Fandom: 9-1-1 (TV Show)
Relationship: Evan "Buck" Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Tags: Pre-Relationship, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Sharing a Bed, Fluff, Cuddling
Word Count: 1.7k
Summary: Buck took the morning off to attend a doctor's appointment with Maddie. When he gets back to station earlier than scheduled, he learns that Eddie had a rough call that morning and goes to comfort him.
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It was a lazy Saturday morning, and Buck was enjoying the distant sounds of nature and steady buzzing of city life as he strolled to work. The first thing he heard as he walked into the station was a sigh of relief followed by Hen saying, “Thank God, you’re here early.”
He’d taken the morning off for Maddie doctor’s appointment and was coming in just before lunch rather than heading home before his shift.
“Good day to you too, Hen,” he said. Tilting his head in question, Buck walked over to hug her before asking, “Why is it good that I’m here early? Is everything okay?”
Hen’s face was marked with worry. She was looking everywhere but his face, hands clinging to his jacket. The air grew heavy, weighing down on them.
Chim came running down the stairs to hug Buck, breaking the tension.
“Thanks for this morning, Buck,” he said. Buck recognised anxiety on his friend’s face, his eyebrows were scrunched together, and he was wringing his hands.
“Of course, Chim. You know that I’d do anything for Maddie… why do you two look so worked up? What happened?”
“It’s Eddie,” he said.
Buck’s feet moved on their own accord, running for the stairs in a heartbeat. “Wait.” Hen’s hand held him back. He tasted the fear crawling up his throat. This can't be good, he thought.
“He’s fine,” she said. Buck’s shoulders relaxed a bit. “We had a bad call first thing this morning. Two kids fell into their neighbour’s pool while playing. We- he couldn’t save them. The neighbours were throwing a party. The water was contaminated with glow in the dark paint, the toxic kind- the kids didn’t make it. Eddie blames himself for not getting to them out sooner.”
“It’s not his fault, but he’s not listening to reason. Cap’s trying to talk to him right now,” Chim said, glancing upstairs.
Oh . Buck was familiar with the feeling of helplessness which came with losing someone on a call, and his heart clenched at the thought of Eddie suffering in the same way that he did. It was something they’d all experienced in their line of work, but no amount of training could prepare you for dealing with the aftermath.
Swallowing, Buck looked Hen in the eye, “Is he hurt?”
“No. He’s okay physically-”
“He refused to talk to us when we brought it up on our way back, and he hasn’t left the bunks since,” Chim said, cutting in. “Cap won’t let him go back out there until he’s processed it. We were going to call you earlier, but you were with Maddie...”
“You’re the only person who can get to him when he’s closed off like this,” Hen said.
It hurt somewhere deep to think that Eddie was bottling up his emotions. Buck ran a hand through his hair, “Can I go up and see him?”
They both nodded, leading the way upstairs.
Bobby was standing outside of the bunk rooms when they got there, a mug of coffee in hand. Looking inside through the glass doors, he saw Eddie sitting in one of the beds. His hair was damp and curling around his ears, eyes glassy in a distant haze. He didn’t acknowledge them standing there.
“Hey Buck,” Bobby said. “It’s good to see you. We have to get back to work, but your shift doesn’t start till 3 p.m. Take as much time as you need to him. He’s pretty shaken up, but he'll be okay. I’ll see you two later.”
Hen squeezed his hand, “We’re only a call away if you need anything.” She hugged him again, hesitant to let go, and Buck wondered if the hug was for his comfort or hers. Does it matter? We're all hurting over this.
“Thank you, Hen.” He smiled, trying his best to come across as reassuring.
She returned the smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Sparing one last glance at Eddie, she said, “Go take care of your boy, Buckaroo.”
Eddie didn't meet his gaze when he entered the room. The only indication Buck got that he wasn't asleep came when Eddie tugged at his hoodie. Wait, he thought. That's my hoodie.
It was too big for Eddie. The fabric was pooling at the wrists and around his hips. Sitting there and staring off in space, he looked small; Buck's heart ached at the sight.
Taking a seat next to him, Buck placed a gentle hand on Eddie's waist. "Hey," he said.
Eddie shifted to look up at him through hooded eyes, "Buck?"
"Yeah, it's me, Eddie. I got in early."
Eddie's arms were wrapped around him before he finished the sentence. His muscle memory kicked in as he returned the embrace, rearranging them so that they were facing each other, Eddie near sitting on his lap.
"Buck." Eddie's voice was a soft whisper spoken into the breathing space between them.
