Chapter 1: Lay With Me
Lay With Me
Their job undoubtedly had risks, and as hard as they worked to minimise those risks there was no way to eliminate all the risks. When they returned to their apartment after a very long drawn out shift that included a trip to Chicago Med, their guards had fallen, and the professional demeanour they maintained while at the firehouse melted away. The need to be together was overwhelming along with their exhaustion. The pair had fallen into bed together after they shed their clothes, taking comfort in each other.
It wasn’t often that they ended up the position that they were in, with Kelly rested almost across Matt who was lazily lent up against the headboard of the bed. Their legs were entwined with the crisp white sheet covering them. In the dull light of the bedroom Matt could see the bruises that was still developing on the parts of Kelly's exposed skin, the blue and purple hues slowly changing from the red that marred his skin originally after the initial impact. Kelly's head was rolled to the side, his ear pressed to Matt's chest, listening intently to the heartbeat that he loved with his eyes closed.
"An epsom salt bath will help." Matt broke the silence as his fingertips of his right hand gently traced over the curvature of Kelly's spine, up and down repeatedly. His left hand held Kelly's hand, his thumb sweeping over his knuckles that were scrapped and skinned despite having gloves on.
"Hmmm." Kelly hummed out without much conviction. He was utterly exhausted and a lot sorer than he wanted to admit, but he was also content as he was.
"Kel?" Matt questioned concerned as Kelly still had to stay awake for another hour or so before he could actually sleep given that he had a minor concussion, and even then he would still need to be woken regularly.
"I’m awake." Kelly breathed out as he moved his neck just enough to press his lips to Matt's bare skin but he paused as his neck protested the movement which Matt immediately picked up on. Matt's concerned spiked even more despite all of the scans and x-rays that Kelly had had that showed he had escaped with no serious injuries. Given his past neck injury and subsequent surgery, the worry was understandable.
"How much pain are you in?" Matt knew he was in pain, that much was obvious, but the level of pain was what he needed to gauge as he knew Kelly's pain tolerance was high. It was on par with his stubbornness at times.
"A building partially collapsed on me, I was buried under rubble... everything hurts." The answer had Matt closing his eyes and letting out a long breathe as the memory came rushing back to him, the dust that had choked them and caused visibility issues, the sound of the pass alarm that wailed louder than the groans of the remains of the building, and the realisation that it was the man he loved that was trapped, that was buried in the partial collapse. His hand had stopped its roaming over the soft skin, over his spine, and instead flattened out across his lower back.
"I know, trust me I know you were trapped." Matt spoke the words so calmly but inside he felt anything but calm. When he realised that it was Kelly's pass alarm wailing at the scene, he felt as though his lungs seized and his heart stopped momentarily. It was only a slap on his shoulder from Herrmann that sparred his into action, that slap he would be eternally grateful for. Although he was eternally grateful that Kelly was alive and laying in bed with him, laying with his body partially on top of him. And grateful that he could provide comfort to the ravaged man.
Kelly heard the crack in Matt's voice, the emotions of the last twelve or so hours finally surfacing. He not only felt but also heard as Matt's heartbeat increased. He shifted his weary body, a groan of pain slipping past his lips unintentionally, as he moved to sit up.
"Stop Kel." Matt's hand lightly pressed against his back whilst his other tightened around Kelly's hand forcing him to stop moving. "Don't want you to hurt yourself. Just stay where you are, I know you’re as comfortable as you can be." Kelly stopped trying to push himself up, instead he moved his neck so that his chin was rested on Matt's sternum, and he was facing him. Matt's face wore a tormented expression that was also marred with utter exhaustion. The facade they both wore had simply faded in the privacy of their home.
"Tell me." It was two small words but they meant so much. It meant that they were partners that shared in the others feelings, that shared what they felt. It was also a part of the healing process that they both needed after what could have easily left one of them alone, and one of them dead. In the privacy of their home, of their bedroom, there was no need to hide, there was no need to pretend that they weren’t who they were. Kelly knew that Matt needed to say all that he felt, to explain what he felt, to share his pain.
"The sound of your pass alarm terrified me today, I froze." Matt paused and lifted his hand from Kelly's back to his head, pushing his fingers through the short dark brown speckled silver hair softly, brushing it back. "You terrified me today. And then at the hospital when I was waiting... it was just a lot." He stopped himself from saying that all he could see was Kelly unresponsive.
"I love you." Those words weren’t spoken aloud often between the two, it was shown through actions more often than not but Kelly knew Matt needed to know, needed to hear the words. "And I’m going to do everything I can to come home to you." It was not a promise he made lightly, and it wasn’t an absolute promise that he was always going to come home but it was that he would do everything he could too.
"I know you will." Matt knew what Kelly was saying to him and it made him all the sweeter. Kelly let his head drop back down so that his ear was once again pressed against Matt's chest as his neck was aching more at the angle that he was on whilst being face to face with him. Matt's hand didn’t pause in its movements through his hair.
"What can I do to help, to ease the pain?" Matt asked softly knowing that he had refused any pain medication. He had gently rubbed arnica into his skin, and even that had caused him pain. Every movement seemed to elicit a wince or a groan or just a tortured look to cross his face.
"Lay with me." Kelly's words were slightly slurred as his body fully relaxed and Matt's movements lulled him. Matt smiled softly and let his own body relax underneath Kelly's.
Matt watched as Kelly's eyes fluttered closed finally succumbing to the exhaustion and despite the concussion that Kelly had, Matt didn’t rush to wake him instead he glanced at the bedside clock making a mental note of the time, and watched him sleep. "I love you too Kelly."
Chapter 2: Wake Up Call
Set after the Chicago Fire 5x09 and Chicago PD 4X09 crossover.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Wake Up Call
Matt checked his phone as soon as he turned his truck off in the driveway, his worry only intensifying as there was no news on Kelly and his case especially given the charge of vehicular homicide that had him shipped to a local prison whilst the investigation was ongoing and the charges pending. He grabbed his duffel bag and slipped it over his shoulder as he got out of the truck, and headed for the back door.
Matt stopped short as he found Kelly sat out in the cold with his back rested against the wall beside the doors with his eyes closed. He let out a breath of relief that he didn’t know he was holding in, and felt a weight left off his shoulders before the worry set in that Kelly was freezing as he didn’t know how long he had been waiting. He approached slowly seeing the large wound to Kelly’s forehead, not wanting to startle the man who looked exhausted.
"Sev...Kelly." Matt knelt down in front of him as he woke him, placing his hand on his shoulder over top of his signature leather jacket.
"Case?" Kelly's voice was strained as he opened his eyes.
"Let’s get inside into the warmth." Matt stood up and unlocked the door seeing that Kelly was having a hard time getting up off the ground, he held his hand out which Kelly took. Matt let Kelly walk in first.
"Want something to eat or drink?" Matt asked as he watched Kelly tiredly drag his body over to the chair, shrugging his jacket off on the way.
"No thanks. Erin dropped me off, I didn’t want to go home." The admission surprised him as he followed Kelly into the lounge taking a seat on the couch, and he realised the conversation that had taken place in his quarters at the firehouse where Kelly wondered what he was doing was more serious than he first thought.
"Sev..." Matt trailed off as Kelly shook his head.
"A little girl died Matt, and for a while there I seriously believed that I might have killed her. My recollection is hazy at best, and even then it’s only pieces. When I was being transferred, I told Erin to let me rot if I was behind the wheel, if I had killed her."
"Kelly... you didn’t kill her. You were assaulted and carjacked. There was nothing you could have done to change what happened."
"I still got behind the wheel and drove for a few blocks. I could have killed someone else... I called out of my shift to go and get drunk because I got told that I couldn’t donate my bone marrow, that the recipient Anna wasn’t strong enough to withstand the treatment needed to have the transplant. My life’s a mess... I have no idea what I’m doing, and every time I think I’m heading in the right direction I somehow end up screwing up. I mean look at the past few months... this isn’t the first time I could have ended up with a permanent residence in one of Illinois' penitentiary's and for what?" Clearly being held in a jail cell had given Kelly a lot of time to think, too much time.
"That was completely different, with Grant, you were protecting Stella and defending yourself. He had a knife." It was obvious that Kelly was plagued with guilt and was second guessing a lot of his choices.
"And he almost died. And Stella defended him, didn’t try to protect herself by pressing charges. He could have killed her... I have no idea what I’m doing, or where I’m going. These meaningless one night stands don’t even fill the empty void inside of me anymore." Kelly bought his hands to his face and scrubbed at his skin furiously.
Matt was at a loss for words, for what to say to ease his long-time friends torment. Kelly wasn’t one to share what was going on inside of his head often so the fact that he was sharing so much meant he was really worried, that he was lost. And a lost Kelly Severide was a rarity.
"What you want is not unattainable Sev. Take some time, take a step back if you need too even, but don’t ever think you’re alone in this." Sometimes Matt wondered just how much Kelly struggled with the demons that silently plagued him, how much of a toll the hiding that he did took on him, and how much of his history he carried with him as a heavy weight.
"Go grab a shower, there’s still some of your clothes in your old room at the top of the wardrobe. Gabby will be home with Louie soon, and she can treat that wound again. We’ll have dinner and watch a game. Just relax tonight." Matt wasn’t leaving room for Kelly to object, and he knew he needed to be around people, not by himself.
"I barely have the energy to move right now."
"Well I’m not helping you shower so get going."
Kelly leveraged himself up, his body protesting every movement, and went to make his way to the bathroom. He stopped and turned back around, pausing his movements. "Case, thank you." He really was grateful for Matt and the friendship they had.
Thank you to everyone for all the kind comments.
Chapter 3: Groceries
Kelly stepped in behind Matt when was reading the back of a packet in the middle of the grocery store aisle; he pressed his body against Matt's firm back and reached round him to place his hands on the handle of the trolley, trapping him between the trolley and his body. Kelly placed a soft kiss of the back of his neck.
"Kel, we’re in the grocery store." He could hear the smile in Matt's voice as he pressed his body even closer making sure there was no space left between them, and that he could feel what he felt.
"I know." Another kiss this time pressed against his skull just behind his ear.
"We’re almost done, we just have a few more items to get then we can go." Matt was doing his best to ignore the attention that Kelly was giving him despite loving the affection actions from the man he loved.
"We’ve got the essentials... I want you Case." Kelly whispered, his lips brushing against the shell of Matt's ear as he trailed kisses along his neck.
"You can have me once we have everything and get home." Matt replied making Kelly groan. He pushed himself away just enough to discreetly adjust himself in his jeans.
"That's not fair." Kelly pouted as Matt let out a laugh and continued his way down the aisle knowing he’d follow behind.
"I don’t even understand how you can get so turned on in the grocery store anyway?" Matt questioned as he tossed a few more items in knowing that Kelly was being tortured by his own impatience.
"It’s you. The way you bite your lip when you’re trying to decide, and the way you study the packets. It’s you Matt." Somehow Kelly had maneuvered himself between Matt and the trolley as he spoke, and then he kissed him on the lips drawing his body into his.
"Let’s go check out." Matt decided in an instant, they had enough and he could always go a top up shop without Kelly, without the distraction, not that he was complaining about the affection. His own need was evident.
Kelly smirked knowing that he had won as he turned himself around and took control of the trolley heading for the check out as fast as he could. Matt followed behind laughing lightly at the man's impatience but he wouldn’t have it any different.
Chapter 4: Sillage
Sillage: the scent that lingers in the air, the trail left in water; the impression made in space after someone or something has been and gone, the trace of someone's perfume.
Matt couldn’t bare to be in the apartment, the home that he once shared with Kelly but he had nowhere else to go. He missed the man, he hadn’t seen him since he left with all his belongings, since he had moved out, and since he had transferred out of 51. It seemed cruel but Matt knew, he understood why Kelly had left him, had left all that he had loved.
There were subtle reminders of the man he loved, of the man that had left him everywhere. His scent lingered throughout the apartment, engrained in the various fabrics. It was too quiet without him, his presence now gone made the apartment cold, quiet and impersonal. A few of his clothes remained mixed in with Matt's, pieces that he loved to see Matt wearing and that Matt had loved to wear because they were his. The mattress with the imprint of his body on his side that was now permanently empty.
Matt closed his eyes and could imagine, could see, him in their apartment waiting for him to get home. Those moments, those memories, bought him a peace that he couldn’t bare to lose. Losing the man had broken him but losing the memories would kill him. It was all he had left.
Chapter 5: Tortured
Thank you for all of the beautiful comments, and please continue them! I love hearing all of your thoughts and feelings.
The tossing and turning, the frantic movements from beside him, was what woke Matt up in alarm. "Kel, Sev." Matt spoke softly trying to not startle him as he quickly reached up and turned the bedside lamp on bathing the room in the soft glow of the light.
Kelly was scratching at his neck frantically with his right hand whilst his left hand clawed and clutched the duvet. "Kelly, it’s alright, you're alright. You’re at home, in bed." Matt grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away from his neck, not wanting him to hurt himself further. His eyes opened wide, and his chest heaved as he woke up. "You’re okay." Matt spoke softly in an effort to calm him down.
Kelly slipped his wrist out of Matt's hand, and roughly pulled the sheet and duvet that was twisted around his body away, getting up and out of the bed. He felt like he couldn’t breathe as he made his way out of the bedroom and into the darkened lounge. He could feel that he had torn open his own skin as the blood made a trail as it slid down his skin, staining it. He stumbled and collapsed, landing heavily on his knees and his hands on the wooden floor. His chest was heaving, and his lungs were burning from the lack of oxygen.
Matt had hurriedly followed after Kelly just in time to see him collapse to the floor. He approached slowly not wanting to startle him, flicking the lights on as he passed the switch. "Kelly, I need you to sit back, you will be up against the chair." Matt instructed keeping his distance so as not to overwhelm the panicking man in front of him. Matt had to repeat himself twice more before Kelly slowly moved somewhat clumsily, shifting his weary body back so that he was sat against the back of the chair. He finally lifted his head and focused on Matt, his chest still heaving, and the blood still flowing with a steady stream running down his chest.
"C-C-Case." He sounded so lost and panicked, and the rattle in his chest could be heard clearly. He reached his left hand out uneasily towards Matt who shifted closer knowing that Kelly needed the grounding that the contact would provide, he took his in hand in his, smoothing his thumb over his bruised knuckles.
"Tell me where you are Kelly?" Matt questioned seeing he was still struggling.
"Good... Do you want to talk about it?" He moved closer knowing not to push him to talking. Nightmares weren’t common, or Kelly didn’t seem to have them often, at least not to the extent of this one. Matt could only recall three other occasions, and he learnt more each time on how to help and handle when Kelly got into the state he was currently in. Although he still felt helpless; he hated the tortured tormented look that marred his face.
Kelly shook his head, exhausted, and grimaced in pain as the open wounds on his neck stretched. The fight bled out of his body and he went lax. Matt moved closer, settling between his raised bent legs. Matt raised his hand to Kelly's face, cupping his cheek as Kelly lent into his touch. With the closeness, Matt could see the light sheen of sweat on his ghostly pale skin, and that his gorgeous blue eyes were glassy.
"You should go back to bed and get some sleep."
"So do you, you’re exhausted." The physicality of the nightmares usually left him more exhausted than when he went to sleep, a fact Matt was well aware of.
"I’m not going back to sleep." It was said with a finality that Matt had expected, and knew would be impenetrable for a while at least.
"I’m going to get the first aid kit. We need to bandage your neck." A soft nod was all the answer that Matt got. He knew that Kelly wouldn’t move for a while, needing to stay still. Matt pushed himself away and went to get the first aid kit.
Kelly let his head drop backwards and focused his eyes on the ceiling above him, letting out a soft sigh as he listened to Matt, hearing his footsteps, and the opening and closing of the bathroom drawer. Nightmares were a rarity for him but each one left him more shaken, more traumatised, and struggling. And then there was Matt, and it wasn’t fair to him to deal with Kelly on nights like this.
"Kel?" Matt's soft questioning tone bought him out of his revelry as he was back in front on his between his legs. He watched as he sat the first aid kit down then noticed the wet flannel that was in his hand.
Kelly made no effort to move as Matt lifted the warmed flannel to his skin, lightly dragging it down his chest, cleaning the blood away. He felt as Matt took his hand in his and moved the flannel around it, cleaning the dried blood from his fingers.
Matt kept glancing at Kelly with concern as he treated the open wounds to his neck, they were deep. He applied a thick layer of antibiotic cream as gently as he could then applied a large bandage, the stark white bandage against his pale skin made it stand out even more. He wiped his hands on an unbloodied section of the flannel before he took his face softly in his hands making him look at him. He lent forward and gently brushed his lips against his, softly kissing the tortured man in front of him.
"I love you Kelly." Matt whispered as he pulled his lips away from Kelly's and pressed his forehead against his. He watched as Kelly closed his eyes briefly and seemingly pained as his hands grasped his wrists softly.
"You shouldn’t. Not on nights like this." The barely whispered words caught Matt off guard and broke his heart all at once.
"I am always going to love you Kelly, even on nights like this."
"Please go back to bed, to sleep... I’ll be in shortly." The plea was emotionally charged, and Matt knew he needed time on his own, that he needed privacy. And as much as he hated to leave him alone, he knew he had too as Kelly did not ask for much from him.
"I’m here." Reluctantly Matt pulled away from Kelly, and headed back to the bedroom. He took a few minutes to make the bed before he got back in, leaving the light on knowing he wouldn’t be able to sleep until Kelly was back beside him.
Kelly's entire body ached, and he hated to see the dejected look that Matt wore as he left him but he needed some time to himself. This nightmare had been different, the last two had been about Andy and Shay, but this one was different, it had felt so real, he could have sworn that he felt his neck break which made sense as to why he had clawed at his neck until the skin had torn open. But what had terrified him more was that in the nightmare he couldn’t move, he was paralysed from the neck down. It didn’t make sense to him why his broken neck had become a nightmare, and such a vivid one at that.
Matt glanced over at the alarm clock and realised it had been almost two hours since he had returned back to bed, and he still hadn’t heard any movement from Kelly. He wanted to check on him but he had to respect his wants. He rolled over onto his side so that he was facing the empty side, he reached his hand out and ran it over the cool sheet as his eyes closed involuntarily.
It was hours before Kelly finally managed to get his exhausted body up from where he was sat on the floor up against the chair. He could see the first flickers of day light start to invade the night sky. He slowly moved across the apartment to the bedroom, he stopped and leant against the doorframe as he looked at the blonde asleep with the lamp still on. He knew he owed him the truth but he knew he would worry and that was not something he wanted. He pushed himself away and reached the bed, lifted the blankets and eased himself down gently.
"Kel?" Matt's sleepy voice broke the silence and made him turn onto his side to face the waking man.
"I love you." Kelly needed him to know because he did love the blonde, he was in love with him. "The nightmare, it felt as if my neck was breaking, but I couldn’t feel anything, I was paralysed." The words rushed out readily.
"Do we need to get your neck checked out?" Matt's seriousness had Kelly frowning.
"What do you mean?"
"You said you felt like your neck was breaking. Maybe we should get it checked to give you some piece of mind?" The fact that Kelly was reliving his neck injury, and the worst possible outcome was alarming especially given that it was not a topic that they discussed. The only time it was ever mentioned now was if he was injured, or landed dangerously.
"I haven’t hurt my neck again. Trust me I know. I don’t think I could eat the pain again, and I’m not going down the self medicating road again..." Kelly shifted closer to Matt, pressing their bodies together, their faces so close their noses were touching.
"I know you aren’t. I didn’t even mean that."
"Sorry... I’m sorry."
"Don't apologise, there’s no need too. Just tell me what you need."
"I already have everything I need right here." Kelly let his eyes close as he spoke as he relaxed into Matt's body, his exhaustion setting in as the warmth surrounded him.
Matt smiled softly at Kelly as he felt him finally relax and he knew that he would spend most of the morning, if not the day, in bed asleep. He was sleeping comfortably and at ease. Matt laid with Kelly for another hour or so before he slowly eased himself out of the bed making sure not to wake him.
Chapter 6: Stand and Watch or Join Me
Stand and Watch or Join Me
Matt was exhausted, his construction job had taken him a lot longer than he planned after the homeowner had been annoyingly obtuse. He closed and locked the door behind him then kicked off his boots, a wince escaping his lips as he did as his entire body ached more than usual.
The apartment was way to quiet, and he knew that Kelly was home given that he had parked behind his car. It was slightly unnerving given that Kelly hated the silence; an indirect result of living with Shay for all the years that he did.
“Kel?” Matt called out as he walked through to the kitchen, and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge.
“Bathroom.” Kelly called back making him relax a little.
Matt swallowed half of the bottle of water down as he made his way through to the bathroom.
The flickering glow of the small flames caught his attention as dozens of tea light candles lit the bathroom. The reflection of the flames danced off the tiles. But what caught his attention the most was Kelly laid in the bath tub with his eyes closed, looking so relaxed. It looked so inviting.
“I was waiting for you... Are you going to stand and watch or are going to join me?” Kelly had opened his eyes and had turned his head towards him smiling. His question was answered as Matt stepped inside the bathroom and proceeded to strip out of his clothes, letting them drop to the floor.
Kelly sat up and spread his legs slightly allowing Matt to step into the tub and sit between his legs in the steaming hot water. Matt laid back against Kelly’s chest loving the way his arms wrapped over his shoulders and rested on his chest. Matt allowed his head to drop back and rest against his shoulder.
“Hmmm... this is nice.” Matt murmured feeling his own weary body relax as the warmth seeped into his skin.
“Yeah it is... How was your day?” Kelly asked as he traced soft circles with his fingertips over his chest.
"Long and tiring." His exhaustion, the soft patterns being traced on his skin, and the heat of the water and Kelly's body were all lulling him to sleep, and he wasn’t fighting it.
Kelly smiled as he watched Matt's eyes finally close and heard as his breathing evened out. The water was still hot so they had a while before they would have it get out. He knew his plan to get Matt in the bath would help the man relax, and he was glad it gave them time together.
Chapter 7: In Sickness
Kelly wrapped a towel around his waist and went to walk out of the bathroom but stopped and lent against the doorframe looking into his and Matt’s bedroom. He couldn’t help the smile that adorned his face as he admired the blonde beauty that had managed to cocoon himself in the blankets with only his eyes peeking out. Those blue eyes, his favourite eyes, were barely open but they still had found their way over to his.
“Feeling any better baby?” The term of endearment slipped so easy from his lips as he pushed himself off of the doorframe and made his way across the room then sat on the edge of the mattress. He pushed his hand through the thick blonde hair, pushing it back off of his feverish forehead.
“Not really.” Matt croaked out, his voice squeaky and barely above a whisper, then erupted into a coughing fit. His body wracked by the violent movement as his lungs rebelled.
Kelly hated to see Matt sick and there was nothing that could fix him immediately. Kelly wrapped his arm around Matt and lifted him up to a sitting position to help ease the coughing. As the coughing subsided Matt leant into Kelly’s body enjoying the warmth and he was beyond exhausted to hold himself up. Kelly’s hands were lovingly stroking over his back.
“It’s okay baby. It’s okay.” Kelly murmured softly as his lips delicately brushed against the top of Matt’s ear. Matt had pressed his face into the spot between his neck and shoulder.
“Don’t want to get you sick.” Matt mumbled out against Kelly’s damp skin and tried to pull himself away but Kelly held him close.
“Don’t worry about that. I don’t get sick.” Kelly felt Matt shiver despite the fever he had, and realised in his haste to stop his coughing the duvet had fallen down.
“I’d hate for you to feel this terrible.” The fact that Matt was admitting how bad he felt meant he felt twice as bad. His use of the word terrible clued Kelly into this. Although given Matt’s disheveled appearance he already had a fair idea; his skin was pale yet clammy despite being covered in goose-bumps, he had dark circles under his eyes, and he was extra cuddly. The extra cuddliness was not a bad thing, in fact that was the only thing Kelly loved about it.
“I’m going to get you some Tylenol and a Gatorade. Need to reduce your fever and keep you hydrated. Then we’ll take a nap.” Kelly formulated a plan in his head as he spoke knowing that medication, hydration and rest were the best things in order to get better.
Matt barely made a sound let alone had enough energy to pull himself away from the warmth that radiated from Kelly but he managed to fall backwards down onto the mattress. Kelly made sure to tuck the duvet back around his freezing frame then he stood up and grabbed a fresh pair of black briefs from his drawer, slipping them on after he threw his towel in the laundry hamper. He made his way to the kitchen grabbing the items that Matt needed before he returned.
“Baby... need you to take these and drink this then you can go back to sleep.” Kelly roused Matt who was already almost back to sleep even in the short time he was out of the room. Blearily Matt’s eyes opened again and Kelly slipped his free hand under his head helping him so that he did not choke once he had the Tylenol pills in hand. Matt didn’t protest instead he swallowed the pills, almost with an eagerness, and then drank almost half of the bottle of Gatorade down before he pushed it away.
Kelly didn’t say anything as he let his hand slip gently from underneath his head, instead he put the cap back on the bottle and sat it on the bedside table then leaned down and kissed Matt’s forehead. Matt gave him a sleepy smile as his eyes closed again. Kelly moves around the bed and climbed in behind him, wrapping his arms around the shivering blonde and holding him close to his own body. All he hoped was that Matt would feel better when he next woke.
Kelly was bored, beyond bored as he looked around the apartment for something to do, and he was frustrated. He was frustrated with his body and the time it was taking his ankle to heal after it was nearly crushed by a large piece of concrete whilst at a call although he had been relieved it wasn’t broken. He was frustrated with having to use crutches. And he was frustrated at all the pent up energy he had but couldn’t expend like he usually would.
His eyes stopped on the kitchen as he vaguely recalled Matt saying that the cupboards needed to be emptied, expiry dates checked, and the shelves cleaned. With a grunt, he got off the couch and hobbled into the kitchen, having left his crutches on the floor by the couch. As mundane as the task was, he was at the point where anything was better than doing nothing or watching any more movies.
"What the hell are you doing? Kelly was so caught up in cleaning that he hadn’t heard Matt return home after his shift. He almost fell off the chair he was perilously balancing on as he cleaned the top of the cabinets but managed to recover and catch himself before he fell. Matt was across the apartment and had his hands on Kelly's waist in an effort to hold him so that he didn’t injure himself further.
"Cleaning. I remembered you said it needed to be done so I did it." Kelly shrugged as he managed to turn himself around in Matt's hands.
"Kelly. Get down now." Matt all but groaned as he ordered him down. Kelly leveraged himself down off of the chair with Matt's help as he hadn’t let go.
"You’re an idiot. What would have happened if you fell? Or injured yourself further. Where are your crutches? You know you’re not supposed to bare weight on your ankle yet." Matt wasn’t angry, he was concerned but he was also frustrated at the man lack of self preservation.
"No. You want to get back to work as soon as possible yet you aren’t helping yourself. Now I’m going to get your crutches and then you are going to go lay in bed. I’ll be in shortly with an ice pack." He didn’t even wait for a response, instead he left Kelly lent up against the edge of the kitchen counter whilst he got the crutches.
Kelly looked at Matt questioningly as he held the crutches out. Usually Matt wasn’t so abrupt but he looked stressed, and he looked absolutely exhausted. Kelly took the crutches begrudgingly and made his way into their bedroom knowing the bed was freshly made as he had replaced the bedding earlier. He wasn’t exactly tired but he also wasn’t about to cause an argument either.
Matt let out a long sigh as soon as Kelly was out of sight, having disappeared into their bedroom. He knew he had overreacted but he needed him back at work almost as much as he needed him to be healthy. Matt had enough concerns without more being added on; Kelly's replacement was reckless and demeaning, and their working relationship was less than amicable which was a danger to all. He didn’t need to be worried about Kelly being at home and if he was putting himself in any danger when he was already dealing with a potentially combative and dangerous temporary member of Squad 3.
He took a few minutes before he pushed himself away from the counter and walked to the freezer, pulling out an ice pack and then picked a fresh tea towel to wrap it in. He slowly made his way through to the bedroom and was silently relieved to see that Kelly had listened to him, laying on the bed, propped up by a couple of pillows, with his injured foot raised on a stack of old pillows. He made his way across the room and sat down on his side of the bed then made quick work of wrapping the ice pack around Kelly's injured ankle. Kelly was watching him intently as he stood up and stripped down to his boxers then laid down on top of the bed again, staring up at the ceiling.
