much and you weren't there. Then, Bobby said I couldn't come back to fucking work! And when I tried to get back to you guys, you said I was exhausting! You all left me again, and there was nothing I could do. Even after I dropped that stupid lawsuit, you wanted nothing to do with me! You didn't even care, I just wanted you guys back. I just wanted my family back... You didn't even want to come find me when I didn't show up to work...  You all thought that the screw up didn't show up to work again, big whoop... You didn't even want to look for me, you had to be ordered to come find me... It took two whole fucking days for me to even cross your minds. I mean... would you have even cared if I didn't come out of it..." Buck whispered tears staining his face and his breath was coming in harder, the ringing in his ears growing louder. 

Eddie couldn't even get his thoughts together, but what he did know was the tears streaming down his face. What the fuck did he do? He did this, he did this to his best friend. What kind of person was he? He tried to get the words to work, he tried to get them to form on his tongue but it felt like it was made of lead. He has to do something, Buck's going into another panic attack. He had to do something! Nothing was working, his arms weren't moving, his head was running too fast for him to figure out what to do. Eddie shifted, finally getting his arms to work and attempted to reach out towards Buck only to get a flinch in return. Curling his hand back he let it fall down to his lap, he had to do something. Where the hell were his words? 

"Buck... I-"

“... I’m sorry…” Buck whimpered as he wiped some of the tears away. “Let’s just… forget I said anything, give it five minutes and I probably will..."  Buck tried to joke as he pulled his arms to his chest. 

"Buck... you shouldn't joke about this." Eddie's voice was cracking, god he sounded horrible. "This is how you feel, you shouldn't apologize over it." 

“Eddie, I don't want to talk about it anymore... Can we ju-”

“Evan,” Buck froze, his eyes widened before snapping to Eddie, "I would not lie to you about the tsunami, of course I was upset in the moment. You were both caught in a situation you should have never been in, and what's worse, I didn't even know you were in it! That's why I was upset, because I didn't know." Eddie paused for a moment trying to gather his thoughts, he had to be careful how he worded this. "I was terrified, I saw you injured and beaten down without my son. I was petrified... I couldn't look at you because I could only think about the what ifs. When I saw Christopher I knew everything was going to be okay, and ultimately it was..." Eddie looked Buck over, noticing his breathing was evening at least he wasn't panicking anymore. Eddie took a deep breath, before continuing. 

"As for the next day, I still trusted you to look after him. Certainly I should have given more warning prior but I just knew he needed you and you needed him. When Christopher's nightmares started occurring I got scared, and then the drawings with Shannon drowning. I didn't know what to do. I tried to avoid the situation, I wanted to give Christopher the chance to get back to an every day routine and hope the nightmares slowed or ended. I was wrong, I shouldn't have taken him away. In the end it didn't help any of us, it didn't help Christopher and it didn't help you. As for me pulling away, I was so focused on Christopher and I needed to give him all my attention to make sure that he was okay. That he knew I would always be here if he needed me, I didn't know that you were struggling. I should have known but there was so much going on with Christopher." 

"I get that, but I just..." Buck whispered his breath hitching a trace of tears in his eyes.

"I'm sorry for saying that in the grocery store. I'm sorry for not paying attention enough, for you to be comfortable enough to come talk to me about the situation. If we had talked in the first place, the lawsuit might not have even been filed. I should have been there for you, I should have tried to reach out and get your side not just Bobby's. I should have been a better friend and partner..." Eddie took a deep breath, he didn't want to talk about this. He needed to be honest about this and as much as it sucked, he knew it needed to be discussed. "I was so angry with you. We were a team and you went and talked to a lawyer about us, behind our backs." 

"It was public knowledge. I didn't tell him anything you couldn't find out." Buck responded. 

"I know but it still hurts that you went and spilled our lives out to someone you barely knew. We shouldn't have shut you out, we should have forgiven you once the lawsuit was dropped. That wasn't fair to you." Eddie watched Buck taking note of the guilty look that was on his face. He didn't want to make him feel guilty! This had nothing to do with him, this was all Eddie's fault. Buck shouldn't feel guilty for Eddie trying to convey his actions during everything. "I don't blame you for any of this Buck. We all made stupid decisions that led to a horrible outcome." 

"I don't want to-"

"No, we got to talk about this. I know you really don't want to, but what you said... needs to be acknowledged." Eddie insisted. "We need to talk about this... There is no excuse. There was no reason for it to have happened the way it did. I'm sorry, I should have known something was wrong when you didn't show up. I should have known your schedule, for fuck's sake we all should have known your schedule. We've had the same schedule for over a year and a half. I should have known, because that is so unlike you not to show up. I should have known, we all should have known something was wrong." Eddie took a shaky breath trying to calm himself as much as he could before continuing on. "Buck do you really think... I wouldn't have cared if you didn't come out of that? You're my partner, you're my best friend. Sure, a lot has been happening really fast lately, and it's been so overwhelming for all of us. I wasn't the friend you needed and I’m so sorry for that… But you are one of the most important people in my life, and you not being here... I don't know what I would do without you. I don't want you to ever think like that because I care so much, and losing you would break me. So please... don't think like that." Eddie sniffed before glancing at Buck noticing the tears falling down his friend's face. 

"I'm sorry I brought any of this up..." Buck whimpered. 

"I don't want you to say sorry for telling me how you felt. You needed to say it, and I needed to hear it and that's okay." Eddie mumbled and he stared up at the younger man waiting for some reaction, for a response. Buck was just watching him, his face a mixture of emotions before that guilt seemed to return. “Buck, I-“ Buck grabbed his arm pulling him into a hug. Eddie was almost surprised before wrapping his arms around his friend's back. He felt the arms tighten around him, pulling him closer and Eddie let him. Eddie could feel Buck shaking and he had to compose himself. Eddie needed to say it and it appears Buck really needed to hear it. He just hoped that Buck would take it to heart and actually stop blaming himself. Eddie didn’t want to let go, he didn’t want to pull away from Buck but slowly he felt the younger shift in his arms. He released his grip letting Buck shift back so he was leaning against the headboard. 

“I’m sorry.” Buck whimpered. 

“You have nothing to be sorry about… Come on, let's get some sleep. I’m certainly exhausted…" Eddie whispered and Buck nodded before getting settled and Eddie quickly followed suit. He really wanted to fall asleep, he really did but his head was moving too much. It wasn’t slowing down even in the dim room and he could hear Buck slowly doze off and fall asleep. Damn pain medicine was a lifesaver in this situation. Eddie rolled on his side looking away from his friend as he snatched the phone off the charging stand. 1:32 p.m. Eddie huffed and scrubbed at his face before slowly sitting up. Leaning against the headboard he looked at Buck who was sleeping soundly. Sleep was eluding him again, he wasn’t surprised in all honesty, it has been happening more and more often now.

 That conversation… he didn’t know what to make of it. He knew that Buck had some issues with his self-esteem but he didn’t know it was that bad. Bad enough for him to blame himself for a natural disaster, bad enough for him to think being dead was better... The reality slowly setting in, it all made sense. The way his parents spoke about him, it irked him even more now. They didn’t care, they didn’t care at all! It was obvious that Buck took it to heart, taking the blame for everything even if it had nothing to do with him. Eddie at least had a decent childhood, he didn’t even know if Buck had that. God, how hadn’t Eddie noticed how bad Buck was struggling before? He really was a horrible friend. 

Eddie shifted again, trying to get comfortable but it seemed to be of no use though. He drummed his fingers against his leg, great now he was never going to get to sleep. He looked at the other man occupying the other half of the bed, he must have been utterly exhausted. Eddie groaned this was too much. It was an emotionally draining day, and Eddie just wanted to get some sleep. Why was sleep such a hard thing to find? Probably because his head wouldn’t shut up. He thought he was exhausted earlier, he must have been wrong or his thoughts just weren’t slowing. He glanced down at Buck again, watching the younger man’s chest rise and fall. His head continued to wander, he wondered if it would stop. Groaning, Eddie tried to scrub the thoughts from his mind but they only came back at full force. Bringing up what happened earlier in the day. 

He didn’t even want to think about what happened earlier, with Maddie. He can’t believe he let those words slip. What had Buck heard? Did he hear anything at all? ‘making demands of someone I love and care about’ . He groaned at the words, did he really say that out loud to Buck’s parents? God he was so fucked if Buck actually heard him. But he would have said something if he had, wouldn’t he have. He let his head fall against the headboard, what was his luck today? He jolted as a hand wrapped around his right wrist, snapping him from his thoughts. He glanced at Buck, the man’s blue eyes stared at him with a look of concern on his features. 

“Get out of your head, Eddie.” Buck whispered, getting a huff from his friend. 

“Not as easy as it sounds.” Eddie responded with a soft smile. 

“Then make it easier by telling me what’s wrong.” Buck urged. 

“I don’t think that’s wise.” 

“Oh come on, what else do I have to do all day but contemplate my own stupid decisions. Let me contemplate yours too.” Buck mumbled as Eddie let out a laugh. 

“I don’t think this is something you can help me with. Not this time at least.” Eddie responded, his laugh finally sobering. Buck was staring at him, trying to find his words deciding whether it was worth it or not to try to convince him otherwise. Eddie met his friends' gaze, before looking up to the fan spinning above them. 

“Alright… you know I’m here if you need me.” Buck responded groggily before turning his head away from him. Eddie hummed at the statement before running a hand through his hair and starting to slide down into the bed. He might as well try to get some sleep.  “Oh… and by the way. I love you too.” Buck whispered and Eddie sputtered nearly choking on his own saliva. He shot back up, staring at Buck and tried to gather his thoughts but they were just flying in all directions.

“W-w-wait… you he-he-heard me?” Eddie inquired, a bit shocked. 

“I could hear everything, Eddie. Might not have shown it but I heard it all.” Buck replied, turning to look at his best friend. “That’s why I asked. I thought you would… you know, admit it but…” Buck whispered, his eyes starting to close. 

“No, no, no. We are not done talking, now!” Eddie responded, getting a full laugh from Buck, which quickly turned into a round of coughing. 

“Sorry.” 

“Buck.” Eddie groaned before taking a deep breath. It’s going to be an endless battle. “How long?” 

“Be more specific?” Buck asked as he started to push himself into a seated position. Eddie reached out to offer his help, but Buck quickly swatted the others hands away; he didn't need the help. 

“When?” 

“When did the feelings start or when did I start considering us actually dating?” 

“There is a… wait, what?” Eddie questioned another laugh escaping Buck before more coughing followed. “Please don’t break another rib.” Eddie joked as Buck glared at him, trying to force the coughing to stop. 

“I’ll try not to, but no promises. Feelings… right… they started when we were climbing that high-rise, and you grabbed Ali from falling out of that window.” Buck confirmed. “As for actual dating? When we were taking Christopher to see Santa, one of the workers said that we had an adorable son and I didn’t correct her. I couldn’t, because I felt like we were actually becoming a family and I didn’t want to break that illusion. At least… until…” Buck waved his hand more gesturing to himself than to anything else. 

“What about all the girls? Ali, Taylor, Abigail?”

“You didn’t even know Abbi, as for the others.” Buck shrugs. “They weren’t what I wanted. Taylor was kind of just a fling. I mean she picked up on it pretty quickly, we don’t do that anymore. Most of the time when we hang out now, we are just friends.” Buck informed. “I always wanted you and I think Taylor knew that, that was why we stopped sleeping together.” Eddie took a deep breath, trying to get his fluttering stomach under control. 

“Why bring it up now? You could have let it sit until you were feeling better, why now?”

“Because we both just cleared the air. I thought now was as good a time as any.” Buck whispered. “Now, what do you want to do Eddie?” Eddie chuckled at the question, there was a lot he wanted to do but it more or less came down to what could he do? 

“You’re still hurt Buck.” Eddie mumbled as Buck held out his hand and Eddie’s immediately slipped into Buck’s. 

“If I-”

“No! You keep having coughing fits because you laughed, your leg isn’t going to be good anytime soon and god what happens if we somehow trigger a panic attack or a flashback.” Eddie reasoned, hearing a grumble from Buck. 

“I guess.” Buck whispered. “So… is this a thing?” Buck asked, gesturing to their joined hands. 

“If you want it to be a thing.” Eddie stated as he saw the nod and smile escape Buck. “Alright then, yes and I do love you Buck, but let's get you better first.” Eddie smiled. 

“Alright then boyfriend, don’t I get a first kiss?” Buck whispered, getting a laugh from Eddie. 

“Only if you say yes.” Eddie grinned as Buck chuckled. Buck didn’t flinch as Eddie cupped his cheeks, their lips meeting. Why did he wait so long? His heart was skipping in his chest, the feeling of the butterflies settling. It was almost desperate, a feeling he never experienced before and he didn’t want it to end. He could feel Buck’s hands as they ran up along his neck, feeling every inch of him. Eddie wasn’t even fully paying attention, his own hands wandering, as he practically melted into Buck’s lips. 

The push back was sudden and he had to catch himself before falling off the edge of the bed. That was… unexpected. It took him a moment to realize maybe he did something wrong, and his eyes snapped up to Buck. His hands were around his neck, the bandage having been undone during their lack of awareness. Meirda. 

“B-bu-b-bucket.” Buck whispered, his hand going to cover his mouth. Bucket? Oh shit. Eddie was off the bed in moments grabbing the bucket that Christopher had been adamant needed to be in the bedroom. Because whenever I get back from the hospital I always get sick, dad. So Buck needs a bucket too. Eddie has never been more happy for his son’s awareness or the fact that he always seemed to know the right thing. The moment the bucket was in Buck’s hand, he emptied his stomach into it. Eddie pinched at the bridge of his nose, his eyes falling shut. He fucked up. He wasn’t thinking, he was just going with the emotions. He can’t do that. He heard the cough and he silently moved to Buck’s side, Buck looked up at him with a mixture of pain and panic on the younger man’s face. He opened his mouth to start talking but Eddie held up his hand to stop Buck from even attempting to speak. 

“It’s okay, you're okay. You did nothing wrong. I-I’ll get you some water okay.” Eddie whispered as he got to his feet. He quickly fled the room groaning, a hand scrubbing at his face. Good job, let's just make their first kiss a horrible memory. Just his fucking luck. He should have been paying more attention, he shouldn’t have let his head wander. He should have been in more control. He can’t do that, he can’t let himself wander. Especially with how unstable Buck was. Was this even a good idea at this rate? Entering a relationship, when Buck was so unstable. It could only get worse… He was too in his head, it was fine. They would figure it out, everything would be okay. They were fine, he had this under control. Dios. He banged his head against the fridge as he dug out the bottle of water, cracking it open he headed back to the room. 

“Eddie, I-”

“No, go to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning, okay.” Eddie ordered, handing off the water, and grabbing the bucket before leaving the room. What was he even supposed to do at this point? Mierda, it was going to be a rough morning.

Chapter Text

Eddie didn’t want to talk as he fixed Christopher a bowl of cereal, making sure his son was packed and ready for school. Christopher kept looking at him though, there was just something burning in the back of Eddie’s mind. He tried to ignore the eyes on him instead turning his attention to the clean dishwasher. Just a simple task, nothing to think about, nothing to ponder. Just a simple routine that needed to be done. 

“Dad, Buck isn’t up yet?” Chris asked and Eddie started pulling the dishes out of the washer, putting them away as he went. Of course, Christopher would ask. Buck was always awake before them whenever he stayed over. 

“No, um… he got pretty sick last night after you went to bed.” Eddie responded as he set a bowl on the counter. “He needs all the sleep he can get. So he’s sleeping in.” 

“Did he need the bucket?” Christopher questioned and Eddie huffed. It was a rough night after all, and he was just relieved to see Buck asleep when he returned to the bedroom. Probably because he waited another hour before returning to the room, he just couldn’t deal with it last night. He pretty much crashed moments after laying in the bed and when his phone went off in the morning, he really debated throwing it into the wall. Athena would have his hide, if she came to pick up his son and discovered Christopher not ready or having eaten. 

“Yeah, he did.” Eddie confirmed as he pulled another bowl out, stacking it on top of the other. 

“Are you okay, dad?” 

“I’m fine, mijo. You shouldn’t have to worry about me, that’s my job.” Eddie smiled as his son took a big spoonful of his lucky charms. Eddie continued unloading the dishwasher, letting the task consume his thoughts. He didn’t want to think, he didn’t want to deal with the situation just yet. Huffing, he set the final bowl into the stack. How could he not think about it though? 

Buck was going to blame himself, that was just who he was. Eddie groaned at the thought, it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t Buck’s fault, he was the one that let it happen. Eddie should have been more focused on his own actions, he should have been paying attention. Dios, he shouldn’t have even touched Buck. Eddie could almost hear the conversation in his head, Buck apologizing over and over again. How the hell was he going to convince Buck that it wasn’t his fault? It was his own stupid fault that it happened, Buck wasn’t stable enough for that as nice as it was in the moment. It was a major risk and it failed, Eddie had no one to blame but himself. 

“Dad, can we do something fun tonight?” Christopher asked bringing Eddie out of his head. 

“Well, that depends.” Eddie answered before picking up the bowls and putting them into a high cabinet. “What would you like to do?” 

“Can we have a movie night or maybe Harry and Denny can come over for a bit?” Christopher questioned getting his father to think about it.

“Maybe, I can ask Athena. Don’t forget you are staying with Abuela, for the weekend while I’m at work.” Eddie informed, before grabbing the cutlery basket and pulling it out. 

“Why is she taking me to school?” Christopher asked before taking another bite of his cereal. 

“Because…” Eddie thought for a few moments. What did he even say? “She offered and I thought it would be nice since she’s already taking Harry and May.” Eddie responded as he put the utensils into the drawer. Yeah, that made sense. 

“But you took me yesterday?” 

“I did, but I need to stay home today okay.” Eddie informed as he looked over his shoulder at his son, hoping he would stop asking hard questions while his mind was trying to go back to sleep. “And with Buck being sick, someone should be here with him.” Eddie added, that might make the questions stop.  

“How long will Buck be sick?” 

“That is a great question.” Eddie whispered, another hard question. “I wish I could give you an answer, kiddo. Athena should be pulling up any minute, you ready?” Eddie asked as Christopher quickly finished off his cereal and slid out of his chair. Gathering up his backpack, Chris grabbed his crutches getting himself the rest of the way ready. Eddie heard the car before he saw it and went to the front door unlocking it. 

Athena was stepping out of the vehicle as Christopher excitedly went down the steps to greet the sergeant. 

“Hey, sweetheart, Harry and May are in the back. Harry wanted to show you his game.” Athena smiled as Christopher hurried to the back of the car where May got out helping the younger boy in. “Well you look like shit and still in your pajamas.” Athena grinned as she walked up to Eddie. 

“Thanks…”

“Do I want to know?” Athena asked, getting a shrug from Eddie. 

“Well… it was a rough night.” 

“Nightmares or something else?” 

“Something else… Christopher was wondering if he could hang out with Harry and Denny tonight?” Athena squinted her eyes at him but ultimately allowed him to change the subject. 

“Well… let’s see it's Friday so, I don’t see why not.” Eddie nodded, preparing to head back into the house. “Unless you want to have dinner together?” Athena asked, stopping the firefighter in his tracks. 

“I can’t cook Athena and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get Buck into the truck.” 

“Oh, please, I'll cook and we can have it here. Perhaps we should invite Hen, Karen and Denny to dinner as well. Maybe Maddie and Chim would like to join.” Athena smiled as she crossed her arms. Eddie was too exhausted to argue before scrubbing at his face. 

“If you want to do that go ahead, I’m going to go back to bed until you call and tell me otherwise.” Eddie heard Athena laugh before nodding. 

“You need a break Eddie, take the day and relax. I’m certain Buck isn’t going to give you much trouble. I’ll take care of dinner, also…”
“I don’t want Bobby here, just not yet… I’m not…” Eddie stopped himself. 

“I get that, and I won’t bother you with it. I’ll be back around 3 so just relax, I’ll make sure everyone brings something.” Athena smiled as Eddie thanked her before he headed back into the house. The tension released, Dios , he loved Athena. Stepping into the kitchen, he scanned the counter grabbing the few pill bottles and scanned the labels before pouring them out into his hand. Strolling into the bedroom, he moved to where Buck was still asleep whispering his name. It took a few minutes for Buck to start to stir.  Buck’s eyes fluttered open a groan escaping him. Grabbing the water bottle off the nightstand, Eddie held the pills out as Buck rubbed at his eyes. 

“It’s too early.” Buck grumbled. 

“Yeah I know, I’m going to be joining you in a few minutes. Come on, you need your medicine.” Eddie stated. 

“Join me as in?”

“As in I’m going back to bed.” Eddie responded before Buck grumbled. “But you got to take your medicine first, so sit up.” Eddie ordered as Buck slowly pushed himself up. 

“You're so overbearing.” Buck whispered as he opened his hand letting Eddie drop the pills into it. Taking the water bottle, he swallowed the pills quickly chasing them down. Eddie, satisfied, crawled into his side of the bed just as Buck laid back down. “I’m assuming th-”
“No, sleep first. Talk later.” Eddie interrupted. 

"You okay?" Buck asked, sending his friend a confused look. Eddie propped himself up, trying to figure out the look on his boyfriend’s face. Buck was probably going to apologize, did he think he was mad at him? 

“I’m not mad at you Buck. I’m the one that fucked up, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m sorry… We went too far too fast, that’s all. It’ll get better, as you do.” 

"Too far too fast? What are you talking about?"  Buck asked. Eddie just stared at him, the realization overtaking him. ¿Podría esto empeorar un carajo?   Wait, did he just forget the kiss or... the relationship? Was he aware that they had agreed to date? 

"Um... just you know... what do you think I'm talking about?" Eddie questioned trying to hide the fear in his voice. What if Buck forgot? What if he forgot they were dating? God he didn't want to do that all over again. 

"Thought you wanted to sleep first." Buck whispered.

"Come on, let's talk about this." Eddie said loud enough to wake Buck up more than he was just a minute ago. 

"Why are you being so loud?... What do you want to talk about?" Buck asked. Eddie took a deep breath, his hands covering his eyes. Why was his luck this fucking bad? How does he even respond to that without sounding accusatory. He doesn't want to scare Buck into a situation he's uncomfortable with. What if he doesn't want to be in a relationship? What would he even do in that situation? Just accept that as fact, and try to go back to how things were. Or try to push a relationship that Buck might not even be wanting. Then again, Buck was the one that confessed first. "Eddie, you okay?" 

"Yeah fine. Um..." 

"Are you second guessing?" Buck asked and Eddie froze. 

"What?" 

"You know the relationship."

" Dios mío! I thought you forgot." 

"Forgot that we are dating? No I wouldn't forget that. Is that why you wanted to talk, because you thought I forgot?" 

"Maybe... that's part of it... Do you remember anything else?" Eddie coaxed hoping that everything would be fine. Buck remembered the relationship, that was a good thing. Then why did his stomach keep spinning? 

"I mean we confessed and then..." Buck mumbled trying to gather his own thoughts. “Did we do something else?” 

"No…" Buck was side-eyeing him, the lack of belief clear on his face. "Let's just... go to bed." Eddie nodded as the two got settled back into the bed. Did he bring it up? Did he just let it go? Was this a good thing, or a bad thing? If he let it go, he could redo it... Would he even be able to let it go? Would he be able to forget that? Unlikely. He would be the only one to suffer the memory of it, and even if he did tell Buck... he couldn't do that. He couldn't do that to Buck, he could only imagine the horror. Buck would apologize endlessly, and what good would that do? It would make him feel like shit. What if he fucked it up again? What if he triggered something again! He would need to be more focused, he couldn't let himself wander. He just... needed to stay... in control. His exhaustion finally overtook him.  

Eddie heard the faint laugh, startling him awake and he blinked against the sunlight that was streaming through the window. He could feel another breath on his skin and he fully opened his eyes. His chin was resting on Buck’s left shoulder, and his head was leaning against Eddie’s. 

“Aren’t you two cute?” Eddie blinked again, pulling his left arm from where it was between the two men and glancing at the door. 

“When did you get here Carla?” Eddie whispered, not wanting to wake up Buck. Eddie slowly started to extract himself from Buck’s side, before getting out of the bed. Carla was grinning and slowly stepped back allowing Eddie out of the room. 

“I got here a few minutes ago, I thought I should check up on my boys.” Carla smiled as Eddie lightly shut the door behind him. 

“Thank you for that. What time is it?” 

“It’s almost noon dear.” Eddie groaned he hadn’t expected to sleep that long. “So… I’m guessing that you two had your little talk?” Carla beamed before raising an eyebrow at Eddie. 

“We did, and it went well… until it didn’t.” Eddie muttered and got a curious look from the nurse. 

“What do you mean, Eddie?” Carla asked as they walked to the kitchen. Eddie shrugged, he didn't really know how to talk about it. 

“I screwed it up, that’s all.” 

“How do you screw up a love confession?” 

“It was after the confession.” Eddie, informed as Carla, seemed unsatisfied with that answer. She opened her mouth to ask more questions but Eddie could hear the door opening at the end of the hallway. 

“Morning, Buck.” Eddie smiled as Buck waved him off. 

“Is it still morning? Well… morning.” Buck whispered as he zipped up his sweatshirt, before rolling into the kitchen. 

“Oh, Buck. How are you feeling?” 

“Better, I guess Eddie was right, we both needed more sleep.” Buck yawned as Eddie chuckled before going to the coffee maker. 

“Should probably get ready for the day, Athena is coming over at 3 to help prepare for dinner.” Eddie stated as Buck cast the other man a curious look.

“What do you mean?” Buck asked. 

“Oh, that’s right I didn’t tell you.” Eddie muttered as he put a mug under the machine, letting the Keurig fill it up. “Everyone is coming over tonight for dinner. Athena is making the meal, and by the sounds of it everyone is bringing stuff.” Eddie leaned against the counter waiting for the coffee to finish.

“How did this conversation even happen? You were gone for, what, twenty minutes this morning.” Buck asked. 

“Athena is persistent. We got to replace your bandages and put your burn ointment on.” Eddie addressed as the Keurig finally finished dispensing the coffee.

“No need, Eddie. I can take care of it.” Carla smiled before setting her bag on the counter. 

“Carla, I ca-”

“Nope you relax, I got it. Come on Buck, let’s get you cleaned and ready for the day.” Carla grinned as she grabbed the wheelchair, starting to pull Buck back and away from the kitchen. Eddie huffed, before picking up his mug, grabbing his phone and going out on the porch. He didn’t mind a little peace.

“So what happened exactly?” Carla asked as she wheeled Buck into the bathroom.

“Be more specific, Carla?” Buck questioned as Carla shut the door behind her, blocking Eddie from the conversation. 

“Well Eddie says he confessed.” 

“On accident. He confessed on accident.” Buck groaned as he grabbed the roll of bandages off the counter.  

“How do you confess your feelings for someone on accident?” 

“He got into an argument and it sort of slipped out, he didn’t think I heard him. I told him last night…” Buck admitted. Carla bubbled her smile growing wider. 

“Good job, sweetie. I knew you’ve been wanting this since Abbi left and I’ve seen the way you look at Eddie. It was just a matter of time…” Carla stated as Buck took off his sweater, and carefully pulled his sleeping shirt off. “So what happened after… or if you don’t feel comfortable with sharing that information?” Carla asked as Buck set to work undoing his shoulder bandage. He was silent as he worked, not fully paying attention to what the nurse was doing. Ugh… What was he supposed to say? He knew he was missing something but his head couldn’t supply what it was. He had hoped Eddie would have said something, he had hoped wrong. His skin roared as Carla’s hand went to inspect the stitches and he gave a small yelp. He didn’t mean to startle her, he didn’t mean to put that horrified look on the woman’s face. 

“I’m so-”
“No honey, I’m sorry. I should have asked. Do you want me to?” She tapered off, not certain what to say at this point. 

“I… I got it, thanks.” Buck whispered, taking the bandages and stuff from her hand. He went to work cleaning the injury how Katrina had instructed him, he could feel Carla’s eyes on him. 

“Buck…” Buck looked up at the nurse. “Can I look at your head injury quickly?” Buck gave a small nod and he was very aware of how Carla was being extra cautious. 

“Your head doesn’t seem so bad. If you want we can try to bathe your hair.” Buck thought on that for a moment, a shower sounds nice in reality but he knew that would be nearly impossible. A bath was also out of the question, and he groaned realizing what she was implying. 

“Can I finish…” Buck whispered, gesturing towards his neck as Carla nodded. 

“Of course sweetie. Do you want help with the burn ointment?” Carla whispered as Buck forced the swallow and his eyes fell shut. His stomach spun, he felt sick again. He hated this, he really did. 

“I can do it, thanks.” Buck responded as he forced his eyes back open. 

“Let me go get you a change of clothes and a few more towels, okay. I’ll also make sure Eddie isn’t doing something silly.” Carla stated before slipping out of the bathroom. Shutting the door lightly behind her, she glanced down the hallway towards the kitchen. She looked around the kitchen noticing that Eddie wasn’t in there anymore or the living room. There was one more place he could be. Opening the front door, Eddie glanced up at the nurse as he took another sip of his coffee. 

“Something wrong?” Eddie asked as Carla shut the door quietly behind her before moving to the porch bench sitting down beside the firefighter. 

“No, just…”

“He freaked out?” Eddie whispered as he set the coffee down on the arm of the bench. 

“Yeah. I didn’t mean to.” Eddie shook his head. 

“You did nothing wrong, and it’s not Buck’s fault either.” Eddie muttered before reclining back into the bench. 

“Care to tell me how you exposed your feelings in an argument?” 

“His parents came to the house.” Eddie admitted. 

“His parents? I’ve never heard Buck talk about them.” Eddie snorted at the statement. 

“There is a very good reason for that. It got heated and I said something along the lines of ‘ making demands of someone I love and care about’. ” Eddie confessed, he felt Carla’s hand on his arm trying to reassure him. “I don’t know what to do.” 

“Just be there, right now he just needs someone there. When he’s doing better, he’ll need a trauma therapist.” 

“I got to be able to do something.” Eddie whispered. 

“You can, you just need to figure it out. Well I should go help him get ready, just keep thinking about it okay.” Carla smiled before disappearing back into the house. Eddie shifted scanning the phone in his hand before unlocking the device. ‘ A present to welcome him to the family.’ Maybe Christopher was onto something, his eyes scanned over the different apps before he clicked onto Amazon. 

Chapter Text

“Eddie, do you seriously not know how to cook?” Athena asked as she noticed Eddie scanning the few items she pulled out of the fridge. 

“Look, I’m still learning.” 

“How do you survive?” Athena questioned. 

“I ask that all the time.” Buck called into the kitchen, from the dining table where he was talking to Carla getting the woman to laugh. Eddie groaned as he ran his hand through his still damp hair. Athena chuckled before shooing him out of the kitchen. 

“I don’t need help, go relax.” Athena more or less ordered. Eddie walked out to where Carla and Buck were sitting, he looked better. His black flannel button up was one of Eddie’s, because it turns out Buck doesn’t own any and he almost pulled the stitches in his shoulder while getting dressed. The shirt still looked too large on him, and the thing was Buck wasn’t a small guy. He was almost as wide as Eddie was so that just showed how much weight he had lost over the past week and a half. 

“What?” Buck asked, his eyes narrowing a bit at Eddie as the older man shrugged and yanked out the chair across from him. Buck’s hands were running up and down the sweatpants, as he smiled at his boyfriend across the way. 

“You look better.” 

“Did I look terrible before?” 

“You looked ill.” 

“Wow, that makes me feel so much better, Eds.” Buck hissed as he tugged at the bandage around his neck. 

“Did I make it too tight?” Carla asked as Buck shook his head no.

“Just itchy.”

“Well that’s what happens when you put a bandage over something covered in ointment.” Eddie said, getting a glare from the man across the way. 

“I have to ask.” Athena called as she walked into the room a bowl of lettuce in her hand. “Are you two dating yet?” 

“Getting right to the point aren’t you.” Eddie stated. 

“I’d rather just get to the point, than dance around the subject.” Athena admitted. 