"I'm here," he said, running a hand down the line of Eddie's spine. "I'm right here Eds, and I'm not going anywhere."
They sat there holding each other for what could have been hours. Then, Eddie broke the trance by sagging forward and breaking into a sob, hands clinging to Buck's biceps like a lifeline.
"I couldn't save them," he said between sharp breaths. "I failed those kids Buck. Maybe, if I was faster or better at my job. I… they died. Why did I have to watch them die?"
"Eddie, you didn't fail-"
"How can you say that?" Eddie's voice was rough with emotions. Leaning back, Buck raised his hands to wipe away Eddie's tears.
"I can say that because I know you Eddie. I know how much you care, how much you sacrifice and give to the world. You always try your best," Buck said, framing Eddie's flushed cheeks with his palms. "And if you gave it your all, you didn't fail."
"They still died. It wasn't enough," Eddie said, biting back a sob.
"They did. It happens. We can't save them all, no matter how hard we try or wish that things went our way. I know it hurts, I've been there, but sweetheart, you have to let go. You can't bring those kids back by carrying around the guilt of their death. It'll do more harm than good."
"I feel empty inside. At first, there was a crushing pain in my chest, but now, I'm hollow. I hate this feeling. I failed myself too," Eddie said.
Buck pressed their foreheads together, and said, "You didn't fail anyone. It's human to make mistakes. These situations aren't in our control. We can try our best and give it our all, but we can't dictate every outcome."
There was a beat of silence before Eddie buried his face in Buck's neck. He was crying again, shaking in place, but Buck felt the stiffness leave his muscles as he eased into calming down.
"You'll be okay, Eds. Even if it feels as if everything is slipping away from you, know that it isn't. We'll get through this together…" Buck rambled on until Eddie's breathing evened out with his. He tried for a smile as he reached to bury his fingers in Eddie's hair.
Eddie glanced up at him, eyes clear and focused. "Thank you," he said.
"You're welcome." Buck took the opportunity to move and lay them down on the bed before tugging Eddie to his side. "Sorry for not being here earlier," he said.
"What?" Eddie propped himself up on his elbows. "Don't apologise cariño, please. You were with your sister," he said. "I can't expect you to be by my side all day, every day. What's important is that you're here now."
Buck hummed in response. There were days when he wished that he didn't have to leave Eddie's side, ever. He wanted to take care of him, love him, and be there when life threw bad days their way. Buck wanted to be the one who stayed.
"How are you feeling now?" He asked.
Eddie rolled over into Buck's open arms, settling himself atop of his chest. "I'm better. The guilt is still there. I know it's not gonna dissolve into thin air, but I feel like me again. Thanks for being here Buck," he said.
"Of course. We're all here for you, I'm here. It's never easy, but you're stronger than you give yourself credit for. You'll bounce back from this."
Buck held onto him tighter for a few moments, tracing patterns along the lines of the hoodie and Eddie's skin.
"You stole my hoodie Eds," he said, trying to lighten the mood.
Buck wasn't expecting an answer. They were both far past the stage of caring about their merged closet. It came with the territory. Between locker mix-ups, sharing gym bags, crashing at each other's houses, Christopher's insistence that their clothes match for movie night, and the hours they spent together. They stopped talking about it a long time ago.
"Mhmm. It smells like you," Eddie said. "I'll give it back. I only took it cause I missed you."
Buck's heart flipped. He missed me?
"I don't mind," he said, closing his eyes. Breathe, Buckley. Breathe. "You can keep it for as long as you like. Sorry for not being around as much-"
"Cariño." Eddie sighed. "Please don't apologise for this, we're all busy. And I would never ask you to give up time with your sister and niece for me. We'll work something out…"
"Sorry for apologising. It's a habit. Thanks Eds," he said.
"You're gonna be a great uncle Buck."
"That's what everyone keeps saying, but what do I know about babies?"
"I've seen you with Chris, you're amazing with kids. She'll be lucky to have you in her life, trust me," Eddie said, cuddling closer.
Buck smiled into his hair. "I'll have to take your word for it."
"You should get some sleep. I've got a shift in a few hours... I'll leave you to it." You need to rest.
"You've got time," Eddie said, tangling their limbs together as he tugged on the blanket. "Stay with me, mi amor."
Buck's mind went blank. This is too good to be a dream.
He took a deep breath. Pressing a kiss to Eddie's temple, he said, "Okay, sweetheart." I'll stay for as long as you'll have me. Always.
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