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life eternal

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Buck had seen his fair share of gunshot wounds. He’d been the one to clean them up, seeing the aftermath of a man being shot by a jilted lover, a child accidentally shot when playing with a gun left out by their parents, and so on. He was used to seeing the shock play out on people’s faces as they realized that what was once unthinkable had actually happened to them. He was used to seeing blood.

He wasn’t the type of person to be easily shaken while on the job. He couldn’t afford to be caught off guard. But seeing someone he worked with, someone he cared deeply for, lying on the ground surrounded by an ever-growing pool of his own blood…

Well, who wouldn’t be shaken up by that, right?

Buck swiped his hands vigorously over his face, trying for what had to be the hundredth time that night to wipe away the feeling of Eddie’s blood dripping down his skin. He looked up, afraid to come face to face with himself in the mirror, but breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that the only redness in his reflection came from his bloodshot eyes.

He washed his hands, scrubbing harder than he needed to. The skin was raw from how many times he’d gone at his palms and dug under his nails in an attempt to get every trace of blood off. Buck hissed in pain, realizing too late that the scalding hot water was doing further damage to his hands. He cursed under his breath, turning the handle to the ‘off’ position to cease the water’s flow.

After taking one last look at himself and releasing a shaky breath, he opened the bathroom door and stepped out into the hallway. Pictures, framed in dark wood, stared back at him. Eddie and Chris, sitting on a park bench together, ice cream cones held precariously in their hands. A shot of Chris on Santa’s lap at the mall. Nestled in a frame that looked newer than the rest was a candid shot of Eddie, Chris, and Buck, their frozen smiles gleaming in the dim light coming from Eddie’s living room down the hall.

Buck’s vision blurred. He didn’t know when this picture had even been taken; he must have been having too good of a time to even notice that they were being photographed. He would have to ask Carla about it. Buck’s hand reached out unbidden, his fingertips coming in contact with the picture’s frame as the tears began to flow down his cheeks. He’d had no clue that Eddie had a picture of him, let alone one that he deemed worthy to hang up.

He snatched his hand back as though the frame had burned him. He brushed the back of his hand across both cheeks and turned quickly to head into the living room.

As he rounded the corner, he saw that Carla was no longer sitting on the couch. He called out her name once, but got no response. She had mentioned going home to get some rest, so he figured that she’d left while he was in the bathroom.

Buck crossed to the sofa and sat down roughly, the cushions squeaking slightly beneath him. His laptop sat open next to him, the desktop slightly dimmed. He swiped across the touchpad, averting the always inevitable switch to sleep mode. Tapping twice, he quickly opened his browser.

The search was stupid and outlandish, even for Buck: ‘immortality, eternal life’.

“Fuck, this is so stupid!” Buck yelled into the silence surrounding him. A brief moment of panic washed over him, worried that he had woken Chris until he remembered that he was staying with Carla for the night until other arrangements could be made.

He closed his eyes, another sigh escaping from his lips. When he looked back at his laptop, he nearly closed the browser and slammed it shut, but something stopped him.

The definition of immortality, as provided by the first link on the search engine: ‘Immortality is eternal life, being exempt from death; unending existence.

Buck was always the one entertaining the team with his knowledge of random and weird things. He loved looking into subjects like jinxes, immortality, curses, and a myriad of other strange concepts that were sure to set his fellow firefighters eyes rolling. He believed in most of the things he researched… but it seemed immortality couldn’t be one of those things.

Fighting the urge to throw up, Buck closed the laptop with a soft thwump and shoved it all the way to the other side of the couch. He pushed the heels of his palms against his eyes, trying desperately to fight back the memories, the mental picture of what he’d been through earlier that day.

A choked cry escaped despite his best efforts to force it back down.

His own voice rang through his ears, in a strange muffled way that made it seem like a ghost was crying out from somewhere in the house.

“Eddie, please… you can’t leave now. You can’t leave Chris… y-you can’t leave… you can’t leave me, Eddie. Stay with me, okay? I can’t do this without you.”

He could see everything as clearly as when it first happened.

A single bullet, fired from a building across the road. The sound of ripping fabric as it tore through Eddie’s shirt. Blood, so much fucking blood. The feeling of the red liquid splattering across his face, how warm it was against his skin.

The bullet hole in Eddie’s chest caught Buck’s eye as the other man crumpled to the ground. Buck rushed to him, not caring about the shooter. Only caring about Eddie. His partner, his friend, the only person he had ever truly fucking cared about.

Buck could feel the weight of Eddie’s body in his arms. He clung to him, pulled him into his chest. Eddie’s breath was merely a rasp. He reached out to Buck, his hands covered in his own blood, slipping off of Buck’s shirt as he attempted to grab onto him.

All of this comes back to Buck within a split second.

But the worst part, the part he’ll never be rid of, the part that will haunt his nights and his days, is the way Eddie’s face had grown still. The way his eyes had drained of light, of life. Right there, in Buck’s arms, without a single word, Eddie Diaz ceased to exist.

Buck refused to believe in immortality or eternal life because Eddie was fucking dead. If anyone deserved to be immortal, to laugh in the face of certain death and continue on unharmed, it was Eddie. But he was dead. He was dead, and all Buck could sit there and do was wish that immortality was more than just an abstract concept that didn’t do shit for anybody.

Buck was all alone. Left to wipe his tears in Eddie’s living room and wish that Eddie had the gift of eternal life so that he could see him again and tell him that he loved him. That he had been in love with him since they first met.

He got up, forcing himself to walk to the door. He flipped the lightswitch on the wall next to him, soaking the living room in darkness. He stepped out, the faintest of breezes cooling his tear soaked cheeks, and he could almost swear that he heard Eddie’s laugh float past on the wind.

“I love you, Eddie.” His words were swallowed by the night sky as he walked toward his car, tears flowing freely once again.