“Yes, Athena we are dating.” Eddie chuckled as Buck grabbed his water, taking a gulp.

“About time you got your head out of your ass Eddie, Buck’s been giving you the signs for a long time.” Buck nearly choked at the statement.

“‘Thena.” Buck coughed and he tried to get his protesting lungs under control. 

“Just stating the truth. Also what can’t you eat?” 

“Tough food is what Katrina said at least until the bruises on my throat subside.” Buck admitted as Athena gave a nod before heading back to the kitchen probably going to text the others.

“You were giving me signs?” 

“Of course I was giving you signals, you are just thick headed.” Buck stated as Carla blurted out a laugh. “Who's getting Christopher?” 

“Bobby said he would pick him up.” Athena called from the kitchen. Eddie didn’t respond, there was a bit of irritation rolling off of him at the name, but ultimately he decided it wasn’t worth the comment. Buck watched his boyfriend across the way, raising an eyebrow at him for a moment. 

“Angry?” 

“I just… I don’t think he should be around right now.” Eddie whispered. 

“Why is that?” Carla asked and Buck sort of shrunk back a bit. 

“He treated me like shit.” Buck admitted as Carla’s eyes snapped to him. She could see how Buck held himself with the name, and there was a sudden anger there that seemed to spike up like flames. 

“Perhaps we should invite him.” Carla started as Eddie opened his mouth to comment, “Just so I can rip him a new one.” A laugh escaped the kitchen as Athena stepped back out.

“He needs all the ass tearing he can get.” Athena chuckled. “It’s your call, Eddie, it's your house after all.” Eddie groaned he didn’t like being the one in charge, it was easier to follow a leader. Less stressful, less blame if something went wrong but now he was the one making all the decisions, especially when those decisions were about Buck. 

“Buck, it's your decision too.” Eddie informed Buck as he thought for a few moments. 

“I mean… I don’t really care. You said he apologized already, and I don’t see any harm in it.” Eres demasiado amable, mi amor .

“I… let me think about it alright.” Eddie mumbled, getting a small nod from the sergeant before she retreated back into the kitchen. “Do you need help with anything?” Eddie called. 

“Nope! Relax boys, I got this!” Athena shouted as Eddie groaned, he didn’t like not doing anything. 

“Bored?” Buck asked as Eddie looked at his boyfriend. 

“Yep.”

“Let's watch something, we have an hour until everyone gets here.” Buck said as he rolled the wheelchair backwards, heading towards the living room. Eddie didn’t need to be told twice, before he got to his feet following after the other man. 

“I’ll help Athena out.” Carla piped up before she went into the kitchen. Buck was getting on the couch, as Eddie sat down beside the armrest. 

“You’re totally going to pass out.” 

“See that is rude. I slept most of the day.” Buck responded. 

“Doesn’t mean you aren’t going to.” Buck rolled his eyes before pushing Eddie in the shoulder a bit.

“Shut up.” Buck hissed as he scratched at the wrapping on his neck. 

“Maybe we can get you a bandage that isn’t as itchy.” Eddie stated. Buck didn’t respond, instead grabbing the remote before passing it to Eddie. 

“Something calmer please.” Buck whispered as Eddie watched him for a few moments. He made sure that Buck was aware of his movements before slowly taking the younger man’s arm and pulling him backwards so he was leaning on Eddie’s chest. “Thanks.” Eddie smirked at the remark. 

“How about another documentary?” 

“Can we do one about the savannah?” Buck asked as Eddie chuckled, finding the documentary easily enough. The show played on, and the longer it went the more Buck melted into him before finally falling asleep. It hadn’t even been that long, maybe twenty minutes but Eddie didn’t care. Eddie stopped watching the show not long after, all his attention going to the man leaning against him. Buck’s head was tucked under his neck, and Eddie was perfectly content with where the two laid. His fingers danced around the light bandages covering the remaining cuts on his arms, Buck had fought against having them open, they didn’t need to be bandaged anymore. It was something that Eddie had relented just a little quickly about, he knew that Buck hated the look. He would have to get used to it eventually, and he knew that but the longer he could postpone the acceptance was something Eddie could understand.  He heard Athena come into the room a bit later, casting the two of them a small smile before leaning over the back of the couch. 

“Hen said she’s almost here and she’s bringing Chim. Don’t know if you want to wake him up.” Athena whispered as Eddie thought about it for a moment. He was actually pretty comfortable, and if he didn’t have to move, he didn’t need to. 

“Maybe… don’t know yet.” Eddie responded quietly as Athena gave a small nod. 

“I’m guessing Christopher and the others will be here soon too.” Athena muttered. Eddie gave a small laugh before shifting his hand so it was on Bucks elbow, and he gave it a small shake.

“Buck, the kids are going to be here soon. You want to wake up?” Eddie asked. Buck groaned before his eyes fluttered open and he shifted more into Eddie. 

“Do I have to?” 

“Might be nice.” Athena smiled as Buck groggily looked at her. 

“I sort of forgot you were here.” Buck whispered as he rubbed at his eyes with his left hand. Athena scoffed at the statement, before giving a small laugh and standing up. Just as she was about to head into the kitchen a knock came from the front door. 

Hen greeted the sergeant as the door opened and Chimney held a container of cookies, and a tub of watermelon cubes. 

“Hey, Athena.” Hen smiled as Chimney pushed his way into the house and went to the kitchen to put his items. “Sorry we couldn’t prepare much else, just got off shift.” Hen whispered as she walked into the house. 

“Well don’t you two look comfy.” Chim stated as he walked into the living room spying his two co-workers on the couch. 

“Shut up, Chim.” Buck yawned as he shifted and fully slid out of his boyfriend's grasp. 

“Need help?” Chimney asked. 

“Nope I go…” Buck froze, noticing the wheelchair further than he could reach. “Yeah.” Chimney smiled pushing the chair close, allowing Buck to transfer over to it. 

“That wasn’t so bad.” Chimney smiled, getting Buck to roll his eyes. Chim wheeled him towards the dinning table where Carla was starting to put everything out. 

“You good?” Hen asked as she moved to Eddie’s side. 

“Yep, why wouldn’t I be? Had a really nice day, just chilling.” Eddie responded before he noticed the look on the woman’s face. “What’s wrong?” 

“What are you going to do about tomorrow?” Hen questioned and it took Eddie a moment for him to understand what she was asking. Dios, he forgot. He had to work tomorrow, who the hell was going to stay at the house. 

“Is Athena working tomorrow?” Eddie asked. 

“Yes, as am I, Chim, Maddie, Karen, Carla I’m guessing and probably a few others.” Hen whispered. “You know what I’m thinking…” 

“No. I’m not-” 

“Eddie, do you really have a choice at this point?” Hen whispered. 

“Yes, I have a choice, and I chose not him.” Eddie hissed as there was a knock at the door. Eddie was on his feet in moments, and went to open the door. Christopher grinned up at his father, as Eddie got down on his knees to hug his son. 

“How was school Christopher?” 

“It was good, is Buck feeling better?” Christopher asked as Eddie released his grip on the boy. 

“Much better superman.” Buck said as he wheeled himself into view. Harry rushed into the house to find his mother, as May offered her hand to Eddie helping him back to his feet. 

“Bobby wants to talk to you.” May muttered before going to help her mother in the kitchen. Eddie didn’t like that, he didn’t like it one bit. Hen had a point though, and at this moment he knew he didn’t have much of a choice.

“Excuse me Eddie.” Eddie snapped himself out of his thoughts as Maddie grinned at him, a bowl of green bean casserole and mashed potatoes in her arms. 

“Let me help. You were able to make this all before you got here?” 

“Athena texted me before I went to work, so I was able to get a lot of it done this morning.” Maddie said as she fixed her work shirt before giving a small wave to her brother. “Why is Bobby here?” 

“Where is he?” Eddie asked. 

“In his car, why is he here?” Maddie answered. 

“He picked up Christopher, Harry and May from school. He wants to talk to me.” Eddie said as he helped the woman to the kitchen. 

“About what?” Maddie questioned. 

“Don’t know but I have to ask him to come over tomorrow… I think.” Maddie’s attention snapped to him, setting down the container in her hands. Snagging Eddie’s wrist the moment he set down the ceramic container, she dragged him out of the kitchen and into the room where the washer and dryer were. 

“You know we could have just gone outside, instead of being cramped in the smallest space in the house.” Eddie stated as Maddie shut the door behind her. 

“You want to do what?” 

“Look, we are all going to work tomorrow and Buck can’t really be alone.” 

“So your solution is to let Bobby stay with him? The guy that has basically been abusing my brother.” 

“It wasn’t abuse…” 

“Eddie, it was abuse.” Maddie snapped as the door swung open and Chimney stepped into the space, making it just that much tighter.

“What’s going on here?” Chimney asked as he shut the door behind him. Eddie grumbled before pulling himself up on the edge of the dryer trying to make a bit more room. 

“Eddie wants Bobby to watch Buck tomorrow.” Maddie snapped and Eddie stared at the woman for a few moments. 

“Is that such a good idea?” Chimney questioned. 

“See I don’t think so.” 

“Why are you here Chim?” Eddie asked, his irritation becoming obvious. 

“I saw you disappear into this…” he gestured around the small room, “room… if you can call it that, with my girlfriend. Why do you want him to stay here?” 

“I don’t want Bobby here but we are all working tomorrow and Buck can’t be alone yet. For god sakes he had two panic attacks yesterday and a flashback, someone needs to be with him. I can’t take off, wish I could but I need the income. Unless you have a better suggestion, I don’t have much of a choice.” Eddie informed as Maddie bit her lip thinking. Chim opened his mouth a few times but ultimately he didn’t say anything, probably coming up with no alternatives. 

“You could…” Chim started but cut himself off with a wave of his hand. “Hire a babysitter?” 

“Yes, because I want to leave a teenager in charge of Buck.” Eddie snapped as the door opened again and Hen slipped into the cramped space. “Seriously?” Eddie hissed as the EMT shut the door behind her. 

“Are we all having a gathering in the laundry room?” Hen asked. “And I wasn’t invited.” Eddie groaned before holding his hand out to Maddie who quickly took the offering allowing the firefighter to pull her up so she was sitting beside him.

“Look, this has to be done sooner rather than later. Buck doesn’t care if Bobby comes for dinner and maybe that will be a good opening for some communication.” Eddie huffed. “It’s a start at this rate and it might make Buck a bit more open with the idea of Bobby being the one to take care of him while I’m gone.” Eddie grumbled in truth he didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He ground his teeth, this was grating to no end and he just was going insane with all the constant issues. 

“If you think that’s the best Eddie.” The door opened again and Eddie cursed under his breath as Athena leaned in the doorway with a suspicious look on her face. 

“What the hell are you all doing in here? Out, out, everyone's here, go be social.” Athena ordered as one by one they filed out. Athena cast Eddie a small look, and he gave her a small thank you smile before she nodded and left him. Eddie followed after everyone a few moments later, everyone was excited standing around or sitting and talking. Buck has somehow gotten Christopher on his lap and is ignoring Maddie as she keeps trying to take him off. Her face is a mixture of annoyance and worry but she keeps getting hushed by Carla and Karen about her worries. Athena and May are helping set the last of the table, as Chim and Hen make sure they have enough chairs. Harry and Denny are hovering beside Buck and Christopher showing them something from their backpacks. It's a wonderful sight but Eddie can only feel the sinking feeling in his stomach as he heads to the front door. 

The energy of the house gets left behind as he steps outside and he scans the few cars in his driveway over, before shutting the door behind him. He heard the car door open and Bobby stepped out, before slowly making his way over to Eddie. Eddie turned on his heels and walked over to the bench sitting down on the far end, just as Bobby stepped up on the porch. 

The man doesn’t bother to sit next to him, and in truth it made Eddie just that more nervous about the situation. 

“You wanted to talk.” Eddie muttered as he fiddled with his hands, the bruises on his knuckles were mostly gone now. The only evidence left was the mark on his other hand, from where he smashed Mackey’s nose in. 

“Yes, I… I wanted to apologize again. I truly am sorry.” Eddie’s phone pinged as he pulled it out of his pocket, your order is on the way . Sliding the phone back into his pocket, he looked up at Bobby.

“And as I told you, I’m not the one you need to apologize to.” Eddie stated. “Look I get it, I really do but it’s just hard you know. I get you didn’t want to see him in the hospital, you didn’t want to stress him out. It’s still at that point that I’m not certain if he’s actually ready for the next step.” Eddie admitted. 

“I understand.” Bobby whispered. “I guess I’ll tak-”

“But it isn’t my decision to keep you away from him. If he doesn’t want you near him, I will enforce it but for now… I saw that Maddie made her amazing mashed potatoes.” Eddie looked up at Bobby, surprise on the man’s face. 

“Thank you.” Bobby mumbled. 

“Also, are you busy tomorrow?”  

Chapter Text

Christopher held the package tight in his hand, he wasn’t really certain what it was. His father had handed it to him once everyone had left for the night, saying it was a gift for Buck. He still thought the puppy idea was the better option, but whatever it was his dad seemed happy with it. So here he was sitting at the table fiddling with the package while his father finished cleaning up the kitchen and Buck had gone off to do his own thing. Why he couldn’t give it to Buck before, he didn’t know. 

“You good there, mijo? ” Eddie asked as he walked back into the room. 

“Dad, what is it?” Christopher questioned as he tugged at the edge of the white amazon package. 

“Well, it's a gift for Buck. It’s something to help him out, especially with something he doesn’t like to look at.” Christopher cocked his head a bit confused by the statement. 

“What is it?” 

“You’ll have to see.” 

“Is this the gift we are using to welcome him?” Christopher asked. 

“No, mijo . You wanted to figure out that gift, this is just to help along the way.” Eddie stated as he helped his son to his feet and allowed him to take the package in his hands. Eddie followed a step or two behind his son, as Christopher knocked on the bedroom door. 

“Buck?” 

“Hey superman, what’s up?” Buck asked as he sat up in the bed and leaned against the headboard. 

“We got you something.” Christopher smiled as Eddie scooped up his son, carrying him over to the bed and putting down beside Buck, making sure that’s what Buck wanted. Christopher held out the package for Buck, before the man took the offered object. 

“What is it?” Buck asked as he glanced up at Eddie, a curious look on his face. 

“We aren’t going to tell you. It’s a gift.” Eddie grinned as Buck set to work opening it. 

“Can you help me out a bit, Chris? It’s a little hard to do.” Buck suggested as Christopher happily obliged. Eddie knew Buck didn’t need help but it was another way to get his son involved. Buck stopped for a moment as Christopher pulled the items out of the bag, handing them over to his friend. 

“Bandanas?” Buck asked. 

“You know so you can look like a cowboy.” Christopher chirped and the suggestion settled into Buck. 

“So… you know it won’t bother the burns but they’ll still be hidden.” Eddie smiled. 

“Bucky?” Christopher whispered as Buck’s hands rubbed at his eyes, trying to push the tears out. 

“I’m fine, bud. Can you help me with it, Eds?” Buck asked as Eddie nodded, moving around the side of the bed. 

“Which color?” Eddie asked as Buck looked at Christopher. Chris looked over the handful of different colors scanning the red, blue, yellow, green, black, purple, pink, and white. 

“What about the blue, the dark one.” Christopher pointed the bandana out of the small pile as Eddie slid it out of place. 

“Sit forward.” Eddie ordered as Buck happily shifted. Undoing the bandage around Buck’s neck, Eddie tossed it onto the nightstand before starting to tie the bandana in place making sure it wasn’t too tight. 

“Do I look like a cowboy now?” Buck asked as Christopher laughed and nodded. 

“There that should b-” Eddie was cut off as Buck grabbed him by the collar of the shirt pulling him into a kiss. Buck released him after a moment and it took Eddie a few seconds to get his breath back. 

“Love you too.” 

“Are you?” Christopher asked. 

“Yeah, bud. We are together.” Eddie smiled as Christopher giggled. 

“You are stuck with me now.” Buck laughed before a round of coughing tore through him. 

“Relax, relax.” Eddie whispered as it took Buck a few minutes to get his lungs back under control. 

“I’m okay.” Buck mumbled, before pulling Christopher closer to himself. Eddie couldn’t help the smile as he watched his two boys. 

Chapter Text

Eddie paced around the room gathering everything he needed for his first day back at work. He wasn’t really prepared, the only one who had been prepared for this day was Chris but he had gone to Abuela’s a half an hour ago. Buck, had another episode through the night not surprising Eddie one bit. It was happening every night but the only thing that seemed to curb them was his presence. He wasn’t opposed to holding his boyfriend in the middle of the night, but it often caused a minor freak out before he settled back into the embrace. He couldn’t even tell if Buck was getting better or worse.

He pinched the bridge of his nose, he didn't like to have to do this. Buck was still getting used to everything and him suddenly having to return to work made everything so much harder. Grumbling under his breath he glanced at his phone one more time, he should be here any minute. Dios , how was this even going to work.

Maybe he should call off work, it would probably be easier. Dios, this was stupid. He shouldn’t have done this but who else was he going to call, everyone else was at work and he… needed someone to stay with Buck. He didn’t want to have another grocery run accident again. Was he even going to be able to keep Buck calm if something happened? What other choice did he have? Eddie groaned as a knock came from the door and he moved to answer. 

Bobby shifted from foot to foot as Eddie opened the door, and he let the former Captain into the house. Eddie moved back to the kitchen grabbing his watch off the counter.  

“Alright, so…” Eddie started before grabbing the few medicine bottles. “I’m going to run this down fast, alright cause then I got to tell Buck I’m leaving and hope to god I don’t run into traffic.” Eddie said, and he felt a little panicked. Everything was going to be fine, chill.

“So, these are his medicines, they have to be taken every four hours, he has another three hours to go. He can’t eat hard foods, so everything in the fridge is up for grabs, it just needs to be heated up. His wheelchair is in the room with him, he can get in and out of it on his own you just got to make sure its in reach. He has been forgetting things, like conversations and situations that happened. Don’t call it out or bring attention to it, just change the conversation. Do not touch him, without his consent and awareness of this fact. If you do, you can send him spiraling into a panic attack.” Eddie informed faster than he probably should have as Bobby raised an eyebrow. 

“And if he’s having a panic attack what do I do?” 

“Something heavy around his shoulders, like a towel or blanket seems to work the best to give him some comfort without actual touch. It's a lot of talking him back to reality, keeping him focused on things that won’t send him panicking. Get him talking about things in the space, or just ask him questions about Christopher that works really well. If you need anything I will have my phone on all day. What?” 

“Seems a bit odd is all?” Bobby asked. 

“What is odd?” 

“What happens if he’s asleep and starts freaking out?” 

“Well… um…” Eddie hadn’t thought that through, how was he supposed to calm Buck out of a nightmare? 

“How do you do it?” 

“You don’t want to follow my example. He doesn’t really have them when he's in the main room. So it shouldn’t be an issue…” Eddie mumbled. “There will be a lamp in the bedroom that needs to stay on if he’s sleeping in there. Noise is a good thing, even just the television on quietly works pretty well. Leaving him alone, as in you out of the house, is not an option he starts to panic thinking Chase is back.” Eddie admitted and he saw the color drain from Bobby’s face. 

“He thinks…” Bobby whispered his hands digging into the kitchen counter. “Okay… no darkness?” 

“No.” 

“I’ll keep all the lights on then.” Bobby responded. 

“Should be back around 8 or 9, you don’t have to worry about Christopher because he is staying at my Abuela’s for the weekend.” Eddie informed before he remembered Maddie’s text this morning. “Also don’t let anyone into the house.” Bobby raised an eyebrow at him. 

“Why, what’s happening?” 

“Buck’s parents are in town.” Eddie explained. “They… they tried to take him.” 

“You’re kidding.” 

“Wish I was, I doubt you’ll let anyone you don’t know in but it's just a precaution. Maddie already told Athena of the situation and she is less than pleased if what she said in the group chat was anything to go by.” Eddie added. “I should go wake Buck.” Eddie said before walking down the hallway towards his bedroom. He could feel Bobby at his back but he didn’t really care before he pushed the door open the rest of the way. Crossing to the bed, Eddie squatted down near his boyfriend before he started whispering Buck’s name, getting the younger to wake after a few moments.

“Hey.” Buck murmured. 

“Hey, how are you feeling?”

“Like I want to go back to sleep.” Eddie couldn’t help the small grin. 

“Remember what we talked about last night?” Eddie asked and he waited for Buck to contemplate the statement for a few moments, before shaking his head. “I have to go to work today, so Bobby is going to be here to make sure you're okay.” Buck groaned, bringing his good arm up to his eyes, rubbing the exhaustion from them. 

“Don’t need a babysitter.” 

“You and I both know that is a lie.” Eddie chuckled. 

“Fine… don’t do anything too stupid today.” Buck whispered, taking his hand away from his eyes. 

“Can’t it's all staying here with you.” Eddie smiled, as Buck rolled his eyes. “I have twelve hours today so I should be back around 8 or 9.” Buck nodded before giving his boyfriend a small smirk and starting to sit up. Buck raised an eyebrow at Eddie before a small laugh escaped the older man before pressing a peck to his boyfriend's cheek. “I’ll be back soon.” Eddie whispered before leaving the bedroom with Bobby with a small smirk on his lips. 

“How long have you two…” 

“Oh we aren’t getting into this.” Eddie responded. 

“I mean if you're a couple…” 

“See it isn’t against the rules for partners to work together, already checked that out. Also we are only sort of official.” 

“How are you sort of official?” 

“It’s been like two days, Bobby.” Eddie responded as he grabbed his work bag off the floor, slinging it on his shoulder before snatching his truck keys. 

“Would it be okay if Athena came over after her shift?” 

“She’s all good on my front, might want to ask Buck though. Anyways, see you.” Eddie said before he headed out the door. 

Bobby glanced around the kitchen, it wasn’t too messy a few dishes in the sink but other than that the place was pretty much clean. The living room was just as tidy, a blanket or pillow out of place but overall it seemed that Eddie kept a pretty tidy ship. How much of that was Eddie, and how much of that was Buck and Christopher? He moved around the couch, setting his backpack at his feet and getting comfortable. Bobby dug his laptop out of the backpack, pulling up the internet getting that all taken care of. He might be able to get some work done today. 

He wasn’t certain how long it had been before he heard the wheelchair coming down the hallway, and he shut the laptop. Buck gazed at him for a moment, his long sleeved black checkered button up was rather loose on his frame and he was wearing a black bandana tied around his neck. Bobby shifted as Buck huffed before spinning the wheelchair towards the kitchen. 

“Do you want anything for breakfast?” Bobby asked as he started to get to his feet. Buck stopped his hands still on the wheels, before glancing back at the man beside the couch. 

“I’m good, I’m just going to take something out of the fridge from yesterday.” Buck responded before glancing around the area, almost looking for something. Bobby raised an eyebrow at that and took a hesitant step forward. 

“You okay?”

“Yeah, fine just… thinking.” Buck responded before rolling into the kitchen. Bobby was up in moments following after the younger man, feeling like he should help him. He could always throw something together for him, that would make him useful. 

“Are you sure? If you want I can whip something up really quick?” Bobby asked as he stepped into the door frame, sliding his hands into his pockets. Buck was staring at him, the fridge was already open and he was holding a container in his hands. 

“Nope I’m good, I can do it on my own.” Buck responded before putting the container on his lap and wheeling backwards shutting the fridge. Bobby scanned the kitchen over, a few plastic cups were near the edge of the counter so it was within reach. Eddie most certainly made sure that Buck and Christopher could function on their own. Buck huffed as he looked back at Bobby who was still standing there, watching him. 

“I said I got it.” Buck snapped bringing Bobby fully back to his head. 

“I know, I just… I wanted to see how you're holding up?” Buck just stared at him. Bobby could feel the irritation that was rolling off of Buck, his fingers tapping the arms of the chair. 

“I’m fine, Bobby. Really.” Buck said as he wheeled up to the microwave, and popped the lid of the container. 

“So… how long have you and Eddie-” He felt the glare without even raising his eyes to meet the young man across the kitchen. He heard a sigh before the microwave opened and Buck put the container inside. 

“That…” Buck slammed the door of the microwave closed. “Is none of your business.” Buck hissed at him. Bobby shifted a bit, that wasn’t like Buck. He always talked about his different girls, Bobby always knew what was going on in the young man’s life. The man was never secretive, he was so confident in himself that he was almost always boasting about his achievements. This… this wasn’t the Buck that he knew. 

“So, what um… what do you want to do today?” Bobby asked as Buck took another deep breath sighing. 

“Can’t do much.” Buck muttered as his hands curled and uncurled on the arm rest of the wheelchair. He typed in a minute on the microwave before Bobby got his words back. 

“Do you want to watch a show, a movie? Whatever you want to do.” 

“I can’t do much… so take a wild guess.” Buck hissed as Bobby shifted, he didn’t know what to say. How was Buck already angry? He took a small step forward and Buck’s attention snapped to Bobby making him stop. “Didn’t I say I got it.” Buck snapped as Bobby bowed his head and retreated back to the living room. 

God how did he already screw this up? It hasn’t even been half an hour and he already pissed Buck off. What was he going to do? What was he supposed to say? How was he going to fix this situation? Bobby groaned as he scrubbed at his face before sitting down on the couch. He grabbed the remote, flicked on the television, and he just sort of mindlessly flipped through the channels. Bobby leaned back into the couch, his mind racing a bit too fast for him to fully be paying attention to what was happening around him. He spied a familiar show on the television turning the volume up. 

He needed to figure out what to say. How was he going to get back on Buck’s good side? By the sounds of it, Buck didn’t even want him there. Then why did he agree to it? Bobby groaned he had a pretty good idea as to why Buck agreed right away. It’s who he was, he didn’t like to rock the boat he liked to always be a people pleaser. 

CRASH! 

The sound of glass shattering broke him from his thoughts, and he nearly dropped the remote, juggling the device in his hands. The logo of the show flickered across the screen, Bar Rescue. The show shifted to a commercial and Bobby groaned… oh that was loud. Why did he have it so loud? God that scared the shit out of him. 

Buck heard the crash from the kitchen, a moment of panic as the noise rolled through his head. He can feel his body starting to shake, as he glanced around the room. What the fuck? That… that sounded like glass. His head screamed at him, trying to force the memory forward. He ground his teeth together and took small careful breaths, there was nothing there. There was no glass falling on the floor, Eddie made sure there was no glass within his reach. So what the hell was that? His skin crawled as the noise seemed to grate against his nerves, and the microwave beeped nearly making him jump out of his skin. He forgot that he was heating up food. Buck shook his head, he was losing his mind. He’d need to talk to Eddie about it. Oh… right Eddie wasn’t here… Taking another shaky breath, Buck forced the noise out of his mind and he heard a curse from the direction of the living room. Of course…

“What the hell was that!” Buck yelled and Bobby dug his head out of his hands. God, he must have scared Buck half to death. 

“I… I’m sorry, I didn’t realize the show…” 

“Maybe you should pay closer attention.” Buck snapped and Bobby released his held breath. He should have been paying closer attention, that was his mistake. Why did that tick Buck off more? Oh… right… glass… good job, Bobby. Lets trigger a panic attack, that’ll get you on Buck’s good side. God, he needed to get his shit together. He could do this, it was one day. Bobby shook his head, he knew it wasn’t going to be if Eddie needed him here then he would be. But would Buck want him here after today? Why was this going wrong so fast? Bobby groaned and only looked up when he heard Buck get into the living room. 

“Do yo-”

“I got it.” Buck growled before putting the bowl of leftovers down on the side table. It only took him a few moments to switch from the wheelchair to the couch and put his leg up on a pillow that was already on the coffee table. “Give me the remote.” Buck ordered and Bobby didn’t bother to speak, instead just handing over the device. It takes Buck a few moments to get to Netflix and start up a documentary. It was probably better that way, Bobby admitted. Nothing to really startle Buck, or set off a panic attack. Just a calmer show about the desert and the life that survived the harsh environment. Buck’s phone buzzed, catching the younger man’s attention for a moment and Bobby was curious who was texting him, but decided to bite his tongue for now. He fiddled a bit with his hands, trying to figure out something to say to fix the situation he was put in. They couldn’t stay mad at each other if they were going to be doing this more and more. Get on his good side. How could he do that? Simple, just think simple. 

“So do you watch this show a lot?” Bobby asked. Buck glanced at him before taking another spoonful of his mashed potatoes and refocusing on the screen. What a great way to get him engaged? Of course he probably watches this stuff a lot, he can’t watch much else without the risk. 

“Have you ever traveled out of the U.S.?” Bobby questioned, before noticing the eye roll from the younger man. Bobby considered stopping, but he decided against it at the last moment. “I would love to go see the great pyramids, and learn about all its history.” 

“Well you do have the free time now.” Buck retorted. Bobby bit his lip, what was he supposed to say to that. He tried to relax but it felt like everything was crushing in on him and didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t know how to get on Buck’s good side, so he might as well ask. 

“Look… I’m just trying to be friendly.” Bobby shifted to look at the younger man, who just rolled his eyes again. 

“And if I don’t want to be friendly?” 

“I’m not trying to upset you Buck. I’m just here to help.”

“You were so helpful after the tsunami, the embolism, the ladder truck and the lawsuit… You were such a good captain…” Buck hissed as he glared at Bobby. Bobby sat there a bit stunned before he scrubbed at his face trying to think of what to say to that. 

“Buck, I’m not a perfect captain, and I never said I was. I’ve been trying to work on myself and be better for the team.” Bobby stated and Buck watched him for a few moments, his face was almost unreadable. 

“That’s no…” Buck cut himself off before thinking his next words carefully. “Really doing a good job there, Capt.” Buck whispered as he put down the food container on the side table. Bobby took an uneasy breath, trying to figure out what exactly Buck wanted from him.

“What do you want me to say?” Bobby asked. 

“Oh let’s see… How about an ‘I’m sorry, Buck, for all the shit I’ve put you through’… is that enough for you to wrap your head around?” Buck growled before pausing the show, and dropping the remote on the side table. Bobby gulped down the statement, he didn’t even know where to begin. 

“I… uh… I’m here now, Buck and I’m doing my best to help. I gave you space while you needed it and I thought…” 

“Are you seriously that fucking pigheaded?” Buck spat his anger starting to rise along with his volume. 

“I’m not pigheaded. I’m trying to understand.” 

“What is there to understand? You lied to the higher ups about me being ready to go back to work after the embolism. I had it under control and you still told them no.” Buck snapped and Bobby had to try to follow along. 

“Wait, wait, wa- I did that to protect you. If you had gotten hurt while on the job, while on those blood thinners a minor injury could become life threatening. I was looking out for you and the rest of the team.” 

“What about the lawsuit? You conti-.” 

“You’re the one that decided to sue us.” Bobby cut in his own anger starting to rise. He hadn’t wanted to get into a fight but Buck was the one who stepped out of line. The lawsuit wasn’t necessary.

“I did it because you lied to me over and over again. You said I could come back and then you kept me away from doing what I love. You kept me away from my family.” Buck spat. 

“You were always welcome to come back.” 

“Oh, I was always welcome to come back? After you replaced me with a different firefighter and taped over my name. When you kept forcing me into positions I didn’t want. I could come back when you decided that I was ready, if you were ever going to allow me to return! For godsakes you let Chim come back after a month, despite having rebar going through his fucking head! You let Eddie come back to the station, not even weeks after he watched Shannon die in front of him! He didn't even go to therapy for it, you just had him back out there like it was nothing! But I had to jump through hoops to even attempt to come back. I had to file for a fucking lawsuit for you to even notice and what did I get out of it?!” Buck shouted and Bobby groaned this wasn’t supposed to get to this point. 

“I never meant for it to go that far.” Bobby admitted his anger was dying down. Now hearing it the way Buck was saying it, it sounded wrong. Everything sounded like he was being replaced, that he wasn’t welcome. Was Bobby letting his emotions cloud his judgment? Was he really that unfair? Was it even right for him to allow Chim and Eddie to come back so soon after everything that happened to them? Buck's argument was making more and more sense and he hated it. Was he really that harsh to Buck? He hadn't meant to be, he just wanted to make sure that Buck was truly ready to come back. He has his whole life ahead of him and Bobby wanted to make sure that he was fully prepared. He was so caught up in wanting the best for Buck. But ultimately he is an adult and he would know when he was ready to come back. Buck wasn't his kid, no matter what Bobby thought. 

