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May was just hanging up from a call when Linda rolled over to her. The younger woman smiled at her co-worker but the concerned look on her face had May frowning. 

 

“What’s up?” May asked. 

 

“I’ve got a caller who is asking for you by name,” Linda explained and May frowned. “Wouldn’t give me a name but asked for Dispatcher May Grant. Want me to pass the call?” 

 

May nodded and turned back to her computer. When the line connected, she took a calming breath. 

 

“This is Dispatcher Grant,” May said down the line. The person on the other end let out a shaky breath and a watery chuckle. “Can I know who I’m speaking too?”

 

“Did you know that you are really special May?” The voice said and May would know that voice anywhere. “You were born on a Saturday and that’s the day that the least number of babies are born. Did you know that?” 

 

“Buck? Are you ok?” May asked softly. She typed on her keyboard, trying desperately to find a location on the man she considered an older brother. Something must be seriously wrong if he was calling 911 and asking for her. She heard him take a swallow of something before he let out a harsh laugh. 

 

“Can you tell me what it’s like to be loved by your parents May?” Buck asked and May let out a soft gasp. Her hand shot up and she frantically indicated for Josh to come over. 

 

“Buck, can you tell me where you are?” May asked as Josh sat down beside her and joined her call. Buck let out another harsh breath but didn’t answer. “Buck, are you safe?” 

 

“Not like it matters,” Buck whispered. Josh took over the keyboard so that May could pull out her phone and text her mother. 

 

Mom:  Do you know where Buck is?? 

 

“Buck, what’s going on?” May asked as Josh tried to lock in a location on the man. “Why didn’t you call my cell?” 

 

“Cause you’re busy. But I just wanted to hear a kind voice,” Buck’s voice was slurred as he spoke and May frowned. “A kind voice one last time.” 

 

“Buck, I need to know if you’ve taken anything? You’re sounding a little slurred,” May asked. 

 

“Did you know that 24 people die every year from champagne corks?” Buck ignored May’s question as he rambled out facts. “Like out of all the stupid shit someone could do, a champagne cork is what gets them.” 

 

“Buck, are you drinking right now?” May asked and Buck made a noise of agreement. May shared a glance with Josh who frowned and May’s phone vibrated on the table. “Buck, how much have you had to drink?” 

 

Mom:  No baby, I haven’t spoken to him today. Bobby said they had a rough night last night but Buck seemed ok when he left. Why? 

 

“Dunno,” Buck finally replied. “I think I started with three bottles. But one fell off. And it was full May. That makes me sad.” 

 

“Fell off? Fell off where Buck?” May asked and both her and Josh held their breaths. 

 

“May, why do people think I’m expendable?” Buck murmured, a sob escaping his throat and May’s hand flew up to cover her mouth. Josh took her spare hand in his and squeezed it tightly. 

 

“I don’t think that, Buck. I’d never think that,” May replied urgently. “And I demand you send whoever said that to you straight to me. I’ll set them straight.” 

 

“You’re pretty awesome May,” Buck’s voice was going softer and May tensed. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” 

 

“Well, I think I need my big brother around to remind me,” May said firmly, tears now slipping down her cheeks. 

 

“Nah. You don’t need a fuck up like me around. I’ll just mess you up. Like I do everything else in my life,” Buck’s voice was hoarse and May let out a soft sob. “Don’t cry for me May. I’m not worth it.” 

 

“No, you are. You’re my brother Buck and I love you,” May sobbed out. Linda wrapped an arm around the younger girl and May could hear Sue talking on the phone to someone behind her. “Buck, please tell me where you are. Please. I don’t want to lose you.” 

 

“Probably better for everyone if I was gone,” Buck said and May let out a breath. 

 

“No way,” May relied firmly. “Harry and I need our brother, Denny needs his Uncle Buck and Christopher, don’t even get me started on how much he needs his Bucky. And that’s just us kids. I can’t even imagine what the adults will be like. Who will cook with Bobby? God knows no one else is allowed in his kitchen. And mom, someone needs to help me stand up to her. Plus, you gotta be there for dad’s next life crisis - David and I refuse to be alone for it! What about Maddie? You think she wants to deal with Chimney and a new baby alone? God that baby is going to have the best uncle ever but you need to be there to meet them.” 

 

“Why are you trying so hard May?” Buck asked softly, taking another swig of whatever he was drinking. “Just let me go.”

 

“NO!” May yelled. She knew it was against her training but training be damned. Her brother was thinking the world would be better without him. “No, I won’t just let you go. Because I love you and I damn well don’t want the next time I see you to be at your funeral. I love you Evan James Buckley and nothing, NOTHING, will ever change that. My world is so much richer for having you in it. I refuse to lose you.” 

 

“Sue,” a new voice joined the conversation. Alice had rolled over, her hand covering her headset mouthpiece. “I’ve got a caller in Topanga State Park who says they are standing behind a male sitting on the edge of a cliff. He appears to be drinking and they are concerned for his wellbeing.” 

 

“Buck, can you tell me what you’re wearing right now?” May asked, knowing what Sue was going to ask for next. 

 

“You’re weird,” Buck teased before movement was heard over the phone. “Um, grey sweats, a black t shirt and trainers. Why?” 

 

“Just worried about you bro,” May said as Alice got the description of the man from her caller. “It’s going to get cool tonight and I just need to know you’re wearing appropriate clothes.” 

 

“It matches,” Alice said and Sue nodded. She was dispatching both LAPD and LAFD to the scene but she was growing more and more concerned that they wouldn’t make it in time. 

 

“May, can you tell Mads I love her,” Buck said and May let out a choked sob. “Tell her I don’t blame her. For any of it.” 

 

“Buck, you can tell her yourself,” May sobbed out. 

 

“Don’t cry for me May,” Buck said softly, his tone almost soothing. It was a tone she knew he used whenever one of the kids had a nightmare or needed a Buck hug. It was the tone he used on calls with kids to soothe them. And now he was trying to use it on her before he went over a cliff. “I’m just sad I won’t get to see you all grow up. Will you tell Chris, tell him Bucky loves him? And I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger.” 

 

“Buck please,” May sobbed. “Please stay. I don’t want to be the one to call mom and tell her that her eldest son has died. Please Buck.” 

 

“Tell mama and pops I love them. They are so much better than the Buckleys,” Buck said. It sounded like he has started to move and that thought had May panicking. “Wish they were my actual parents.” 

 

“They can be,” May said, thinking quickly. “There’s a thing called adult adoption. We can talk to them about it together. I’ll get the forms and everything for you. It would be so cool to watch mom’s face as she opened adoption papers with your name on them.” 

 

“But they wouldn’t want that, would they?” Buck asked and May heard him stop moving. “Why would anyone want a fuck up like me?” 

 

“Cause you’re awesome,” May repeated. “Mom and Bobby would be over the moon if you asked them to adopt you. Please Buck. Please let me help you.” 

 

“May, I’m scared,” Buck whispered and May sobbed. 

 

“I know Buck. I know,” May said. She was speaking frantically to the emergency crews and soon, May could hear sirens over the line. “Buck, first responders are arriving. Can you go with them, please? I promise I’ll be there as soon as possible. But I want you to go with them.”   

 

“I’m just so tired May,” Buck’s voice was getting weaker and May had no doubt he was beginning to succumb to the alcohol in his system. “Jus. Jus’ wanna sleep.” 

 

“Hi Buck, my name is Henry,” a new voice joined the fray and May held her breath. “I’m a firefighter from Station 69. I know, laugh it up. We all do.”

 

“Buck, listen to him. I’m going to come to you ok,” May said. 

 

“Alright May. Love you,” Buck said. The phone call ended and May pulled the headset from her ear. 

 

“Dispatch, this is engine 69 on site with one male,” the captain’s voice came over the radio and May dropped back into her seat, Josh and Linda wrapping their arms around her. “Male has been moved away from the cliff edge. Paramedics beginning assessment now.” 

 

“Copy Engine 69. Please advise destination,” Sue said, her hand squeezing May’s shoulder. 

 

“We will transport to UCLA Santa Monica Medical Centre,” the man replied. Sue relayed her confirmation before disconnecting the call. 

 

“I have to go to him,” May said, looking wildly up at Sue. “Oh god, I need to call everyone.” 

 

“May, breathe,” Sue said and May accepted the cup of water from Alice. 

 

“You’re in no state to drive,” Josh commented before looking up at Sue. Sue nodded and Josh turned back to the younger dispatcher. “I’ll take you. Let’s go.” 

 

“I’ll call in some covers for you,” Sue said as May began to awkwardly fumble for her bag. “Give Firefighter Buckley our love.” 

 

Josh led May down to his car and helped her into the passenger seat. She was fumbling with her phone but she couldn’t get her hands to stop shaking. Pressing on the first number in her contacts that she found, she put the phone on speaker. 

 

“Hey May,” Bobby’s soothing voice echoed down the line. “How’s your shift going?” 

 

When May let out a sob, she heard movement down the line. May could hear both her parents and David in the background as Bobby tried to soothe her. 

 

“May sweetie, what’s going on? Are you hurt?” Bobby’s voice was steady but that just made May sob harder.

 

“Bobby, this is Josh Russo,” Josh said loudly as he drove towards Santa Monica. “May and I are heading to UCLA Santa Monica Medical Centre. It’s for the best if you meet us there.”

 

“Josh, what is going on?” Bobby demanded and Josh could hear movement down the line as the group began to gather their things.

 

“Bobby, the simplest explanation I can give is that May is fine but Buck is not. I’m going to need you to contact Maddie and probably the others on your team and meet us at the hospital,” Josh said in his firm, yet calm dispatcher tone. “May and I are about half an hour away so we will probably arrive just before you but suffice it to say, you need to get there.”

 

“We are on our way. About 60 minutes out,” Bobby replied firmly before hanging up the phone. May placed her phone on her lap and Josh took her hand as she started to sob.

 

“Josh, why would he do this?” May sobbed and Josh sighed.

 

“I don’t know May. I’ve got no answers for you,” Josh replied.

 

The rest of their drive was silent except for May’s sobs. She had placed her phone back in her bag and was ignoring the constant vibration as she rested her head on the window and squeezed Josh’s hand rhythmically.

 

When they arrived at the hospital, Josh dropped May at the Emergency room doors while he went to park the car. May burst into the room and made her way straight to the nurse’s desk.

 

“Excuse me,” she said frantically and the nurse looked up at her kindly. “My brother was just brought in by paramedics. Um, Evan Buckley. Please, is he alright?”

 

“Give me a second love,” the nurse said as she typed on her screen. May began to tap her foot anxiously as she waited for the woman’s response. “Ok, so I can’t tell you much given that you aren’t his emergency contact or next of kin, but I can tell you that he is being checked out now by our emergency team.”

 

“Where can I wait? The rest of our family are on their way too,” May asked and the nurse nodded. She led May down to a private waiting area and squeezed her shoulder gently. May dropped into one of the cold, plastic chairs and dropped her head into her hands. After a few minutes, Josh joined her and wrapped an arm around May’s shoulder.

 

The first of the 118 family to arrive were Karen, Hen, and Denny. The trio had been at the reopened Santa Monica Pier enjoying the sites when Athena had called and told them they needed to get to the hospital.

 

“May!” Hen called as they burst into the room. May jumped to her feet and Hen pulled the younger woman into a tight hug. “Oh, May honey. What happened?”

 

“It’s… Buck…” May sobbed out and Hen and Karen shared a glance. Denny moved over to May and took her hand in his and squeezed.

 

“What happened sweetheart?” Karen asked but May just shook her head as the tears fell. Before she could answer, the door opened again and Eddie burst into the room, looking frantic. His eyes fell on May and the young woman let out an anguished sound.

 

“May, cariño,” Eddie said as May moved away from Hen and into his arms. He looked up at the others in concern but they all shook their heads. Josh was going to wait until everyone arrived before he told the story. There was no point in telling it more than once. “Come on May. Sit down.”

 

Eddie moved May over to a chair and sat down with her still in his arms. Denny sat beside them and took May’s hand in his, patting it and rubbing her arm soothingly. Karen and Hen took up seats in the room to await to arrival of the rest of the team.

 

A further 30 minutes passed before rushing footsteps were heard coming down the hall. May looked up from where she was still seated in Eddie’s lap and watched as her mom burst through the waiting room doors, followed closely by Bobby, Michael, David, Chimney, Albert, and a heavily pregnant Maddie. Athena’s gaze locked onto May and she approached her daughter swiftly.

 

“May baby?” Athena said before May launched herself at her mother. Bobby helped to usher his two favourite women to a chair before turning to Eddie.

 

“I’ve got nothing Cap,” Eddie said in response to his silent question. Josh stood up, drawing attention to himself as he approached Maddie.

 

“Mads, you should sit down for this,” Josh said. Maddie looked between May and him in confusion but did as he suggested. Josh sat down beside her and took her hand in his. He took a deep breath and addressed the room. “Ok, so what I’m about to tell you is all we know. May received a call today from someone requesting her specifically. It was Buck.”

 

“Why did Buck call 911?” Eddie jumped in but shut his mouth quickly when Josh shot him a look.

 

“He was sitting on a cliff in Topanga State Park,” Josh said quickly and a collective gasp ripped through the room. Maddie and Karen both began to tear up and Eddie and Bobby both paled rapidly. “He had been drinking and from what he was saying, he was preparing to take his own life.”

 

“Dios mío,” Eddie whispered, tears welling up in his eyes.  

 

“No, Buck wouldn’t do that,” Albert said, dropping into a seat beside Eddie.

 

“He wouldn’t.”  “Is he… did he?” Maddie gasped out before letting out a gut wrenching sob. Chimney pulled her into his arms and she sobbed into his neck.  

 

“No, the paramedics and rescue team from Station 69 arrived and thanks to them and May, Buck didn’t jump,” Josh said. “But we don’t know anything yet. I assume that they wouldn’t tell May anything because she isn’t his emergency contact or anything.”  

