Chim was having the best dream he'd ever had in his life. It may have involved Maddie, a bottle of champagne and way too many strawberries. He would have very happily dreamt about it all night but unfortunately for Chimney, he was woken up.
He jerked awake, eyes rapidly taking in what little he could from the dark room around him. He was in the firehouse, the rest of his team were asleep in their own bunks beside him, sound asleep.
So, why was he awake?
Chimney would have loved if it were something as simple as the wind or a stray cat but nope. He was part of the 118, it was never going to be something normal.
The sound came again, chilling Chimney's blood and shooting goosebumps across his skin. In the cold, dark, silent firehouse, someone was crying, their wails echoing through each room and corridor until it met Chimney's ears, sending his heart pounding so hard in his chest he swore it might burst out of him.
He didn't dare breathe, instead reaching out a shaky hand to shove at Hen where she slept in her own bunk beside him. She grunted but otherwise slept on and he let out a tiny whisper, shaking her harder and trying not to fall out of his bed.
"Ugh, Chim. What."
"Th-there's a ghost."
Hen opened her eyes and rolled towards him, squinting at him in the dark. "What?"
He called louder this time, hand still on her shoulder and shaking her. "There's a ghost! I heard it!"
Hen groaned and sat up, reaching for her glasses as she glared at her idiotic friend. "There's no such thing, Chimney. It was probably the wind."
Chimney was adamant, finally letting her go to grip his blanket instead and peer towards the doorway where the sound had come from. "I swear to you, I heard it."
Hen waited, annoyed and unconvinced. Until she heard it too.
The cry came again, this time with words. "Please."
Hen shivered, sitting up straighter in her bed. "Okay, that I heard."
Chimney somehow managed to look scared and smug at the same time, whisper shouting across to her. "And it wasn't no damn wind!"
She nodded, pulling her feet closer and crossing her legs. "Okay, I'm officially creeped out. We should tell Cap."
"What should you tell Cap?" Eddie's voice was muffled from where his face was smashed into his pillow but his words were clear enough.
Hen and Chimney exchanged a look, managing to mumble the exact same nonsense at the same time. "There's a ghost in the firehouse and we want Bobby to get it."
Eddie let out a snort of laughter and snuggled back into his pillow. "Good luck with that. You guys are crazy."
The noise came again before either of them could defend themselves and Eddie shot straight up in bed, eyes wide and scared. "Okay, what the hell was that?"
"We told you!"
Chimney looked hopeful, smiling at Eddie through the dim room. "Hey, you could go get it."
Eddie looked at him like he was crazy. I mean, they were talking about ghosts, they were probably all crazy. "Go get it? And do what? Tell it politely to leave? Throw some salt at it? No way. I'm staying in here."
Bobby groaned from all the whispering and sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Why are you all awake? The alarms haven't gone off, there isn't anything we-"
He paused, eyes roaming over the four beds he could see lined up and the three bodies occupying them. "Wait, where's Buck?"
In that second Hen, Chimney and Eddie shared a single brain cell which possessed only one thought. "Fuck, the ghost is Buck."
The team scrambled from their beds and ran through the firehouse, following the sombre wails and eerie cries until they found him. Hanging over the side of the balcony.
"Buck!" Bobby ran first, feet slapping against the floor as he raced towards the youngest member of his team. Buck was sobbing, begging someone to take his hand and Bobby froze, stopping in his tracks and holding out his arms to stop the others.
It was worse than the haunting cries of a would-be ghost, seeing their friend hanging over the side of the balcony, like that. He had one hand and one foot on the ground to keep his balance as tears dripped down his face and splattered on the cold floor twenty feet below.
"Bobby, he's-" Eddie tried to push past his captain's hands, wanting to grab Buck and yank him back to safety but Bobby shook his head.
"What? How do you know?" Hen watched Buck tremble through another sob as Bobby pointed towards him.
"He doesn't know we're here. Listen to what he's saying."
They all waited, listening to Buck beg the invisible victim. "Please, just take my hand. I promise I won't let you fall. I can save you, please, just let me save you."
