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Of heroes and secrets

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Going back into a burning, unstable building to save a teenager from burning to death, wasn’t the smartest idea Buck ever had.

When they got the call for a fire in a warehouse district, they didn’t know what they would find upon their arrival. The 118 thought it was just putting out a fire, but when the first girls came out, after they busted open a door, it turned serious real quick. As it turned out the warehouse was a spot for a human trafficking ring.

Couple of girls were chained to pipes and needed to be cut loose. When they did a headcount and a girl said that one girl was missing Buck ran back in.

Bobby called him over the radio to evacuate, but Buck didn’t have time to answer, when he saw two guys with pipes coming at him. Immediately his SEAL training kicked in and Buck grabbed the first pipe and hit one guy over the head. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fast enough, as his turnout gear and oxygen tank were really heavy, and the second guy rammed the pipe into his abdomen. Buck doubled over in pain and the guy ran out the way Buck came in.

“Bobby, be aware, there’s a bad guy heading your way,” Buck grunted. “6’3, 200 pounds, black hair, light blue jeans and black leather jacket. I think he’s one of the traffickers. The second one is unconscious at my current location.”

“Copy that, Buck. Now get out of there,” Bobby replied. He turned to Athena, who in turn turned to a couple of LAPD officer. They took out their guns and moved to the warehouse door.

“I can’t, Cap. I haven’t found the girl yet.”

“I’ll send Durham in. Are you hurt?”

“I’m…fine.” Which was Buck-talk for ‘I may have a life-threatening injury’.

“Buck,” Bobby sighed. He knew that his youngest firefighter was not fine.

“I have to find her, Bobby! I can do it. I’m already at the far end of the warehouse.” Bobby heard Buck coughing after a couple of minutes.

“Buck, I’m giving you an order to evacuate the building. It’s about to come down. Don’t make me call Eddie.”

Buck didn’t immediately reply, but he could hear him over the open mic.

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me, Buckley.” Bobby heard more rustling and then shouting.

“I got her, Cap. We’re coming back out.” Bobby heaved a sigh of relief. “Also for the record, you can’t reach him. He’s still in Afghanistan and not back until next month.”

Buck started to slur, so Bobby signaled for Chimney and Hen.

“Chim, Hen, get the ambo ready, Buck’s coming out with the last girl. He is critically injured,” Bobby said to his paramedics.

“That stupid boy,” Hen answered with a fond eye-roll.

“Why does he always have to play hero?” Chim replied. Bobby didn’t answer them. He was the only one who knew about Buck’s past. But they were about to find out.

The frantic shouting of the surrounding firefighters, who tried putting out the fire, made them look back towards the warehouse. The building started to come down.

Bobby, Chimney and Hen ran towards the door to save their youngest firefighter, when they saw Buck coming out the door, just as the building was collapsing behind him.

The young girl was handed off to another paramedic team and Buck stood there, swaying on his feet and watching her go. For a second no one moved. Chim, Hen and Bobby just stood there, staring at a pale faced Buck, with this piece of pipe protruding from this abdomen.

“Uh…Bobby, I think it’s time you made that call…now,” Buck said and his knees buckled. Chimney and Hen sprang into action and caught Buck with Bobby’s help.

“Jesus Buck, what the hell were you thinking?” Hen shouted. Chimney and her worked in unison. They lowered him onto the gurney. Chim removed Buck’s oxygen tank, mask, helmet, turnout jacket, cut of his shirt and placing electrodes for the EKG, while Hen started running a line and pushing some morphine.

“I was thinking, what if that were May or Nia.” Buck whispered. They all shared a look and softened immediately. It was no secret that Buck loved the 118 kids and they loved their uncle Buck fiercely.

They stabilized the pipe for transport and loaded Buck into the ambulance.

“Bobby?” The captain climbed into the ambulance with Chimney and took Buck’s hand.

“Don’t tell him how bad it is, please,” Buck said softly. Chimney looked confused at Buck and then at his captain.

Bobby squeezed Buck’s hand gently. “I won’t. I promise.”

“His sats are dropping,” Chimney said worriedly.

“We’re four minutes out,” Hen replied.

“And…call Carla please, you can tell her. She’ll know…what to do.” Buck’s voice got more quiet, like it was costing him everything he has to stay awake.