 

Bobby nodded and left the room, aiming to find out more information from the nursing staff. Athena was attempting to soothe May while Hen was trying to keep Denny calm as well. Eddie was running his hands through his hair, pulling at the ends every so often. Bobby returned after a few minutes and indicated for Eddie to join him in the hall.  

 

“What did they say? Is he ok?” Eddie fired off once the door was closed behind them.  

 

“They are pumping his stomach now. He had apparently ingested almost 2 full bottles of Everclear. He had a seizure in transit,” Bobby explained and Eddie let out a sob. “They are planning on putting him in a medically induced coma so that they can monitor him. Apparently he also had a few injuries including two broken ribs, a sprained wrist and some torn muscles in his back.”  

 

“The call yesterday?” Eddie questioned and Bobby nodded.  The day before the 118 crew had been called to a fire at a daycare centre along with the 136. They had arrived and as they started working to put out the fire, they were informed that a carer and 5 children were still unaccounted for. While the 136 worked on the flames, Eddie, Buck, Hen, and Chimeny had suited up and walked into the building to search for them. Eddie and Buck were the first to find the group and after passing off the kids, Buck brought up the rear with the carer in his arms. They were almost at the exit when the ceiling caved in, separating Buck and the others. Eddie had wanted to stay and help his partner but Buck had yelled at him to leave.  

 

Eddie, Chim, and Hen got the kids out and just as Eddie turned to go back in and help Buck, a huge fireball exploded from the doorway. The entire team had let out a cry as the building further collapsed but Buck didn’t emerge.  Bobby had to physically hold Eddie back as the younger man tried to make a run for the building to rescue his partner.

 

Eddie had just dropped to his knees when Bosko let out a call and Buck emerged from the alleyway to the left of the daycare. He’d found a broken window on the ground floor and managed to climb out of it with the woman. After administering care to the unconscious woman and loading her up into the 136’s ambulance, Hen and Chimney turned their attention to Buck. He only accepted a cursory look over and grudgingly had accepted the oxygen treatment but claimed no other injuries. Eddie had hung close to Buck after that.  

 

It had been a relatively good call despite all the obstacles. No one died, the kids all returned home safely and the hospital had provided them with an update that the carer was being released from care after suffering only minor smoke inhalation and a broken ankle. Buck hadn’t complained once about an injury.  

 

“Wait, did you say 2 bottles of Everclear?” Eddie backtracked and Bobby nodded. “Shit Bobby. That crap is at least 190 proof.”  

 

“Which is why he seized and why the doctors are putting him in a coma. There’s no telling what damage Buck has done to himself,” Bobby said, his voice and shoulders heavy. “Eddie, they also found cuts on his stomach and legs. They think self-inflicted.” 

 

“Por favor, Dios no,” Eddie said softly. The door to the room behind them opened and Athena joined them silently. She took in Eddie’s broken expression and instantly wrapped her arms around him. The tears flowed freely as Eddie sobbed into Athena’s shoulder, repeating the phrase “dios no” over and over.  

 

Athena nudged Eddie back into the room and into Hen’s waiting arms before turning to her husband.  “What happened to my boy?” Athena demanded. Bobby led her to a seat across the hallway and much like Eddie had done, rested his head on his wife’s shoulder and let his tears fall. As he relayed what the nurses had told him, he felt Athena growing more and more tense. By the time he had finished speaking, his normally stoic and strong wife was crying silent tears. “Buckaroo.”  

 

Karen stepped out of the room with Denny in tow and made eye contact with Athena.  

 

“I’m going to take Denny to Eddie’s. He’s just spoken to Carla and she has offered to watch Chris, Harry, and Denny for the night while we wait here. I’ve also got the keys to Buck’s loft. I’m going to grab him some clothes. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Call me if anything changes,” Karen explained and Athena nodded. She had never been more grateful that her youngest son was having a playdate with Christopher that day. Karen and Denny left the hospital with heavy hearts and Athena turned back to her husband.  

 

“Why didn’t he come to me?” Bobby sobbed out softly and Athena attempted to shush him. She had a suspicion as to why Buck hadn’t spoken to them and if her suspicion was true, she would be having words with that boy. For all intents and purposes, Buck was Athena’s son and now, for the second time in her life, one of her children had tried to end their own life. That thought alone sent Athena spiraling.  

 

No one acknowledged it but everyone knew that Buck was the heart of the 118. The station would never be the same if something serious happened to him. And each member of the team was beating themselves up at the thought that Buck had been in pain and had never told them.  

 

As Eddie held May tight, he prayed to God that Buck would wake up. He had so much to confess to him and Eddie was terrified that he’d lost his chance. And quite honestly, a world without Buck was a world that Eddie didn’t want to think about.

Chapter Text

--- The Morning of the Attempt ---

 

Buck woke up hazy and in pain. His tongue felt fuzzy in his mouth and he honestly thought a rock band had taken up residence in his head. But that’s probably what he gets for downing a whole bottle of whiskey after his shift.

 

Slowly crawling out of bed, Buck made his way into his bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. His eyes were swollen and red from the crying he had done the night before and if he was being honest, he looked broken. Taking his shirt off was pure agony but when the garment was free, Buck looked down at his injured body.

 

Their last call of the day had been a fire at a daycare centre. He, Eddie, Hen, and Chimney had returned to the building when they learnt a carer and 5 kids were unaccounted for. When they had found them, the carer was unconscious with a broken ankle and the kids were near hysterical. The kids had been grabbed by his team and Buck had scooped up the woman into his arms. As they made their way to the entrance, the fire began to spread and made its way through the ceiling. Just before the exit, it caved in, separating him from his team. Buck remembered telling Eddie to leave, something his partner did with protest in his eyes.

 

Knowing that he couldn’t continue that way, Buck had turned to try and find another exit. Just as he did, something behind him exploded and Buck and the carer were sent flying through a closed door and into one of the rooms. Buck landed awkwardly on the edge and side of a cupboard and heard the crack of his ribs. After letting out a short scream of pain, Buck rallied his strength and picked the woman up once more. He moved as quick as he could through a back door and eventually found a broken window near the kitchen. He had climbed out with the woman and hobbled around to his waiting team.

 

He watched from the back of the 118’s ambulance as the carer was loaded into the 136’s ambulance. Hen and Chimney pushed the oxygen mask onto him and Eddie had clung close to his side. He refused a check-up, stating he would be fine with just some oxygen. Besides, there was nothing Hen or Chimney could do for broken ribs that he couldn’t do at home himself.

 

He stayed silent in the truck on the way back to the station but leant against Eddie the whole time. Buck could feel the others watching him but he didn’t want to speak. Honestly, he wanted to go back to his apartment, crack a beer or two, take some painkillers and go to bed. Buck had never been happier to have a day off the next day.

 

When they’d arrived back at the station, Buck chose to change out of his uniform but shower at home. He said goodbye to his team and silently made his way out to his Jeep. A message from Eddie rung out on his phone before he’d even turned the ignition on.

 

Eds: I’ve got cold beer in the fridge and Christopher on the couch if you want to come hang.

 

And that offer had been very tempting. Even on his worst days, Buck could depend on Christopher’s smile to brighten him up. But right now, he just wanted to wallow.

 

Eds: Not tonight. Goin home 2 crash. Give Superman a hug for me.

 

Throwing his phone into the passenger seat, Buck drove out of the parking lot towards his lonely apartment. When he arrived, he moved through the apartment up to his bathroom and had jumped straight into the shower. Buck had vaguely heard his phone ringing but ignored it as he had tried to shower through the pain of broken ribs.

 

When he’d emerged and picked up his phone, he noticed a missed call and voicemail from his parents. Buck played the message with a raised eyebrow and instantly wished he hadn’t.

 

“Why couldn’t it have been you?” Margaret Buckley’s voice was wavering and slurred as she spoke into the phone. “Daniel should have been with us. But no. You failed at the ONE THING you were supposed to be useful for. It… it should have been you. Why did the ungrateful one have to live when our perfect boy died? You are useless Evan.”

 

The phone had dropped out of his hand and Buck had moved as if in a daze. Ignoring the beer, he had gone straight for the liquor in the cabinet above the fridge. Before he knew what had happened, he was listening to the message for the fourth time and was halfway through the previously full bottle of whiskey. There was a razor blade sitting beside him on the table and when he had looked down, Buck noticed his stomach was lined with slices. Each one was bleeding slightly but he smiled as he poked them and pain rushed through them. At least he could still feel something.

 

Which led Buck to his current predicament. Hangover from hell, injuries (both from the fire and self-inflicted) that hadn’t been addressed and a pain deep in his soul. His parents, the people who were supposed to love him unconditionally but proved time and time again that they didn’t, wished he had died in place of his brother. Thinking about it, maybe it should have happened that way.

 

Buck moved through his morning routine on autopilot. He showered and got dressed before moving slowly around his apartment tidying up. He looked forlornly at his now empty liquor cabinet (he hadn’t filled it up in months because he spent most of his off hours with Eddie and Eddie usually had beer at his house). Grabbing his keys and locking the door behind him, Buck jumped into his Jeep and headed for the nearest liquor store.

 

“Having a party, are we?” the cashier asked as Buck placed the three bottles of Everclear on the counter. He couldn’t tell what had drawn him to that particular spirit, maybe it was the high alcohol content in it. Maybe he just wanted to relieve some of his teenage rebellion (this had been the booze he’d gotten drunk on for the first time as a rebellious 15-year-old before throwing up in his mother’s prize-winning roses).

 

“Something like that,” Buck replied, swiping his card and taking the bag the cashier handed him.

 

As he got back into the car, Buck looked over at his phone. It was full of messages from the team and his sister wanting to know if he wanted to hang out but Buck knew he would not be the best company. Deciding to ignore the phone, he switched it to ‘Do Not Disturb’ before finding a Spotify playlist and driving away from the centre of LA. Before he knew it, Buck was pulling into Topanga State Park. He parked the Jeep, grabbed his alcohol and found a trail that would take him up to one of the tallest cliffs in the park.

 

Finding a relatively comfortable place to sit, Buck opened the first bottle of alcohol and took a large mouthful. Thanks to its composition, he didn’t feel a thing as the alcohol slipped down his throat. He was enveloped in a comfortable warmth after a few minutes that had him smiling.

 

Soon enough, the first bottle was empty and Buck placed it back into the bag. As he reached for the second one, it rolled out of the bag and dropped off the cliff. Buck had a moment to mourn the loss of the bottle before he shrugged and pulled out his last bottle. As he brought his hand back to his body, he bumped against his phone. Buck removed the device from his pocket and looked at his lock screen. It was a photo of him and the kids taken at the most recent Grant-Nash family barbeque. He was holding Chris and Harry under each arm, Denny was laying at his feet, and May had climbed on his back. Looking at the picture, Buck had the overwhelming urge to speak to May, if only to hear a kind voice.

 

Because Buck had made a decision. Once the second bottle was gone, he was going to jump. The world would be a better place without him, people wouldn’t get hurt by his actions, and he could finally get some peace. But first, he wanted to hear May’s voice one last time and have her pass on a message or two for him.

 

“911, what’s your emergency?” a female voice asked. It definitely wasn’t May.

 

“I wanna… speak…” Buck slurred out, his tongue feeling heavy in his mouth.

 

“Sir, are you alright? Can you tell me what’s going on?” the woman’s voice was calm but she wasn’t May and that was who Buck wanted.

 

“Want… May… May Grant,” Buck said slowly, really concentrating on his words. “Only… want… May. Other… otherwise imma hang up.”

 

“Ok sir. Just give me a second,” the woman said and Buck tuned out as he took another deep swig of his alcohol.

 

“This is Dispatcher Grant,” May said down the line and Buck laughed softly. She sounded so professional and grown up. “Can I know who I’m speaking too?”

 

“Did you know that you are really special May? You were born on a Saturday and that’s the day that the least number of babies are born. Did you know that?” Buck said, the fact randomly popping into his head as most of his facts did.

 

“Buck? Are you ok?” May asked softly. Buck heard her typing away at her keyboard and he shrugged, even though she couldn’t see it.

 

“Can you tell me what it’s like to be loved by your parents May?” Buck replied instead of actually answering her question. May let out a gasp that Buck ignored by taking another swig of alcohol.

 

“Buck, can you tell me where you are? Buck, are you safe?” May’s voice was beginning to sound panicked and that wasn’t what Buck wanted.

 

“Not like it matters,” Buck said in reply. It was true. It wasn’t like anyone really cared about whether or not he was safe and ok. He wasn’t really worth the effort.

 

“Buck, what’s going on? Why didn’t you call my cell?” May asked and Buck drank a bit more.

 

“Cause you’re busy. But I just wanted to hear a kind voice,” Buck slurred out. “A kind voice one last time.” 

 

If anyone were to ask Buck later what the rest of their conversation entailed, Buck probably couldn’t tell them. He vaguely remembered May yelling at him but he let that pass. She would move on they all would. He kind of heard May mention something about adoption but that wouldn’t be possible for him – he was an adult and not a kid.

 

Buck was draining the last of his bottle of alcohol when sirens sounded behind him and footsteps were heard approaching him.

 

“I’m just so tired May. Jus. Jus’ wanna sleep,” Buck admitted as he dropped the now empty bottle of alcohol to his side. He turned his head slowly as a pair of footsteps stopped beside him.

 

“Hi Buck, my name is Henry,” an older man above him said. He was wearing the regulation turnout coat and looked to be carrying a medical bag. Behind him were a few other firefighters and paramedics all disembarking from their truck. “I’m a firefighter from Station 69.”

 

Buck let out a snort of laughter at that and the man just smirked and rolled his eyes.

 

“I know, laugh it up. We all do,” Henry said. Buck could kind of hear May saying something to him and he sort of remembered saying he loved her before the call disconnected. Buck attempted to slide the phone back into his pocket but missed. Henry noticed and knelt down beside him, finishing the action for him. “So, looks like you’ve had a bit to drink bud.”

 

“Had more but it fell off” Buck said, pouting as he tried to look over the cliff edge. Henry shot out a hand and grabbed his shoulder. “S’ok. Not gunna go over. Not when there’s too many witnesses. ‘Sides, you’d ris…risk your lives jumping after me.”