"I’m sorry." The tension felt thick in the air between them.
"No, I should be the one apologising. I’m exhausted, it was a horrible shift and I took it out on you... I’m worried."
"You... the firehouse... everything."
"You don’t need to worry about me, I’m fine. Now what about the firehouse is worrying you?"
"You won’t be fine if you tumble off the chair and hurt yourself. It was just a rough, long drawn out, shift. I don’t think we were in the house for more than two hours the entire shift."
"And you haven’t been sleeping either." Kelly was attune to Matt, and knew he had been struggling to sleep, and even if he had managed to sleep it was restless. He knew there was something on his mind that he wasn't telling him but he wasn’t sure what it was.
"I miss you."
"I’m right here."
"Everything just... I just feel off-kilter at the moment." Everything felt unbalanced, he felt unbalanced.
"Come here..." Kelly was already pulling Matt's weary body into his, and Matt shifted closer, resting his head on his chest, and draping his arm across his body. Kelly wanted to ask why Matt felt the way he did, and get to the underlying issue but he could see how exhausted he was and wanted to comfort him.
Kelly rested his chin on top of Matt’s head, inhaling the smell of the blonde’s shampoo, as he relaxed against him slowly succumbing to the tiredness that was deep in his bones.
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Chapter 9: A Natural
Matt couldn’t help the smile that graced his face as he watched the young girl, no older than four, cling to Kelly as he tried to hand her off to the police officer who was waiting with open arms but the little girl wasn’t convinced instead she shook her head firmly before she buried her face into his neck as her small hands clung desperately to his suspenders. His large hand rubbed her back lightly as he began swaying softly to settle her; it was so natural, he was a natural with children. Matt's smile fell as turned his back on Kelly and the small girl which did not go unnoticed as he climbed into Truck 81, ordering Otis to take them back to the firehouse.
Kelly watched as Truck 81 left the scene, the little girl was settled firmly against his chest as her father was on the way to the hospital. Annabelle, the little girl, had been terrified and he had only managed to coax her out but it took a lot of convincing. There wasn’t a scratch on her which was a miracle in itself given the tight space she had managed to hide herself in.
"Sweetheart, this police officer is going to take you to the hospital where your Mom is going to meet you and your Dad." Kelly explained softly knowing he needed to hand her over as they were finished at the scene and had to return to the firehouse.
"Mommy?" Annabelle questioned as she lifted her head up, craning her neck back to look at him.
"This officer will take you to your Mommy." Kelly repeated softly, smiling at her.
"You come?" The question caught him off guard.
"I can’t sweetheart, I have to go back to the firehouse so I can help more people."
"No, you take me." Her chocolate brown eyes were big and begging, and the little pout she wore was enough to make him change his mind. He looked at the officer who gave him a subtle nod.
"How about you take a ride in the firetruck with me? I’m sure your Mom and Dad are missing you." It was the easiest solution considering how tightly she was holding his suspenders.
"Yes please." Annabelle answered happily, perking up at being able to stay in his arms.
"Alright sweetheart. Let’s go... We'll meet you at Med." The last part directed at the officer who nodded in agreement. Kelly shifted Annabelle on his hip and headed for the Squad Truck, climbing in and telling Tony to head to Med.
Annabelle settled easily on his lap, still curled into his chest and with an iron tight grip on one of his suspenders. Kelly held her tightly, keeping her tucked against him as they travelled from the scene to the hospital. The trip didn’t take long and as soon as Annabelle saw her mother, Kelly placed her on the ground and watched as she ran the short distance. A happy reunion took place right in front of him. He said goodbye to the young girl then left the hospital, heading back to the firehouse after their small detour.
Kelly let his head rest back against the seat as he replayed Matt's reaction at the scene, or as he was leaving the scene. Matt looked at him with such happiness and then all of a sudden it faltered and was replaced with a sadness that he hadn’t seen before. All too soon they were back at the firehouse, and Kelly was no closer to figuring out what had made Matt's mood switch so quickly. He climbed out of the truck and slipped off his boots and turnout pants, leaving his jacket inside the truck. He slipped his shoes on and laced them up then went in search of Matt, wanting to check on him.
Matt sat at his desk, failing miserably to focus on the paperwork in front of him, as he twirled the pen back and forth in his hand. He loved Kelly, truly loved him, and wanted to give him everything he could. Except the thing that he wanted the most was the one thing they hadn’t spoken about; Matt had always been vocal about his desire for children, for a family, but he had no idea how Kelly felt despite how much of a natural he was, how amazing he would be as a father. Sure, he had been willing to father a child with Shay years ago, had stepped in and helped with Clarice's son Wesley, then he had stepped up when Renée returned from Madrid pregnant and claimed the baby was his until she left after dropping the bombshell that he wasn’t. Matt had seen Kelly with Ben and Griffin Darden, with J.J and had seen the way he cared for Nicholas when Renée reappeared again in his life.
Kelly found himself standing outside Matt's quarters watching the man he loved. He knew that whatever was going on in his head was serious. He let himself in, closed the blinds, then collapsed down onto the bed all the while Matt was completely oblivious, still deep in his thoughts.
"Want to tell me what’s going on in that head of yours Case?” Kelly broke the silence, managing to startle Matt.
“How long have you been in here?” Matt asked as he let the pen drop of the desk and turned around.
“Long enough to know that something is worrying you.”
“Nothings worrying me.” The indignant response had Kelly raising his eyebrows at the harsh reaction. Matt blew out a sigh as he stood and moved to the bed, taking a seat on the edge of it, facing away from Kelly.
“I saw you. I saw the look on your face as you left the scene. You went from smiling beautifully to complete sadness in mere seconds Case. I saw it.” It was the truth, and it wasn’t said out of spite, it was said out of concern.
“You were amazing with that little girl.”
“Annabelle?” Kelly was seemingly lost.
“It’s a pretty name.”
“Case... please talk to me.”
“We’ve never talked about it. Talked about the future, and what it means... I watched you today, and I’ve watched you for years with children. You’ve always been amazing with them, a natural.” Matt spoke so softly almost as if he was terrified to verbalise what he was thinking and feeling. Kelly sat up and moved to kneel down on the floor so that he could look into Matt’s eyes. He placed his hands on his knees.
“Case, I need you to tell me, I need you to say it, to ask me what you want too. Total honesty, no bullshit.”
“We’ve never talked about kids, about having a family. My desire is well known but yours… you were willing to have a baby with Shay, and you were almost a Dad but I’ve never heard you say that you want them.” He closed his eyes as he spoke, his voice shaking as his hands found their way to Kelly’s, skimming his fingertips over his knuckles.
“I want a family Matt, I do, with you. I want to give you a family. We’ve never been one for the conventional... We would have to explore our options but I’m ready when you are.”
“What if I say I am ready now?”
“Then lets start exploring.” It was a huge decision but it was so easy to say. The smile that grew on Matt’s face made Kelly smile. Kelly craned his neck and stretched up brushing his lips against Matt’s who immediately reciprocated deepening the kiss.
“I love you.” Kelly whispered as they pulled apart both gasping for air.
“I love you too.” Matt replied eagerly knowing that it wouldn’t happen right away but he felt relaxed knowing that Kelly wanted a family, wanted one with him.
Chapter 10: All You Could
All You Could
Matt knew, had seen Kelly's devastation, could even feel it, at having to leave a young woman behind, to succumb to the fire that surrounded her. The fire had been out of control before they even arrived at the scene of the house fire but Kelly had tried desperately to reach the young woman who had been trapped by the fire despite the rapidly deteriorating conditions. Matt knew that Kelly, or any of the men and women would have tried their best like he had, but he also suspected that Kelly pushed himself further due to the young woman's resemblance to his fallen best friend, to Shay.
Truck 81 had been the last to leave the scene and return to the firehouse. Squad 3 had helped with overhaul but Boden had ordered them back seeing that Kelly's usual hardened exterior was faltering in the wake of the body retrieval despite how hard he tried to hide it. Matt was worried, rightfully so, knowing the spiral that Kelly had travelled down into after Shay's death. Some memories couldn’t be erased, and it seemed the bad memories were the easiest to relive. Matt got out of the truck and stripped out of his turnout gear before he looked around the apparatus floor seeing every member of Squad cleaned up and at the table playing cards with the exception of Kelly.
"Where is he?" Casey asked knowing the rest of the members of Truck were headed for the showers, and he could understand the need to get clean but Kelly was his priority.
"He was in his quarters." Cruz answered, his own worry evident for his Lieutenant. Matt gave an appreciative nod of thanks and he walked away, heading for Kelly's quarters.
Matt went in search of Kelly once he found that his quarters were empty, he searched through the firehouse foregoing the locker room knowing that it was occupied by the various members of his team, and that he would want privacy. The feeling of panic was increasing as each place he checked showed no sign of Kelly.
"Casey." Herrmann called sensing his panic and having seen his worried eyes at the scene. Casey was on his second lap on the firehouse and was passing the common room once again heading for their quarters. Matt stopped as Herrmann made his way over to him.
"I was the last out of the locker room. Might want to check there now." Herrmann advised quietly knowing that Kelly had made his way in as he walked out, and he was in a state.
"Thanks Herrmann." Matt clasped his shoulder briefly before turning away and heading for the locker room knowing what Herrmann was saying without saying it.
Matt walked into the silent locker room and began to look around in search of Kelly. It appeared as though the locker room was empty until he checked the showers. He found Kelly sitting fully clothed in one of the shower cubicles staring blankly at the yellow tiled wall with his knees pressed up to his chest. His eyes were red rimmed and he was seemingly despondent. Matt kneeled down on the ground, moving into his line of sight but being careful not to startle him.
"Kel, you did everything you could. There was nothing else to do." Matt spoke softly, his concern heightened as he looked over Kelly and realised that he had suffered a nasty burn to his left wrist given the blistering that had already formed. "Kel, honey, you’ve got a second degree burn that we need to get treated." Terms of endearment were never used between the two men whilst on shift at work but given the situation the professional demeanour had slipped. There was no recognition as he didn’t shift his gaze from the tiles.
Matt was running out of ideas and options, and his concern was only growing by the second. He stood up and stepped into the confined shower cubicle then shut the curtain behind himself blocking out the world around them. He stepped in behind Kelly and slid down so that his own body was trapped between the cool wall and Kelly's trembling frame. He wrapped his arms over Kelly's shoulders letting his hands rest over his clothed chest, and rested his chin on his broad shoulder. His actions seemed to spur Kelly out of his stupor but that bought an onslaught of emotions.
Kelly lifted his right hand to Matt's arm and wrapped it around softly, there was no power behind his grip. He let his head drop back against Matt's shoulder as his body shuddered. "She's dead." The cracking of his voice was heart breaking; if it wasn’t for the silence of the locker room he wouldn’t have been heard. Matt wasn’t exactly sure whether Kelly was talking about the woman from the fire or Shay or both. "I know honey. There was nothing more you could have done. There was nothing any of us could do." He’d say it a thousand times for Kelly to hear, for him to believe if that’s what he needed. "I couldn’t save her." Matt tightened his hold knowing there was nothing he could do or say in the moment to erase the pain that Kelly was in despite how much he wanted too.
"Sev, honey?" Matt questioned softly, time had passed slowly but eventually Kelly stopped shuddering as his body was exhausted with the emotions that were coursing through it. His entire body had gone lax in his arms, and whilst it was concerning, Matt was somewhat relieved as well that Kelly was finally calming.
"Mmm..." Kelly was too exhausted, both physically and emotionally, to speak. He turned his head and softly pressed his face into Matt's neck inhaling the scent of smoke mixed with the body-wash that lingered on his skin.
"Let’s get you up and to your quarters. You need to sleep." Matt kept his voice low purposefully. He wished he could take him home to their bed but they still had hours to go on their shift. He wasn’t even sure if he was completely aware of where they were, where he had ended up. There was no protest so Matt carefully slid himself out from behind Kelly and stood up then helped him up, taking most of his weight as he learnt against him heavily. They made their way slowly out of the locker room.
"Need some help Casey?" Herrmann asked softly as he walked out of the laundry room and into the bunk room. His concern was evident for the exhausted Lieutenant.
"Could you get the door?" Matt was using all his energy to keep Kelly upright, and not to topple over. Herrmann nodded and moved quickly, opening the door widely and then closing it softly behind them once they were inside the small room.
Matt practically laid Kelly down on the bed then walked to the windows, turning down all of the blinds to give them privacy. He turned back to him and stepped forward, gently removing his boots and setting them on the floor. He waited a few minutes seeing that he had settled and his breathing had evened out meaning he was asleep. He gently treated the burn to his wrist then wrapped it, all without waking him. He wanted to stay but he desperately needed a shower himself and there was paperwork that had to be done. He slipped out of his quarters reluctantly, silently hoping that there would be no calls for Squad for a while, if not the rest of the shift.
Chapter 11: Mourning
Thank you all so much for the kind comments, I love hearing all of your thoughts and feelings with each new post!
The high pitched ringing woke him from his deep sleep, he groggily rolled over and blindly reached out, answering it as he bought it to his ear.
“What?” The answer was gruff and sounded harsher than he intended but considering it was 2am it was acceptable in his mind.
“Hi... I’m calling from Bar Project. I was given this number by Mr Casey, he asked us to call you.”
“Is he okay?” Kelly was already up and getting dressed as he asked the kitchen with a hint of panic.
“He’s fine, just to drunk to be on his own. He asked us to call Hallie but the phone is disconnected.”
“I’m on my way.” Kelly hung up as he grabbed his keys and closed the door behind him. He had known the breakdown was coming but Matt had to be in a really bad place if he was getting so drunk that he couldn’t be on his own.
It didn’t take long for Kelly to arrive at the near deserted bar but given that it was past closing time, it wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t hard to spot the blonde slumped over the bar with his head rested on his arms.
“Tabs paid up, just get him home safe.” The barmaid whose voice he recognised from the call stated as he reached Matt.
“Case...” Kelly tried to rouse him with a small shake of the shoulder.
“Come on Case, let’s get you out of here.” Kelly had to manhandle Casey up to his feet, although he ended up with his entire weight lent against him.
“Elly, wha doing ‘ere?” His slurred speech gave Kelly an indication of his level of inebriation. Matt looked up at him with surprise as Kelly almost carried him out of the bar and to his awaiting car.
“Taking you home.” Kelly replied as he seated him in the car.
“Noooooo... can’t go ‘ome.” The whiny drunk was not what Kelly expected. He shut the door and quickly made his way round to the drivers side and got in.
“I’ll take you back to mine and Shay’s. You can sleep off the booze there.” He was running out of options, and he was tired himself but he also couldn’t abandon him.
“Hal’s?” Matt mumbled as he looked over at Kelly as they pulled away from the curb. Matt sounded so lost and so broken and it tore Kelly apart, and he didn’t know what he could do. It was a part of the grieving process, and there were some parts that had to be done alone.
Kelly didn’t know what to say so he remained silent, choosing to focus on the road ahead. He glanced over to see that Matt had rested his head against the cool glass and was focused intently on the passing road.
It didn’t take long to return to the apartment, in fact it took longer to get Matt out and the car and inside. The alcohol had made his legs fail to work properly, and he had ended up falling to the ground twice with Kelly picking him up both times.
Matt was unceremoniously dumped down onto the couch although he now seemed wide awake, and slighter more sober.
“We had a whole life meant to be spent together… I don’t, I didn’t, need to have kids. I could have waited. She shouldn’t have died, not like she did. She shouldn’t have been burnt.” Drunk Matt clearly had no walls as the words poured out.
“You are meant to be a Dad Matt, and you can’t give up that dream for anyone... and she shouldn’t have died. I’m sorry that she did, and I’m sorry you had to see her that way.” Kelly doubted he would remember any of this once he was finally sober but the truth was that he meant every word. But every word was sincere, he meant every single word.
“No one deserves...” The sentence wasn’t finished as Matt finally passed out. Kelly rolled him over onto his side then covered him up with a blanket. Admittedly, he was slightly relieved that he had finally passed out. At least he was safe and they could check on him. Kelly took one last glance at him before he headed back upstairs to bed.
Chapter 12: Damaged
It was a busy night at Molly’s but Kelly had found himself a seat at the bar with his paper, content to have a drink and do the crossword. Somehow though he had spent more time watching Matt than doing the crossword in front of him. A fact that had not missed by Herrmann.
"None of my business but are you two ok?" Herrmann asked as he placed a fresh bottle of beer down in front of Kelly. The pair hadn’t approached each other all night, yet Kelly was watching longingly and protectively whilst Matt drank way more than he usually would.
"Thanks, and I think you can guess the answer." He resisted scoffing as he dropped his pen down on top of the untouched newspaper in front of him.
"What is it this time?" Herrmann wasn’t prying because he wanted to gossip, it was because he genuinely cared about both men and had seen how happy they were despite how private they remained. Although he was surprised that Kelly had even given him a loose answer.
"Everything and nothing." He shrugged as he wasn’t completely sure what was going on between them himself, he wasn’t exactly sure why Matt was creating the distance he was between them, or even spending a few nights at his own place.
"He's putting space in between you?" Herrmann questioned making Kelly raise his eyebrows in surprise at the accuracy of the questioning statement.
"How did you know?" The confusion had set in, and his question only gave Herrmann the confirmation that he was on the right track.
"It’s what he does when he gets scared... I’ve known him and you a long time... and quite frankly he’s damaged, you both are, but you repair yourself better whereas he buries it until it surfaces in a majorly unhealthy manner... That damage doesn’t just disappear just like the baggage that lingers." Herrmann spoke profoundly having been a witness to most of Matt Casey's adult life.
"Herrmann..." Kelly was quickly silenced with a raised hand.
"Everyone he has ever loved has left him in some way, left him hurt, left him broken."
"I’m not going to leave him." He spoke so resolutely that there was no doubt it was the truth.
"I know it won’t be by choice but he needs that reassurance from you... He loves you Kelly even if he hasn’t said it, but he’s trying to protect himself too." Herrmann left him with those parting words heading down to the other end of the bar to deal with some patrons.
Kelly turned his attention back to Matt as Herrmann's words sunk in. He wondered how he hadn’t worked it out but then again an outside perspective could see things those involved didn’t. He waited a few minutes before he got up and pushed himself away from the bar, heading towards Matt.
Matt looked up as Kelly managed to fit himself in between his legs, leaving him boxed in against the bar. Kelly leaned down so that his lips were right by Matt's ear.
"I love you and I am not going anywhere." It probably wasn’t the best place to tell him for the first time but he couldn’t stand the distance that he could feel between them.
"I love you Case, I am in love with you, and there’s nothing that will make me leave you." Kelly wished he had said it sooner, wished he had said it in privacy not because he was ashamed or embarrassed but because he wanted to know Matt's true reaction, not the public one. He didn’t even care if Matt said it back or not, he could have all the time he needed until he was ready to say it but he was glad he had finally told him. He felt as Matt's hand closed around his that had found its way to rest on his knee.
"I want to come home. Can I come home?" Kelly pulled back so that he could see Matt's face and was amazed at how many emotions he could see. Matt's use of the word 'home' was what surprised him the most, and he couldn’t help the smile that grew on his face.
"I want you to come home. You never have to ask to come home Case."
"Please take me home." Kelly didn’t need to be asked twice instead he stepped back just enough to allow Matt to stand, and then led the man he loved out of Molly's, glad that the seemingly growing distance had closed significantly. No matter how many times Matt needed to hear it, Kelly would tell him every time that he loved him without fail.
Chapter 13: Scars
The job often left marks, scarred their skin leaving reminders of just how close they came to the end, and of the lengths that they pushed themselves to in their effort to save lives. Each scar had a story, an explanation, and more often than not a name attached to it even if that name had been long forgotten but that name meant survival, meant a second chance at life. Some of the scars were more visible than others which meant they had needed medical intervention - stitched or stapled or glued - and those that did were often defined by the colour variation that highlighted them.
A towel laid across Kelly's backside, scrunched up so that it was only covering from the bottom of his hips to the very top of his thighs as he laid on his stomach with his head turned to the side, he was fresh out of the shower after thoroughly washing the last remnants of a hard shift off of him, and thankful to be home.
Matt had straddled him in only his boxers, and had lent down to place a delicate kiss on the nape of his neck then in the middle of the scar from the surgical incision to repair his neck. He let out a soft hum of enjoyment as the blondes soft lips brushed over his skin, trailing after his fingertips.
Matt stopped as he got to a scar on the left side of Kelly’s lower back, it had clearly been closed with stitches given the defining white colour. And whoever had stitched it had done a poor job given that it was ragged. "How...did you... get this...one?" Matt asked softly as he kissed along the scar in between his words.
"A guy was harassing Shay one night when we were out." Matt didn’t need Kelly to say anymore as he knew that it was a result of him protecting her. "He wouldn’t take no for an answer even after I stepped in. His buddy caught me off guard as he slammed me back into one of those floor to ceiling mirrors that the bar we were in had... I told Shay I was fine, didn’t even realise that I had been cut until we got back to the apartment. We had walked back with our arms wrapped around each other like we usually did. When she pulled her arm away from me, her sleeve was covered in blood. I convinced her to stitch me up, we both had a few drinks in us and it seemed like a decent enough idea at the time." Matt could have laughed as he could imagine the scene that night but he didn’t as Kelly hardly ever spoke of her but Matt loved when he did even if it was plagued with sadness, instead he laid one final kiss over the scar knowing that it was one that would be a cherished memory.
Matt moved over to his right hip and pressed his lips over where his bone marrow had been extracted. That scar represented more than most. It represented how lost Kelly was, and how he found his way, found a purpose. It represented the extra time he gave Anna, and the time they shared together. It represented how big of a heart he had under that iron clad exterior.
Matt trailed his fingertips back up to his shoulder and down his left arm where the faint remnants of a burn could still be seen from where the flames had burnt through his turnout jacket. Matt knew how that scar was formed, and it was in part due to Kelly’s stubbornness and refusal to seek medical treatment, and a cheap construction material. It was only in certain lights and at certain angles that the damage to the skin could still be seen as it had faded significantly. A fluttering kiss marked the spot before he raised himself up again.
"Roll over." Matt instructed as he lifted himself up to give Kelly just enough room to turn over underneath him. Kelly complied slowly rolling himself over onto his back, smiling as Matt settled back down on top of him with the mid morning sun lighting the room and giving the blonde a luminous glow. These quiet moments that only the two of them shared were so important and so special, and they meant even more after a hard shift. Kelly loved that Matt loved to explore his body, map his skin, and loved the feel of his featherlight touches as his fingertips and lips danced over the top of his skin.
Matt smiled before he leaned down again, his lips following the path of his fingertips, and stopping at the scar that was on the left side of Kelly's rib cage after the explosion at Med. He closed his eyes and let out a shaky breath as the memories of that day flooded his mind. Black tag. "I’m here." Kelly murmured as he lifted his hand to Matt's cheek making him open his eyes, he may not have any memory of the day but he knew that it had left an invisible scar on Matt. "I know." Matt's voice was so soft that if it wasn’t for the silence of the apartment he wouldn’t have heard him before he leant down and kissed along the scar, feeling the ribs beneath the warm skin.
His fingertips trailed up to his collarbone, brushing over the gold pendant of his St Florian necklace as he stopped at another scar, one that he didn’t know the origin of although he did vaguely recall a large bandage there years ago. "It happened years ago, just before I became Lieutenant of Squad." Kelly could see the questioning look that Matt wore and decided to answer before he could ask. "A braided steel cable let go and there was a hell of a lot of tension on it. It snapped back. I got back far enough that only the tail end caught me, still sliced through to the bone though." Kelly finished just as Matt dipped his head again and once again his soft lips met his warm skin, placing another delicate kiss on yet another scar making him hum in appreciation.
The last scar that Matt let his fingertips brush over was the one to Kelly's forehead where he was hit after being car jacked. Matt knew he could have lost him, could have been visiting an innocent man in jail but he knew Kelly could have lost a lot more including his life. His other hand cupped Kelly’s cheek as Kelly brushed his hands up either side of Matt's torso.
"I love you Kelly." Matt kissed him on the lips which Kelly instantly responded too. Matt pulled away and pressed his forehead against Kelly’s. "I love you too Matthew." Kelly needed him to know, needed him to know that it wasn’t one sided as he pulled Matt's body down on top of him, loving the way he flattened himself out against his own body. The two laid together, both enjoying the physical presence of each other as they laid in the silence with their hands lazily exploring each other’s skin as they each stole soft lazy kisses from each other.
Chapter 14: Shattered Dreams
Numb was not a feeling that Matt was used too. Numb and empty. He couldn’t stop the words from repeating in his head as he drove home practically on autopilot, the words that shattered his own world, and would shatter his partners. They had made plans, had been so excited, and secretly he had started designing what he could only dream of.
Matt stepped inside the apartment, quietly closed the door behind him and set his keys on the table before he hung his jacket up and kicked off his shoes. He wiped at his eyes that were still glassy with tears even though he knew that there was no point in hiding, that Kelly would know in an instant as the man was so attune to him and all that he felt. He took a few deep breaths before he pushed himself to walk further into the apartment going in search of the man he loved and who he was about to disappoint.
Matt stopped and leant again the doorframe as he found Kelly in the bathroom showering after what he knew would have been a rough day spent with Benny, his view was obscured by the steam that had the shower glass fogged up. Kelly had his hands pressed flat against the tiled wall with his head dropped down as the water ran onto his head and trailed down his body to the ground. Even from the short distance, and through the steam, Matt could see how tense Kelly was and the sinking feeling enveloped him as he knew he was about to make his day a lot worse.
Matt silently crossed the threshold into the bathroom and lifted himself up onto the counter, leaning back against the mirror, as he continued to silently observe the man that he loved and enjoying the last few minutes before he shattered all the plans that they had made. A part of him wanted to scream, to run away, and the other part of him wished that he could change the outcome. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t hear the water turn off or even realise that Kelly had stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around himself and crossed the bathroom to him until he felt Kelly's large warm hands land on the top of his thighs.
"Hi sweetheart." Kelly murmured softly stepping into the space between Matt's spread legs knowing that something was on his mind.
"Hi." He replied quietly as he looped his arms around Kelly’s neck, feeling the warm damp skin beneath his own, and then laid his head on his shoulder inhaling the familiar and comforting scent of the man he loved, pressing his face into the crook of his neck.
"Want to tell me what’s going on in that head of yours?" Kelly asked softly having seen Matt's puffy, bloodshot and still glassy eyes.
Matt stayed silent for a few minutes and Kelly knew not to push him having felt the way he tensed and then as the tears landed on his skin Kelly wrapped his arms around, pulling him into his own body tightly, and desperately trying to sooth him.
"I...I..." Matt pulled himself away from the warmth, the comfort and the security of Kelly and his embrace, and looked down at his lap, desperately wishing that he didn’t have to say it, didn’t have to tell Kelly.
"Sweetheart please tell me what’s going on." Kelly implored highly concerned as Matt looked ready to crumble.
"The doctor called, asked me to come in." He stopped, struggling just to get those few words out, and silently sending Kelly's panicking sky high.
"Why didn’t you call me? I would have been there."
"You were dealing with Benny, figured you had enough to deal with." Matt knew that the relationship was still strained and had been further damaged after Jennifer's visit. Kelly shook his head at his partners worry for him instead of himself.
"Benny could have waited but I never want you too. I’m there wherever you need me to be. We’re in this together." With those words, Kelly lifted his hand to Matt’s chin and softly lifted his head up so that they were face to face.
"All that we had talked about Kel, all that we planned, my part ended today." His voice trembled and cracked.
"What did the doctor say?" Kelly was completely confused and didn’t fully understand his words.
"I’m... I'm infertile... I can’t have kids." Those words, saying them aloud, shattered the remaining strength that Matt had, and he crumbled. The tears came thick and fast and his body trembled violently. They had decided to use two surrogate mothers with donor eggs to have their own child, well children, so that they could each have a biological child but now that plan, that dream, had been destroyed for Matt. He would love Kelly’s child, after all it would be their child, but it was all too raw for him to comprehend that all that they had planned would change and had already changed.