“Really? Because even when I came back to work, you treated me like I was nothing! Like I didn’t exist or matter, for weeks! You turned everyone at the station against me, you made me an outcast in the one place I felt like I belonged!” Buck was starting to shake, his breathing was becoming harder and Bobby could see tears trailing down the younger man’s face. Bobby shifted scooting closer to Buck, he needed to do something. His mind though wasn’t working properly, he tried to remember what Eddie told him but it just wasn’t functioning. Bobby tried to get his words to form, tried to get his scattered thoughts in order. 

“Buck, I-”

“Do you know what it was like? I was trapped, and I couldn’t fight back, I couldn’t do anything.” Buck whispered his breathing was becoming harder, and he was starting to sweat. It took Bobby a moment to understand what Buck was talking about. “I was so scared. I was so scared of him and I begged for… I could hear people outside the apartment and I could hear their conversations. They are so close but there was nothing I could do to make them hear me. There was nothing I could do without him seeing or hearing me and causing more pain.” Buck whimpered. Bobby tried to reach out for him to comfort the young man, but Buck flinched away from the offering. Bobby tried to reign himself in, Buck didn’t like to be touched but he had to do something to calm him down.

“Buck-” Bobby tried again. 

“I was just something for him to take his anger out on, I was nothing… No one came. No one cared that I was missing, no one cared that I didn’t come to work. No one even bothered to call or message me. Did you not care? Was I just so unwanted you didn’t even care to check up on me? Do you hate me that much? Do I… Do I not deserve…”  Buck cried, his head dropped and his hands covered his face.  Bobby was almost frozen, his mind reeling, what should he do? What can he do? What did Eddie say, he couldn't remember. At this point was there even anything else he should do? He could feel the lump in his throat, the tears stinging in his eyes. Sliding over to Buck, he wrapped his arms around the younger man. He was surprised when Buck didn't fight back against him, instead embracing the hug. 

"God Buck, no I don't hate you. I could never hate you. I care about you like you're my own son, and it tends to get me in trouble because I let my feelings get in the way of what you need. This is not your fault. You didn't deserve to be treated the way I treated you. I know I was a horrible captain, and I'm so sorry for that. I'm sorry for being so wrapped up in my anger I didn't see you struggling... But I need you to try to take some breaths and try to calm down for me." Bobby whispered as he rubbed circles into Buck's back. Slowly, Buck's breathing started to even out, and the tears slowed. 

"...sorry..." 

"Buck..." Bobby took a deep breath, unwrapping his arms around the firefighter before placing his hands on Buck’s shoulders and he made sure the younger man was looking at him. "You got to stop apologizing. You have nothing to be sorry for, I'm the one who has a lot of apologizing to do. I know I was in the wrong for not letting you come back when you clearly said you were ready and forcing you to file that lawsuit, just so you could come back to work. If anything this is all my fault. You were right, about Chim and Eddie, they needed more time to get their heads back on straight. You were ready to come back and I didn't believe you were. I was completely wrong to go behind your back and it was unfair of me to assume that you weren't ready to come back to the station." Bobby consoled as Buck fully pulled out of his arms, staring at him with a questionable look on his face. He seemed almost surprised that Bobby was even saying this. Bobby swallowed down his thoughts and was about to continue. 

"I... you're... apologizing...?" Buck faltered, his confusion evident in his voice. 

"Yes, I'm apologizing and I'm going to continue to apologize until I can prove to you I truly am sorry. I'm sorry for everything, I should have done the wellness check on you from day one. I should have called or texted you, to see if you were okay. I should have known something was wrong when you didn't show up to work, I shouldn't have just assumed. I should have done my job correctly then all of this would have been avoi-"

"It wouldn't have been avoided. He still would have come." Buck interrupted him. "I still would have been attacked." 

"No, because if I was the Captain I was supposed to be then none of this would have happened. There would have been no lawsuit, you wouldn't have even met Chase Mackey. This is all my fault to begin with." Bobby apologized, his own tears starting to run and he quickly wiped them away. Buck took a deep breath, calming himself down even more. 

"Look... We both fucked up. We can't sit here and dwell on it anymore. I don't particularly want to be stuck in my head all day thinking about what ifs." Buck huffed. "What happened... was horrible... I... I'm not... I'm not ready to forgive..."

"I'm not asking you too." Bobby confirmed. "I'm not asking you to forgive me, I just wanted... to get my point across. That I truly am sorry for everything I did to you or the hand that I played in the outcome."  Bobby shifted, putting a bit of space between the two. "I want to give you the space that you need to recover. What do you want from me? Do you want me around?" Buck sat there for a few minutes mulling the words over in his head and Bobby attempted to decipher the younger man but it's nearly impossible. 

"Look, I don't want to make this harder on Eddie. For now, let's just take it day by day. I don't mind you coming over and helping but don't think that this is okay... This is going to take so much longer than just one breakdown, for me to be forgiving. I just need you here, I don't need you to try to force your way back into my life. I just need your existence in this space... I'm sorry if this sounds harsh... I just can't do it on my own right now." Buck responded wearily, his exhaustion of the whole situation obvious. Bobby huffed, he was afraid that was going to be the case. He wanted to make it up to Buck, but if this is what he wants, Bobby was not going to overstep. Buck just needed eyes and ears with him, he didn't need him. It was a tough pill to swallow, Buck didn’t need him. He didn’t want him there, he was just tolerating him. 

"Okay... I understand..." 

Chapter Text

Eddie jogged up the stairs of the fire house, his attention focused on one thing and one thing only. Get Hen and Chim, get them into a secluded place so they could talk properly. Reaching the landing he gazed over to the kitchen noticing Hen talking to the temporary captain, and they seemed to be having an animated conversation. He crossed the distance a little too quickly in his haste, before stopping beside Hen. 

“Oh, hey Eddie. Welcome back, let me introduce you. This is Captain Ross, from the 221 he’s Bobby’s replacement until further notice.” Ross gave Eddie a small nod as Eddie waved. 

“Hello, do you mind if I swipe our resident EMT?” Eddie asked as Ross shrugged, picking up his coffee mug. Hen gave Eddie a curious look, her eyebrow raising slightly. 

“Go for it, we’ll catch up in a bit Hen.” Hen opened her mouth to say something, but Eddie already had her by the bicep dragging her away from the kitchen island and back towards the stairs. She ultimately didn’t fight the pull instead just letting Eddie drag her after. Chim greeted them at the bottom of the stairs preparing to head up, before Eddie pressed his hand to Chim’s face pushing the other backwards. 

“What is going on?” Hen laughed as Chim stumbled before Eddie shifted so his arm was around Chim’s shoulder. Shoving the two into the locker room, he slammed the door behind them. 

“First off, rude.” Chim stated as he looked at Eddie. 

“What is going on with you, ten minutes back and you're already having an issue?” Hen asked. 

“No… I just need to talk to you guys.” Eddie responded. 

“Well, you got our attention.” Chim chuckled. 

“I… I fucked up…” 

“Be more specific.” Chim urged as Eddie rolled his eyes. 

“I… I confessed to Buck.” 

“Yes, this is old news Eddie.” Hen said. 

“No, it's not because after the confession. I… things got a little heated…” Hen raised an eyebrow at the man across from her. 

“Heated? How did it get heated?” 

“I mean we were practically making out and I… I fucked up.” 

“You gotta give us more information than I fucked up.” Chimney pointed out before crossing his arms. 

“Like I said we were making out, and hands were wandering. Next thing I know… he’s nearly shoving me off the bed.” Eddie admitted. 

“Odd reaction, perhaps you moved too fast.” Chim suggested as Hen shrugged, still waiting for the rest of the story. 

“I accidentally… I undid the bandage around his neck, and he pushed me off of him. Then he threw up…” Eddie mumbled as Hen’s eyes widened. Chim was silent, contemplating what he just heard. “And then... you know what the next morning. He didn't fucking remember! And I don’t know what to do? He tried to initiate again last night after Christopher went to bed and I wouldn’t let him…” Eddie groaned as he slid down the door until he was on the ground. “I don’t know what to do.” Eddie whispered. 

“Oh Eddie, it was an accident.” Hen said as she moved to Eddie’s side kneeling next to him. 

"Wait, wait, wait... hold on... he forgot?" Chim asked as Eddie gave a nod. 

"What do I even do in that situation? Do I say anything, or do I just let it pass? I can't let it pass because it's burned into my memory now!"

"Look at it this way. You get a do over, you get to fix the mistakes without him even knowing." Hen emphasized getting Eddie to just shake his head. 

"You should just let it be Eddie. If you say anything about it, you're going to embarrass the hell out of Buck." Chim responded. 

"Chim is right. Now about the other half of this issue, next time don't touch those bandages." 

“I’m so scared I’m going to hurt him again, Hen. How do I just move on from that?” Eddie pleaded. 

“I think you just need to take it good and slow, maybe tell him what you're feeling?” Chim reasoned as he squatted down in front of Eddie, so the group was all eye level. 

“If I tell him how I'm feeling, I'm going to have to tell him. I just…” Eddie whimpered as Hen squeezed his shoulder. 

“He’s struggling, It’s not your fault either Eddie.” Hen mumbled. “You both got into the moment by the sound of it, and you lost yourselves a bit. It was an accident.” 

“What do I do?” Eddie asked as the alarm decided now was the best time to blare. He groaned before slowly getting to his feet as Chim and Hen hauled him up and the group quickly suited up before jumping into the fire truck. He needs to do something; he needs to figure this out. He didn’t really think as he slipped on the headset, settling into the seat across from Chim as Hen moved into her spot adjacent. 

He felt the heat from his hands, the old bruises mostly gone, as he gazed down at his skin. All he was doing was screwing up. Buck and him haven’t even been dating for more than 48 hours and he already fucked it up. It was so much easier when there wasn't a title to it, maybe because it was all moving too fast, and was starting to overwhelm his thoughts. He never meant to hurt Buck, he never meant to scare him. It was different from what it was before. 

Before their feelings were hidden under layers, and the only visible feelings were for Christopher it was so much easier to understand. To see them growing together, to see how much they cared but now… He was overthinking it. It was still the same feelings as before; the only difference was the emotions were actually out in the open. They were comfortable together, just hanging out and talking, just being near one another. This... Why did it feel so different? Was it just because of Buck’s injuries or was it going to be this way forever? Why was he overthinking this? This is simple, it's just the two of them. Nothing has changed… Why is this grating on his nerves? They just worked, Buck was easy. He understood what went through Eddie's head before even he knew. Buck knew what Eddie needed; it was so nice being connected to someone without even having to speak. Is this what a relationship was supposed to be like? Things were just so hard with Shannon. Why was he comparing? He shouldn’t be doing that. 

Their relationship is what he wished that Shannon had been like, just easy and simple. Relaxing and comforting, just being near each other was nice. Shannon had a way of making things complicated even when they were apart, it was never comfortable. That was just something that Buck had that she didn’t. He shouldn’t be thinking like this. Eddie shook his head trying to clear it as much as could, but the thoughts returned just as they had prior. 

He could… He could be better than who he was when he was with Shannon. He wouldn’t abandon Buck, if he did, he would never forgive himself. He could be there for him, of course he would. Eddie would make sure that the younger man would come out of this, he would make sure that he would be able to return to his place on the team. He would make sure that he had all the help he needed to get better.  He would be there whenever Buck needed him, that was all this was. He was getting lost in his head, he needed to relax. Eddie took a shaky breath, he was fine. This was fine. He needed to be there for Buck. He needed Buck to be okay, he wanted this to work. He needed this to work! What was he doing? He shouldn’t be thinking like this. Panic swam through his stomach, what was he doing? He needed to relax; everything was going to work out. Everything always worked itself out, as much as everything seemed to come crashing down in his life. The tsunami, the lawsuit, Shannon’s death… Now this… 

He couldn't do this... How the hell was he going to do this! How could he keep his calm with everything still going wrong? How could he even help? He knew how to deal with all of Christopher's cerebral palsy, he knew how to keep him safe. He knew what to say and what to do. This... this was so difficult. How do you deal with someone who remembers half the things you say to them or situations around them? For fuck sakes, he forgot that they kissed!... he'll get better, Buck will get better. He'll be able to handle himself soon enough, able to walk around on his own. Then what? He'll still have his memory issues for who knows how long. He could hurt himself or them. He shouldn't think like this! He needed to get out of his head.  Dios , what was wrong with him?

“Eddie?” Hen’s voice cut through his mind, jolting him a bit. Eddie blinked before turning to his right to look at the EMT who was watching him. 

“Yes?” 

“Are you good over there?” Hen asked as Eddie gave a quick nod, wanting to return to his thoughts. “You’re just being really quiet.” Hen pointed out as Eddie rubbed at his left eye. 

“Just not getting the best sleep.” 

“Maybe you need a break.” Chim stated as Eddie sent a glare to the other firefighter across from him. 

“I’m fine, just tired is all.” Eddie responded hoping that his answer was enough to satisfy them. Hen seemed skeptical of the statement but ultimately, she kept her mouth closed as did Chim and he was thankful for it. He looked out the window watching the city pass by. 

How was this going to work? How was he going to do this, without letting Buck down? Buck wasn’t the only one who needed him. Christopher needed him just as much, if not more when Buck eventually healed. How was Eddie going to deal with it when Bobby returned to work full time? What was he supposed to do about the therapy for both Christopher and Buck? Especially with the money issue, what was he going to do? He would need to pull more shifts, or they would have to figure out a different way… He needed to figure out his routines, which couldn’t be changed even with his crazy schedule. What was he going to do? He ran a hand through his hair, trying to think this all out. 

What if he got injured? What if he got hurt while on the job, then what? What if he made one misstep because he wasn’t paying close enough attention, because he was too tired, too in his head. What if he screwed up and someone else on the team got hurt? No, that wasn’t going to happen. He was fine, he was going to be perfectly fine! He has done this after Shannon’s death, he still moved forward after the tsunami, he was going to be fine. Certainly, he was put on leave after the… incident… but now he was back. He needed to be there mentally; he couldn’t screw this up. Everyone was depending on him to keep his cool, to keep himself in check. He was the one in control here, he was the one that needed to stay focused. He was… he was… he was in control. Right?

Chapter Text

Athena huffed, it had been a long day and she was really looking forward to having a nice relaxing evening. Buck was always good company, she just hoped there wasn’t going to be issues with Bobby and the younger man. Picking up her duffle bag, she slung it over her shoulder. She didn’t really want to leave all her work stuff in the vehicle, so inside it went. She moved up the steps knocking on the door as she glanced down at her phone, it was almost 6. It took a few minutes for the door to swing open and Bobby to give her a small smile before letting her in. 

Stepping inside she dropped her bag beside the door, as her husband retreated to the kitchen. Scanning the room she noticed the television on playing something calm, and she took a careful step into the living room. Glancing over the top of the couch, she smiled down at Buck who was fast asleep with a blanket wrapped around him. He looked so peaceful and Athena didn’t want to bother him so she silently stepped backwards. Moving towards the kitchen, she could smell what her husband was cooking. Her mouth was watering, she had missed lunch and now her stomach was reminding her of that fact. She stopped at the entrance to the kitchen, watching the man she married working away at the stove. 

“How was your day?” Athena asked as she leaned on the door frame, getting Bobby’s attention. He didn’t respond right away, she was still frosty around him. She was still angry with him… no she wasn’t… she was disheartened by the whole situation. She loved Bobby, loved him so dearly and to learn what he did. It was hard to forgive. 

“It was fine…” Bobby responded after a few minutes and she pushed herself off the door frame moving into the kitchen and to her husband's side. He didn’t move away from her, instead just letting her exist next to him. Athena watched him for a few moments before raising an eyebrow at him and crossing her arms. 

“Not going to say anything more than fine?” Athena asked as Bobby took a deep breath, turning his attention fully to his wife.

“It was difficult, to say the least. Some things got cleared up and boundaries set…” Bobby answered as he reached around her, grabbing the salt. “How was your day?” 

“Fine.” Bobby released the tension in his shoulders before setting the salt and wooden spoon down and rubbing at his face. 

“Athena… I don’t want to keep doing this.” Bobby whispered as Athena shifted. She didn’t particularly want to keep doing it either, but…

“I know. I’m just… disappointed in your actions and the hand you played in this. You are so much better than this Bobby, you just aren’t acting like the man I fell in love with… and you know I didn’t mean to hit you.” Athena added as she felt Bobby’s eyes on her. 

“I know… but I did deserve it.”

“No you didn’t. You didn’t deserve that treatment, but I just got so angry and swept up in my emotions. You kept lying to me and after everything… I should never have hit you regardless and I’m really sorry that I did.” Athena whispered as she felt Bobby’s left hand tangle into hers. She didn’t fight it, she just let him bring that comfort that he always did whenever they were together. 

“Well… at least someone is forgiving me.” Bobby joked as Athena gave him a curious look.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Athena asked as Bobby shrugged, pulling his hand free from hers and returning his attention back to the food in front of him. 

“Well… long story short… he didn’t forgive me.” Bobby admitted as he picked up the pot he was using before draining the pasta into the metal colander that was in the sink. 

“Not to be rude, but did you really expect him to? I mean after everything?” Athena asked as Bobby thought about that for a moment before putting the pot back on the stove. He huffed rubbing at his face before looking at his wife. 

“No… I didn’t but I thought…He needed to know… he deserved to know how sorry I was…” Bobby bit his lip and gripped the countertop thinking. “I thought we could figure out something, but he said, ‘I just need your existence in this space.’ He doesn’t need me, he doesn’t even want me here. The only reason he is tolerating me being here is because he doesn’t want to stress Eddie.” Bobby admitted. Athena took a deep breath that was hard to hear even to her but it was Buck’s decision in the end. She reached out, rubbing at her husband’s arm trying to give him some kind of comfort. 

“You are trying to rush things, Bobby. You can’t rush him especially if he isn’t ready. Who knows if he’ll ever be ready. You can’t push, that’s his decision. He’ll be cordial, it may never be where it once was but there will be something there. It’ll just take time.” 

“And if he doesn’t want to even be around me at all? What if he wants nothing to do with me forever…” Bobby whispered. 

“Then we are going to have to accept it. You can’t push him into something he doesn’t want.” 

“I know…” Bobby admitted after a few minutes. “He needed to know… and you're right… You should go wake him up, food should be ready in a few.” Bobby stated as he gathered himself back up, returning to his work. Athena shifted for a minute contemplating what to say but ultimately she decided to leave it. She’d hear about it later, and she’d deal with it then. Returning to the living room, she pulled her sweater a bit more around herself before moving to the couch. Buck is still fast asleep, totally unaware that she was even there, and it warmed her to see him so peaceful. 

It was the panic in his eyes that freaked her out more than the injuries. He didn’t seem to register that they were there.

Athena shook her head of the memory, she didn’t want to bring that nightmare up again. She had finally started to get a decent night's sleep, it helped more when she finally allowed Bobby back into the bed with her. She grabbed the remote and turned the television off before she looked back at Buck.  Athena wasn’t thinking as her hand went out, almost grabbing his uninjured shoulder before she stopped herself. She didn’t want to startle him awake, so she squatted down. 

“Buck, sweetheart. It's time to get up. Buck?” She repeated over and over for a minute before Buck started to come around. He blinked at her, his eyes blurred and unclear. 

“‘Thena…” Buck whispered groggily and Athena couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped. 

“Hey, baby. How are you feelin?” Athena asked as Buck rubbed at his eyes with his good hand. 

“Hurts… when’d you get here?” Buck questioned as he started to sit up a wince crossing his features. She had to school herself to not help him, and her heart ached with the longing to just warp the boy up in her arms. 

“Just a few minutes ago. Bobby’s almost done with dinner, you wait here. Did you take your meds lately?” Athena asked before getting a soft no from Buck. “Okay, I’ll get your meds then we can go to the table and eat together.” Athena stated as Buck nodded and the sergeant went to the kitchen where she saw the pill bottles. Bobby cast her a curious look as she grabbed them, scanning them over to make sure she was grabbing the right things. Bobby glanced at the clock on the microwave before cursing under his breath, Buck needed those almost twenty minutes ago. 

“I forgot.”

“You forgot.” Athena responded. “It’s okay, it's the first day. Just maybe set a reminder on your phone.” Athena said before grabbing a plastic cup filling it up. She retreats back to the living room noticing Buck on his phone, glancing messages over. “Who are you talking to?” 

“Taylor…” Buck responded as Athena raised an eyebrow at him before handing off the pills. 

“I didn’t think you would still talk to her after you and Eddie got together.” Athena gestured before Buck swallowed the pills and followed suit with the water. Buck gave a small noise, before shaking his head. 

“No, she was all excited about it. She’s been trying to set us up for a few months now.” Buck informed and Athena stopped glancing at the young man. 

“She came to see you?” 

“She’s been out of state for the past month or so. She said as soon as she gets back next week, she’s going to be over a lot.” Buck confirmed as he locked the device. Athena felt her eyebrow raise, she was actually quite surprised to hear that he was still friends with that reporter. She pushed the thought out of her mind before wheeling the wheelchair close. 

“Come on, I can see Bobby just finished setting the table. Let’s go eat while it's still warm.” Athena smiled as Buck nodded, moving himself into the wheelchair. His hands dropped to the wheels and he pushed himself out of the living room. “Thought you weren’t supposed to do that.” Athena pointed out as Buck’s face lit up a little.

“I mean… I can only do it for so long, then it starts to hurt.” Buck informed as he got to a setting at the table. Athena hummed back accepting that answer before helping Buck get his food on his plate and then moving across from him to her own. Bobby sits at his spot quietly watching the two of them get settled and then they all start to dig in. She becomes very aware of the silence, and the tension in Buck’s shoulders. It's uncomfortable and she has to think of something to say or do. 

“So what did you two do all day?” Athena asked before noticing Buck’s blue eyes flicker to her. 

“Not much, we watched a few shows throughout the day. I slept for a few hours, I think Bobby worked.” Buck mumbled. 

“Rest is good. You’ll be back on your feet faster.” Athena smiled as she dug into her pasta. God she sometimes forgets how good of a cook her husband is. 

“Yeah… but it's just so boring. I can only focus on the television for so long before I start getting headaches.” Buck muttered and Athena glanced at Bobby. Was he just going to stay silent?  

“Well what about reading or perhaps writing? Something else to do.” 

“I’m right handed Athena, it hurts if I use my arm too much, I can only do it for so long with the chair. But it's a good suggestion, Eddie is probably going to be all over it.” Buck whispered. 

“You don’t need to use your right hand to read besides turning the page.” Athena pointed out getting a small laugh from Buck, which quickly turned into a cough. Athena had to take a deep breath to stop herself from getting up and Buck seemed to recover pretty quickly from it. 

“You aren’t wrong.” Buck smiled once he got his composure back. Silence filled the room again, and Athena glanced at her husband. Why wasn’t he helping to keep some type of conversation going? What the hell happened? Was their conversation that bad, that Bobby doesn’t even want to speak now? Did she miss something?

“How's Christopher with you being around all the time?” Athena asked as she saw the grin spread across Buck’s face. He always lit up at the mention of the boy, he was so fond of him, it was adorable. 

“He’s awesome, and he’s doing a lot better adjusting to it than I am. He’s trying to help but there is only so much he can do. He got into an argument with Eddie last night saying he needed to stay with me today. He’s always going on about his projects and his classwork, and he tried to get me to help with it. I’m not good at numbers…” Buck chuckled. “He also keeps asking for a dog, and I swear Eddie was going to run his head through a wall last night, saying that we don't have time for a dog. Christopher has started showing me cat pictures but he still really wants a dog. I think Eddie’s going to have a mental breakdown soon. But overall, he’s doing so well.” 

“Maybe a pet isn’t such a bad idea. It might get you guys out and about more.” Athena pointed out as Buck grinned at her. 

“Don’t tell Eddie that and getting around is sort of hard right now.” 

“Eventually Buck...” Athena stated as she finished off her plate, the others not far behind. 

“I just… I don’t want to add more to Eddie’s plate. He already has so much to deal with.” Buck whispered as he started spinning the fork around the plate. 

“How is Eddie? I mean you two are official now… how's that?” Athena was genuinely curious. The other day there wasn't much in the way of showing that they were together except by word of mouth. Buck shrugged and rubbed his right eye. 

“I mean… it was going really well and then… Eddie started acting weird last night after everyone left and Christopher went to bed… I don’t know.” Buck admitted and Athena glanced at Bobby who was moving some of the food around on his plate, lost in thought. 

“Now that you mention it,” Bobby started, “he was a bit odd this morning before he left.”

“How so?” Athena asked. 

“He was rambling about stuff, and he wouldn’t stop pacing for more than a few seconds. He was talking so fast, I had to almost ask him to slow down, he just seemed frazzled.” Athena lets those words sink in. 

“We’ll talk to him when he gets home.” 

“Did you guys get a time when Eddie was supposed to get home?” Buck asked. Athena turned to look at Bobby. She was surprised that Eddie didn’t tell Buck. The look she got in return made her stomach churn a little, there was concern lacing Bobby’s features. 

“He said he would be back between 8 and 9. Hopefully, he’ll be home closer to 8 so in about…” Bobby grabbed his phone that was sitting on the table next to him. “An hour.” 

“Oh, okay.” Buck said as Athena got to her feet grabbing her plate before Bobby snatched it from her hands. 

“Do you need help?” Athena asked her husband as he shook his head. 

“Nope, I got it.” Bobby stated as he picked up Buck’s plate and his own, heading to the kitchen.

“Do you need any help?” Athena questioned as Buck rolled himself backwards, preparing to head down the hall. 

“No, I’m just going to change.” Buck informed before rolling down the hallway. Athena watched him go, before he disappeared into the bedroom and she turned her attention to where her husband had gone.

“What was that look?” Athena asked as she walked up to Bobby’s side. 

“Eddie told him what time he would be back.” Bobby responded. 

“Like before he left? I mean I would have forgotten at that point if I was still half asleep.” Bobby shrugs, that is a good point and he can’t even argue it. “I mean I’ve forgotten more important things before… like picking up Harry from school.” Athena stated as a laugh escaped her husband. They had been together at the time, relaxing on the couch at his apartment when she jumped to her feet, fretting that she forgot to pick up her son as she gathered her things in a hurry. Even then Bobby had laughed, she was sort of happy at her own little victory. Just something that wasn’t a sad scowl on the man’s face felt like the best thing she has done today. 

“Yeah…” Bobby whispered before stopping and looking down at the dishes in the sink. “Except he’s asked me four other times.” 

“Wait, he seriously doesn’t remember?”

“I don’t know, Athena. He’s been on his phone almost all day, and he just…” Bobby cut himself off. Athena moved a bit more towards her husband and held out her hand. It was a start and Bobby happily accepted the hand, getting a small squeeze in return. 

“He’ll get there, it just takes time.” Athena whispered. 

“I know.” Bobby responded before returning his attention to the few items in the sink left. 

“Did Eddie say if there is a certain time that Buck should head to bed?” 

“He’s an adult.” Bobby stated. 

“An adult who apparently is forgetting things and on pretty heavy pain killers.” Athena smiled before moving towards the kitchen entrance. Buck still wasn’t back. “Did you know he still talks to Taylor?” 

“The reporter?” Athena nodded. “He mentioned her earlier too, something about some type of pie. Do you think she’s the one he’s been texting all day?” 

“I’m guessing… What does pie have to do with it?” 

“He said that she made this amazing pie and he was excited to have it when she got back. It confused me and when I asked him about it, he just went quiet.” Bobby answered. “Why?”

“Apparently they are still friends.” 

“Really? Didn’t they sleep together?” 

“See I thought so too. I’m just confused about the whole situation.” Athena admitted. “Why would you want to stay friends with a fling?” 

“It’s Buck.” Bobby stated as Athena snorted. 

“Good enough reason as any.” Athena responded as Bobby finished the dishes. And the two returned to the living room to see Buck coming down the hall, changed fully into his sleep wear and a zip up sweater on. His phone is buzzing on his lap and Athena can’t help the small smile as the younger man gets to them. 

“Any trouble?” Athena asked as Buck shook his head, another buzz. 

“Um… Taylor wants to talk to you.” Buck stated and Athena froze. 

“She wants to talk to me?” 

“Yeah and um… when is Eddie getting back?” Buck questioned as he started dialing the number. Athena hesitated before casting a glance at Bobby, and she bites her lip before turning back to Buck. 

“He’ll be back soon, probably in the next forty minutes.” Athena stated as Buck gives a small nod and he offers her the phone once Taylor answers. 

“Hey Athena.” Taylor said as Athena shifted, noticing Buck wheeling himself into the living room and she stepped into the hallway to have a bit more privacy. 

“Taylor. What is this about?” 

“So, I don’t know if you know but Buck has been texting me all day.” Taylor started. “I don’t know what Bobby knows but Buck has been kind of panicking all day.” 

“What do you mean by panicking?” Athena asked, giving the conversation her full attention now. 

“I don’t know if it's fully registered that Eddie went to work.” Taylor stated. 

“What’s he been saying?”

“Besides asking me over and over when I’m coming back, he’s also doing the same with Eddie. I tried to help as much as I could but… I’m just trying to inform you.” Taylor finished as Athena processed that information. She didn’t like it, she didn’t like it one bit. 

“Like he isn’t understanding Eddie isn’t here?” Athena wanted to clarify, just to make sure. 

“Yeah.” 

“Thank you for the call and telling me what’s going on. I know you wouldn't have done it for Bobby.” 

“After learning what happened, yeah I’m not talking to Bobby.” Taylor stated. “I actually have to go, the news is never silent.” 

“Thank you Taylor. Have a good night.” Athena said as she hung up. Athena thought for a few moments before moving back into the living room, and she felt Bobby’s eyes on her. She gave the man a small look and he seemed utterly exhausted. He wasn’t that way when she just walked out, what could have happened in the past like two minutes? 

“Here’s your phone sweetheart.” Athena stated handing the device back to Buck. 

“Oh, thanks… What did Taylor want?” 

“She wanted to update me on when she's back.” Athena lied as she gave Bobby a questionable look. 

“Oh that’s awesome…” Buck whispered, as he stared at the device for a few moments. “When’s Eddie coming?” Buck asked and Athena froze. She felt Bobby’s eyes on her and she suddenly understood the look, had Buck been asking? 

“Soon, don't worry.” Athena responded. She just hoped Eddie would get here sooner rather than later. 

Chapter Text

Athena tapped her heel against the ground, her leg bouncing with nerves. She tried to ignore Bobby as he paced the length of the living room, his eyes darting along the phone screen.  It was almost midnight now and Eddie still hadn’t returned, she shifted trying to stop her eyes from darting to the window at every light that flickered across the pane. 

“I thought you said…” 

“I know. He said he would be back between 8 and 9.” 

“It’s almost midnight Bobby. He’s still not answering?” Athena asked as Bobby shook his head, continuing his pacing.  Athena huffed, crossing her arms as she slowly got to her feet. 

“I’m going to check on Buck.” Bobby whispered as he strode down the hallway before Athena even got a word out. It was something to distract him, it wasn’t like he needed to do it but it made him feel just that much better. He glanced into the room, happy to see that Buck was still fast asleep. Buck had been concerned when Eddie hadn’t returned when he said, and Athena had to confirm countless times that they weren’t leaving him until Eddie got home. Athena hated the fact that they had to lie to Buck in order for him to head to bed, he wanted to stay up until Eddie got back.    

“Well?” 

“Still fast asleep.” Bobby mumbled as he returned, returning to his pacing. Athena huffed before glancing out the main window overlooking the road and driveway. She knew that they would see the lights when Eddie pulled in but it didn’t stop her from some hope that he would be there. Bobby was rubbing at the back of his head, trying to relax himself as much as he could. Was there even a way to relax, when you were just this anxious? He glanced at his phone again, dialing Eddie’s number hoping that he would pick up this attempt. 