Chimney sighed, heart aching to see Buck in so much pain. "He's dreaming about the first guy he lost. On that roller coaster. Bobby, we have to pull him back, he could fall."
Bobby nodded and moved towards Buck slowly, motioning for the others to do the same.
"We will, but we can't just shake him awake he could hurt you or himself. I'm going to try waking him up with noise. The second you see that he's awake, you grab him and pull him away from the edge, not a moment before. You understand?"
They all nodded, trusting their captain just like always.
Bobby called out, voice creepily loud in the quiet firehouse. "Buck? I need you to wake up, son."
Buck's sobbing quietened a little but he didn't wake, cries softening into mumbles and grunts.
Bobby sighed, not liking his own idea but Buck was tipping further and further over the edge and if they didn't pull him back soon…
He motioned to the others, lifting three fingers and counting down. "One, two, three. EVAN, WAKE UP!"
Thank god, Eddie was fast. Buck gasped at the sudden shout, eyes wide as saucers as he woke up dangling over a twenty-foot drop and wobbled forward, foot slipping, right before Eddie grabbed him from behind and tore him from the balcony.
The two of them fell to the ground as Buck gasped, scrambling to figure out what the hell was happening.
"What the- Where am I? What's happening? Eddie?"
Eddie got to his knees and held his hands out in surrender, the both of them panting. "You're okay. You're fine, just breathe for a minute."
The poor, confused blonde looked around at his team and wiped a hand over his face, frowning when it came away wet. "What happened? Why is my face wet?"
Bobby knelt down next to his teammate and rested a warm hand on his shoulder, settling his nerves and capturing his attention. "You were sleepwalking. We found you halfway over the balcony and we had to wake you up. I'm sorry, we scared you."
Chimney couldn't help but laugh, trying to suppress it and failing. "Man, you should be apologising to us. You scared the crap out of me!"
Hen nodded her agreement, smiling at the ridiculousness of the past fifteen minutes.
Chimney sighed, only confusing Buck more. "I'm so glad you're not a ghost."
Buck looked around at the four of them, nose scrunched. "Are you guys pranking me?"
Eddie laughed, shaking his head at how stupid it was all going to sound when he inevitably told Carla about it. There's no way she'd believe him.
"We're not pranking you. You were sleepwalking and we had to make sure you were safe. Did I hurt you at all?"
Buck blinked, looking down at himself and taking stock as Eddie's worried hands patted him down. "Um...no. I think I'm okay. Just confused."
Bobby tilted his head, trying to figure it all out. They'd need to find the cause in order to try and prevent it from happening again. "Have you ever gone sleepwalking before?"
Bobby could see the wheels turning in his head as Buck rubbed his eyes, exhausted. "Yeah, when I was a kid. It used to drive Maddie crazy. She'd always find me drawing on walls or throwing laundry around. But I haven't done that since I was like seventeen."
Hen hummed, thinking through everything she knew about sleepwalking. "It can be brought on by stress and trauma. Which we all know you have plenty of."
Buck groaned, breaking it off with as yawn as he rubbed his eyes again, hair a mess of wayward curls. "I don't wanna start sleepwalking again. It's embarrassing."
Eddie looked towards the balcony and tutted. "And apparently dangerous."
"How about we all get back to bed and we'll talk about it in the morning. Buck, try not to go wandering off again." Bobby couldn't help a little gentle teasing and Buck smiled as Eddie pulled him to his feet.
"I'll do my best, Cap."
'It's fine. I'm fine. He can't hurt me anymore. I got away.'
Buck pulled in a slow even breath and held it for four seconds before letting it back out. He wasn't going to panic at work, he wasn't going to make another embarrassing scene.
"Evan, why didn't you tell me you were sleepwalking again?"
Buck almost jumped out of his skin, flinching hard before looking up from the hose he was rolling to find his sister marching her way over. She looked halfway between worried and mad with an apologetic looking Chim following behind, giant bags swinging from each hand.
"What? I'm not, I mean it only happened once the other night."
