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pain is a well-intentioned weatherman

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Buck starts coming to with a flash of a memory, someone coming up behind him. A struggle. He blinks again and the scene is different now, someone with a very familiar tattoo laying on a table, hooked to a Life Pack and an IV. He rolls his head around and he thinks he groans, but he feels like he’s underwater. There’s a beeping coming from somewhere that he can’t quite pinpoint. 

His vision comes into focus now, still blurry but clear enough to make out the ring of words around the forearm of the person on the table. Eddie . He tries to move but all he can do is struggle against his restraints. 

“You were out longer than expected,” 

Buck grunts. He knows that voice. 

“Guess I was too generous with the propofol.” Jonah tsks at himself, clearly disappointed by the lack of precision. “But, a guy your size? Better safe than sorry. Your friend – sorry, partner – here was a little easier to takedown.” 

“Why are you doing this, Jonah?” Buck rasps. 

Jonah smiles, a slimy, super villain-like thing. “Well, I have to be honest, you two weren’t the pair I was after in the beginning.” He says, rounding Buck’s chair and heading for the table. “I wanted Hen. I wanted Chimney . I mean, he’s the reason Nash shoved me out of the station so fast.” 

Buck watches, chest heaving as Jonah stands by Eddie’s head. Whatever is binding his hands is too thick to break on his own strength alone, but he tries anyway, ignoring how it digs into his wrists. 

“But then I thought, well, that’s just too obvious, isn’t it? The stakes are high, sure, but not high enough. There’s more rush when it seems like there’s no motive.” Jonah explains, digging around in a bag at his feet. “This one, he’s special to you all. I saw, at the dispatch fire. You were all so excited to have him back in action. I bet Bobby is itching to shove Lucy out, too. No room for anyone that isn’t considered family, no consideration for our skills.” 

“You were a temp. Lucy is a temp. It was never meant to be permanent, you knew that,” Buck says. Eddie is so still on the table that if not for the steady beeping alerting Buck of his heartbeat, he would seem dead. “Bobby wasn’t trying to push you out.” 

“That’s exactly what he did,” Jonah snaps, his mask slipping for just a second, then back up just as quickly. “But that’s okay. He’ll see the mistake he made. I was the best of the best, and he’ll see that. You all will.”  

Somehow Buck misses him holding a syringe until he’s about to inject whatever is in it into Eddie’s IV line. “What the hell are you doing? What is that?” 

Jonah grins. “Just a little adenosine.” 

Bile rises in Buck’s throat as he fights the restraints again. “You’re going to kill him!” 

“I’ll get him back,” Jonah shrugs. “It’s kind of my thing.” 

“No,” Buck says, but Jonah pushes the adenosine anyway. “No, Jonah, please. You don’t have to do this, okay?” 

There’s a long, steady beep.

“Eddie!” Buck yells. “No, no, please. Eddie, come on.” 

Jonah sighs exaggeratedly. “Looks like we’re gonna have to shock him.” 

Tears roll down Buck’s cheeks as he pleads incoherently. Eddie’s dead, he’s dead, Jonah’s not getting him back and Buck just sat there and did nothing –

“Clear!” Jonah says, voice raised and dramatic, before he sticks the paddles to Eddie’s chest. 

“Eddie, please. Please, please, come on. Don’t do this to me, please.” 

The monitor beeps rhythmically again and Eddie inhales weakly, chest heaving rapidly. 

Buck exhales on a sob. “Why are you doing this?” 

Jonah laughs. It’s not even maniacal. He actually thinks this is fun, and that’s scarier than anything else. That he would kill Eddie, over and over, just to get him back so he could get his kicks. “Because I can, Buckley! That’s why! Come on, tell me you’ve never wanted to feel like a god.” 

“You wanna feel like a god? Fine.” Buck spits at him. “Then take me. You can kill me as many times as you want.” 

Jonah clutches his chest. “God, that’s so noble. You’d take his place in a heartbeat. He means that much to you.” 

“Your beef is with the 118, Jonah. Eddie’s been gone for months, okay? He didn’t have anything to do with any of this. Just  – just let him go, okay, and you can have me instead.” Whatever anger Buck had brewing left him when Eddie flatlined, leaving behind only desperation and panic, the need to do whatever he had to to get Eddie off that table alive. “I won’t fight you, I won’t make a run for it.” 