“Bobby, this is ridiculous.” Athena hissed as she glanced at her own cell phone. Bobby cursed as he ended the call going to voicemail once more. The man shifted, looking down the hallway again. “You go check on him again, and I’m going to... You’ve checked on him every few minutes for the past hour.” Athena growled before glancing out the window. 

“You’re literally doing the exact same thing with the window.” 

“See this is different.” Athena stated as Bobby groaned before redialing Eddie’s number. 

“No it’s not.” Bobby responded before putting the phone up to his ear. 

“Bobby, what the hell is going on?” Athena asked as she glanced at her husband, he hung up the phone as the answering machine started. He has left enough messages at this point to fill up the machine. 

“If I knew Athena, I would tell you…” Bobby mumbled. “Maybe… maybe he’s overwhelmed and just needs to get away. I don’t know, maybe he went out to get a drink or something to try to relax and let off steam.” Bobby could feel the glare at the side of his head. “You know what I mean.” Bobby stated. 

“I know… It still doesn’t sit any better, it’s just… this isn’t like him. He’s always on top of things. If it is too much, maybe we can help out more.” Athena suggested as Bobby glanced at his wife, before sliding his phone into his pocket. 

“How are we going to help? We are already doing a lot, we are going out of our way to help. I mean you drove nearly thirty minutes out of your way to get Christopher for school. We are already helping a lot, and I’m going to be here as often as he asks, but…” Bobby gazed down the hallway. “If he doesn’t show up on time, I don’t know how much we are going to be able to help him.” Bobby informed as Athena huffed. 

“Maybe, we could take shifts. I mean has Hen been over to help at all? I only saw Maddie the other day after their parents were here. I think we could do more, but perhaps in different ways.” Athena muttered as she glanced out the window once more. “Bobby, I swear to god if you go down there again.” Athena growled as Bobby stopped mid step, looking back at the woman. He huffed stepping back into the living room as Athena pulled away from the curtain, moving over towards her husband. 

“I just need to make sure that Buck is still asleep. What if he wakes up and finds out that Eddie still isn’t back? I don’t want him to start panicking, and I don’t know how I’d deal with him freaking out.” Bobby said as his wife took his hand giving him a reassuring squeeze, trying to comfort him. 

“He’s going to be fine, if something goes wrong we are both here.” Athena whispered.

“I’m still going to go check on him.” Bobby whispered, pulling away from her before disappearing down the hallway once again. Athena huffed before glancing out the window from where she stood, still no sign of headlights. Where was Eddie? She heard Bobby return a few minutes later looking out the window around her.

“This is getting ridiculous. It’s past midnight now, and I have a shift tomorrow.” Athena groaned. At this rate, was she even going to get to bed at a decent time. “I’m going to call Hen, and see if she remembers him mentioning about going somewhere after work.” Athena stated as she grabbed her phone. 

“I should call and ask Chim as well.” Bobby muttered finding the number in his phone. Bright headlights filled the window as the dark truck pulled into the driveway and Athena glanced at Bobby. 

“Speak of the devil and he arrives.” Athena chuckled. She wanted to rush outside and tell the firefight off but she held herself back. She didn’t want any of the neighbors hearing her go off on Eddie if she didn’t have to. Bobby huffed moving to the front door unlocking it once he heard the keys rattling against the lock. He should have been more prepared to say something, he really should have but all the words died on his tongue. 

Eddie pushed his way into the house, and set to work undoing his shoes not looking at the two staring at him. He was covered in sweat, there was dried blood around his split upper lip and a bruise forming on the left side of his chin, his knuckles had a layer of dried blood on them and the skin was bruised underneath. His hair was a mess and he looked utterly exhausted, his clothes clung to his skin making him look even worse off. He was just in a simple dark shirt and sport shorts, but he still looked like hell. Eddie didn’t speak, as he dropped the first shoe to the ground before going to work on the other. Athena stood there stock still taking in the man’s appearance and trying to gather her thoughts. 

“Eddie.” Athena started forward as Eddie dropped his other shoe and went to stand. He was surprised when Athena’s hands were inspecting his face, as she gently looked his skin over. “What happened?” 

“It’s fine.” Eddie whispered, giving her a soft smile and trying to get out of her grip but Athena didn’t let him, instead she kept inspecting his face. Was she looking for something? “I’m sorry I kept you.” 

“Kept us?... Eddie, you look like you got into a fight.” Bobby sputtered. Eddie tried to keep his nerves calm and tried to get out of Athena’s grip again, he tried to relax as much as he could as Athena’s eyes bore into him. 

“It’s fine, really. I’m okay…” 

“You don’t look okay, Eddie.” Athena pointed out. 

“It doesn’t ma…” Eddie cut himself off before rethinking his statement. “It’s not a big deal, really. I’m okay, you guys can take off. I got it covered.” Eddie whispered before finally pulling away from Athena’s grip and moving towards the kitchen. Athena stood there for a moment before looking over her shoulder at Bobby, he knew they weren’t going home until they got answers. Bobby followed his wife to the kitchen where Eddie was getting a glass out of the upper cabinet. 

“Really? Are you certain, you’re fine. Look at yourself, you are a mess. Eddie, what happened?” Bobby asked.

“It’s fine, Bobby. Drop it.” Eddie snapped before filling his glass up and downing over half of it almost immediately. 

“Hell no! I am not just going to drop it! What’s going on? Where were you? We were worried sick!” Athena growled but Eddie just shook his head. It was fine, everything was fine. He was fine, yes he didn’t mean to worry them and he’s surprised they stayed as long as they did but… 

“It’s twelve thirty at night, and you are walking in here lookin like you got hit by a truck. You didn’t answer your phone, we thought you got hurt or something. What is going on?” Bobby muttered as Eddie huffed. This isn’t what he wanted, this wasn’t supposed to be like this. 

“Just… drop it, please. I had a long day, I’m tired. I want to go to bed. Thank you guys for helping but you should g-” 

“We should go? You want us to just leave? After sitting here waiting for you to get home all night, we should just leave! Are you kidding me, Eddie? You didn’t even have the courtesy to even pick up your phone and tell us you were going to be late. We are here wasting our time to help you and this is the thanks we get!” Athena exploded and Eddie couldn’t blame her. He couldn’t really, this was his fault he didn’t mean for it to go on for as long as it did. 

“Athena… please… just drop it…” Eddie begged as he felt his chest tighten. He didn’t need this not right now, he could take it tomorrow. He would gladly get his ass chewed out tomorrow but right now he couldn’t get anything under control. 

“Athena, lower your voice please.” Bobby muttered as Athena sent him a glare before huffing. She was getting really loud and she didn’t want to wake Buck up by accident. 

“What the hell were you doing? You look like you got into a fight and if your bloody knuckles were anything to go by, I am guessing you were in a fist fight. What were you doing? Was it so important that you had to keep everyone who cares about you in the dark. We are here for you, but we can’t be here if you don’t tell us what the hell is going on with you. We can’t help you, if you keep everything so close to your chest.” 

“I…” Eddie tried to get his words to work but his voice isn't functioning. Everything was crashing down around him, the reality of the situation, and his decisions that could have screwed everything up again. He was losing everything he has worked so hard to get. When did his heart rate get so fast? 

“Athena please lower your voice. We don’t want to wa-” Bobby tried to continue before his wife cut him off. 

“What about Buck? He was so worried about you, that you weren’t home when you said you would be. He kept forgetting and asking where you were, we had to lie to him over and over to keep him calm. Do you understand how that made us feel, to keep lying to him. We felt horrible, because it wasn't clicking with him that you weren't here. You have people that are depending on you Eddie. You can’t just disappear whenever you fee-” Athena cut herself off as Eddie rubbed the tears out of his eyes. “I… I’m just worried about you. Please tell me what’s going on?” Athena asked. Eddie wanted to deflect, he wanted to push it aside, he really did. 

“I… It’s just… I’m trying to keep everything together and it just keeps going wrong. I can’t… I’m… I’m just one person.” Eddie whimpered. He feels Athena’s hands on his face again and this time he doesn’t fight the touch. 

“Oh Eddie, why didn’t you say anything? You make it seem like you have everything under control.” Athena whispered. 

“I don’t know…”

“So then what are those from?” Bobby asked, pointing to Eddie’s hands. His chest was starting to hurt and it was becoming harder and harder to control his racing heart. His stomach was spinning and he realized he was probably going to lose it. He didn’t want that, not in front of them. Not in front of Athena! Not in front of Bobby! Please, not now. No, he could get this under control, he could control this! 

“It was a mistake Bobby. Just a mistake…” Bobby didn’t seem to accept that answer as Athena stared at him, trying desperately to read his face. Why did he feel like he was being interrogated? 

“A mistake? How?” 

“Bobby.” Athena hissed trying to stop her husband. 

“It doesn-” Eddie tried to change the subject, he tried to get the focus off his knuckles. 

“Come on Eddie, stop deflecting. Just tell us what happened.” Bobby insisted. 

“Stop trying to be in control, Bobby.” Athena snapped. Why did that make everything crash down just that much faster? Why did he feel like he was getting dizzy, was everything always this nauseating? Eddie felt himself sway slightly and he struggled to get a grip on the countertop behind him as his knees buckled. There were hands on his arms moments later, helping him slowly to the ground. Was someone talking to him? He couldn’t make out the words, the only thing he could hear was his pounding heart as it drummed on in his ears. He couldn’t get his rolling head under control and he tried to hear what the words were saying. Eddie really tried to focus on them but it was nearly impossible with his pounding heart. He could feel tears stinging against his eyes and he tried to push them away. He was fine. He was fine. Estaba bien, maldita sea.

“Eddie? Eddie. Can you hear me?” Athena’s voice echoed in head. He was okay, he had to tell her that he was fine. He had to prove that he was fine. He tried to find his words but they were nonexistent, his tongue felt too heavy. Everything felt wrong. Hands were hauling him to his feet, practically dragging him into the living room and helping on the couch. “You’re okay, Eddie. Can you talk to me? Can you tell me what happened?” Athena fretted. She sounded so worried and it was coming off of her in waves. 

“I…” Eddie whimpered, his head roaring against him. He brought his hands up pressing against his forehead trying to force the searing headache away. “I’m sorry.” Eddie whispered. 

“You’re okay. You’re okay, Eddie. What happened? What caused that?” 

“I… I screwed up again. I just…” Eddie gazed ahead of him, noticing Bobby kneeling in front of him. The older man’s hand was resting on Eddie’s shoulder helping to keep the younger man grounded and he was thankful for the touch. “I… I thought I could handle it. I thought I could keep doing it.” 

“Doing what Eddie?” Bobby asked, noticing that Eddie was solely focused on him. 

“I... I joined a fight club.” Bobby blinked at him a few times, trying to process that statement fully. 

“Like an illegal fight club?” Athena whispered trying to wrap her own head around that. “Why? Why would you do something like that? You could have lost everything and everyone. You could be arrested again and lose your job and possibly…” Athena cuts herself off. 

“Why did you do that?” Bobby questioned trying to remain as calm as he possibly could, taking notice that Eddie’s breath was picking up again. He didn’t need him to go into another attack. 

“I thought.... It was… I can’t control anything. I thought it would help, I thought I could force the control. But I’m still here, feeling just as lost as I was before I got into the ring. After everything… The lawsuit, the tsunami… Shannon's death… now this…” Eddie gestured down the hallway. “I just… I don’t know what to do.” Eddie sobbed. Bobby was silent, he knew that Eddie kept everything secret. He knew the guy didn’t like to talk about his feelings or past but this was insane. He needed to talk about it, he couldn’t just take the burden on like it was nothing. 

“Oh sweetheart.” Athena whispered as she rubbed circles into the man’s back. “You are trying to be everything for Christopher and Buck and you are trying to bear this by yourself. You can ask for help, you need to take care of yourself too.” Athena muttered as she slipped her hand into one of Eddie’s. 

“Eddie, when was the last time you got a decent sleep?” Bobby asked and Eddie shook his head, giving a small shrug with it. He didn’t remember it had to have been before the lawsuit, no it was further back than that. It was after the tsunami and all the nightmares that came with it. Then again he had an okay sleep with Buck yesterday.  

“I don’t know. Maybe before the tsunami.” Eddie admitted as he whipped his eyes with his free hand. He could feel the concern that was coming from his captain, but he didn’t want to acknowledge it. 

“Have you been eating enough?” Athena questioned and Eddie shrugged again. He froze, for a moment before the first scream came from the bedroom and Eddie was instantly on his feet. Pushing out of Bobby and Athena’s grip he skidded down the hallway before entering his bedroom. Eddie didn’t even hesitate before moving over to Buck’s side of the bed, sitting down on the edge of the bed and pulling the younger man into his arms. 

“Shhh… it’s okay. It’s okay, Buck. You’re safe, you're safe. He’s not here. He’s not going to hurt you anymore. I promise.” Eddie whispered as he felt Buck’s nails digging into his arms trying to push him off. Eddie ignored the pain, as he continued to mutter into Buck’s ear over and over again until his cries died down. Eddie looked up to the doorway seeing Bobby and Athena standing there watching him. Slowly, Eddie maneuvered Buck out of his arms, getting a pained moan in return. “You’re okay. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Eddie mumbled his eyes dancing over Buck’s partly opened ones. He felt Buck’s hand on his wrist but he didn’t want to break the grip.

“Please…” Buck whimpered. 

“I know… I know… but I gotta make sure that Bobby and Athena get home and I should shower before I join you.” Buck’s eyes moved to the doorway, scanning over Athena and Bobby. 

“Sorry…” Buck mumbled, dropping his grip. 

“Hey, you have nothing to apologize for.” Eddie responded. “I promise I will be back in a few minutes.” Buck gave a shuddered breath before nodding and Eddie took that as his chance to slip out.

He flashed Athena and Bobby a sad smile before heading back to the living room with the sergeant and his captain on his tail. They were silent as they sat down around the room, and Eddie started picking at the dried blood on his hands. 

“Edd-”

“I’m sorry.” Eddie whispered. “I never meant for this to hap-.” 

“Let me continue.” Athena stated cutting Eddie off fully and he lowered his head ready to take the verbal lashing. “Hen said you were quiet at work today and that you were scared after something happened with Buck.” 

“I hurt him by accident. I just keep screwing up.” Eddie responded. 

“This isn’t all on you Eddie and you need help.” Bobby muttered as he shifted from where he was sitting on the coffee table. “You need just as much help as Buck does. You can’t keep doing these fights, you know that. If you were to get caught by someone and you were to get reported to a captain that wasn’t me what would happen.” Eddie let that statement roll through him. 

“I would be fired immediately.” 

“Exactly, you need help too Eddie. How about this, I help you find someone to figure things out with you, a therapist or anger management.” Bobby suggested. 

“I don’t have the money.” Eddie responded. 

“Then we’ll take care of it.” Athena chipped in as she looked at her husband who nodded in agreement. “Now how about you go get yourself cleaned up and go get some sleep. We’ll talk about it more later, you look exhausted.” Athena stated as Eddie nodded. 

“Thank you… um… do you guys need anything.” 

“We are fine, Eddie. Go take care of yourself, we’ll be right here when you're done and then you can lock up after us. I’m certain you’re going to want to be as good as you can be when your boyfriend finds out what you did in the morning.” Athena added as Eddie got to his feet. 

“Are you certain?” 

“Eddie, go get ready for bed.” Bobby ordered as Eddie gave a huff and trudged off down the hallway. Athena glanced at her husband who let out a long breath before rubbing a hand at the back of his neck. 

“Well?” 

“We have a lot of work ahead.” Bobby stated. 

“I’ll see if we can get some of the others to come help out more, the more help the better.” Athena informed as Bobby nodded. 

“Good idea.” 

Chapter Text

Eddie pulled Buck closer as the alarm went off across from him, he should just ignore it. He really wanted to, but he felt Buck shifting in his arms trying to extract himself. He heard Buck grab the phone, turning the alarm off.

“Eddie, it's morning.” Buck whispered as he tried to pry the arms that were held fast around his stomach. 

“No, this is the first time I get to sleep like this.” Eddie mumbled, digging his head into the back of his boyfriend's neck. He felt the younger man laugh and he was so happy when a coughing fit didn’t follow. He could actually hold Buck like this, without the issue of that stupid boot or injuring his healed ribs. Buck tried again to wiggle out of his grip, but Eddie only tightened it, pulling the younger man flush to his chest. 

“It’s not going to be the last. Now, get up before Christopher beats us to the kitchen.” Buck ordered as Eddie groggily released his grip. 

“Not even a few more minutes.” Eddie whispered before burying his head in the pillow. Buck was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching him the faint light of the lamp illuminating his partner. The scars were still too visible for Eddie’s liking, but they were getting there, it would take time and he knew that. Buck scanned over the clean bandanas, picking one from the pile and quickly tying it around his neck. The burns were still too vibrant for either of them, and it still visibly upset the younger man, so Eddie purchased more bandanas to please his son and partner. At this rate they were starting a collection.

“Tonight.” Buck stated as he rolled his right shoulder giving a small wince of pain. It didn't hurt as much anymore but it always pulled weirdly in the morning and last night was no different, but it probably didn’t help that he slept in a different position.

“Before or after the movie?” 

“Snuggling during, we’ll figure everything else out after.” Buck said, placing a kiss on his boyfriend's temple. Grabbing a discarded pair of sweatpants, and t-shirt he pulled them on before scrubbing at his face and heading to the door. 

“DAD! BUCK!” Christopher’s voice echoed through the hallway as Buck opened the door and stepped out shutting the door behind him. Eddie shot up and quickly rubbed the exhaustion from his face and started pulling on some clothes. 

“Hey, superman.” Buck said as he scooped up the boy, carrying the eight-year-old to the kitchen. “What do you want for breakfast?” Buck asked as he placed the kid down in a chair beside the island counter. 

“Toast.” 

“Toast, coming right up.” Buck smiled before grabbing for the fridge’s handle. He scanned over the multiple color sticky notes that lined the outside of the fridge, double checking he wasn’t forgetting anything. They were all over the house at this point, covering almost any stickable surface that was within reach. In all truth, Buck thinks that Eddie went a little overboard with the sticky notes, but the number of times they have saved him from actually forgetting something isn’t funny. 

Christopher writes at least two a day, putting them on the outside of his bedroom door, just in case Buck forgot something the boy had said. Eddie for the most part just puts them on the fridge, but they still somehow end up in other places around the house. Maddie was quick to pick up the habit as well, often leaving pink notes on the nightstand to make sure that Buck will see them. Athena’s purple notes are almost covering the entire edge of the bathroom mirror and Eddie has grumbled about them every time they are both getting ready. Hen’s orange notes decorate the fridge along with Eddie's, at least she was better than Chim. The number of times the cyan pieces of paper covered the television is almost infuriating. At least Taylor had the right idea when putting her yellow notes on the front door, making sure that no one forgot anything before they left.

 Even the rest of the 118 have started putting notes around the station for him while they are away. Stuffing his locker with so many multicolored notes that he can barely use the area, making him dig through the notes every other day to make sure he didn’t forget something before tossing them out. The only time he ever sees a red sticky note is on his journal. Normally the book is with him, but he still forgets it in places. The red notes are only ever visible if it's moved from one place to another, showing that Bobby had moved it to a different spot than Buck had left it. It normally just takes Buck walking up to the captain and handing back the note to get his journal back. It was still odd in reality, going to the station to just be around people. To not be alone especially with Carla gone and everyone else working. Then again, he would take that over sitting at the house alone. The rest of the team accepted it without question, just letting him chill in the space and whenever they were out on a call, the man behind would always stay with him. He has never been more grateful for his team. 

Yanking open the fridge he dug out the butter, he knew the toaster was out from yesterday mainly because he forgot to put it away, if the green sticky note was anything to go by. 

“Anything else? Eggs, bacon? Whatever, this is?” Buck asked as he opened up the container, which didn’t help him figure out what it was at all. He closed it before returning it to it place on the shelf.

“Eggs.”

“Scrambled?” 

“With cheese.” Christopher grinned as Buck nodded, grabbing the eggs off the shelf. 

“What are we having for breakfast?” Eddie asked as he walked into the kitchen still sporting his sleep attire just like the rest of them. 

“Eggs and toast.” 

“A healthy breakfast.” Buck stated. 

“It’s better than cereal every day.” Christopher giggled before looking at his father. Eddie gave his son a look of mock hurt, his hand going over his heart. 

“I feel like I’m being attacked.” 

“That’s because you are.” Buck responded as Eddie scoffed. 

“How do you feel without the cast?” Christopher asked as Buck smiled. It’s literally been less than twenty-four hours and he never want to wear a cast ever again. 

“I’m feeling great buddy. It’s a lot easier to move around without it on.” Buck grinned as he started making the eggs and heating the skillet. “Are you going to shower Eddie?” Buck asked, looking at his boyfriend who was staring at his phone. 

“Yep, and then food and off to school and then work.” Eddie stated before pressing a kiss to his son’s head. “Three pieces for me, Buck.” Eddie said before disappearing down the hallway.

“You know you could help.” 

“Says the guy that’s always making fun of my cooking.” Eddie yelled back. 

“You can’t cook.” Buck shouted as he heard the bathroom door slam. He glanced at Christopher as the boy was laughing and hiding it behind his hands. 

“Oh, what’s so funny?” 

“You.”

“Awww. Thanks buddy, are you all packed for school?” Buck asked as he dropped the first two pieces of bread into the toaster before tearing the note off, scanning the message on it. Stop leaving this out! Buck chuckled, crumpling the note and throwing it into the trash.  

“Yeah…” Christopher was quiet, and Buck didn’t really pressure him to talk. He just continued on with what he's doing pulling the two pieces from the toaster once they dinged.  “Hey Buck?” 

“Yeah.”

“How long are you going to stay here?” Christopher whispered and Buck froze for a moment. That was… something he didn’t expect. “I mean dad said once you were feeling better…” Christopher’s voice petered off. Even if Buck wanted to leave, which he didn’t, where the hell would he go? He got out his apartment lease… then again, he wasn’t even certain if they were going to ever rent that place out again. So, he was effectively homeless if Eddie ever decided to kick him out. 

“He did? Well, I think that’s up to all of us isn’t it.” Buck muttered. “How long do you want me to stay?” He heard the boy shifting behind him, he put some butter into the skillet letting it coat the surface before he poured mixed eggs into the skillet

“Forever…” Christopher’s voice was soft, and Buck felt his heart flutter at the statement. 

“Really? You want me to be around every day?” Buck knew it was a silly question but at the same time, he wanted to hear it. “You want me to be here when you go to bed each night and read your stories and help with homework?  You want me here when you get up in the morning, to help make breakfast for you and drop you off at school?” 

“You make better breakfast than dad.” Christopher mumbled and Buck couldn’t help the laugh. 

“I do, don’t I.” Buck heard a small laugh escape the boy. 

“Are you going to leave?” Christopher asked and Buck turned to face him. He moved towards Christopher before he stopped on the other side of the island, leaning on the stone and trying to gauge where to go with this conversation. 

“Now why do you think I’d leave?” 

“Because you’re better.” 

“Even if I am better doesn’t mean I’m going to leave you.” 

“Everyone leaves though.” Buck blinked at the statement, and he heard the door at the end of the hallway open. 

“I’m not going to leave you, I promise. Even if I do move out, I’m always going to be here for you. Always at your beck and call, so you don’t have to worry about losing me okay. I promise I will always be here.” Buck held out his pinky finger and Christopher quickly returned the gesture. Pulling their fingers apart Buck moved around the table, wrapping the boy up into a hug. 

“I feel like I missed something…” Eddie whispered as he walked into the kitchen, confusion on his face. Buck glanced at Eddie mouthing ‘We’ll talk later,’ and that seemed to be enough to satisfy his boyfriend. Eddie ran a hand through his wet hair, before taking over Buck’s place at the stove. He was sporting his fireman shirt, and his work pants and Buck still can’t get enough of his boyfriend in his work outfit.

“All better?” Buck asked into Christopher’s hair, and he felt the nod. 

“Don’t forget the cheese dad.” Christopher commented as Buck blinked for a moment. Did he forget to pull that out? God were his memory issues ever going to go away or only get worse.

“I think…” Eddie started before looking around the counter. “Buck go get dressed I got it.” Eddie waved him off. Buck rolled his eyes, before pulling away from Christopher fully. 

“Don’t burn anything.” Eddie shot him a glare, a bit of irritation on his face but ultimately didn’t say anything. It only took Buck a few minutes to throw on a pair of jeans and a comfortable shirt, before going to the bathroom to finish getting ready. 

“What time is Taylor picking you up for lunch today?” Eddie asked once Buck returned to the kitchen. Eddie hadn’t originally been too keen on Taylor's appearance after Buck’s first week at home; he was tolerant until he discovered that she was willing to come around whenever she could. Oftentimes taking Christopher to and from school, being at the house whenever he or Bobby couldn’t. She made sure that Buck didn’t over do his physical therapy and would oftentimes just show up in the mornings with coffee for Eddie. Or just randomly on nights, with a new board game and movie in her hands. She always got Christopher to smile, and it gave Eddie a break. In all honesty, she was another member of the family and Eddie had grown quite fond of the woman. 

“She said that we are going to lunch at noon, so she’ll probably be there before then.” Buck informed before fixing the red bandana, so it wasn’t under his shirt collar. 

“Sounds good, eat.” Eddie stated pushing the plate towards his boyfriend. Picking up the toast, he happily chowed down, not entirely focused on anything but the food. The three ate in silence, and once they were done Buck started cleaning up as Christpher went to get dressed for school. 

“So…” 

“He’s scared that I’m going to leave because I’m better.” Buck informed before hearing a small noise from his boyfriend. 

“You aren’t better.” 

“I mean… I’m getting there.” Buck blinked at his boyfriend. 

“You got overwhelmed by a tv show two days ago, you’re barely sleeping. Even if you do get more than three hours you still wake up from nightmares. You are still getting used to the alarm at the station, and you forgot your phone yesterday even with the notes.” 

“Thank you for pointing out all of my flaws...” Buck huffed. He really was getting worse wasn’t he. He rinsed the plates before opening the dishwasher. 

“Sorry… I'm just… you are getting there but you just need more time.” 

“I don’t think that was the point of the conversation though. He said that everyone leaves, and he didn’t want me to leave.” He heard the groan from Eddie, Buck knew that was the last thing he wanted to hear. “I promised him that even if I moved out, I would always be there for him.” Buck admitted as he heard Eddie stop, before moving over to him. He waited a moment expecting to feel arms around his stomach and glanced over his shoulder at his boyfriend when he didn’t. 

“Well…” 

“Well?” Buck asked before Eddie chuckled, wrapping his arms around him and pressing a kiss to the side of his chin. “You gotta stop asking for permission.” 

“I know you're getting better at it, but I still like the permission.” Eddie whispered. “Makes me feel good, is that so hard to understand.” Eddie muttered against his skin, and Buck laughed.   

“You are one of the only people who don’t need permission.” Eddie thought about that statement for a moment. 

“Who's the other?” 

“Your son.” Buck chuckled. 

“I’m ready!” Christopher beamed as he entered the kitchen, his backpack already on his back. Eddie pressed another kiss to Buck’s neck before unweaving himself from around his boyfriend and moving to his son, scooping him up with ease. Buck quickly dried his hands before rushing after the two grabbing Eddie’s work bag off the ground as he went. 

“Journal.” Eddie called as Buck back tracked to the bedroom, scooping up the leather-bound book. Christopher regaled them what he was going to do at school and the project they were starting in class on the way to the school. Buck helped Christopher out of the truck, walking up to the entrance of the school with him before giving him a hug and sending him off on his way. Climbing back into the truck, Eddie was smiling at him. 

“I doubt you’d ever willingly leave him.” Eddie whispered as they pulled out of the drop off lineup. Buck had to swallow that statement; he didn’t like that thought. Eddie twisted his right hand into Buck’s left, his thumb rubbing over his knuckles trying to bring comfort to the younger. They drove in silence except for the music which Buck kept changing. Everything was just grating on his already thin nerves; he had just gotten semi-used to the loud alarm going off in the station. It took him almost two weeks for that to even happen but everything else just seemed to bother him more and more. 

“You know we can turn it off.” Eddie stated as Buck shook his head. He didn’t mind music, he really didn’t but nothing was sitting right. 

“Just can’t find something I like.” Buck responded and he felt the look from his boyfriend, knowing he didn’t believe him one little bit. Eddie didn’t comment, instead just watching Buck change the channel every few minutes until they finally pulled up to the station. Eddie laughed as Buck grumbled something about stupid technology before opening the door and sliding out of his seat, making sure he didn’t forget his journal in the truck again. The two entered the station, depositing Eddie’s bag into the locker and then they headed up to where all the others were once, he clocked in. Buck casts his own locker a look, smiling at the horde of notes clinging to the area, before he shook his head and followed Eddie. 

“I heard that Buck no longer has a brace on.” Hen shouted as they reached the loft. The woman was smiling as Buck almost bowed, getting the woman to laugh. 

“So, you aren’t going to be waddling around like a penguin anymore.” Chim joked as he sipped at his coffee and leaned against the island where Bobby was nursing his own brew. 

“That was just rude.” Buck snapped as Hen rushed up to him and hugged him when he opened his arms to welcome the embrace. 

“You’re looking better every day.” Hen stated as pulled out of his arms. 

“Is that a good thing?” Buck asked as he followed after the EMT. 

“I wouldn't say it's a bad thing.” Chim responded before taking a sip from his own mug. Buck shrugged before walking up to the counter, so happy his ankle isn’t bothering him right now. Eddie walked past him, getting his own mug and filling it before the group fell into a comfortable conversation. Buck watched as Bobby stepped away from them after a few minutes taking another mug from the cabinet. 

“Coffee or tea?” Bobby said loud enough for Buck to hear.  

“Tea.” Buck stated as Bobby set to work filling up the mug. The two still weren’t on talking terms except for a few things here and there. Since Buck started coming to the station, they have maybe said a handful of words to one another. Buck didn’t give two shits about it; it made his life easier. 

“So is Taylor coming today?” Hen asked as Buck took the warm mug from Bobby’s hand. 

“She probably will be here around 11 or so.” Buck responded before looking at the clock on the wall. 

“So, what are you thinking about doing for your birthday?” Hen asked before grinning at Buck. Eddie snorted, at the question. Buck blinked at them; it wasn’t his birthday yet that wasn’t until… Buck dug out his phone scanning the calendar over… oh…

“Oh… that’s next week isn’t it.” Buck whispered as the room got silent, all eyes on him. 

“You forgot!” Chim blurted. 

“Some things are just a blur.” Buck admitted. In truth he really had forgotten but he doubted that Eddie or anyone else would have, he is probably going to forget again anyways. 

“I thi-” Chim tried to continue before the alarm blared above them. Buck only flinched slightly as everyone grumbled around him, putting their drinks down and rushing down the stairs. Eddie pressed a kiss to his cheek before following the others. Buck picked up his mug, cradling it gently before moving over to the living area sitting down on the couch. He heard the pounding of boots on the stairs as John Barnett came racing up and he scanned the space over, before finally finding where Buck was. 

“Good there?” John asked as Buck smiled, giving a quick nod as John moved into the kitchen and grabbed something out of the fridge. He shook the bottle in his hand, before slamming the fridge shut. 

“We finishing that episode or watching something else?” Buck questioned as John smiled moving over to the living room. 

“Kind of want to see if they left the house or were idiots and staying in a demon infested place.” He admitted as Buck laughed. John flicked the tv on as Buck dug out the pen that was attached to the front of his journal. Settling on the couch a bit away from Buck, John kicked his feet up on the coffee table and found the ghost show. Flipping the journal open, he clicked the pen open and turned to start scribbling on the page, once he dated it.

Chapter Text

Eddie huffed as he set the fire extinguisher down between his feet, who the hell sets an animal shelter on fire? Some kind of sick person, Eddie reasoned as he looked over at Bobby. It wasn’t even like it was a big fire, but it was obvious that it needed to be dealt with, it only took Eddie and Bobby two fire extinguishers to finally put it out. Hen and Chim were tending to two volunteers as they tried to get the story of why a kennel had somehow caught on fire. 

