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Academy Together, Friends Forever

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Buck was just starting to collect the gear on their recent call when his phone started ringing in his breast pocket. Setting the gear down next to the truck, he slips off his helmet and squints down at the caller ID. Owen.

Buck can count on one hand the number of times Owen had called him over the years and he can’t help but feel a sense of dread wash over him as answers it. The last he heard from the family, TK had called him to say that they were moving to Austin.

“Hello, Evan.” Buck leans his back against the truck, tilting his head up to the sky. Damn, Owen only ever called him that when things were serious.

“Owen. It’s been a while. How are you?” He asks the question despite knowing that this wasn’t a social call. He can hear Owen's voice crack as he says the next words, “Buck, something hap- something happened to TK.”

Buck feels like he’s just been sucker-punched. Any breath that he’d been holding escapes him as he squeezes his eyes shut. He swallows around the thick lump formed in his throat before asking, “W-what happened?”

“We were on a job and he-he accidentally got shot in the chest. He’s at the hospital in a coma and we’re not sure when he’s going to wake up.” Buck can hear the unspoken if hanging in the air. Regrettably, he can’t help but feel his chest unclench the tiniest amount, thankful that at least it wasn’t that call.  

He startles when he feels a hand on his shoulder. He opens his eyes to finds Hen peering at him in concern. He lets his gaze dart past her, searching out the rest of the team who were packing the gear into the truck, each surreptitiously glancing at him with various degrees of worry painted across their faces.

He gives Hen a tight smile and steps out of her touch and shakes his head slightly before walking a few paces away while keeping his back to them, trying to achieve some semblance of privacy.

“Buck, I know you’ve only been back a couple of months, but I just wanted you to know and thought maybe you--”

Buck cuts him off gently, “Owen it’s alright, you don’t even have to ask, I’ll be there. Just send me the info and I’ll get there as soon as I can.”  

He can hear an audible sigh of relief on the other end of the line. “Thank you.”

“Hey, you did the same for me. We’ll get through this together too.”

“I’ll see you soon.” Owen murmurs and throws in another thank you before hanging up. Barely a minute later, Buck’s phone dings with the location of the hospital they were in.

Buck screws up his eyes and harshly takes in a deep breath, holding it and allowing it to calm him before letting it out slowly. He reminds himself that there is no reason to get worked up just yet and settles himself before joining the team back in the truck. They all look at him questioningly, but no one says anything as he puts on his headset and looks out the window, a clear sign that he’s not in the mood to talk. Nonetheless, he feels the touch of Eddie’s knee against his, another grounding force that always seems to settle his nerves, “Hey man, you alright? You don’t look so good.”

“A good friend of mine is in the hospital, he, uh he was badly injured. They’re not sure how bad it is.” He doesn’t say much more than that and he doesn’t have to, Eddie shifts closer offering support and all he can do in return is give him a tight smile in thanks.

When they get back to the station, Buck makes sure all of his jobs are done before he seeks out Bobby who was getting some paperwork done in his office.

“Cap. I-um, I know this is late notice and I haven’t been back on active duty for long, but I need the rest of the week off, maybe more. It’s a-um… it’s a family emergency.”

Bobby shuts the file in front of him and gestures to the seat in front of him. Buck hesitates before sitting down, unsure if Bobby was even going to approve leave, considering that he’s only recently been put back on full active duty.

“Talk to me Buck, tell me what’s going on.”

Buck ducks his head and scrubs his hands through his hair, “Well you were probably listening in the truck but um, TK, one of my friends from the academy, he got shot on the job, it’s bad Cap. The phone call was from his dad and he said the doctors aren’t sure when he’s going to wake up.”

Bobby stays quiet, feeling as though there’s more to the story than that. The silence unsettles Buck and he gets up and starts pacing while rambling.  

“I met TK by chance years ago. He was vacationing in South America and we got to know each other for a like a week while I was bartending. We kinda just clicked, you know? In that time, he told me he wanted to be a career firefighter like his dad and I told him how I was planning to be a SEAL. Before he went back home he gave me his details saying if the SEALs didn’t work out to come and find him in New York. And, as you know it didn’t work out, so I got in touch with him; At that point, I had very little money and I just couldn’t go back to my parents.”

Bobby had moved around his desk now, edging closer as if he was being sucked in by Buck’s story.

“A-and he and Owen took me in as if I was just part of the family, no questions asked. TK was preparing to apply to the academy and Owen suggested that I should too, so I did, and I’m so glad that he told me to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay either of them for what they did, they became my family when I had no one else to turn to in that time in my life. Now it’s my turn to be there for them like they’ve been there for me.”

Buck finally stops in the middle of Bobby’s office, surprisingly out of breath. Bobby moves in front him and reaches out, grasping both his shoulders to get his full attention. “I get it Buck there is nothing more important than family. I’ll sort out the paperwork, take all the time you need.”

Buck leans forward and buries his face into Bobby’s neck, wrapping him in a grateful hug. “Thank you. Thank you for understanding.”