"Sweetheart... Matt... I’m so sorry." Kelly closed his arms around the wrecked man in front of him wishing that he could fix it, could change it but he couldn’t. As much as it tore him apart, he had to be strong for Matt, had to support him. His heart physically ached for his lover knowing how much he wanted children. Matt fought against his hold but Kelly wasn’t letting him go.
"I love you. We’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. I love you." Kelly murmured repeatedly as Matt gave up fighting and he went lax in his arms. Kelly ran his hand over Matt's back feeling every movement as his body with racked with silent sobs and as he gasped for air.
"I had a whole lot of nursery designs, and handmade crib designs drawn." If it hadn’t been for the silence of the apartment Kelly wouldn’t have heard the softly spoken admission that tore his heart apart even more because he knew all of the love and hope that would have gone into each and every design, and he knew how much love would have gone into creating the dream nursery and furniture.
"It’s not fair. Why me? What did I do?" There were no answers to the questions that he posed.
"You did nothing wrong... you’re right it isn’t fair." Being at a loss for words was never easy but Kelly also knew that Matt was distraught and nothing that could be said would ease that pain he felt.
Kelly held Matt until his body physically gave out and he had no energy left. "Sweetheart?" Kelly murmured softly unsure if Matt had cried himself to sleep although he was pretty sure he had.
When he received no answer, he carefully shifted Matt and lifted him off of the counter then carried him through to their bed. He laid him down gently, and noted how tormented the blonde looked even in his sleep. He stepped back and quickly walked into their shared wardrobe then found and pulled on a pair of boxers before he returned to Matt.
Kelly brushed his hand through Matt's hair softly as he sat on the edge of the bed beside him. "I love you Matt. I will love you forever." He whispered knowing there was nothing more he could do but be by his side every step of the way. There would be more tears and words exchanged in the coming hours, days, weeks and months but what Kelly did know was that he and Matt would get through it together.
Chapter 15: Claustrophobia
It would have been comical if it wasn’t hot as hell and had only been a momentary stoppage but no it was going on four hours and they had yet to get out. The top hatch of the elevator appeared to have been welded shut so there was no escaping the steel box, and there was no cell service either.
"Case, would you stop pacing? Come and sit down." Kelly swore that he had paced the width of the elevator at least a hundred times, if not more.
"Can't." The word sounded harsh against his ragged breathing that Kelly hadn’t noticed until now.
"Case?" Kelly was up and on his feet quickly as he noticed how pale Matt had become. As he took a closer look he could see the beads of sweat forming on his skin, and noticed the way his hands were formed into fists with his nails digging into his palms.
"I need to get out of here." The words sounded panicked just as Casey felt.
"They're working on it Case. We are going to get out of here. I need you to stop moving though and take a few deep breaths." Kelly was slightly confused given that he had never seen him like this before but then again they usually weren’t trapped for this long. As far as he knew Casey had never suffered from claustrophobia.
"I need to get out of here." He muttered too focused on the steel walls that felt as if they were closing in.
"Case, you and me, we are going to sit down." He knew he needed to distract the blonde and calm him any way he could. He put his hands on his shoulders and gently pushed him down before sitting down beside him. He pressed his leg against Casey's, hoping that the touch would be grounding.
"Tell me your favourite memory Case."
"Yeah. What’s your best memory? I want you to tell me."
"You’re trying to distract me." His breathes were ragged and seemingly harsher.
"No, I want you to distract me."
"Don’t think I have one."
"Ok then, any memory then." It was sad to think that he didn’t have a favourite memory but the distraction was working as his breathing was slowly evening out.
"Do you ever wish you could change something? I do, I wish it had been me, I think it would have been better, easier sometimes."
"What?" The shock lingered at his words. This was not what Kelly had meant by a distraction.
"There was still so much left... family that loved and adored... I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if it was me." In the quiet of the night he often found his mind wondering to the what ifs.
"Of course there are things I wish I could change but you taking Andy's place is not one of them. Do I wish that Andy had of listened, that he didn’t die? Of course I do but I couldn’t lose you either, I can’t lose you Case." It was the truth, the kind of hand on heart truth. The air suddenly felt thick but there was a shift in the atmosphere.
Before Casey could respond the elevator doors were finally opened much to his relief. They were free, they were rescued. Kelly knew that the conversation was effectively finished for the moment but he couldn’t help the worry that had settled deep inside of him.
Chapter 16: You Saved Him
As always, thank you all so much for the comments and kudos! I love reading each and every one :)
You Saved Him
Matt was exhausted, the worry and stress had taken its toll on him as his bleary eyes ran over Kelly's pale and battered body. His hand held Kelly's tightly, his thumb brushing lightly and repeatedly over his knuckles. It had been almost forty eight hours since they had arrived at the hospital.
It hadn’t even been a work related injury that had landed Kelly in hospital instead it had been the hero complex in him as his training set in; he had reacted before Matt had even realised what was happening, they had been out for a run when a small toddler ran away from his mother and straight out into the road into the path of oncoming traffic, and Kelly ran towards the child and the car, scooping the child up and angling his body to take the full impact of the collision. The toddler had escaped unharmed and Matt knew that for Kelly that was what mattered even if he wasn’t coherent enough to understand, or fully recall everything that had happened.
Kelly had multiple broken bones including a broken leg and ankle, and six of his ribs had been broken which had punctured his lung and caused a pneumothorax resulting in a chest tube. His spleen had been ruptured and his liver had been lacerated which had resulted in surgery and a blood transfusion. The concussion was severe given the large laceration to his skull that had to be stapled closed.
Matt smiled softly as he watched Kelly's eyes open and immediately noticed how glazed they were but given the level of morphine he had had and that was still being administered it was no surprise.
"Hi honey." Matt made sure to keep his voice soft and low seeing Kelly fighting against the effects of the morphine, and suspecting that his concussion was making the struggle worse. Kelly tried to reach for the oxygen mask that he was wearing but Matt quickly stopped him.
"I’ve got it." Matt told him as he reached up and eased it down knowing he would need it back on soon enough.
"Wuv you 'atty." The slurred speech was kind of cute despite him being injured. Matt was surprised the affect the morphine had on Kelly, it reminded him of a little boy, but he wasn’t about to complain hearing those words especially given all that they had been through since the accident.
"I love you too honey... how are you feeling?" Matt asked seeing that everything was a struggle. His movements were clumsy as if his limbs were incredibly heavy, and his coordination was poor. His eyes were unfocused and his eyelids kept drooping. But Matt had to admit the pout that had appeared was adorable.
"Floaty... Kid 'right?" The question had Matt standing up and lifting his free hand up to Kelly's hair, brushing his fingers through his hair carefully avoiding the laceration. Of course Kelly would be concerned about the boy instead of himself. But the question also caused Matt to worry especially given the Kelly had already asked the previous two times he had woken, and both times the question had been answered however Matt knew that if he didn’t answer that Kelly wouldn’t let it go.
"He's perfect honey, not even a scratch. You saved him." Kelly gave a soft nod as he struggled to catch his breath which made Matt slid the oxygen mask back into place over his face.
"'m 'orry." The mask hindered his words further as he fought to stay awake as Matt' carding his fingers over his scalp was soothing him.
"Don’t apologise, you saved a child." As terrified as Matt had been and still was, he could not be mad for Kelly saving a child’s life even though he risked his own.
"I 'urt you" As out of it as Kelly felt he still could see the dark circles under Matt's eyes and could sense his worry.
"You didn’t hurt me honey, scared me a little but now I’ve seen those gorgeous eyes of yours I know you are going to be okay." Matt couldn’t believe that Kelly was worried about him when he was the one in the hospital bed in pain.
"I’m 'roken." Matt knew that Kelly had lost track of the conversation as his words were becoming increasingly slurred.
"Get some sleep honey. I’ll be here when you wake up." Matt knew that he would be more lucid as the doctor had informed him that there would be no more morphine as they wanted him more lucid as they were hoping to release him in the next day or so. Matt continued his soft movements as he carded his hands through his hair watching as he succumbed to sleep. He waited until Kelly was sleeping peacefully before he settled his own aching body back down into the chair by his bedside.
Chapter 17: Omissions and Admissions
Omissions and Admissions
Kelly cringed and suppressed a wince as he made his way into Matt's quarters at the firehouse, the pain was radiating through his hip and into his spine from the bone marrow procedure. He had been cleared to return to work but after the few calls that Squad had, he was beginning to doubt it as the pain flared again.
"You alright?" Kelly's pained expression had Matt's attention immediately as he watched as he moved slowly and eased himself down onto the bed, readjusting the pillows so that he could see his fellow Lieutenant.
"Just sore." Kelly downplayed how he felt as Matt scoffed aloud in disbelief.
"You didn’t come in here to lie by omission Kelly." Matt knew his friend and knew when he was in pain as he was attuned to him but he also knew that there was something on his mind. Given the past few weeks and everything that had happened it was understandable that Kelly was struggling mentally and emotionally with it all, or at least that is what Matt suspected.
Kelly turned his attention to the ceiling above him as he tried to collect his thoughts and breathe through the pain that only seemed to be intensifying even as he remained as still as he possibly could so as not to jar his aching body.
"I’m in pain, a lot of pain but it’s only just set back in. It’s nothing I can’t handle, the immediate aftermath was worse.” Kelly was trying to convince himself just as much as he was trying to convince Matt.l
“If it gets worse you should have Gabby check it out... Have you heard from Anna?” Matt changed the subject pointedly knowing his friend was uncomfortable admitting a perceived weakness when in fact it wasn’t given that it had helped prolong or save a life.
“She went back to Springfield, back to her life before she was sick.” It wasn’t spoken with bitterness but there was an undertone of sadness and something else that Matt couldn’t quite pinpoint.
“You and Anna got pretty close, spent a lot of time together in the hospital.” Matt knew of his visits to the hospital even after he was discharged, and even the visits whilst he was a patient himself. Both he and Gabby had been slightly worried when they arrived to find his hospital room empty after he had to jump from a second storey window to avoid being burnt to death in a house fire.
“We share bone marrow Casey.” Kelly deadpanned before he sighed as he once again shifted to look at him knowing that he wasn’t getting out of the conversation. “I thought we had something, I felt something, I still feel something for her... I’m all over the place lately.” He was surprised by his own admission, not that he wasn’t already aware of his own growing feelings but the fact he had verbalised it.
“It’s alright not to know what you’re feeling Sev.” Matt realised that Kelly was still so lost and had been for a while but now it was in a different way because whether he wanted to admit it or not he was falling for Anna, falling for the woman that he gave a second chance at life. Matt smiled at this realisation.
“She left a note with ‘someday’ written on it, and I keep thinking that I want that someday to be today.”
“Then why don’t you make that someday today?” Matt hadn’t seen this side of Kelly in a very long time, the wavering on a decision was not something he did.
“There’s so many reasons. Do you know why they like to keep donors and recipients anonymous? For situations exactly like this. So that there’s no growing feelings or false hope... arghh.” There was a sense of anguish behind his words and it was clear to Matt that this internal battle that was raging between Kelly’s head and heart had been for some time.
“You deserve to be happy Kelly, and if she makes you then so be it, go after her. Hell, you have never been one to exactly follow protocol so why try now.” Matt figured that he deserved to be happy especially after all that life had thrown at him especially lately.
“Thanks Case.” Kelly didn’t know what to say, truthfully he didn’t know what to think either. All he knew what that he was in pain and there were too many thoughts going through his mind. He eased himself up off of the bed once again silently grimacing in pain as the movements sent another spike of pain through him, heading for his own quarters.
Chapter 18: A Perfect Christmas
A Perfect Christmas
The tree twinkled as the colourful petite fairy lights lit the darkened room as the fire flickered opposite it providing the warmth that was desperately needed as the snow had fallen thick and fast outside as Chicago’s winter weather had given them a white Christmas that they would remember fondly for years to come. Kelly moved to lay on the couch with Matt who was already spread out over it, his eyes half closed although the flickering fairy lights had his attention, carefully lifting Matt up and laying him down on top of himself before Kelly wrapped his arms around Matt’s back. Matt wiggled around for a few seconds before he settled, laying his head on Kelly’s muscular chest with his ear pressed again his heart so he could hear it beat. Kelly let one of his large hands slid up Matt’s back to the nape of his neck and let his fingers gracefully move in small circular movements through his blonde hair against his scalp making sure to avoid the scar that lingered from his brain surgery years before. The two men were enjoying Christmas Eve together before they had to report to the firehouse in the morning having pulled the Christmas Day shift but as long as they were together they had nothing to complain about especially when they would be surrounded by all of their firehouse family.
“Do you want to go to bed baby or stay here?” Kelly asked knowing that Matt would chose to stay right where they were as he loved to watch through the window that was behind the tree as the snow fell outside and the way the Christmas tree twinkled in the night.
“Here, right here with you.” Matt murmured so softly that Kelly would have missed his answer if he hadn’t been listening for it. It had seemingly become their Christmas Eve tradition to spend the night in relative silence just enjoying each other’s company, and the beauty of the decorated tree and the city beyond the glass of the windows of their apartment when they were at home.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Kelly craned his neck and kissed the crown of Matt’s head before he let his head fall back against the arm of the couch enjoying watching the way Matt watched the lights and the snow.
“I know.” Matt replied as his hand curled up with a strong hold on Kelly’s shirt. He did know that Kelly wasn’t going anywhere, and not because he was lying on top of the man but because they were both where they wanted to be, together.
“The tree is beautiful, stunning. It looks incredible just like every year.” Kelly told Matt, praising him as he had been very devoted and deliberate in his decorating of the tree that Kelly had bought home for them. Kelly had figured out a few years earlier that Matt loved Christmas and all the holiday bought even if he kept it to himself, having chosen not to share his love for the holiday outside of the privacy of their home. Matt loved to have a tree and to give presents although he still wasn’t the best at receiving them from anyone including Kelly but it didn’t matter because Kelly made sure that the tree was surrounded by many presents of all different shapes and sizes with many varieties of wrapping paper for Matt from him. Kelly especially loved the childlike excitement that made Matt light up and smile so wide when Christmas was upon them, and he also loved the peace and calmness that seemed to envelop Matt when he watched the fairy lights twinkle against the dark green of the tree and the colourful ornaments that adorned each and every branch. It was like everything slowed down around them when Christmas was upon them, like they could take a step back and enjoy some of the simpler things of life that would usually never be given a second thought; it was like they entered their own private world at Christmas, one that Kelly wouldn’t give up for anything in the world, one that he would do anything to keep each and every year.
“Thank you.” Matt gracefully accepted the praise from Kelly although the flush to his cheeks was evident even in the darkened room. “Did you see the three baubles that I added on before near the top by the star?” Matt asked, and Kelly knew he was asking for a reason as his eyes roamed the tree looking for the baubles that Matt was questioning him about.
“No, I didn’t baby but I have now.” Kelly answered honestly as he had seen Matt putting on more decorations as he finished making dinner but he hadn’t had a close look until now. Just below the star were three glass baubles, one with Truck 81’s insignia, one with Squad 3’s insignia, and the one in the middle was a photo of their hands joined together. The perfect addition to truly make the tree theirs, and Matt’s way of signalling that they were a family and that he loved the life that had built and were building together. It was the joining of the two into one. “I love them Matt. They are the perfect addition to an already perfect Christmas.”
“A perfect Christmas.” Matt repeated smiling as he tilted his head upwards so that he could see Kelly and still see the lights in his peripheral vision.
“Yeah…” Kelly moved his hand from Matt’s back and dug into his pocket knowing Matt was focused intently on him and not what he was doing. Kelly pulled out what he needed from his pocket and bought his hand up to Matt’s left hand that had flattened out and let go of his shirt moments ago when he shifted his head before he slipped the thick silver band of his ring finger quickly garnering Matt’s attention to his actions.
“Kel?” Matt asked as he looked down at the ring that now adorned his left ring finger completely and utterly surprised.
“I know we can’t make it official baby, not any more than we already have, not right now… and if it’s too much than we can forget about it, forget that I did it but I thought that we can make it unofficially official for ourselves… I want everyone to know I am taken.” Kelly knew that they couldn’t get married because of CFD politics especially given they were at the same house but they were listed as each other’s next of kin, and were partners for life so it was only right that they had rings to wear as an honour of commitment to each other, and for each other. Kelly without Matt even realising had begun to wear his own ring earlier in the day unable to stop himself from doing so, it was a matching ring, the only difference being the inscription. Matt’s ring was inscribed with ‘Sev’ while Kelly’s own right was inscribed with ‘Case’ in the inside.
“No, no, it’s perfect. I love being unofficially official with you. I love that everyone will know we are taken. I love it Kelly, and I love you.” Matt was wide awake now but made no effort to move just wanting to be as close as he could be to Kelly just as they already were.
“I love you Matt.” Kelly craned his neck again, this time capturing Matt’s lips in his own enjoying the soft warmth of his lips against his own. “Merry Christmas baby.” Kelly whispered against his lips as he pulled back the slightest to tell him.
“Merry Christmas babe.” Matt whispered back before he settled his head back down on Kelly’s chest, only this time his eyes weren’t on the tree but were on the ring that now adorned his finger, and that would for the rest of their lives.
Chapter 19: Subconscious Stress
Kelly rolled onto his side reaching out for Matt but his hand only met cold sheets instead of the warm body that he was expecting. He opened his eyes waiting for them to adjust to the darkness and let out a soft sigh as he realised that Matt's side of the bed had remained untouched for yet another night. His eyes traveled to the bedside clock, 03:04AM, and knew he needed to get Matt into bed and asleep for a few hours at least given that they had a shift starting in a few hours.
He rolled back over onto his back and bought his hands up to his face, scrubbing them over and feeling the stubble that had grown since his last shave beneath his fingertips. He laid listening, hearing the subtle movements that he deduced were from Matt pacing from the front door to the back door, pacing the entire length of the apartment. This had been going on for almost two weeks and Kelly couldn’t figure out why, and he was at a loss for what to do next especially considering not even pushing Matt past the point of exhaustion was helping him to sleep.
He pushed the duvet and top sheet down then got out of their bed as the cool night air wrapped itself around his body. He kept his footsteps light as he made his way into the lounge, his eyes finding his lover in an instant who continued to pace relentlessly in the dark. He stopped and took in Matt, noting that the blonde had changed into a pair of sweatpants but what was more concerning was that it seemed that Matt had lost a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time as his ribs were more visible than they were just days ago, and the dark puffy circles around his bloodshot eyes had darkened and were more prominent.
"Love." Kelly spoke softly not wanting to startle him but wanting to get his attention and stop him pacing. Matt showed no signs that he had even heard him so Kelly stepped into his path physically making him stop. Matt startled easily, his entire body tensed before he relaxed as he realised it was Kelly stood in front of him.
“It’s alright love, it’s just me.” Kelly kept his voice to a soft murmur as he lifted his hand to Matt's chest and laid it over his heart feeling his heartbeat.
Matt looked up at him with a look of uncertainty that he almost couldn’t understand. "I didn’t mean to wake you."
"Never can sleep that well without you beside me..." Kelly reached his hands out to Matt, letting his lover step closer and into his arms, their bodies pressed close together as Kelly's hands found their way to his back. Matt turned his head and pressed his face into Kelly’s neck letting his hot breath tickle his skin, slowly letting most of his weight rest on his partner.
"Let’s go to bed, you need to sleep." Even as he spoke he made no effort to move as he could feel as Matt relaxed against him.
"Can’t." Matt's small voice even sounded tired as he made no effort to move his face from Kelly’s neck as the exhaustion overwhelmed him but it had been overwhelming him for days.
"What’s keeping you up love?" Kelly wanted to figure out how he could help, he needed too as he hated to see Matt like this, and he knew it was only a matter of time before he couldn’t do his job or be compromised in a call. Matt shrugged as he wrapped his arms around Kelly’s back, and Kelly had to bite his tongue to stop the sigh from becoming audible.
"Let's lay on the couch." That had Matt lifting his head from his neck.
"Okay." Matt mumbled already fighting to keep his eyes open. Kelly smiled softly thankful that he was finally agreeing to laying down and hoping that he would give in to the exhaustion, allowing himself to sleep. Kelly led him over to the couch and laid down, bringing his body down on top of him then with practiced ease got the blanket from the back of the couch and spread it over top of Matt who cuddled into his chest and entwined their legs.
Kelly let his fingertips run over Matt’s spine very slowly feeling every vertebrae as he went. "Kel?" Matt's mumbling had his attention in an instant.
"I’m here love." He looked down seeing he had his eyes closed and his breathing had evened out signifying that he was almost asleep.
"Please don’t leave me."
"I’m not going to leave you love." That had Matt snuggling into him even more, and suddenly Kelly realised what had Matt so worried even without him knowing it, he guessed it was more of a subconscious thought than anything. "I love you Matthew Casey." He whispered as he smiled down at the man who was finally asleep on his chest, his ear pressed against his heart, and finally seemed relaxed for the first time in a while.
Casey felt the relief flood through his entire body as he spotted the man he had just spent the last two hours searching for. He inwardly cursed himself for not having made this the first place to look as he had been everywhere he could think of... the firehouse, the fire academy, the gym... and he had even considered heading up to the cabin. He was crouched down making sure that he wasn’t getting his suit dirty. Matt couldn’t see his face but knew why the man had come here.
“Kelly.” He spoke softly so as not to startle him but still capture his attention as he came to a stop beside him.
“Oh shit, what time is it?” Kelly asked panicked as he came out of his revelry.
“Relax, we still have time.” Matt answered simply, thankful that they did. Kelly gave a simple nod before he reached out and rested his hand on top of the headstone.
“Times like these make me miss them so much more. There’s these moments where it suddenly hits me again that they aren’t here even though I know.” Kelly told him.
“I take it you visited Andy as well.” Matt stated as it wasn’t a question. It had been a long time since he’d been to visit either of them but they were both on the same cemetery.
“Does Stella know?” Kelly asked softly hating to think that she thought that he had run away on their wedding day.
“No. We didn’t want to worry her, not yet at least.” Matt answered as Kelly finally pulled his hand back and stood up to his full height then adjusted his suit. Matt couldn’t help the chuckle that he let out as Kelly wasn’t wearing a tie which was typical of the man.
“Even on your wedding day, you couldn’t wear a tie.” Matt explained as Kelly had gazed at him questioningly.
“I only ever wore a tie outside of the uniform cause Shay made me.” Kelly smiled thinking back to when Shay had decided he needed to buy a selection of ties despite the fact he hated them.
“A lot has happened since Andy, since Shay, since they died... I know that we carry them with us everyday, and let’s be honest if they were with us today they would be driving you up the wall but they would have been so excited.” Matt told him firmly as he placed his hand of Kelly’s shoulder comfortingly.
“They’d both be making sure I didn’t screw it up somehow, like I have, like I will.” Kelly missed the pairs meddling more than he cared to admit, when they had been alive it had driven him crazy but now he longed for it just once more.
"Stella is marrying you Kelly. She chose you just as you chose her. Screwing up is a part of life but you love her, you’re in love with her, and the happiness that you two have, that you create for each other..." Matt paused as he gathered his thoughts wanting to reassure the man beside him without sugar coating anything... "Be there for each other. Talk, communicate, with each other... Everyday we put ourselves in danger, we risk our lives, and it can takes its toll but considering everything you and Stella have been through separately and together, I know there’s nothing you can’t get through together." Matt finished his speech and allowed Kelly to absorb all that had been verbalised.
"Thank you Matt..." Kelly asked appreciating Matt's honesty although he had no doubts about his and Stella's relationship. "What do you think they would think? Of Stella, our wedding?" Kelly had to ask, it was something that he had been thinking about in the past week or so. The question made Matt chuckle softly making Kelly turn to look at him questioningly.
"Andy would have that smirk of his plastered on his face and I’m pretty sure he’d be throwing your words back at you about being free and single, and how monogamy was not for you ever. But he’d be so proud, and so happy for you. And he’d love Stella simply because of her love for you... And Shay. Shay would have put Stella through a lot of tests to make sure she was the one because she loved you. She wanted only the best for you. Shay was always a 'tiger-mom' and that was never going to change. I’m pretty sure today she would be the 'proud mom' making sure that everything was perfect. Shay would have loved Stella because she loved you, and Shay would have seen the way you look at Stella, seen the love and connection that you two share." Matt didn’t need to think about what either Andy or Shay would think, his words flowed out without much thought and they were the truth. The truth was Kelly was loved, and his happiness was what would have mattered the most to both of them, just like that was what mattered the most to him for the both of them.
“We better get going, can’t be later than the bride.” Matt said after he had checked his watch realising they were going to be cutting it fine if they waited to much longer.
“Thank you.” Kelly was grateful for Matt and his friendship. It had taken them a long time to get where they were, to get back to a time before Andy’s death. He bought his hand to his lips, kissing it and then pressing his hand to the top of the gravestone.
The two men walked back through the cemetery towards Matt’s truck as Kelly had walked his way there. Matt saw Kelly stop and glance back at the cemetery for a brief moment before he began to smile, it was almost as if a sense of peace washed over him.
“Ready?” Matt asked once they were in his vehicle despite already knowing the answer.
“I am. I want to see Stella, I can’t wait to marry her.” Kelly answered sincerely with the most genuine heartfelt look on his face.
“Then lets go get you married.” Matt answered as he started his vehicle and pulled out heading for the venue.
As always thank you so much for taking the time to read, and I love to read all of the comments so please keep them coming.
Dream Come True - Sequel to Shattered Dreams
It had been two years since their dream had changed, since Matt’s dream had shattered, when the fateful day came and Matt learned that he was infertile. The days after passed by in a blur of anger and sadness whilst Kelly consoled him, held him when he cried and when he was so angry he looked like he could destroy anything with his bare hands despite how hard he fought against his hold until he had no energy left. There were days when he resented Kelly and was bitter towards him in the immediate aftermath of that fateful day, and he tried but failed to push him away for a few months after that day the doctor told him that he would never father a child, never be a child’s biological father.
Somehow though they had found their way through it all, and today was the day that they would welcome their first child into the world because as Kelly had assured him throughout the entire process from selecting their surrogate, Amelia, to the implantation and every day since that Matt was just as much the child’s father as he was, biological or not. Matt shared with Kelly every moment, every single magical moment, of the pregnancy as they heard their baby’s heartbeat for the first time and saw the small child that was theirs, to learning that they were having a beautiful baby boy, a son, and feeling the beautiful movements of their son as he moved around inside of his surrogate who did her upmost to include them in every way. Matt and Kelly had spent hours handcrafting the nursery into the perfect room for their son complete with plenty of fire trucks, ambulances, and boats as the unofficial theme in the months since learning his gender; and Matt had bought his drawings, his creations, to life with every single piece of furniture from the crib to the rocking chair lovingly built by him in between shifts and construction jobs.
Kelly looked at Matt as they both prepared to go into the operating theatre as Amelia was being prepared for a caesarean section knowing that in a very short time their son would be born, and silently he was grateful that the maternity team at Chicago Med was allowing both of them into the operating theatre for the birth of their son. They knew they wouldn’t be able to hold him until they were out of the operating theatre and in a private room by the nursery as it was a small request by Amelia that she did not want to see the baby, it wasn’t her first time being a surrogate, and it was the only condition she had which they honoured since she was giving them the greatest gift that anyone could ever have. “Ready?” Kelly asked excitedly, he wasn’t the least bit nervous as he looked over at Matt who did look nervous. “Our son is going to be born today. I’m more than ready to meet him.” Matt smiled widely as he slipped his hand into Kelly’s taking the opportunity to kiss him one last time before they became a family of three just as the nurse arrived to take them in.