“It’s all metal and concrete, how does that catch fire?” Eddie whispered to Bobby as the captain shrugged. 

“That would be gasoline.” Hen said as she walked over to the two of them. “Captain dumbass and sergeant idiot over there are high, they thought they could clean up the kennel faster by setting it on fire.” Hen chuckled as Eddie rolled his eyes. Of course, it was something dumb. 

“Please someone tell me some poor animal wasn’t in the kennel.” Bobby whispered. 

“Nope, the kennel was empty, but they didn’t want to deal with the cleanup.” Hen stated with a shrug as Chim helped one of the men to his feet. He needed to go to hospital, due to his trying and failing to put the fire out on his own. Eddie snorted before pushing himself off the neighboring wall and picking up the empty extinguisher as the captain followed suit. 

The kennels started up again, the barking overwhelming all other thoughts. Eddie scanned the different kennels, the dogs jumping up and down on the chain-link. He never liked the idea of these places; it wasn't fair to the animals. He scanned the canines as their voices reverberated through the building. 

“Poor babies.” Eddie heard Hen and glanced over to where she was looking. He froze his eyes glancing over the group of small faces staring at him. His mouth went dry as he stepped up to the fence, squatted down and slipped off his glove, the puppies started yelping excitedly trying to lick or bite his fingers. They were a span of different colors and coats, their eyes full of energy and excitement. Christopher always wanted a dog… He shook his head; they didn’t have time for a dog. Maybe a cat? 

“Eddie?” Bobby’s voice cut through his head as the captain stood there his arms crossed watching the puppies. Eddie blinked up at Bobby, before slowly getting back to his feet. Hen raised an eyebrow glancing back at the dogs before reading the card on the chain link. 

“So… dogs?” 

“No, we don't need a dog.” Eddie stated as he started walking. 

“I think a dog is always a good companion.” Bobby responded as he quickly met Eddie’s pace and Hen strode behind him. 

“Something to cuddle with, and to run with. I mean Christopher would love a dog.” Hen reasoned as Eddie groaned. He shouldn’t have done that.

“Look, we don’t have time for a puppy.” 

“Then adopt an adult dog, skip all the puppy stuff.” Hen stated as Eddie huffed. “I mean you could have a shepherd, lab, husky. I think that would be great.” 

“Guys.” Eddie said as they finally got out to the parking lot where the fire truck was. “We don’t need a dog; I mean where would it go while we are at work?” 

“I mean… I always wanted a firehouse dog.” Bobby admitted as Eddie stared at his captain. 

“I’m not getting a dog,” Eddie growled. 

“Think of it as not for you but what about Christopher… What about Buck!” Hen almost yelped, catching Eddie off guard. 

“What about Buck?” Eddie questioned actually very curious as to what Hen was trying to say. 

“Hen, are you gonna help or not?” Chim called from the ambulance as he finished loading the two idiots.

“I-”

“Go, we'll see you at the station.” Bobby waved at her as Hen huffed before trudging off towards the ambulance. Eddie was happy when the fire truck finally started moving and he gazed out the window. A dog? Maybe a cat. A cat could operate on its own. They didn’t have the time for a dog, and what if the dog had issues, he couldn’t risk that with Christopher or Buck. What did Hen mean? Was she just trying to confuse him or was it something else? Looking out the window he saw the pedestrians flying past, letting his head get fully consumed by his thoughts. 

“Eddie?” 

“Yes, Captain?” 

“You good back there?” 

“Yes, sir. Did you need something?” Eddie asked as they came to a red light. 

“Just making sure.” Bobby said into the microphone, confusing Eddie just that much more. What the hell was going on with everyone? Did they seriously want him to get a dog? They didn’t have time for a dog, who would take care of it? It would of course fall on his shoulders and Eddie groaned pinching at the bridge of his nose. He felt the shift in the truck as it started backing into the station. Eddie glanced out the window and pulled the headset off. 

“What was that captain?” Eddie asked as he jumped out of the fire truck, glancing at Bobby as they started to take off their gear. 

“What was what?” Bobby joked as he started back towards the loft once his gear was off. 

“You want a firehouse dog?” Eddie questioned. He heard Bobby give a laugh before heading up the stairs checking to see if Buck was still here. Eddie didn’t think that Buck was still here, it was almost 11:30 am.  

“I mean I wouldn’t mind, even thinking about getting a pet for the kids,” Bobby admitted as Eddie raised an eyebrow at the statement. There was a flurry of steps on the stairs as Hen practically rushed up to him, dragging Chim behind her. 

“Why do I feel like I’m a toy being dragged around by an overly excited five-year-old,” Chim muttered only to get a glare from Hen and Bobby blurted out a laugh.

“I think you should get a dog!” Hen almost yelled. 

“Okay be more to the point as to why?” 

“Look, Buck still has a thing about being alone. I mean it’s why he’s here all the time right?” Eddie nodded. “A dog could be another thing to help him overcome this fear. I mean he’d never be alone and if something did happen the dog could defend him.”

“Have to be a big enough dog.” Chim pointed out as Eddie considered that for a moment. 

“And! It would give him a reason to get out of the house again, right. You said he won’t leave the house without someone with him. Also, you could train the dog to calm him out of his panic attacks. Also, a dog would be extremely beneficial for Christopher, I mean come on Eddie all the positive things about this.” Eddie hummed it did seem rather beneficial. He couldn’t disagree with what Hen was pointing out. It was a big commitment; he’d have to think about it.

“Also, a perfect birthday gift.” Chim smiled. 

“Does this mean we have to go look at dogs now?” Eddie questioned as he accepted the idea of at least looking.  

“I mean I have off tomorrow.” Hen grinned as Bobby waved his hand. 

“As do I.” 

“How come you guys are always off at the same time?” Chim asked. 

“Because we are special.” Hen chirped. Chim made an irritated noise as Eddie rolled his eyes. 

“I don’t entirely agree with the idea yet but there is no harm in going and looking.” Hen chuckled as she rushed over to the dining table picking up her laptop and opening it. 

“What kind of dog, cause come on we gotta do our research.” Eddie huffed of course this was going to happen. Research it was…

Chapter Text

Eddie scanned his phone over again, he actually got up before Buck. A miracle, Buck was always awake before everyone else, probably because of his nightmares and paranoia. He groaned at the thought, Buck really was better physically. Mentally was another situation all together, he was becoming more and more fearful of things and Eddie didn’t know how to handle it. Yes, he was going to his therapist almost four times a week now, but it still wasn’t calming him down. Perhaps a dog would be beneficial and give Buck that feeling of control. The more he thought about it the more he was becoming used to the idea of having a dog walking around the house. 

A knock came from the door, and he quickly went to let the woman in. Taylor smiled at him holding the cardboard cup holder in her hand as she stepped into the house. She was dressed in a black long sleeve shirt and jeans with brown boots. Her hair was falling about her face before she blew the loose strands away from her eyes. 

“It’s far too early Eddie.” Taylor whispered as she glanced down the hall. “So why did you text me last night if I had plans for today?” Taylor raised an eyebrow at him, taking a sip of her coffee and handing him his own. 

“Well… I need you to take Buck for the day, because…” Eddie glanced down the hallway happy that the door still hadn’t opened, and Buck still seemed to be in bed. “I’m getting his present, hopefully.” 

“And this is an all-day event?” Taylor questioned. 

“It might be if we can’t figure it out right away.” Eddie informed. 

“So, you're going to leave me hanging?” Taylor smiled as Eddie huffed, taking one more look down the hall. 

“Might be getting him a dog.” Taylor nearly choked on her coffee. 

“You're getting him… a dog?” Taylor's voice rose a bit near the end and Eddie tried to hush her. 

“Maybe… It's just with everything it might be beneficial for him.” Eddie tried to reassure her that it was a good idea. 

“I’m not saying I’m against it, just surprised.” Taylor whispered. Eddie raised an eyebrow waiting to see if she continued. “Look I could never see you with a dog, and with your guy's schedule.” Taylor stated. 

“I know and I’ve been thinking about it, and everyone else thinks that it’ll be good for him. I mean, you know how he is.” Eddie muttered as he took a sip of his own coffee. Taylor leaned on the table, her nails clicking on the countertop as she thought. 

“Can’t argue with that. But what the hell am I going to do with him and Christopher all day?” Taylor asked. 

“I mean, there is the zoo, the aquarium. The park, and I heard that the fair was in town.” 

“There’s a fair?” 

“Yep, got to call about it after you guys came back from lunch.” Eddie stated as Taylor thought about it. 

“Haven’t seen the new exhibit at the zoo yet.” Taylor grinned, “Or we could go to the amusement park.” Eddie almost winced at the statement as Taylor chuckled. “I’m not that dumb Eddie, I’m not going to overwhelm either of them.” 

“Taylor?” Buck’s voice broke the two from their conversation. Buck was standing at the entrance of the hallway, still sporting his sleep attire. 

“Morning, Buck!” Taylor smiled as she waved at him, getting a confused wave back. Buck looked at Eddie who was dressed in his work gear and sipping on his coffee. 

“I thought you had off today?” Buck asked as Eddie raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend. 

“Bobby called me last night after you went to tuck Christopher in and asked if I could cover part of a shift today. Hopefully it won’t take all day.” Eddie lied. He hated lying to Buck, it always sat funny with him, and it twisted his gut a bit. This was necessary though, he told himself Buck would understand later. 

“Did you tell me or…” 

“No, I forgot to tell you. That’s my bad but I got to get going.” Eddie said as he glanced at the clock, noticing it was already 8:30. He looked back at Buck noticing him rubbing at the back of his neck, they didn’t really have anything planned for today. It was just supposed to be a lazy day around the house and ordering in lunch and dinner. He was actually looking forward to it, as was Buck mainly because Eddie had to take extra shifts to cover all the expenses. 

“Hey?” Eddie called breaking Buck out of his thoughts. “Bobby said I should be done around 3 or 4 so we’ll still have the evening to do something.” Eddie said as he put down his cup and moved to his boyfriend. 

“I just…” 

“I know.” Eddie whispered before pulling his boyfriend to him. “Like I said, it's not an all-day thing.” Eddie muttered as Buck groaned. 

“Fine, don’t do anything stupid.” 

“Can’t it's still all with you.” Eddie replied before pressing a kiss to Buck’s lips. 

“Hey, Casanova, don't you have a shift to catch.” Taylor addressed forcing the two men apart. Eddie wanted to glare at her, but he held the look back as Buck chuckled. 

“Yeah, I’ll see you.” 

“Love you Eds.” Buck whispered as Eddie started to pull away from his boyfriend. 

“Love you too.” 

“Hey Eddie.” Taylor called as Eddie turned to look at her before the red-haired woman threw his car keys to him. Catching them, Eddie grabbed his work bag, slinging it on his shoulder before heading out the door. Another ping came from his phone as he climbed into his truck and dialed the number that was still texting him. 

“Yes, I’m on the way. You can stop spamming me.” Eddie stated as he heard the laugh from Hen. 

“So, how’d you get out?” 

“I mean Taylor sort of saved me and I told Buck I had to work.” Eddie responded as he turned down the road heading in the direction of Hen and Karen’s place. He heard a murmur coming from Hen and he assumed she was talking to Karen. Eddie glanced out the window, his mind starting to wander. Was this really a good idea? He had already weighed a lot of the pros and cons out with Hen and the others yesterday. It had been a lot but ultimately the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Eddie drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he sat at another red light, they were going to be late for their appointment at this rate. 

“Am I picking up Bobby or is he at your place already?” 

“He just pulled up so don’t worry. You're certain you only wanted the one appointment today?” Hen asked.

“I mean… I don’t want to rush the whole thing, and if we can’t find one at this shelter, we’ll get another one at a different shelter.” Eddie stated as he heard Hen saying good morning to someone. 

“Also, Athena is here, so she’s probably going to be joining.” Hen informed as Eddie took a deep breath. He knew that Athena would be all over it once she found out what they were doing today. The stop light turned to green, and he was moving again, was this a good idea? It certainly felt like it was a move in the right direction, but he didn’t know. 

“You’re being quiet.” Hen said, snapping Eddie out of his thoughts. 

“Just thinking.” 

“That’s dangerous, stop it…. Nervous?” 

“I mean… I don’t know. I mean we made the appointment and stuff but what if a dog isn’t the right thing for us.” Eddie answered. 

“Then we’ll get you a cat.” Hen responded. “Look Eddie, when we got Paisley, it was hard in the beginning. Mainly because our entire world shifted to accommodate this dog as well as our already chaotic schedule. But honestly the best thing is coming home and snuggling on the couch with my family and paisley curled up on my lap. It’s literally the greatest thing that has come from my work besides my awesome friends. Just keep an open mind.” Hen stated as Eddie let that settle over him. 

“Okay, I’ll be there in about ten minutes.” Eddie said before hanging up the call. Was he overthinking this again? He might not even find a dog that he likes or one that would be beneficial for his family. There were so many things that the dog couldn’t be and that seemed to be sitting in the back of his mind nagging at him. He really needed to relax. 

He pulled up to Hen’s house parking along the road before getting out of the truck. Karen waved at him from the porch, before sipping at her coffee. 

“Morning Eddie. How are you?” Karen asked as he stopped on the porch, he’d get the others in a few moments. 

“I’m good. Just not really sure about this.” Eddie stated and he noticed Karen shrug. 

“You’ll figure it out. I think it’s a good idea, it’ll be good in the long run I think.” Karen smiled as Hen opened the door and promptly pushed her dog into Eddie’s hands. Paisley stared up at him panting slightly and her tail wagging so fast that it's hard for Eddie to fully focus on it. Hen was grinning at him as Athena leaned on the other side of the door frame. 

“How does that make you feel?” 

“Um…” Eddie hesitated before passing the little dog off to Karen. “I think we are going to be late.” Eddie whispered. Athena nodded as Hen glanced at Bobby before motioning him to follow after and the group climbed into the truck. The group of four sat in silence as Athena watched Eddie from the backseat, her hands wringing slightly. 

“So, a dog.” 

“Maybe…” Eddie commented as Bobby raised an eyebrow. 

“Maybe? Why maybe?” 

“I just… I don’t know.” Eddie responded. 

“Also why are you in your uniform?” Hen asked as Eddie shrugged. 

“I had to tell Buck; I was called into work.” He heard the chorus of ahhs from the back and they fell back into silence. 

“Did you narrow it down?” 

“Yeah, we have three dogs that we are seeing. Maybe we’ll go walk around the shelter as well and see if there are any others we want to see.” Eddie informed. 

“That was fast, how’d you get this all organized in a day?” Athena asked. 

“Well, it's the shelter that we stopped from burning down yesterday, they were very accommodating when they found out who we were.” Hen chuckled at the statement before looking out the window, noticing the building coming up fast. Eddie pulled into the parking lot, a little confused as to why really no one was here already.

“So, what kind of dogs?” Athena questioned. 

“A lab mix, a rottweiler and a German shepherd mix.” Hen stated as they climbed out of the vehicle. Eddie took one more glance around the parking lot before shaking his head and moving to the main door. Pulling it open he allowed the others in first as the woman at the desk got up to welcome them. Eddie shifted a bit from one foot to the other as the woman introduced herself.

“Hello, I’m Sophia. Are you guys for the 9:45 meeting?”

“Hi, I’m Hen, that's Athena, Bobby and Eddie.” Hen said as she shook Sophia’s hand. 

 “Great, it's nice to meet you all. I’ll take you back to the room and we can introduce the first dog.” Sophia guided them back into a small room, windows lining one wall and three chairs sat to the far side. Eddie remained standing as the others quickly took their seats and Sophia disappeared out the door. 

“Are you certain you don’t want to sit?” Bobby asked. 

“I’m okay, I’ll stand.” Eddie confirmed as Sophia returned with the first dog. The brown furred dog was almost bouncing at her side, there were tan markings above her eyes and around her muzzle before rushing down to her stomach and lower legs. 

“So, this is Mocha.” Sophia stated as she shut the door behind them. Mocha’s curled tail was swinging wildly back and forth, her blue eyes scanning over each of them. “She is an 11-month-old lab, husky mix. As you can tell she is full of energy, loves kids and is pretty easy to train.” Sophia stated before unclipping the leash. Mocha immediately raced forward leaping up on Eddie, and he was happy he was ready for the jump. The dog was licking his hands as he rubbed her on the chest and neck. 

“She’s so cute and she is super energetic.” Hen laughed as Mocha turned her attention to the woman darting over to her to get pets. 

“Maybe a bit too much. What if she jumps up on Christopher?” Eddie asked as Athena nodded. “He could get seriously hurt.” 

“That’s a real fear, we don't want Chris getting hurt.” Athena muttered as Mocha moved to her and pawed at her leg trying to get the sergeant's attention.

“So…” 

“Perhaps the next one.” Bobby stated as Sophia snagged Mocha’s collar and clipped the leash on before leading her out of the room.   Eddie shifted glancing the others over, this was a lot maybe he shouldn’t have done this. 

“Okay, so this.” Sophia said as she entered the room, a large rottweiler at her side. The dog looked across the room, his body tensing almost, and Eddie felt himself shift, there was something off with this dog.  “This is Toby, he’s about a year and half old rottweiler. He is a very calm dog, pretty laid back in the regards of most new people” Eddie shifted again at that. “He does favor women over men, because of his background.” Sophia stated as she went to remove the leash. 

“Actually, the dog is going to be in an all-male household.” Eddie stated and Sophia stopped mid motion. 

“Okay, got it. Moving on.” She said disappearing out the door rather quickly. 

“So much for that dog.” Athena grinned, getting a laugh from everyone else. 

“Even so… it would be at the station and it's mostly guys.” Bobby commented before shifting in his chair trying to get comfortable, there was only so much he could in the plastic chairs. 

“We don’t need someone getting a ride in the ambulance because the dog attacked.” Hen added, getting a small chuckle from Eddie.

“Let’s hope the third time's the charm.” Bobby grinned. The door creaked open as Sophia stepped in with a long coated black dog, the only part of the dog that wasn’t jet black was a white stripe running down between its eyes and around its muzzle. 

“This is Shadow, he is a five-year-old Shepherd mix. He’s a very chill dog, doesn’t like to jump and is very adaptable and easy to train even though he’s a bit older.” Sophia informed as she undid the clip. Shadow took a look around the room, gazing Eddie over before slowly moving towards Hen and pressing his head to her knees, his back end stopping at Athena. Eddie watched the dog for a moment, why didn’t this feel right? 

“Oh my gosh you are the sweetest.” Hen beamed as the shepherd licked at her hand.

“So soft too, and just super friendly.” Athena smiled as Shadow moved his head towards her for scratches. 

“I think…” Bobby stopped himself, as the canine moved to him. Its head resting on his leg as he scratched the dog between the ears. “He’s gorgeous.” Eddie shifted as the dog glanced at him once more before pressing itself into his captain's legs. 

“I don’t know… isn’t it a bi-”

“Such a good boy.” Athena laughed as Shadow returned to her, pressing himself as much as he possibly could to the woman. Eddie rubbed at his shoulder; he didn’t know what to do in this situation. 

“I think he’s perfect, Eddie.” Hen grinned as she scratched the dog under the chin. 

“I… doesn’t it seem a bit too good to be true.” All eyes were on him in moments, confusion on all their faces. 

“What do you mean?” Athena asked.

“I mean if he’s the perfect dog, friendly, chill… It just... shouldn’t he have been adopted already?” Eddie questioned as he glanced at Sophia who shrugged.

“Some people don’t see it like that. They see a German Shepherd.” 

“Eddie, you are overthinking. Isn’t that the point of coming? We are looking for the perfect dog, and he’s sitting right here.” Hen spoke up before returning to scratching the dog between the ears. 

“I don’t know… I just feel li-”

“Relax Eddie, l mean look how good he is.” Athena gestured towards where Shadow was pressed into Hen. 

“I… I think I’m going to need a minute.” Eddie whispered before moving towards the door. 

“Okay, take all the time you need. It’s a big decision.” Bobby stated as Eddie slipped out the door. He looked down the hallway, noticing the door at the end where the barking was coming from. Eddie huffed before slowly walking towards the door, peeking inside before entering. The chorus of barking filled his head, the dogs leaping up and down along the kennels. Some were howling and others seemed more aggressive. Eddie started down the aisle, glancing the kennels over. Was he overthinking this? It might be the dog for him… or maybe it means he shouldn’t get a dog? He groaned and rubbed at the back of his neck, why was this so hard? The dog didn’t even like him, it wouldn’t even come near him. 

Maybe he should just get a cat and move on. Cats are nice, they are independent and don’t need constant attention. Christopher likes cats, Buck probably doesn’t really care either way… Carla is allergic to cats. Dios , he forgot about that. He couldn’t get a cat if she was still coming around the house and helping. 

He looked around the kennels again and stopped his eyes locking on a blue Pitbull sitting in the far corner of the cage. She was sitting there silently, her ears lowered and her tail motionless, her chin was white, and it raced down her chest. The color leaked down along the back of her front legs, painting her front paws white. Her back paws matched the rest of her grayish color, and she was watching him with big brown eyes. Eddie glanced the card on the chain-link over, before stepping towards the door. Her muzzle was covered in thin lines, there was scarring around the side of her neck and discolored some of the white fur on her chest and around her right front leg. 

Chloe . Eddie gazed down at the Pitbull again, before squatting down to get eye level with the dog. Slowly, the canine pushed herself to her feet and very cautiously made her way towards him, her blue nose pressing through the chain-link to get a sniff of him. Her tail started to wag, swinging back and forth gently as Eddie offered his hand to her. 

“I think he’s over thinking, again. He’s going to stress himself out.” Hen stated as she rubbed Shadow’s chin feeling the dog press himself further into her touch. 

“Bobby, maybe you should go find and talk to him.” Athena suggested. 

“Yeah maybe, or maybe I could give him his space so he can properly process everything.” Bobby reasoned. 

“Getting a dog is a big commitment.” Sophia added. 

“Bobby, go talk to him and bring him back.” Hen snapped as Bobby slowly started getting to his feet. The door opened a second later as Eddie stepped into the room. 

“Well, you weren’t gone that long.” Bobby chuckled before sitting back down in his chair. 

“Can we see another dog?” Eddie asked Sophia who seemed rather surprised. 

“Oh, yeah. Of course, did you see one you liked?” 

“Yeah, in the back. The card said her name was Chloe.” Sophia froze contemplating that for a few moments before cocking her head slightly at him. 

“You want to see Chloe? You said over the phone yesterday that you wanted a social dog. Chloe is very timid.” Sophia stated. 

“I still want to see her.” Eddie confirmed. Sophia hesitated before grabbing the end of the leash and moving towards Shadow. 

“Come on boy, lets g-” The shepherd spun snapping at Sophia’s hand barely missing skin. The dog’s ears flattened against his head, and his teeth bearing. It took Sophia a moment to get the dog’s collar as it snarled but didn’t attack and she forcefully dragged the dog out of the room. 

“You made a good choice.” Athena whispered. 

“So, you found a dog you liked?” Hen asked as she moved a little in her chair waiting to hear from her friend. Eddie rubbed at his neck, a little uncertain of the whole situation that he just saw. 

“Yeah… she was just sitting there not barking and when I went up to the cage, she came over to him. She was so nice…” Eddie answered as he saw the smiles from both Athena and Hen. 

Sophia pushed the door open a few minutes later as the dog carefully entered the room. She gazed around at everyone as Sophia unclipped the leash. Chloe gazed up at Sophia for a moment before immediately going to Eddie and sitting at his feet. She pressed her body into Eddie’s legs, getting him to kneel and rub the dog between the ears. 

“Well, she most certainly seems to like you.” Hen beamed. 

“Not what I thought you would choose, but she seems like a good dog.” Chloe’s tail thumped on the ground and moved more into Eddie’s hands not wanting the stroking to stop. 

“Oh, right… Um, this is Chloe she is a Pitbull we aren’t certain of her age. She was found and brought here after the tsunami. The doctors believe that she was a bait dog in illegal dog fighting, that’s why she has all the scars. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body.” Sophia informed the group, as Chloe pulled away from Eddie and sniffed Bobby. 

“Dog fights? Seems like you two have something in common Eddie.” Athena joked only to get a snort from Eddie. Bobby scratched Chloe’s chin as the dog moved closer to him, her tail moving faster and faster before moving onto Athena. 

“Well, are you happy Eddie?” Bobby asked as Chloe licked at Hen’s hands, the excitement rolling off of her in waves. 

“I mean…” Eddie whispered. Chloe’s ears perked up a bit and she pulled away from Hen moving back to Eddie, her attention fully on him. Her entire butt wiggled with enthusiasm, as her big brown eyes stared up at Eddie and he couldn’t help the smile. 

“Yeah… I’m happy.” Eddie answered as he knelt down, and Chloe pressed herself into him. 

Chapter Text

Buck snorted as Hen almost prattled on around him, waving at him to sit in one of the many stools around the island. Bobby stood behind the counter cooking something that smelt so good it made his mouth water. Buck shifted again, he didn’t want to sit, he wanted to stand as much as he possibly could. 

“You know you don’t have to do all this.” Buck stated as Hen rolled her eyes. 

“It’s your birthday, Buck. There is a whole celebration that needs to happen, so yes, we are going to do this for you.” Hen responded as Buck rolled his eyes. 

“It’s not that big of a deal.” Buck muttered as Bobby glanced at him with a small raise of his eyebrow. 

“It’s your birthday, Buck. It is a big deal, why do you think it’s not?” Hen asked as Chim strolled up and into the loft three small gifts in hand placing them on the dining table.  Buck played with the pen that was sitting on the counter, spinning it around in his fingers. 

“My parents never really celebrated it.” Buck admitted. He felt the looks from the others and the silence seemed to echo through the loft. He never talked about his past, but it seemed that everyone already had a good idea about what his parents were like. Especially since his parents kept trying to make their presence known in his life, he didn’t get it. They never cared and suddenly they just wanted to be around him. 

“I’m really starting to hate your parents.” Hen grumbled, getting a laugh from the young man. 

“Well, that’s why he has a new family.” Chim called as he returned to the kitchen leaning on the counter next to Buck. “I mean come on; he’s stuck with us all now.” Chim grinned as Buck rolled his eyes. 

“I jus-” Buck started as Eddie’s voice carried into the loft. 

“I swear if you are having that conversation, that we had this morning.” Eddie called as he carried Christopher up and into the loft. Buck smiled before moving to the boy's side and getting a hug from him. 

“I’m pretty sure it's about us not having to celebrate.” Chim said as Eddie huffed and looked at his boyfriend. He couldn’t help the grin that covered his face, as he watched his two boys get settled at the dining table. 

“You sit at the head, Buck.” Bobby stated as Buck shifted to look at his captain, surprised the man was even speaking to him.  

“Why do I-” 

“Because Buck. Just because.” Hen responded and Buck grumbled before moving to the head of the table back facing the kitchen but still making sure that Christopher was beside him. Eddie glanced at Bobby, noticing the smile on the man’s face before he walked to where the captain was starting to dish out the meals. 

“So, what time?” 

“Sophia texted and said she’s about ten minutes out.” Eddie whispered so no one else around the room could hear them. 

“Good, presents after the main one or before?” Bobby asked and Eddie shrugged. 

“Doesn’t matter really. I mean I’m starving.” Eddie responded, getting a small chuckle from the captain as he dished out the first plate passing it off to Eddie. 

“Did you tell Christopher?” Bobby questioned. 

“I did and introduced them yesterday. He’s very excited.” Eddie confirmed before putting the full plate down and handing off an empty one. 

“I heard there is a birthday.” Athena called as she walked up the steps with Maddie on her heels. Buck laughed as he got to his feet and embraced the sergeant before pulling his sister into a hug as well. “Look at you all good and healthy. Actually, getting weight back on your bones.” Athena laughed as Buck snorted. Eddie started dishing out the plates, putting them in spots around the table. 

“Trying. Finally good enough to start training again and hopefully soon back out in the field.” Buck admitted as Athena raised an eyebrow at the firefighter. Her thumbs hooked into her belt as she studied the young man in front of her. He most certainly seemed to be recovering but she knew better. “‘Thena?” 

“Huh? Sorry, buckaroo just got in my head a bit. Come on, I have a short lunch.” Athena said, as she offered her arm and Buck quickly took it before the two walked to the table. Eddie shifted as his phone went off again, and he glanced at the text. 

“I’ll be right back.” Eddie whispered before slipping away from Bobby and Chim quickly took over his position. He glanced over at the table, making sure that Buck wasn’t actually focused on him before quickly descending the stairs. Going out the side door, he waved at Sophia as she opened the back of the van where a large crate sat. Chloe was almost vibrating with excitement as Eddie smiled at the woman and dog. 

“So… the owner wanted to thank you for everything.” Sophia started getting a confused look from Eddie. “You know the fire and stuff… So, we um… we started playing an alarm very similar to the one in the firehouse, while she ate so she wouldn’t freak out when she heard it. It’s not much, but we thought it would be helpful.” Sophia rubbed at her arm, her face tinting red. 

“You didn’t need to do that.” 

“We wanted to, also I brought her lambchop, as it's one of the only toys she likes.” Sophia said as she scooped up the white lamb plush toy. Sophia handed the toy off to Eddie as he happily accepted it and she unlocked the cage and slid the slip lead over the pitbulls head. 

“Where’d Eddie goes?” Buck asked as he shifted looking around for his boyfriend. 

“Well, he went to get your gift.” Athena smiled as Christopher beamed and Buck glanced at the young boy. 

“Christopher, you, okay?” Buck asked as Christopher bounced a bit, his excitement almost contagious for everyone around the table. 

“I’m okay.” Christopher grinned as Maddie chuckled a seat away from the young boy. 

“Do you know what your dad went to get?” Buck question. 

“Yes.” 

“You want to tell me?”

“Buck, that’s cheating.” Christopher squealed, getting a laugh to escape everyone. 

“Yeah, Evan, that's cheating.” Maddie laughed as Buck rolled his eyes. 

“I don’t like not knowing things.” He noticed Athena shift and he went to spin but the sergeant gave a tutting noise. 

“No, you don’t. Close your eyes and cover your ears.” Maddie said as she got to her feet. Buck stared at his sister in confusion, trying to figure out why he needed to cover his ears.

“Wait, why?”

“Just cover them, Buck.” Chim commented as Buck huffed a breath and closed his eyes, covering his ears with his hands. He didn’t know what was going on around him but he could hear the chairs scraping against the ground. The chair under him moved back a bit and he tried to keep his calm, taking a deep breath. He was fine, he was fine. A small tap came from his wrist, and he felt hands pull his arms down. 

“Don’t open your eyes yet.” Eddie’s voice stated as Buck tried to listen. Something was off, as a noise clicked against the ground and there was a panting noise. What the hell? “Okay.” Buck blinked his eyes open, and he looked up at his boyfriend who was smiling down at him. 

“Wh-” He didn’t even get the word fully out of his mouth before something licked at his right hand, startling him. A pair of big brown eyes stared up at him, and the dog licked her lips waiting. Buck just glanced back up at Eddie, a mixture of confusion and surprise on his face. 

“Surprise.” Eddie grinned as Buck reached out towards the dog. She moved forward pressing her chest to his knees and she turned her head into his touch. 

“You… you got me…” Buck whispered trying to find his words as he heard Christopher laugh. 

“You know we thought it would be good for you to have someone with you all the time.” Athena stated as Buck glanced up at the table realizing that Hen was filming him, but he didn’t care. 

“What… how… what?” Buck asked as he got up from the chair and sat on the ground. The pit bull stepped forward pressing into his chest, her head rubbing against him trying to get as much petting as she could. 

“Her name is Chloe.” Eddie informed. 

“Chloe.” Buck whispered as the dog turned her head to look up at him, her tongue going over his chin. His hands stopped over a scar and Buck shifted to look at her fully taking note of all her scaring. It was like his, all on her right side and he felt his heart flutter. She was just like him. 

“What do you think?” Eddie asked, sounding genuinely curious. 

“I could marry you right now.” Buck smiled as the group laughed. “Hello, Chloe,” Buck whispered to the dog as she licked at his face more and he couldn’t stop smiling. 