 

“Buck, can we come away from the edge? My captain is looking a little concerned and between us, I’m trying really hard to keep his blood pressure down,” Henry said as a second paramedic approached them. The female knelt down as well and Buck smiled drunkenly at her.

 

“I thi…think I’m the main cause of my captain going grey,” Buck said with a drunken laugh and Henry nodded in agreement.

 

“But its so much fun,” Henry teased and Buck nodded. With help from the two paramedics, Buck moved away from the edge of the cliff. As he climbed to his feet, his world began to spin. “Woah! Marks, bring the gurney!”

 

“Tell Eds. I’m sorry,” Buck said weakly, his vision beginning to darken. The last thing Buck remembered before the darkness completely enveloped him was the urgent calls from Henry and the other paramedic as he began to collapse towards the ground.

 

--- That night ---

 

The 118 crew had been sitting in the waiting room for 4 hours before a doctor entered, her face completely blank. She introduced herself as Dr Wallace before anyone could speak.

 

“Doc, how’s Buck?” Bobby asked, jumping to his feet with Eddie close behind.

 

“Frankly, Mr Buckley is something of a miracle,” the doctor admitted. “Mr Nash, Mr Diaz, did you want me to speak to only you two or would you prefer if I told everyone at once?”

 

“Everyone please. We are Buck’s family,” Bobby said and Eddie nodded vehemently. The doctor consulted the chart in her hand before indicating for everyone to sit down again.

 

“Ok, so you’re probably aware that Mr Buckley seized in the ambulance on the way here,” when everyone nodded, Doctor Wallace continued. “Well, when he arrived we began a stomach pump. During that procedure, he seized a further two times. Once the pump was done, we ended up having to intubate him and place him on a ventilator. At this stage, he is stable but he is currently in ICU where we can monitor him better. We’ve placed him in a medically induced coma to ensure we can counteract any damage cause by the alcohol poisoning.”

 

“Oh Buck,” Maddie said softly and Chimney squeezed her shoulder gently.

 

“There’s a bit more I’m afraid,” the doctor said and the team all nodded. “Mr Buckley had two broken ribs, one of which nicked his spleen. We performed an emergency splenectomy to remove it. He also had a badly sprained wrist and what looked to be torn muscles in the back. We’ve bandaged his midsection and the nurses will change the dressings on the surgery site in a few more hours. We also noticed… we discovered a number of what appeared to be self-harm injuries to Mr Buckley’s stomach and upper thighs.”

 

At those words, Maddie and May both let out anguished cries. Hen and Karen were both openly crying while Albert and Chimney were stoically staring at the wall as they tried to comfort the two crying women. Eddie had jumped to his feet on hearing this news confirmed and was pacing back and forth, mumbling angrily in Spanish under his breath.

 

“I’m so sorry to have to deliver this news,” Doctor Wallace said before standing again. “We will have Mr Buckley settled in the ICU within the next hour. You’ll be able to visit him then, only two at a time I’m afraid though. I’ll have a nurse come and get you once he’s placed in his room.”

 

Bobby nodded at the woman who left the grieving family to their thoughts. Bobby pulled Athena back into his arms and Maddie leant over to drag Eddie into the seat on the other side of her. Eddie wrapped his arms around Maddie and pressed a kiss to her temple as she sobbed into his chest, Chimney stroking her hair gently.

 

30 minutes passed before a nurse appeared. The team had all collectively decided that Eddie and Maddie would be the first ones to see him and Eddie helped the pregnant woman stand and supported her as they followed the nurse to the room Buck was in. The nurse opened the door and Maddie let out a soft cry before moving as fast as she could over to the bed. Eddie was slower to follow and he felt his heart drop into his stomach as he took in Buck’s appearance.

 

For someone as big as Buck, he looked so small in the bed surrounded by machines. There were various wires coming out from under the hospital gown he was in and the ventilator was imposing in itself. Eddie slowly approached the bed as Maddie began running her fingers through Buck’s unruly hair.

 

“Oh Ev,” Maddie sobbed out softly. Eddie dropped into a seat beside the bed and lifted Buck’s hand into his. His free hand joined Maddie’s in Buck’s hair and he ran his fingers through the curls. “Eddie, why wouldn’t he talk to us? If he was struggling, why wouldn’t he come to one of us.”

 

“Because for all his good qualities, Buck’s a bottler. He will bottle everything up until such time that it explodes, either has a reckless manoeuvre or as anger,” Eddie said with fond exasperation.

 

“Sorry to interrupt,” a nurse murmured as she entered the room. She had a plastic bag in her hands and Maddie waved her closer. “I have Mr Buckley’s personal effects here.”

 

“Thank you,” Eddie said and the nurse handed him the bag before leaving. Before Eddie could even process what was happening, Maddie’s phone began to ring. Luckily, she had turned it to vibrate before entering the room but Eddie noticed her deep frown as she grabbed it out of her pocket. “Everything ok?”

 

“Text from my dad which is odd in itself,” Maddie commented before reading the message. “It says to get Buck to call them. He says Buck should just ignore mom’s last voicemail and call her.”

 

Eddie opened the bag of Buck’s thing and grabbed out the phone. It was low in battery but held enough charge for him to navigate to the phone setting and play the last voicemail.  

 

“Why couldn’t it have been you? Daniel should have been with us. But no. You failed at the ONE THING you were supposed to be useful for. It… it should have been you. Why did the ungrateful one have to live when our perfect boy died? You are useless Evan.”

 

By the end of Margaret’s message, Eddie was practically vibrating with anger. Maddie was oscillating between heartbreak and anger but Eddie’s anger was almost suffocating. Eddie tried to reign in his temper because in that moment, all he wanted to do was hit something. But Buck needed him.

 

“I’m going to kill them,” Maddie voiced the thoughts running through Eddie’s head.

 

“I’ll provide the alibi,” Eddie growled out and Maddie would have found his protectiveness sweet in any other moment. Right now, she was simply too angry. Her mother had pretty much driven Buck to almost end his life. And her father was no better – he obviously knew the message her mother had left and was, once again, trying to brush their behaviour under the rug. Eddie squeezed Buck’s hand and leant over to kiss his forehead before turning to Maddie. “I’ll send the next person in. I just, I need a minute.”

 

Eddie stormed out of the room and back down to the waiting room. The others jumped up as he entered and Bobby frowned at the look on Eddie’s face.

 

“Next,” Eddie hissed out and after sharing a glance with the others, May rushed out of the room. Eddie followed her but instead of walking back to the ICU, he made his way to the entrance of the hospital. He could hear footsteps behind him but he ignored them. He needed to be somewhere private before he blew his stack.

 

Reaching the car park, Eddie felt all his anger erupt. He let out an almost primal yell and swung a punch at a sapling growing in the garden. Two strong arms wrapped around him and Eddie felt his body going slack as tears began to fall from his eyes. He could hear Bobby’s soothing voice but all Eddie could focus on was the fact that the man he had grown to love had wanted to leave this world, and by extension Eddie and Christopher behind.  

 

Chapter Text

“Morning Buck,” May said as she walked into her brother’s ICU room. Buck had been in his medically induced coma for 10 days now and in that time the 118 had developed a roster to ensure Buck was never alone. May and Maddie had both taken time off work to allow them to spend the nights there when the others were on shift but the only people there more frequently than the women were Athena, Bobby, and Eddie. “I bought coffee with me and gave some to your delightful nurse Josie as well. Poor woman looks wrecked. Hopefully you’ve been a good patient for her.”

 

May took her seat beside the bed and sipped at her caramel latte silently. Buck was still on the ventilator but the doctors were apparently floating the idea of taking him off sedation soon. His most recent brain scan had shown no noticeable areas of concern and they wanted to see how he was. For that, he needed to be conscious. May ran her hand over Buck’s scruffy cheek and smiled.

 

“Getting a bit of a beard there, brother dearest. Although, I’m sure the ladies like the rough look,” May teased. She knew Buck would be complaining about the hair growing on his face but May thought it made him look even more handsome. She looked over at the bedside table and noticed a book resting there. “So, what chapter did Bobby get up to last night?”

 

May looked around the room at the balloons and cards that decorated the walls. Flowers weren’t allowed in the ICU but there were no rules against other decorations. After Harry, Chris, and Denny found out they wouldn’t be allowed to visit Buck while ever he was in ICU, they had decided to dedicate an entire day to drawing and painting so that he had things to remind him they were thinking of him. There were even cards and gifts from Chief Alonzo and other firehouses, including the crew from Station 69 littering the room as well. May could remember the day she got to thank that Station 69 crew in person well.

 

--- Flashback – 3 days after Buck’s hospital admission ---

 

Bobby, Eddie, Athena, and May were making their way across LA to the 69’s firehouse. Chief Alonzo had informed them that the A-Shift were working that morning and the 118 had wanted to thank them personally. When May had found out Bobby was planning on going, she demanded to be taken as well. They had gotten a selection of baked goods and some flowers for the team as a thank you for what they did for Buck.

 

Pulling into the carpark, the four members of the 118 family emerged from Eddie’s truck and May smiled as Eddie wrapped an arm around her shoulders. They had become so much closer since Buck’s hospital admission and would often spend their off hours together at Buck’s bedside.

 

“Captain Nash, what brings you all the way out here?” Captain Lewis asked once he noticed the small party. The others from his A-Shift all came closer as well and Bobby smiled at them all. “How’s your boy doing?”

 

“That’s why we are here,” Bobby commented and Athena and May stepped forward with their goodies. “We wanted to thank you all personally. You brought our boy home and that’s something we can never truly thank you for. I know it’s the job but for us, well Buck is special.”

 

May handed the flowers to one of the paramedics before turning and practically launching herself at Henry. The older man hugged the young woman tightly and tried to soothe her as May sobbed out her thanks.

 

“Thank you,” May whispered in Henry’s shoulder. “Thank you for bringing my brother home.”

 

“You help us every day at Dispatch,” Henry commented as May pulled back. “It was my turn to help you.”

 

Eddie and Bobby shook hands with the team while Athena and May hugged them. After passing on their gratitude and a small update on Buck’s condition, Captain Lewis invited them to stay for lunch.

 

--- End Flashback ---

 

“Oh, I meant to tell you, you missed Maddie’s blow up yesterday,” May commented brightly. The doctors had told them that Buck could more than likely hear them and that talking to him should help his recovery. May grabbed Buck’s hand in hers and rested their joined hands on the bed. “Your asshole life givers decided they’d gotten annoyed with no one answering their messages and had the gall to phone Maddie during team lunch. Yeah, let’s just say it didn’t go well.”

 

--- Flashback ---

 

Athena and May were serving up lunch for the 118 crew (Clara had ordered Maddie and May to leave the hospital and have a meal with their family, stating she’d sit with Buck for however long they needed) when Maddie’s phone rang in her handbag. Chimney passed her the bag and Maddie dug through it. When she pulled out her phone, the team all watched as her eyes sparked angrily. She placed the phone down on the table and refused to answer it.

 

“Uh, Mads?” Chimney asked but Maddie just continued to glare at it.

 

“You’d think they would have gotten the hint,” Maddie hissed out as she tried to set the phone on fire with her eyes. Realisation shot through the group as they realised it had to be the Buckley parents calling for Maddie to have that reaction. Chimney wrapped an arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders and squeezed her. “I haven’t responded to one message or email and I haven’t answered one call. Why can’t they take the hint?”

 

“Maybe you should talk to them,” Karen commented and Maddie’s gaze shot to her. “I’m not saying you have to tell them anything but maybe you should just get the call over and done with. Tell them you don’t want to speak to them then you can temporarily block the number.”

 

“Karen does have a point,” Athena commented and Maddie nodded with a frown. She didn’t have to wait long as not one minute after the phone stopped ringing, it started again. Maddie took a deep, calming breath and answered the call, putting it straight onto loudspeaker.

 

“Maddie, why have you been ignoring us?” Margaret Buckley’s voice demanded down the line and Eddie gripped the silverware in his hand tightly. Hen noticed and rested her hand on his, gently prying the cutlery from his hand and slipping her hand into his.

 

“Now is not a good time,” Maddie hissed back between clenched teeth.

 

“Do not speak to your mother that way Maddie,” Phillip joined the conversation and both Eddie and Bobby let out audible growls.

 

“I am not a child,” Maddie replied firmly. She looked up at Athena who, despite the anger in her eyes, was looking at Maddie comfortingly. “What do you both want? I’m having lunch with Chim and his team.”

 

“Your brother is refusing to speak to us,” Phillip said and Maddie sucked in a breath. “We want you to tell him to get over his stupidity and call us. We also need to determine when you will be hosting us after your child is born.”

 

“What did you just say?” Eddie said softly, deadly. He couldn’t help himself.

 

“Are we on speaker? Maddie, this is a private conversation between family members,” Margaret said disapprovingly and Athena let out a dark chuckle.

 

After Eddie had stormed out of Buck’s hospital room that first day, Maddie had joined the team in the waiting room and played them the voicemail. Needless to say, if the Buckley parents had been present, they would have found themselves in the morgue. Athena had practically vowed then and there that should the Buckley parents step foot in Los Angeles again, she would find a reason to arrest them.

 

“And they are my family,” Maddie replied. “As for you visiting, don’t bother. You aren’t welcome.”

 

“Maddie! How dare you? This is our grandchild,” Margaret said and Phillip could be heard agreeing in the background.

 

“And MY child. I decide who they have in their life and trust me, you pair are the last people I want around them,” Maddie said firmly. “They don’t need you. WE don’t need you.”

 

“Maddie, that is enough! What brought this behaviour on?” Phillip asked and the laugh Maddie gave was dangerous.

 

“What brought this on? How dare you ask me that?” Maddie was practically vibrating with anger. Chimney was rubbing her back but it wasn’t helping. Right now, she was far too mad. “You know exactly what you did and why I don’t want you around my child.”

 

“Is your brother upset about the voicemail?” Phillip asked and Eddie growled again. “It was a tough day, you should understand. It was the anniversary of Daniel’s death. Of course it was going to be hard on us. Your mother just had one too many glasses of wine. Your brother is a grown man, he should be over it by now. Besides, your child needs their grandparents.”