Kelly and Matt stood by Amelia’s side, both holding her hand in theirs as they watched their beautiful baby boy be born into the world at exactly 1PM on May 13th and heard him cry loudly for the first time to their relief before he was whisked away by a medical team that were standing by for him. Matt leaned down to Amelia, as much as he wanted to meet their son there was something he had to do first. “Amelia, thank you so much for bringing our beautiful baby boy into the world, for completing our family.” Matt told her so grateful and barely holding himself together as the emotions rose inside of him before he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead then stepped back seeing Kelly had tears in his eyes just like he did. Kelly couldn’t even begin to form the words that he wanted to say to Amelia but he knew there was something he had to say to her now. “I know this is hard for you Amelia but I want to thank you for growing our son inside of you, for making sure he was as healthy as he could be, and I want you to know that Matt and I will always cherish and protect him with everything we have. Our son will always know how he was bought into this world.” Kelly followed Matt’s lead and pressed a kiss to her forehead as well before he looked at Matt smiling. “Matt, Kelly, you are going to be amazing fathers. Now go meet your son.” Amelia was choked up as she sent them away completely overwhelmed by the heartfelt words. With one last look at her they let the nurse guide them out of the operating theatre.
In the private room, they waited for their son to be bought in and as they waited they held each other tightly overjoyed. “It’s time to meet your precious baby boy, he’s 7 pounds 4 ounces and he’s 18.5 inches long.” Emma, one of the maternity floor nurses told them as she walked in holding the tiny human in her arms who was cleaned up and swaddled in a hospital blanket. “Skin to skin contact is best for bonding so who is first.” Emma asked seeing both men were overwhelmed as they stared at the little boy who was wide awake in her arms.
“Matt, you hold him first.” Kelly pushed Matt towards the rocking chair wanting him to be the first to hold their son. Kelly wanted Matt to be the first to hold their son because it was important that Matt felt as connected to their son as he did. Kelly in the days and months after learning that Matt was infertile had felt as his own heart shattered repeatedly for the man he loved, and when they decided to go through with their plans, their amended plans, he knew none of it had been easy on Matt who was gracious even though he knew there were still times when those shattered pieces that were unrepairable still had threatened to crack even more and that was why it was so important for Matt to be the first to hold and bond with their child.
“Okay, yeah, okay.” Matt stripped his shirt off unable to keep his eyes off of their son who was perfect in his bias opinion to stunned to say anything else as he sat down in the rocking chair. Emma smiled and stepped forward carefully laying their son in his arms as Kelly sat down on the stool beside the rocking chair watching the joy that was the beautiful sight of the man he loved and their son for the first time. Kelly reached his hand out and let their son wrap his tiny hand around his large finger just as Wesley had done years ago. “He’s absolutely perfect.” Matt murmured as he looked over at Kelly with glassy eyes.
“Do you have a name for him yet?” Emma asked after having taken the camera that they had bought with them and had kindly snapped a few photos for them not that they had noticed as they were too enthralled with their new baby.
“Andrew Shay Casey-Severide.” Matt answered thinking the name suited him as he noticed that he already had some of Kelly’s distinctive features like his cheekbones. It felt only right to name their first son after two people that they loved more than anything else and it meant that Andy and Shay’s memory lived on in their son.
“It’s beautiful. I’ll be right outside if you need anything.” Emma excused herself wanting to give them time alone to bond with their new baby.
Kelly was sure he had not seen a more beautiful and wholesome sight than the sight of Matt holding Andrew with the most loving expression on his face. Kelly raised his other hand to the nape of Matt’s neck letting his fingers glide softly over the soft skin. “I love you Matthew Casey, and I love our son.” Kelly spoke softly making Matt turn his face towards him. “I love you too Kelly Severide, and I love Andrew… Thank you for giving me this gift Kelly, thank you for creating our son.” Matt replied and his words had Kelly’s throat restricting as he was overcome with emotion at the sincerity and emotion in his voice. “You need to hold him for the first time.” Matt was not ready to let go of their son but he doubt he ever would be but he wanted Kelly to experience what he was and that was holding their son for the first time. Matt manoeuvred Andrew out of his arms and into Kelly’s once he had his shirt off watching as Kelly naturally held their son against their chest and kissed his soft head. Kelly was already overwhelmed at the love he felt from the first moment they had seen the grainy ultrasound image of their son but to have their son in his arms and against his chest for the first time was a hundred times more powerful as the love he felt exploded within him but it wasn’t just for their son but it was for Matt as well. They were the proud fathers to a gorgeous son who meant more than they would ever be able to explain especially when it felt like it would never happen.
“He’s a dream come true Kel.” Matt whispered adoringly as he curled into Kelly’s side as Kelly wrapped his arm around him all while holding their son securely. Kelly didn’t need to answer as he turned and captured Matt’s lips with his before they settled back down to watch their son knowing that they would spend the rest of their lives living for him and doing everything they could to make sure that he felt safe and loved because that was what every child deserved, and to Matt their son was a rainbow baby who put the pieces that had been broken back together in the most beautiful way.
Thank you for reading as always. Please comment and tell me what you think!
Chapter 22: Jealous
Matt had spent all night watching as women flirted endlessly with Kelly at Molly’s and it had taken everything in him not to walk up, grab him and pull him outside then press him against the nearest wall and ravage him. Instead he had walked up to Kelly and told him they were leaving then walked out having to wait for Kelly to follow behind.
Kelly couldn’t help the smirk that adorned his face as he followed the tense blonde into their dimly lit apartment. The ride home had been silent and he knew that he was annoyed and he knew exactly why. Matt had a jealous streak and sometimes he liked to play into it as he found the blonde incredibly attractive when he was jealous. Kelly shut the door behind him and locked it then took his jacket off and hung it on the coat rack while his eyes followed Matt's movements through the apartment until he had entered the bedroom.
Kelly kicked off his shoes then followed Matt into the bedroom finding him stood at the dresser as he slowly unbuttoned his shirt. Kelly made his way up to him and wrapped his arms around his waist as his lips found their way to the nape of Matt's neck.
"Did you have fun tonight?" Kelly asked as he pulled his lips back from the warmth of Matt's skin as his hands took hold of his stilling his actions.
"It’s great watching every woman flirt with you." The sarcasm and jealousy were strongly evident and Kelly had to bite his bottom lip to not chuckle.
"I wasn’t flirting with them." Kelly answered as he unwrapped himself from Matt and stepped backwards until he felt his legs hit the side of the bed and sat down. He laid down and looked up at the ceiling.
"You don’t even have to open your mouth to flirt." Matt answered swiftly as he removed his shirt and turned to look at Kelly as it landed in the hamper.
"Really? How do you figure that?" Kelly asked unmoving as he knew if he looked at Matt he would quite possible laugh at how jealous he was.
"Were we at the same bar tonight? You couldn’t escape them..." Matt walked over to Kelly and crawled up on the bed, straddling his hips. "I swear you give off a pheromone that attracts them." Matt started unbuttoning Kelly’s shirt.
"I attracted you and you’re the only one I want...but I love it when you get jealous." Kelly's smirk reappeared as he lifted his hands to Matt's hips and pulled him down as his lifted his own hips up.
"I’m not jealous." Matt faltered as a soft sigh inadvertently escaped his lips at the contact of their lower bodies, feeling the shared heat, and the grasp of Kelly's strong hands on him. His hands paused their actions and instead clasped the fabric tightly before they continued to finish their work.
"Are you sure about that?" Kelly let one of his hands slid over to Matt's belt and made quick work of it as he unbuckled then pulled it free, tossing it aimlessly away from them. The clatter of the belt buckle against the wooden floor didn’t ease the intensity between them as Kelly slipped his hand into the front of Matt's boxers and wrapped his hand around him, running his thumb over his head languidly so to tease him.
"You’re mine." Matt almost growled as he leaned down and captured Kelly's lips with his own, fiercely kissing him. His hands traveled to Kelly's belt and mirrored his actions, once the belt was out of the way he undid his jeans and slipped his hand in, taking Kelly’s rock hard length in his hand making him groan. The groan bought a smile to Matt as he loved hearing the sounds that he could illicit from Kelly in these private moments that no one else would ever get to hear so long as they were each other’s.
"I am and you are mine." Kelly told him sincerely, as much as he enjoyed Matt's jealous streak he knew he needed the reassurance as well that they were each other’s and nothing and no one was going to change that. His words had Matt pausing in his actions and his blue eyes drilled into Kelly's as the atmosphere changed between them. Matt was always left stunned by the sincerity he heard in Kelly’s voice and the love he found when he searched the blue eyes that he could easily get lost in when he said such things.
“I love you even when you’re making me jealous.” Matt’s smile was broad as he admitted what he had adamantly denied only moments ago.
“I love you too even when you’re jealous.” Kelly smiled genuinely before he craned his neck upwards and caught Matt’s soft lips with his own as the intensity returned as they pleasured each other.
Matt let himself fall down onto Kelly’s bare toned chest as their chests heaved as they struggled for breath, both overwhelmed by the pleasure that had robbed their bodies of all of their energy. Kelly wrapped his arm around Matt as his other hand found its way to Matt’s head and pushed the sweaty blonde hair back from his forehead while the blonde nuzzled his flushed face into his neck.
Chapter 23: It Was Time
It Was Time
Kelly made his way quietly into the apartment he shared with Matt and Gabby, not wanting to wake them due to the late hour. He closed the door behind himself and locked it before he took his jacket off and threw it over the back of the sofa, surprised to see that Matt was sitting at the dining table.
“Hey, where’s Brittany?” Matt asked knowing she wasn’t already in Kelly’s room, having seen them leave earlier in the evening as Kelly moved quietly towards him.
“Gone.” Kelly answered simply as he made his way through and took a seat at the table, absentmindedly looking over the plans that Matt had spread out in front of him for one of his construction jobs.
“What?” Matt dropped his pen to the table and asked hurriedly, his eyes surveying Kelly in concern. The simple one word answer didn’t give him any insight into what had happened or what was going on in Kelly’s head, or how he felt.
“We talked. She had to go home, it was time.” Kelly answered knowing they had made the right decision for the both of them. Their marriage had been somewhat of a sad time out from all the pain and grief that they had both been avoiding dealing with, and although it had helped it wasn’t going to last.
“Are you alright?” Matt was surprised, this rational solemn side of Kelly was unseen as of late, and although it was a welcome sight it also made him somewhat uneasy given how out of the blue it seemed to be.
“For once, I am…” Kelly answered with a sincerity and honestly that told Matt more than just his words. He was coming through the darkness that Shay’s death had spiralled him into. Matt nodded solemnly. “I’m going to go to bed.” Kelly was exhausted as he stood up and headed for his room for the night.
Chapter 24: What Are We Doing?
What Are We Doing?
The harsh morning light was what woke him up and he was surprised to see Matt sat up facing away from him. He rolled onto his side and reached his hand out, brushing his fingers over Matt’s bare back feeling how tense he was. It was too early to be awake given that it has been a late night with way too much to drink meaning they were both worse for wear.
“What are you doing up?” Kelly asked, his voice hoarse and strained as he pushed the sheet down to his waist, stretching his legs out as they felt cramped up.
“I should get going.” Matt’s voice was unreadable, it was monotone which set alarm bells off in Kelly’s mind. However he made no effort to move from the bed or from Kelly’s warm touch.
"Matt?" Kelly questioned as he shifted closer to him feeling him tense further beneath his hand.
"What the hell are we doing? We have a few drinks and keep ending up here yet we never talk about it." Matt voiced what was going through his head, what had been plaguing him the last few times he had found himself in Kelly's bed after a night at Molly's.
Kelly didn’t know how to answer because truthfully he didn’t have one.
"If you want to stop Matt, just tell me. If you don’t want whatever this is all you need to do is say." It was easier to give him an out even though the words pained him to say then try to figure out what it was that they were doing but somehow he knew Matt wouldn’t let him away with it.
"That’s not what I’m saying. I just want us to talk about what it is that we are doing." Matt sounded frustrated and he was. He was frustrated that he had to ask what they were doing, and he was frustrated that Kelly had so easily been willing to give him an out of whatever this thing was. Kelly removed his hand and rolled over onto his back as he looked up at the ceiling above him.
“I know what we’re doing Matt, surely we’ve done it enough for you to know too.” It was an avoidance tactic to delve deeper into the specifics. One that was not amusing to Matt as he reached out and grabbed his clothes that were piled on the floor.
“Matt stop." Kelly grabbed a hold of his wrist making him pause his actions.
"Why Kelly? Do you want to make another smart comment?" Matt paused to reign in his emotions but it seemed he couldn’t control his mouth. "I don’t want to be another notch on your bed post, and if that’s all this is then it can’t go on anymore."
"You’re not another notch Matt, and you will never be... We're both trying to figure out what this is exactly." Kelly knew the time for smart comments was over, and he needed to do his best to explain and ease Matt's worried mind.
Matt turned to look at Kelly, he knew just by the tone of his voice that he was being sincere, and he suspected that the fear he felt was also shared given that it was new territory for the both of them. As it dawned on him, he suddenly felt bad for pushing the man laid beside him.
"I’m sorry." Matt apologised as he reached out and took Kelly's hand in his own, entwining their fingers together.
"I am too... Will you get back in bed now? I think we both deserve a few more hours of sleep given the headache I have." Kelly gave his hand a gentle tug.
"From the alcohol or the tumble we took last night as we made our way in here?" Matt questioned as he had been concerned about how hard Kelly hit his head on the floor as they were trying to undress in a entanglement of limbs in their drunken haste.
"It’s nothing a couple more hours of sleep, with you, won’t fix." Kelly smiled up at Matt as he watched him drop his clothes back down on the floor and get back into the bed, laying on his side to face him. The two settled in bed together, both still at a loss to fully explain and understand their changing relationship but neither was willing to walk away.
I Miss Him
Kelly had felt the loss of the two children who he had considered like they were his own until everything changed that fateful day. And he knew that going home to an empty house was not easy. He found himself stood on the doorstep of Matt's house and knocking on the door whilst he held a bottle of whiskey in his other hand.
Heather had been released from prison, and had whisked the boys, Griffin and Ben, away. Away from all that they knew and had known, and from everyone they loved and who loved them. And had left Matt not only with an empty house, but also with an empty void given it was his way to experience his dream of a family.
Kelly knew how much those boys meant to Matt because they meant to world to him too. They were also one of their last connections to their fallen brother and best friend Andy, although neither would admit that painful truth.
The door opened and revealed Matt. “I bought whiskey.” He held up the bottle and then stepped into the house as Matt stepped aside. There were small reminders everywhere of the life this house had had just hours ago; it was evident in the toys that had been left, and the colourful drawings that were proudly displayed.
"Heather left with the boys a few hours ago." Matt informed him as he passed by, heading to the kitchen. He already knew though, it had taken a lot of self restraint not to come by to say another goodbye but he also didn’t want to upset Heather or ruin Matt’s final moments with the boys. Matt reappeared with two glasses and sat himself down on the couch once both glasses were on the table in front of him.
"They’ll be okay." Kelly wasn’t sure who he was reassuring more, Matt or himself, as he took his jacket off and sat down next to him opening the whiskey and pouring them both a large glassful.
"Will they?" The question was laced with insecurities and doubts as Matt took the glass from him then settled back on the couch tiredly. Kelly looked at Matt and waited for him to explain further, waited for him to voice all that was worrying him as it would eventually happen. "Heather made this life altering decision whilst still in jail without any consideration for the boys, for the life they continued. I mean look how far they came, Griffin loved being at the firehouse again and Ben excelled in reading... They got the family back that they lost, all of us at 51, especially you, their favourite uncle... And she took them away from Andy and all that he loved."
Kelly felt his breath hitch at Matt's last sentence as it hadn’t even occurred to him that they were leaving Andy behind. Sure Andy was a part of them, a part of who they were and they would carry him with them, but he remained behind in Chicago, alone in a cemetery, the place that he grew up in, the city he loved, that he called home and where he wanted his children to be raised.
"Andy… as long as they are happy, he would have been okay with it, I think." Kelly didn’t really know what to say, he was at a loss for words as a large part of him agreed with what Matt had voiced.
"I know, he lived for those boys and their happiness meant everything to him. I’m just worried."
"I miss him." The quiet admission from Kelly shifted the atmosphere between the two.
"I do too." Matt reached forward and grabbed the bottle of whiskey, refilling both of their glasses feeling like they both needed it.
Kelly drank half of his glass immediately, feeling the smooth liquor ease its way down his throat. "Sometimes I wonder how different things would be if he was still here." It was a simple statement but the possible answers were endless.
"Everything would be... I was thinking about when Andy was packing to move in with Heather whilst helping the boys pack their stuff. More specifically that tiny apartment that we managed to squish ourselves into." Watching the boys pack had made him reminiscent as they were so much like their father.
"We had some of the best times in that apartment." Kelly couldn’t help but smile as the memories flooded his brain, memories that he hadn’t thought about in a long time. The apartment had three small bedrooms and one bathroom, it was a dump but it was cheap and that was all that they could afford on their candidate's pay. There wasn’t enough hot water and there was always a problem with something in the place that had to be fixed. Often the apartment was freezing in winter especially with the brutality of Chicago's winters as the heating often went out; there had been more than a few nights where they had slept in the lounge in front of the fire with multiple layers of clothing on and every blanket that they had in an attempt to keep warm.
"Remember that time that Andy set the kitchen on fire in the middle of the night. We woke up to a smoky apartment and the alarm going off. And you had that girl in your room." Matt was already laughing as he replayed the memory. The apartment had been full of smoke and the high pitched alarm was blaring which had bought them racing out of their rooms only to find Andy having finished extinguishing the fire and giving them the most innocent look he could muster. Kelly had a girl, her name escaping him, tucked into his side. The three of them had looked at each other and burst into laughter before trying to clear the smoke out.
"Mr innocent that night. I can’t even remember what he had been trying to make but I know we had to get rid of the pan and that smell of smoke lingered for a few days after." Kelly was trying to keep his laughter at bay it failing miserably.
"Pancakes, he was craving pancakes. We had to get rid of a few pans after his multiple failed attempts at cooking." Matt shook his head.
"Remember that winter storm that knocked the power out and pretty much shut the city down, and Andy had done the emergency supplies shopping."
"He was good at getting out of things, maybe that was a strategic move by him... His idea of emergency supplies was ridiculous especially considering he was a firefighter. And then to call them 'essentials'. We did have fun though despite freezing." Matt sounded exasperated and Kelly couldn’t help the laughter as it was the exact same tone he had when they had got home just as the storm had set in and found out what Andy had bought. Andy had stocked up on alcohol, candy and chocolate but had forgotten about things like batteries, candles and matches. That was one of those nights spent in the lounge.
"Yeah we did... Do you recall our first Christmas in that place? He was so dismayed by your lack of Christmas spirit." Kelly knew he wasn’t into Christmas either but Matt used to be even more disdainful of it.
"It ended up looking as if elves had spewed decorations everywhere. I don’t think there was an inch of space that was left uncovered. He loved Christmas." The apartment was covered in so much tinsel and so many decorations and just as many fairy lights. The childlike excitement that Andy had was infectious.
"That goddamn tree, I still haven’t worked out how he got it into the apartment." The tree was the height of the room and was wedged in, and it glowed, there may have even been an ongoing joke about it being as bright as a lighthouse.
"I never did either..." The two let the silence settle over them both with sad smiles on their faces as they remembered their fallen friend who made their lives a little brighter and a hell of a lot better. There was a shared unity between them, one that was built on shared history and friendship.
Thank you so much for all of your comments! I absolutely love reading them.
‘It could be a career ending injury. We all knew that something wasn’t right but it was put down to him grieving.’ Boden’s words kept repeating as if they were on a loop in his head. When Matt had been called into the Chief’s office he wasn’t expecting to be told that Kelly had been working with a broken neck, or that he needed to have serious surgery. Matt figured that Boden didn’t have all the details, or if he did that he had not shared them all as it felt like there were huge gaps in the information.
Now though, a lot of pieces fell into place after Andy’s death. The deflection, the isolation, and the strange behaviour all made sense. Kelly did what Kelly did best. Hide. Evade. And risk losing everything out of fear. But worst of all he could have killed himself or someone else.
However there were still pieces that he couldn’t seem to make fit; and he still had questions that needed to be answered. Like when did it happen? How long has he been hiding it? What was the prognosis? Where did the decision to go to Madrid come from? As mad as he was, he still cared.
Matt shook his head as he reached the apartment door, and forcefully knocked on it. He didn’t care that the sun wasn’t even up, he had to know the truth, had to make the final pieces fit.
The door swung open and revealed a very pissed off blonde. “Casey?” Shay was barely awake and seeming angry at the same time for being woken up but her face morphed into one of panic at the sight of him.
“Where is he?” He asked already making his way past Shay and into the apartment.
“Upstairs sleeping. Like I was.” Shay replied making Matt turn to head up the stairs but before he could she grabbed his arm making him stop and turn back to her.
“Shay?” The look on her face was unrecognisable, there were a mixture of emotions that he couldn’t pinpoint. But he could also see her exhaustion.
“Take it easy on him, and give him at least another hour to sleep. He hasn’t been asleep long. I’ll make some coffee. Also gives you some time to think about what you’re going to say to him calmly and rationally.” The last few words were pointed and reminded him just how protective Shay was. It also suddenly dawned on him that she was complicit to Kelly’s injury, although how complicit he would never really know, nor would he ever ask.
“How bad is it really?” He followed her dutifully to the kitchen, taking a seat on the stool at the counter as she began the coffee machine.
“How much do you know?” She countered with.
“Only what Boden told me and that wasn’t much... That his neck is broken and the surgery is the only option.”
“And why did you come here?” She asked knowing they still weren’t on the best of terms.
“I want him to explain it to me, all of it.” It was the only answer he could come up with.
“He still hasn’t accepted it. There’s still so much that he doesn’t know.” She placated as she placed a steaming hot cup of coffee down in front of him.
Before either of them could say anything else, a pained grunt sounded through the near silent apartment. Shay reacted quickly, moving from behind the counter and heading for the stairs just as Kelly was slowly descending them.
Matt watched in surprise at the natural ease of Shay as she moved to position his arm against his chest to ease the agony that he was in. What caught him off guard was how bad Kelly looked now that the truth was out, it was like the facade had crumbled leaving a broken shell of the previously indestructible Squad lieutenant. The dark circles under his eyes, the grimaces of pain, and the paleness of his skin highlighted the severity to Matt.
“Was someone at the door?” Kelly grimaced as he spoke, his voice was soft and tired sounding.
“Casey’s here... I wanted you to get some more sleep before I woke you up.” She explained softly, the concern strongly evident.
"Casey's here?" Kelly asked almost as if he didn’t understand her words, or couldn’t comprehend them.
"Yeah, in the kitchen. Let’s get you sitting on the couch. I’ll get you a heat pack and some coffee." Shay gently directed him away from the stairs. He didn’t put up an argument as she helped him settle down into the couch, and braced his arm on some pillows. He didn’t even mention that he wasn’t allowed to have anything to eat or drink knowing Shay was stressed enough.
Shay left Kelly's side once he was settled and returned to the kitchen. Matt looked at her, watched as she moved effortlessly to pour another cup of coffee, and put the heat pack in the microwave. She held the cup of coffee out to him, giving him the invite to go sit with Kelly.
"Remember what I said." She reminded him as he took the cup from her. With a nod he headed for the lounge.
Matt placed their coffees down on the table then sat down next to Kelly, twisting his body so he was facing him. The anger that he felt was fading fast, as the sadness grew just as fast.
Shay made her way over and delicately tucked the heat pack round his neck and shoulder. "I'll be upstairs." She murmured quietly with a quick glance at Matt before she left, ascending the stairs quickly, and leaving them alone.
"What are you doing here Casey?" Kelly didn’t have the fight left in him to pick a fight. He had avoided the conversation for longer than he should have, and he knew he had to be honest, he owed Matt that much.
"I’m here for you Sev. Your neck is broken."
"I’m well aware of that fact. You want answers, that’s why you’re here." Matt forgot that Kelly could read him as well as he could.
"I came here wanting answers, yes, I admit that... But we’ve been through to much not to be there for each other. I mean, how the hell are you even functioning? And how the hell did it even happen?" At Matt's two questions, he could see the change in Kelly, could see the shame and then the sadness that plagued him.
"I’ve done a lot of stupid things. Disappointed a lot of people... Andy died, the day in that house fire, that’s when I broke it. I didn’t know it then though." The admission was stark and heavy for both men. "I could be paralysed. The experimental surgery could paralyse me." The reality of the dangers was setting in for Kelly whilst Matt was struggling with all that he had just learned especially given how freely the information was flowing out.
"And Madrid with Renée?"
"A way to escape. I thought I could start over, go with the safe surgery with the year long recovery, settle down with a woman. Have a life without Squad."
"You don’t need to tell me how stupid I’ve been. I know. I realised when I told Boden, it all hit me. I could have hurt anyone. Can’t blame anyone or the department for not wanting me."
"I wasn’t going too... I was going to say I wish you felt that you could have come to me. And I want you to know that I’m here for you, whatever you need."
"I can’t be helped." His words were beginning to slur as the emotional toll of the conversation set in despite the pain he was in.
"Get some sleep Sev." Matt stood up knowing that the conversation had been intense for both of them, and Kelly had already been exhausted before they had even started.
Matt picked up both cups, now full of cold coffee, and made his way to the kitchen to pour them out. He put both cups in the sink and then braced his hands on the edge of the counter top and let his head drop as he let out a soft sign. Despite their conversation being short and only skimming over the top of everything, he felt completely overwhelmed and exhausted all at the same time. He had no idea how Kelly or Shay had been dealing with this for so long without breaking down or letting the secret slip.
"You alright?" He startled at Shay's voice as he hadn’t heard her move through the apartment. He lifted his head and turned around to look at her. "He's asleep for now." She added seeing Matt glance over her shoulder towards Kelly on the couch.
"I don’t know how he or you have been doing this the whole time. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all and I’m exhausted." Matt knew it wasn’t fair to add more to Shay's already overburdened plate.
"Take each day as it comes. The surgery is tomorrow, well today, and he’s terrified even though he doesn’t want to show or admit it. I’ll be there when he wakes up and through the recovery. What he needs is support and comfort. He’s getting help and it’s been a huge step to get him here... This isn’t just about him being hurt or Andy,'s death, this is about him and who he is." She didn’t sugarcoat things for him. She wasn’t expecting anything from him. She could see his shock, and could understand it.
"I should go. Let you both get some sleep." Matt didn’t want to leave but knew he should. They all needed sleep.
"He’ll be awake in half an hour or so, and I’m not going back to sleep. You can stay, ease your mind and distract his." Both men needed each other and she knew it, even if they didn’t.
"Thanks Shay." The invitation was accepted with ease. What he said was the truth, they had been through to much to abandon each other now.
Love reading all of your thoughts and feelings! Thank you.
Chapter 27: Trapped
The darkness was overwhelming and the only light source was the torch that was attached to Kelly's turnout coat but the beam of light only highlighted the thick dust that was all around them, floating in the air so delicately despite the fact that it had been kicked up by the building collapsing and trapping them into its self constructed prison. Kelly let out a pained groan as he opened his eyes and rolled his head to the side, looking at the debris all around him, as he bought his gloved hand up to his left temple feeling the open and bloodied wound. He recalled the feel of his body falling uncontrollable as the building gave way around them, the time was up before it was supposed to be. Them. Matt.
"Casey?" Kelly called as he hurried to get himself up and over onto his knees, grimacing at the pain that the movement caused to radiate from deep within his body. "Matt? Call out! Come on Casey!" Kelly called out, stopping to cough as the dust choked him. He reached for his radio only to find it in pieces having broken in the fall. "Casey, Matt, call out!" He yelled again having to stop his movement as his vision blurred briefly and the blood streamed down his face which he hastily wiped away; he waited until his vision cleared again before he started a visual search noting the way the debris had fallen and landed.
The smallest speck of a reflective strip that belonged to a turnout coat caught the very edge of the light from the torch making Kelly move as quickly yet as carefully as he could so that he didn’t want to cause another collapse as he had no idea whether it was stable or not. "Matt?!" Kelly couldn’t hide the panic in his voice as he began to ease as much of the debris off of Matt's limp body as possible without risking causing any damage. He quickly removed his gloves and carefully swept his hands over Matt's dusty face after checking his pulse which was weak but present. "Matt, sweetheart, I need you to open your eyes for me." Kelly spoke softly as his voice shook already concerned that Matt could have a serious reoccurring head injury, or other internal injuries considering his body was still contorted unnaturally on top of and around the debris that Kelly couldn’t clear by himself however none of it was pinning him down which was a small positive in the deadly situation. Kelly grasped the torch and shone it down on Matt's face seeing how pale his skin was and that he had a decent gash to his forehead that had bled but didn’t look as if it still was.