Maddie sighed and made a face like she was looking at him as if he were ten years old again and taking a shower in his pyjamas. It made him feel like he was ten years old again and he looked away.
"It's not like you'd really know if you had before then anyway. You could have been sleepwalking at home for weeks without knowing."
Buck rolled his eyes and stood, hauling the hose back into its compartment in the truck. "Trust me I haven't been. I'm fine, Maddie. It's not a big deal."
Chim adjusted the bags in his hands, plastic crinkling and rustling with each awkward pull. "No offence, Buckaroo, but if you were fine you wouldn't be sleepwalking."
Maddie nodded, following after him as Buck started to walk away, or tried to. He didn't want to talk about it. "Exactly. Have you started taking any new medication? Sometimes that can start it back up or-"
Buck spun around, making her stop in her tracks with Chim's shoes squeaking as he did the same from behind her. They looked like a trail of ducklings Buck wished would leave him alone. "No. I'm fine, Maddy. It's just stress or something, okay? It'll go away."
Maddie searched her brother's face for any clues as to what he was hiding, because judging from the crease between his eyebrows and his clenched fists, he was hiding something. She lowered her voice, reaching for his hand. "Evan, you can tell me."
Buck looked at her, seeing the worry in her eyes and he should tell her, he knew that. But if he did he'd only be adding fear to the look she was giving him.
He forced a smile to his face and squeezed her hand. "I know. I'm fine, really. It was one episode. It might not even happen again."
Maddie didn't look completely satisfied but she dropped it anyway and gestured to the bags in Chims hands. "Well, I got some supplies just in case. I don't want you walking off a balcony or falling down the stairs if it happens again."
Buck narrowed his eyes at the two, Chimney's lips pressed together to stop from laughing. "What did you do?"
Eddie sighed and stood, flipping the screwdriver in his hand as he admired his handiwork. "Okay Cap. That's the last baby gate installed. He won't be slip sliding down these stairs anytime soon."
He shook the gate experimentally, squinting at it to make sure it was high enough that Buck couldn't just step (or fall) over it.
"Great work, Eddie. Hen, how are we doing in the kitchen?"
Buck sulked from his place on the couch as Hen packed the last of the knives away. "I've just got three more drawers to baby-proof and I'll be done. Nothing sharp or dangerous for sleep-Buck to play with."
Bobby smiled at his team, finding his youngest member and taking a seat next to him. "Fantastic, thank you."
Buck was playing with his fingers, unusually quiet. Bobby nudged his arm. "Hey, there's no need to be embarrassed, Buck. We aren't doing this to make fun."
Buck shrugged, reminding Bobby far too much of Harry when he got upset. "It sure feels like it."
"Buck, you really scared us the other night and I don't just mean the whole ghost thing."
Buck's mouth lifted just a little, the gloom fading from his eyes a touch and Bobby kept going. "You were in pain, Buck. We could hear it in your voice as you relieved something awful and then we found you halfway over the balcony and we were all terrified we'd have to watch you fall."
He gestured to the rest of the team as Chim helped Hen install the last of the baby-proofing and Eddie rearranged half the kitchen into something a little safer.
"We're doing this because we love you, Buck and we want to make sure that you're safe."
Buck's bottom lip wobbled even as he smiled and Bobby watched as his eyes grew wet. "I just hate making people worry. Everyones always taking care of me. I don't want to add extra work for everyone."
Bobby wrapped an arm around him and squeezed. "Aw, Buck. You are not a burden, kid. You take care of us too. I've seen you drive Eddie to work when he had a rough night with Chris or volunteer to babysit for Hen so that she and Karen could have a date night. You were there for me when I was at my lowest, you tracked Maddie down when Doug took her and you saved Chris from a tsunami."
Buck sniffled and Bobby rubbed at his arm, trying to make him understand. "You are not weak for needing help, Buckley. I don't ever want you thinking that you are. You hear me?"
Buck nodded and suddenly Bobby was being knocked back a few inches with a hug and a sigh. "Thanks, Bobby."