“Buck, don’t talk like you’re dying.” Bobby gently slapped Buck’s face. “You survived worse, remember?”

“Cap, what are you talking about?” Chimney was getting more confused by the minute. What the hell was going on?

“I want ‘ddie,” Buck whined and looked confused around the ambulance. Tears started to leak out of his eyes.

“I’m gonna call Maddie when we reach the hospital, Buck. Don’t worry,” Chimney reassured their youngest firefighter. But Buck looked only more confused and looked at Bobby.

“I know, kid. I’ll call him and he’ll be here when you wake up. I promise.”

“Don’t…make promises…you can’t keep, Bobby.”

“Cap,” Hen called from the front. “What the hell is he talking about?”

But Bobby didn’t have time to answer as they reached the hospital and Buck lost consciousness.

Doctors and nurses met them at the ambulance and Chimney ran into the hospital with them to relay Buck’s status.

Hen looked at her captain in confusion. “Bobby what is going on? What was Buck talking about?” Bobby fished his cell phone out of his pocket. “And who are you calling?”

“The one person, who I had hoped I would never have to call.” Bobby turned away to make that mysterious phone call.

What Buck didn’t know was, that Eddie was not in Afghanistan anymore. He was at the firehouse waiting for Buck to come back from that call. When Eddie reached out to Bobby four weeks prior, to tell him he wanted to surprise Buck for his final homecoming, the captain was a hundred percent on board.

He knew how much Buck struggled with Eddie on deployment and the care for their son Christopher. Buck’s first year with the 118 was not easy. The young firefighter didn’t trust anyone and was fiercely protective of his private life. Bobby only found out about Buck’s personal life, after he stole the firetruck for a second time for an emergency at Christopher’s school. But to this day, Bobby felt like he didn’t know everything. He only knew about Eddie and Chris.

Bobby dialed Eddie and the soldier picked up after the first ring. “Hey Captain Nash. Are you on your way back?”

The captain sighed. “Hi Eddie. Call me Bobby, please. Um, we’re not on our way back. We had to make a detour, sort of.”

There was a short pause on the other end. Then he heard a sigh.

“The idiot got himself injured, am I right?”

Bobby snorted, there was no point in lying to a significant other. “Yes. He’s at the hospital and my guess, wheeled into surgery right about now.”

Bobby heard another sigh and small voice in the background. “Is daddy hurt again?”

“Yes, mijo. I’m dropping you off at abuela’s,” Bobby could hear Chris whine in the background. “Please, Chris. I know you want to see him, but he is in surgery right now and I don’t know for how long. As soon as I know anything, I’m gonna call abuela okay?”

Bobby heard a soft ‘okay’ from Christopher.

“Eddie, I’m going to text you the address of the hospital. Take your time. He’s not going anywhere.”

“Alright. Thank you, Bobby. See you soon.” They ended the call and Bobby made his way back into the hospital.

He texted Athena back with an update and requested coffee for the three of them and a change of clothes for him. He felt disgusting in his turnout gear.

He found Hen and Chimney in the waiting room, huddled close together and whispering to each other.

They turned when they saw Bobby approach, but before they could say anything, Bobby raised his hands to stop them.

“Please, don’t say anything. You’ll know soon enough. I called Buck’s emergency contact and-“ Bobby couldn’t finish his sentence as Chimney interrupted with, “But I already called Maddie, she’s on her way.”

“I’m not talking about Maddie, Chim. There are things you don’t know about Buck. He is an extremely private person; I didn’t even know until he stole the rig for the second time last year. So don’t take it personally what you are about to find out.”

Bobby took a seat beside Hen, who shared another confused look with her best friend.

Thirty minutes later Athena and Maddie arrived at the same time.  Athena greeted her husband with a kiss and a coffee and gave the other coffees to Hen and Chim.

“Have you called Eddie?” Maddie wanted to know. “What about, Christopher?” Athena inquired about the little boy

“I called him, he’s on his way. He’s dropping Christopher off at his abuela’s.”

“Can you please, for the love of god, tell us what the hell is going on here? Who are you guys talking about?” Chimney threw his hands up in the air. He had a betrayed look on his face.

“Me,” the paramedics whirled around. “I’m Eddie Buckley.” Hen and Chimney just blinked at him. “Buck’s husband.”

