and i can’t breathe (without you)
A/N: I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help it
There have been moments in Buck’s life where time seemed to slow to a crawl. Moments that, when they happened, seemed like they would never end. When the man let go of the rollercoaster and fell to his death. Being pinned to the asphalt by the ladder truck. Watching the wall of water come at him and Christopher while they stood on the Santa Monica pier. Watching the well collapse on top of Eddie.
But somehow those moments were different to now. In those, time seemed to stretch. There was still the feeling that time was moving forward, however slowly, as if the horror of the situation dragged the seconds on without stopping them altogether.
Now though. Now, Buck understands what it means for a moment to be frozen in time. Because Eddie was shot, his blood spattered all over Buck’s face and shirt, and they’re just staring. Looking into each other’s eyes, as if trying to understand, to process what just transpired together.
There’s no noise. No sound. No wind. No movement. Nothing to suggest that they’re not just trapped in this moment together. Nothing to suggest that the world is still turning.
In some warped, twisted way, Buck almost hopes that they really are frozen in time. It’s a terrible moment—Eddie was just shot for fuck’s sake—but if they’re stuck, if time doesn’t march onward, then what happens next will never exist. The consequences will never be real.
But life isn’t like that. Time doesn’t really freeze, it just feels like it does. Eventually the spell breaks and Eddie crumples to the ground.
Time moves and Buck is still paralyzed, trapped in that horrible second. He’s screaming at himself in his mind to do something. Anything. To dive after Eddie, to grab him and pull him behind the truck. To just move and do anything except stand and stare.
Eventually the choice is taken from him. The 133’s captain is grabbing him, dragging him to the ground, hand on his head, holding him down. It’s not enough to keep his head all the way down. He can still see Eddie from under the fire truck.
His expression is blank. He’s in shock too, both in the mental and medical sense, but he still has enough wherewithal to reach out for Buck, his hand tapping, crawling, almost scratching at the pavement to get closer. Closer to Buck, as if that’s all he needs to do for everything to be okay.
Eddie’s eyes slip closed, and the first sound since the gunshot registers in Buck’s brain. A scream. Primal, wretched and wrecked. Harsh, as if the source didn’t make sound on purpose, as if it had been torn, ripped from their throat.
Distantly, as if the thought didn’t come from himself, Buck realizes that he’s the one screaming. It breaks him out of his stupor, and he thrashes. He’s being restrained, held down, and he can’t be. He can’t stay where he is. Not when he’s here and Eddie’s there and God—there’s blood, there’s too much of it spilling onto the pavement.
There’s a grunt from next to him. “Buckley, stop,” the captain implores. “You can’t go out there, they’ll shoot you too!”
Part of him wants to bite back that it doesn’t matter if he dies, but it matters if Eddie does, but the captain doesn’t know him—doesn’t know them well enough to understand that. Instead he keeps kicking, trying to throw him off.
“Buckley, Jesus Christ!” the captain exclaims as Buck finally breaks free.
He’s not so thoughtless as to just walk out around the truck into the open. He may have a reputation for being reckless but he’s not stupid. He crawls under the truck. Eddie’s right at the front of it, if he can just get there, he can pull him under. Get him out of danger and in a place where Buck can stop the bleeding.
Fuck, there’s so much blood.
Another shot pings off one of the trucks. It’s not anywhere close to Buck. He doesn’t know where the shooter is aiming. It knocks the breath out of him anyway. For all he knows, the shooter is taking dead aim at Eddie, making sure that his work is done.
He scrabbles at the asphalt faster. The rough surface drags against his skin, creating little scrapes and cuts on his fingers and hands and forearms. But none of that is important. He’s under the front bumper and Eddie is so close he can reach out and touch him.
“Eddie, Eddie,” Buck breathes out, rapping his hand on the truck for good measure. If Eddie can just wake up, crawl to him, or just crawl closer, Buck can pull him under the truck and they’ll both be safe.
Eddie doesn’t respond.
Eddie’s chest is rising and falling, but it’s slow, erratic, and the rasping sound of his exhales tells Buck he doesn’t have a lot of time left.
“Eddie,” Buck begs one more time, but when he doesn’t answer, he crawls out far enough to wrap his hands around Eddie’s arm and pulls.
Another shot rings out, grazes Buck’s arm, and he bites down on his lip hard to keep from crying out. He has to hurry, he has only a matter of seconds before the shooter reloads, and Buck is sure the next shot won’t miss. He yanks on Eddie’s arm. Eddie’s eyes open and he grunts loudly in pain. But it helps. Eddie starts kicking his legs, and gives Buck enough of a boost to pull him under the truck.
“So—stupid,” Eddie slurs out.
“I couldn’t just let you die,” Buck says. There’s hardly any clearance under the truck. They can’t stay here, Buck can’t get enough leverage to press down on the wound, to be able to stem the bleeding.
“‘S too late,” he says quietly, even as Buck continues to drag him towards the safe side of the truck.
“Shut up,” Buck barks back. “Don’t talk like that, you’re going to be fine. You have to be,” he accidentally lets slip out.
He keeps crawling and dragging, and then they’re free from the truck, and Buck doesn’t hesitate to straddle him, press his hands down into the wound as hard as he can.
Eddie hisses, coughs weakly. “Hurts,” he mumbles. “Wanna sleep.”
If Buck had a free hand, he’d slap him. “Hey!” he bites out harshly instead. “You know the deal. Stay fucking awake! You have to fight. Fight for Christopher!”