Chapter Text

Bobby huffed as he recalled the number for the tenth time in the past few minutes. That wasn’t like Buck. That wasn’t like him to not show up after everything that he did. Even if he wasn’t coming to work, he would have at least called him and told him he wasn’t able to make it. Bobby shifted as he pulled up to the address that Buck had written on the form. It actually wasn’t that far away from the station, Bobby thought he would have moved further away. Parking in a spot, he got out running a hand through his hair before fixing his uniform. Why did this not make sense? He glanced down at the time on his phone, 9:42 am.  

Quickly depositing the coins in the meter, he started towards the apartment, double-checking it was the right number. Moving up the steps, he noticed Buck’s jeep in a spot. Bobby mumbled this was stupid, he didn’t want to be here but here he was. He was still angry at Buck; everything was just so hard right now. What the hell was the kid even doing? He was so quiet now and stayed away from them. Perhaps that was because of Buck’s constant screw-ups, it wasn’t like they were large mistakes. Bobby groaned, he really needed to get this shit in check. He doesn’t mean to get so heated around Buck, he really doesn’t but then everything from the lawsuit comes rushing back and he can’t control himself. 

He knocked on the door as he huffed, scanning the phone in his hand, hoping Buck had actually acknowledged the texts and calls. Come on, kid! Bobby shifted in front of the door, before sliding his phone into his pocket. What the hell was Buck doing? Tapping his foot on the ground, he crossed his arms. He knocked on the door again not entirely sure why the hell Buck wasn’t answering. Was he even here? Bobby grumbled and dug his phone out dialing Buck’s number again. 

The ringing was too close, and he froze, noticing it was coming directly from the other side of the door. His brain stopped, his heart almost freezing in his chest, his eyes scanning the door. That couldn’t be right. Why were all the alarm bells going off in his head? He pounded on the door again, ringing the phone again, hearing it play on the other side of the piece of wood, just out of his reach. He scanned the area, noticing the windows were covered. Checking the street, he was surprised to notice it was empty before moving down the steps. He tried to look through the window, unable to see much of anything with the curtains closed. He called the number again hoping he didn’t hear it on the other side of the door, and his stomach plummeted when he realized it still hadn’t moved. 

How the hell was he going to get inside? He didn’t have a key, he had no way to get into the apartment, at least he might be able to kick it down? Was that overstepping? What if Buck was just sick and breaking down the door was the last thing he wanted or needed right now. But why would Buck not have his phone on him? Bobby took a deep breath, alright think this through. You’re just freaking out, it might not be a big deal. He glanced up at the door again, noticing the mailbox attached to the wall. Oh please don’t be this stupid. Bobby thought as he opened the mailbox digging around the pieces of mail, noticing some from this morning. Nothing… He stared at the box for a few moments before shifting a bit and took note that it was slightly off kilter. Reaching forward to the bottom edge he pulled the box forward as a clatter came from his feet. The gold key landed at his boots, and he had to contain the annoyed noise he wanted to make. Of course, it was in such an obvious place. Picking up the key, Bobby went to unlock the door. 

You’re overthinking, maybe he just forgot his phone on the steps. Or maybe there was a table in the entrance way. Yeah, that made sense. He’s probably just sick, and maybe Bobby can try to figure his shit out. He took an unsteady breath before pushing the door open, the obnoxious orange case catching his attention immediately. It laid there, on the ground a crack running along the screen and Bobby felt his heartbeat quicken and he scooped up the device. There was no reason it should be here. His eyes scanned the stairs, hoping and praying the younger man didn’t fall and hurt himself. It was the only explanation that made sense in his head. 

His eyes locked on blood on the landing above, having long since dried, splatters painting some of the wall. Bobby stared at the blood, his heart leaping up into his throat as he made a careful step up the first of the steps. More blood screamed back at him and Bobby tried to contain his racing heart, this was bad! He sprinted up the last few steps coming to a halt on the landing, his eyes scanning the ripped apart kitchen. His eyes landed on Buck, and Bobby felt his heart leap up into his throat, his stomach spinning at the sight in front of him. Buck was laying on the ground unmoving, there was dried blood matted in his hair and down the side of his neck. His face is black and blue, there were six small circles seared into his skin turning it almost a maroon. He had an injury to his right shoulder that was wrapped in bloody towels. Glass was embedded into Buck’s right arm, and pieces were torn through his shirt staining the fabric red. His breathing was painful and seemed too shallow, Buck’s ankle was twisted the wrong way.  

Bobby almost dropped the phone before racing across the room and knocking the glass pieces away with his boot as he dialed 911. Putting the device on speaker he dropped it to the ground and slowly reached up to Buck’s bruised face. He heard a moan behind the tape as he touched the battered skin. He set to work undoing the blindfold over the man’s eyes, taking extra care as a voice finally came over the phone. 

“911, what’s your emergency?” The familiar voice started and Bobby quickly pushed the thoughts aside as Buck slowly blinked at him with bleary eyes. 

“This is Captain Nash of firehouse 118, I’m at 5830 Wyman Roads Apt. 1902. One of my firefighters, Evan Buckley, was attacked. I need police and paramedics here immediately.” Bobby stated as he carefully peeled the tape off the younger man’s mouth, he tried to be gentle but he still got a pained moan from Buck. 

“Wait, Cap- Bobby? Wait, what’s happening? What happened to Evan!” Maddie’s voice sounded so panicked and Bobby had to snap himself from his thoughts as he scanned the area around him. The one day, he didn’t bring his knife to work; he needed to find something to cut through these zip-ties. Bobby noticed the discarded steak knife not too far away he scrambled for the weapon, knocking some of the glass shards into his hand but he didn’t care. Snagging the end of the blade he started to cut through the zip-ties finding it a bit harder than it should be. 

“Maddie, it’s going to be okay… but I need you to transfer this call to your supervisor.” Bobby stated as he finally got through the plastic. 

“... Okay…” Maddie’s voice was quiet as he heard a faint shuffle on the end of the line. Bobby refocused on Buck, who was just staring at him, his gaze was unfocused. Carefully he reached up, touching the younger man’s face trying to get his attention. Buck flinched at the touch, getting a pained whine to escape him. 

“Just hold on, Buck. Help’s on the way.” Bobby whispered. 

“Captain Nash, police and paramedics are on the way. Can you tell me exactly what is going on?” An older woman’s voice came over the phone and the relief flickered through Bobby.

“I’m not entirely sure what happened.” Bobby admitted. Buck tried to move away from his touch and Bobby shifted his hand from the younger man’s face to his good shoulder, keeping him as still as he could. “He is still conscious, and he has some difficulty breathing, probably from cracked or broken ribs. He has a head inj-” Bobby didn’t get another word out before Buck was trying to move. Using his good arm, he tried to get away from the older man. Bobby had to scramble to try to stop him from hurting himself more. 

“Buck, try not to move you're going to hurt yourself. It’s Bobby, it’s okay. You’re safe, you’re okay.” Bobby whispered but Buck was still trying to get away. His eyes locked with Bobby’s for a moment and there was a mixture of panic and pain in his eyes before he tried again to move, only aggravating his injuries more and causing him to yelp. 

“Buck, you have to stop. You’re making your injuries worse, you have to stop moving.” Bobby worried as he tried to stop the man from moving once more. He heard a pained cry as he tried to stop Buck and it seemed his strength was finally gone as he laid back down. “Relax, I need you to relax. You’re o-” Bobby tried to comfort him, tried to reach out and touch him but Buck was immediately pulling away. He was scared to be touched, okay Bobby could deal with this. This wasn’t time to start panicking, he needed to stay level-headed. 

“Okay… okay, I’m not going to touch you. I’m not going to touch you, but you have to stay still and try not to move. Okay.” Bobby reassured and Buck met his eyes again. His breathing was growing more difficult and Bobby had to stop himself from trying to reach out again. Buck always sought out comfort from touch, and now he didn’t want that. Bobby was almost at a loss of what to do to help comfort the young man. 

“S-s-s-so-sor-sorr-s-s-orry.” Buck stuttered and Bobby had to calm himself. He moved closer to Buck’s head, his back fully facing the entrance. Buck was watching him with confusion, was he confused as to why Bobby was here. 

“It’s okay. It’s okay, I didn’t mean to hurt you. You don’t have to apologize, you’re okay. You’re okay, I promise. I just need you to stay still, okay.” Bobby whispered. 

“S-s-s-sor…” Buck’s voice drifted for a moment and the confusion clouded Bobby’s features. 

“Buck, hey, you’re okay. You’re okay. Why are you ap-”

“L-la-la-l-l-l-at-at-lat-e…” Bobby stared at the younger man in horror. Why was Buck saying he was late? What did he mean?

“Wo-wo-w-w-w-work-or-ork-rk…” Bobby felt the tears in his eyes, he felt the reality of those words sinking in. Buck was worried because he was late for work? Bobby felt his stomach churn, the words finally digesting and he could feel the bile almost crawling in him. Buck was scared of him, because of how he had been treating him. Bobby took a shaky breath trying to push the tears and the lump in his throat down. He did this, he made Buck so scared that even when he was tortured for god-knows how long, he was more scared of Bobby. Bobby tried to get his words to form, tried to bring some comfort. What did he even do? What could he do? 

He remembered how excited Buck was when he finally returned to the station, and how Bobby quickly squashed that energy. Stopped him from going out on calls and giving him all the chores around the station. Even one thing was wrong or out of place and Bobby couldn’t control the anger that ran rampant through him, letting the younger man have it. Soon enough he started spending less and less time in the loft, skipping group meals and Bobby never said anything about it. He thought the kid needed to be taught a lesson but this… he should have gotten his head out of his ass so much sooner. Now here Buck was scared of him, because he was missing work when that should be the least of his concerns. Bobby took a shaky breath feeling the tears streaming down his face. 

“I’m so sorry Buck. I’m so sorry. I’m the one that screwed up… I’m going to get you out of here and I’m the one who should be apologizing.” Bobby whispered as he moved closer to the young man’s head, and gently touching his jaw, Buck didn’t jerk away. However, Bobby knew that wasn’t a good sign as Buck’s eyes started to flutter closed, and all the panic was screaming inside Bobby. He couldn’t let him pass out. “Buck, I need you to stay awake. I need you to stay with me. Help is on the way.” Bobby felt his heart pounding in his chest so hard his ribs were screaming back against him. His eyes snapped to the phone and he scrambled to get the device, making sure it was still calling dispatch. 

“How long until paramedics are here?” Bobby asked as he lightly shook the younger man’s shoulder, getting his eyes to open a few moments later. 

“They are still about fifteen minutes out.” The woman’s voice answered. Bobby felt his stomach drop, how were they still that far out? He needed them there now, he needed them here right now! His eyes snapped to Buck as he felt the younger man shift against his grip, something was off there was almost a panicked look in his eyes. Did Buck just realize that Bobby was really there? He opened his mouth to say something but the words died on his tongue as something pressed against the back of his head, and he heard the shift of boots behind him. 

“Hang up…” The man behind him hissed and Bobby couldn’t will himself to move. He wasn’t paying attention, he hadn’t even heard him enter the apartment and now he just put them both at risk. He should have been paying more attention to what was going on around him. Shit. Bobby glanced at the phone, the feeling of dread crawling through him, the police were still fifteen minutes out. 

“I said, HANG UP!” The man yelled as Bobby heard a mixture of whispers on the other end of the phone line as he reached for the device ending the call. “Push it away.” The man ordered as Bobby skidded the device along the ground. “Get up.” The gun was pressed more firmly into the back of Bobby’s skull and he slowly pulled his hands away from Buck, raising him as he went. Pushing himself to his feet he felt the gun shift from his head to his spine. 

“You don’t want to do this, we can ta-”

“Did I tell you that you could speak!” The man’s voice grew louder through the room and Bobby took a deep breath. He needed to keep his head about him, he couldn’t let this get out of hand. He had to keep Buck and himself safe, he needed to figure a way out of this. “You see those handcuffs.” The voice stated as Bobby’s eyes flickered across the kitchen’s surfaces finding the silver cuffs laid out on the kitchen table. 

“We can talk this through.” Bobby stated as he felt the gun press harder into his back. 

“You think this can be talked through. You’re funny… wait aren’t you…” The voice stammered as Bobby tried to keep his calm. Buck was wide awake again, perhaps the man’s voice snapped him back to reality. “Turn around and look at me, Captain Nash.” Bobby froze for a moment, this man knew who he was. Slowly Bobby turned shifting enough that he could look at who was currently holding him at gunpoint. 

Chase Mackey stared at him, his hair which was normally all proper and slicked back was wild and unruly. His eyes were bloodshot, and the bags under them were dark against his pale and ashen skin. His clothing was mismatched, and disorderly, he most certainly looked like a lunatic. Bobby’s eyes landed on the gun which was now pointed at his chest. His eyes snapped up to Chase’s as the man let out a laugh, his body shaking with the effort but the weapon barely moved. 

“After everything I heard about you, I’m surprised that you’re the one that came looking.” Chase blurted out, his laugh growing louder and Bobby could hear Buck trying to move again. He had to get this under control; he just needed to wait this out for the police to get here. 

“Look, we can work something out. My wife is a-” Chase quickly cut him off. 

“Work this out? Are you stupid? You called 9-1-1, you think you can work this out. What are you going to do? Offer me a way out of this where you both make it out of here alive. Either way you look at it, I’m fucking screwed! My famliy left me, beacuse I couldn’t come up with the stupid money that I would have gotten from the lawsuit. I lost my job because of him! I lost everything and now,” Bobby tuned out the man as he eyed the gun again. He could do this, he just needed to get the gun away from him, “My life got uprooted because of that fucking lawsuit and he just went back to his normal fucking life! How the fuck is that fair! You think I’m goi-” Bobby moved quickly to grab the gun from Chase’s hand but he hadn’t expected the man to be ready for that. 

Bang!

Chase stepped backwards, the gun still firmly in his grip as a shot went out and Bobby felt the burning on the side of his left biceps. He stumbled backwards, his right hand going to the injury as he almost tripped over Buck, but barely missed him before crashing down a bit away from the man. Bobby felt the sticky blood in his fingers before he risked a look at the injury, it was just a graze thank god. 

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!” Chase screamed, his voice sounding through the apartment. Bobby dared a look up at the man who was now waving the gun around, his gestures wild and wide. Buck had flinched away from the sound of the bullet and was slowly unclenching his eyes. Bobby shifted preparing to move towards the younger man before the gun was trained on him once again. “You did exactly the same thing that fucker did,” Chase pointed at Buck, “you think I wound’t have been paying attention! Don’t try to be the fucking hero! Stupid, fucking firefighters always trying to be someones fucking hero! Can’t you get it through your heads that not everyone wants to be saved!!!” Chase shouted. Bobby glanced at Buck, noticing the young man’s breathing growing faster, he was panicking. 

“Think about your family, what about your kids? I screwed up with my fami-” Bobby whispered, sliding a bit forward hoping that Chase hadn’t noticed. Chase spun towards him, a growl escaping his throat. 

“The difference is you killed your family! You have no fucking say in any business of mine. Your family are these fucking firefighters, so how about you shut your fucking mouth!” Chase snapped before he glanced at the entranceway almost looking for something. Bobby shifted again, moving just a bit closer to Buck, and it seemed the younger man noticed as well. Buck tried again to move but he didn’t have the strength and Bobby quickly shook his head getting the firefighter to stop moving. 

“I’m sorry, you're right.” Bobby whispered slowly getting his feet under him and Chase still seemed oblivious to it. “I shouldn’t have brought up your family.” 

“YOU DON’T GET TO SAY SHIT ABOUT MY FAMILY! YOU DON’T GET TO SAY ANYTHING! DO YOU UNDERSTAND, NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Chase exploded as he stepped closer to Buck, and the younger man tried to flinch away from him. “You aren’t getting out of this.” Chase growled as he put his right foot on Buck’s chest and Bobby’s eyes widened. 

“Wait, stop, I’ll do whatever you want just don-” Chase glared at him, the gun shifting from Bobby to Buck. 

“Didn’t I just tell you to shut the FUCK UP!” Chase shouted as he waved the gun around and Bobby froze. However Chase didn’t bother to use the gun before raising his foot and slamming his heel down on Buck’s chest. The scream made Bobby freeze every inch of his being screaming at him to do something. Chase was almost smiling as he stepped away from Buck, hearing the younger man gasping. Bobby tried to move forward before Chase aimed the weapon at him, the barrel aimed directly at his head, but he didn’t really care at this point. Buck was coughing, gasping for breath, blood appearing on the younger man’s lips. 

“What did you do!” Bobby wasn’t even aware that it was his own voice that escaped him, his eyes fully locked on Buck. 

“Oh No, no, no, no! You did this! You did this to him!” Chase yelled. Bobby tried again to move forward but the madman took a step towards him, putting himself between the firefighter and his captain. He needed to get to Buck, he needed to help him but how the hell could he even do that. “You know what, who even cares! You’re both going to die anyway, this way his will just be more painful and that’s exactly what he deserves. I want him to feel all the pain that he caused and maybe I should still go after those two on his phone.” Bobby glanced up at Chase trying to decipher what he was exactly saying then it hit him like a ton of bricks. Buck’s phone had a picture of Eddie and Christopher on the lock screen. Was he threatening Buck with hurting them? Bobby needed to do something, he needed to get that gun. 

The ringing of sirens grew, their noise almost drowning everything else out and Chase dared a glance towards the front door. Bobby was on his feet in moments, his hand going for the gun as Chase snapped his attention back to the fire captain. Bobby forced the weapon upwards, the barrel pointing at the ceiling, and he tried to wrench it free from the other man’s grip. 

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

The bullets dug into the ceiling above them, letting pieces of it rain down around them. Bobby tried again to yank the firearm free from the man’s grip but he had a death grip on the weapon. Chase yanked the gun further upwards, another shot ringing out before he pulled one hand away, and hit Bobby straight in the nose. Pain exploded from the injury and Bobby’s grip faltered and Chase stumbled backwards almost slamming into the wall behind him. 

“You bastard!” Chase growled as he pointed the weapon at Bobby. Bobby’s left hand was clutching at his nose for a moment, his eyes widening as Chase went for the trigger. 

Click…  

Click…  

Chase’s eyes widened as he stared at the now empty weapon, his voice faltering before he sputtered something incoherent. There was a mixture of panic on his features, Chase's feet were carrying him down the stairs a moment later. Bobby didn’t care though because the moment Chase was gone from his sight he was skidding beside Buck, his hands ghosting over the younger man’s chest. Blood was dripping down the side of his mouth, and his eyes were frantic. 

“Help is almost here, they are almost here.” Bobby whispered as he slipped his hand into Buck’s left. He could hear yelling outside, shouting at someone to drop their gun, before the deafening sound of gunfire exploded. Bobby had to force his attention back to Buck, his hand going to Buck’s face trying to get his attention. Buck’s eyes flitted across his features as he tried to open his mouth, the words coming out as nothing more than a pain noise. “Shhh… don’t talk, just try to keep breathing.” Bobby whispered. 

“LAPD! Hands up!” A voice that he didn’t recognize sounded into the apartment, the sound of footsteps raced up the stairs. The two officers glanced over the area, before their weapons lowered and they ushered the paramedics in. He isn’t certain what they are saying to him, as they quickly take over pushing him backwards away from Buck. His hand slipping from Buck’s as an EMT steps into his view inspecting him over. 

“I’m fine, please worry about him.” 

“But, captain.” 

“No, listen to me. I’m fine with only minor injuries, please focus on him.” Bobby begged as the woman glanced behind her at her two partners before giving a small nod and shifting so she was helping them. 

“We can’t let you go in there madam.” 

“My husband is in there, let me in!” Athena’s voice echoed upwards and Bobby shifted before casting another look at Buck. They had a mask over his mouth and nose, and were setting his neck in a brace. Bobby didn’t want to leave, he couldn’t leave. He needed to make sure that Buck would be okay, he needed to be certain of it. Then again, he was in the way wasn’t he. He felt a soft touch to his arm breaking him out of his head and he looked up at a young officer staring down at him. 

“Sir, your wife is here.” The young man stated and Bobby gave a small nod before forcing himself to his feet. “You don’t have to go if you aren’t fe-”

“I’m just in the way.” Bobby whispered pushing himself past the officer, giving Buck one final glance over his shoulder before heading towards the stairs. He can hear Athena’s gasp, and he forces his eyes up to her where she is standing in her civilian attire. Tears are clouding her eyes as he steps down to the ground level and his eyes immediately land on the white tarp covering a dark red stain and body. 

“Baby are you okay? What happened? Oh my god!” Athena whispered her hands going up to his face, forcing his attention back to her. His nose hurt but he knew it wasn’t broken or else the throbbing would be much worse. “Why aren’t you being tended to?” Athena asked her eyes, noticing the graze on his arm. 

“I’m… I'm fine…” Bobby mumbled, his eyes drifting back towards the door as a paramedic came racing out to get the backboard from the ambulance. “It’s just… just a blood nose and a graze.” Bobby responded but the panic didn’t seem to leave Athena. 

“Bobby… What is going on? Maddie called me and begged me to come here, she said you and Buck were in trouble. I got here and I saw the officers putting a sheet over a body, I almost had a heart attack.” Athena stated. 

“It’s Chase Mackey…” Bobby answered and he licked his lips before looking at the body. “He… he attacked Buck.” Bobby whispered as Athena’s face fell, the color draining from her face. 

“What! What do you mean he attacked Buck? How is he? Is he okay?” Athena begged trying to get some information from her husband but Bobby just shook his head. Athena glanced at the apartment, almost debating trying to get past the officers again but she ultimately stepped back towards Bobby. 

“I fucked up…” Bobby mumbled his hands going up to his face as he wiped some of the blood out from under his nose. Athena snapped her attention from the apartment to her husband. 

“Bobby… what do you mean you fucked up? What happened?” Athena asked but Bobby just shook his head. “Bobby, you have to talk to me.” Athena begged as her hands clutched his face, trying to drag his attention to her. “Baby what is going on?” 

“I did this…” Bobby whimpered as he fell to his knees, and Athena tried to keep him on his feet. “... all of this is my fault… If I hadn’t…” Bobby’s words faded as the first of the paramedics came down, the two others following after carrying the backboard. Bobby was back on his feet in moments, stepping closer to the gurney as they got Buck on it. Bobby had to swallow the bile that was rising in his throat as he looked at the blood spotted oxygen mask, an IV had been placed in his left arm. Buck was looking at him with pleading eyes and Bobby didn’t hesitate to slip his hand into Buck’s left giving it a soft squeeze to reassure him. He could hear Athena talking to the paramedics as they walked, but he was fully focused on Buck who was taking short breaths and trying desperately not to cough. They were soon at the ambulance and Bobby let his hand slip out of Buck’s. Buck however seems to freak out at that, his left hand trying to go up to remove the mask from his face. 

“Hey, Evan, don't do that.” The female paramedic stated as she had to force his arm back down on the gurney. That didn’t seem to stop Buck from trying to move however and Bobby stepped forward pressing his hand to Buck’s good shoulder and forearm. It was enough to calm the younger man and it was only then that Bobby really noticed that Buck was shaking. He was mumbling behind the mask, but he couldn’t tell what the younger man was saying. 

“Bobby, we’ll meet him there.” Athena said. She gripped her husband's arm trying to pull him away from the younger man as they started to load him into the ambulance. Bobby nodded, stepping away from the gurney as Buck tried again to move away from the paramedics. 

“You need to relax, Evan.” The male paramedic stated. Buck was shifting again and Bobby stepped forward ready to offer a hand when he heard it. It was quiet behind the mask but it was enough to make his heart almost freeze in his chest. 

“B-b-bo… d-d-d-da-dad.” Buck’s voice was quiet, pained. Bobby stopped dead in his tracks, his thoughts screeching to a halt. He felt his mouth go dry and before he knew it he felt Athena’s hand against his back. 

“Ride with your son.” Athena whispered as Bobby gave a quick nod before climbing up and into the ambulance. The doors slammed behind him a few moments later and he quickly laced his fingers into Buck’s right hand giving another reassuring squeeze. Buck was staring at him, more blood in the mask and he was starting to gasp. The paramedics were finishing setting up the IV, and getting the oximeter on Buck’s fingers. They made quick work of the young man’s shirt, cutting through it to assess the damage underneath and Bobby had to force his eyes away from his firefighter's beaten body. 

“You're doing great, Buck. We are going to be at the hospital soon, you're going to be okay.” Bobby whispered as he heard another pained gasp from the man as the paramedics continued to work. He could see Buck’s eyes fluttering and he gave another squeeze of his hand getting the younger man’s eyes to open more. “You have to stay awake just a bit longer, Buck.” Bobby stated as he glanced up that heart monitor, it was getting faster and the paramedics seemed to be aware of it as well. They started moving faster and once called for how far they are from the hospital but all Bobby could hear was the monitor growing faster and faster. 

“Evan, it's okay.” The female paramedic said. Bobby glanced down at Buck, his eyes rolled back into his head, the fogging of the mask stopping, and the sudden flat noise filled his head. His hand was pulled free from Buck’s and Bobby couldn’t get his body to move, he couldn’t get it to react. The only thing he could do was watch as the paramedics scrambled around the cabin one starting chest compressions. Everything is suddenly moving too fast, but his brain can’t keep up with it. The flatline noise rang in his ears as he felt everything tumbling down around him…

Buck… no… he can’t be dead. He can’t be gone, this was Buck. This was the same kid that ran into fires headfirst and was a beam of sunshine, this was Buck. The kid who survived a ladder truck, and a tsunami. Bobby could feel the tears streaming down his face but he couldn't move to wipe them away, he could just watch in almost slow motion as the paramedics performed CPR on his firefighter… on Buck… on his son . He couldn’t leave him, he couldn’t leave the 118 like this. Was this the universe's way to finally breaking him apart at the seams? Was it truly this cruel to him to rip everything away? 

He heard the beeping return as the paramedics got Buck, back his heart rate coming back on the monitor and Bobby could finally take in that breath that fled his body. The young man was still out cold but he was breathing, he was breathing! The mask was fogging up around the blood and Bobby couldn’t take his eyes off the young man’s rising and falling chest. Bobby could hear them talking, but he couldn't process the paramedics' words. He slides forward taking Buck’s hand back in his, his fingers quickly finding the young man’s pulse. He needed to be sure, he needed to feel it under his fingers. More tears raced down his face as he felt the faint thumping under his grip. 

He barely felt the ambulance shift before they were moving, and Bobby was following after his hand still gripping Buck’s wrist. No one bothered to separate them, something he was thankful for until they were actually in the hospital. A nurse stopped him from following and all the panic that was running through him came back at full force. He watched as Buck was carted away from him, the doors shutting behind the nurses and doctors. His heart was pounding in his chest, he needed to go with him. He needed to be with Buck. 

“You can’t go any further sir.” The woman said kindly. 

“I have to go with him. That’s my son, I have to go.” Bobby whispered as the woman shook her head. 

“I’m sorry but I can’t let you go any further. He’ll be okay, he’s in very good hands.” The nurse stated and Bobby wanted to retort, he really did but then he felt a hand on his shoulder. Athena stepped up to him, as she carefully pulled him away from those doors, and the nurse. 

“Thank you, his name is Evan Buckley and we’ll be waiting just over here.” Athena told the woman as she nodded. Athena guided her husband to the family bathroom first, and Bobby didn’t speak; he couldn't even look at her. 

“It doesn’t look like your nose is broken at least.” Athena whispered as she cleaned the blood from off his face. “Bobby?” Athena mumbled her thumb stroking his jaw as she tried to catch his eyes. “He’ll be okay.” 

“I… I don’t…” Bobby whimpered as more tears streamed down his face. Athena opened her mouth to speak but shut it after a moment before linking her hand with his. 

“Come on Maddie should be here any minute.” Athena said as she guided her husband out of the bathroom and towards the waiting room. Athena had to practically push him into a seat as Bobby rubbed at his hands, still small traces of blood on his fingers. He could feel the phone buzzing in his pocket, Buck’s as well but he didn’t dare to move. 

Bobby couldn’t draw his eyes away from them, he just watched Buck die in front of him… He couldn’t do anything to prevent it from happening. He did nothing to stop it. It could have been so easily avoided. That stupid lawsuit, it now had a bitter taste on his tongue. Did he let it go on for too long? What if… Bobby had to shake his head to stop the thoughts from tumbling out of him. He didn’t want to delve into that but his mind was already dragging him down that hole and he couldn’t claw himself out of it fast enough. He let this happen, he let it happen to Buck. He could have stopped it so soon, he should have just listened to the young man. He wouldn’t have… he wouldn’t have… Buck died! Bobby could feel his stomach spinning at the thought. God what did he do? 

Bobby didn’t even shift when he heard Maddie enter the hospital waiting room, she was panting and so panicky that Athena had to jump to her feet to grab the woman’s shoulders. 

“Athena! Is Evan okay? Is he alive? Oh my god…” Maddie gasped as she finally took in Bobby’s appearance and he dared to look up at the woman. The pure panic and concern on her features, the dread that seemed to linger through her body had him trying to control himself. “Bobby, what happened? Are you okay?” Maddie asked as she fell to her knees in front of her, the concern for his own wellbeing… he didn’t deserve that did he? He didn’t deserve her kindness after everything he has done. 

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry Maddie, this is all my fault. I’m sorry… I did this, I did this.” Bobby whimpered as the tears streamed down his face. Maddie’s face shifted to confusion, worry lacing her features. 

“Bobby, what are you talking about?” Maddie whispered. Athena was hovering at her side, and she gently placed a hand on her husband's shoulder trying to get his attention. 

“Bobby, why do you keep saying that? This isn’t your fault, you sa-” Athena started but Bobby shook his head, cutting her off. 

“If I had been the captain I was supposed to be, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m so sorry… this… the lawsuit shouldn’t have happened, Chase Mackey would have never been in Buck’s life… I’m sorry. I should have listened than everything over the past month wouldn't have happened. I’m so sorry, Maddie.” Bobby mumbled, his breathing was becoming harder. 

“What do you mean this past month… What did you do? What did you do to my brother?!” Maddie said loudly, catching other people's attention. Athena hushed the younger woman, she didn’t want to bring more attention to themselves. 

“I… I was unfair… I didn’t treat him like I should have… I’m so sorry, I screwed up. I should have listened to him, I should have trusted that he was ready… I shouldn’t have stopped him… I just… I couldn’t let him get hurt again…” 

“You couldn’t let him get hurt… you couldn’t let him get hurt? Isn’t he hurt right now! You were the one that stopped him from coming back to work. He is hurt right now, because of you.” Maddie snapped as she got to her feet, her own phone pinging from her purse. 

“Maddie, lower your voice, we are in a hospital.” Athena stated as Maddie snorted before running her fingers through her hair and digging her phone out of the pocket. 

“Why?” Maddie asked as she dismissed the phone call. 

“I did it out of fear, I couldn't let him get hurt again. I watched him cough up blood in front of me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t let him get hurt again… I thought… I thought I was doing the right thing… I’m so sorry…” Bobby cried, his voice still quiet. Maddie took a deep breath before shifting on her feet and glancing at the ground. 

“I get that… I do, it terrified the hell out of me too but he had it under control… what happened after…” Maddie whispered. 

“I was angry… I was so angry with him and I didn’t give him the time of day… I woul… I wouldn’t let him join on calls and I-”

“You what?!” Athena’s hiss was loud, louder than she intended it to be. 

“I didn’t mean too… I fucked up… I was just so angry with him and… and… I’m so sorry…” Bobby wept. 

“I can’t…” Maddie mumbled turning away from him before declining another call on her phone. “As much as I hate what you did to him… you still saved him today… You were there on that call and I heard you talking to him. I heard your apology, but you still… how could you be so cruel to him, after all he just wanted to get back to you. After everything you did to him…” Maddie growled as she pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes. Her anger wasn’t going to get her anywhere. 

“Maddie…” Athena whispered as Maddie huffed, dropping her hands to her side. 

“I just can’t believe this…” Maddie mumbled and she turned to look up as a nurse walked over to them, concerned about her features. 