"Matt, sweetheart, please say something." Kelly almost begged, his voice betraying him as the fear became evident. The building shook violently again sending more dust and debris raining down onto them, and Kelly as quickly as he could placed his body over Matt's exposed upper body, a pained grunt escaping his lips as something heavy hit his back and bounced off as the blow forced his body down towards Matt's fragile one. Kelly felt like he was holding his breath as he waited momentarily after the shaking stopped and the constructed prison paused in its attack before he eased himself up and back onto his knees beside Matt. He quickly scanned the darkened structure around them knowing that it wouldn’t hold up much longer if the collapsing continued, before he turned his attention back to the blonde laid out in front of him.
Kelly quickly pressed his lips to Matt's temple as he considered applying a sternal rub but a part of him didn’t want to rouse Matt, didn’t want him to wake in pain. But despite the internal battle that was raging inside him, he knew he had to attempt to rouse Matt in order to best assess him medically. Kelly went to take a deep breath but that turned into sheer pain for him from his ribs which he quickly brushed off as he made a fist and pressed his knuckles into the centre of Matt's chest and rubbed vigorously until a soft and pained groan was elicited. "It's alright sweetheart, you’re going to be alright." Kelly spoke softly as he tried his hardest to keep his voice calm and steady, immediately opening his hand and laying it flat on Matt's chest.
"Kel?" Matt's eyes flickered opened lazily, closing a few times before he managed to open them fully as his voice was small and laced with uncertainty. His vision was blurred and his head was throbbing but he could feel the warmth of Kelly's large hands on him. His entire body ached and he felt more uncomfortable than he could ever recall having felt before.
"I’m here, I’m right here sweetheart." Kelly assured him as he ran his other hand through Matt's dust covered hair, the thick blonde hair now a dusty grainy grey, having lost his helmet in the fall. Kelly was watching Matt's face closely for any signs of distress. "We’re going to get out of here soon. Do you remember what happened?" He asked as another form of assessing his state.
Matt's eyes searched the small dark space for a few seconds before his eyes found Kelly’s as his vision finally cleared. He opened his mouth and closed it a few times. "You’re bleeding... The building, we were trying to get out... it collapsed?" Matt was clearly searching for the answer and with each word his tone became more and more questioning.
"It did, we were on the second floor when it collapsed from underneath us... I think we fell through the ground floor as well... I’m pretty sure we are in the basement. And our radios broke on the way down." Kelly kept running his fingers through Matt's hair over his scalp in an effort to keep both Matt and himself calm as he summarised what he had managed to piece together in the short time that he himself had regained consciousness. "Are you hurt anywhere? But don’t move!" They weren’t the exact words Kelly wanted but he couldn’t think of the way he wanted to word what he was trying to ask; what he was trying to ask was if there was anywhere that was causing Matt more pain.
"Head hurts, and my arm... my ribs... Uncomfortable more than anything" Matt spoke slowly as he tried his best to keep his focus on Kelly. "What about you?" He asked having seen the steady stream of blood that was running down the side of Kelly's face, the gaping wound to the side of his head was unmissable.
"I’m fine sweetheart." Kelly didn’t need Matt worrying, and he was far to concerned about the blonde to properly assess himself although he knew he had been knocked unconscious and he had a head wound that was bleeding heavily, and he knew that his back and ankle hurt but he could breathe through the pain and worry about himself once they were out of this death trap.
"You’re lying to me." Matt could tell, it was in the small details but he could see the grimaces of pain, could see the way he was holding himself when he moved, and it was in his eyes, but in a way Matt found it sweet that Kelly didn’t want him to worry. Kelly chuckled before he coughed and grimaced again.
"Let it slide this time, please sweetheart." Kelly smiled softly even though it didn’t reach his eyes before he leaned down again and kissed the tip of his nose this time.
"How bad is it really Kel?" Matt's voice tapered off as a sharp jolt of pain went through his head which immediately had Kelly on edge, however it passed quickly. "It’s okay... I want to sit up."
"You can’t just yet... You’re not pinned in but there is debris that is precariously close and I can’t risk you moving until it is stabilised. You’ve also landed on top of debris." Kelly knew he couldn’t lie to him on the reality of their situation but he could be somewhat vague. The last thing Matt’s body needed was more stress, at least that was Kelly’s reasoning behind his vague answer.
“I’m scared baby.” The shakiness of Matt’s voice sent a shiver through Kelly’s spine just before his eyes closed.
“Matt! Casey! Come on I need you to wake and stay awake.” Kelly tried desperately to rouse him again but he was unconscious and not rousing even as Kelly applied another sternal rub to the centre of his chest. Kelly leaned back on his knees and took a breath as he recalled his medical training and carefully began to examine Matt, his eyes flicking back to his face every few seconds as he poked and prodded him not getting any response.
“HELP! WE’RE DOWN HERE! HELP!” Kelly yelled as loudly as he could knowing Matt needed help as soon as possible. "HELP! Please help." Kelly had to pause as his chest heaved in pain, protesting the act of yelling but it wasn’t going to stop him, not when Matt was in peril.
Kelly took his torch in his hand again and surveyed the environment that was imprisoning them again knowing that he had to do something while the rest of the firehouse worked from the outside to save them. The sound of Matt's pass alarm blaring startled him and had his attention back on him. Kelly's shaky fingers rushed to Matt's neck to find him without a pulse. "No Matt!" Kelly immediately began CPR which silenced the squealing pass alarm, doing thirty chest compressions before providing two breaths with mouth to mouth resuscitation all the while begging for the blonde to come back to him. Kelly felt one of Matt's ribs fracture beneath his hands before the rise and fall of Matt's chest restarted. Kelly once again checked Matt's pulse point finding it present but weak, despite its weakness he was relieved that he was alive but it only gave him a deeper sense of urgency.
"Kel...baby." Matt’s eyes flickered open again after a few moments although he seemed far more disoriented this time round.
"I’m here sweetheart." Kelly leaned down and pressed his forehead against Matt’s cold forehead feeling the creases that had formed as a sign of Matt's pain, momentarily forgetting that his own head was still bleeding.
"Where are we? What happened?" Matt asked, his voice betraying him, as it shook and sounded like he was a lost little boy which broke Kelly’s heart.
Kelly lifted his head up just enough so he could see Matt's entire face in the tiniest light that had been afforded to them, and realised how much Matt's skin had paled further in the last few minutes, and how confused he looked. "They’re working on getting us out sweetheart, just like I am." Kelly assured him instead of answering the questions he had asked as he was fairly certain he wouldn’t recall it soon enough.
Kelly knew that moving any of the debris from around Matt was going to be like a dangerous game of pick up sticks or jenga that could kill them both if he were to move or pull the wrong piece but he had to try, he had to free Matt so that when their teams made it to them they could get him out and to the ambulance as quick as possible.
“What are you thinking?” Matt interrupted Kelly’s thoughts causing him to lean down once more and press a soft kiss to his forehead. His voice sounded pained even to himself and his head felt fuzzy as he fought against the darkness that was threatening to overwhelm him again.
“An exit strategy.” Kelly knew that Matt was close to losing consciousness again of his strained words were any indication and while a part of him knew it would make it easier whilst he shifted and cleared the debris, there was a larger part of him that was absolutely terrified that Matt wouldn’t wake back up again. As much as he tried not to think about it, it was lingering in the back of his mind, and if this was their last few moments of consciousness together then Kelly needed Matt to know that he was fighting for them and how much he was loved.
Kelly shifted his body closer, suppressing the groan and gasp that wanted to escape from his slightly parted lips, and took Matt’s cold hand in his hand as his other hand rested on Matt’s head and he let his fingers card through the thick blonde hair again. “I promise I’m going to get you out of here. And I promise that I’ll always be with you.” Kelly wanted to tell Matt he loved him too but there was a finality that came with those words that he couldn’t bring himself to say.
“It’s going…to be…alright…Kel.” Matt had to pause as he fought to catch his breath as he sought to reassure Kelly whilst using what little energy he had left to squeeze his hand. His teeth were chattering from how cold he felt.
“It is sweetheart, I promise.” Kelly knew he shouldn’t promise but he had too. This wasn’t some random person that he didn’t know, this was the man he loved and for him he would do anything and everything. Kelly regrettably slipped his hand out from Matt's and quickly pulled his heavy turnout jacket off then laid it over Matt and tucked it around his frail body as quickly and as carefully as possible wanting to keep him as warm as he could. "That will keep you warm."
"Kelly?" Matt called his name weakly as his vision blurred briefly again before he let his head roll to the side.
"Yeah sweetheart, I’m right here." Kelly's hand once again found its way to Matt's head whilst his other hand laid flat on his chest on top of his turnout coat. He was terrified but he had to be strong, he had to get them out of there.
"I…I…need you…to know that…I…I…love you." Matt struggled to speak but he forced himself to finish the sentence as the darkness finally claimed him.
"Matt?!" Kelly panicked as he checked his pulse again, relieved to find it still there and that it hadn’t weakened any further. "I know you do, I feel it everyday, and I know you mean it when you say it... But I want you to be awake when I tell you because you are going to wake up once we’re out of here..." He whispered before he finally pulled himself away once he had set off his own pass alarm as a locator beacon and then uncoupled his torch from the turnout coat that was now draped across Matt, and cautiously moved further down Matt’s body to where the majority of the collapsed structure and debris had landed. He pulled his gloves back on over his aching hands and began to carefully clear away the debris that he could without disrupting what was stopping anything else from collapsing down on top of them. Every few minutes he stopped to check Matt's pulse, to make sure that he was still breathing then went back to work. He wasn’t going to stop.
"Severide! Casey!" Boden's distinctive voice boomed from above them as the first crack of natural light or rather the night sky littered with stars and the bright light of a full moon came through after what felt like hours of careful movements and clearance of debris, and it had been hours.
"Chief! We’re down here." Kelly yelled back as he crumbled down to his knees next to Matt who was still unconscious and deathly pale. He could hear the elation from the men and women above.
"We're almost through. Are you both okay?" Boden asked, the concern seeping rough in his voice. "Severide?!" Boden called again as he didn’t get a reply from him, from either of them. "Kelly?!"
Kelly couldn’t answer, couldn’t say the words that he dreaded too but he knew he needed to give Boden a report in order to get the best possible outcome for Matt. He had to steady himself for a few moments despite Boden's increasingly desperate calls, and even as he heard the order for them to hurry up and get to them. The adrenaline had faded and left him in agony but he had to fight through it, if not for himself but for Matt. "I need a C-collar and a backboard and the stokes basket, and you need to have paramedics on standby. Matt, Casey's got a head injury... could be some internal bleeding, he's been unconscious for a while." Kelly finally relayed what he needed to with a struggle.
"We're almost there Kelly. And what about you?" Boden wondered how bad it really was. He knew by the sound of Kelly’s voice that it was not good at all but his assessment was vague yet alarming. "Kelly?!" The lack of an answer was alarming as he called down again hoping to garner a response, and silently praying that Kelly hadn’t collapsed and slipped into unconsciousness.
Kelly could hear Boden's call but all he could focus on was Matt, it seemed that his breathing has became shallower and more of a struggle. "We’re almost out of here, please just hold on sweetheart." Kelly whispered against Matt's ear, his lips barely brushing against the cold skin, hoping that he was hearing his whispered words and fighting as hard as he could to stay alive.
A steady stream of dust came falling down over them and Kelly pushed his body up and over Matt to shield him as a ladder was erected. "Kelly! Cruz is coming down." Boden yelled again as Cruz began his descent with the medical equipment that Kelly had asked for, and more light.
Cruz hit the ground and sent a silent thank you upstairs as he found Kelly sheltering Matt with his own body but very much alive. "Lieutenant..." Cruz reached his hand out and grasped Kelly's shoulder which bought him back to the present and made his pull back. Cruz reached for his radio giving a status report, "Send the basket down. They’re alive but in rough shape."
"We need to get him braced and out of here." Kelly insisted as he reached for the c-collar which Cruz quickly handed him taking notice of the grimace and wince that was elicited by the small movement. Cruz moved his light towards Kelly taking in the battered Lieutenant's appearance and knowing he was hurt but that he didn’t care about himself as he was too focused on the Captain. Cruz shifted his focus back to Casey and with Kelly’s help managed to get him braced onto the backboard and into the stokes basket. Cruz watched as Kelly tucked his turnout coat around Matt carefully and so lovingly before he turned to Cruz and nodded.
"Take him up, quick but careful. We’ll be right behind." Cruz ordered through the radio knowing that they had prepared everything above to extricate the two fallen firefighters as quickly and as safely as possible. The stokes basket was quickly carried up carrying Matt up and out.
"Lieutenant... Severide... let’s get you out of here." Cruz held his hand out and Kelly took it using what little strength he had to get up. "You first." Cruz nodded towards the ladder as he kept hold of Kelly in an effort to keep him steady and upright. Kelly began to climb up despite the pain that radiated through him whilst Cruz stopped at the bottom of the ladder and took one final look around at the area that could have cost the lives of two men before he climbed up after him.
Boden helped Kelly up as he reached the top of the ladder as Matt was being loaded into the ambulance. "Let’s get you both to the hospital." Boden spoke even though it appeared as if Kelly wasn’t listening or taking anything in as he was too focused on Matt. Boden waved over a secondary set of paramedics and let them take Kelly to the second ambulance as 61 had Matt and were already pulling away.
Everything passed by in a blur for Kelly from the moment Matt was lifted out of the hell that they had been entombed in for hours until he found himself sat at Matt's bedside with his fingers entwined in his waiting for the blonde to open his bright blue eyes. The doctors had explained to everyone how lucky they had both been but especially Matt given his history. Matt had a serious concussion, a few cracked ribs that had caused his lung to collapse, and his wrist was broken as well as some pretty extensive bruising to his body, he also had to have his spleen repaired after it had been lacerated. Kelly had argued that he didn’t need to be admitted as he was going to be staying in the hospital anyway despite what the doctor wanted given his own head injury that required fifteen stitches and gave him a minor concussion, he also had extensive bruising, heavily bruised ribs, and a heavily sprained ankle that left him on crutches for a few days.
As exhausted as Kelly was and despite the pain he was in, there was nothing that would make him leave Matt’s side. He stroked his thumb along Matt's knuckles repeatedly, taking comfort in the warmth that had returned to him, to his skin. "Gotta wake up for me sweetheart." Kelly murmured softly as he fully intended to keep his promise and he felt slightly desperate to say those promised words that he loved to say and that he knew Matt loved to hear just as much as he did. “There’s something I want to tell you again…and again.”
Matt’s reentry to the conscious world came a few hours later; he opened and closed his eyelids a few times before he finally managed to open them fully and keep them open. The pain was still present but had lessened significantly. A smile found its way to his lips as he rolled his head to the side and saw Kelly had fallen asleep with his head next to his hand that was held tightly in his. Matt carefully disentangled his fingers from Kelly's and slowly raised his hand to the nape of his neck, feeling the faint scar that still remained before he let his fingers slide upwards into his hair.
Kelly's lips parted as a soft groan escaped as he tried to press his face further into the mattress before he opened his eyes to see Matt looking at him and smiling. It took him a few moments to recall where they were and what had happened but when he did he lifted his head immediately and let his eyes drift over him. "I’m so glad you’re awake sweetheart." Kelly spoke softly as he had a headache of his own and was sure that Matt would have one ten times worse. "I love you Matt Casey." The smile grew even wider on both of their faces at his words.
"I love you too... Did everyone else get out?" Matt asked as he recalled the building and the collapse as he continued to card his fingers through the bottom of Kelly's hair feeling him relax beneath him.
"Everyone’s out and alright including us." Kelly kept it light on the details as he didn’t want him to worry but he knew he would have to tell him about his condition. "You’re going to be in here for a few days at least. The doctors had to operate to repair your spleen, and your lung collapsed after one of your ribs broke... You have a severe concussion but the neurologist looked over all of the scans and there’s no bleeding or stalling or fracture so it’s okay." Kelly knew he had to be the one to tell him so that he didn’t panic and he didn’t instead Matt gave a soft tired nod as he took in everything that he was being told.
"What about you?" Matt asked concerned given the large wound that was now stitched but visibly swollen and heavily bruised, and he had seen the crutches leant up against the wall. "And no lying this time." Matt recalled Kelly asking him to let it slide when they were trapped but he wouldn’t dismiss it now that they were both safe.
"Minor concussion, heavily bruised, and a badly sprained ankle. I’ll be on crutches for the next few days but I don’t plan I going to far. I’ll be back up before you get home." Kelly couldn’t help the smile on his face as he was relieved that Matt recalled their brief conversation before he gave Matt an overview of his injuries. Matt nodded and poured his lips before he began to shift himself over in the bed and away from Kelly. "Woah Matt, what are you doing?"
"Moving over... want you next to me." Matt replied simply giving Kelly the most adorable look he could. "We’re both tired and neither of us sleep well without the other so get up here and lay with me." It wasn’t a request that Matt was making but Kelly wasn’t about to call him out for being bossy not when he was relieved that they had survived, and honestly Matt was right about both of them having trouble sleeping without the other.
Kelly lifted himself up and onto the bed making sure to lay on his side so that Matt had enough room. Matt pressed himself into Kelly as he captured his lips with his own, kissing him softly before they both pulled apart and rested their foreheads against each other’s. "Let’s make a deal." Matt murmured already almost back asleep.
"What’s that?" Kelly asked intrigued as he wrapped his arms carefully around Matt who somehow managed to snuggle himself further into him.
"Once we're out of here...no hospital visits for at least six months, and no collapsing buildings for our lifetime." Kelly could have laughed at Matt's deal because he knew that they couldn’t guarantee it with their jobs but like the many similar deals that had made before it was one that gave them hope and told the other that they would be careful. It was their own way of apologising and thanking each other, as well as providing some reassurance.
"Sounds like a deal that we can both work towards. We will start after we have a nap." The answer was one that both had said when the other proposed one of these deals. It was the thing they said in agreement even though there was a high probability that it would get broken and a new deal would be started just as it was in the moment.
Matt subtly nodded his head as he let his eyes close as he succumbed to his body's exhaustion as Kelly watched. As exhausted as Kelly was he needed to watch Matt for a few minutes before he let himself fall asleep. There was a sense of peace that washed over him as it overtook the worry and the relief that lingered within him. "I love you." Kelly whispered as he let himself fall asleep safe with Matt pressed against him securely in his arms.
Chapter 28: I'd Rather Have You Healthy
I’d Rather Have You Healthy
Matt stood and looked through the glass unable to force his feet to move, to make his body move through the door like his heart desperately wanted him to as it was only the hospital room door that separated him from Kelly who had only hours before come out of experimental yet serious surgery on his neck. All of the anger that he had felt towards Kelly for all of the lies and the hiding had melted away as he stood and watched as he laid in the hospital bed with Shay curled up asleep in a chair that he could only guess was highly uncomfortable with his hand encased tightly in hers.
Somehow knowing that Shay would be by his side had made it easier to stay away whilst the anger still flowed through his system just hours ago but now he wished he had been at the hospital by Kelly’s side before he went into surgery to reassure him that it was all going to be alright and that they would get through it all. But now as he stood on the outside looking in, it was yet another regret to add to his long list that seemed to be growing at a rapid rate recently and every single one was centred around the man laid in the hospital bed that was recovering from what could be potentially life altering surgery.
Matt placed his hand on the door handle, only then realising that his hand was shaking, that his entire body was minutely trembling, and he let out a long slow breath before he turned the handle and quietly allowed himself to slip into the room being careful not to disturb the silence and both Kelly and Shay. He let the door click closed behind him and cringed at just how loud the click sounded in the silence of the warm room. He didn’t know whether to approach or not given that the last time he had seen Kelly his words were vicious and cutting to the man in front of him as he let his frustration and his anger get the best of him.
“Stop overthinking... Get over here.” Kelly’s groggy voice cut through the silence and through his thoughts startling him. His eyes quickly moved towards Kelly to see that his blue eyes were slightly glazed from the anaesthetic but he was still looking over towards him even with his neck braced. Matt nodded his head once, his uncertainty and discomfort obvious in that small single movement. Matt moved slowly, cautiously, across from the doorway to Kelly’s bedside, stopping right beside the bed but keeping a descent distance from him. “Case... Matt...” Kelly wanted to reach out to him to let him know it was alright but with his right arm in a sling immobile and with the grip Shay had on his left hand even in her sleep he couldn’t. Kelly knew that while Matt’s words had hurt him, they were said in anger and in hurt and considering all that Kelly had hidden from the blonde he couldn’t blame him.
“How do you feel?” Matt asked, a grimace crossing his face at the absurdity of his question given all that had been said between them, and that it had only been a few hours since his surgery.
“M’ fine... Surgeon said it went well. And I’m not paralysed so that’s positive.” It felt awkward between them like there was this unbridgeable gap between them. Both wanted to say things but it wasn’t the right time. Kelly let out a soft sigh as it wasn’t supposed to be this difficult between him and Matt. Maybe, falsely, he believed that once everything was out in the open and he had surgery everything would be alright between them again but it felt as though the distance had only grown.
“That’s good then.” Matt answered as he hadn’t been told of all of the intricacies that were involved with the surgery before he bit down on his bottom lip and bounced on the heels of his feet as he felt nervous.
“Matt... I am sorry, I really am.” Kelly was exhausted from more than the operation and the anaesthesia that was still coursing through his system making him sleepy but he had to apologise. He had to tell Matt that he was sorry, sorry from hiding it all from him, sorry for the blame and anger that had been levelled at him, sorry for abusing drugs and friendships. There was so much that he had to apologise for and the list seemed endless but he would apologise for every single thing if it meant he and Matt were okay again.
Matt took a deep breath in as his chin began to quiver. He had to turn away as he fought to regain his composure all the whilst unsure of where this sudden onset of tears had come from despite knowing the answer. He knew all of the pent up emotions he felt, all of the residual anger and the sadness, was coming to the surface although he had hoped it wouldn’t happen in front of Kelly.
“Matt... Matty... look at me please.” Kelly implored hating to see how wrecked Matt was. He began to move violently in an effort to reach out which in turn woke Shay and sent her into a panic as the monitors started blaring out as his heart rate and blood pressure increased.
“Woah Kelly stop!” Shay was out of her seat and towering over him worried he would cause damage to his already delicate surgical site. She kept his hand in hers while her other hand moved to his chest in an effort to get him to calm down and stop moving.
“Kelly... Kel... Please stop... I don’t want you hurting yourself.” Matt managed to compose himself as he stepped closer then reached out and placed his hand delicately on top of the hospital issued blanket over Kelly’s thigh making him stop moving. Shay stepped back and removed her hand from his chest before she looked back and forth several times from Kelly to the monitors as his vitals settled as he did.
“You can’t move like that Kelly.” Shay warned before she looked between him and Matt knowing there was a lot for the two to say to each other. “I’m going to head to the cafe to grab something to eat as long as you two can play nice and Kelly stays still.” She added as she was starving as it had been hours since she had had anything to eat. She looked at both of them waiting for an answer from them.
“We’ll be fine Shay.” Kelly sounded frustrated but she knew it wasn’t because of her, it was because he was unable to move the way he wanted, was unable to reach out to touch Matt the way he wanted because for Kelly touch was a big part of the way he communicated. Matt nodded in agreement at Kelly’s words.
“I’ll be back.” Shay told them before she leaned down and pressed a kiss to his cheek then grabbed her bag and left the two to talk.
Matt watched as Shay left and the door was closed before he turned back to face Kelly who looked absolutely exhausted and washed out under the fluorescent lights of the hospital room.
“Matt...” Kelly reached his free hand out wanting him to come closer. Matt bit his lip again as he slipped his hand into Kelly’s and took the seat that Shay had vacated.
“How long will you be in here?” Matt asked trying to avoid the heavier topics.
“Not sure... Are we going to talk about any of it?” Kelly knew that Matt knew what he was referring too. He didn’t want any more tension between them even though he had caused every single bit of it.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t here before you went into surgery.” Matt told him sincerely, once again trying to avoid what he knew Kelly was desperate to talk about but one look at him told him how determined he was. “Figured we could wait until you were home at least.” He added on even though he wanted to have things sorted between them.
“That’s not going to do either of us any good... I want to, no I need to explain, please let me explain.” The medication clearly broke away some of the defences that Kelly had but it was still him talking, the words were still his own and he needed Matt to hear them.
“Okay...” Matt knew if he didn’t that Kelly’s recovery could be compromised as stress was not conducive to healing or that he would do something and hurt himself. Matt also wanted to be there for Kelly without the lingering tension during his recovery and rehabilitation as he squeezed his hand lightly and let his eyes focus on the features of Kelly’s hand holding his.
“If I told you I had a broken neck I would have had to admit the severity to myself of my injury... I wasn’t ready to give up any of it - Squad, 51, you... Andy died and I was angry but I’ve realised I wasn’t angry at you, I was angry at him, angry at the situation and angry with myself... There were so many times when I knew that you knew something was wrong and when I found myself just about to tell you there was something that always stopped me. I guess I didn’t want to see your reaction and I didn’t want to put you in an untenable position like I found myself in.” Kelly paused often as he tried to articulate himself correctly and fight against the medications that were flowing around his body and making him tired. None of his admissions were easy to make but they were the truth. The whole situation had him torn up inside and then the constant pain had made everything worse.
“You’re an idiot. Do you even understand how lucky you were, how lucky you have been since you broke your neck? Was all of the lies and the pain worth any of this, any of the wreckage that you created?” Matt asked struggling to keep his voice soft wanting to figure out Kelly’s thought process. “I know the house couldn’t lose anybody else, I know I couldn’t, I can’t, lose you either but if it was a matter of you being the Lieutenant of Squad or being alive and healthy without having to survive on opioids... if I had to choose I would choose you being alive and healthy because you are more than a Lieutenant of Squad Kelly. You are the most genuine, biggest hearted, caring guy that I know and I certainly don’t want you to be in pain or scared or angry, and I certainly do not want you to feel that you have to hide what is going on with you or who you are.” Matt stopped as he finally looked up at Kelly who looked like a child who had been scolded and was remorseful. Matt let out a soft sigh feeling that he had said to much and pushed to far. “I’m sorry Kel... I just want you to be alright.” There was a fragility to his voice that Kelly hadn’t heard in years but it made his heart clench the same way it did all those years ago.
“I’m going to be okay now. I’ve had the surgery, I’ll get clean and get cleared to be back at work. It’s all going to be alright, it has to be, I need it to be.” The desperation seeped into Kelly’s voice as if he was trying to convince himself as well as Matt who merely squeezed his hand in an effort to keep him calm.
“It will be Kelly. Between me and Shay and everyone at the firehouse we will make sure it’s okay.” Matt kept his voice as soft as he could to keep Kelly as calm as he could while he reassured him that it would be okay, that he would be okay. “Why don’t you get some sleep? I’ll be here when you wake up.” Matt could see the struggle that Kelly was having to stay awake and could hear the way his words were starting to slur due to the exhaustion and medication. He knew that there would be more to say in the next few days and weeks but for now the air was sufficiently cleared between them. What Matt wanted was for Kelly to recover and he was going to help however he could as Kelly finally gave in and let his eyelids close as his body relaxed into a drug induced sleep.
You... With Your Crosswords
Matt paused and lent against the door frame as he silently observed Kelly as he sat at the kitchen island. It was one of his favourite things, to watch Kelly as he worked on yet another crossword puzzle that the newspaper offered each day. The pen swayed lightly back and forth in between his fingers as he pondered over a clue in search of the answer that he needed and he sucked his bottom lip in. There was something captivating to Matt about watching Kelly with his daily crossword, and if Kelly ever noticed Matt watching him he hadn’t said anything.
After a few moments of observing Kelly, Matt pushed himself away from the doorframe and walked over to him. “Morning.” Matt murmured as he pressed a soft kiss to the nape of Kelly’s neck on his way into the kitchen.
“Morning... You would know this... for 9 across, the clue is a light model wood. It has to start with B.” Kelly replied immediately as he watched as Matt moved into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee then topped up his own cup all the while taking notice that Matt only had a pair of sweatpants on that were sitting dangerously low on his hips.
