I’m always taking prompts, they are what keep me writing! :)
14) “You’re so cold…”
(This takes place during 3x05, in the grocery store, post Eddie and Buck’s fight. From there, it veers off canon. Also, there are a few mentions of blood in the beginning.)
Buck watched the team run out of the grocery store and into the parking lot, watched them start to handle whatever road rage incident was currently occurring. He stood there, an observer, a damn outsider, seeing Eddie with his back unprotected, an empty space where Buck knew he should have been.
But he’d blown that, hadn’t he? He’d tried so hard to get back to his team, to Eddie, and instead he was alone in a grocery store, holding a jar of that applesauce Chris liked the best (Buck had promised him they would learn how to make homemade applesauce, but that was never going to happen now, was it?), no one to share it with.
Another loud yell came from the parking lot, startling Buck out of his isolated mind, and the jar dropped, smashing on the floor. “Shit,” Buck muttered, bending down without thinking to clean up the mess.
A sharp slash of pain shot through his hand, and Buck winced, glancing down to see a large gash sliced across his palm, blood pouring out onto the piece of glass that had caused the unexpected issue.
Rational Buck knew he was still on blood thinners, knew this was most likely a highly problematic injury, but the Buck who had been left alone in the aisle of the grocery store simply went through the motions, figured he could fix this up himself when he got home. Added gauze and large bandages to his basket, apologized for the mess as he paid for his groceries, and began walking out the door.
The door seemed really far away, much farther than normal, and the sounds from outside that had previously been so loud were now almost completely muted. Buck felt like he was trudging his way through swamp mud, every lift of the foot an effort, and why was he so damn cold all of a sudden? Was the cashier yelling something? Buck was suddenly too tired to turn around to find out.
Too exhausted. Too exhausting. Right. Made sense. Too exhausting to be Buck, to be around Buck. Buck was glad he was too tired to hold onto any of these thoughts for too long, he imagined they might finish what Eddie had started, finish ripping Buck apart from the inside out if he could really get at the root of them.
Stumbling into the door seemed to make it open, so Buck found himself tripping an exit from the store, falling onto his knees. He let out an involuntary scream as he landed hard on his injured hand, then stared at the blood as it made rivers, following cracks in the sidewalk, creating pools in the crevices.
Oh, Buck thought. Oh, that’s bad. Oh, shit. He had never even considered this pathetic way of dying alone when he thought about it.
Then there were hands on his forearms, and he knew those hands, knew them better than his own, but when he tried to focus on Eddie’s face everything blurred together, so he closed his eyes.
“Buck! Don’t you dare close your eyes! Buck!” Eddie was screaming, and then-”Open your eyes, Evan!”
Oh, Buck thought. That was new. That was nice. Evan sounds nice.
Buck tried so hard to blink his eyes open, he didn’t want to disappoint Eddie yet again, but everything kept getting just that little bit darker, that little bit heavier. He felt the combination of familar touches on his hands, Eddie’s skin, gauze wrapping tight, and then he was swaying backwards, the effort of staying even a little upright completely impossible.
“Hen!” Eddie screamed, his voice sounding hoarse, and then Buck felt the pressure switch, someone else tying the gauze off tight while Eddie encircled Buck from behind, arms around his chest, and Buck’s head landing limply on Eddie’s shoulder.
“You’re so cold…” Eddie choked out, voice shaking with a terror and sorrow Buck couldn’t understand, not in any sort of recent context, not in any world where that lawsuit existed.
Buck knew the answer to this one, tried to get out “From blood loss,” show he still knew what he was doing, but he was just too tired. The last thing he sensed was being picked up and carried off in Eddie’s arms.
The beeping was what woke him up. By now, Buck thought, you would think that sound wouldn’t even phase me, the number of times I’ve been in this hospital. He kept his eyes tightly closed. If he didn’t open them, then he didn’t have to see that he was alone again. That Eddie had just done what any firefighter would have, got the patient to the hospital and left.
“Didn’t leave, Buck.” Buck felt the comforting pressure of Eddie’s calloused fingertips circling around his wrist, Eddie’s breath on his skin as Eddie let out a soft, sad chuckle that sounded so much like a sob, Eddie’s voice shaking as he said, “I never should have left you for even a second.”