“Sir, we should take a look at your injuries.” The woman whispered as she knelt down in front of Bobby. Bobby quickly shook his head at the nurse. 

“No, I can’t leave… I have to be here for him, I need to stay here.” Bobby mumbled as Maddie took a deep breath. 

“Bobby… you're hurt too… They need to take care of your injuries.” 

“I can’t leave him Maddie, I already failed him… I can’t do that again, I need to sta-”

“Bobby…” Maddie pinched the bridge of her nose. “You are of no use to Evan when you are like this. I get you want to be here for him and you will be once you are tended to. We’ll talk when you get back, but right now you have to let them take you.” Maddie stated as the man opened his mouth to oppose. 

“No, you need to go with her.” Athena ordered as Bobby huffed before slowly pushing himself to his feet and following the nurse away. Maddie waited for Bobby to be fully out of the waiting room before she shifted her attention to Athena who was just staring off in the direction her husband had gone. 

“Did you know?” Maddie whispered, getting the older woman’s attention. 

“If I had known it wouldn’t have happened. Chim didn’t say anything to you?” Athena asked as Maddie shook her head, as she glared down at the phone in her hand another text coming through. She scoffed refusing the call again, her anger for the person calling becoming obvious. 

“No… not a single word… He actually said that Evan was doing great…” Maddie growled as she took a deep breath. “Hen didn’t say anything.” 

“No.” 

“Evan would never tattle on someone on the crew, it's just who he is. He would never tell me even if I had to interrogate him for hours… this is so fucked up…” Maddie whispered before plopping down into the seat beside Athena. “I just want Evan to be happy… is that too much to ask?” Maddie asked, looking up at the darker skinned woman as she wrapped her arm around Maddie’s shoulder. 

“Shouldn’t you answer that?” Athena asked as she finally noticed the name on the phone, Chim…

“No… I don’t want to talk to him right now.” Maddie whispered as Athena nodded. 

“Do you need to call your parents or anyone?” Maddie snorted at the suggestion. 

“They don’t care… I raised Evan.” Maddie responded as Athena stared at her for a moment. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” 

“It’s okay, you're a good mother, you would have wanted to know.” Athena shifted before digging out her phone. 

“I should… I should call the Chief and get this all straightened out as much as I can… Do you want me to call the team and get them down here?” Athena asked as she searched through her contacts finding Hen’s number easily enough.

“No. I don’t want them here, especially if they didn’t do anything to stop it.” Maddie stated as Athena stopped her hand hovering over the number before shaking her head and continuing on in her contacts. She slowly pushed herself to her feet motioning to Maddie she would be out in the hall and Maddie gave a quick nod. 

 

 

 

“Is he okay?” Maddie asked as she held the Styrofoam cup in her hands, trying to get some of the heat out of the now cool liquid. She had been sipping her coffee for almost two hours now, since Athena came back from her call and went to get Bobby a shirt from the gift shop. Athena glanced at her husband whose arm was now bandaged but he wasn’t really responding to anyone or anything. He just sort of sat there, and only ever looked up at the doors that Buck had been taken into. Athena bit her lip before leaning over and running a hand along the back of her husband’s neck, but she didn’t get a reaction out of him. 

“Honestly…” Athena whispered as she pulled her hand back. “I have no idea; he’s never acted like this before. I think he just mentally checked out, I’ll try to get him to eat and drink something soon. Maybe that will break him out of it, if even for a few minutes.” Athena responded as Maddie huffed leaning back into the uncomfortable chairs. 

“Don’t bother with the cafeteria here, it sucks.” Maddie responded as Athena chuckled. 

“Oh, don’t I know.” Athena smiled as Maddie shifted closer into the woman’s side. 

“How long do you think it’ll take be-” Maddie started just as they heard the sound of feet on the ground. More specifically, it was boots on the tiled floor as the three firefighters went skidding up to the man at the desk, startling him more than they probably should have. Maddie huffed knowing that it would have happened eventually, after all Athena said the Chief would take care of it. 

“You want me to say anything?” Athena asked. 

“Nope.” Maddie popped the p on the word before taking a sip of her coffee. She couldn’t exactly hear what the three were saying to the man, but he seemed a bit flustered at their questions before Eddie had enough sense to look around noticing them. 

“Maddie, Athena, Bobby… What happened? Where’s…” Eddie cut himself off, as he rushed up to them, Chim and Hen immediately at his heels. Maddie didn’t respond before taking another gulp of her gross hospital coffee, almost wincing at the taste that hit her tongue. 

“Maddie, what happened? What’s going on? Why didn’t you call us? What happened to Bobby?” Chim asked as Hen moved towards Bobby who still hadn’t noticed their arrival.

“Cap?” Hen whispered, trying to get the man’s attention but he didn’t even seem to hear her voice. Hen’s eyes flickered over to the two women who were still silent. “What’s going on? Are you okay? Athena what’s going on?” Hen asked. Athena smiled but didn’t say anything seeming to confuse the three of them even more than they were. 

“Athena?” Eddie asked. 

“Oh, sorry. I am just doing what is asked of me by the power of attorney.” Athena responded as Eddie’s eyes furrowed. 

“What. Why are you guys being so cryptic? What’s going on? All we know is that Bobby and Buck were sent to the hospital, we were sent home and told the Chief would be having meetings with all of us tomorrow. Please, just tell me what is going on? Where is Buck? Is he okay?” Eddie begged. Maddie’s eyes flickered up to Eddie’s as the man was almost on the verge of a panic attack.

“Thank you for pointing out that my brother isn’t here Eddie.” Maddie whispered her voice quiet before she turned her attention to Chim. “Since no one else seemed to bring it up.” Maddie snapped. Hen tensed, at the woman’s words before she took a small step backwards putting some space between them. Eddie’s eyes widened for a moment as he digested what Maddie had just said before mimicking Hen’s movements and stepping away from the other Buckley sibling. 

“What…? Maddie, what’s going on? Please talk to me…” Chim begged as Athena cleared her throat. 

“Buck was attacked by Chase Mackey, he’s currently in surgery.” Athena stated as all the eyes fell on her. 

“What!” Hen gasped, tears stinging in her eyes. Eddie stood there for a moment, letting those words sink in. 

“Chase Mackey… the lawyer? His lawyer from the lawsuit? Wh-what happened… is he okay? Oh god… How bad is it? When are they going to let us see him? What did the doctors say?” Eddie asked in quick succession and Maddie was just staring at him, before a soft smile crossed her features. 

“They… they haven’t given us an update yet, they should be doing that soon… hopefully.” Maddie whispered. 

“What about Chase? Is he in jail? Is he here?” Hen questioned. 

“In the morgue.” Athena answered bluntly. 

“Oh…” Chim mumbled. 

“What do you mean ‘oh’?” Maddie asked as Eddie took another step back, putting more space between Maddie, Chim and himself. Maddie is starting to push herself to her feet, her arms crossing her chest. 

“What do you mean, what do I mean ‘oh’?” Chim asked. 

“How long has it been going on Chim?” 

“How long has what been going on?” 

“The mistreatment of my brother that you never spoke about. Or the fact that he’s been suffering since his return to the team. Were you ever going to say anything about it!” Maddie growled. 

“Mistreatment? It wasn’t even like that Maddie; it was just a bit of teasing?” Chim tried to say but Maddie just scoffed at him. 

“Teasing? Teasing are you kidding me! You guys weren’t letting him go on calls, what kind of friend are you! You and I have completely different definitions of teasing, Howie!” Maddie snapped. 

“Maddie, it wasn't that bad. Certainly, we didn’t talk to him bu-”

“Didn’t talk to him!” Maddie exploded as Chim shrunk down. “What do you mean you didn’t talk to him! How do you think that’s okay! That’s my brother! My baby brother!” Maddie yelled not caring that her voice was echoing into the hospital hallway. 

“Maddie.” Athena stated getting the woman’s attention. She was still fuming but she did ultimately give a small nod to Athena. 

“Go home, Howie.” Maddie snapped. “We can discuss this later; this isn’t the time or place for this. My focus needs to be on Evan, right now.” Maddie stated before running a hand through her hair. 

“Maddie, that isn’t fair. You can’t make me leave. I want to be here for him.” Chim whispered, he looked like he just got kicked. 

“You weren’t there for him then, so what’s the difference now?” 

“Come on Maddie, it’s Buck he’ll be forgiving.” 

“Leave NOW!” Maddie yelled as Athena snagged the woman’s wrist pulling her back into the chair. Eddie and Hen shared a quick glance as Chim nodded before shuffling over to them. 

“If anything changes, please call or text me…” Chim whispered. “Please…” 

“Of course.” Hen responded as Chim nodded before leaving the waiting room. Maddie’s eyes snapped to the two of them, her anger still obvious. 

“I would find some seats.” Athena muttered to Hen as she and Eddie nodded. They took care to stay away from Maddie, just to make sure she didn’t blow up at them and kick them out as well. 

 

 

Bobby shifted in his chair, his eyes glancing over Maddie’s form as she stood outside the hospital room. She was almost pacing as she was on the phone, her boots clicking on the stone floor. Bobby took a deep breath shifting in his chair before trying to push out the noise of the television in the corner of the room. It was irritating to some degree but at the same time, they had wanted some noise besides the constant beeping of the machines in their ears. 

“You keep playing with it and I’m going to get Katrina to handcuff your other hand to the railing.” Bobby stated as he turned to look at Buck. He was staring at him, his eyes darting across Bobby’s face trying to make out if he was telling the truth or not. Buck huffed letting his left hand move away from the bandage on his right hand. It was easier for him to mess with while it was in the sling, because he didn’t have to move his other arm so much. 

“What else am I supposed to do? Sit here silently and do what?” Buck asked, his voice still filled with sleep and exhaustion. He had only been awake for the last ten minutes, but Bobby knew he’d probably be back out in another ten. They had already been in the hospital for seven days and Buck was losing his patience after only officially being awake for three. 

“Complaining isn’t going to make the time go faster. You know you could go back to sleep; you sound exhausted.” Bobby responded as Buck snorted a cough rolling through him. Bobby winced at the sound, before reaching out to try to give some reassurance but stopped before actually touching the younger man. He curled his fingers to his palm letting his hand drop back to his lap as Buck got the cough under control. 

Ow… ” Buck whimpered. “I just… I just woke up; I don’t want to go back to sleep.” Buck mumbled as Bobby huffed before a ping came from the phone in his lap. “What are you doing?” 

“Responding to Eddie and telling you to get some more rest.” Bobby stated as he sent off the message for the group's lunch request. 

“But I’m bored.” Buck complained as Bobby smiled at the statement. 

“You’re supposed to be bored; it's called bed rest. If you keep playing with that bandage, I’m going to have Maddie yell at you and Katrina handcuff you.” Bobby stated as Buck pouted before pulling his left hand away from the tap on his hand. Buck’s eyes danced across the room, taking notice of where Maddie was at the moment. 

“I just want to do something. Is there no way I can leave this room?” Buck asked as Bobby glanced at the younger man taking notice of all the wires still connected to him, along with the thoracostomy tube in his chest.  

“Not until they take that tube out of your chest and you aren’t hooked up to the nasal cannula. The doctor said you should just rest.” Buck groaned at that before looking up at the machines around him. 

“When did the doctor say it was coming out? Do you understand how uncomfortable this is? I can’t really move without having it pull at the area, it just sucks.” Buck moaned as Bobby chuckled. 

“Well, the fluid has lessened considerably so hopefully only a day or so. And yes, I do know how uncomfortable it is because you keep telling me… Also is that the only thing that’s bothering you?” 

“No…” Bobby shifted to fully look at the young man and his bruised face. 

“Do you need another round of medicine? Because if it’s hurting a lo-”

“God no, I don’t want more medicine. I just want to leave. I’m so done with hospitals; I’ve been in them for too long.” Buck mumbled as he looked at the older man. 

“Sadly, Buck you are going to be in and out for a while.” 

“Not helping… thanks for the optimism…” Buck whispered as Bobby chuckled. The door creaked open as Maddie stepped in, hitting the phone against the palm of her hand. Her face was a mixture of irritation and something else Bobby couldn’t place. 

“So… the lease is officially broken… and the police report is officially done, Athena called and said they got enough of your statement…” Maddie said as she shut the door behind her before stepping up to the foot of the bed. 

“Why do I feel like there is more to that…” Buck mumbled. 

“I couldn’t get the deposit back.” Maddie admitted as Bobby rolled his eyes. Seriously, they wouldn’t give Buck back the deposit. 

“Really? They wouldn’t give my deposit back after nearly dy-”

“Evan!” 

“Buck!” Bobby and Maddie said at the same time, cutting off the younger man. 

“I’m currently not in the mood for dark humor at the moment.” Maddie stated as she shifted before sliding her phone into her jeans pocket. 

“I’m just… trying to lighten the mood…” Buck whispered. 

“No, that’s darkening it.” Bobby responded as Buck huffed. 

“Eddie would have appreciated it.” Buck mumbled under his breath, but Bobby shook his head having heard the younger man. 

“Well… we have some things that we need to discuss with you.” Maddie stated as Buck shifted his eyes to her fully. 

“Is this just because I’m awake for more than ten minutes?” Buck asked as Maddie gave him a small smile. 

“No it’s not that, but it does need to be discussed and it would be helpful if you were a part of it.” Bobby stated. 

“You two already talked about it then? Then you don’t really need my opinion.” Buck responded. 

“No, we haven't talked about it Evan. I mean… we’ve brought it up and we do want your opinion.” Maddie informed as she sat down on the edge of the bed. 

“Then you’ve already made a decision. Why am I involved?” 

“Because ultimately it’s your decision.” Bobby states. 

“I’m not dying, am I?” Buck asked as Maddie snorted a bit, taken off guard as Bobby rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. 

“Evan, I swear to god… why are you like this?” Maddie questioned with a smile on her face and Buck had one mimicking on him a moment later. 

“Come on you two be a bit more serious about this.” Bobby suggested as Buck huffed. 

“Always so bossy. Now what are you talking about?” Buck asked as Maddie shifted on the bed before gently placing a hand on Buck’s uninjured leg. He flinched slightly at the contact but didn’t pull away, it would take time for him to get used to touching again.

“Well… where do you want to go?” Maddie asked as she met her baby brother’s blue eyes. 

“Be a little more specific, because I’d love to go to a bar right now.” Buck admitted as he finally got a crack of smile from Bobby and Maddie had to cover her mouth with a hand.  

“No, not a bar. Where do you want to go when you’re discharged?” Maddie asked, getting a shrug from Buck.

“Wherever is easiest for you guys. I don’t want to mess up anyone’s routine.” Buck whispered. Bobby took a deep breath; he knew that Buck believed he would just be a burden for anyone he went with. Convincing him otherwise, especially right now, wasn't going to go well so Bobby decided to hold his tongue on it… for now.

“Buck you aren’t going to mess up anyone’s routine, we want you to be comfortable with wherever you go. You can come and stay with me, Athena and the kids. Eddie also has space for you too.” Bobby pointed out as he shifted so he was leaning closer to the hospital bed. 

“Chim and I would love you to stay with us and Hen and Karen offered up a place as well.” Maddie pointed out. 

“Maddie… you and Chim only have one bedroom.” Buck whispered his voice quiet; he was getting exhausted. 

“We’d make it work, it's not a big deal. We have an air mattress we can stay on. I mean you crashed on it for a while, what’s the harm in us trying.” Maddie stated as Buck shook his head. 

“I wouldn’t do that to you Maddie. I don’t want to bother Karen or Hen, I know they’ve been struggling with stuff, and I don’t want to put more on their plate.” Buck admitted as Bobby shifted a bit confused. 

“Stuff?” 

“It’s nothing Bobby. With Christopher’s schedule I feel like I would be inconveniencing them.” Buck mumbled. 

“You wouldn’t inconvenience them Evan. Christopher loves having you around and I’m sure Eddie would be over the moon to have you around.” Maddie whispered as she felt Bobby’s eyes on her. Of course, they both knew about Eddie’s little crush on Buck, he hadn’t exactly been subtle about it while they were staying in the hospital with him. Buck scoffed before a small cough followed after and Maddie shifted forward, slipping her hand under his. 

“I… I just…” Buck wheezed finally getting his lungs back under control. “I just don’t want to bother him… I guess that leaves one place left.” Buck mumbled his eyes threatening to slip close. 

“If you shoot it down, we are going to have an issue.” Bobby stated as he heard a small snort and cough from the younger man. 

“‘m not shooting it down, I’ll go home with you and ‘thena.” Buck whispered as Bobby gave a small nod. 

“She’ll be thrilled.” Bobby responded as Buck nodded before his eyes fluttered shut. His breathing evened out a few minutes later as he fell back asleep. Maddie shifted slowly getting to her feet and tucking the blanket around her brother a bit more. 

“He’ll be fine Maddie.” Bobby whispered as Maddie gave a soft nod. 

“I know, I’m just worried… you know… at least he doesn’t have too serious of a head injury.” 

“The one we have to worry about is his chest.” Bobby responded as he huffed. It was going to be a while before Buck was going to be okay. There were footsteps getting closer to the room before they saw Eddie swing by the nurse's station dropping something off to Katrina who thanked him before he slipped into the room. 

“What?” Eddie asked as Maddie rolled her eyes, a small smile on her lips. 

“Nothing, thank you for picking up lunch.” Maddie grinned as Eddie glanced at Bobby who shrugged at him. 

 

 

 

Buck groaned as Bobby placed him in the wheelchair, he hated this already. He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t use the chair on his own, he was unable to do anything on his own. Bobby froze, giving the younger man a small look of concern crossing his features. Buck blinked up at him for a few moments trying to gage the look on the older man’s face before he realized. 

“I’m okay, Bobby.” Buck whispered as Bobby raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m just… from one wheelchair to another…” Buck mumbled as Bobby let the fear drop from his face. 

“You’ll be out of it soon enough.” Athena’s voice came from the open door. She was coming back after dropping off the bags that Buck had from the house. 

“Athena, that’s months away.” Buck responded. Athena snorted before stepping outside and squatting down to get level with the younger man. 

“It isn’t months, once you're good enough for physical therapy, you’ll be up and about before you know it. Besides you already set one record, why not set another.” Athena beamed as Buck shook his head and Bobby was pushing into the house a moment later.

“I don’t know…” 

“You just gotta relax, you’ll be up and about soon.” Bobby stated. 

“Still a long way to go.” 

“Not that long.” Bobby responded as Athena beamed at her husband before turning her attention to the younger man. Athena gestured behind her, to where Buck knew the guest room was. 

“So, you are going to be staying in the guest bedroom just off the living room, so if you need anything it’ll be in easy reach. Also, you’ll have your own bathroom.” Athena smiled as Buck chuckled at that getting a small round of coughing. The woman’s smile faltered for a moment before she took a step forward moving closer to Buck, and she gently placed her hand on his shoulder. His skin twitched a bit under the weight, but he didn’t pull away, it had gotten better since he was in the hospital. Bobby guided the wheelchair to the bedroom showing that a bunch of Buck’s items were scattered around the room, making it feel that much homier. His clothing was piled on the bench of the foot of the bed, making it easy for him to reach. Some of his electronics were plugged into the wall and even his phone was charging on the nightstand. 

“Alright… Can I… can I just go to bed? I’m exhausted.” Buck whispered, getting Athena to laugh. 

“I bet, but you got to take your pain meds first. Which means you have to eat something.” Athena pointed out as Buck groaned.

“Can’t we just skip the food and just give me the medicine.” Buck whined as Bobby rolled his eyes. 

“Unless you want to make yourself sick to your stomach, then you most certainly can.” Athena retorted as she shifted, crossing her arms over her chest. 

“You’re no fun.” Buck mumbled as Bobby raised an eyebrow. 

“I don’t see what’s so fun about being sick?” Bobby asked as he pushed the wheelchair, so it was beside the bed. 

“The fact that I can go to bed without issue.” 

“Can’t argue with his logic, Bobby.” Athena laughed as Bobby glared at his wife. “Just a bit of food in you will make you feel better either way.” 

“Alright, fine, I’ll eat.” Buck groaned as he glanced at the two waiting for them to take him out to the dining table. 

“Do you want to stay in your room or come eat at the table?” Bobby asked as he made his way out of the room. Buck gave the older man a confused look, before shifting his gaze to Athena once he could no longer see him. 

“You’re… you’re going to let me eat in the room?” Buck questioned as Athena gave a nod. 

“Of course, if you’re really that tired. It’s not a big deal. Do you need any help getting into bed?” Athena asked as Buck shook his head. 

“I should be able to do it on my own… was it always this low to the ground?” Buck asked as he reached up with his left hand, surprised that it was so low. Athena shifted her arms dropping to her side as she took a deep breath. 

“We got a new frame for it, which was much lower. It was easier for people to get in it, because you know it was a pretty tall bed.” Athena stated as Buck stared at her. He looked back at the bed, it was almost the same height of the wheelchair and he cast another glance at Athena. 

“Thank you.” Buck whispered and she could see the tears in his eyes. 

“You don’t have to thank me, Buckaroo. That’s what family does, we take care of one another.” Athena stated as she moved closer to Buck before pressing a soft kiss to his uninjured temple. “Now, I’ll go see if your soup is ready.” Athena disappeared out the room a few moments later leaving Buck to get comfortable in his new bed. 

Bobby glanced up at Athena as she came into the kitchen, as she leaned on the counter. Bobby poured the soup into a bowl as Athena smiled at him before moving to his side pressing herself into him. 

“What?” Bobby asked as he opened the drawer digging out a spoon. Athena started dumping the pills out into her hand before handing them over to her husband. 

“You should talk to him.” Athena stated as Bobby huffed. He knew they needed to talk and needed to clear the air as much as he could.

“I will.” Bobby responded before pressing a small kiss to his wife’s lips. Bobby pulled away from Athena heading towards the bedroom, knocking gently before he entered. Buck shifted as he glanced at Bobby, he was struggling to get his shirt off with his arm in the sling.

“You, okay?” Bobby asked as he set the soup and pills down on the nightstand. “Here just let me help.” Bobby stated as he reached up and unclipped the sling making it easier to get the shirt off the younger man. Once the shirt was off him, Bobby redid the sling. 

“Thanks…” Buck mumbled. 

“Do you want a different shirt?” 

“No, it just didn’t want to keep wearing the same one from the hospital.” Buck responded as Bobby nodded. Buck leaned back against the headboard as Bobby picked up the soup offering it to the younger man. 

“Thanks.” 

“You have to eat at least half of it before you can take your medicine.” Bobby ordered as Buck scoffed. 

“You sound like Maddie.” Buck responded. 

“That’s a good thing then…” Bobby stated as Buck rolled his eyes. He was unsteady with his left hand but nevertheless he was able to eat. Bobby leaned back against the wall watching Buck for a few moments, his eyes darting over his bruised body. The bruises were now turning yellow and purple a sign they were at least healing. The stitches on his chest were red and irritated, forcing Bobby to draw his attention away from the spot. 

“You don’t have to stay and watch me eat, Bobby.” Buck said after a few more spoonful's of soup. How he didn’t manage to spill the liquid on himself, or the sheets surprised the hell out of Bobby, even with how shaky his hand was. 

“I know… I just… want to make sure you’re okay…” Bobby whispered as he shifted under Buck’s gaze. 

“Bobby… ar-are you okay?” Buck asked as Bobby shrugged. 

“I don’t want you to worry about me… I should be worried about you, and you need to focus on getting better…” Bobby mumbled his own words, not making it sound any more convincing. Bobby was shifting, not looking at Buck now and that seemed to startle the younger man. 

“Bobby, what’s going on? Are you okay?” Buck asked again the concern filling his voice and Bobby finally glanced up at the younger man. He had a broken look on his face, one that Bobby only saw during the lawsuit. In that stupid grocery store after Eddie yelled at the younger man, it made his heart hurt. 

“I just… God I’m sorry Buck. I didn’t mean for it to come out this way… look I didn’t… I didn’t get the chance to say this earlier when I probably should have. I’m so sorry for everything Buck. I’m sorry for not listening when you said you were ready to come back, and I’m so sorry for how I treated you when you returned to the team. I treated you so unfairly, and I should never have done that. I’m so sorry for being a shitty captain to you. I’m so-”

“Bobby, hey. It’s okay, look I get why you did it…. I’m not upset with you; you don’t have to keep apologizing.” Buck cut him off, but Bobby just shook his head. 

“I’m going to keep apologizing because you need to hear it and understand I was so out of line. I should have trusted you and then none of this,” Bobby gestured towards him, “would have happened.” Buck sat there in silence for a few moments. 

“I forgive you. I forgive you for everything, because Bobby… you saved my life, if you hadn’t come…” Buck’s voice petered off for a few moments, his eyes shifting down to the soup on his lap. “The lawsuit wasn’t necessary, and I pushed you into tha-”

“No, it was necessary. You needed me to pay attention and listen that you were truly ready to come back, and I stopped you. I failed to listen, and I failed to be the captain I should have been. You were in your right to sue for wrongful termination, God… I’m so sorry, Buck.” 

“I reacted irrationally though; I should have tried to talk to you again.” 

“We both made mistakes.” 

“So, are we okay now? No more apologizing?” Buck asked as he rubbed at his neck where the sling was resting. 

“I’m not done apologizing yet but for now I will stop… Now get a bit more soup in you before you take your meds. May and Harry will be home in time for dinner, so I’ll wake you before then.” Bobby stated as Buck nodded before giving a mock salute. 

“Yes, sir.” Bobby couldn’t help the snort that escaped him. 

 

 

Athena pulled open the oven glancing at the lasagna inside seeing if it was done and ready to come out. May fluttered at her side, dumping the now clean lettuce into the bowl. Buck shifted in the wheelchair so he can see exactly what Harry is showing him on his history homework. He was good at that, actually he always sailed through those classes with flying colors so when Bobby couldn’t answer some of the boys' questions Buck stepped in. As for Bobby, well at the moment he was trying to get Eddie out of the house. The man had been spending almost any moment he could with Buck, trying to help out as much as he could. Buck had an idea why Eddie was around so much, after all his and Bobby’s suspension was still a bit up in the air about when they could return to work. 

“Eddie, okay, yeah we get it.” Bobby said as he pressed his hand more firmly into the man’s back. “Eddie, you have to go home. I’m certain that Chris and Carla are already there and waiting for you.” Bobby stated as the man turned trying to retort before being practically pushed out the front door. 

“Okay, okay, okay. I’m going, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning.” Eddie stated as Bobby nodded. 

“Wouldn’t expect it any other way, night Eddie.” Bobby called as he shut the door, giving the man a wave goodbye. He made sure that Eddie was in his truck and leaving before turning away from the door. Bobby released his breath as Buck snorted at him, telling Harry what the question actually meant as he went. 

“Thought he’d never leave!” Athena’s voice carried from the kitchen, getting Bobby to laugh. He heard an offended noise escape May before he entered the dining area to start setting the table. 

“Mom!” 

“What, he’s been here for the past five days. I just want a nice calm meal with my family.” Athena responded as May rolled her eyes and moved to put the salad on the table. 

“Eddie is family.” May retorted back before she went to get the silverware from the drawer as Bobby finished setting the plates. 

“It’d be different if he actually brought his son over with him. Then I wouldn’t have a problem with him staying for dinner.” Athena stated. 

“Are you making fun of him, when he’s not even here to defend himself?” Buck asked as Harry finished scribbling down the last answer to his homework. 

“Bobby, control your son!” Athena laughed as Bobby rolled his eyes.

“I can control him as much as you can.” Bobby stated as Buck’s jaw dropped for a moment, almost offended by the statement before he started laughing. Bobby moved into the living room and grabbed the wheelchair, wheeling the younger man to his spot at the table. Harry clambered into the seat across from Buck, settling himself as much as he could before Athena came over carrying the lasagna. Athena always took the seat at the head of the table as Bobby sat down on her right side beside Harry. May slid into her spot at Buck’s side taking his plate and quickly filling it as a few more items filled the space, he’d pretty much whatever was in front of him, and May always knew what to give him. Soon he had a plate with a nice piece of lasagna, asparagus, and mushrooms. Once everyone else had gathered the items they wanted they fell into their meals, and it only took a few minutes for Athena to start asking questions about the school day. 

“So… May did you pass your math test?” Athena asked as she stabbed a mushroom on her plate. May grumbled under her breath pushing a piece of lettuce around on her plate. 

“I hate math…” May whispered as Buck chuckled, using his fork to cut a small piece of the lasagna. 

“So, that means you didn’t pass?” Buck asked before taking his bite. May glared at him before shaking her head. 

“I passed… kind of…” The second part was quieter, and her head was a bit lower. Athena raised an eyebrow at her daughter and went to speak but Bobby beat her too. 

“That means you have to study harder.” Bobby said, sending a small look to his wife as she nodded. 

“Math is stupid.” May groaned as Buck took another bite to hide his laugh. 

“I’d offer to help like with Harry, but I also suck at math.” Buck responded as Athena shook her head. 

“If you weren’t on your phone all the time, you might have done better.” May glared across the table at her brother as Buck snorted and Bobby had to hide his own chuckle. Athena takes a deep breath before turning her attention to her son for a moment. 

“Harry, behave… but he does have a point, May. You really do need to focus on your schoolwork.” Athena stated. 

“I was focusing on my work, it's just complicated and hard…” May mumbled as she picked at her asparagus. 

“Then maybe you need a tutor.” Bobby suggested before taking a bite of his own food. 

“Or you could find help online. I mean there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube, that way you won’t have to pay someone.” Buck encouraged as Bobby grinned at him. 

“I like that plan better… What about you Harry, anything exciting happen at school today?” Harry shrugged at the question.

“Nothing really, just ready for Thanksgiving… I mean Nick brought all his Halloween candy to class today and got it taken away… does that count?” Harry asked as Athena glanced at her son. 

“I thought his candy would have been gone by now, Halloween was over a week ago. Why did he bring his candy to class?” 

“He likes to brag.” Harry pointed out as Athena chuckled. 

“Then there’s a lesson learned: don't be a bragger.” Athena stated as lights filled the windows and her face turned to confusion. She cast a glance at Bobby who shrugged and stood up, his own bewilderment on his features. It took the family a moment to realize it was Maddie’s vehicle pulling up to the house. 

“I didn’t think Maddie was coming over tonight.” Athena said as she shifted in her seat and Buck shrugged, casting another look over his shoulder. 

“She said she had a date with Chim tonight… so don’t look at me.” Buck responded. 

“You think everything is, okay?” Bobby asked as he moved to the door, unlocking it and pulling it open. Maddie is slow to get out of the vehicle and she steps out as the passenger side door opens along with the back doors. Buck feels his stomach plummet at the sight of his parents stepping out of the car, neutral looks on their faces. 

“What is she doing…” Buck whispered, catching Athena’s attention as she slowly pushed herself to her feet. 

“What’s wrong?” Athena asked but Buck just shook his head not wanting to answer her. She can hear him mumbling under his breath, but she can’t exactly tell what he’s saying, so instead she moves to the door. Bobby is giving Maddie a curious look as the woman, but she offers no explanation. Athena speaks up before Bobby has the chance to say anything. 

“Hello, I’m Athena Grant and this is my husband, Bobby.” The older man looks her up and down for a few moments. 

“Hello, we are here to talk to Evan.” The man stated. Athena glanced over her shoulder to notice Buck talking to May as she got to her feet and moved to where Harry was sitting, guiding him out of the dining room and to the living room.

“Can I ask who is coming into my home?” Athena asked as she crossed her arms, noticing how Maddie was shifting on her feet uncomfortably. 

“I apologize, we’re Evan’s parents, I’m Margaret and this is my husband, Phillip. We really need to speak to Evan.” Margaret responded as Athena raised an eyebrow at the woman, were they even aware of what time it was? 

“It’s a little late, don’t you think? Maybe you guys can have this talk tomorrow. You are more than welcome to come by in the morning.” Bobby suggested but Phillip’s face almost contorted into something else, something they couldn’t quite figure out. 

“No, this is a conversation that needs to happen now.” Phillip stated and Athena opened her mouth to retort but Buck’s voice overtook hers.