It wasn’t often that Kelly asked for help to figure out a crossword clue but Matt loved when he did; it was another small facet in his world that Matt was let into. “Starts with B... uhh... Balsa?” Matt answered with some uncertainty but it was the first thing that popped into his mind as he lent back against the edge of the kitchen bench top.
“Thanks...” Kelly trailed off as he filled in another answer as he picked up his cup and took a large mouthful of coffee. He put his cup back down on the bench top and glanced over towards Matt who was standing watching with a wide smile on his face. Kelly also noticed how his eyes seemed brighter. “What is it?” He asked absentmindedly letting his pen dance back and forth in his hand as he cocked his head to the side as he looked at him.
“It’s nothing.” Matt smiled brightly as he lightly shook his head although his eyes remained on Kelly.
“Sure?” Kelly asked, although he loved that Matt was happy, it was unsettling to not know why. He let the pen drop down onto the newspaper, got up and walked round into the kitchen and stood in front of Matt as he snaked his arms around his waist and spread his hands flat across his muscular back, all with a teasing smile.
Matt raised his hands to Kelly’s broad shoulders and ran his hands down over the top of his arms and stopped at his elbows as he simultaneously arched his back and pressed his body up against his. Kelly’s smile turned into a smirk as he effortlessly lifted Matt up and onto the edge of the bench top and Matt instantly reciprocated by wrapping his legs over the top of Kelly’s hips. "I’d like to know what’s making you so smiley this morning." Kelly stated as he teasingly snaked his hand up under Matt's shirt and lightly grazed his fingertips over his ribs feeling the subtle shudder knowing it was one of his sensitive spots.
Matt tipped his head backwards slightly as he closed his eyes and his lips parted softly letting out a breathless sigh as Kelly’s fingertips danced over his skin as a familiar warmth flowed through him. "Got to watch one of my favourite things." Matt spoke softly after a few moments of simply enjoying the feeling of Kelly against him.
Kelly loved seeing Matt with none of his walls up and loved the way he responded to a simple touch from him. "One of your favourite things ah?" He was intrigued by Matt's response although he couldn’t quite figure out what exact favourite thing he was referring too.
"Uh-huh... You... with your crosswords.” Matt supplied the missing piece of the puzzle for Kelly who looked slightly confused by his answer.
“Huh?” He asked hoping to clarify what Matt was saying and referring too. Matt let his head fall forward and opened his eyes to look straight into Kelly’s beautiful blue ones.
“I love watching you do your crosswords.” Matt elaborated smiling wide as he ran his hand back up over his arms to the top of his shoulders. “It’s intriguing.” He added in lieu of an complete explanation as he was rather amused by the dumbfounded expression that had settled on Kelly’s face.
“How is it one of your favourite things?” Kelly asked as he couldn’t understand or even think how it could be one of Matt’s favourite things as he once again let his fingertips sweep lightly over his ribs again feeling the way his soft warm skin shuddered underneath.
“If I tell you then you’ll stop and I definitely don’t want you to stop... ever... but I will tell you that watching you is incredibly sexy.” He smiled as his cheeks flushed with a light pinkish hue.
“Sexy huh?? Well I definitely am not going to stop doing anything that you find sexy.” Kelly’s sultry voice had Matt’s blush reddening and his mouth going dry. Matt bit down on his own lip to stop a needy groan sounding and instead let his head fall forward and pressed his face into the warmth of Kelly’s cotton clad shoulder as he nuzzled his body into Kelly’s that radiated warmth. Kelly suppressed his own chuckle at Matt’s reaction although he couldn’t keep the smirk off of his face as he let his hand slip out from under his shirt and down to rest on the top of his thigh with his fingertips brushing over his groin. “Tell me one thing though.” There was a question that arose in his mind that he just had to know the answer too, and admittedly he wanted to see if Matt’s blush would brighten as it wasn’t often that he became shy around him.
“What?” Matt’s muffled reply was barely intelligible given that he hadn’t pulled his face away from Kelly’s shoulder.
“How do you manage when we’re on shift and I’m sitting filling in a crossword?” He heard the audible muffled groan that escaped Matt’s lips and felt as he tried to press his face harder against his shoulder although he couldn’t press his face further in as there was no space left to take. It was a few minutes of settled silence before Matt pulled back, and his eyes once again found their way to Kelly’s eyes that he could so easily get lost in.
“It’s one of my favourite things, and sometimes in the midst of the more chaotic shifts I can look over and see you filling in a crossword puzzle and there’s this sense of calming peace that washes over me... and you don’t even realise but I’ve never needed you to realise it.” The teasing atmosphere fell away as Matt’s words and the greater meaning of those words resonated and settled between them. Matt did find it sexy constantly but at work it was also a calming force that was needed at times for him. Kelly was stunned by the sheer force of his words, and by the weight that were bestowed upon them as he raised his hands up to Matt’s face and cupped it in his hands then pressed his own forehead against his.
“I’ll always give that to you for as long as I can if you’ll allow it.” Kelly’s voice was so soft that if it hadn’t been for the silence of the apartment Matt probably would not have heard them but they made his heart swell in love and adoration.
Matt lifted his own hands and covered Kelly’s with his own. He hadn’t been prepared for the emotion that had come over them during this conversation but he never once doubted anything. “I know... I love you and I like that you don’t realise some of those big - little things that you do because that makes them even more special... I love you Kelly, please don’t ever doubt that, not even for second.”
“I’ve never doubted it, not once... I love you too.” Kelly wanted to say more but what he wanted too say was unexplainable. Words failed him because there was no way to truly explain how much love his heart held for the blonde who was encased in his arms with his body wrapped around his. Once again he let his actions show what he felt as his lips found Matt’s and delicately kissed him wanting to pour every ounce of emotion into that kiss. Matt’s entire body instantly responded as his lips tightened around Kelly’s hips and pulled him closer.
Kelly’s hands moved to his back and down over his backside then lifted him up off the bench and carried him towards their bedroom wanting nothing to be between them and needing to feel Matt beneath him. He wanted Matt to feel loved and to show him just how much he was loved.
“What about your crossword?” Matt asked as he pulled his face back from Kelly’s then gasped as Kelly raked his teeth over the hollowed area of his throat once he’d let him down gently on top of their bed.
“Finish later... much later.” Kelly answered distractedly as he trailed his lips down Matt’s bare muscular chest as his hands got lost on his body enjoying the feel of his soft warm skin. Matt threw his head back against the pillow as they both got lost in their own private conjoined world.
Thank you for continuing to read these one shots, and for all of the amazing comments. Your support amazes me :)
Chapter 30: Fear Of The Reckless
Fear Of The Reckless
Kelly slammed the door behind him hard enough that the glass rattled as he fought to keep all of his emotions contained after yet another shift where he had watched Matt needlessly place himself in danger. It seemed as though Matt like getting more and more reckless with each passing shift without a care in the world for those that would be affected if something went terribly wrong as it almost had this most recent shift. Kelly dumped his bag on the floor and ran his hand hastily through his hair as he faced the window and took a few deep breaths in an effort to calm the surging array of emotions inside of him.
“You could have left the door open. I was right behind you.” Matt stated pointedly as he walked into the apartment a few seconds after Kelly.
“Yeah, and you could follow protocol.” He spat out sharply as he spun around quickly to face the blonde who simply raised his eyebrows up at him.
"Kelly…" Matt was exasperated and in all honesty exhausted, and he didn’t want to argue with him but it looked as though he wasn’t going to get his way.
"Do you have a death wish? Do you think it’s okay? Is it one rule for you and one for the rest of your team Casey?" The use of his last name made Matt realise that this wasn’t going away and he knew how quickly things could spiral downwards.
"Kelly, I just reacted instinctively..." Matt frowned as he spoke.
"You keep putting yourself in harms way needlessly Casey! Every shift lately you have done something reckless, something stupid, and it’s so unlike you!" He knew he was shouting but he couldn’t lower his voice if he tried as he cut Matt off from finishing whatever he was going to say. He turned around with his back to Matt as he scrubbed his hands over his face as his chest heaved.
Matt hated to see Kelly like this and he knew he had every right to be angry but he could read the man with his back towards him and knew there was more to his words than anger. Matt quietly made his way over to Kelly and slid his hands from his lower back up to his shoulders feeling the tenseness beneath his hands that radiated from Kelly's body.
"I don’t want to lose you Matt, I can’t lose you... And if you keep up with this reckless behaviour... I’m scared you won’t come back to me..." The anger had given way to the fear that Kelly felt coursing through his veins as the warmth of Matt's hands seeped through his shirt to his skin.
Matt felt his own breath hitch at Kelly's words, at the vulnerability he was sharing, and immediately realised the toll his risk taking was taking on the man he loved, the man who he shared his life with. He pressed his forehead against the nape of Kelly's neck in an effort to steady himself as he closed his eyes as he recalled the past few shifts and the choices he had made, and he couldn’t argue that they had been reckless as Boden had reprimanded him. "I’m sorry." Matt spoke earnestly as he pulled his face away and let his hands fall. "Kelly, look at me." He implored hoping he would turn around but Kelly only shook his head from side to side.
Matt hated that he had hurt and was hurting the man he loved as he stepped out from behind Kelly and stepped in front of him realising why he had refused to turn around as silent tears ran down his cheek. Matt lifted his hands to Kelly's face, brushing his thumbs under his eyes and wiping away the warm salty tears that were running down his face. "I am sorry." He wished he could take the fear that he felt away, could ease them.
"I don’t want you to apologise... I don’t want to watch you die, I want you to come home with me, to me, at the end of every single shift." The 'I need you' remained unsaid.
"I will always do all I can to be with you Kelly. I know I’ve been stupid lately, not thinking before I act and I know I’ve scared you... I can’t promise that I won’t get myself in a dangerous situation given the job we do but I can promise to think before I act, to take a step back and assess things which I haven’t been doing." Matt wasn’t placating the man he loved, the man who looked worn down and torn apart as he stood in front of him. Truthfully, although he wouldn’t admit it aloud, he had scared himself on the shift just gone, and he knew he had to change in order to survive the next shift and every one after.
"I love you." Matt told him as he pressed his forehead against Kelly’s feeling as Kelly's hands raised and wrapped around his waist pulling his body into his. "I love you too." Kelly's voice cracked as he struggled to get his emotions under control although he relished in the feeling of Matt’s body against his as there had been a moment just hours ago where he thought he never would again.
Chapter 31: Not Coping
The empty booze bottles laid strewn across the stained carpet of the motel room that Kelly had found himself living in temporarily; he was unsure of what day it was or how much time had passed. He was sat up against the headboard of the bed in only his boxers with half a bottle of tequila in one hand and in the other a full prescription bottle of OxyContin which he was twisting round and round as he contemplated taking them and letting himself fall back into the trap that those sorts of painkillers were to him. It was easy to fall into old habits, old self destructive habits that were seemingly second nature to him. After all there was no one who needed him, no one to save him. Everyone he loved had left him, some by choice and some by force and fate.
Cruz’s words echoed in his head from when Anna died “It’s better if we can keep an eye on him. He doesn’t really take good care of himself.” But Kelly didn’t want people to keep an eye on him and he didn’t want to take care of himself instead all he wanted was the pain to go away, to be numb. Actually all he wanted was for Matt to be back in his arms saying the words that he desperately wished to hear once more, all he wanted to hear was “I love you Kelly” but that wasn’t going to happen.
Kelly hit his head back against the wall as he recounted the break up that was breaking him. If he was being honest with himself he still wasn’t sure how an argument turned into an ending, how something seemingly trivial had become something so huge. From time to time he and Matt had disagreements, personal and professional, but they always managed to get through them until this disagreement. It was a professional disagreement about who was in charge of the call and the best method to use in order to perform the safest rescue that had spiralled into a much larger argument that extended into their personal lives. It escalated into Matt claiming that Kelly couldn’t handle him being above him in their work hierarchy to which then became about Matt’s reluctance to be open about their personal relationship, and only spiralled from there until it ended, or rather Matt ended their personal relationship. Kelly hadn’t seen it coming, he had no idea how to fix it. It was easier to finish off another bottle of booze and open another to down while he considered swallowing a couple of the pills so that he wouldn’t feel anything.
The shrill sound of his ringtone blared out in the dingy motel room from where the phone had been haphazardly thrown on the bedside table at some point of his self imposed exile. It wasn’t the first time it had rung and ruined the silence but he still looked to see who was calling, he still hoped it would be Matt. But it wasn’t Matt and he wasn’t interested in answering it for anybody. Instead he made the decision to block out the world and all that he felt as he opened the bottle of pills. He raised the bottle to his lips and easily finished off the bottle of tequila after he swallowed a handful of OxyContin pills down then he tossed both the empty tequila bottle and the near empty pill bottle across the floor. He shuffled his body down in the bed then closed his eyes as he felt his body relax as the alcohol and pills mixed together.
"Kelly... Kelly... Come on... Please wake up."
"Matty?" Kelly slurred as the voice seeped through the haze that the pills and alcohol had induced. He had to be dreaming, after everything there was no way that Matt would be there. Kelly had lost track of time, his body felt heavy and he was struggling to think let alone try to open his eyes.
"I’m here Kelly, I need you to open your eyes for me." Matt was terrified and knew all he could do was try to wake him and keep him awake as he waited for the paramedics to arrive having spotted the alcohol and OxyContin bottles knowing the two were a dangerous combination and that Kelly's breathing was slow, he was cold to the touch and his pulse was weak which were all symptoms of an overdose. Matt had known something was wrong, he could feel it deep in his bones and heart, and it had taken him calling in a favour to have Kelly’s phone tracked so that he could find him. Most of the firehouse had spent the past few days searching for him as they had gone to places that he had frequented but had come up empty before the location of his phone had been narrowed down to a motel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"Matt..." Kelly’s speech was slurred as he felt Matt's warm hand caress his neck as he finally managed to open his eyes but his vision was blurred which was panicking him. In his brain, he couldn’t comprehend how Matt was with him, he didn’t understand.
"It’s okay, you’re going to be alright. The paramedics aren’t far away. I need you to keep talking to me Kelly." Matt had already managed to put Kelly into the recovery position but there was nothing more he could do except wait and keep him awake.
"I...I’m 'orry." Kelly slurred as his eyes closed again, the fight no longer within him.
"I am too, I’m really sorry." Matt couldn’t help but feel responsible for Kelly's downwards spiral especially after everything that had been yelled between the two in the days leading up to him leaving. Neither of them were okay really but Matt knew that Kelly needed medical help before either of them could heal or fix their relationship that was in tatters. "Kelly?" The panic seeped in his voice as there was no response from Kelly and Matt began to do a sternal rub trying to illicit something from the man.
"He’s had a lot of alcohol and at least half a bottle of OxyContin." Matt's relief was palpable as the paramedics immediately got to work as he supplied what little information he knew. It was a blur as they gained intravenous access, administered medication and got Kelly loaded on a gurney. Matt blindly followed and climbed into the ambulance, taking a seat and taking Kelly's icy cold hand in his.
Matt had lost track of time after they arrived at the hospital and the nurse had forced him into the waiting room, stopping him from being with Kelly as they worked on him. The relief was short lived and the panic settled in as he waited.
"You can see him now." Matt stood immediately silently grateful as the nurse gave him a soft reassuring smile before he followed her into the emergency room and to Kelly's room as she gave him a overview on everything. He slipped inside and slid the door closed then behind the curtain and made his way to Kelly’s bedside. His eyes roamed over the pale man as his hand instinctively reached out and took Kelly’s in his own, noting that his skin was still cold but not as cold as it had been. He reached his free arm back and grasped onto the stool to pull it towards him then sat down on it.
Kelly's head rolled to the side and his eyes opened, he went to raise his hand to the oxygen mask that he was wearing but Matt quickly stopped him. "There’s those gorgeous blue eyes... the mask needs to stay on as your oxygen levels are still low." Matt informed him making sure he kept his voice soft as Kelly looked absolutely wrecked.
"Didn’t mean too... Sorry." His speech was still slurred and the mask only impeded his speech further but Matt knew what he was telling him.
"I know... They had to pump your stomach and your vitals have improved. The nurse said they’ll release you in the morning as long as the tests come back clear." Matt was focusing on the medical side of things rather than the fear that was still coursing through him.
"...I come home?" The questioning tone in Kelly’s voice broke Matt's heart. Matt stood up and raised his free hand to Kelly's head, carding his fingers through his silver specked hair as he leant down and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead before he pulled back and looked into his eyes. "I want nothing more than for you to be home with me... We'll sort everything once we’re home... Let’s just focus on getting you better right now." Matt keep carding his fingers through his hair as his eyelids kept drooping as he fought to stay awake. "Get some sleep honey... I’ll be right here."
Kelly opened his eyes and immediately searched out Matt to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination and when he found Matt talking to the doctor he smiled despite how terrible he felt. "Okay?" Kelly cringed at the sound of his own voice as it was croaky and strained but it got Matt's and the doctor's attention who gave him a final nod then left the room. Matt hastily made his way to Kelly slipping his hand in his and kissing his forehead before he pulled back.
'Everything’s alright. The doctor is going to discharge you seeing as all of your tests came back clear... I’ve ordered a cab." Matt told him knowing that they needed to go back to the motel to gather Kelly’s stuff, and he would want a shower before they drove back to Chicago even though his exhaustion was still strongly evident. Matt practically had to talk the doctor into discharging Kelly instead of putting him on a hold due to the fact he overdosed.
Kelly gave a tired nod and pushed himself up taking notice that the intravenous access had been removed whilst he had been asleep. Matt helped him get dressed in some clothes that a nurse had given him as his movements were still sluggish and slow before an orderly came in with a wheelchair and the doctor bought the discharge papers and aftercare instructions.
It wasn’t a long cab ride from the hospital to the motel but it was long enough to exhaust Kelly to the point where he had his head rested on Matt's shoulder and was struggling to stay awake. Matt kept his arm around Kelly as they got to the motel room and walked inside, noticing that the room had been thoroughly cleaned and he was grateful. He knew Kelly had paid for the room for another two days as he had been told when he had first arrived in search of him.
"Let’s get you in the bath." Matt knew Kelly wouldn’t be able to stand long enough to shower, and hoped it would make him feel better as he helped him sit on the edge of the bed. His shaggy unkept appearance was doing him no favours.
"I just want to go home." Kelly still was having a hard time believing that Matt had come and found him but he wanted to go home, he didn’t want to be in the motel room any longer than he had to be.
"Alright, at least change into something comfortable then for the drive." Matt knew that Kelly would feel better in his own clothes and hopefully would be able to sleep the entire drive back. It was only a ninety minute drive but still he knew that when they got home they would have to deal with the fallout of their fight. Matt was glad he had taken the train to Milwaukee as he had been in no state to drive because now he didn’t have to worry about figuring out how to get two cars back to Chicago. Kelly gave a vacant nod but made no effort to move, afraid that he would fall over if he did. Matt moved round the room gathering up the few things that Kelly had left around the room and packing his bag, stopping to help Kelly change into a pair of sweats and a hoodie to keep him warm. It was mere minutes after that Kelly and Matt were in the car and heading back towards Chicago.
"I really didn’t mean too... I just, I just wanted to stop the pain... to not feel anything... I didn’t want to die... And I didn’t mean any of what I said, I shouldn’t have left." Kelly had to tell Matt as he fought to stay awake, he had to know.
Matt turned towards Kelly and raised his hand to his face, caressing his face as they were stopped at a set of traffic lights. The vulnerability and the sadness that he found in Kelly’s eyes was disturbing but he knew his words were the truth. "I’m sorry too, we were both heated and should have stepped away to calm down... And I know you didn’t do it on purpose, I know that... You terrified me though, when I found you, when I couldn’t find you... I love you Kelly, now get some sleep, it will make you feel better."
"I love you too." Kelly murmured knowing that Matt was right that he would feel better with a bit of sleep.
Matt started driving again as they pulled onto the highway bound for home, bound for Chicago, as he let his hand drop down onto Kelly's thigh. Kelly's head rested against the window as he finally stopped fighting his need for sleep. Matt knew they had a lot to work out, a lot to talk through, but they would sort it out not because they had too but because they wanted too.
Chapter 32: Drawing Out The Truth
Drawing Out The Truth
Ever since Matt’s confession about his memory loss after his head injury whilst at the boatyard, Kelly wanted to know more, it was out of concern but they hadn’t been able to talk alone, and the last thing Kelly was about to do was to break Matt’s confidence and broadcast his memory issue. Kelly stood at the door having past Gabby on her way out knowing that her and Shay had planned a girls day in at their apartment and waited for Matt to open it.
Matt looked surprised to see Kelly given the early hour as he opened the door, but stepped aside and let him in. “Morning.” Kelly greeted holding up the brown paper bag with freshly baked bagels inside as he walked in, heading straight for the kitchen having smelt the coffee brewing already. “Morning.” Matt’s tone couldn’t even hide his confusion at Kelly’s early morning visit although he followed behind once he had closed the door. Matt watched as Kelly made himself at home, removing his jacket and putting it over the back of the chair before going about making them both breakfast, and pouring coffee.
Kelly glanced back at Matt and suddenly he wasn’t sure how to approach him, usually it was easier to be honest and ask straight out but he knew that Matt was still healing and his admission had been a struggle enough.
“How are you feeling?” Kelly asked deciding to go with the soft cautious approach rather than risk having Matt completely clam up. “Good, why?” Matt asked once he was sat at the table. “Just wanted to check in.” Kelly replied with a shrug as he bought breakfast to the table then went back for their coffees.
“Kelly… what I told you the other day at the boat yard…” Matt trailed off as he had no idea how to continue. “That you are still having trouble with your memory, or you have no recollection prior to the call?” Kelly asked, deciding the soft approach was out the window now that Matt had bought it up as he sat their coffees down then sat himself down at the table with Matt.
“Both, it wasn’t meant to make you worry, or make you feel as though you need to keep a constant eye on me.” Matt knew he wasn’t going to end this conversation with those few words but he hoped that Kelly would at least take the hint. “I’m handling it.” He added though he knew it was of little comfort. He knew why he had admitted it to Kelly, why he had chosen Kelly over telling Gabby, and it was because he knew that Kelly had been in a similar position with his neck injury and would react differently, would help him instead of hurt him by having him forcibly side-lined unless he became a danger to himself or others.
“You told me for a reason Matt, and I can hazard a guess but I’d like to hear your reasoning behind why you chose to tell me.” Kelly figured it was a good place to start and maybe it would help Matt open up about the severity of his lasting symptoms that were plaguing him.
“Guess I knew you’d help me.” Matt shrugged leaving the rest unspoken as Kelly nodded in recognition and acknowledgement. “You would trust my instincts, be there when I needed it but not overwhelmingly so. Step in only if you have to on a call but when the adrenalin hits I can recall what I need too.” Matt added, explaining in laments terms part of his reasoning.
“And I will be but I need to know how bad it really is to do that.” Kelly knew what Matt wasn’t saying but he understood his decision. However he knew that he needed all the facts in order to help and handle it as best as he could.
“It’s small things mostly… I haven’t been able to remember my locker combination, I had to get a new lock, and then there have been occasions where I can’t remember a name of an item. It’s small things really but I have to know that it something were to happen that there is someone to take over.” Matt admitted honestly foregoing to tell Kelly about the small amount of bleeding he had had from his ears. “Another hit to the head could kill me according to the doctor but it’s only a possibility, its not a definitive.” Matt admitted almost under his breath as if it was not worth mentioning but he knew he had to tell Kelly.
“Matt…. I will help you, I will.” Kelly knew before he had even arrived that he would help him in any way that he needed. “But I need you to promise me a couple of things…” He paused again as he waited for Matt to look at him, to make eye contact with him. “I need you to promise me that if anything changes, if your symptoms get worse, that you will tell me as soon as you can and that you will consult with your neurologist. I also need you to promise me that if something ever happens on the job, if you ever take a hit to the head, no matter how minor you think it is, that you will let one of our paramedics check you over at the very least even if the possibility of another hit killing you is not a definitive, and you let me know so I can make sure that you are okay. I also need you to promise me that if you ever need help with anything that you will come to me… I understand that what I am asking from you may seem pedantic and a little over cautious but I don’t want to lose you or anyone else and I want to make sure that you are okay, that you aren’t in pain.” He knew how crippling hiding an injury and the pain that came from it could be but this was different given that Matt had been cleared to return to work and had gotten medical treatment immediately instead of avoiding it and letting it worsen. The situations were different but in a way they were the same as the love of the job overruled the state of their health.
Matt let his eyes drop down to the table as he took in Kelly’s words and let the greater meaning behind them sink in. What Kelly was asking him to promise was not unfair or unreasonable. Matt looked back up at Kelly, made eye contact with him again, and let out a soft breath. “I can do that, all of it.” It wasn’t exactly ‘I promise’ but it was him agreeing to his terms.
“Thank you... Now eat your bagels, I didn’t get up at the crack of dawn on a no-shift day just for them to go to waste.” And just like that the tension vanished as Matt laughed remembering that Kelly wasn’t exactly the greatest person in the mornings the day after a shift as he preferred to sleep in.
Chapter 33: Blushing
Kelly slipped his hand into Matt’s as they made their way into the store after Matt had reminded him that they needed to pick up some items on their way home from their shift although Kelly would have much preferred to go straight home and take care of his primal urge to bury himself deep inside of Matt but they couldn’t, not when they had run out of condoms. Matt grabbed a basket as they needed a few other essentials like coffee and milk which would be the first items that they grabbed. It didn’t take long to grab the other items they needed before they ended up in the health aisle, and Kelly did not miss how Matt’s ears began to redden or the blush that bloomed on his cheeks as they came to a stop in front of the large assortment of boxes of condoms and the bottles of lubricants.
Matt curled his bottom lip into his mouth and sunk his teeth into the soft skin; he had always dreaded this aisle and was rather shy about his need for sexual protection when he had to purchase a box.
“Which ones should we get?” Kelly said with a teasing smirk as he tugged on Matt’s hand for his attention. There were plenty of options but truthfully Matt had no idea.
“Just grab a box.” Matt answered stiffly; clearly uncomfortable with the length of time it was taking.
“But there are so many options.” Kelly answered way too innocently. “And they all make the experience slightly different.” There was that experience coming into play as he turned his body into Matt’s so that his lips were brushing against his ear.
“Kel…” Matt’s voice was almost a whine as his blush deepened.
“We could get an assorted pack to see what you like best.” Kelly chuckled as he lent the slightest bit forward and pressed his lips to the sensitive spot just below Matt’s ear on his neck.
“You’re wicked.” Matt groaned knowing that Kelly knew exactly what he was doing to him.
“I’m just discussing our options seeing as there are many varieties that I am sure we could both appreciate.” Kelly answered simply as he kept his tone neutral although he did not miss the hasty breath that Matt took.
“I don’t know Kel, just pick one.” Matt was resisting the urge to leave Kelly to choose, and his words came out almost childishly. He frowned at the loss of Kelly’s body heat as the man pulled away from him and again turned to face the shelves in front of him. Matt watched as Kelly let his hand reach out for a box and then stop and retract his hand into his body making Matt groan in frustration.
“Kelly…” Matt paused as he fought to regain his composure although the sight of Kelly concentrating on picking out condoms for their pleasure was an endearing sight if there was ever one. “Pick one, pick many, I don’t care just pick so we can go home.” The desperateness was enough to spur Kelly on as the lust filled eyes caught his attention.
Kelly reached out and plucked multiple boxes off the shelves figuring that none of them would go astray including the assorted packs with all the varieties including ultra-ribbed, flavoured and coloured, twisted, warming, bare skin, sensations and intense. Matt’s eyes bugged out at the multiple boxes that went into the basket. “What? You told me to pick!” Kelly asked enjoying Matt’s reaction more than he should have.
“You’re making us look like sex addicts!” Matt whispered harshly.
“We won’t have to go through this for a while if we get them now.” Kelly rationed although he had never been shy about his need for condoms when he had purchased them previously. “And we do go through a lot of them.” Kelly added on knowing that he had bought the last pack and that they had gone through them quickly.