“That’s sweet. It is, really.” Jonah says, frowning like he’s actually capable of sympathy. “But I don’t care about Eddie. I don’t care about how he’ll feel after this. But you, and Bobby, and Henrietta, and Chimney? Knowing how broken you’ll be if I can’t get him back? Knowing that they’re all out there, searching for you guys, while you beg – a little pathetically, if I’m honest – for your partner’s life? Well, Buckley, you’re just not a good enough replacement.” 

Another vial of adenosine appears and is in the IV line before Buck can blink. “No no no, please, no. Jonah, please, I’m begging you. Not him, okay, not Eddie. He’s –” 

“He’s what?” Jonah teases as the flatline appears. He grabs another vile, epinephrine if Buck had the presence of mind to guess. “God, I’m so glad I took you two instead of Hen and Chimney. Watching you beg me to save the man you love, there’s nothing like it.” 

Jonah pushes the epi and shocks Eddie again. No pulse. 

“Eddie, please. Don’t die on me, not now, please.” 

Another shock. 

Jonah says, “Oh, no, still nothing. One more time?” 

Buck holds his breath when Jonah shocks Eddie again and doesn’t exhale until again until there’s a rhythm on the monitor again. 

“When we get out of here,” Buck says, breathless. “I’m going to kill you myself.” 

Jonah stares at him for a moment and then bursts into hysterical laughter. “That’s a good one, man. Seriously, going from begging to threatening, wow. You ever think about giving acting a shot?” 

Buck pauses for a minute. He looks at Eddie and takes a breath. 

What would Eddie do? 

“You ever think about being a real paramedic?” Buck spits back. “You’re the best of the best, huh? Then why is Claudette dead?” 

Jonah twitches. “It was a freak thing.” 

Buck scoffs. “Oh, yeah? Is that why you had to leave all those other departments? Freak accidents?” 

“You could never do what I do. None of you could.” Jonah says, chest puffed, posturing like he’s got something to be proud of. 

“No, we couldn’t. You wanna know why?” Buck says. His eyes flash to Eddie on the table. Buck swears his arm moved. “Because we’re real first responders. We actually make the big saves, we get our fifteen minutes of fame because we’re that. damn. good. We don’t have to fake it.” 

“I’m not faking it!” Jonah yells. “I’m a hero!” 

“You saved one guy when you were, what, ten? You kill people now.” 

“They weren’t supposed to die. I was going to save them.” 

Eddie moves again out of the corner of Buck’s eye. 

“All you are now is a murderer,” Buck forces a laugh. “You can’t even play a hero well.” 

“I’m not a murderer!” Jonah is getting angry now, the careful mask almost completely gone. 

“Then why isn’t Eddie breathing?” 

Jonah looks down immediately and Eddie shoves the paddle against his chest, sending Jonah to the floor. Buck hopes it killed him. 

 “Clear,” Eddie breathes. His arm falls back to the table as he gasps for air. He shakes as he sits up on the table, barely staying upright.

“Don’t try to get up, Eddie, just – easy, okay, take it easy.” Buck says, trying to free his hands. 

Eddie looks over the edge of the table at Jonah, sighs heavily, before rolling off the other side with a thud. He grunts as he crawls slowly over to Buck. “Are you – are you hurt?” He asks. 

“No, no, I’m good,” Buck says, reaching out for Eddie as much as he can with his hands tied to the chair. “Oh my God, you’re alive. Jesus, you’re alive, come here.” 

Eddie collapses against the chair, his head in Buck’s lap. Buck uses one hand to cup Eddie’s face and hold his head up. His eyes are glossy but aware as they flit around the room before landing on Buck’s face. “Hey,” he says. 

“Hey,” Buck says back, tears pouring again. “You saved us.” 

Eddie nods and rests his head on Buck’s hand. “It was a team effort.” 

 

 

The minutes between Eddie getting off the table and the paramedics loading him onto a stretcher pass in a blur, and when Buck’s hands are freed, he’s out of the chair and at Eddie’s side in an instant. 