“Did-“ Hen cleared her throat. “Did you say husband?” But Eddie didn’t answer her. His focus was on Maddie. “Did he say husband?” Hen turned to Chimney.

“Maddie,” Eddie embraced his sister-in-law in a big hug. “It is so good to see you again.”

“You too, Eddie, though I had hoped it was under better circumstances.”

“Have you heard anything?” Eddie wanted to know.

“No, he’s still in surgery,” Bobby answered him.

“What happened?”

“Um, excuse me? Hello?” Hen waved at them. “Fire fam and husband of Buck. Can someone clue us in please?”

“Sorry,” Eddie said and reached his hand out to Hen and then Chimney as an introduction. “As I said, I’m Eddie, Buck’s husband. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

The dumbfounded paramedics shook Eddie’s hand in turn and stared at him like he was insane.

“We would say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but until a few minutes ago, we didn’t know you existed,” Hen answered for both of them.

“I’m not surprised. Buck is very private. Even Maddie didn’t know until we were already married for eight years.” Eddie laughed.  

“I feel like I don’t know our Buckaroo at all,” Chimney shook his head in shock.

“Wait until you find out the rest,” Eddie replied.

“There’s more?” Chimney squeaked out, while Eddie laughed again and nodded.

“Why don’t we wait with the interrogation and bring Maddie and Eddie up to speed on what happened. You have plenty of time for questions later.”

*~*

Bobby brought Maddie and Eddie up to speed on what happened with Buck. Eddie could only roll his eyes at what the captain told them. The adrenaline kept Buck going until he had the girl safely out the door before he collapsed. The pipe, who was stuck in his abdomen, in turn kept him from bleeding out completely, though he still lost a lot of blood from all the moving.

“What happened to the traffickers?” Eddie asked.

“One is in custody and the other one didn’t make it,” Athena answered. “Buck hit him so hard over the head, that his skull caved in.”

“That was one lucky punch.” Hen quipped in. Eddie snorted and everyone looked at him.

“That was no lucky punch. Buck knew what he was doing.” The crew looked at him in disbelieve. No one could fathom that their sweet Buckaroo was capable of this. “You don’t know this, but Buck is a retired Navy SEAL. He joined when he was eighteen and was on active duty for ten years. He retired after an Op went bad and he was critically injured. The Op is classified, but it involved human traffickers and the Taliban. He was forced to retire after he nearly lost his leg in that mission.”

Everyone whirled on Maddie after Eddie’s tale.

“Did you know about this?” Chimney asked his girlfriend, who nodded.

“Yes, but I only found out, when Evan and I reconnected after Doug. I found out a lot of things that day.” Maddie smiled at Eddie.

“So that’s how you and Buck met?” Hen wanted to know. “In the military?”

Eddie nodded. “Yeah, we met when Buck was nineteen and I twenty-two, on deployment. I’m a combat medic in the army and I patched him up after he got shot. He insisted it was just a graze,” The crew snorted, they all knew about Buck’s habit for understating his injuries. “But in reality, the bullet took a chunk out of his calf. We’ve been together ever since.”

“So you and Buck had a meet-cute over a bullet wound?” Chimney asked and Eddie laughed.

“Yes, we’ve been together for ten years now. Married eight years, nearly nine. We raise our son Christopher together. He’s biologically mine from a previous relationship, he’s eleven.” Eddie showed them an old picture of Buck and Christopher.

“He is adorable, Eddie. If we had known about him, we would’ve had him already over for playdates and sleepovers with Denny.” Hen showed him a photo of her family. “That’s Karen, my wife, our son Denny and daughter Nia.”

“I know, Hen. But Evan is very private. His childhood was not easy and he made a lot of enemies while in the service. He doesn’t trust easily, so please don’t be mad at him.”

They were interrupted when a nurse in scrubs came out and called the family of Evan Buckley.

Eddie got up. “I’m his husband. How is he?”

“We have removed the pipe from his abdomen, it perforated his bowel, in particular his small intestines. We’re having trouble getting the bleeding under control. He’s holding his own and we’ve given him blood transfusion, to replace the volume he has already lost. It’s still touch and go, but your husband is a fighter.” The nurse squeezed Eddie’s arm. “I have to go back to surgery, but I’m gonna keep you updated.” Eddie nodded in thanks and turned back to the 118.