Matt shook his head at Kelly’s rationalising, of course he knew he was right but he didn’t like it. “Fine.” Matt relented with a sigh as he made a mental note that Kelly was buying the next lot on his own.
“Let’s go check out.” Kelly once again entwined his fingers with Matt’s and led him out of the aisle almost excitedly as he could only imagine how much more embarrassed Matt would be as all of the items were scanned as this particular store did not have a self-checkout option.
Chapter 34: Hunt
To all my amazing readers, and especially those who comment [I love reading all your thoughts and feelings on each piece] please enjoy this little Easter snippet. Happy Easter!
Matt was at a loss to explain why he kept finding various sized chocolate and plastic Easter eggs that were brightly wrapped in various colours foils around the house that he shared with Kelly. He had only been up for an hour and a half and already he had found at least fifty eggs of various sizes aptly placed for him to find – in his mug, with the dinnerware, in the washing basket with their freshly laundered clothes, in their drawers with their clothes, in the middle of the bundled up newspaper, in his work bag, in the shower on the shelves, one was even beside him on Kelly’s pillow when he woke up, and numerous other places although he had yet to see Kelly as he had gone out for a run. Matt had collected all of the eggs that he had found and placed them on the table in the fruit bowl that sat unused.
Matt heard Kelly return just as another five eggs literally fell onto his feet as he pulled a book from the shelf. With an exasperated sigh he leant down and scooped the eggs up and headed for the kitchen to add them to the growing collection, and confront his boyfriend about why there were chocolate and plastic Easter eggs hidden all over the house.
“Morning.” Kelly spoke cheerily once he finished his large glass of water, still sweaty and flushed from his run.
“Why are there Easter eggs everywhere?” Matt forewent the greeting and got straight to his question as he stacked the five new additions to the already overflowing bowl; it was like a game of Tetris to make sure none of them rolled off of the pile.
“It’s an Easter egg hunt for you. You’re only about half way through though.” Kelly smiled with his eyes bright with excitement as he looked at the pile and took a rough guess of how many were there. He knew that he had hidden one hundred eggs around their apartment.
“An Easter egg hunt?” Matt questioned, it was almost as if he was testing out the words given the way he spoke them.
“Yeah… Last year you told me that you never went on one as a kid so I thought you could have your very own one this year.” Kelly shrugged nonchalantly as if it was an everyday occurrence as he lent back against the benchtop as he tried to gauge Matt’s reaction.
“And just how many eggs did you hide exactly?” Matt asked still dumbfounded by Kelly’s actions as the pile on the table already seemed ridiculously large.
“There’s one hundred – fifty chocolate eggs and fifty of those plastic eggs that I filled with other things.” Kelly answered as he still couldn’t get a read on Matt and what he was thinking. Kelly had painstakingly filled the brightly coloured plastic eggs with various items including short handwritten notes, a couple of tickets to various games, some picture suggestions of sexual positions that they could try, and a few other small but no less important items.
“You did all of this for me?” Matt had to ask as he tried to wrap his mind around how such a simple statement had prompted Kelly to do all that he had.
“I love you Matt, I will do it every year if that is what you want.” The sincerity in Kelly’s voice, in his words, was almost overwhelming to Matt but the love he felt was the most profound and wonderful thing to him.
“I love you too Kelly, and thank you.” Matt truly was grateful and he couldn’t help but smile as he looked back at the pile of eggs before he made his way over to Kelly and stood in front of him. He leaned in and kissed the man on his lips, drawing out a soft moan as he slipped his tongue between his parted lips and explored the familiar plains of his mouth before he pulled back gasping for air. “I’ll continue looking later but right now you need a shower, and I need to join you.” Matt had already unwrapped himself and had begun to strip on his way to the bathroom for his second shower of the day but this time Kelly would be with him and the water would run cold long before they would be finished.
Chapter 35: Hidden Memories
“What is it Kel?” Matt asked seeing how still and ashen he had become throughout the phone call that he had been on, thankful that they were in Kelly’s quarters with the blinds half drawn and the door closed which was allowing them a small amount of privacy as their shift was almost over and it had been a busy one.
“Uhh… that was a storage place. Benny has a storage locker… I… uh… I need to go and clean it out immediately otherwise they’ll auction it.” Kelly seemed to be in a state of shock, not prepared for another thing of his father’s to deal with in the wake of his unexpected death after he suffered a stroke given that he thought that everything had been dealt with. “I didn’t even know he had one. We didn’t find any records or keys for it. I’ll have to drive up there after shift ends.” He was forming a loose plan as he went.
“I’ll drive you up. We’ll take the truck in case you need to bring anything back.” Matt did not want Kelly driving in the state he was in, and given that it was Benny Severide’s secret storage locker who knew what was stored in it.
“Yeah…yeah… thanks.” Kelly couldn’t bring himself to disagree or turn down the offer as he nodded his head feebly feeling like he was lost again.
Kelly took a deep breath as he stood in front of the dark red roller door of the small storage unit and mindlessly rotated the key over and over between his fingers preparing himself to unlock the padlock and open the door although he didn’t feel ready to know what was inside. He knew Matt was stood off to the side to give him as much privacy as the corridor afforded. He took a few more seconds silently cursing himself at how ridiculous he felt he was being before he stepped forward and put the key into the lock and then with a quick turn had the padlock unlocked and off, he allowed it to fall to the floor before he pushed the door open. He stepped inside and found the light switch and flicked it on letting the small room become brightly lit.
Kelly looked around the room that had one wall lined with shelves with everything packed in approximately fifteen various sized plastic containers seemingly organised despite the fact that nothing was marked or labelled in any way to give any hint of what was stored inside and a few items stored in front with plastic or cloth covers over them. What caught Kelly’s attention was the old battered little fire-truck red tricycle with a clear plastic cover over it that he would recognise anywhere as he could still remember it clearly; he could still remember how Benny and his Mom Jennifer had taught him to ride it. He stepped closer to it and crouched down in front of it, reaching out and pushing the cover back just enough to expose the front half of it. He couldn’t believe Benny kept it all these years.
Matt stepped closer and leant against the side of the doorframe as he took in the contents of the locker although he couldn’t make out what was in the containers he could see how affected Kelly was by the tricycle that he was crouched down in front of with his fingertips barely brushing against the well worn and flaky red painted metal frame. Matt wasn’t sure whether to say anything or to just leave Kelly to it.
“He kept it… He kept it and never told me.” Kelly looked around and began to wonder what else Benny had kept that he didn’t know about. He shook his head thinking about how long he had spent thinking Benny never took an interest in anything he did but maybe that wasn’t the truth after all his final act was one of a father even if he didn’t find out until it was too late. Kelly turned back to look at Matt glad that he was there.
Matt gave Kelly a soft smile as he took in Kelly’s posturing and allowed himself to step into the small locker then he made his way across to him in a few short soft steps. He crouched down next to Kelly and placed his hand on his shoulder watching as he looked around the room. “Benny was good at keeping things hidden but this is defiantly one of the better ones although his secrets, his indiscretions, always did have a way of coming out.” Matt recalled as Kelly nodded as he chuckled continuing to look around the room reflecting on all of his father’s dirty laundry that had come to light over the years and had often caused him great embarrassment when he was younger until he learned how best to ignore it even though he often ended up stepping in to broker some kind of peace.
“I don’t understand this and I will never get the chance to ask him about it either. All those years he never seemed interested, never seemed to care, yet he kept all of this stuff, stored it all for what?” It was yet another question that he would never get to ask Benny that had arisen since his shocking death. He bought his hands up to his face and scrubbed haphazardly feeling haggard as he felt Matt’s hand squeeze his shoulder a little tighter for the briefest of seconds bringing his attention back to the immediate task at hand. With a sigh he pushed himself up from the concrete floor and stood at his full height with Matt mirroring his actions.
“Maybe there’s something in here somewhere that will answer that. I mean surely he had to have a reason, I’m sure we can figure it out.” Matt knew that Benny Severide didn’t do things without reason even if that reason was despicable and did not have the best intentions, but somehow he figured this time that whatever reason that Benny had kept and stored all of this stuff was for the right reason.
“I guess the only way to find out is to go through it and see what else he saved.” Kelly really wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll that this was taking on him, in all honesty he had not been prepared for any of the emotional and mental toll that Benny’s death had taken on him.
“Only if you are ready Kelly; there’s no hurry.” Matt wanted to make sure that Kelly didn’t feel obligated or pressured to go through everything. Just because the storage unit had to be cleared out today did not mean that Kelly had to go through it if he was not ready. They could put everything on the back of Matt’s truck and take it to Kelly’s so he could work through the boxes at his own pace.
“Should have a look through them first just to get an idea of what is in them.” Kelly wasn’t going to unpack everything but he wanted to know what else Benny had kept stored for years and years. He knew that he would have to go through them properly once he got them back to his apartment.
“Where do you want to start then?” Matt asked understanding where Kelly’s head was at although he did still look overwhelmed as he had from the moment he received the call that morning.
“Let’s see what is under the rest of the covers first.” Kelly looked to the three other items that were underneath thick movers’ blankets figuring they needed to clear those out before they could get to the boxes. He moved to the first cover and carefully pulled it up and off seeing that his father had kept the hand crafted rocking chair that had been in his room when he was really little; Kelly could recall how his mother would lift him into his lap and sing to him or read him a story. He shook his head as he moved to the next item and pulled the cover off finding an unfinished half way through being restored rocking horse which was another item that he recalled from his childhood although it was clear that Benny had begun to restore it and never finished it. He blew out a breath as he moved to the final covered item and once again carefully lifted it off finding the steel pedal fire truck that he had spent hours playing in. He knelt down again seeing that it still had all the little dings and scratches in it from the hours Kelly had spent pedalling it around. Kelly looked at all the items and suddenly recalled a passing comment that Benny made from years ago when had first learned of his and Shay’s plans to have a baby… “It will be nice to pass on some of your things to a child of yours.” At the time Kelly brushed it off figuring Benny meant the Severide genes or the name but now he wasn’t so sure.
“I think I know why Benny kept this stuff. I mean he kept the stuff that can’t be easily found or bought anymore. There was… he made a comment when Shay and I… when we were planning to have a baby, when we told him and at the time I brushed it off, I didn’t think much of it. At the time I just thought it was Benny being Benny but now, now I’m not so sure it was.” It was the only thing that made sense considering that Kelly could see a nursery filled with these items, a passing on of the torch in a way. The rocking chair where his Mom had spent hours sat in with him cradled in her arms or to her chest. The rocking horse that he had played on when he was a toddler until one day it disappeared although it had been in a lot better shape. And the fire truck pedal car that he spent countless hours pedalling around in once he was old enough and until he no longer fitted in it but by then he had also begun to despise his father even if he was too young to understand what he had felt. Somehow even after his death Benny had a way of hurting Kelly although he had to admit it was not in his usual way given that this surprise was bringing up long forgotten memories from his childhood and more recent unforgettable memories of Shay, and it was making him realise that somewhere deep inside of Benny there was a man who would have loved to be a grandfather given all of the pre-planning he had done even years before Kelly became an adult.
“Sev?” Matt called softly as he crouched down beside him seeing Kelly was getting lost in his thoughts and he knew that this was not just bringing up memories and thoughts of Benny but of Shay too. Matt could not blame Kelly given that he still had a lot of unresolved feelings towards Benny but going to a dark place was not what Kelly needed.
“Maybe it was Benny’s way of trying to redeem himself, try to be what he was not, try to be a great grandfather after he failed at being a great father. Maybe he saw it as his second chance to be looked up to by someone who hadn’t been hurt by him so many times before.” Kelly shrugged his shoulders once he finished speaking before he ran his hand over his face feeling the heaviness of his thoughts weigh him down before he finally turned to look at Matt who was beside him.
“I think we should just load everything up. I really don’t want to go through all of this now.” Kelly pursed his lips together suddenly wanting nothing more than to get out of the storage locker and return home after he set everything that Benny had stored in a corner of his apartment with a cover over it all until he wanted to go through the rest of it as it now seemed unappealing with all that was going on inside of his head.
Matt could see that Kelly was shutting down, could see that he was overwhelmed, and it was understandable although he knew that there was more going on than he was verbalising. Benny’s sudden death had torn Kelly apart, had sent him into a different kind of destructive spiral, and had sent him running from facets that he could not deal with. Kelly had admitted that he had this feeling that he wanted to wreck things, that he couldn’t stop himself from doing so, and that his whole life felt like he had been caught in a current that he could not fight against. Kelly was trying to figure out his changing world, and surprises like this were not helping that world to stabilise. “Kelly…” Matt began to speak but Kelly shook his head.
“You were MIA plenty. Especially when things got tough. Boden was the only one who picked me back up… Father you never had huh?... That’s right…Goodbye Kelly… Bye Pop… That was our last conversation. That was the last conversation I got to have with Benny. I told him that Boden was a better father to me than he ever was. It wasn’t a lie but I wish those were not my last words to him… Although I’m not sure Benny and I would have had a better one given all of the animosity that lingered between us and that came out every time we talked.” It was the first time Kelly had told anyone other than Boden what had been the final words spoken between father and son. Those words have gone through his head time and time again since he had learned that Benny had died of a stroke. But what was worse was that Kelly could not be certain that any of their shared conversations had been better in the past few years, if anything they had only intensified.
“Kelly… Benny knew you loved him, knew that you cared, and that is why you were hard on him because you did care. If you didn’t love him, you wouldn’t have done all that you did for him.” Although Matt felt shocked at their last conversation he knew that as harsh as it sounded it was the truth. He was sure that Kelly would not have said it out of spite or to simply be hurtful. “What you said was the truth, it is how you feel and there is no reason to feel bad about that. You should not be torturing yourself for that.” Matt knew Kelly and knew he would be torturing himself for simply being honest however he did not want to minimise how he felt either.
“And despite how final conversation he still went to Grissom and saved us all because I asked him too. Did Boden tell you what Benny said?” Kelly’s gaze didn’t shift as he looked at the pedal fire truck as his hand reached out and he let his fingertips brush absentmindedly over the cool metal in an effort to avoid going to that dark space that he was inside of himself.
“He didn’t.” Matt knew the basics but not the finer details.
“Benny told Grissom that Boden is a leader who moulds good men into great ones, and that I was the proof he needed to know that is was true… The truth is Benny was right about Boden being a good leader, I am just not sure if he was right about me being a good man, I know I am not a great man… After everything that I said to him and he still goes and tells Grissom that; it makes me question a lot of things.” Kelly vividly recalled that conversation with Boden as he sat in the church pew at Chicago Med in the hours after Benny’s death.
Matt was at a loss for words but he scrambled to make sense of everything that he had just learnt as Kelly had remained pretty tight lipped up until now. “Sometimes, a lot of the time, when someone dies we reanalyse and idealise who they were and what they did and how they said things but the truth is that their actions and words have not changed simply because they died. Grief makes us overthink things and try to see a different perspective for the things that shaped us and scarred us Kelly.” He paused and took a deep breath before he continued. “My old man was a bastard, it doesn’t mean he deserved to die like he did – being shot to death in what should have been a safe place, but for a long time after he died I tried to make sense, I thought and excused his behaviour, because I did not want to show how much it had scarred me, how much it still affected me. His words didn’t just affect me, it was just she snapped before I did… Death does not excuse what they said and did, or did not say or do Kelly.” He finished seeing Kelly had turned to look at him although his hand still lingered over the fire truck.
Kelly nodded before he shook his head and blew out a breath as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. Everything felt overwhelming and torturous lately. He raised his hand and ran it over his face feeling as the past few months caught up to him all of a sudden; he was exhausted in every way – mentally, emotionally and physically, but he also felt a weight lift off of him as if he had finally been released from the anchor that was holding him down and threatening to sink him. “Thanks Case.” He really meant it even if he couldn’t tell him how thankful he really was.
“Anytime, anything, I’m here… Now lets get this stuff loaded up and get you home. How about we order pizza and spend the day having a few beers and watching the game?” Matt could see how exhausted Kelly was and figured he could do with being distracted once they cleared the storage locker out.
“Yeah, yeah.” Kelly agreed distractedly although he was grateful for the offer as despite how much he wanted to be alone there was a part of him that also did not want to be. He pushed himself up to his full height feeling as his body protested the movements seeing that Matt had copied his movements.
The two men worked silently and quickly got everything loaded up and secured down on the back of the truck. Matt watched from down the hall as Kelly stood in front of the now empty storage locker before he let the roller door drop down and headed towards him as if he was being given a sense of closure. Matt gave Kelly a firm nod of his head before the two men walked side by side silently.
Chapter 36: First Moments Of The Morning - Matt
A double update for all of my amazing readers!
Matt loved the way that the first remnants of the sun rise would filter through the sheer curtains and bathe the room in a golden glow but what he loved the most was the way the sun would lay across Kelly giving his skin a golden glow. He would lay on his side with his head propped up on his elbow, and facing the man he loved while he watched as the sun crept over him until he would lift his arm up and let it rest on his face to cover his eyes. These first moments of the day at times felt surreal considering all that they had been though in years past but now these first moments of the day had easily become some of his favourite memories, and some of the ones that he looked forward to the most.
He loved watching as Kelly rolled onto his side so that he was facing him, and his hand blindly reached for Matt who instantly reached his own hand out to take his before he opened his eyes and smiled. Some mornings there was nothing said for a while, and other mornings a greeting came almost as soon as his eyes were fully open, and Matt had never figured out how to tell what each morning would be.
“Mornin’” Kelly whispered as he entwined their fingers together and bought Matt’s hand to his lips laying a soft kiss on his knuckles which made him smile.
“Morning honey.” He loved the sound of Kelly’s voice first thing in the morning when it was still thick and tinged with sleep. He loved everything about mornings like this when they got to enjoy each other and there was no rush, from the way Kelly clasped his hand and held it firmly as he often pressed Matt’s hand against his chest so it was right over his heart once he had kissed his knuckles to the sleepiness that still lingered over Kelly.
"We really need to get blackout curtains." Kelly said, the comment was one that had been verbalised before, although he already knew that Matt would disagree and he knew why.
"No we don’t." Matt answered just as he always did as he smiled down at Kelly.
"Maybe I’ll just have to lay on your side with you." Kelly proposed as Matt shrugged in indifference as the idea wasn’t one he would ever oppose as he loved the feeling of their bodies pressed together skin on skin.
"Never going to argue against that." Matt replied as he shifted closer so that they were side by side facing each other.
"I love you." Kelly whispered as if it was a secret for only Matt to hear.
"I love you too." Matt whispered back as he basked in the elation of those words every time he heard them. "It’s still early, we can get a few more hours of sleep." Kelly still looked exhausted so a few more hours would do him some good, at least that was Matt's way of thinking.
"Hmmm... as long as you stay." Kelly found it hard to sleep without Matt next to him although he kept that little fact to himself usually as he didn’t want Matt to feel obligated to stay beside him just so he could sleep when they were at home in private.
"I’m not going anywhere." Both men knew the greater meaning behind those words as they settled down again as Kelly gave Matt's hand that was still pressed over his heart a gentle squeeze..
Matt watched as Kelly let his eyes close as his body relaxed until he was sleeping soundly. Truthfully Matt couldn’t think of anywhere else he would rather be in the first moments of the morning.
Chapter 37: First Moments Of The Morning - Kelly
Kelly loved the mornings when they were in no hurry and he woke up first. It wasn’t often that Matt slept in later than Kelly but when he did he would take full advantage of it. The apartment was always quiet first thing in the morning and Kelly loved that silence as he could listen to the soft murmurs that Matt would make in his sleep or in the first moments as he woke up.
Kelly smiled despite not having opened his eyes yet as he could feel the way that Matt had curled himself into his side with his face pressed into his neck and their legs had ended up entwined in a way that couldn’t easy be untangled in a hurry sometime during the night whilst they slept. Matt’s arm was stretched across his torso and his hand wrapped gently around his shoulder almost as if he had anchored himself to him.
It always amazed him how Matt managed to cocoon himself up in the blankets and leave Kelly with none or just the very edge on himself, or on nights when Matt had managed to intertwine their legs then only his lower body would remain covered.
He opened his eyes as he let the hand that was wrapped around Matt’s back run lightly along his side as his fingertips traced seamless patterns over top of the blanket making the blonde curl into him tighter, and that made him chuckle softly. He raised his other hand and let his fingers card through the thick mop of blonde hair that was longer than usual loving the soft sigh that escaped the blonde's barely parted lips and the way his head would press back into his touch so that he could see Matt's peaceful face. Kelly could still fondly recall the first time that they had laid like this, and how amazed he had been by how peaceful, serene, and sedate Matt had looked as he slept; it had made his love him even more and wish that he could always be as peaceful as he had been in that moment.
The space that Matt had made when he moved allowed Kelly the room to lift his own head and press a delicate kiss to Matt's soft lips knowing that he loved being woken this way as he had told him so.
"Mmmm... morning." Matt mumbled once Kelly pulled back, his voice still thick with sleep and Kelly wanted to describe it as adorable but refrained from doing so.
"Morning baby." Kelly replied before he took the opportunity to kiss the blonde again who was barely awake loving the deep groan that emanated from his throat as he unfurled himself from the blanket cocoon as both of his hands made their way to each side of Kelly’s neck. Kelly reached his hand down and helped tear the blankets away as he followed Matt as he rolled over onto his back whilst he deepened the kiss, letting their tongues battle for dominance and their bodies press against each other mercifully.
Matt pulled back as his eyes found Kelly’s before their foreheads found their way to be pressed together. "Why are you awake so early?" Matt asked after a few moments as he ran his hands down the warm muscular chest that was hovering above him, letting his fingers press deep into the skin in certain places.
"I like mornings like these, just you and me, nowhere to be and nothing to do but each other." The twinkle in Kelly’s blue eyes caught Matt's attention alongside his words, the mischievous smile made an appearance too.
"Is that so?" Matt teased smiling as he caught Kelly off guard as he used their entwined legs to change their position so that it was Kelly who was now on his back with Matt hovering above him.
"That's so." Kelly smirked pulling Matt down against his hips as he lifted them letting him feel what he was working with, letting him know just how turned on he made him.
"You’ll just have to take care of yourself or join me in the shower as I have things to do." Matt moved quickly as he scrambled off of the bed and headed for the ensuite, as he did he looked over his shoulder and caught the look of surprise and disbelief on Kelly's face which only made him laugh. He knew what option Kelly would choose and although he did have things to do it was nothing that couldn’t wait, it was just his way of getting what he wanted and that was sharing a shower with the man he loved. Kelly waited until he heard Matt step into the shower before he followed after him already formulating a plan inside his head. They were starting in the shower but they defiantly were not finishing there, or anytime in the morning.
Chapter 38: Because Of Me
Because Of Me
Kelly sat at Stella’s bedside as she slept as the anaesthetic was still coursing through her system along with the pain medication that was being delivered intravenously whilst also making sure that she didn’t pull at the nasal cannula in her sleep as she had tried previously. He shifted uncomfortably in the hard plastic chair as he scrubbed his hands over his face tiredly. It had been hours since Stella had woken up from the emergency surgery that managed to save her lung. She had terrified him more than he had ever been terrified, and he knew it was more about who she was and what he felt for her then just the fact that he couldn’t go through another loss again. She had told him to go home and get some sleep, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave her not after almost losing her.
Kelly had his eyes firmly fixed on Stella as he heard the door open but he didn’t even turn to see who it was as he figured it was another nurse coming in to do another check. "Kelly." Matt spoke quietly as he stopped at the end of the bed cautiously glancing over at Stella before he cast his eyes over Kelly who looked absolutely exhausted and was still in his uniform including his turnout pants, even his radio was still around him but turned off. "Figured you wouldn’t have gone home so I stopped by your place and packed you a bag. Cindy packed a bag for Stella as well which I picked up... I’ve also grabbed you some food." Matt held out a paper bag for Kelly to take knowing he wouldn’t have even thought about grabbing something to eat. "How is she?" Matt asked once Kelly took the brown paper bag that contained a sandwich, a muffin and a small package of fruit salad, as well as a bottle of orange juice.
"Thank you... Everything looks good so far but she’s still being closely monitored as a precaution." The way Kelly spoke made Matt realise there was an internal battle raging inside of him, and Matt could guess what that battle was.
"Eat first then you can grab a shower and get changed. I’ll sit with her while you do... She's one of the toughest, one of the strongest, and one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. She’s going to get through this. You both will... together." Matt needed Kelly to hear what he was saying, to know that it was going to be okay, that they were going to be okay.
"Casey... Matt... She’s in here because of me, because she was so determined to save me. She could have lost what she loves, being a firefighter... She could have died." There was the internal battle raging inside of him verbalised; he spoke quietly so Stella wouldn’t hear him or be disturbed from the rest she needed to heal.
"She made a choice that we both have before however it’s different because it wasn’t your choice this time and that is something that you and her will discuss in time... And she’s still here, she’s still a firefighter... She’s here recovering." Matt knew that they had chosen to save people they loved even when it was dangerous and the odds were not in their favour over the years, hell Kelly had run into a building with active gunfire for Stella and Otis not that long ago. Matt also know that the man in front of him couldn’t take anymore loss, couldn’t lose someone else that he loved.
"Yeah..." Kelly didn’t know what to say. There were things he wanted to say but only to Stella and only in private but more importantly all he wanted to do was hold her close and have her home with him. "Matt... thank you." He was grateful for Matt and his words especially given the place that he was in.
"Don’t need to thank me, just listen to me." Matt smiled before he glanced over at Stella knowing she was incredibly lucky, and somewhat amazed at how even when she was asleep she had managed to gravitate towards Kelly seemingly aware of his presence beside her. Matt smiled as Kelly’s hand instinctively found its way to Stella’s, and entwined their fingers together which immediately settled her.
"Yes I do, I heard what you did when I couldn’t." Matt knew that Kelly was referring to getting himself removed from the hospital but was surprised by the self deprecation he could hear. "I should have been able to convince them, the doctors..."
"We didn’t know until she was out of surgery, and it was mostly Brett and Herrmann... And you fought for her Kelly, you fought for her more than anyone else right from the moment you got to her." Matt interrupted as he wouldn’t let Kelly be riddled with a guilt that wasn’t deserved, although he knew it would take more than words from him to come to the same realisation. After a few moments Kelly gave a soft nod of acknowledgement seemingly ending the conversation.
Matt ended up sat on the other side of Stella’s bedside in relatively comfortable silence observing everything including the two people with him. There was nothing else to be said, and even as Kelly finally followed his advice as he headed towards the private bathroom in Stella's room for a shower after having a small amount of food Matt could see the struggle he was having at leaving her side. What Matt did know was that it would take time, time for them both to recover and move past what had happened, and that Kelly wouldn’t make it easy with the guilt that he was carrying.
Chapter 39: Unwell
Kelly slipped under the blankets of his bed in his quarters bringing them right up to his shoulders as he was freezing and he let his eyes close as his head throbbed just as his chest rumbled as a couch escaped his lips. His throat felt like it was on fire each time he attempted to swallow and he knew that his voice was near nonexistent so he was avoiding talking unless he was on a call but even then it was tough. Actually he was avoiding everyone for two reasons - he didn’t want anyone else to get sick and he didn’t want to get sent home.
Matt had barely seen Kelly all shift and it was odd that he wasn’t at the Squad table with his guys, and he hadn’t made it to the table for their late dinner or lunch for that matter. Matt knew that Kelly was behind on his paperwork as he had mentioned it at the end of their last shift as he had stayed behind and that was what he put his disappearance down to earlier in the day but now his worry had heightened. Kelly had stayed at his own place the night before their shift so they hadn’t even seen each other before. "Anyone seen Severide?" Matt asked the table just as the alarm bells went off with a call for Ambulance 61 only to earn a series of 'no's' and shakes of his head.
Matt rose from the table, taking his plate and mug into the kitchen, before he went in search of Kelly somewhat concerned by his unusual behaviour. The blinds were drawn on Kelly’s quarters and it appeared as though the room was bathed in darkness. Matt didn’t bothering knocking as he slipped inside but he did notice the desk lamp was on and that Kelly was in bed huddled under the blankets.
