I didn't want to hijack @extasiswings 's post but I also started thinking about Eddie not being around when that man's being dug out, aaand I couldn't stop...
[ edit: on ao3 ]
Eddie looks down at his phone in surprise. Buck's ringing him, but he's supposed to be on shift, and if he was just bored in the station house he'd normally FaceTime, or send Eddie a litany of texts about his latest internet deep-dive (the great Canadian maple syrup heist was his latest obsession), but a phone call?
"Hey man, what's up?"
Buck doesn't immediately respond, but Eddie hears the shuddered inhale down the line, and now he's concerned.
Eddie gives Christopher a reassuring smile while he waits for an answer, and nods to his aunt that he's stepping out for a moment before ducking to the front door when he still doesn't get a reply.
"Buck?" he tries again. "Buck, come on, I'm here, okay? What's wrong?"
"I just..." Buck starts, faltering for a moment. "I just needed to hear your voice."
Buck sounds... shattered, honestly, something so much deeper than exhaustion, and the hairs on the back of Eddie's neck stand on edge.
"Talk to me. Did something happen on a call? Are you hurt?"
"No—we're fine, I'm fine," Buck says, but his voice is barely above a whisper and Eddie's not convinced.
"There was... this man got.... Eddie, he was buried alive. And dispatch tracked his phone but they couldn't get a precise location and by the time we started to dig things weren't looking good and—"
Buck's voice is shaking, but now that he's started speaking he can't seem to stop and his words are gaining fervour as he goes on. Eddie can feel his own grip on his cellphone getting tighter and tighter until finally he has to sit himself down on the steps of the front porch to try and catch his own breath. He knows where Buck's head is at—he can't help but go there too.
"—a-a-and I just...I couldn't stop thinking about the well collapse, and dispatch said the guy wasn't answering and I started thinking about trying to get a hold of you on the radio but we couldn't and suddenly I wasn't looking for the vic anymore, I was looking for you. I was back there in the rain and I was clawing at the ground, at the mud, and it felt like there was this vice around my chest and—"
"Breathe, Buck," Eddie interrupts a little desperately at the fear in Buck's voice, "breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth," he says as he tries to follow his own advice. "Take a deep breath, c'mon, do it with me, in for four, hold it—and breathe out for eight, and again..."
For a while there's nothing but a stream of breaths down the phone from the both of them, until finally a long steady exhale is followed by a stuttered, "sorry, I shouldn't have—"
"Don't be stupid, you can always—"
The siren rings out loud down the other end of the phone and Eddie jumps to his feet out of habit before he remembers that he's not actually on shift.
"I've gotta go," Buck mumbles, and Eddie can hear the rustling movements as he's obviously making his way over to the trucks.
"Yeah of course," Eddie says, and continues before he can second guess himself; "come over after your shift in the morning, we can go out for breakfast with Chris."
There's another exhale down the phone, but this one sounds lighter, happier, like it's being chased by a smile, and Eddie feels his own tight chest loosen considerably at the image he's conjured in his head.
"Yeah, that'd be great." Buck says, "I'll see you then."
"Perfect, it's a date." Eddie says, before hanging up.
(His own words don't register for another 30 minutes and by then Buck's already sent a smiley face emoji over text, and Eddie can't find it within himself to regret anything)