 

“You expect him to just brush off what you said to him?” Eddie all but roared down the line. He’d restrained himself from picking up Buck’s phone and calling the Buckley parents but now, now they were just pissing him off. “You told him he should have died! You told him he was useless!”

 

“Eddie,” Bobby said firmly. Eddie looked up at him in betrayal but one firm look from Bobby had him shutting his mouth. May approached the man and wrapped her arms around his neck, squeezing him tightly. Eddie accepted the hug and turned his head to bury his face in her neck.

 

“Maddie, call us back when you are alone. And have your brother call,” Margaret said but Maddie just laughed again.

 

“Mom, get it through your head, once this call is over, I will not be calling you again. Buck will not be calling you. You two crossed a major line last week and I refuse to stand for it anymore,” Maddie replied, her voice deadly quiet. Chimney actually shivered at the tone. “For years I have told people you aren’t bad people, just bad parents but now I realise how wrong I was. You two are terrible people and terrible parents. I refuse to have your influence around my child. As for needing their grandparents, my baby has grandparents. The Lees and the Grant-Nashs. They are all my child needs on the grandparent front. As for Buck, if anything else happens to him, I will lay all the blame solely on you.”

 

“Maddie? What do you mean?” Margaret asked and Maddie let out a chilling chuckle.

 

“Oh, that’s right, you only care about us when it suits you,” Maddie said. “Well guess what mother, your call last week almost got you what you wanted. You almost lost both your sons on the same day. Buck tried to end his life because of you and I will blame you for that until the end of my days. When he wakes up, Buck may choose to speak to you but know this, I want nothing more to do with either of you. Hopefully one day you will realise just what you’ve lost but know that Buck and I, we have an amazing family here supporting us and We. Do. Not. Need. You. Goodbye.”

 

Maddie hung up the phone, blocked both her parents’ numbers and slid the phone back into her bag before letting out a sob. Chimney gathered her into his arms and pressed kisses to her head. Athena approached the woman and pulled her into a tight hug.

 

“I’ve got you baby,” Athena whispered as Maddie sobbed. “I’ve got you both.”

 

--- End Flashback ---

 

“I don’t think any of us have ever heard Maddie that angry,” May said as she finished her story. May cast her gaze over Buck and felt tears welling up in her eyes. “Buck, I really need you to wake up.”

 

Resting her head on his chest, May felt the tears begin to fall from her eyes. She had spent nearly every day here for the past 10 days and all she wanted was to see Buck’s eyes again. She used to tease him about how blue they were but right now she’d give anything for him to look at her again.

 

“Please come back Buck,” May begged. “We need you. I need you. Everyone is so lost without you. Eddie is a barely functioning shell; I think he’s only managing cause of Carla and Chris. Bobby hasn’t cooked a proper meal in over a week – keeps saying the kitchen isn’t the same without you.”

 

Before she could say anything, one of the machines monitoring Buck let out a loud beep. This was followed by his heart monitor beeping repeatedly. May jumped to her feet as nurses swarmed the room.

 

“What’s going on?” May asked as Josie started ushering her out. “Josie? What happened? Is he ok?”

 

“May, just wait out here,” Josie ordered, pushing May down into a chair before returning to the room. The door shut with a sense of finality that had May sobbing into her hands. She shakily pulled her phone out of her pocket and pressed redial on one of her most frequent numbers.

 

“Hi May,” Eddie’s voice was soft and tired as he answered her call, the truck’s siren blaring in the background. “We are just heading out to a call. How’s our boy?”

 

“Eddie,” May sobbed out. She looked back up at the door and let out a gasp. She could see the blurred outlines of nurses moving around in the room but she couldn’t hear anything. “Something happened. The machines started making noises. I don’t know what’s going on.”

 

“Mierda (Shit), Ok May. Deep breaths,” Eddie said, trying to soothe her. She could hear the others in the background but Eddie’s attention was focused on her. “May, he’s going to be ok. You hear me. Hen’s calling Athena and Chimney is calling Maddie. They will be there soon cariño.”

 

May nodded even though he couldn’t see her and gasped as Dr Wallace emerged from the elevator at the end of the hall and raced towards the room. She cast May a cursory glance before entering the room.

 

“Dr Wallace just arrived,” May said. “Eddie, just tell me he is going to be ok.”

 

“He will May. Buck isn’t going anywhere,” Eddie said firmly. “I’m sorry cariño but I have to go. One of us will call once we are done on scene. Be strong.”

 

May slid the phone back into her jacket pocket and stared intently at the door to Buck’s room. 10 minutes passed before the door opened and May jumped to her feet as Dr Wallace emerged from the room, a tired smile on her face.

 

“Is he ok? What happened?” May hit the woman with a barrage of questions and Dr Wallace just smiled.

 

“I said before that Mr Buckley was a bit of a miracle. I stand by that,” Dr Wallace explained. “Turns out Mr Buckley decided to fight the medication keeping him sedated. He made the decision to bring him out of the coma for us. The machines were simply alerting us to the fact he was trying to breathe on his own and his body was starting to fight the ventilator. He placed him on nasal prongs for oxygen flow and Josie will monitor him for the next 30 minutes. If he continues to show improvement, the plan will be to hopefully move him from ICU and down to the High Care ward.”

 

May let out a punched sound and threw herself at the older woman. Dr Wallace laughed tiredly as she patted May on the back gently. May pulled back after a moment and wiped her eyes clear of her tears.

 

“You’ll need to leave Mr Buckley with Josie for the next 30 minutes but after that you can come back and we’ll fill you in on the outcome,” Dr Wallace explained and May nodded. “Why don’t you head on down to the cafeteria. I’ll have a nurse page you over the PA once we are ready for you.”

 

May left the ICU and walked down to the cafeteria, texting her mother and Maddie on the way so they would know where she was. She fell into a seat after grabbing a bottle of water and closed her eyes. Opening the 118 group chat that had been started after Buck got admitted, she sent out a message.

 

May: Doc says Buck is a miracle. He’s fighting off the medicine keeping him asleep. They’ve removed the ventilator and placed him on nasal oxygen. Hopefully moving down from ICU today.

 

Carla: Thank the Lord above! The boys will be happy – they might actually get to see Buck if that’s the case.

 

Karen: Definitely! Only Buck would defy medical orders even while unconscious. Keep us updated honey.

 

15 minutes passed before Maddie and Athena burst into the cafeteria and made a beeline for May. Maddie was surprisingly fast for a woman in her third trimester and actually reached May first. She pulled the younger woman into a hug before passing her off to Athena.

 

“We saw your messages,” Athena said as the three women sat back down. “So once again Buckaroo is defying the odds.”

 

“Dr Wallace called him a miracle. Josie should hopefully have him for another 15 minutes before we find out more,” May explained.

 

The 15 minutes passed slowly for the three women but it was actually another 15 minutes after the 30-minute time that May’s name was being called over the PA system. The three women made their way back to ICU where Dr Wallace and Josie were waiting for them, tired smiles on their faces.

 

“How is he?” Maddie asked as soon as they arrived.

 

“I’m happy with the numbers I’m seeing,” Dr Wallace said and Maddie breathed out a sigh of relief. “He’s taking in plenty of oxygen with just the nasal prongs and his pupils are reacting appropriately. I’m happy for him to be moved from ICU down to High Care. We’ve taken him off all sedation so I expect that anywhere in the next 12-48 Mr Buckley will wake up.”

 

“Thank you,” Athena said as Maddie let out a watery laugh and hugged the woman. May hugged Josie tightly and the woman kissed May on the head.

 

“I’ve bundled up his balloons and what not. I haven’t touched his art collection,” Josie said with a fond smile. “I assume you’ll want to do that. He’ll be in a private room in High Care so there’ll be plenty of wall space to decorate.”

 

May, Athena, and Maddie walked past the doctor and nurse and into Buck’s room. Seeing him without the ventilator actually had May breathing a sigh of relief. Maddie moved to sit beside her brother while Athena and May made short work of the room decorations. Just as they were finishing up, two orderlies arrived followed by Dr Wallace and Josie. They transferred Buck from the bed to a gurney and May, Athena, and Maddie followed Buck out of the ICU.

 

The three women waited in the waiting room for Buck to be settled and once they had received the ok, they entered his new room. May set about redecorating while Maddie and Athena spoke softly to Buck. May felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and she quickly answered the call when she saw Eddie’s name on the screen.

 

“May, how is he?” Eddie asked and May smiled.

 

“He’s been moved out of ICU,” May replied and she heard a soft cheer echo down the line. Eddie obviously had her on speaker. “Dr Wallace said they’ve taken him off sedation so it should be anytime between 12 and 48 hours before he wakes up.”

 

“Gracias Dios,” Eddie said and May nodded. “Bobby and I are planning to come by after our shift. We can trade out with you and Maddie because no doubt she plans to stay now that she is there.”

 

“We’ll be here. Room 47E on High Care,” May replied. She said her goodbyes before hanging up the phone and focusing on placing the artwork around the room.

 

--- With Eddie – 16 hours later ---

 

Eddie and Bobby had both showered at the station at the end of their shift and had driven straight to the hospital. Eddie had been practically chomping at the bit to get to his partner’s side. After May told them Buck was being moved, Eddie had never been more glad that their team was due to have 2 days off thanks to their current roster rotation. When they parked, Bobby, Eddie, and Chim (who was there to pick Maddie up) all made their way up to the High Care ward. They spoke with the nurse on duty to updated them on Buck’s condition before the three men made their way down the hall.

 

Aragorn and Gandalf walked together or sat speaking of their road and the perils they would meet; and they pondered the storied and figured maps and books of lore that were in the house of Elrond. Sometimes Frodo was with them; but he was content to lean on their guidance, and he spent as much time as he could with Bilbo,” May’s voice rang out as they opened the door to Buck’s room. Maddie had her head resting on the bed next to Buck, his hand tightly in hers. May had his other hand in hers and was reading from the book that Bobby had started the day before.

 

“Is he enjoying the book?” Bobby asked as they entered and May closed the book gently.

 

“Seems to be. He hasn’t complained yet,” May replied and Eddie let out a broken chuckle. “The doctor checked on him about 20 minutes ago. Apparently there’s been a bit more response to stimuli so things are looking up.”

 

“At least by the time he wakes up, the bulk of his injuries will be healed,” Chim said and the others nodded. “He’d be worse than a bear with a sore head if he woke up to freshly busted ribs and torn muscles.”

 

“Alright ladies, time for you both to go home and rest,” Bobby said. May grumbled slightly but she knew her step-dad was right. Maddie and May both kissed Buck on the head before Chimney escorted the two women out. Bobby and Eddie took up their seats and while Eddie slid Buck’s hand into his own, Bobby ran a hand through Buck’s curls. “Bet you one of the first things he wants when he wakes up is a shave and a haircut.”

 

“Nah. He’ll ask for Christopher or Maddie,” Eddie replied, passing the book over to Bobby.

 

“Hmm, probably. Now, where did May get up too,” Bobby commented, reopening the book. As Bobby’s voice washed over him, Eddie looked up at Buck’s face. There was a little bit of swelling around his mouth and throat from the ventilator but he generally looked better. His colour had improved and the only thing drawing the eye were the nasal prongs. But even then, he looked infinitely better.

 

Bobby had just reached the part of the chapter where the Fellowship were getting ready to leave Rivendell when Buck’s hand twitched in Eddie’s. Eddie’s head shot up from where it had been resting and Bobby fell quiet.

 

“Buck?” Eddie asked, leaning forward. “Buck, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can.”

 

It took a moment before Eddie felt a featherlight squeeze press against his hand. Eddie’s wide eyes shot to Bobby and he nodded. The older man jumped to his feet and raced out of the room, calling for a nurse.

 

“Buck. Can you open your eyes for me?” Eddie all but pleaded. “Please Buck. Let me see those gorgeous blue eyes.”

 

It took a moment and just as the nurse, a doctor, and Bobby returned, Buck’s eyes blearily blinked open. Eddie felt a flood of relief wash through him as Buck’s eyes moved sluggishly around the room before fixing on him. The doctor approached the bed but Buck didn’t take his eyes of Eddie.

 

“Hey Buck,” Eddie said, tears welling up in his eyes. “Welcome back.”

 

“Mr Diaz, Mr Nash, if you wouldn’t mind stepping outside for a moment,” the doctor said kindly and Eddie nodded. He squeezed Buck’s hand gently and the doctor took his place by the bed. Once outside the room, Eddie all but collapsed into Bobby’s arms and sobbed once more. For the first time in nearly two weeks, the tears were tears of relief.

Chapter Text

“Dr Wallace, how is Buck doing?” Bobby asked as the woman emerged from the room containing his pseudo-son. After he and Eddie had been ushered out of the room, the night shift doctor and nurses had set about assessing Buck. When they’d eventually emerged from the room, the doctor had advised Bobby that Buck had fallen back asleep but that they would be talking to Dr Wallace in the morning. When Dr Wallace had arrived, she found Bobby and Eddie sleeping on either side of Buck’s bed. She’d sent them out of the room so she could complete her own assessment.

 

“Physically, ok. His ribs are healing well and his surgery site is showing improvement. The cuts on his stomach and thighs have scabbed over so I’m not concerned about them,” Dr Wallace explained. Bobby noticed she had skirted over Buck’s mental state, as did Eddie.

 

“What about in his head?” Eddie asked softly, casting a look back at the closed door that separated him and his best friend.

 

“That’s my main concern right now. Mr Buckley has practically refused to speak. I managed to get the name of his therapist and the answers to my basic assessment questions but other than that, he has remained steadfastly silent,” Dr Wallace said. “I am going to put in a call to Dr Copeland and see if she can present herself here. I’d prefer to have someone Mr Buckley is familiar with around for the psychiatric assessment rather than bring in a stranger.”

 

Bobby and Eddie nodded in agreement and Dr Wallace stepped away to contact Buck’s psychologist. Bobby turned to Eddie and indicated to the closed door with his head.

