Consciousness comes back to Eddie slowly.
The first thing he’s aware of is this pain. He groans, feels something sharp in his abdomen. His brain’s not firing right, but he knows that’s bad. His arms scream in pain as he lifts them to explore. He’s still wearing his uniform. Firefighter. He’s a firefighter and he’s trapped - somewhere. He doesn’t remember where or why. Pretty sure that’s bad, but his chest is tight enough, he doesn’t need to panic. Breathe, Eddie.
He blinks a couple of times and it’s dark, but he can make out some shapes. He narrows his eyes, tries to focus on what he’s seeing. Rubble. Furniture. Something else he thinks might be a body but he’s not sure. He can’t think about it. His breath comes in quick pants and he forces himself to breathe in, out. It hurts, jars whatever’s sticking out of his abdomen. Fuck, there’s something sticking out of his abdomen.
A call. They were on a call, Eddie thinks viciously. If he focuses on what happened, he won’t panic. Trapped woman in a house. Eddie doesn’t look at the body to see if it’s her. He and Buck-
Immediately, he tries to sit up in his panic and bites off a yell as he thumps back down, hands trying to lift to his stomach, but they can’t reach that far. There’s a slab against his arms, his stomach, and he knows that’s bad, he needs to move it, but he can’t.
“B-” Trying to talk jars his chest and he lets out a slow breath, tries again. “Buck?”
All he can hear is the creak of metal, rock, and something else he doesn’t wanna name.
He waits, and then, “Eddie?”
Buck sounds far away, but Eddie closes his eyes, lets out a soft sob.
“Was that you?”
“Yeah,” Eddie says, trying to raise his voice. He thinks he’s successful.
“Thank god,” Buck says. “You doing all right?”
“Uh,” Eddie says, and closes his eyes. “Something’s pinning me down. I think - it’s something and it’s sticking out of my abdomen.”
“Fuck,” Buck says emphatically. There’s a scraping sound. “I can’t see you, Eddie. What do you see?”
“Rubble,” Eddie says, slightly hysterically. “Think someone’s dead in here.”
Another curse word. More scraping. “All right, I think I’m in the kitchen so I know where you are. What do you remember?”
“Call,” Eddie says, and now he knows Buck’s safe, it’s getting harder to think. “Woman, and then don’t know.”
Buck doesn’t say anything for a while and Eddie’s mind drifts. It’s not so bad. He’s tired anyway, so maybe he can nap when while he’s waiting.
"Eddie? Eddie keep talking."
Eddie doesn't wanna keep talking. Talking hurts. Everything hurts.
"Eddie, I swear to god if you don't talk to me right now-"
"Sh'up," Eddie manages. "Tryin' a sleep."
"Nope," Buck says, and there's something hysterically loud about his voice that makes Eddie want to laugh. He can't laugh; that'll fucking hurt. "Don't sleep, Eddie. I need you to stay awake."
"Why?" It sounds as whiny as Chris does sometimes. God, Chris. "Chris."
"I know, babe, I know."
Buck laughs, and it sounds strangled. "Hate me later. If it keeps you awake I'll keep up with the pet names."
"Kay," Eddie says, because he thinks he might like that.
There’s the sound of rubble moving, and Eddie thinks he should be worried, but he isn’t.
“What happened after the woman, Eddie? Keep talking.”
“House came down,” Eddie says.
“That’s right.” Whatever happiness Eddie feels at getting it right fades beneath Buck’s strained voice. “Think it’s another earthquake.”
Eddie doesn’t like the idea of that. He thinks of water and doesn’t know why. Thinks of hanging out of a building, Buck screaming his name. “S’bad.”
There’s the sound of scraping. “It is, but I’m coming, Eddie, you understand?”
Eddie frowns, realizes he’s not asked if Buck’s okay. “You hurt?”
Buck’s laugh sounds weird. “No, buddy, I’m not hurt.”
“Good.” Eddie closes his eyes. “S’good.”
“Yeah.” Buck’s breathless and the scraping sounds closer. There’s a pause. “I think I can see a break.”
“Yay,” Eddie says, trying for pleased. He’s tired. Maybe Buck’ll let him sleep when he’s here.
“Not a chance,” Buck says.
