So it starts off with Buck at the 118 back at work after the lawsuit, but everyone is treating him like shit, which Buck gets… sort of. The first week sure he understands that people may still be angry about him suing and the airing of everyone else's dirty laundry by the lawyer, but it's been going on for almost a month now. A month of being left behind on calls because he “can't be trusted" and being left to do all the chores that everyone hates. A month of being ignored and alienated, not allowed to eat meals with the crew and purposefully knocked into by everyone. Maddie is busy with work and so doesn't really have time for him either. And Buck is fucking depressed because this is his family, the family he fought so damn hard to return to and they just want nothing to do with him anymore. It feels like the only words he says these days are words of apology “sorry for the lawsuit”, “sorry for wanting to come back”, “sorry for existing”, sorry sorry sorry.
It all changes one day though when May comes to the station looking for Bobby for something but the team is out on a call where Buck is, once again, left behind. And May she spots the depression straight away, she knows that he doesn't come around the house anymore even though the rest of the team do, and that Bobby trying to keep Buck out of the 118 is the reason why, maybe she even agrees with Buck suing because it was the only way to get back to his family. So maybe Buck has his guard down because he’s alone once again, nobody to put a mask up for when there’s no-one around, and this is how May finds him and sees the depression and loneliness, after all they’re all things she felt herself before she tried to kill herself a few years ago.
So after May sees Buck like this and talks to him, tells him she understands that he’s not okay, as much as Buck tries to protest otherwise, he finally cracks and tells her everything, tells her about everyone ignoring him, or when they do pay attention it’s to yell at him for every small detail that is wrong and obviously Bucks fault. And May, she just hugs him and lets him cry it out. She’s the person to Buck that she wishes she had when she was depressed - a friend.
So that’s how it goes, May leaves before the rest of the crew return, she’s too angry to face them, angry on Buck’s behalf. She can just text Bobby later about whatever it is she came to speak to him about, she doesn’t even remember anymore. Before she leaves though it’s with the exchange of phone numbers and the promise to meet up the next day for ice cream because ice cream makes everything better.
So that’s how their friendship builds and becomes a sibling like relationship, May allows Buck to have someone to talk to, someone who doesn’t mind him sharing random facts that he’s learnt at 2 am when he can’t sleep, someone who likes him as a person (because she seems to be the only one these days). And May gets someone who she can tell anything to, because she doesn’t want to talk to her parents and Bobby about everything, someone to hang out with who gets her because sometimes it feels like her and her friends have started drifting too far apart since she started as a 911 operator and they all went off to college. And it’s not all depressing and serious, they hang out just to hang out too, like they’ll go to the mall and to the amusement park, because May is still a teenager and Buck is young at heart. They just become siblings, found family is still family after all.
Except maybe they don’t tell anyone about their sibling bond, or even their friendship, at least not any of the 118 firefam. Buck because who would he tell, it’s been over two months of this silent treatment crap and the only reason he hasn’t left yet is because like May says, “why should he give them the satisfaction of quitting”, he worked hard to get back, he should stay there. And May because frankly she’s still angry about how everyone has and still is treating Buck. Maybe May even starts to avoid the firefam meals at her house, because why should they all play happy families when they would turn on one of their own so horribly.
It’s been over two months and the firefam are all so pissed at Buck still, none of them can quite point out why they’re still so angry but every time they see him it’s like they’re reminded of the lawsuit and the anger just continues to manifest. They, selfishly, want Buck to suffer the way that they did during the lawsuit and they never miss an opportunity to cause such. And they notice Buck getting slimmer and no longer responding to their taunts with apologies, of course they do, they’d have to be stupid not to but they just don’t care enough to stop. It’s like their anger feeds one another and they just seem to stay angry. Except for the past few weeks they’ve noticed that while Buck still doesn’t respond to their taunts and they still are hurting him, he seems like he’s happier in himself, he comes to work happy, he leaves happy and even when they return from calls where Buck has been left as man behind, he’s still happy. It doesn’t happen often, because Bobby still yells at Buck for every little thing he does, but they catch him on his phone sometimes and he has a smile on his face that reminds them of how he used to look at them. But of course they have zero faith in him and decide that he must have just reverted back to Buck 1.0 and he’s just planning hookups and that’s why he’s suddenly happy again. Of course that also becomes new material to attack him about, not that Buck ever defends himself, why waste his breath on people that obviously don’t know him as well as he once thought.
Except, the firefam, Athena and Bobby especially, notice that something is up with May. The no longer being available for “family meals”, and always being out with a friend but never explaining who, it all adds up to them thinking that May is dating someone in secret. When they try to confront her, she of course denies it, she hasn’t gone on a date since she had to call Buck to come get her when the guy started getting too pushy and she just wanted someone who made her feel safe without judging (like she knows her mom would have). But it all comes to a head when someone mentions seeing May out with an older guy - maybe they’re seen on one of their trips to the amusement park or to the cinema, and they’re close so of course they hug (or some other form on non-sexual intimacy) and it’s taken the wrong way - and when they describe who the guy was it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise they’re talking about Buck. And the firefam already thinks the worst and that he’s back to Buck 1.0 so it’s not a leap for them to think that he’s taking advantage of May (she is 18/19 so at least an adult but barely). And they’re even angrier, blinded by rage, and they decide that they’re gonna teach Buck a real lesson.