 

“You go in first. I’ll call the others, let them know he is awake,” Bobby said. He squeezed Eddie on the shoulder before turning and pulling his phone from his pocket. Eddie took a deep breath and slowly walked into the room. Buck’s face was pointed towards the window and he didn’t turn as Eddie closed the door behind him. Eddie slowly approached the bed and sat down in the chair he had been in the night before. He raised his hand to take Buck’s but the younger man almost violently tore his hand away.

 

“Ok Buck. I won’t touch you,” Eddie said, speaking softly as if he was speaking to a wounded animal. Buck didn’t turn to face him, if anything he tried to angle his body further away from the older man. “I’m really glad you’re still here.”

 

Buck refused to say a word. Eddie sighed heavily and closed his eyes. He’d seen Frank more times in the last 10 days than he had in the past few months and Eddie knew his default response would be to lash out due to his fear. But Buck definitely didn’t need that. He needed comfort and empathy.

 

“Buck, I don’t know what’s been going on in your head,” Eddie started the speech he’d been rehearsing with Frank. He noticed Buck’s head cock slightly towards him but the younger man’s blue eyes remained firmly locked on the window. “I’m not going to pretend I understand. I just want to say, I’m here for you, we are here for you. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry you felt like you couldn’t come to me when you were struggling.”

 

Buck let out a soft sniffle but didn’t respond to Eddie. He did however move his hand back and brushed his fingers against Eddie’s gently. Eddie hesitantly slid his hand into Buck’s and smiled gratefully when the younger man didn’t pull away. The door to the room opened again and Buck tensed as Bobby walked in. When Bobby took the seat on the other side of the bed, Buck stared over his shoulder, never making eye contact.

 

“Hi kid,” Bobby said softly. Buck let out another sniffle and Bobby rested his hand on the bed. Buck tensed momentarily but relaxed once he realised Bobby wasn’t trying to take his hand. Bobby and Eddie shared a glance and Eddie just shook his head. Bobby leant over and grabbed the book they’d been reading off the side table. “Now, where was I up to?”

 

Dr Copeland arrived at the hospital and met Dr Wallace at the nurse’s desk at the entrance to the High Care ward. The hospital doctor shook Dr Copeland’s hand and smiled tiredly before leading the other woman down to one of the family conference rooms.

 

“Hi Danielle. Thank you for coming,” Dr Wallace said as she indicated for Dr Copeland to take a seat.

 

“Thank you for contacting me. I was concerned when Buck missed our session last week. What can you tell me?” Dr Copeland asked.

 

Dr Wallace filled Danielle in on all the details, starting with his call to 911 and continuing up until he had woken up.

 

“Since waking he as barely spoken a word. Initially I thought that might be due to lingering pain from the ventilator but I think it’s more to do with his mental state. He was able to answer my basic questions but I figured he would prefer someone familiar to administer the psychological assessment. We’ll need you to determine if he needs to be placed on a 72-hour mental health hold or not,” Dr Wallace explained as she handed over Buck’s file.

 

While the two doctors spoke, the 118 family (minus Harry, Denny, and Christopher) were arriving at the hospital. Athena led the group up to the waiting room of the High Care ward and one of the nurses on duty smiled at them.

 

“Mr Nash and Mr Diaz are with him now,” the nurse said as she stood. “I’ll go let them know you are here.”

 

Bobby and Eddie looked up as one of the nurses entered the room. She took in Buck’s appearance before smiling at the two men.

 

“Your family are here,” the nurse said and everyone watched as Buck tensed up. The nurse stepped up to the foot of the bed and rested a gentle hand on Buck’s foot. “Mr Buckley, if you would prefer no one come in, I can organise that. I can have them wait for Dr Wallace to return. The choice is yours.”

 

“How about this,” Eddie said softly. “I’ll go out and tell everyone you’re awake but that we need to wait for Dr Wallace’s assessment before anyone else can come in. If you want anyone in particular, you just let me or Bobby know.”

 

Buck nodded jerkily and Eddie squeezed his hand gently before standing and stepping out of the room with the nurse.

 

“He still hasn’t spoken?” the nurse asked and Eddie shook his head. She nodded sympathetically and Eddie moved into the waiting room. The Fire Fam jumped to their feet as he entered and Maddie rushed over to him.

 

“How is he?” she asked urgently and Eddie just pulled her into a hug. Maddie slumped against him and he encouraged her to take a few deep breaths.

 

“He’s awake but not speaking,” Eddie explained to the group. “He also jerked away from physical contact so as much as you all want to dive in and hug him, it might not be the best course of action.”

 

Before anyone could make a move towards the room, Dr Copeland and Dr Wallace emerged from the conference room and approached them. Dr Wallace shook hands with Eddie and smiled as comfortingly as possible at them.

 

“Is Mr Nash in with Buck now?” Dr Copeland asked and Eddie nodded. Dr Copeland then turned to the others and smiled. “I’ll head in now and see him. If he asks for anyone in particular, I’ll let you know.”

 

Dr Copeland indicated for Eddie to follow her and Dr Wallace into the room. Eddie squeezed Maddie’s hand as he walked past before falling into step with the two doctors.

 

“Mr Diaz, I believe Mr Buckley will want either yourself or Mr Nash in the room so if that’s the case, I’ll need you to remain silent during the assessment,” Dr Copeland said and Eddie nodded. When they walked into the room, Bobby was once again reading The Fellowship of the Ring to Buck only now the younger man had allowed his pseudo-father to grip his hand. Bobby looked up and paused as the two doctors and Eddie entered the room. Buck was still staring out the window, making no effort to turn his head to greet the newcomers. “Hi Buck.”

 

At Dr Copeland’s voice, Buck turned his slightly towards her, his eyes still focused on the outside world. Eddie resumed his seat beside Buck and slowly edged his hand forward until he was gripping Buck’s. Buck squeezed Eddie’s hand and Eddie smiled.

 

“Mr Buckley, we need to perform another assessment, that’s why Dr Copeland is here,” Dr Wallace explained softly. Buck tensed again but nodded. “Do you want Mr Nash or Mr Diaz to stay here or do you want them to leave? The choice is yours.”

 

“Go please,” Buck’s voice was strained, likely from inflammation due to the intubation. The four other people in the room shared a glance but both Eddie and Bobby stood.

 

“We’ll be just outside kid,” Bobby said as he squeezed Buck’s hand.

 

“If you need us, we’ll come running,” Eddie added before leaning over and running a hand gently over Buck’s head. Buck’s eyes met his for the first time and Eddie’s heart all but stopped. The younger man looked heartbroken and tired. Eddie smiled as comfortingly as possible and impulsively ran a thumb over Buck’s birthmark. “There you are. I’ll be just outside.”

 

Bobby and Eddie left the room and made their way to the waiting room where the rest of the family were waiting.

 

--- With Buck ---

 

“Hi Buck,” Dr Copeland said, taking Eddie’s abandoned seat. Buck made eye contact with the doctor before dropping his gaze back to the bed. “So, you probably know why I’m here. Dr Wallace asked me to come and speak to you because she figured you would be more comfortable with me than some stranger.”

 

“Sorry I wasted your time,” Buck whispered hoarsely and Dr Copeland sighed.

 

“Buck, you’re not a waste of time,” Dr Copeland replied. “I just want to talk about what happened the other day. Have they told you how long you’ve been here?”

 

“Yeah doc. I know I’ve been here for nearly two weeks,” Buck said and Danielle nodded.

 

“Good. Buck, can you tell me what happened that day?” Danielle asked. Buck let out a shaky sigh and the woman smiled gently at him. “Take your time. I’m in no rush.”

 

“Had a rough shift the day before,” Buck answered. “Wanted to just have a beer and let the night go. Got out of the shower and had a message on my phone.”

 

At this, Buck stopped and took in a deep breath. Tears began to slip down his cheeks and Dr Copeland handed him a tissue.

 

“My parents. Called. Basically, told me I should have died instead of Daniel,” Buck continued. He roughly wiped his eyes with the tissue and Dr Copeland nodded encouragingly. “So, then I just drank a bottle of whiskey. When I woke up the next morning I just, I don’t know, wanted to be somewhere else.”

 

“When you left the house that morning, did you have a plan to kill yourself?” Danielle asked.

 

“No. I just wanted a break. I went to the liquor store and grabbed some bottles of Everclear. Then I just started driving,” Buck explained.

 

“So just to clarify, you didn’t go to Topanga State Park with the intention of killing yourself,” Danielle said and Buck nodded. “That’s comforting to hear. Now, I need to ask about the cuts on your stomach and thighs.”

 

“I just… I just wanted to feel something,” Buck said, letting out a soft sob. “Sometimes I get so overwhelmed I go numb. I used to do it more as a teenager and really only started it again after the tsunami. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without doing it, other times I do it multiple times a day.”

 

“Ok Buck,” Danielle replied. “We will need to come up with some strategies to manage that so you aren’t hurting yourself but again, its comforting to know you aren’t making plans to end your life.”

 

Buck answered the rest of Dr Copeland’s questions efficiently and when she was done, she took Buck’s hand in hers. Dr Wallace made some notes on Buck’s chart and smiled at Dr Copeland.

 

“Buck, moving forward I don’t think we need to place you on a 72-hour psychiatric hold as there was no definite suicidal ideation,” Dr Copeland explained, sharing a nod with Dr Wallace. “However, I will be coming in every day until your discharge to have a session with you. Especially considering what has happened with your parents. Once you are discharged, we will go back to weekly appointments for a little while.”

 

“Ok,” Buck’s voice was hoarse and his throat was killing him. Dr Copeland noticed and helped Buck to take some sips of cold water to soothe his throat. “Who… is everyone outside?”

 

“Yes, want me to get someone?” Dr Copeland asked. “Your sister?”

 

“NO!” Buck cried. He couldn’t see Maddie. He’d disappointed her and he couldn’t deal with that. “I’ve upset her again. I failed her. I can’t.”

 

“Alright. It’s ok Buck. I won’t get Maddie,” Dr Copeland soothed, running her hand over Buck’s arm. “Did you want me to get anyone or do you want a break?”

 

“Can you… can you ask if Thena can come in,” Buck said weakly, like a child expecting to be punished for his request.

 

“Of course. I’m sure she’d be delighted. What about Mr Nash or Mr Diaz? Did you want one of them?” Dr Wallace asked.

 

“No,” Buck said firmly and the two doctors nodded.

 

“Alright Mr Buckley. I’ll go and get Mrs Grant-Nash,” Dr Wallace said and Dr Copeland nodded. Despite her assessment that Buck wasn’t a danger to himself, she would still request that someone either remain in the room with him at all times or at least be very close by just in case his thoughts began to spiral. Dr Wallace left the room and entered the waiting room where Buck’s family were waiting.

 

“Mrs Grant-Nash, Buck has requested you,” Dr Wallace said and Athena jumped to her feet and made her way quickly to Buck’s room. Dr Wallace turned when Maddie Buckley let out a soft sob. She approached the crying woman and rested a hand on her shoulder. “He feels like he has disappointed you. That’s why he didn’t ask for you. Give him a little bit of time with Dr Copeland and I’m sure he’ll want to see you. He’s had quite a rough few days.”

 

Bobby pulled Maddie into a hug and the woman nodded at the doctor. Dr Wallace returned to the nurses’ desk to update them on Buck’s condition and the most recent recommendations.

 

While this was happening, Athena was pushing open the door to Buck’s room. At the sight of the young man in the bed, Athena choked back a sob. Dr Copeland looked up at the woman with a smile and waved her over.

 

“Hi baby,” Athena said softly as she approached the bed. Buck let out a harsh sob at her words and it was practically second nature for Athena to wrap the man up in a tight hug. Her shirt began to dampen as Buck cried but she just shushed him and kissed his head. “Its ok baby. Mama’s here.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Buck whimpered and Athena shot a glance at Dr Copeland. “I’m sorry mama.”

 

“Baby, you have nothing to be sorry for,” Athena said firmly. Buck shook his head against her chest and Athena just continued to kiss his head. “Mama’s got you now Buckaroo. I got you.”

 

“Mrs Grant-Nash, Buck and I were just talking about what’s going to happen once he is discharged,” Dr Copeland said and Athena took a seat next to the bed. Buck gripped her hand tightly and Athena used her free hand to smooth over his curls.

 

“What do you want to do baby?” Athena asked and Buck was floored. It was rare that someone asked for his opinion, especially not after a medical event.

 

“Don’t want to be alone,” Buck admitted after looking at and receiving an encouraging nod from Dr Copeland. “But also don’t want to be a bother.”

 

“Buckaroo, look at me,” Athena said and when Buck finally made eye contact with her, she smiled. “You are never a bother. Even on your most hyper days, you bring sunshine to all our lives. Anyone of us would love to have you stay if you didn’t want to go home to your loft. You just say the word. Or if you want to return to your loft, I’ll create a roster of people who will stay over with you. We’ve been doing that while you were here so it won’t be hard to change the location.”

 

“You didn’t?” Buck asked, not knowing if he was mortified, touched or amused. Athena pulled out her phone and opened up the colour coded document they had all been using. Buck stared at the coloured squares in awe. “You did.”

 

“Of course we did,” Athena said, slipping her phone back into her pocket. “May was most insistent. Everyone has a copy of it and we synched it up to everyone’s schedules. The only ones missing from it are the boys and that’s because children under 12 aren’t allowed in the ICU. That’s why your room resembles an art gallery. They wanted to do something to make you happy.”

 

Buck finally took in the pictures that covered the walls and felt tears well up in his eyes again. The artwork was varied, ranging from colouring pages from Marvel movies and Star Wars, to drawings each boy had done. There were also photos of the kids and Buck and of the extended 118 family scattered around the room.

 

“We are all here for you Buckaroo. And none of us are going anywhere,” Athena reassured him. “None of us are going to leave you behind.”

 

Buck turned his gaze back to her and nodded hesitantly. Athena kissed his head once more and ran her fingers through his hair. Buck nuzzled into her chest and let out a soft, content sound. Dr Copeland remained for only a few more minutes before she left, giving Buck’s hand a squeeze before she left.