Eddie blinks, doesn’t remember talking, but he must have. The weight of the block seems to be getting heavier. “Think this block is too heavy.”
“Dammit, Bobby, I’m going as fast as I can,” Buck snaps.
Bobby? Ooh, Eddie thinks, Captain Nash. He hopes the Cap isn’t down here too. That’s gonna suck. Eddie shifts. He whines at the sharp stab of pain in his abdomen. He swallows thickly and tries to say, "Buck?" but it comes out as a moan.
"I'm here," Buck says, and he sounds closer. Maybe Eddie's losing it. He lets out a laugh and then groans as pain shoots through his stomach.
"I know, Eddie," and Buck's voice sounds weird, wet, like maybe he's crying?
"Don'cry," Eddie slurs.
Buck laughs, but it sounds like his voice. "I'll cry if I want to. Just keep talking."
"Can't," Eddie says. He wants to sleep .
"I said you couldn't do that, buddy," Buck says immediately.
"Call Chris buddy."
"I know you do," Buck says, and that's definitely a sob.
Eddie opens his mouth to say something but then there's a rumble and the building shakes - and whatever's sticking out of Eddie shakes with it. Eddie's fingers scrabble in the dirt and someone's screaming.
It takes Eddie a while to realise it's him.
"Eddie? Eddie, I'm here, calm down, it’s okay! It’s stopped, Eddie, it’s stopped, hey, hey, can you hear me?”
Eddie comes back down with a sob. the pain is so extreme he can't breathe. “B-Buck.”
"Breathe, Eddie," Buck snaps. “I swear I’m coming, but you have to breathe.”
Slowly, Eddie thinks maybe he gets his chest under control. The pain in his abdomen is almost unbearable, and his chest is getting tighter.
"Please," Eddie gasps.
"I can't fucking reach him," Buck snaps and Eddie realizes he’s talking to someone else. The rocks by Eddie's head start to shift, scattering around him.
"M'coming," Buck says, sounding strained. There's another shift of rocks. "How you doing, Ed?"
"Can't feel my legs," Eddie says.
Buck curses, mutters something else Eddie can't catch. "I'm nearly there, Ed. Tell me what you're doing with Chris this weekend."
Eddie sobs. Chris. "Dunno."
"Yeah you do," Buck says forcefully. The rocks scatter wildly, and something rumbles over Eddie's head. He braces himself for another quake, but it doesn't come. He blinks, vision still hazy, and he thinks he's dreaming when Buck's dirty face appears. His eyes are wide, round, and he's looking at Eddie's body with an expression Eddie can't read.
"No," Buck says, and that's a lie. Oh. Eddie feels numb. "We're getting you out of here."
Eddie thinks he's crying. It’s a relief that someone’s here. He can let go now, right?
"Hey," Buck says, and his hands on Eddie's cheek. "You stay with me. You're getting out of here. You hear me?"
Eddie nods. There's no arguing with that tone, or that expression. Buck's looking angry, but Eddie doesn't think it's directed at him?
"Eddie? Tell me what you're doing with Chris."
"Sleeping," Eddie says. "Sleep, Buck, I wanna sleep."
"No, no," there's a slap to his cheek. "Don't you dare, Eddie Diaz."
“S’my name,” Eddie says.
There’s strangled laughter from someone else that doesn’t sound like Buck. Buck, who’s staring at the rubble around them with determination. He shifts on his knees, the press of one of them against Eddie’s ribs. He concentrates on it; it’s warm, and Eddie likes being close to someone else. That’s good, isn’t it? He feels warm all over. Mostly all over. He can’t feel his legs anymore.
“Eddie,” Buck says gently. “I’m gonna try and get this block off, all right? We can’t move you with it still on.”
Eddie wants to nod, but his head just lolls to the left. Buck’s hand rests on his head, fingers brushing through his hair. It’s probably dirty, full of dust, but Buck’s touch is soft. “S’nice.”
This time, Eddie can see the tears in Buck’s eyes.
“I know,” Buck says, taking a deep breath. “They’re coming, you hear me?”
“I know.” Eddie thinks it’s important that he talks. “Chris.”
“What about him?” Buck’s hands move to the block on Eddie’s chest and he doesn’t wanna be awake for this, does he?