“It’s fine Athena, Bobby, just let them in…” His voice was emotionless, and it started the two for a moment before they took a step back. Athena could hear Buck mumble something again before he pushed himself a bit away from the dining table with his left hand. Maddie stepped inside first shooting her brother an apologetic look but then she stepped back letting her parents move towards her brother. 

“Hey mom… hey dad… um… why ar-”

“Is there someplace we can talk in private?” Margaret cut Buck off as he glanced at Athena who just narrowed her eyes at the pair. 

“There really isn’t a place I can easily go…” Buck mumbled. Athena shared a glance with Bobby, knowing that Buck was completely lying, he could go to his room. He could go outside or even they could leave but the fact that he didn’t suggest any of those alternatives made Athena feel her stomach spin a bit. Buck didn’t want to be alone with his parents. 

“Evan, I don’t know why you have to be difficult all the time.” Phillip grumbled as he crossed his arms. 

“I wasn’t being difficult; I just can’t exactly move… I’m in a wheelchair and my arm is in a sling.” Buck pointed out. 

“We can see that; it would have been nice if you had called and told us, but we had to find out through some of our church friends what happened.” Margaret stated as Buck stared at her trying to wrap his head around those words. Athena shifted before going to take a step forward, but Bobby’s hand landed on her shoulder as he mouthed the words ‘don’t’. Athena casts a glance at Maddie who is turning red in embarrassment, why wouldn’t she defend her brother? 

“Do you know how embarrassing that was for us, to find out through our friends that something happened to you, Evan?” Phillip snapped and Athena really debated forcing her husband's hand off. 

“I don’t even know how they found out, or how that is my fault? I was in the hospital up until a few days ago and I can’t even look at screens. How was I supposed to call you? I wasn’t in the right state of mind to call you even if I could have.” Buck mumbled as he rubbed at the back of his head. He could hear his mother sniffling tears clouding her eyes as they started down her face. 

“You’re really that badly hurt. You could have had anyone call us; you didn’t have to be the one to do it. You made us look like we don't care about you.” Margaret cried. Athena almost snorted at the statement. For as long as she’s known Buck, the boy has never once mentioned his parents to her and now Athena knows why. 

“I could have had someone else call you. Why don’t you guys' call, why don’t you check up on me? Then you would have known that something was wrong.” Buck stated as his father crossed his arms. 

“Don’t push this back on us. You are making your mother cry. You’ve always been like this trying to make us look like we are the bad guys. You didn’t tell us about this or the lawsuit you apparently filed. And then on top of that you dropped this lawsuit that could have had the family set for life.” Phillip barked as Athena glared at the man and tried to move again. No one even noticed May moving closer to the kitchen, her eyes locked on Buck and the ensuing argument, with Harry only a step behind her. 

“What do you mean by the family?” Buck asked his confusion obvious. 

“Exactly what I said. Our family, us. You know the people who raised you.” Phillip snapped. Buck raised his left hand trying to get his thoughts under control before glancing at Maddie, irritation flickering across his features. 

“But you didn’t raise me, Maddie did.” Buck stated as Margaret sobbed, her voice coming out cracked and shrill. 

“Now that’s not fair, or even true at all.”

“Are you kidding me! Do you really think that? The only time I ever got your attention was when I was hurt or when I did something you guys didn’t approve of. You didn’t raise me!” Buck snarled as Phillip took a step closer. 

“You lived under my roof, so I raised you. Oh, trust me I remember your whole childhood; it was just one screw up after another. And look at you know, still screwing up.” Phillip spat as Athena stood there frozen, Bobby’s hand retreating from her shoulder. Athena stalked forward to shout something at the top of her lungs but someone else beat her to it. 

“KNOCK IT OFF!” May’s voice screamed through the house as she rushed into the dining room and moved to Buck’s side. “You can’t talk to him like that, you’re just being a bully! How can you be so mean to your own son!” May shouted, as she took a step-in front of Buck. 

“Honey this has nothing to do with you. This is a conversation for adults.” Margaret stated as Athena growled. 

“Then let the adults have it! You come into my home and treat my family with disrespect! I don’t care who you are!” Athena growled. 

“This is a family matter.” Phillip stated as he turned to come face to face with Athena. Bobby stepped forward backing up his wife. 

“I think it's time that you go.” Bobby snapped as Phillip glanced at the man. He turned to look at Maddie who was standing by the door holding it open. Phillip growled before storming out of the house, Margaret a few paces behind him. 

“We will be back tomorrow to talk to our son.” Margaret stated as Maddie’s face glowed even brighter red before, she retreated to the vehicle. 

“By the sounds of it he hasn’t been your son for a long time.” Athena spat as she moved to the door gripping it tight as the woman stared at her dumbfounded. 

“Who are you to tell me that he isn't my son.” 

“His real mother!” Athena seethed before slamming the door and locking it. The house fell into an awkward silence, and slowly one by one they gathered back at the dining table taking their seats. No one spoke, as they all sort of just sat there staring at their plates. 

“You know…” Harry started looking at his mother, then to May, to Bobby and finally to Buck. “... I always wanted a brother.” Buck couldn’t help the laugh that rolled through him as the rest of the family joined in moments later. 

 

 

 

 

Eddie shifted as he continued to push his phone in and out of the case, his eyes darting around the mostly quiet house. May and Harry were at school, Athena was at work and Bobby was with his therapist for the next hour or so. Eddie glanced at Buck again to where the younger man was laid out on the couch, his eyes half closed. There was the soft noise from the documentary on the television, but he hasn't been paying attention to it since they put it on twenty minutes ago. Eddie shifted in his chair again, this time actually getting up and moving to the kitchen to grab a glass out of the cabinet. Filling the glass, he returned to the living room noticing Buck watching him with almost scrutiny. Taking a drink from the glass, Eddie sat down going back to messing with his phone. 

“So… Chim called me last night.” Eddie stated as Buck shifted a bit to look at his friend in the chair. 

“He calls you?” Buck asked and Eddie couldn’t help the grin that formed. 

“Yes, he calls me. You’re not the only person I talk to on a daily basis… He said that Maddie’s parents were in town, and they kidnapped her… he was freaking out.” Eddie responded. Buck almost hummed before shifting so he could semi sit up, leaning against the armrest and the stack of pills he was leaning on. 

“Kidnapped… or willing went are two very different things.” Buck stated as Eddie shifted. 

“So, you saw them?” Eddie questioned. 

“Unfortunately.” Buck admitted as Eddie felt his shoulders sag a bit at the answer. He knew that Buck didn’t get along with his parents, but he had hoped they would have at least been decent to him, especially in his current condition.

“I take that as a not so good outcome.” Eddie mumbled as Buck took a deep breath. 

“Remember those stories I used to tell you about me growing up?” Buck asked as Eddie thought for a few moments. 

“Need a bit more information than that.” Eddie responded. 

“You know… when I get blamed for everything…” Buck whispered. 

“Buck…”

“Yeah, so that happened and then May got involved and then Athena got involved… it was just… messy…” Buck admitted as Eddie felt his own shoulder sag. 

“You didn’t deserve that, Buck. You never did and I’m sorry that it happened.”

“At least I had Athena and Bobby there… it could have been much worse you know. They were pretty muted because we had an audience…” Buck mumbled before he let the quiet take them over. Eddie didn’t know what to say to that, he knew his own parents weren't great, but they seem like saints in comparison to Buck’s. He spins his phone in his hand again, feeling the case pop against the device before he slides it back into place. Everything just feels weird now and he doesn’t know how to break it. 

“Eds?” 

“Hmm…” Eddie hummed, bringing his attention back to Buck. 

“I… look… I feel like you want to say something, but you can’t get the courage up to say it… what’s going on?” Buck asked. Eddie huffed he knew Buck would pick up on his hesitation but at the same time he didn’t really want to do this. 

“It’s nothing, Buck. Don’t worry about it.” 

“Bullshit, Eddie.” Buck snapped. “The minute you walked into the house this morning; you’ve been basically as tight as a wire. We may not have spoken for a while, but I still know you better than you think.” Buck stated as Eddie let his breath release. 

“Fuck you… sometimes I forget you know me too fucking well…” Eddie mumbled as he let his phone drop into his lap. He scrubs at his face trying to think about how to start this, and just freezes for a few moments taking a deep breath. 

“Just say it, Eds. It’s driving me through a wall, and I don’t really need another concussion.” Eddie can’t help the burst of laughter that escapes him. “See! You get the dark humor! Bobby just isn’t fun…” Buck was grinning at him, and it took Eddie a few moments to get his laugh to sober. 

“I just... Okay… let’s just… look… I’m sorry.” Eddie stated as he glanced at his friend. Buck was just blinking at him; his face was almost emotionless and that concerned Eddie a bit. 

“Is that it? You were all worked up just to say I’m sorry?” 

“You are the fucking worst… you know, apologizing doesn’t come easy to me.” Eddie groaned. 

“Hey, I get it.” 

“Then let me say it, damn it.” Eddie chuckled; he couldn’t really be mad about this. Buck was acting like himself, and Eddie just couldn’t be angry with him for it. 

“Alright, fine jeez.” 

“Just be quiet for like two minutes… Look, I’m so sorry for everything. I know I was a horrible friend and partner to even let it go on for as long as it did. I should have gotten my head out of my ass so much sooner. You dropped the suit and yet I still punished you over it. I was such an ass to you and for that I’m so sorry. I treated you like utter garbage and you still treated me the exact same. I’m so sorry I did that to you, Buck.” Eddie started. 

“I accept the apolo-”

“Wait, I’m not done. So shut up…” Eddie stated as Buck raised his left hand in surrender. “I shouldn’t have kept Chris away from you, I should have let you see him after the tsunami more. I had so much going on, I just needed to get my head on straight and that wasn’t fair to you. It wasn’t fair to him either, you needed each other, and I kept you apart. We should have been there for you, so the lawsuit might not have happened, because you could have talked to me. I’m sorry, Buck. I’m so sorry for everything.” Eddie finally finished and he looked at the younger man. 

“I still forgive you Eddie. I just… it could have ended so badly, and I was so wrapped up in everything that I didn’t think you were struggling as well and I’m so-”

“No, that’s not how this works. You don’t have to apologize, I’m the one who needs to apologize. Not you.” Eddie stated as Buck chuckled before a cough tore through him. 

“Alright, but I still forgive you.” Buck said once he got his lungs under control. Eddie rolled his eyes before running his hands through his hair. 

“God, you accept shit like this so easily… why?” 

“Comes with a lot of practice…” Buck grinned at him, and Eddie couldn’t take his eyes off his friend. 

“Why are you so weird?” 

“Hey, you chose to hang around me, if anything this is your fault.” Buck pointed out as Eddie let out a laugh. 

 

 

* 

 

Athena flickered through her phone, trying to finish up the emails, something to kill time at this point. She cast another glance at the closed door to the therapist's office, sometimes she wished she could listen in on what was going on, but she knew better. A text from her mother popped up on her phone, she was most certainly irritated that they couldn’t stay with her over thanksgiving two days ago. The guest room was currently occupied, and she wasn’t about to move Buck out to the couch, when he still was having difficulty sleeping. 

She thought he would have been getting better with it. It's been almost three weeks since he got out of the hospital, but Buck was still barely sleeping. It was starting to really concern her; it was causing other issues as well. He wasn’t really up to having conversations for too long before his headaches kicked it. He couldn’t remain focused for very long, and he was losing energy faster. Even after talking to some of the doctors there was only so much they could do with his current medicine in order to help Buck try to sleep. 

Snapping herself out of her thoughts, she stood up as the door opened and Dr. Copeland pushed Buck out in his wheelchair. There were dark bags under his eyes, and he just seemed out of it. Athena wished she knew how to help him. Athena gave Buck a small smile before taking over the doctor’s position behind the young man. 

“Ready to go home?” Athena asked as Buck nodded. 

“Yeah…” His voice was soft and tired sounding, she hoped he would sleep on the drive back. 

“Actually, Mrs. Grant, can I talk to you for a moment?” Dr. Copeland stated and it caught Athena a bit off guard. 

“Oh, um… sure… I’ll be right back, sweetheart.” Athena whispered as Buck gave a small nod. Athena stepped into the office, shutting the door quietly behind her, before moving over to the couch. She quickly shot off a message to Bobby who was waiting in the car, she said they would be a few more minutes. 

“Is everything all right?” Athena asked as she tucked her phone away. 

“I just had a couple of concerns, and I needed to discuss them with you as Evan’s primary caretaker.” Dr. Copeland said as Athena felt her heart drop. Concerns? Of course, there would be concerns, he wasn’t sleeping!

“Okay, what do we need to discuss.” 

“I’m afraid that the current environment Evan is in, is too much for him to handle.” Athena shifted.

“What do you mean?” 

“He brought up a few concerns relating to his headaches and his sleep schedule and that the noise was bothering him. He keeps saying that things are too loud, and everything is moving too fast for him to really calm down.” Dr. Copeland stated and Athena just stared at her. 

“Isn’t that private information?” 

“I do have Evan’s permission to tell you. He originally didn’t want me to tell you because he didn’t want to cause a hassle, but I think it’s gotten to the stage where he’s hitting a breaking point. He said that he had a very rough time during Thanksgiving as well.” Athena felt her mouth go dry. That was what she was worried about originally, but Buck kept telling her it was alright for them to host Thanksgiving this year. She just wished that he had said something before this point. Athena huffed before giving a small nod. 

“I’ll… I’ll see what we can do.” Athena admitted as Dr. Copeland nodded before getting to her feet and walking Athena to the door. Buck jerked slightly as Athena grabbed the handles on the wheelchair, he must have been dozing and Athena felt bad for waking the younger man. They sat in silence as they made their way out of the office, and to where Bobby was waiting outside. Athena waved at her husband as he got out of the SUV and slid open the back of the vehicle.

“How’d it go?” Bobby asked as he moved to pick Buck up from the wheelchair. 

“Fine.” Buck yawned as he let the fire captain scoop him up and get him settled into the vehicle. Athena quickly folded the wheelchair up and Bobby put it into the trunk. Once the doors were closed Athena shared a small glance with her husband. 

“What?” 

“We might have a problem.” Athena stated as Bobby’s eyebrows furrowed. 

“Is it about his sleep? Did Dr. Copeland say something?” Bobby asked, getting a nod from his wife. 

“She said the noise was an issue, and I’m guessing with our crazy schedules it's just too much for him to really settle.” Athena said as Bobby groaned. They both had thought that might have been a problem when Buck moved in, but he didn’t say anything to them, instead just silently suffering. 

“We’ll talk to him when we get back to the house, I’m certain he’s going to sleep for most of the ride.” Bobby stated as Athena nodded, and they separated to get into the vehicle. Once inside, Athena glanced at Buck who was dozing in and out of sleep and she shared another look with Bobby. The ride back to the house was calming, as Athena put on some soft music trying to get the younger man to finally get some sleep which he thankfully did. Bobby and Athena sat in silence just letting the quiet cover them for about half the drive. 

“Where would he go?” Athena asked as she looked at her husband. 

“I mean Maddie will probably want him.” 

“It’s going to be even worse there, they don’t really have the space.” Athena pointed out quietly before casting another look into the backseat to make sure Buck was indeed still asleep. 

“True… Karen and Hen have an extra bedroom.” Bobby suggested. 

“Not on the ground floor.” Athena countered as Bobby huffed. 

“Yeah, then that leaves Eddie…” Bobby stated as Athena hummed before glancing down at her phone. 

“He doesn’t have a spare bedroom.” Athena informed. 

“You think he’s going to let that stop him from taking Buck. He already said that he’d give him his bed even before we left the hospital.” Bobby replied as Athena shifted so she was looking out the window, her thoughts racing. They fell back into silence until they finally reached the house, it was still a quiet morning especially with the kids at school and now that Eddie was finally back at work it was just the three of them at the house. Getting out of the SUV Bobby shook Buck’s shoulder startling the younger man awake. 

“Come on Buck, we are home.” Bobby said as Buck blinked at him for a few moments. 

“Oh… alright.” Buck mumbled as Athena dragged the wheelchair out of the back. 

“You, okay?” Bobby asked as Buck nodded, unbuckling himself. 

“Just think you’ll get the cast-off next week and changed to a boot then you don’t have to be helped everywhere.” Athena yelled as she reassembled the wheelchair in the house. Buck nodded as Bobby scooped up the younger man, he didn’t like how easy it was getting for him to carry Buck around. Once they were inside, Bobby placed Buck into the chair, and they wheeled him to the living room. 

“Something wrong?” Buck asked once he noticed Athena and Bobby settle across from him. 

“Dr. Copeland told me what’s been going on.” Athena stated as Buck almost paled. 

“I’m sorry, I di-”

“Buck, it’s okay. I’m just curious why you didn’t say anything. If being around all of us was too much, why didn’t you say so?” Bobby asked. 

“Because… I didn’t want to make you guys upset. I don’t… I don’t have anywhere else to go…” Buck whispered. 

“We aren’t upset, baby. We are just sad that you felt you couldn’t come to us with this. It’s affecting your recovery and we want you to be happy and healthy.” Athena responded as she shifted to look at Buck. 

“I’m sorry.” Buck mumbled. 

“How bad is it, Buck?” Bobby asked. 

“It’s just… I hear things and it reminds me… then I think Chase is coming back… I know he’s dead, but I just can’t help it…” Buck whimpered as Athena got up from her spot crossing to Buck and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Bobby was running a hand through his hair trying to relax as much as he could, he didn’t think of it like that.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry that it’s affecting you so badly… then you can’t stay here Buck.” Athena whispered as Buck jerked a bit in her arms. He looked up at her, a mixture of panic and fear crossing his features. 

“Wait, I’m okay to stay! I just got to get used to it!” 

“How long has it been going on?” Bobby asked as Buck stopped. 

“Not… it hasn’t… I don’t want to go anywhere else…”

“Buck, baby, it's stopping you from sleeping. You’ll never recover if you can’t give your body the chance to heal.” Athena stated as Buck shook his head. 

“I don’t want to go anywhere else!” Buck begged. Athena shares a concerned look with Bobby and the man matches her eyes for a few seconds, a silent conversation almost passing between them. They hadn’t expected that reaction. 

“Buck, it’s okay. We’ll still be here for you whenever you need us.” Bobby started but Buck was shaking his head. 

“I don’t want to leave.” Buck stated. “That’s why I didn’t tell you, I didn’t want to get sent away.” Buck responded. 

“Baby, we aren’t sending you away. This is to help you heal, and we were thinking you would stay with Eddie because his place is much quieter than ours.” Athena said quietly, hoping that bringing up the other man would ease some of the tension in Buck’s shoulders.
“B-bu-bu-but.” Buck tried to continue but his mind isn't processing right, his words weren’t forming correctly, lack of sleep would do that. 

“Buck, this is for your benefit.” Bobby stated. 

“But I don’t want to be away from you!” Buck blurted as Bobby froze. 

“What?” 

“You being here, I can breathe. I can relax. You always wake me up from the nightmares, Bobby and not being able to see you…” Buck mumbled. Bobby glanced at Athena for a few moments before taking a deep breath and trying to think of a way out of this. Yes, he’d like Buck to stay with them in the house; it would ease his own mind to know the young man was under the same roof as him. But this, this was for his own health he was practically killing himself by staying in this situation. 

“Buck, I’ll come see you whenever you want me to. I’ll answer any call you make at any time of night or day. Anytime you need to see me, you can see me. I’m not abandoning you or leaving you, but this is for your health. You aren’t going to get better by staying in this house…” Bobby stated, and he hated the pained look on the younger man’s face. It takes a few minutes for that statement to settle into Buck before he sighs, accepting the situation he is dealt. 

“Alright.” Buck whispers as Athena’s hand rubs at his back. Bobby is on his feet in moments, his arms wrapping around the younger man’s frame. 

“We’ll always be here.” Bobby stated as he felt Buck embrace him back. He glanced up as Athena stepped away from them and dug out her phone to go call Eddie. 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby knocked on the door of the house, his eyes flickering to Eddie’s truck in the driveway. He knew it was late, and he probably shouldn’t be here right now, but he just couldn’t relax as his head screamed something was wrong. Bobby fiddled with the hem of his shirt; he knew he should have changed out of his sleepwear into something at least halfway decent but then again, he wasn’t really thinking clearly until he pulled up to the house. Now here he was at almost two in the fucking morning knocking on Eddie’s door. Athena would be screaming at him if she was home. It hadn’t even been a week since Buck moved in with Eddie, certainly he swung by every time he could, but he was officially back at work now and that made it a bit trickier. But he still facetimed the two men every night and the few times Buck woke up and in an inconsolable panic, that Eddie didn’t know how to deal with. 

He snapped himself out of his thoughts as the door unlocked and Eddie stared at him for a few moments. Eddie blinked up at him, confusion on his features. The other man was dressed in his sleep wear as well, and his hair was partly tussled. They had a few rough calls today and so he wasn’t surprised the man was asleep, then again it was two in the morning! 

“Bobby… what are you doing here?” Eddie asked, the exhaustion evident in his voice. 

“I… well… um…” Bobby couldn’t find his words as Eddie continued to stare at him before reaching out and snagging the other man’s arm dragging him inside. 

“You know… I just called you.” Eddie stated as he gestured to the dim lit hallway. “He’s waiting for me to come back but he’ll probably be relieved to see you.” Eddie mumbled before yawning. “You go ahead, I’ll give you guys a few.” Eddie whispered before trudging off into the kitchen leaving Bobby standing in the middle of the entrance. He shifted for a moment before starting down the hallway and to the master bedroom whose door was open and a light on. 

Buck was sitting up in the bed shaking, his head in his hands as he tried to get his breathing under control. Bobby felt his heart constrict at the sight, before he took a careful step into the room trying not to startle the younger man any more than he currently was. Bobby silently crossed the room before settling down on the edge of the bed getting Buck’s attention to snap up. 

“Bo-bobby?” Buck whispered. 

“Hey, Buck.” Bobby responded before sliding closer to Buck. Bobby could see the tear trails staining Buck’s skin, and his breathing was still erratic. “You, okay?” Bobby asked as Buck shook his head no. Bobby moved closer so he could pull Buck into an embrace letting the young man’s head rest on his shoulder, the sobs finally breaking free. 

“I-Im-I-I’m sorry...” Buck whimpered as Bobby rubbed circles in the firefighters back, his left hand resting on the back of Buck’s neck. 

“You’re okay, you’re okay. You don’t have to apologize.” Bobby whispered. He could feel Buck’s body shaking against his chest. “It’s okay…” 

“I just… I couldn’t…” Buck mumbled. “I couldn’t do anything…” Buck whimpered into Bobby’s shoulder. “I couldn’t stop him…” 

“Buck, it’s okay. It was just a nightmare, Chase is gone. He can’t hurt you anymore.” Bobby reassured as best he could. 

“I… I know… I’m sorry…” Buck mumbled, getting his breathing back under control. “Bobby, why are you here?” Buck asked as he started to lean out of the older man’s hold. 

“I… um… I was in the neighborhood and thought I would swing by…” Bobby answered. 

“At two thirty in the morning?” Eddie’s voice came from the door. Bobby cast a quick look at Eddie who was leaning on the frame with two glasses of water in his hand. He walked into the room handing one to Buck before offering the second to Bobby. He was hesitant before taking the offering in his hand as Buck practically downed his glass. “Feel better?” Eddie asked as he sat down on the other side of the bed, getting a nod from Buck. 

“Yeah…” 

“Bobby, did you want to stay?” Eddie asked. “I can make up the couch if you want.” Eddie stated as Bobby took a sip of his water, just being in the same room as Buck seemed to calm his frazzled mind. 

“Sure…” Bobby mumbled as Eddie nodded and got to his feet, disappearing out of the bedroom. “You, okay? Do you need anything?” Bobby asked as Buck shook his head. 

“No… I’m okay…” Buck whispered as Bobby raised an eyebrow at the statement. 

“Wait… if Eddie is making up the couch, where has he been sleeping?” Bobby questioned as Buck’s face heated up a bit. 

“We… we found out I sleep better with someone in the room with me…” Buck admitted. Bobby stared at the young man for a few moments trying to decipher the look on his face before ultimately letting it slide. Buck would tell him when he was ready to, and he didn’t want to make the young firefighter uncomfortable. Eddie returned a few minutes later, before guiding Bobby to the living room. 

“It’s not much but it’s better than the floor, also since you don’t seem to have your phone on you, I texted Athena you were here.” Eddie stated as Bobby gave a small nod. Probably better that way, and he slowly made his way to the couch. “Alright, if you need anything just come ask. I’m heading back to bed. Night, Bobby.” Eddie yawned before disappearing down the hallway. Bobby took a deep breath relaxing knowing that Buck was just down the hall and not in an entirely different house. He could try to get to sleep but he knew that his own memories would be toying with him the moment he dozed off. He had to at least try…

 

 

*

“Are you certain this is a good idea?” Chim asked from where he was leaning against the island. Bobby glanced at the paramedic for a moment before his eyes shifted to where Hen was sitting talking to Buck and Eddie in the living room area. They had been talking about it since Buck got his boot on, because he didn’t like to stay alone, and this was one of the only solutions they could come up with. The rest of the crew was open to the idea, something that Bobby was grateful for, but Chim had brought up a few concerns with it. Mainly what happens if the brass come in to check on them and discover Buck hanging around. 

“If something happens then I’m the one that gets in trouble with it.” Bobby stated as Chim raised an eyebrow at him, almost uncertain about the whole thing. “Do you have a better idea?” 

“I… no… it’s just… What about the alarm? What if something goes wrong and one of us isn’t here… I don’t know Bobby; I'm just worried this will affect things in the long run…” Chim mumbled. Bobby knew that Chim meant no harm in what he said but it still felt weird for him to say something like that. 

“I think you're overthinking. It will be fine, Chim, Eddie is the man behind today to help get him settled.” Bobby responded as he poured himself a cup of coffee before grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, cracking it open as he went. He cast Chim one last look before heading over to the living room where the others were sitting. Offering the bottle of water to Buck, the younger man happily took it. “So, what are we talking about?” 

“Well apparently since Buck is now mobile, Chris thinks that’s a reason to get a cat.” Eddie stated as Bobby snorted as he settled in one of the chairs beside the couch. Buck was chuckling as Eddie scoffed leaning back against the soft fabric of the couch. 

“I don’t particularly want a cat climbing around the counters.” Buck stated as Bobby shook his head taking a sip of his warm drink. 

“Yeah, I can’t blame you. I grew up with cats, I hated them because they just were in everything but that was probably also because my mother didn’t care what they got into.” Hen stated as she moved a bit forward. 

“Why not just get a dog then?” Bobby pipped in as Eddie groaned. 

“Because we don't have time for a dog.” Eddie responded as Chim walked into the living room before jumping the arm of the couch and crashing down to Eddie’s other side. 

“What are we talking about?” 

“Christopher wants a dog.” Hen stated as Chim almost winced. 

“Why not a fish?” 

“You can’t play with a fish, Chim.” Buck grinned as the older man rolled his eyes. 

“Yes, but a fish can’t attack you.” Chim responded. 

“Depends on the fish.” Buck laughed as Eddie groaned rubbing at his face. 

“What kind of fish would I get an eight-year-old that would attack him?” 

“I don’t know, but Chris has a weird taste.” Buck pointed out as Eddie snorted. 

“Wonder where he got that from…” Eddie mumbled. 

“I’m guessing his father.” Hen chirped only to get a glare from Eddie. He opened his mouth to snap at her before the alarm sounded through the station. Buck flinched at the noise as the others jumped to their feet and Eddie scooted closer to the younger man pulling him to his side. Bobby cast one last glance at the two before rushing down the steps and to the fire trucks. 

Two hours later and they were pulling back into the station, everyone was quiet as they just sort of coasted into the spot. It had been a disaster of a call, more vehicles than they had been told were crashed and thankful no one was killed. However, a few of them had nearly been hit by angry drivers even though they were the ones trying to help. Bobby huffed as the truck finally stopped and everyone slowly slid out of the truck and took their outer gear off, most going to shower. Bobby shook his head; he didn’t really want to shower yet. He took the steps up to the loft two at a time and froze when he gazed over at the living area. Quietly he crosses the space and peaks over the edge of the couch. 

Eddie is fast asleep, pressed into the corner of the couch, his head leaning on the back of the couch. Buck is curled up against him, his head tucked underneath the older man’s chin. They look peaceful and from the way that Buck is laying on him, it appears this is a normal way for them to sleep. All of the younger man’s injuries weren’t pressed on at all, and he was lying in a way that most certainly wouldn’t be comfortable in the long run. Bobby can’t help the smile before digging out his phone and snapping a quick picture. 

 

 

 

 

 

*

“A dog?” Athena asked as crossed her arms giving Eddie a curious look. He flashed her a soft smile before his eyes drifted back to the window where Chris, Buck, Harry and May were outside messing with something in the backyard. Buck’s arm was finally out of the sling, and his boot would be off in a few days. 

“I mean yeah…” Eddie stated before turning his attention back to Athena. 

“Eddie isn’t a dog a bit much?” Athena questioned. 

“See I said the same thing, but then I was doing research because I couldn’t sleep one night, and I thought… I think it’ll be helpful for all of us.” Eddie gestured towards the window. 

“You’ve been dating for almost a month now and suddenly you want to get him a dog… I’m just trying to follow the logic here.” Athena responded before opening up a cabinet and Eddie grabbed the bowl she wanted from the top shelf. 

“I don’t think it's a bad idea.” Bobby said from the dining table, raising his eyes from the laptop he was looking at. Eddie had asked him to help look for a dog a week ago and they had been going through the different shelter websites trying to find the perfect dog. They had found only one possible candidate but when they went to meet him, he turned out to not be a good fit for their small family. 

“What about during the day?” Athena asked. 

“They’d be the firehouse dog. A few other stations have firehouse dogs, and everyone seems excited about it.” 

“Minus Chim.” Eddie piped up as Athena hummed contemplating the statement. 

“Well, Chim has too many fears… if you're certain Eddie, I don’t see anything wrong with it. I’m just surprised.” Athena admitted. 

“I get it, but I just wanted to have your opinion especially with how much we are over here.” Eddie stated as Athena nodded. They were at their place almost three to four days a week, and in truth Athena loved having the two men around. She loved Christopher like he was actually her grandchild and in all sense he was. It was to the point where it was weird when she didn’t hear from either of them after a few days, and it would bother her until she would reach out. She happily accepted the title of mother for both men because as it turns out Eddie’s parents weren't much better than Buck’s. 

“Well thank you for keeping me in mind.” Athena smiled as Eddie snorted. She was shoving the now full bowl of lettuce into his hands before gesturing towards the table. 

“Of course, I mean… you know.” Eddie mumbled as he rubbed at the back of his neck. Bobby was smiling at him and trying another website to see if he could find a decent dog for them to go look at. He was just scrolling through the different sites at this point, not really paying attention to anything in particular as Eddie continued his calm chat to Athena. It was weird that this was their life now and it was even weirder that it just felt right. 

Bobby’s eyes shifted to the window where Buck was scooping something off the ground, May’s arm resting on his bicep to help him back to his feet when he was ready. Harry was practically bouncing at the man’s side as Christopher spoke something he couldn’t hear. One moment they were all calm as Buck got back to his feet, peaking at whatever was in his hand. The next May was jumping backwards gasping, and Buck and Christopher were laughing, and a tree frog was clinging to Harry’s face and the poor boy was standing stock still. Bobby shook his head before returning his attention back to the screen in front of him.  He continued to scroll down the page, his eyes drifting over the different dogs before he stopped, his eyes locking on an image. Clicking the image, he scanned the description on the page before flicking through the other pictures. 

“What’s that look?” Eddie asked as he set down the forks on each side of the plates. 

“I… I think I found a dog.” Bobby stated a bit unsure himself. Eddie stepped up beside him staring down at the image on the screen. The image of the blue Pitbull stared back at the two men, her big brown eyes wide as she stared into the camera. She had scars along her muzzle and running down the side of her neck. Eddie’s eyes shifted to the information alongside the pictures as Athena moved up behind him looking the images over as well. 

“Chloe…” Eddie whispered.