“Chris,” Eddie says, looking up at Buck sadly. If Eddie’s body wasn’t so desperate for fluids, Buck thinks he’d probably be crying. “Have—have to tell him—”
“Eddie, stop,” Buck says, his voice wavering, dangerously close to losing his composure. As the fight drains out of Eddie, so does Buck’s will to keep it together. “Any—anything you have to say, you can tell him yourself.”
There’s blood pooling around Buck’s knees, soaking into his pants. Horrified, he realizes that the wound is a through-and-through. The pressure he’s applying to keep the wound on Eddie’s front from bleeding is doing nothing to stop the wound on his back from gushing blood.
“HELP!” Buck screams, because why is he still the only one here with Eddie?
“No,” Buck whispers, and he’s on the verge of hyperventilating. He has to keep it together but he can’t because Eddie’s bleeding out and no one’s coming to help and Eddie is trying to say goodbye. The edges of his vision blur, but whether that’s from tears or a lack of oxygen because he can’t breathe, he can’t tell.
Eddie reaches out and touches his cheek. For a moment, all is still, and all he can do is stare into Eddie’s eyes.
“Tell Chris I love him and—and I’m sorry,” Eddie says. “Promise—promise me you’ll take care of him.”
“I can’t do it without you,” Buck says, tears dripping off his lashes onto Eddie’s blood-stained uniform.
“You can,” Eddie answers, and his voice may be weak, but his tone, his conviction is strong. “‘S no one I trust more with—”
Eddie’s voice trails off, and his hand slips away, falls limply at his side, and then Buck is being pulled away. Two paramedics drop to Eddie’s side while someone holds him tightly. He screams again, an anguished cry pouring out of him, out of the depths of his very soul.
He’s fighting, struggling. He has to be at Eddie’s side, he has to be next to him, especially if this is really it, if this is really the end for Eddie.
“Buck. Buck!” a voice says into his ear, the arms holding him just as tight as before even while he struggles. “Let them work. He’s going to be okay.”
Bobby. It’s Bobby’s voice. Somehow, the 118 is there. He doesn’t know who called them, or when, but Hen and Chimney are at Eddie’s side.
“It’s weak, but I still have a pulse,” Hen declares, and Buck stops fighting, zeroed in on her and her voice. If anyone can keep Eddie alive to get to a hospital, it’s her. “We have to move fast, though, he’s lost a lot of blood.”
“You heard her!” Chimney shouts, and there’s a flurry of activity.
He’s in the back of the ambulance with Eddie, and he can’t even remember willing his legs to move.
A/N: I’ll add to this tomorrow, I promise
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Running through the thick snow, a fox goes through the shoving winds and stinging snowflakes. A small, strong-minded fox, was in search of a hiding place, a place to curl up and never wake up again. He did yearn to be as harsh as this wind, but he knew, inside and out, he was just a fur ball of nothingness. That was why he was searching for a hiding spot.
Finally, there was the most perfect place to disappear: Underneath a towering, magnificent pine tree. It was so full of leaves, no fox would ever fit unless it was just small enough like this fox was. He slithered beneath the tree, stomping the ancient pine leaves that scattered the underneath.
Just then, an awful sound crackled nearby, and just as the fox sought to run, his foot got hooked on something sharp. It was an unyielding, painful thing, nothing he’d witnessed before. But he did recognize his mother, who died not too long ago.
Foxes had searched and barked for her, ended up finding a silver Stealer trap with a fresh smell of her blood. She was always smart about where she went, and always warned him of the dangers, which confused him how she got stuck. It was sincerely a horrible night when he was told of her death. What if I got stuck like her? He wondered. Then, once more, a deafening sound ripped the sky open. He whimpered, one of the only things he could do about the awful, thunderous sound.
As he whimpered some more, he heard the sounds of Stealers. He could sense two, one coming toward him, the other far but making loud noises. He only knew some noises the Stealers said, assuming their meaning. He had heard them plenty of times as he roamed the forest, but never this close.
“If an animal is there, stuck, shoot it!” a low voice howled.
All he needed to know was the word shoot and that meant to run for your life. Helplessly, the fox curled up as a female Stealer mumbled unrecognizable words close by the tree. The leaves moved, and the fox lowered himself as much as he could, digging his claws in the frozen dirt.
Then, in front of him, was truly the most terrifying creature. A creature with skin the color of striped bark and arching legs came towards him. Its tufts of fur on its head bobbed with its stable steps even with its lack of four legs. She held a long stick that had oddly smooth holes at the end of it. He heard rumors of such weapons; tools of destruction that sounded like thunder and took your life in an instant. No one knew how. No one knew why. The only thing they knew was that the Lightning Stick left pellets of a hard material the color of ashes. Once more he whimpered.
The girl raised the stick and aimed at him. Any moment it would trigger and suck his life out of him as the stories said.
But instead, the Stealer just yowled.
“Why am I forced to kill a fox?!” and with that, she dropped the stick and bent down to the fox's eye level. He growled at her, but she didn’t back away. Instead, with neither the hoof of a buck or a paw of a bear, she grabbed a shiny silver thing. She held his head up, forcing him to look her straight in the eyes as he struggled, and the more strange, she started talking.
“Aye, fox, this here is a key. When you get stuck in this, you either die or I come to save you. Don’t tell my dad I'm doing this, though...” she explained, although the fox only understood key, the word that saved animals. Then a small snap clicked and his paw was free. Without a second thought, he ran away from the pine tree, his paws covered in the endless snow.
Next Chapter: (Not out yet)