He let out a deep breath and sat back down. The crew gathered around him and he was grateful that his husband had such a caring crew. While they waited, they all traded stories of Buck’s antics, while Eddie told them more about their life.  

*~*

The surgery, as it turned out, took all night. At some point during the night, Athena and Hen went home to freshen up, look after the kids and get a couple of hours of sleep.

The rest all freshened up in the hospital bathroom and were slumped in the uncomfortable chairs.

Before dawn, the nurse came back out and told them that Buck was going to be fine and was in recovery. They all heaved big sighs of relief.

“When can I see him?” Eddie asked the nurse.

“When he’s moved to a regular room in about an hour,” the nurse replied kindly.

When the nurse was gone, Eddie gathered his abandoned jacket.

“I need to pick up our son. Buck will want to see him when he wakes up.”

“I’ll do it,” Maddie offered. “I’ll pick up my favorite nephew-“

“He’s your only nephew, Mads,” Eddie threw in and laughed at her.

“As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted. I’ll pick him up and buy us all some coffee and breakfast. Come on, Howie.”

Her boyfriend saluted her. “Aye, aye, Ma’am. I’m calling Hen and Athena on the way.” Bobby thanked him and patted his shoulder on his way out.

Maddie hugged Eddie and kissed his cheek, before they took off.

Both men sat back down.

“So what is your plan now that you’re retired?” Bobby asked the younger man.

“Evan and I talked about it and I’ve applied for the academy. I’m starting next month.”

“Well if you need a job afterwards, I have a kid who needs constant supervision.” Bobby and Eddie shared a hearty laugh.

*~*

Promptly one hour later, Buck was finally in a regular room and sleeping off the anesthesia. Eddie sat at his side and gently took Evan’s hand in his. Eddie’s other hand was in Buck’s hair, stroking it gently. Bobby sat on Buck’s other side and appeared to be praying for his husband.

After they sat at his side for maybe thirty minutes, Maddie still wasn’t back with Christopher, Eddie felt Buck’s finger twitch. He suddenly sat up and looked at his husband.

Buck groaned and slowly opened his eyes.

“Evan? Carino? Show me those baby blues.” Eddie stood up and leaned over his husband.

“’ddie?” Buck mumbled. “Am I dead?” The younger man looked at Bobby.

Eddie let out a wet laugh and looked at Bobby, who was also laughing.

“No you’re not, but when I’m finished with you, you will be wishing you were. What the hell were you thinking?”

Buck groaned again and appeared to be more alert. Bobby stood up, squeezed Buck’s hand and said he was going outside to inform the nurses.

The younger man looked from Bobby to Eddie again and Eddie saw the moment, it clicked in Buck’s brain, that his husband was back.

“Eddie? What…what are you doing here?” Bucks face crumpled and tears started to stream down his face. “I thought you were in Afghanistan?”

Eddie gently cradled Buck’s face in his hands.

“I wanted to surprise you. I waited at the station for you, when Bobby called me that you were in the hospital. He knew for the last four weeks that I was coming home.”

Buck stared at his husband in shock.

“You’re finally home?” Buck’s voice cracked.

“Yes, sweetheart, I’m finally home.” Eddie leaned in and softly kissed his husband, while gently stroking his cheeks.

Eddie broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against Buck’s, finally enjoying the closeness, after months apart.

The door opened and they heard the tell-tale sign of crutches.

“Daddy, thank god you’re okay,” Christopher exclaimed.

“Oh, baby. Of course I’m okay. I’m indestructible.”

“Like Captain America?” Christopher asked, as he reached the bed.

Buck laughed. “Yeah, just like him. Come here, give me a hug.”

Eddie helped Christopher onto the bed and the boy gently hugged his father.

“I met Chimney and Hen. They’re more funny than you said, daddy.”

Buck looked at his husband over Chris’s head. “You did, huh?” Christopher nodded.

“Yeah, we had to tell them. You kept asking after Eddie, Buck” Bobby replied as he re-entered the room.

“How much do they know?” Buck asked, biting his lip.

“Everything, carino. They deserved to know.” Buck nodded his head. “They would’ve found out anyway. Bobby offered me a job.”

Bucks eyes lit up and looked to Bobby for confirmation. “Really?”

The captain nodded.

“So how much trouble am I in with Chim and Hen?”

“Prepare to grovel.” Buck groaned. “A lot.”

Buck screwed up his face.

 

THE END