So when Buck walks in for his shift the next day, Bobby confronts him in front of everyone and calls him out for dating a child, says that he’s pathetic for doing that to May just because he wants to be included again (they’ve somehow got it in their heads that Buck is using May to get invited back into the fold of things). And Buck of course denies it, because he isn’t dating May, what the fuck?! But before he can explain what’s going on, or even ask why the hell they’d think that about him, another member of the 118 (not part of the main group of Bobby, Eddie, Hen or Chim) who has had it out for Buck and is one of the main ones responsible for the slamming into Buck whenever he passes decides this is his opportunity and just punches Buck and calls him a pedo, except Buck isn’t really expecting it because he literally walked through the door 10 minutes ago before being yelled at by Bobby, so the punch knocks him down, and he’s still on blood thinners so of course when he cracks his head on the floor of the station, what is already a wound that would be bleeding profusely (head wounds are bleeders), is even worse. And they may still be angry (although the sight of Buck bleeding out in the station is enough to jolt some sense into them all, reminding them of a few months back when Buck was injured by the fire truck that caused all this mess in the first place), they are first responders so they get Buck in the ambulance and drive to the nearest hospital while trying to stabilize him - he’s clearly got a concussion and they have to keep him awake. But it’s been months at this point and nobody knows how to talk to him anymore and it’s not like Buck even wants to talk to them either, especially not after being attacked in what he used to consider his home.
So they get him to the hospital and Buck is wheeled away and the firefam don’t really know what to do with themselves, they’re the reason Buck is in hospital in the first place and while they feel bad about that there’s still the underlying tension of what exactly is going on between Buck and May. Except they’re about to find out because the hospital calls the next of kin (or whatever it’s called) to inform them that Buck is in hospital, but it’s not Maddie who shows up, it’s May. (Maybe Buck changed it to her after a close call one day when out and about or maybe it’s just because he hasn’t really spoken to Maddie since this whole mess began since she’s dating Chimney and he doesn’t want to ruin her happiness). So May turns up and the hospital and the firefam is about to flip they’re shit because why is May here, how did she even find out - she doesn’t even notice them as she rushes in and that’s when they overhear her talking to reception saying that she got a call that her brother Buck was brought in to hospital. The receptionist kind of points her to the 118 and tells her that she can wait with them until there is more info available. And the firefam are all just sitting there in various states of shock because they’ve been thinking that May was dating Buck, yet she called him her brother and the hospital called her and not Maddie when Buck was injured, it’s just a whole wtf moment. But May, May sees red. It’s like she knows they’re responsible for the state Buck is in, and she goes mental at them all, calls them all out on their bullshit of the past few months and just tears them a new one. Scoffs at them calling themselves a family when they could treat one of their own so badly they wanted to kill themselves. And the 118 are forced to just sit there and take it, the same way they’ve forced Buck to endure months of abuse.
When the doctor comes out and explains what’s going on with Buck and May is allowed back to see him. The 118 ust kind of sit there and reflect how badly they screwed up and hate themselves for doing this to Buck. The guy who would literally walk through fire for any of them at risk to himself, and they caused him to hate himself so much that they could have lost him for good. It’s like the fog of months of anger lifts and they are just left with the feeling of immense guilt. Of course they try to go back to see Buck, to apologise but May won’t let them, threatens to have security called on them because she knows they only want to apologise and make amends now because they feel guilty, not just because they’re sorry. So May says no, while Buck is still unconscious, they aren’t seeing him as long as she has the power.
So maybe they stay away that day, but they return the next and the next, each time apologising to Buck, who is now awake, trying to absolve themselves of the guilt. But Buck isn’t really having it because it’s been months of being ignored and treated less than, why should they care and be sorry all of a sudden now? Except one day they all arrive and kind of overwhelm Buck so he just snaps. Tells them all how they’ve made him feel and asks how they could think so little of him as to have been using his little sister to get back into their group, because Buck, as much as he’d like to forget, remembers the confrontation before he was attacked. After that the apologies start to feel more genuine and like they’re apologising because they actually feel awful for hurting Buck as opposed to apologising because they feel guilty.
Now it could go one of two ways here, Buck could choose to forgive them, forgive the months of abuse just so he can be back with his family again. The place where he fought so hard and endured so much to be. He could forgive them and slowly allow old feelings to return, the way he looked up to Bobby as a father figure, Hen and Chimney as older siblings, Eddie as his best friend, the best friend he’s pretty sure he was falling in love with before all of this mess went down. Buck could move past it all and find happiness with the 118.
Or he could just say no. Buck could decide that he’s put up with enough shit from these people, people that were supposed to have his back, always “what happened to that Eddie?”. And decide that he is worth more than what these people think. Maybe he decides to leave the 118 transfer to a new station, or maybe he decides to leave firefighting behind all together, find a new purpose in life because if people that have known him as long as the 118 have can turn their backs on him, what’s to say others can’t also? And being a firefighter is dangerous enough without the lack of trust between teammates making things even more difficult and Buck has had enough bad luck in his life that trying to navigate a new team with those fears seems like it would be a recipe for disaster.
But whichever route Buck chooses, he knows that he’ll always have his little sister by his side. Because Buck and May? They’re siblings for life.