 

In the waiting room, Eddie and the others looked up at the sound of crutches on the floor. Carla walked in with Chris, Harry, and Denny, all three boys holding a present for Buck.

 

“Carla?” Eddie asked as he stood and kissed the woman on the cheek.

 

“The boys refused to stay home once they heard Buck was awake. We went and bought presents and they were hoping to give them to him,” Carla answered his unasked question. “I didn’t have the heart to tell them no.”

 

“Is Buck ok?” Chris demanded and Eddie got down to eye level with his son.

 

“Buck’s hurting buddy,” Eddie explained. All three boys nodded in understanding but Eddie wasn’t sure they completely understood. “Not just physically. His heart is hurting. He might not want to see you guys, but I can go and ask him.”

 

“Please,” Denny said. “Even if we can just drop his presents off.”

 

Eddie climbed back to his feet and made his way down to the room. He knocked softly and opened the door, smiling at the sight before him. Athena was laying next to Buck in the bed, her fingers running threw his curls. They both looked up at him as he entered and Eddie took a breath.

 

“Buck, the boys are here. They would like to see you but if you aren’t up to that, its totally ok. They are ok if you don’t want them to come in but they do have some gifts for you,” Eddie explained and both he and Athena shared a glance as Buck tensed. Eddie approached the bed and telegraphed his movements as he reached for Buck’s hand. “What’s wrong Buck? Want me to send them home?”

 

“I… I don’t know,” Buck answered softly, looking up at Athena.

 

“Baby, those kids love you,” Athena reassured him and Buck frowned. “I know that’s hard for you to understand right now but they do. Did you want Eddie to bring them in and then if it gets too much, they can leave? Even if it’s only for 5 minutes.”

 

When Buck nodded, Eddie smiled at Athena in gratitude and walked back out to the waiting room. The three pre-teens were staring at him questioningly and he shot them a look.

 

“Buck would like you to come in but there are some rules,” Eddie said firmly and the boys all nodded. “He’s very tired so he probably won’t have the energy he normally has. He’s also got a very sore throat so he probably won’t say much. Since he’s still recovering, he may only want you there for a few minutes. If that’s the case and he wants you to leave, you leave. If we overwhelm him, it will take longer for him to get better. Understood?”

 

All three boys nodded excitedly and Eddie took his son’s hand in his. He led the boys down the hall and knocked on the door once more. Athena was still on the bed beside Buck and Eddie noticed the younger man tried to relax as the door opened. Harry and Denny darted over first, Chris not far behind but tugging Eddie along with him.

 

“Hi Buck,” Harry said softly. He placed the present he had gotten on the tray table and, after receiving a nod from the man, bent over and hugged him gently. Buck’s hand rested on Harry’s back and the two other adults chose to ignore the soft sniffle that left Buck. Denny copied Harry’s movements and then it was Christopher’s turn.

 

“Hi Bucky,” Christopher said softly as Eddie helped him over to the bed. Christopher wrapped his arms around Buck and Eddie’s heart melted as Buck’s hand went up to run through Chris’ hair. After a good minute and a half, Christopher pulled back and handed over a teddy bear. “I got you Iron Man cause I know you like him. I have Spider-Man in the car. It matches.”

 

“Thanks Superman,” Buck said hoarsely and Chris’ grin lit up the room. Buck then looked at the other two and tried to shoot them a smile. “Thanks for the artworks, guys.”

 

“May said that the hospital rooms looked boring,” Harry explained. “We wanted to help!”

 

“And you definitely did,” Athena said. Eddie noticed Buck’s hand was tapping her leg gently and when she looked at him, he realised that was the sign he needed. “Boys, Buck is really tired. Why don’t we organise a time for you to come back another day?”

 

“Ok,” the three boys chorused in unison. Buck waved weakly at them before Harry and Denny each moved to stand on either side of Chris. The three boys waved back at Buck before making their way out of the room. Eddie turned to where Buck now had his head buried in Athena’s chest and felt his heart fall.

 

“You did a great job baby,” Athena was murmuring and Eddie took a seat beside the bed again. He took Buck’s hand in his and was surprised when the younger man intertwined their fingers and pulled. Eddie found himself sitting beside Buck’s hip, one hand gripped tightly in the younger man’s while the other rested gently on his stomach.

 

“Shh Buck. We’ve got you,” Eddie said softly as Buck cried. “Everything is going to be ok. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but it will be. I promise.”  

Chapter Text

The 118 crew and their families were gathered at Athena and Bobby’s house for lunch when Eddie’s phone began to ring in his pocket. Pulling it out, he answered quickly upon realising it was Dr Copeland. None of the crew had been by to visit Buck yet that day but that was only because they’d been told Buck had a day of appointments so there would be no time for visitors.

 

“Dr Copeland?” Eddie asked, handing Chim his drink and stepping away from the group so he could take the call.

 

“Hi Eddie,” Eddie couldn’t tell anything from her tone but the fact that she was calling him did give him cause for concern. “I think you and Mr Nash should get down here as soon as possible.”

 

“What’s happened? Is Buck ok?” Eddie asked, his gaze darting up and meeting Bobby’s worried one.

 

“No, he isn’t,” Dr Copeland said bluntly and Eddie’s blood froze. “There’s been an incident in the last hour. I arrived for my appointment with Buck and found him being moved to a different room. I can give you more information once you’ve arrived but you need to know, he’s tried to hurt himself again.”

 

“Bobby and I will be there in 40 minutes,” Eddie said before hanging up. The team had all been anxiously awaiting information and as Eddie paled, Hen and Karen rushed to his side.

 

“Eddie, sit down,” Hen ordered as they led the man to a chair just as his knees gave out. Chim handed him a bottle of water and Bobby knelt in front of him.

 

“Eddie. What happened?” Bobby asked, his calm yet firm tone indicative of his years as a first responder.

 

“Buck tried to hurt himself again,” Eddie breathed out between sips of water. A gasp ripped through the group and Eddie and Bobby locked eyes. “Dr Copeland said you and I need to get there now.”

 

“Ok,” Bobby said with a nod. “Everyone else, stay here. Thena, lets try and keep the kids calm. Eddie and I will go to the hospital and report back once we know more.”

 

The others nodded but Maddie looked ready to argue. Maddie had only been able to see Buck while he was asleep as the man refused to allow her into the room when he was awake. Since waking over a week beforehand, the only people who were allowed in the room for an extended period of time were Bobby, Eddie, and Athena. Even the boys were generally only allowed in the room for 30 minutes.

 

“Maddie, I’ll try and get him to agree to see you,” Eddie said and Maddie nodded. Bobby grabbed his car keys and after kissing his wife, helped Eddie stand before the two men walked out to Bobby’s truck. As they pulled out of the driveway, Eddie took in a shaky breath. “Bobby, what do you think has happened?”

 

“I don’t know and I’m trying really hard to not let my mind run away with me,” Bobby replied and Eddie nodded. “Let’s not borrow trouble.”

 

Inside, Bobby’s heart was racing. The man he considered a son had once again hurt himself and Bobby didn’t know how or why. His mind was racing as fast as his heart trying hard to determine what could have happened. Buck was supposed to see Dr Wallace this morning to inspect the splenectomy site, the hospital ENT therapist to inspect his throat and see how it was recovering following intubation, and Dr Copeland for his psychology appointment.

 

45 minutes after the call, Bobby and Eddie were anxiously riding the elevator to the High Care ward. When they arrived, Dr Wallace, Dr Copeland and Leanne, the Head Nurse, were standing at the nurses’ station speaking softly to one another.

 

“Thank you for coming so quickly,” Dr Copeland said once she noticed the men.

 

“Danielle, what happened today?” Bobby asked as they stopped in front of the three women. Leanne led the group to the meeting room and closed the door behind them.

 

“Mr Buckley had asked to use the toilet and the nurse helped him with the IV stand before leaving him so she could go grab him another blanket,” Leanne explained and the two men nodded. “When she came back, Mr Buckley hadn’t returned to his bed. She knocked on the door but got no answer so she used her key to open it. Evan was laying on the floor with cuts to his thighs and stomach.”

 

“How did he get something sharp? I thought he didn’t have access to anything like that?” Eddie asked softly, his voice shaky as he paled and gripped Bobby’s forearm.

 

“He smashed the bathroom mirror,” Dr Wallace said. “Only one cut on his thigh required stitches, the others were just superficial. I would say he collapsed from a drop in blood pressure and adrenaline rather than blood loss. The nurses responded quickly and we moved him to one of the safe rooms on this floor.”

 

“Safe room?” Bobby asked and Dr Copeland nodded.

 

“One of the rooms normally used for patients who have been sectioned for psychiatric assessment,” Danielle explained. “The rooms have all been inspected and modified to ensure the patients can’t use anything in them to harm themselves.”

 

“How is this going to set back his recovery?” Eddie asked.

 

“I’m waiting for him to wake up so I can find out why he did what he did,” Danielle replied and both Eddie and Bobby nodded. “I’m hesitant to believe he tried to commit suicide so until I speak with him, I have refused to allow him to be placed in the psychiatric ward. I’ve also advised against restraints.”

 

“Don’t!” Eddie demanded forcefully. “He’ll just hurt himself more if he wakes up restrained. He won’t cope with that.”

 

“Which is why I won’t be allowing it. But from now on, Buck will not be allowed to be by himself,” Danielle informed them and Bobby and Eddie nodded again.

 

“Can we see him?” Bobby all but pleaded and the three medical professionals nodded. Danielle led them down the hallway to another room where Buck was. The younger man was laying in the bed asleep, the Iron Man stuffed bear Chris had given him by his head. Two nurses were putting the drawings and pictures back up and excused themselves from the room as the group entered.

 

Eddie dropped into the seat beside the bed and took in Buck’s bandaged hand and pale skin. The area around his stomach and thighs were both padded, indicating the bandages the doctors and nurses had used to fix him up. Eddie ran his fingers over Buck’s damaged knuckles and lifted his hand gently, placing it in his own and pressing a kiss to the bandages.

 

“Oh kid,” Bobby murmured as he pulled up a chair and sat beside Eddie. He rested a hand on Buck’s shin and squeezed it gently. Danielle was looking at Buck’s chart with a frown on her face. “What’s written there Doc?”

 

“One of the nurses notes here that Buck’s heart rate spiked about 60 minutes before the incident. When she came to check him, he was throwing his phone across the room and trying to calm his breathing down. She notes that she checked his machines but that Buck mentioned he’d had a tough phone call and asked her for a glass of water as his jug was empty,” Danielle explained as she read the notes. Eddie let out an animal like growl, causing both Bobby and Danielle to look at him in confusion.

 

“What’s the bet it was his fucking parents?” Eddie hissed as he jumped to his feet. He grabbed the phone from the table the nurses had placed it on and opened it. Going to the recent call log, he swore again as he took note of the last Caller ID. “Yep. It was his parents.”

 

“I’ll call Maddie. She won’t be happy to say the least,” Bobby said, pulling his own phone from his pocket. Eddie slid Buck’s phone into his pocket and took his seat again.

 

“I’m so sorry querido. I’m sorry I keep letting them get to you,” Eddie whispered as Bobby spoke to Maddie. Eddie rested a hand on Buck’s head and ran his fingers through the younger man’s curls. Buck let out a soft noise and Eddie stilled his movements as the younger man’s eyes fluttered open. When they made contact with Eddie’s, Buck’s eyes dropped to the bed and a tear slipped down his cheek. “Hush Buck. It’s all going to be ok.”

 

A sob ripped from Buck’s throat and Eddie jumped up. Not caring about the others in the room, Eddie practically lifted Buck from the bed and slipped in underneath him. With the younger man resting on him, Eddie began rubbing his hand up and down Buck’s chest while nuzzling his temple with his nose. Buck was grasping at the arm Eddie had across his chest and both Eddie and the bed were shaking with the wracking sobs coming from the younger man. Bobby hung up from his call and grabbed Buck’s undamaged hand in his, squeezing it and murmuring words of comfort.

 

“Buck,” Dr Copeland’s voice was gentle, like she was speaking to an easily spooked animal. The man looked up at her through tear-stained eyelashes for only a second before squeezing his eyes tightly shut. “Buck, I know you probably don’t want to talk right now but this is important. Once I have my answer, I can leave you with Eddie and Bobby. I need to know your intentions this morning.”

 

“Wanted. Needed. Control,” Buck gasped out between sobs. Eddie’s hand never stopped moving up and down his chest but given Buck was his partner and best friend, he knew what he was trying to say.

 

“Speaking to your parents made you feel out of control, right? You just wanted it back?” Eddie translated and Buck nodded. Eddie looked up at Dr Copeland with wide eyes and the woman frowned.

 

“Ok Buck. Alright,” Danielle said soothingly. Eddie pressed a kiss to Buck’s temple and pointedly ignored Bobby’s gaze as the older man looked at them. Danielle moved to stand beside the bed and she rested her hand on Buck’s shin. “From now on, no more phone calls from your parents unless Eddie, Bobby, or myself are with you. Even then, I will be recommending we don’t allow them much time to speak.”

 

Buck nodded harshly and Eddie was glad he wasn’t putting up a fight. Danielle indicated over her shoulder but Eddie shook his head. No way was he leaving Buck. Bobby nodded and squeezed Buck’s hand before following the woman out of the room.

 

“I’ve got you Buck,” Eddie whispered and Buck let out a soft whimper. Eddie tightened his grip on the younger man and moved slightly so Buck was resting completely between his legs, Eddie’s thighs bracketing his. Buck let out a content little sound as Eddie wrapped his free arm around Buck’s stomach and nuzzled his hair.

 

--- With Bobby ---

 

“What do we do now Doc? How do you think this has impacted his recovery?” Bobby asked once the door to Buck’s room had closed behind him. Danielle let out a sigh and sat down heavily into one of the chairs in the hallway.

 

“I don’t think he should be left alone,” Danielle commented. “And as unprofessional as it is, I can honestly say I’ve never hated two people more than I currently hate the Buckley parents. As for how this has impacted him, I can’t be sure. I will have a meeting with Dr Wallace and we will start working out a discharge plan.”