“Yeah, I know you do,” Buck says, grunting with the effort of moving it. Maybe he’s hurt too?
“You,” Eddie says, and Buck pauses, looks down at him. “Love him f’rme.”
“No.” Buck’s face crumples. “You’re gonna love him yourself, you hear me?”
Eddie’s face twists into what he hopes is a smile. “Can’t feel m’self. Floaty.”
“Stop fucking floating,” Buck says, grip moving to Eddie’s shoulders, one hand on his face. “Stay down here with me, Diaz, or I’ll follow you up there and kill you.”
“Chris needs you.”
“He needs you,” Buck says, and oh, he’s crying. Eddie made him cry. It’s not what he wants, he wants Buck to be happy. “I can’t be happy without you here, asshole.”
“S’not nice,” Eddie says, and wow, he sounds far away. “M’injured.”
“Fuck, Chim, Bobby, hurry the fuck up!”
Eddie wants to lift a hand to touch Buck’s face, to wipe away his tears. He stares at him instead, tongue darting out to lick at dry lips. Doesn’t help, but it draws Buck’s attention. “M’falling for you.”
“Oh shit,” Someone mutters.
“What?” Buck says, his body freezing, the hand in Eddie’s hair tightening. It’s a good pain and Eddie pushes into it. “Eddie, oh, no, you can’t-”
“Might be somethin’, m’be.”
“Only if you live,” Buck says on a sob. “Eddie, Eddie, please don’t do this.”
“M’sorry,” Eddie says, and his vision is starting to blur. There’s a high whining sound and something sparks in the corner of his eyes. He hopes it’s rescue for Buck. “Chris’ll love you.”
“Fuck,” Buck says, leaning in, pressing a kiss to Eddie’s forehead. It’s gotta be gross. He’s covered in dust and other stuff. Something sticky. Maybe blood? “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.”
Buck keeps saying Eddie’s name and it’s soothing. Kinda nice to hear. He’s always liked the way Buck says his name. It’s nice enough to fall asleep to, he thinks, even as Buck’s asking for him not to. Buck won’t mind if he just takes five minutes.
There’s a really annoying beeping.
He doesn’t wanna get up for work.
His body aches, his stomach feels numb, and he’s not sure his legs are attached to his body. Are they floating?
His bed is harder than he remembers, and something smells funny.
Also he hurts. Really fucking bad.
“Oh, shit,” someone says, and he knows that voice. He thinks. There’s the sound of someone moving, then the door opening. “Hen, get Buck in here!”
Hen. Buck. He knows those names.
“He’s coming, Eddie.”
Eddie. That’s him.
“Yeah you are, buddy, I’m really fucking glad to hear you say that.”
The voice stirs something in the back of his head. “Chim.”
“Yeah.” A breath expelled. Relief? “I’m relieved you’re talking.”
A short laugh, strained but definitely happy. “You have to open your eyes, man.”
“Oh.” Eddie thinks about it. Opening his eyes sounds good. He scrunches them, tries to lift his eyelids, but he’s so tired. “Too hard.”
Oh. Buck. “Buck.”
There’s the sound of footsteps running into the room and Eddie’s maybe not as tired as he thought. He cranks open one eye, bright lights making him groan, but then Buck’s face is shutting out most of it and he tries to lift a hand. It’s a weak effort, he can do better, but he doesn’t have to. Buck’s fingers find his and Eddie squeezes as best he can.
“I’m so mad at you,” Buck says, and his face is red, streaked, and Eddie doesn’t know why.
“M’sorry. Don’t know what I did. But m’sorry.”
Buck swipes at his face with his free hand. “You gotta get better, you hear? Chris wants to see you.”
“Chris,” Eddie says immediately, trying to sit up, and oh, that’s a bad idea. He wants his son, wants to hold him.
“Whoa, slow down,” Chim says, as Buck’s hand rests on his shoulder.
“Hurts,” Eddie says instead. “But I want Chris.”
“I know you do,” Buck says. “When you’re awake properly, you can see him.”
“M’awake now,” Eddie slurs, but his eyes don’t wanna stay open anymore, and he lets them slip closed.
“He looks really hurt.”
