He looks for Buck first.
He probably shouldn’t — he’s surrounded by EMTs and not alone in the desert this time, help isn’t coming, it’s already here — but seeing Buck and making sure lead isn’t ripping through him too is the only thing that makes sense to him at the moment.
The first thing he processes is blood — a Rorschach test of red on white and blonde. It takes a second of scanning Buck up and down and over and over before he realizes that it’s his blood, not Buck’s, and for a minute, all he feels is sweet relief. He’s safe. Unharmed at least. Shaken and dirty but whole in front of Eddie, just like he should be, just like Eddie promised him he would always make sure of. That’s all that matters.
When he hits the ground, he looks for Buck.
Panics for a minute when he sees him down there too, through the truck, eyes blank and unblinking. But there’s still no holes in him, and he sees Captain Mehta’s hand on his head and arm on his back, so he’s pretty sure he’s still safe. It’s a little harder to remember now — there’s a pool of sticky warmth beneath him and he’s tired, so tired. The rational part of his brain that’s still working is screaming don’t close your eyes stay awake keep your eyes on Buck stay awake but it’s hard, nearing impossible the longer he’s down.
He feels himself getting pulled deeper and deeper, and despite it all, despite the screaming and the shots he still hears, despite the strength literally leaking out of his body, he tries to reach forward. He knows with every broken fiber of his being that if he can just get to Buck, close those last feet between them, he’ll be safe. Buck won’t let anything happen to him, he’ll make everything better. And right now, things really couldn’t be worse.
But in an instant, his body stops listening to him, heavy and uncooperative, and he sees Buck’s eyes shift from blank to panicked. He feels his own eyes start to close, feels the darkness that had been creeping in the corners of his vision come front and center, and the last things he thinks of are blue eyes and blonde curls and following your heart.
He wakes to beeping and whispers and an aching in his whole body, and the only person he wants is Buck.
There’s a hand in his, squeezing, but it’s too small and soft and he knows it’s not who he wants. Sure enough, when he can finally crack his eyes open, he’s greeted with long dark curls instead of short blonde ones, and in his drugged up, wounded state, he almost loses it. But he must have said something or done something or who knows, because the hand is being pulled out of his and she’s whispering, “He’s with Chris, I’ll go get him,” before she goes. The silence she leaves behind is almost deafening but welcoming, wrapping around Eddie, comforting him while he waits for the only thing that’s going to make everything close to okay.
Buck skids to a stop in the doorway — like he’d just run across the hospital or across town or across the world to get here — and Eddie’s ripped open all over again.
He’s a mess, wearing an LAFD shirt now but face still stained with blood, with Eddie's blood. The circles around his eyes are so dark they look fake, and he looks just as broken as Eddie feels. He pauses, like he thinks this isn’t exactly where he should be, exactly where Eddie needs him to be, before he’s rushing to Eddie’s side and sinking into the now empty chair. He takes Eddie’s hand in both of his and brings it up to his mouth, a gentle press of lips and a shaky exhale fanning over the back of it.
“Eddie, I—” he starts, choking on a gasp. Knowing Buck, he’s probably trying to apologize for something, which is stupid, because he’s not the one who shot Eddie. He might be foggy, but he knows that much. And he remembers what he actually did — crawling under the fire truck, crawling to Eddie, yanking him to safety and using his hands and nothing else to try and stop the bleeding. There’s nothing he could possibly be apologizing for because he’s the reason Eddie’s awake.
“You—” he swallows thickly, throat dry and raw and filled with too many emotions, “you had my back.”
Buck laughs, laughs, wet and broken but still one of the best sounds Eddie’s ever heard. He nods, squeezing Eddie’s hand again, and Eddie pours all of his strength into squeezing back.
“I did,” Buck says. “I promised I would.”
He knows this is just the beginning of a long, grueling, painful process. He knows he’s going to hit road bumps and get set back and be so frustrated with himself and the world that none of it will seem like it’s worth it.
But right now, Buck is holding his hand, and he thinks that might just be enough.