 

“I’m guessing you are going to recommend around the clock monitoring,” Bobby said and Danielle nodded.

 

“Buck needs it,” Danielle replied. “He needs to be somewhere he feels comfortable and right now I don’t think I like the idea of him alone in his loft while he is recovering.”

 

“I’ll discuss it with the others but I can guarantee there will be no shortage of offers for him to move in with one of us. Hell, my wife might bundle him up in his sleep and move him in without him noticing,” Bobby said with a fond smile.

 

“She might have to fight Eddie for that,” Danielle replied with a smirk and Bobby let out a bark of laughter. Danielle left to go and speak with Dr Wallace while Bobby returned to the room. He opened the door and instantly pulled out his phone. Buck was laying in between Eddie’s legs and Eddie was nuzzling his head. Eddie was murmuring something softly in Spanish and while Buck still had tears running down his cheeks, he was no longer sobbing violently.  Bobby snuck a few pictures of the pair before they noticed him before moving over to the bed.

 

“Bobby,” Buck’s voice was hoarse once more from the crying and Bobby nodded for him to continue. “I’m sorry.”

 

“You have nothing to be sorry for kid,” Bobby said firmly and Eddie nodded against Buck’s head. “The only people who need to be sorry are your parents. And trust me, if they try and call again, I will be having words with them. Enough is enough. I refuse to allow them to treat you like this any longer.”

 

“Agreed,” Eddie hissed out and Buck just shrugged.

 

“Better me than Maddie,” Buck said, his self-sacrificial behaviour returning with a vengeance.

 

“No, not better,” Bobby said before Eddie could jump in. “It shouldn’t be happening to either of you. If I don’t have words with them, Athena will and that will not end well for the Buckleys.”

 

“Wish I wasn’t a Buckley,” Buck’s voice was soft as he began to drift off to sleep. Eddie and Bobby shared a glance but Buck continued before they could speak. “Wish I was a Nash.”

 

Bobby’s heart leapt into his throat at those words, his eyes brimming with tears. There was nothing he’d love more than for Buck to be his actual son. Ever since he had started with the 118, Bobby had always felt a connection with their youngest firefighter. Their relationship had only grown over the years and despite the numerous challenges placed at their feet, they had grown stronger and closer. Bobby shuffled closer and took Buck’s hands in his as Eddie smiled down at them both.

 

“I’d love that kid,” Bobby whispered to the sleeping man as he bent his head to kiss Buck’s bandaged knuckles. “More than you know.”

 

--- With Maddie ---

 

Maddie was sitting on the lounge in Athena’s living room, May on one side and Karen on the other while she cradled a mug of tea in her hands. Bobby had called earlier to tell them that Buck had injured himself again and once again it was because of their goddamn parents.

 

“Mads, do you need anything?” Howie’s voice was gentle as he stood across from her beside a seething Athena and Hen. The kids had been bundled up into Harry’s room as Bobby’s call had come through and Maddie had put the call on speaker so the entire crew had heard the update. After hanging up, Maddie had grabbed a pillow from the lounge and had screamed loudly into it before collapsing into Howie’s arms.

 

“New fucking parents,” Maddie hissed out between clenched teeth. She looked around the room at the concerned faces and felt tears began to well up in her eyes. “How could they? What the hell did they say to him? I told them! I expressly told them not to contact him. Now we have no idea how much his recovery has been set back. And its all their fault.”

 

Athena moved as the now empty cup dropped from Maddie’s hand and sat on the coffee table in front of her. Taking Maddie’s shaking hands in hers, Athena encouraged the woman to look into her eyes.

 

“Buckaroo is a fighter. This is a simple speed bump in his recovery,” Athena said firmly and Maddie nodded. “We won’t let them continue to hurt him. You say the word and I’ll have a restraining order filed against them for both of you. No calls, no visits, nothing. Neither you or Buckaroo will ever have to have anything to do with them again if you don’t want.”

 

Maddie leant forward and hugged the woman tightly before taking a few deep breaths. She could honestly say that right now she never hated her parents more. Resting her hand on her belly, Maddie vowed then and there to be the parent to her child that she had always wanted. She would give her baby the best experience she could – and that experience included having loving Uncle Buck around for a long time.

 

--- Four Days Later ---

 

Buck heard the door open to his hospital room but didn’t open his eyes. He knew, despite all their best efforts, that both Maddie and May would often come in when he slept. He wanted to speak to them but he was afraid to see the disappointment in their eyes. Plus, the added pain and disgust of knowing he’d pulled May into his shit by demanding to speak to her that day was killing him inside.

 

“Hey little brother,” Maddie’s voice was soft as she entered the room but from the second set of footsteps, Buck knew she wasn’t alone. “I still feel weird sneaking in here at night but then again, it just reminds me of when you were a kid and I’d sneak into your room when you were sick.”

 

“Mom does that all the time,” May’s voice was just as soft as Maddie’s as she approached the bed. “She thinks we don’t know but Harry and I have both caught her tonnes of times.”

 

“Sometimes it was the only way I could make sure Evan was actually ok when we were kids. Especially if he was injured or sick. He was always trying so hard to convince me he was fine but I knew the truth,” Maddie replied. Buck heard her take a seat beside the bed and felt her pick up his hand. “I just wish I could help him now.”

 

“We can. By being here,” May said. “Why don’t you tell him that story from Dispatch this week? The one where Josh had to coach a woman through helping her husband’s mistress give birth.”

 

Buck continued to feign sleep while Maddie and May giggled their way through the story. The man couldn’t quite understand why the women were wasting so much time on him but then he internally shook his head – those were the words of his parents, not him. He and Dr Copeland had been working hard on developing his feelings of self-worth and while he still struggled, he was getting better at silencing the voice in his mind telling him he was a waste of space. Making a decision, Buck gently squeezed the hand that was resting in his.

 

“Shit,” Maddie hissed out as he squeezed her hand again. He slowly opened his eyes and noticed both women were staring at him in concern.

 

“Buck, do you want us to leave?” May’s voice was gentle even as her face fell once she noticed he was awake. No doubt both were waiting for him to kick them out.

 

“No. Want my sisters,” Buck replied softly. Both women looked at him in surprise and he smiled a small smile at them. “Want my girls here.”

 

“Evan, I am so sorry,” Maddie said as tears began streaming down her cheeks. Buck tugged on her hand and found himself with an armful of crying Maddie.

 

“Not your fault. Don’t blame you,” he said in reply. Talking was still hard, not because it hurt but because he honestly didn’t want too (a surprise given how much he usually spoke). “Their fault. Love you Mads.”

 

“I love you too baby brother. I know you don’t blame me, but I do. That’s for me to work on,” Maddie said and Buck pressed a kiss to the side of her head. Maddie pulled back and Buck turned his gaze to May. The girl was looking at him hopefully and Buck held out his hand. May, being careful of his healing wounds, let out a soft sound and practically threw herself at him.

 

“I’m sorry May,” Buck said and May shook her head against his chest. “Put you in a bad spot. Didn’t deserve it.”

 

“No Buck,” May said firmly. “I’m so, well not glad because that’s not the right word, but relieved. I’m relieved you called 911 when you needed help. And I’m glad I took the call. If only so I could try and remind you that you are so loved.”

 

Buck kissed the young woman on the head and May let out a happy sound. As Maddie ran her fingers through his hair and May began to regale him with another story from Dispatch, Buck couldn’t help but feel a little bit hopeful for the first time in a long time.

 

Chapter Text

Buck opened his eyes as he felt Athena’s car roll to a stop and he took a deep breath. Looking around, he smiled at the familiar sight of Eddie’s well maintained front garden and porch.

 

“Ready to go baby?” Athena asked as she undid her seatbelt. “You know you are always welcome at our place if you want a night away.”

 

“Thanks Mama,” Buck said and Athena grinned as Buck undid his own seatbelt. She jumped out of the car and raced around to his side to help him.

 

It had been almost a month since Buck entered the hospital and, in that time, he’d lost a lot a muscle mass and was definitely feeling it. Buck accepted Athena’s hand as he climbed to his feet and looped his arm through hers as they walked up to Eddie’s front door.

 

“Hi Bucky!” Christopher said excitedly as Athena pushed open the door and Buck felt a smile cross his face. Christ had all but demanded Buck come and stay with them when he’d overheard Eddie talking about Buck’s imminent discharge from hospital. In the end, it had been down to the Grant-Nash home and the Diaz home but having Carla, Pepa, or Abuela around nearly every day had pushed the Diaz home to the winning spot.

 

“Hi Superman,” Buck said. He knelt down slowly, only wincing slightly as his ribs protested, and pulled the pre-teen into a tight hug. Buck’s heart grew nearly three sizes as the boy nuzzled his neck and Buck pressed a kiss to his head.

 

“Dad, Carla, and I made up your room,” Chris said as he pulled back from the hug. “Tia Pepa and Abuelita have FILLED the fridge with yummy food.”

 

Mijo, let him in the door before you barrage him with things,” Eddie said fondly from his spot in the doorway. Buck looked up at the man and smiled. With Athena’s help, Buck got back to his feet and Eddie walked over to him. Before he could say anything, Eddie had Buck wrapped in his strong arms. That was something that had started happening more frequently after Buck’s relapse and Buck would never get tired of it. Despite being larger than Eddie, Buck always managed to curl himself into the smaller man and he always felt safe. “Welcome Home Evan.”

 

That was another new thing. Eddie was calling him Evan. He normally hated it when people called him by his name, and thanks to Dr Copeland he’d realised it was because his parents never said his name with anything less than disdain. But Eddie made his name sound like something precious. And he never wanted it to stop. Buck hugged the other man tightly and tried to squash down those thoughts. He really needed to get over his crush on Eddie. It would only damage their friendship and that was one thing Buck would never sacrifice.

 

“Buckaroo,” Athena’s voice broke their hug again but Eddie didn’t move far, slipping his arm around Buck’s waist. “I’ve got your bag in the car. Eddie, why don’t you take him to his room and I’ll go grab it.”

“Yes ma’am,” Eddie said before turning on his heel and spinning Buck gently with him. “Come on. Chris was telling the truth; we’ve set the room up for you.”

 

Eddie led Buck down the hall and Buck frowned when they bypassed the small office/extra room and approached Eddie’s bedroom. Buck wanted to say something but Eddie just shook his head. Pushing the door open, Buck looked into the room and was stunned. Eddie hadn’t just made up his bed, they’d practically redesigned the whole room. The walls were painted a soft blue-grey and the furniture had been stained a darker mahogany colour. The room looked inviting and peaceful and Buck turned to Eddie in confusion.

 

“What? You’ve been telling me to redecorate my room since I moved in,” Eddie said with a shrug of his shoulders. “Carla and her husband helped and we got it done in a few days.”

 

“Eds,” Buck said and Eddie raised an eyebrow at him. “I can’t stay in your room. That’s not fair.”

 

“No arguments,” Eddie said, steering Buck towards the bed. Buck knew just how comfortable the mattress was – he’d been with Eddie and had practically bullied the older man into purchasing it. The mattress while firm had a soft pillowtop covering that made you never want to leave the bed. The king bed (Eddie had been attempting to purchase a double and Buck wasn’t going to let that happen) took up a fair chunk of the room but it was comfortable and meant that Eddie and Chris often had snuggles in it on Eddie’s mornings off. “My bed is comfier than the spare and that room is tiny. You won’t be able to manoeuvre well in there. You’re staying in here and that’s that.”

 

Chris let out a giggle as Buck frowned and Eddie but the older man wasn’t going to budge. Buch nodded reluctantly and Chris laughed at the smug look on Eddie’s face. Athena stepped into the room with Buck’s duffle bag and placed it on the floor near the chest of drawers.

 

“This looks good boys,” Athena commented and Chris looked up at her proudly. She stepped into the room and wrapped her arms around Buck tightly. “Alright baby. You call if you need anything, even if you just want to talk. Eddie, May will send through the updated spreadsheet for appointment rotations and what not once she has finalised it. She’s just getting Maddie’s shifts and prenatal appointments.”

 

“Guys,” Buck tried to protest but both Eddie and Athena shot him looks that had him throwing his hands up in submission.

 

“Chris, you take care of these two,” Athena said after she had kissed both Eddie and Buck on the cheek. “You call me if either one of them plays up, ok? Also don’t forget, dinner at our place Friday night. I expect you all there.”

 

Athena showed herself out and after giving him another hug, Chris walked back down to his room. Eddie and Buck were left alone and Eddie cast an eye over Buck’s form.

 

“What do you want to do?” Eddie asked softly and Buck took a breath.

 

“Shower please,” Buck all but begged. “I smell like hospital.”

 

Eddie directed Buck into the ensuite bathroom and pointed to all the new toiletries located in there.

 

“I’ll be just outside if you need me,” Eddie said softly before leaving Buck to his own devices. Quickly stripping, Buck all but threw himself under the hot water, relishing in the water pressure that he just hadn’t gotten at the hospital. As he washed his hair, he realised he was probably overdue for a visit to the barber but at this point, that wasn’t high on his list of priorities. The most important thing was being able to get fit enough to return to work. Dr Copeland had discussed his Return-to-Work plan with Buck, Bobby, and Chief Alonso and Buck was keen to dive in. He needed to rebuild his muscle mass and get signed off by one of the fitness trainers but at least this time he didn’t have to go through complete recertification.

 

After he climbed out of the shower and dried off, Buck stared at his naked body in Eddie’s mirror. The scar from the splenectomy was completely overshadowed by the self-inflicted scars and Buck let out a soft whimper at the sight of them. They were hideous and what was worse, there wasn’t even a story to tell. It wasn’t like he could claim some dramatic rescue had cause them. They only happened because he stupidly couldn’t keep his mind under control.

 

“Buck?” As if sensing Buck was spiralling, Eddie’s voice pierced the air like a beacon. Buck wrapped the towel around his waist and let out a shaky breath.

 

“Eds,” Buck called back and the bathroom door opened instantly. Eddie stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. Making eye contact in the mirror, Buck felt himself getting lost in Eddie’s gaze. “Help.”