“I know he does, buddy, but he’ll be okay. I promise.”
There’s a silence.
“I trust you.”
The sound of shuffling. Then something soft. Kiss? “I’m glad.”
“Chris,” Eddie croaks.
He opens his eyes.
“Dad,” Chris says, and oh, Eddie’s never seen anything so beautiful as his son’s face. “Are you okay?”
“Am now.” Eddie wants to lift a hand, but he can’t, so relishes Chris’ weight pressing against his side, one arm over Eddie’s chest. It feels bruised, but Eddie can take the pain. “You all right?”
“Yeah,” Chris says quietly.
Eddie’s head shifts enough for him to look to the right, over Chris’ head. There’s a chair pulled as close to the bed as it can get and Buck’s asleep in it. He looks exhausted, dark smudges under his eyes, and he’s curled up uncomfortably. “He should wake up.”
“No,” Chris says, his little hands on Eddie’s face, and Eddie looks at him. “He’s not sleeping so you haveta let him sleep.”
“All right,” Eddie agrees, even as he needs to hear Buck’s voice, wants to see him see Eddie. He thinks maybe Buck needs that.
“Sleep, Daddy. Buck will be here when you wake up.”
“I’m really glad about that, buddy.”
The next time Eddie wakes, the weight against him is gone, but there’s a hand in his.
Someone’s talking. “I’m fine, Maddie. I will, I promise. I just wanna - yeah, exactly. I wanna make sure and then I’ll go home, I promise. Thanks, Mads, that’s real nice.” Buck laughs and Eddie’s glad. He’s not sure why, but he’s been worried about that. “Love you too.”
Oh. Yeah. Eddie remembers. “Buck.”
There’s a rush of air and Eddie opens his eyes to see Buck staring at him, eyes wide, his mouth opened partly. “Maddie, I gotta go.”
The phone falls to the bed and Buck’s leaning, his head close to Eddie’s. “M’okay.”
“Yeah you are,” Buck says on a laugh. It’s watery, like in the house, and Eddie can finally, finally move his arm to touch Buck’s face. “Fuck you, man.”
“S’not nice,” Eddie says again. “M’still injured.”
Buck laughs again, this time lighter, and he grips Eddie’s hand hard enough to hurt. “You can’t do that to me again, you understand?”
“Only fair,” Eddie points out. “You keep doing it to me.”
There’s something soft in Buck’s face. “I’m sorry, Eddie.”
“You had rebar,” Buck says, swallows, and Eddie watches the bob of his throat. “I couldn’t move you alone because it was pinning you down and I-”
“Don’t care,” Eddie says decisively. He’s sure he’s going to have to care when he wants to leave the hospital, but right now, he’s just happy to be alive. “You kept me ‘wake.”
Buck stops talking, mouth clacking shut, and he shifts awkwardly in his chair. All too soon, his face crumples again, like it did before. “You told me to look after your son.”
“Yeah,” Eddie breathes. “Logical choice.”
There’s a high whine. Buck blinks, like he doesn’t know he made the sound, and swallows again. “You can’t do that to me, tell me that and then tell me-”
“Think m’gonna have a crisis,” Eddie says. “When I get out of here. But I wasn’t lying.”
Buck stares at him.
“Is that okay?”
Buck’s laugh is a touch high, but he leans in, presses another kiss to Eddie’s forehead. He likes that. “Think we’ll both have that crisis,” Buck says eventually. “But it’ll be okay.”
“Good. Because I want it.” Eddie wants to close his eyes now. He knows Chris is safe with Buck, that Buck’s right here. “M’tired.”
“Sleep, sweetheart. I’ll be here when you wake up again.”
“Uh-huh,” Eddie says, mostly an expel of breath, and then he’s turning his face to Buck, feels the brush of Buck’s fingers against his cheek, moving to his hair. It’s soothing, nice, and Eddie likes it. A lot. “Sweetheart. S’nice.”
“Oh,” Buck says, sounding surprised. Then pleased as he says, “all right. Next time you wake up, I’ll even say it in front of Chim.”
That’s significant, Eddie thinks, though he doesn’t know why.
Sweetheart. It’s been a long time since he’s been called that, been someone’s sweetheart. Thinks maybe that’s something to wake up for.