“Add thinking out loud to the list of stupid things I’ve done,” Buck whispered, keeping his eyes closed as he turned his head away from the sound of Eddie’s voice.
“Buck, what were you thinking?” Eddie asked, but there was no anger in his voice, only sadness teetering right on the edge of full despair. “You know you’re on blood thinners, you saw how much you were bleeding, and your plan was what exactly? Did you really think you could get yourself home and just wrap that up with some gauze and be fine? We were right outside!”
“I’m already too exhausting,” Buck mumbled, tears stinging his eyes as he pressed them tightly closed. “Didn’t need to add to that. I need to get used to being alone, taking care of myself. Was always going to end up alone anyway.”
“Buck, what-I don’t-Buck, please look at me,” Eddie pleaded. Buck felt Eddie’s hand graze his cheek, cup it gently. “Evan, please look at me.” Buck let himself lean into Eddie’s touch, couldn’t stop himself even if he could bring himself to try. Opening his eyes, there was Eddie, looking absolutely wrecked. His eyes were red and watering, hair disheveled, nails picked at to the point of splitting.
Buck opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Eddie put a finger up and shook his head. “You are not allowed to ask if I am okay,” Eddie choked out, rubbing his hands over his face. “It doesn’t matter how I am, it matters how you are, Buck.” Reaching over, Eddie grabbed Buck’s uninjured hand, clutching it to his chest. “I need you to believe that, I need you to believe that it matters how you’re doing.”
“But I screwed everything up,” Buck insisted, and Eddie shook his head.
“Buck, you just wanted to get back to doing your job, none of us could have known what that lawyer would do,” Eddie assured him. “And we, the team, we want you back. I want you back.”
“You do?” Buck hadn’t known his voice could come out sounding so small. Apparently Eddie hadn’t either, and Buck watched as fresh tears sprang into Eddie’s eyes.
“There’s nothing I want more in the world,” Eddie promised, before taking a deep breath and lifting Buck’s hand to his lips. “I’m so sorry. I screwed everything up. You matter so much to me, Evan. You are worth everything to me and to Christopher.” He punctuated his words with soft kisses to Buck’s fingertips.
“That’s really nice,” Buck said, voice stronger, a smile catching the corners of his lips, and Eddie sighed in relief, shaking his head with a laugh as he kept a grip on Buck’s hand.
“What, the apology, or the kisses?” Eddie teased, resting his chin on their intertwined fingers.
“Well, both of those of course,” Buck teased back, and then his voice grew serious. “And the part where you called me Evan, and when you told me…” Buck tilted his head back, trying to blink back tears. “When you told me I matter. That I’m worth something.”
“Everything, Evan, you are worth everything,” Eddie said firmly, pushing the chair aside to climb onto the hospital bed, carefully perching himself as close as he could to Buck. He carefully picked up Buck’s bandaged hand, holding it delicately between his own like it was something precious. “You have to take care of yourself, and you have to let me take care of you, please. When I saw you outside the store, I was terrified. I can’t lose you. I get worried when you get a damn papercut, let alone when I see you seemingly bleeding out like that.”
“I’m so sorry, Eddie,” Buck said earnestly, looking up at Eddie. “I had every intention of fixing myself up at home, I really thought I could do it by myself.”
“I know,” Eddie sighed, “I promise I know that. But you don’t have to, okay? You don’t have to do that alone, you don’t have to do anything alone. I’m here. I’m not leaving. Christopher will be here as soon as Carla gets him from school. The whole team is out there in that waiting room, Maddie’s on her way from work. You’re not alone, Buck. You can let that worry go.”
And oh, Buck thought, that’s new. That’s nice. Not worrying about being alone.
And then Buck found himself sobbing, full body cries, and Eddie was pulling him into his chest, holding him tight, murmuring soft words into his hair, words like love and got you and it’s okay, it’s going to be okay, always, Evan always.
When Eddie’s lips moved from Buck’s hair to Buck’s mouth, it felt like a natural progression, that this was always where they were heading, all along. Together.