"Christopher!" The word comes tumbling, breathless, from Buck's lips as he bolts upright in bed, heart hammering. He and his sheets are drenched with sweat, his chest tightening painfully as he struggles to catch his breath. Nervous fingers feel around the bedside table for his phone. He finds it and quickly dials, a task made more difficult by the fact that he can't stop his hands from shaking. "Please please please." He chews on a thumbnail as he waits for an answer. "Come on, come on."
There's a small groan, and then a voice says, "Buck?"
"Is Christopher okay?" Buck blurts.
"Buck, what-Yeah, yeah. He's fine. He's in bed. And I'm in bed. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
The tension slowly starts to leave Buck's body and he looks over at his alarm clock, making a face when he sees the numbers. "Damn it. I'm such an idiot. Eddie, I'm-I'm sorry I just-"
"Hey," Eddie interrupts. "You're not an idiot. You, uh, you have a nightmare?"
Buck doesn't answer, his cheeks suddenly flushing in embarrassment as his free hand clenches against the still-present tremors.
"What?" he says quickly, trying to laugh. "N-no. No, I'm fine."
"It's okay, Buck," Eddie says. A pause, then, "I have 'em too. From my time in the army."
Buck sucks in a breath. "Oh. I didn't know that."
"It's nothing to be ashamed of. Shit happens, you know? And sometimes your mind has a hard time dealing with that. It doesn't make you any less brave or any less of a hero."
"Eddie, how many times do I have to tell you I'm not-"
"Just shut up and take the compliment, Buckley." Then, "You good?" Eddie asks, and Buck knows that he's not in a hurry to leave, that he's just making sure Buck is feeling better.
"Yeah, I think so. Just, uh-Can I ask you something?"
"How do you get back to sleep?"
To Buck's surprise, Eddie lets out a barking laugh, which he quickly silences. "You're gonna wake up Christopher," he hisses.
"I'm not gonna do shit. What's so funny?"
"Usually if I have trouble getting back to sleep I, uh...I listen to ocean sounds."
Buck giggles, for real this time, and shakes his head. "Oh, yeah. That is-that is definitely not going to work."
"Download the nature sounds app. They've got lots of options besides ocean."
Buck wrinkles his nose. "Really?"
"Really. It's been a lifesaver. Just try it."
"Okay," Buck says doubtfully. He lowers himself back down. "Thanks, Eddie."
"Any time, Buck." And Buck can tell he means it.
The next morning, he wakes up to a text from Eddie.
Did it work?
Buck smiles as he types his response. Yeah. Rain on grass. Put me right to sleep.
He doesn't mention the fact that it was talking to Eddie that calmed him down.
xxx three days later
He's in tears this time when he wakes up, the image of Christopher, hand outstretched just out of his reach, being pulled into the ocean still seared into his mind. His chest is painfully tight and he can hardly breathe. He scrambles for his phone, jamming in his passcode.
His finger hovers for a moment over the phone icon before he remembers.
He struggles to slow his breathing. Shit happens, you know he thinks to himself, not in his own voice cus his own voice doesn't help. Your mind has a hard time dealing with that.
It's just my mind.
Just my mind.
He opens up the nature sounds app and clicks on rain on grass before turning the volume all the way up. He returns his phone to the bedside table and lays back down, letting the sounds wash over him.
They don't work, of course.
He stares up into the blackness, heart hammering, tears streaming down his face (not from the nightmare, now).
He's never felt more alone.
He's still awake when his phone buzzes at 4:17 am. He ignores it at first, as the only person who's been texting him is that asshole lawyer, but he quickly realizes that it is definitely too early for it to be the asshole lawyer who only contacts Buck when he's on the clock.
His next thought is that he hadn't actually heard anything, but then his phone does it again, and then again. A knot of anxiety forms in his stomach. It's probably someone-one of his (former?) co-workers angrily drunk texting him, or maybe his sister about to start her shift. Whoever it is, he imagines they aren't very happy with him.
The next time it buzzes he finally decides to look at it.
4 messages from Eddie Diaz
He takes a deep breath and holds it as he unlocks his phone.
A lump forms in his throat immediately.
Hey, just wanted to check in. Hope u don't see this tonight.
Chris had a nightmare again. Was asking about u. How's that app working?
I hope ur doing ok. Chris really misses u. He drew u a picture, I'll send a pic of it tomorrow.
And then, the kicker.
Sorry I wasn't there for you, Buck. I won't make that mistake again. I hope I get the chance, though. I miss my wingman. Night.
Buck holds his phone to his chest and he cries.