 

Eddie wrapped his arms tightly around Buck and hugged him to his chest. Buck let out a breath as Eddie led him back to the bedroom and gently pushed him to sit down before moving over to the chest of drawers. Eddie removed an old, worn-in shirt and some sweatpants as well as some boxers before placing the items on the bed.

 

“Put your underwear on then I can help with the pants and shirt,” Eddie said softly and Buck nodded. Eddie turned his back as Buck threw his boxers on and only turned when Buck cleared his throat. His eyes instinctually moved towards the scars but only for a second because Eddie was soon distracted by Buck’s general physique. Despite being laid up in bed for nearly a month, no-one could deny Evan Buckley was a gorgeous man.

 

“They’re ugly. I know,” Buck’s soft voice ripped Eddie out of his thoughts (rather dirty thoughts involving Nutella and Buck’s abs) and had him looking at Buck’s face. The younger man had his eyes clenched shut and tears were leaking slowly out of them. “I’m such an idiot.”

 

“No!” Eddie said firmly. He knelt on the ground at Buck’s feet and took the younger man’s hands in his. Buck opened his eyes and let out a soft gasp at the compassion shining in Eddie’s. “No. You aren’t an idiot and these aren’t ugly. They show that you have survived some shit. They show that you are human and prone to pain.”

 

Buck nodded, not fully believing what Eddie was saying. Eddie could see how uncomfortable Buck was and so quickly pulled the clothes on him. Once he was dressed, Eddie helped Buck stand and all but bullied him into the bed. Kicking his shoes off, Eddie climbed in beside him and pulled Buck into his arms. The younger man cuddled into Eddie’s chest and took in a few deep breaths of Eddie’s grounding scent.

 

“I’m so beyond proud of you Evan, for everything you’ve overcome in your life,” Buck could feel the words vibrating in Eddie’s chest from where his head was resting and it sent shivers up his spine. “And until you can be proud of yourself, I’ll do it for you.”

 

The next time Buck opened his eyes, the sun had set outside and he felt warm and content. Rolling over onto his back, he noticed it was 6:30pm, nearly dinner time. He could hear faint voices coming from the kitchen and after a minute to get his bearings, Buck climbed out of bed and walked out of the room. Eddie and Christopher were sitting at the table in the dining room, Eddie on his tablet and Christopher colouring something in.

 

“Hey guys,” Buck’s voice was heavy with sleep but both Diaz boys looked up at him with grins on their faces.

 

“Hi Bucky! Did you sleep well?” Chris asked excitedly and Buck nodded. He moved over to the table and ruffled Chris’ hair playfully before taking the seat beside him.

 

“I did thank you,” Buck replied before shooting Eddie a smirk. He had no wat of knowing just what that cheeky look did to Eddie’s insides. “No wonder your dad is a grump in the morning. It’s really comfy.”

 

Eddie shot his son an affronted look as the pre-teen giggled but Buck just shot him a wink. A bag on the table caught his eye and Buck frowned at it. It looked like a present but there was no one in their immediate circle who had a birthday coming up (and to be honest, Buck was usually the one reminding Eddie about birthdays) so he had no idea who it was for.

 

“Oh, that’s for you. It’s from your ducklings,” Eddie said with a smirk of his own and Buck frowned as he grabbed the present. “They gave it to me yesterday.”

 

--- Flashback ---

 

Eddie was finishing putting his trainers back on when a knock on the locker room door had him looking up. The three probies, Ravi, Jackson, and Ella, were standing there with hopeful looks on their faces.

 

“How can I help guys?” Eddie asked. Ravi occasionally worked with them on A Shift while Jackson and Ella were on B and C shift respectively. While he’d never spent much time with the probies, he knew Buck did occasionally.

 

“Um, we know that Buck isn’t taking visitors but we also know he’s going home tomorrow,” Ella started and Eddie nodded. “We have something for him so maybe it could be a sort of welcome home gift.”

 

“We were kind of hoping you could give it to him, sir,” Ravi said as Jackson stepped forward with a wrapped gift. Eddie took the present and nodded at the three probies. As they left the room, the rest of Eddie’s team walked in, Bobby with a fond smile on his face.

 

“So, what were Buck’s Ducklings talking to you about?” Bobby asked and the other three members of A Shift raised a collective eyebrow at him. “It’s what we Captains call those three. Buck has been working extra shifts to help train them and they follow after him like baby ducks follow their mothers.”

 

“That is adorable!” Hen cooed and the others nodded.

 

“And I bet Buck has no idea about the nickname,” Chin said before laughing uproariously when Bobby shook his head. Eddie joined in the laughter as he slipped the gift into his bag to deliver to Buck when he next visited.

 

--- End Flashback ---

 

“Why didn’t you tell me you’ve been helping train the probies?” Eddie asked and Buck shrugged as he opened to card. Tears welled up in his eyes as the younger man passed to card to Eddie for him to read. The note was written in three distinct hands and Eddie smiled as he read the words.

 

Dear Buck

 

We hope you get better soon – training is just no fun without you chasing us with the training saw!

 

Excuse Jackson, he’s an idiot. Seriously, get better soon but only come back when you’re ready. Take the time you need – I want my trainer at his best before he shows me how to best do a rope rescue from a burning building.

 

Get well soon Buck. Like Ella said, take care of yourself first for once. We’ll still be here when you’re ready. There’s no better training officer out there so we are happy to wait. You’ve already taught us plenty – we promise to do your training proud.

 

Love

Jackson, Ella, and Ravi

 

Eddie put the card down as Buck shakily unwrapped the present. Eddie let out a bark of laughter as Buck unwrapped a metal clipboard and pen. The pen had “Buck” engraved on it while the clipboard had the words “Love from your Ducklings (Bucklings) – R, E, J xx” engraved in the middle.

 

“Wow,” Buck said softly as he stared at the gift. Chris was reading the inscription and giggling slightly while Eddie was looking at him proudly.

 

“So many people love you querido,” Eddie said as he handed the card back to Buck. Eddie jumped to his feet and walked into the kitchen, brushing a hand over Buck’s neck as he walked past. “I was thinking Abuela’s Pozole for dinner tonight. Does that work for you boys?”

Chris let out a cheer of excitement but Buck didn’t say a thing, his body still tingling from Eddie’s touch. Eddie stuck his head out of the kitchen and raised an eyebrow at Buck. The younger man nodded and Eddie slipped back into the kitchen. He may not be able to cook but he could definitely heat food up in the microwave. He heated up enough for the three of them and carried it to the table. After returning with cutlery, bowls, and juice for the three of them, Eddie served up the food and smiled as his two favourite people began eating.

 

After dinner, Eddie helped Buck to the living room where Chris was waiting with one of the Star Wars films cued up and ready to go. Chris patted the spot beside him and Buck grinned as the young boy carefully pressed himself into Buck’s side. Eddie sat on the other side of Buck and the younger man’s heart jumped as Eddie lifted his hand and entwined their fingers.

 

30 minutes into the movie and Chris was half asleep on Buck while the younger man had shuffled so his head was resting on Eddie’s chest. Eddie’s arm was wrapped around him, the weight of it warm and comforting.

 

“He asleep?” Eddie’s chest rumbled after a while and Buck looked down to the boy in his lap. Sure enough the boy was dead to the world before Luke and Han returned Leia to the Rebel base. At Buck’s nod, Eddie grinned and paused the movie. “You stay here. I’ll take him up to bed then we can watch the rest of this if you’d like.”

 

Buck tried to hold back a whimper as Eddie casually lifted him (he probably hadn’t succeeded but Eddie didn’t comment) and stood. The Latino man lifted his son and smiled at Buck before leaving the room. Twitching slightly, Buck climbed to his feet and stretched before grabbing a blanket from the back of the lounge. He sat back down and threw the blanket over his legs before grabbing his phone off the table.

 

“Everything good?” Eddie’s voice was soft as he re-entered the room silently. Buck rested his head on the back of the lounge and looked up at the other man. Eddie was smiling gently and Buck returned the expression as best he could.

 

“Yeah. May’s just sending me dog pictures,” Buck replied and Eddie laughed. Eddie returned to his seat on the lounge and Buck only had a moment to hesitate about whether or not he’d be allowed to resume their previous position before Eddie pulled him closer. Buck cuddled in as close to Eddie as he could and let out a content sound as Eddie tucked the blanket in around him further.

 

“How are you feeling after your nap?” Eddie asked as he restarted the movie.

 

“Bit better. Your bed is really comfy. Aren’t you glad I bullied you into that mattress?” Buck teased. Eddie’s hand came up and started rubbing his neck and Buck felt himself melting into the other man.

 

“It does make it harder to get up after a 24-hour shift,” Eddie replied. “Now you see why you’re the one sleeping in it while you recover.”

 

“Eddie, I still have protests about that,” Buck said and Eddie just shook his head.

 

Lo siento, de repente no puedo entender inglés (Sorry, I suddenly can’t understand English)” Eddie replied and Buck rolled his eyes and slapped Eddie gently as he tried to cover up the shiver that ripped through him. Eddie speaking Spanish increased his hotness exponentially, especially when it was directed at Buck.

 

“Don’t lie to me Edmundo Diaz,” Buck replied and Eddie pretended not to hear him. Buck pouted and noticed Eddie’s gaze was drawn to his mouth. “You’re mean.”

 

“And you’re cute when you pout cariño,” Eddie replied and Buck let out a soft gasp. Eddie’s fingers ran through the hair at the nape of his neck and Buck looked up at him. Eddie’s hand came around to cup Buck’s cheek and his thumb ran over Buck’s birthmark slowly. “Then again, you’re always cute.”

 

“Eddie? What is this?” Buck asked as his eyes fell shut and he relished in the feel of Eddie’s hands on his face.

 

“This is whatever you want it to be, mi amor,” Eddie replied, his voice dropping an octave. Buck closed his eyes as another shiver ripped through him but this time, he didn’t try to supress it. “When Bobby called me and told me you had been hurt, I was terrified that I’d lost my chance. That I’d never get the opportunity to tell you what you mean to Christopher, to me. The only other time I have felt that afraid was after the tsunami.”

 

“Tell me now?” Buck all but pleaded as Eddie’s second hand came up to cup Buck’s other cheek. “Please.”

 

“I love you Evan. I love you so damn much,” Eddie breathed out, leaning down to press their foreheads together. Buck let out a whimper and his eyes fell shut as Eddie’s warm breath washed over his face. “I have loved you for so long and I will continue to do so for the rest of my days. Seeing your smile is a highlight of my day. Seeing how well you fit, right here in my home and my arms, is all I need.”

 

“Eddie,” Buck whimpered and Eddie wiped a tear that slipped out of Buck’s closed eyes.

 

“Te amo, mi sol (I love you, my sunshine),” Eddie said and Buck let out a breath. “Evan, mi amor, can I kiss you?”

 

Before Eddie had even finished the sentence, Buck was pressing his lips against Eddie’s. Their lips moved together like a dance and Buck had never felt anything like it. He had kissed a lot of people in the past but every kiss before this paled in comparison. Buck let out a whine as Eddie’s hands slipped down from his face but the whine turned into a moan as Eddie manhandled the younger man up and onto his lap. The new angle was better for Buck’s neck and his hands came up to clutch at Eddie’s neck.

 

“Dios mi amor. Eres guapisima (God my love. You are gorgeous),” Eddie breathed out as he began pressing kisses to Buck’s jaw and down his neck.

 

“Eddie,” Buck whined softly, the whine once again morphing into a moan as Eddie began to kiss and bite at the junction where his neck and shoulder met. “Eddie, I love you too.”

 

Eddie let out a pleased growl before dragging Buck’s lips back down to his own. In a show of strength that had Buck all but melting, Eddie stood from the lounge with Buck in his arms. The noise Buck made had Eddie pressing the younger man into the nearest wall.

 

“God, the noises you make,” Eddie hissed out, his lips returning to Buck’s neck. Buck let out a whine as Eddie’s hands gripped his ass and held him up against the wall. Eddie pulled back with a smirk and squeezed the flesh in his hands again. “Not tonight baby. You still need rest. But once you get a clean bill of health from the doctor, I’m going to rock your damn world.”

 

Eddie carried Buck down to his bedroom, his lips pressed to Buck’s neck and collarbone the whole time. Buck whimpered as Eddie rested him on the bed and pulled away, arms reaching out for the older man.

 

“Hush mi amor,” Eddie said, pressing a kiss to Buck’s knuckles. “You get ready for bed. I’m going to switch everything off and lock up. I’ll be right back.”

 

Buck jumped up and quickly brushed his teeth before crawling under under the covers as Eddie stepped out of the room. Buck buried his face into one of the pillows and let out a content moan. He was completely surrounded by Eddie’s comforting scent and Buck decided then and there that he never wanted to leave. After a few minutes, the bedroom door opened again and Buck rolled onto his side to look at Eddie. The older man was standing in the doorway simply staring at Buck with a gentle smile on his face.

 

“What?” Buck asked, a blush crossing his cheeks as Eddie looked at him.

 

“Just wondering how I got so lucky,” Eddie commented and Buck blushed even harder. Eddie completed his bedtime routine before sitting on the side of the bed. Buck pouted when Eddie didn’t instantly climb in and Eddie just smiled. “None of that. Do you want me to stay or do you want the bed to yourself?”

 

“Stay. Please,” Buck replied and Eddie nodded. He climbed in beside Buck and the younger man gave him a moment to get comfortable before cuddling in close and resting his head on Eddie’s chest. “Stay forever.”

 

Mi amor, wild horses couldn’t drag me away,” Eddie replied, kissing Buck on the head. Eddie lifted Buck’s chin with his hand and rested their foreheads together again. “I love you baby. So much. I know you are struggling with that concept but I will tell you every day that I love and adore you.”

 

Buck nuzzled Eddie’s neck as he closed his eyes and breathed in the other man’s scent. For the first time in quite a long time, Buck felt hopeful about the future. As long as that future included Eddie and Christopher, Buck would be a happy man.