When they get outside, their friends are waiting for them beyond the crime scene tape and Bobby is arguing about getting inside. 

“This is a crime scene,” Athena says, but the minute Bobby laid eyes on Jonah, it was over. 

“Hey, Cap,” Buck hears Jonah sneer, and then Bobby swings. 

“You son of a bitch! I trusted you!” Bobby yells, punctuated by another solid hit. 

They pull Bobby off of Jonah and Eddie, the smart ass, says, “Nice punch.” 

“Thank God you guys are alive,” Bobby says as they wheel Eddie past. “I’m so sorry about what happened to you.” 

Bobby and Buck follow behind the stretcher. “I’m just glad it’s over,” Buck says. 

“He’s going away for a long time, Buckaroo,” Athena says with a squeeze of his arm. “He’ll never hurt anybody again.” 

Buck nods. Out of the corner of his eye, he catches sight of a familiar news van and then an even more familiar voice carries into his ears. 

Across the street, Taylor is standing in front of a camera. He’s half tempted to march over and ruin her close up. She didn’t even notice he was missing. Eddie was dying, and she was writing cue cards for a story. 

“Are you riding with him?” Bobby asks. 

Eddie gives him a weak smile from the ambulance and Buck nods. “Yeah. I got him, Cap.” he says, already climbing inside. 

Bobby nods. “Chim already called Maddie. Do you want me to call Taylor?” 

Buck points over to where she’s standing. “She’s got other priorities and so do I. See you guys at the hospital.” He says, and then the ambulance door closes. 

Buck takes his place at Eddie’s side and grabs his hand. “I’m so glad you’re okay.” 

“Dying sucks,” Eddie groans. “I’m never doing that again. Twice was enough.” 

Buck thinks about the shooting and how he coded in the truck on the way to the hospital and how the tally is actually at three, but he doesn’t say any of that. “Good. I couldn’t handle it again.” 

Eddie squeezes his hand fiercely. “I’m glad you’re okay, too.” 

They go the rest of the ride in silence, holding hands until they make Buck let go so they can wheel Eddie into the ER. 

“Sir, we need to examine you as well,” A nurse says when Buck tries to follow behind Eddie. 

“I’m fine, I need –” 

“The paramedics said you were given propofol. We need to make sure it doesn't have any negative side effects. You can see your –” She pauses. “You can see him after we clear you.” 

They take Buck to the bed next to Eddie’s and they both sit through the workup, Buck swearing he’s fine and Eddie asking when he can leave. 

“You’re going to be held overnight, Mr. Diaz,” The doctor says. Dr. Salazar, her badge reads. The cardiologist from the blackout. “You’ll spend the night on the cardiac floor and I’ll send you home when I believe you’re medically stable with a heart monitor.” 

“Awesome,” Eddie mumbles. 

“Eddie, she’s right. Can’t be too safe.” Buck says, ignoring Eddie’s look of betrayal. 

Dr. Salazar turns to him and smiles. “I’m so glad you feel that way, Mr. Buckley, because we’ll be admitting you, too.” 

Buck sputters. “Why? My heart is fine.” 

“You need a full tox screen and to be monitored for adverse effects of the propofol.” Dr. Salazar explains. 

“So I died twice and all I’ll have to show for it is a ridiculous medical bill?” Eddie asks. 

“Can you not joke about it?” Buck says.

Dr. Salazar simply smiles at them and tells them she’ll be back to see them one more time before they get moved to their respective floors, walking away just as Maddie and the team rush in. 

“Oh my God, Evan.” Maddie says as she throws herself into his arms. 

“Ow, Mads, jeez, I’m fine,” Buck says, hugging her back tightly. “Eddie took the brunt of it.” 

Maddie raises up then and looks over. “Eddie, oh, are you alright?” She asks, reaching over to take his hand. 

“My chest feels like it got deep fried, but I’m okay.” Eddie says before he looks over at Hen. “Hey, do you think Karen would –” 

“She’s already on the way to your house to get Christopher. He can stay with us for the night.” 

For the first time all night, Eddie looks emotional. “Thanks,” he chokes out. 

“Can’t believe we almost lost dumb and dumber in one fell swoop,” Chimney sighs as he sits on the edge of Buck’s bed. 

Eddie grins. “You love me. Buck, he loves us. That’s almost the same as saying he’s glad we’re okay.” 

“He totally loves us,” Buck agrees. 

The team hangs around until Eddie and Buck get moved upstairs. They’re separated, Eddie on the cardiac floor and Buck on a regular medical floor. He’s half tempted to sign out against medical advice just so he can go see Eddie.

The next morning, Buck sneaks down to Eddie’s room. 

“Hey,” he whispers. “I’m busting out. You in?” 

Eddie drops the Capri Sun he’s holding and says, “Yeah, I got your back. Unhook me and help me find my pants.” 

Buck pauses in the middle of trying to unhook Eddie’s heart monitor, his gaze caught on Eddie’s arm. Jonah stuck him with the IV more than once and Buck can see the veins he blew before he got it in. 

“I’m not even a hard stick,” Eddie complains when he sees what Buck is looking at. 

“You almost died,” Buck says. His knees get a little weak and he has to sit down on the bed. Eddie almost died and of all the times Buck couldn’t get to him, this was the worst. The closest call. “You did die. Twice.” 

“Yeah, but I’m okay now.” Eddie says. “I’m right here.” 

Buck exhales shakily and nods. “I’m so tired of almost losing you. I’m tired of not being able to save you.” 

“Hey,” Eddie says softly. “You saved me. You save me every time. You’ve always got my back, and I’m still here right now because of it.” 

“Eddie, –” 

“No, listen to me. Look at me,” Eddie demands, taking Buck’s chin with his hand and tilting his head up. “You’ve been saving me since the day we met.”

“I just can’t lose you. You’re my best friend.” Buck says. You’re more than that, Buck wants to say. You’re everything. “I can’t imagine my life without you.” 

Eddie smiles and pats Buck’s cheek. “And you’re never gonna have to. Now break me out of here, Buckley, I’m starving.” 

They actually end up getting discharged before they have to stage the breakout, which is good, because Bobby looks less than thrilled when Buck tells him the original plan. 

Bobby drops him off at the loft and Buck goes upstairs to find Taylor sitting at the island. 

“Where have you been?” Taylor asks. 

“The hospital,” Buck deadpans. 

She starts to speak and Buck doesn’t let her. “We’re done. You and me, we’re over.”

“Buck, if this is about the story –” 

“Eddie died in front of me twice last night. Did you know that? And you were so worried about sources and the story and how fascinating it all was that you didn’t even care about who you were putting in danger.” Buck snaps. “So, yeah, it’s about the story. And about how selfish you are and a thousand other parts of you I thought I could learn to live with. But I can’t.” 

“Buck, please. I’m sorry. Clean slate?” She asks, walking over to him. 

“Yeah,” Buck says. “Just not together.” 

Taylor gapes at him. 

“I’m going to Eddie’s. You can leave your key on the counter when you’re done packing.” 

 

 

After Taylor, Buck starts feeling like his life is back on track. Hen and Karen renew their vows, Eddie comes back to work, Bobby starts acting like himself again. 

Maddie and Chimney get back together. They’re over the moon, stupid happy, the cutest little family Buck’s ever seen. 

“You think you’ll ever have something like that?” Buck asks, watching Maddie feed Jee a cupcake at a 118 barbecue and Chimney watching them both with so much love in his eyes Buck thinks he might burst with it. 

Christopher calls to them from across the yard and points to the impressively large dirt castle thing that he’s been building with Denny and Harry. 

They both turn and wave, shouting back calls of, “Very cool, buddy!” 

They look at each other and then burst into laughter, like saying the same thing at the same time is the funniest thing in the world, and when Eddie stops laughing his eyes are soft. 

“What?” Buck asks. 

“To answer your question,” Eddie nods at Chimney and Maddie and Jee. “I’ve already got something like that.” 

Buck’s voice catches in his throat and he’s absolutely not about to cry in front of everyone they know. 

Buck takes Eddie’s hand in his and laces their fingers together. “Yeah. So do I.” 

Eddie looks down at their hands and then back to Christopher, and his smile is the only thing Buck wants to look at for the rest of his life.