"Kel?" Matt kept his voice low as he made his way to the side of the bed as Kelly was on his side facing away from the bunk room. He was surprised to see Kelly in bed given the early hour but the soft light told him all he needed to know given his pale and flushed face. "Kel, sweetheart." Matt tried to wake him again as he rested his hand on Kelly's back while his other hand briefly pressed against his sweaty forehead feeling the fever that he had.
"Mmm... Matt..." Kelly managed to get out as he woke up before he began coughing violently and curled in on himself as his entire chest ached, even his lungs hurt. His voice sounded even worse then before. Matt pulled Kelly up quickly into a sitting position hoping to help ease his coughing as he rubbed his back and knew why the stubborn man had been avoiding everyone all day because he was sick.
Matt waited until his coughing subsided before he eased him back down so he was laying on his back. Kelly didn’t even try and protest which only told Matt how bad he really felt. "You should be at home." It was an obvious statement but it needed to be said.
"Shifts over in a few hours." Kelly's voice faltered then cracked as he pulled the blankets tightly around him in an effort to warm up.
"Your shift is over, I’m going to let Boden know so Capp can cover for you." Matt decided swiftly knowing immediately that Kelly was in no state to work.
"Nooo..." Kelly whined before his chest rattled painfully and a cough escaped his lips effectively silencing his protest. Matt shook his head softly as he rested his hand on Kelly’s stomach feeling the muscles tense beneath his fingers.
Matt knew that there was no way that Kelly could drive home considering he was shaking uncontrollably and he had a high fever. Matt was also sure that he wouldn’t be able to stand or walk properly as he suspected he was also suffering from dizziness and nausea. "Capp is covering and once shift is done you’re coming home with me." Matt didn’t leave any room for his protests.
Kelly shook his head softly before he buried his face in the blankets pausing as the throbbing in his head only worsened. He closed his eyes briefly as his head swam then opened them again to see Matt looking at him with worry written all over his face. "Don’t want you to get sick." He could barely get the words out, his voice more of a squeak than anything else, and it was increasingly painful.
"And I’ll just worry if you’re not with me." Matt wasn’t going to let him be alone especially considering how sick he was; as it was he was ready to call Brett in to administer an intravenous drip to keep him hydrated but he knew Kelly would refuse which wouldn’t help his already strained voice. "Now try and go back to sleep, I’ll get you some Tylenol and some coconut water which will be better at keeping you hydrated and has a lot of electrolytes when I come back to check on you." Matt finished speaking softly as he thought about how best to take care of Kelly while still at the firehouse.
"If I sleep I’ll just feel worse." Kelly croaked out as he felt worse for having slept. Matt frowned having picked up on what wasn’t being said.
"But you need to sleep to get better... or at least rest if you don’t want to go back to sleep." Matt compromised knowing how stubborn the sick man could be, and not wanting to cause an argument as that would most likely make him erupt into another coughing fit.
"Love you." Kelly murmured knowing Matt was worried as he moved over onto his side covering his mouth just as he began coughing again.
"I love you too." Matt waited until the coughing had subsided knowing exactly what Kelly was doing by saying it, trying to make him less worried. Matt stood up and leaned down then pressed a soft kiss to his temple. "I’ll be back shortly." Kelly simply nodded as his eyes closed involuntary.
Matt left Kelly's quarters and went straight to Chief Boden's office letting him know that Kelly was out for the rest of the shift and that Capp could cover with his blessing which he quickly agreed too. Before Matt could return to Kelly's quarters the alarm sounded for the entire house sending everyone scrambling to their respective vehicles. Matt hated to leave Kelly alone but it was best that he was in bed at the firehouse rather than trying to remain upright while on a call.
Matt rushed his men to get back to the firehouse after they had completed overhaul at the scene of the house fire that they had been diverted too after they had been to their original call that was for a multiple vehicle accident. It had been over three hours since they had left the firehouse, and Matt was worried that Kelly's health could have worsened knowing he was in no state to look after himself and take all the necessary steps that a person had to take when they were sick like remaining hydrated and checking their body temperature regularly. Matt also knew that Kelly didn’t get sick often but when he did, he ended up really sick often to the point where he required some sort of hospitalisation or near enough to it.
Kelly woke with a start as the pressure in his chest increased greatly and his lungs burned as he coughed harshly and uncontrollably. He struggled to push himself up so he was sitting upright as he felt himself get lightheaded at the lack of air. He felt worse than he even thought possible, and he couldn’t recall the last time he had been as sick as he was. He pushed away the blankets frantically and moved to lean forward hoping to ease the pressure and allow his lungs to get the air he desperately needed. The relief came after a few tense moments and afterwards he felt like he had run a marathon, he was exhausted. He waited a few minutes remaining as still as he could as he willed his body to calm itself.
Once a few minutes had gone by and he felt like he could breathe again, he unsteadily got up and had to brace his hand out against the wall to keep himself upright as the dizziness hit. Kelly paused for a few seconds allowing it to pass before he continued to make his way out of his quarters and through to the showers, he hoped that a shower would help make him feel better, even if only marginally he would take it.
Matt jumped out of the truck and quickly shed his gear before going straight to Kelly’s quarters, a slight panic of fear coursing through him as he found the bed empty and the blankets ruffled. He quickly went in search of him.
“Casey!” The yell from Cruz had him alarmed and rushing towards the locker room. “It’s Severide.” Cruz told him as soon as he entered as he pointed over to the showers where Brett was currently knelt down in front of Kelly who was laid out on the floor, at first glance it looked as though he had collapsed before he even made it into one of the stalls, luckily he hadn’t gotten undressed either.
“Kelly. I need you to open your eyes for me.” Sylvie said as she applied a sternal rub earning a muffled grunt as Kelly curled in on himself as another series of coughs escaped his lips and his eyes opened. “It’s alright. We’re here.” She assured him as Matt knelt down beside her with worry etched across his face. Matt moved closer and rubbed his back as the coughing finally subsided. “Let’s get you up and to your quarters. I’ll check you over there.” Sylvie decided knowing he didn’t need an audience and the floor outside of the showers wasn’t the best place to do an examination. Kelly gave a cursory nod before he allowed Matt and Sylvie to help him up and lead him back to his quarters, Otis passing the medical kit to Sylvie as they went. Both Matt and Sylvie had most of his weight on them as he was still incredibly dizzy and unsteady on his feet.
Matt sat beside Kelly once they got him sat down on the edge of his bed as Sylvie knelt down in front of him and opened the medical kit. Matt lifted his hand to the nape of Kelly's neck, feeling how sweaty and hot his skin was, and let his fingers lightly sweep over repeatedly. "Do you know what happened?" Matt asked keeping his voice soft as Sylvie began examining him wanting to make sure he hadn’t hit his head.
"Wanted to have a shower... felt dizzy... collapsed." Kelly knew he had blacked out but it hurt to talk so he kept it short. He closed his eyes as the motion of Matt's fingers across the back of his neck made him want nothing more than to lay down and go back to sleep.
"We got diverted to another call, I’m sorry." Matt felt guilty that he had left Kelly alone when he was as sick as he was, and he felt guilty that he hadn’t been able to return to his side with the Tylenol and coconut water that he had promised before the call had come in. His fear that something bad would happen had materialised and manifested into something that could have been a lot more dangerous.
"You have a fever that’s high but not unsafe however we do need to get it down, and we need to hydrate you as you have signs of dehydration. I’m going to give you some Tylenol as well." Sylvie gave her assessment, hoping to ease Matt's worry that was clearly etched on his face.
"Thanks Sylvie... I’m going to talk to Boden, let him know I’m taking you home." There was only a few hours left of their shift and Matt hoped that Boden would let Herrmann cover for him. "I’ll grab him a drink first though, can you stay with him?" Matt asked not wanting to leave Kelly alone and realising he was fighting against falling asleep upright as he stood up from the bed.
"Of course." Sylvie smiled just as Kelly faltered, she grabbed his arms before Matt even had a chance too react and held him upright as another spell of dizziness came over him. "There’s a couple of jello cups in the fridge, grab a couple of those as well as a spoon." Sylvie instructed as she suspected part of what was causing Kelly's dizziness was a lack of food and she suspected he hadn’t been eating because his throat was causing him pain if his lack of voice was any indication. Matt nodded in recognition and slipped out of Kelly’s quarters, hurrying to get everything and get back.
"Kelly..." Sylvie spoke softly as she could see the dizziness wasn’t subsiding as quickly as it should.
"Yeah?" Kelly rasped out, each word he spoke made his throat feel as though he had swallowed shards of glass before he quickly bought his hand to his mouth, covering it as he violently coughed. A groan escaped his lips at the ache in his chest from the coughing.
"How long have you been feeling like this?" Sylvie asked knowing she would get a more honest answer out of him whilst Matt was out of the room as he wouldn’t want him to worry.
"Day before yesterday... wasn’t this bad though... just really tired." Kelly answered as he opened his eyes again, the majority of the dizziness having passed. "Didn’t think this would happen." He added on hoping she’d understand that he was well enough to work when he started his shift.
"I know, I figured as much... When Matt comes back I’m going to need you to take the Tylenol with some coconut water, and I want you to have at least one jello cup before we get you up and out of here... Once you’re home you need to go straight to bed and sleep but I also want you waking up at regular intervals to drink, eat and have some more Tylenol. Ok?" Sylvie would relay everything to Matt but it was courteous to let Kelly know. He gave a soft almost indistinguishable nod in understanding.
The door opened and Matt slipped inside. "Here Kel." Matt said as he held out one of the small cartons of coconut water that he had grabbed with the straw already placed in the top of it. Sylvie reached out and took it from Matt, lifting it to Kelly's lips as his hands were shaking too much to hold it himself. "Small sips." Sylvie said as he grimaced as he swallowed despite the cold reliving some of the burning he felt in his throat. After a few small sips she pulled the carton away, and made him take a couple of Tylenol tablets, before allowing him to finish the rest of the small carton.
"Open one of those jello cups please." Sylvie instructed Matt who quickly did it, she made sure a trash can was near by as a precautionary measure. Matt hated watching this but he held it out for her to take which she did. "Why don’t you go talk to Boden?" Sylvie suspected that it was hard to see Kelly so sick, and she also suspected that Kelly hated Matt seeing him so weak and so sick. "Then you can grab both of your bags and bring the car to the apparatus doors."
"Yeah...yeah... alright." Matt seemed to have a hard time considering it before he finally answered as he looked at Kelly who seemed even paler than he had been just minutes ago. "I’ll be back soon to take you home." Matt told Kelly as he placed a quick kiss on the top of Kelly’s head before he left again.
"Nice slow breathes... And small mouthfuls of this jello." Sylvie spoke softly as she pushed the spoon into the soft jello and scooped up a small spoonful before she bought it to his lips and he took it. The small jello cup was gone within a few minutes and she placed the rubbish in the trash can watching Kelly closely for any signs of distress. "Alright?" She asked softly.
"Hmmm..." Kelly felt nauseous but no worse than he had felt before he drank the coconut water and ate the jello. There was no miraculous change but he knew there wouldn’t be. He was glad it was Sylvie in front of him and not Matt even though he knew Matt would be back very shortly. He hated to worry Matt and knew that he had already so the least he could do was spare him the increased worry if he did end up vomiting although he was focusing on not doing that. "Thank you." He rasped out.
A knock of the door made Sylvie look over just as the door opened and Cruz stuck his head in. "Casey is just bringing the car up to the apparatus doors now." He informed them both as he was the only one still awake as everyone else had showered and gone to sleep for the few hours left of their shift.
"Give me a hand." Sylvie seemingly ordered and Cruz quickly stepped into the small room and over to Kelly's side. With both Sylvie and Cruz's help, Kelly managed to get to his feet. They gave him half a minute to just stand without moving before they began walking him out of the firehouse to where Matt was already waiting, having got clearance from Boden to leave shift early and take Kelly home. Kelly let them ease him down into the passengers side of the car. Cruz stepped back as Sylvie knelt down and quickly fastened the seatbelt around him. "I’ll come and check on you after shift." Sylvie was worried about him, and about how Matt would cope as he already looked panicked. "Let him sleep but wake him up in four hours for some more fluids and Tylenol, maybe even something to eat." Sylvie told Matt who nodded in understanding before she stood up and stepped back then closed the door.
The drive from the firehouse to Matt's apartment was eerily silent. Matt was entirely focused on getting them there as safely yet as quickly as possible while Kelly was focused entirely on keeping the nausea and dizziness at bay as he took slow deep breaths. As soon as Matt pulled into his driveway, he had the car off and was out of it, running to get the door unlocked and open before running back to help Kelly out and inside.
Within minutes Kelly was curled up in Matt's bed asleep as Matt laid next to him keeping watch. He stroked the back of his hand over Kelly's flushed cheeks and was always amazed at how even in his sleep he would press his face closer into his hand. Matt hated seeing the man he loved so sick, and only hoped he would get better quickly.
Kelly woke up as Matt threaded his fingers through his hair and let out a soft moan as he rolled over onto his side and opened his eyes. "Time?" Kelly asked, his voice raspier than it was previously, as he tried to get his bearings as he had no idea how long he had been asleep for but admittedly he felt a little better.
"It’s still early... I’ve got you some more Tylenol and coconut water." Matt kept his voice soft glad that in the soft lighting he could see that Kelly had regained a small amount of colour back to his skin, and he could feel that his fever had reduced slightly. Kelly, with Matt's help, lifted himself up and shakily took the two pills and the small carton that Matt offered, swallowing the pills down and then slowly sipping the cool liquid down. Matt took the carton once he was finished with it as Kelly laid back down and snuggled into the blankets still feeling a slight chill. "Do you want to try and eat something or go back to sleep?" Matt asked even though he knew he would need to get some groceries as there wasn’t much in his fridge or cupboards.
"Sleep." Kelly murmured as his eyes were already closing. He felt depleted. Matt couldn’t help the small smile that arose across his face at Kelly and his actions. Matt pressed his lips to Kelly's forehead before he pushed himself up and left him to sleep.
Matt made sure to stay quiet as he moved round the house doing a general tidy up despite the early hours, he also took the time to write a shopping list in between trips to the bedroom to check on Kelly as the hours passed. His phone vibrating on the kitchen bench made him pause in his actions and look at it. It was a message from Sylvie telling him she was at the door. He quickly moved to the door and opened it to find Sylvie holding a number of grocery bags.
"I didn’t want to wake him up if he's sleeping. I also stopped and got some groceries including a decent supply of Tylenol, coconut water and jello." Sylvie spoke quietly as Matt stepped aside to let her in.
"Thank you. I actually was going to slip out and get some groceries today." Matt was thankful for Sylvie's thoughtfulness as he didn’t want to leave Kelly's side.
"That's alright. How is he?" Sylvie asked as she began unpacking and putting the groceries away.
"Everything’s stayed down. The Tylenol has reduced the fever a little." Matt answered.
"And how are you doing?" She asked seeing and feeling his worry.
"Worried about him. I know that he rarely gets sick but when he does he get really sick... I left him alone and he collapsed. What would have happened if we hadn’t have got back when we did?" Matt had spent the last several hours going over all the what if’s in his head as he watched Kelly.
"We found him, and he’s going to be fine. He’s already improving from what you’ve told me." She sympathised with him but knew he shouldn’t feel guilty because it sounded like Kelly had gone down hill faster than even he himself realised.
"Can I check on him?" She asked, not only for her own peace of mind but for Matt's as well.
"I’d like if you did... actually he's due for another dose of Tylenol." Matt gave her a weary smile.
"Why don’t you go have a shower?" Sylvie suggested seeing how haggard he looked and realised that he hadn’t slept as she pulled out a carton of coconut water and a jello cup of the fridge then grabbed two more tablets and a spoon.
"I could use one... I just didn’t want to leave him alone or be unable to hear him if he needed me." Matt answered truthfully.
"Go, I’ll stay with him. Try and get some jello into him." She smiled as Matt nodded and pointed her towards the bedroom before he made his way into the bathroom, admittedly he was desperate for a shower.
Sylvie waited until the bathroom door was shut before she made her way into the bedroom to see Kelly cocooned under the blankets. She slowly and quietly approached then put everything down on the bedside table before she sat herself down on the edge of the bed. "Kelly..." She called softly as she rested her hand on his shoulder. She watched as he opened his eyes, closing them briefly before they finally opened.
"Matt?" Kelly asked as he looked around the room slowly before looking back at her.
"I sent him to shower... How are you feeling?" She asked as she lifted her hand to his forehead checked his temperature, relieved that it had lowered dramatically since the time she checked it at the firehouse.
"Better... exhausted." Kelly grimaced with each word but he did feel better, his head wasn’t throbbing and he felt as though he could breathe. The dizziness wasn’t as prominent but he hadn’t tried standing though. The nausea was near nonexistent and he didn’t feel as cold as he had. However his throat was still extremely painful and his voice was still raspy and he could barely talk. And he felt like he had ran a marathon given that his body was still achy, and he was exhausted - it was a bone deep exhaustion that he hadn’t felt in years.
"Your colour is coming back and your fever has reduced... I bought some more Tylenol for you to take and another carton of coconut water... and how about some jello for breakfast?" Sylvie told him. Usually she would be the first to object to anyone having jello for breakfast but considering how his voice sounded and the way he grimaced every time he spoke she was sure that trying to get him to eat nearly anything else would only cause him more pain.
Kelly gave a tired nod as he unwrapped himself from his blanket cocoon and sat up. Sylvie handed him the two pills and the small carton of cold soothing liquid which he gratefully took before she picked up the cup of jello and spoon. "There’s a few different flavours in the fridge but they aren’t cold yet so strawberry will have to do." His hands were a lot steadier than they had been just hours ago as he took the small cup and the spoon from her and slowly began to eat. "Thank you." Kelly murmured as he ate slowly, grateful.
Kelly ate a second jello cup and had a second carton of coconut water under Sylvie's watchful eyes before Matt returned looking a lot better and fresher for a hot shower although he looked as though he needed sleep just as much as Kelly did. "How’s the patient?" Matt asked softly.
"Continue to hydrate him and supply him with jello, maybe try some soup tonight, and he should be fine in a few days as long as he takes it easy." Sylvie smiled noticing the way Matt visibly relaxed which Kelly picked up on too. "Anyway, I’m going to go and leave you both to get some rest. Call me if you need anything." She told them both with a smile.
"I’ll walk you out." Matt said as they left the room leaving Kelly to settle back down in the bed. Part of him wanted to shower but he didn’t have the energy and was already on his way back to sleep. Matt thanked Sylvie then returned to the bedroom.
"Nap time?" Matt crawled into bed with Kelly who rolled over to face him, entwining their legs as Kelly nodded softly and pressed his face into the pillow.
"Didn’t mean to scare you." Kelly rasped, his voice cracking as he spoke, but he knew he had scared the man in front of him.
"I know you didn’t, I just hate when you’re sick and I can’t fix it." Matt replied as his left hand found its way to the nape of his neck, letting his fingers run up into the base of his hair. "We can have a shower after our nap." He knew that Kelly would want one considering he hadn’t managed to have the one he wanted at the firehouse, and it would help him feel better. Kelly pressed his face into the crook of Matt's neck enjoying the warmth and comfort. Matt pressed his lips to Kelly's hair as he settled against him, both settling down to nap together hoping that Kelly would recover quickly. Whatever would happen Matt knew that he would be right by his side.
Chapter 40: Loss And Distance
Another double update!
Loss And Distance
Kelly wondered absentmindedly through the rows of headstones with a brown paper bag covered bottle of tequila held in his hand that he had picked up on his long walk to the cemetery. It had been a rough week at the Firehouse and it only seemed fitting to end up visiting Shay as he had missed her a little more lately knowing she would have been able to say what he needed to hear even without having to explain what he couldn’t. And then there was the disconnect that had him and Matt struggling in their relationship which he had no idea how to fix despite how much he wanted too although it felt like every time he tried to reconnect with Matt it only distanced them further.
He came to a stop at the all too familiar headstone. “Hi Shay.” He said before he leant down and ran his hand along top of the cold smooth granite then he pressed a kiss to the stone. He pulled back and cast his eyes over the empty cemetery seeing the uncared for overgrown headstones before he finally sat down with his back pressed to her headstone. He raised his knees up towards his chest and let his elbows rest on top once he had settled the bottle of tequila down between his feet.
“I miss you and I wish you were still here... Right now I could do with one of your many unsolicited opinions.” It was an insane thing to miss but he missed the times where she would give him the kick he needed to sort his crap out which he still wasn’t very good at doing by his own admission even though he didn’t always appreciate it back when she was alive.
“I’ve got no idea what I’m doing Shay, what is wrong, or how to change and fix it... He feels so far away from me right now, even further away than he did after Andy died and every time I try to bring us closer it only ends up making the distance grow... I don’t know what to do.” He frowned as his own voice sounded foreign to him, it was so full of sadness that it hadn’t even registered that it was how he felt. He let his head fall back and looked up at the gloomy looking grey cloud covered sky that mirrored him almost too perfectly.
Without looking, he reached his hands out and grasped the bottle of tequila then uncapped it. He blindly bought the full bottle to his lips and took a few large mouthfuls, wincing at the burn as it went down his throat but he didn’t care. He needed it, needed to decompress, and needed to say what he needed too without prying eyes or ears.
“It was one of those weeks at the Firehouse, every shift was full of death despite everyone’s best efforts.” It had been a bad run with multiple casualties across the last three shifts and several different calls for the entire firehouse and everyone was taking it hard. "That hasn’t helped us either. It’s made things harder as we have both been pressing our teams harder, trying to get our response times down to get to the scene quicker, contradicting each other, and I guess we have been taking our frustrations at our failures out on each other as well." It was a new realisation that only came to him as he spoke freely, after all there was no one there to reply to him but it still didn’t stop him from taking another mouthful of tequila as he watched the darkening clouds drift above him as he let the silence settle over him. There was something comforting about being in the cemetery, sat up against the cold granite, and being able to think and speak freely without hinderance or judgement.
He made no effort to move as the time passed by slowly as he made slow progress through the bottle of tequila and the air temperature cooled around him as the sky grew even darker. His head was filled with thoughts as he recalled the past few weeks and every interaction that had taken place between him and Matt at home and at the firehouse.
“Kelly.” Matt called softly relieved to have finally found him as he sunk to his knees in front of the man whose head was still leaned back against the familiar headstone with his eyes closed. He placed his hands on Kelly’s knees making him raise his head and open his eyes and Matt realised that Kelly had been so deep in his thoughts that he hadn’t heard him call him name. But then he caught sight of the near empty bottle of tequila that was laid down on the ground beside him which made him take a second glance at his eyes to see how dazed they looked.
“Matt…” Kelly’s voice sounded far away and full of disbelief before he bought his hands up to Matt’s. Matt hissed at how cold his hands were against his, they almost felt frozen and made him silently wonder how long he had been sitting out in the cold although he knew it had been hours since he had seen him as the last time was at the firehouse.
“Yeah honey I’m here... Let’s get you home so you can warm up.” Matt made no effort to move as he looked at Kelly, really looked at him for the first time in weeks and he could see behind the facade just how exhausted and confused that the man he loved was, and it pained him.
“I miss her... she would know what to say, how to help us.” Kelly sounded so broken and Matt felt the guilt that lingered deep inside of him rise up to the forefront as he knew how distant he had been from everyone but especially Kelly. He slipped his left hand from under his and raised it up to Kelly’s cold cheek using his thumb to caress the very corner of his lips. He knew that one particular death had really shaken Kelly but he had not been able to pinpoint what about that death had been so haunting but he also knew that he hadn’t been attentive enough to press for the answer either.
“She was always great at kicking our asses when we needed it. I have needed it.” Matt paused as he realised just how much of an idiot he had been. He also felt an added sadness at the hole that Shay had left in their lives, especially Kelly’s, although that realisation was not new as he had been all too aware of it the moment she was pronounced dead. “I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you, haven’t been with you lately. I know I have been pulling away, trying to create some distance between us...” He trailed off not knowing what else to say or how to explain any of it. And then there was a larger part of him that really wanted to get Kelly up off the ground and into the warmth of his truck so he could get him home.
“We feel so far apart and every time I try to bring us closer it only makes things worse.” Kelly’s voice was gravelly and he could feel his body trembling. "I don’t know what more to do... I just want you." The vulnerability in Kelly’s voice floored Matt and even though he knew that the tequila was letting his walls down he wasn’t about to stop him.
"I’m right here Kel and I’m not going anywhere. We’ll work this out because I love you. I love you." Matt reassured the man in front of him although he knew that it would take more than a few words to repair the damage and remediate the distance that was still between them.
"Just sit with me for a while… please... just let me hold you." Kelly wanted to sit with Matt in his arms with Shay still nearby as he wasn’t ready to leave her alone again just yet. Matt didn’t answer verbally instead he turned around and settled in between Kelly’s parted legs and lent back against his chest as Kelly wrapped his arms around his body and pressed his face into his shoulder inhaling his scent as Matt entwined their fingers together.
"She would have hated it here, hated the quiet of this place." Matt spoke softly after almost thirty minutes of silence making Kelly chuckle lightly against his skin.
"Yeah she would have... Take me home." Kelly replied before he decided that he wanted to go home, wanted to be taken home by the man he loved.
Matt moved himself away from Kelly and up onto his feet before he turned and faced him then held out his hands. "Let’s go home." It was nice to say those words again and the relief was palpable on Kelly’s face as he heard them. Kelly nodded and pushed himself up onto his feet with Matt's help. Kelly didn’t let go of Matt’s hand, it was almost as if he was too scared too, as he lent down and kissed the top of the granite stone then placed the near empty tequila bottle against it. He stood back to his full height and let Matt lead him away feeling the distance between them close with each step.
Chapter 41: Warrants A Phone Call
Warrants A Phone Call
It had been a long day as he finished up a small but labour intensive construction job and Matt was more than happy to finally be home especially how long and drawn out their firehouse shift had felt. He had barely seen Kelly all shift as Truck and Squad had been on multiple separate calls, even as he had left the firehouse earlier in the morning Squad had still been out. He made his way inside and quietly set his bag down once he had closed and locked the door behind himself and had kicked off his shoes frowning at how quiet the apartment was.
Matt couldn’t help but smile as he rounded the corner and found out why the apartment was so quiet. Kelly was laying on the couch on his side asleep with one of their comforters tucked around his legs but had been pushed down to his hips at some point during his sleep. He made his way over and knelt down in front of him on the floor seeing the pained expressed that flittered over his facial features as he slept which immediately set him on edge. He raised his hand to Kelly’s forehead, relieved that he didn’t have a temperature although his mind went into overdrive as to the reason for the signs of pain he was seeing.
"Kel, honey." Matt kept his voice soft as he let his fingers ran gently through Kelly’s soft greying hair; he knew it wasn’t often that Kelly slept during the day and he was clearly tired but the overwhelming need to know what was wrong meant he had to wake him up.
"Hmm... Matty..." Kelly’s voice with thick with sleep and laced with pain as he opened his eyes half way before he let them close again. Kelly made no effort to move or try to open his eyes again instead he focused on the soft movement of Matt’s fingertips running through his hair over his scalp.
"You’re in pain honey." It wasn’t a question. It was a statement, a statement that Matt hoped would spur Kelly to tell him what was wrong.
"Nothing’s broken. I got checked out at Med." Kelly informed him quietly and he would have shrugged his shoulders if he wasn’t hurting as much as he was. He had been prescribed OxyContin but was refusing to take it just as he had refused whilst at Med.
"What? Why didn’t you call me?" Matt was extremely alarmed given that whatever had happened had been serious enough for Kelly to take a trip to the hospital to be checked over yet he had not heard anything about it. The change in pitch of Matt's voice made Kelly open his eyes fully as he sensed the panic that was setting in for Matt.
"We were completing overhaul at our last call and a car barrelled through the scene. This little old lady hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and I got clipped by her car." Kelly gave the barest of details as he could see how Matt was reacting and the horrified look told him enough that he decided to spare him the details of how he ended up on his back on the windscreen before he slid down hard to the road when the woman had finally found the brake pedal and used it.
"You got hit by a car Kelly." Matt was absolutely horrified and aghast at how blasé Kelly was being. "That warrants a phone call." Matt added concerned at what injuries he was concealing.
"Boden bought me home and I didn’t want to worry you. I know you were on a deadline to get that job finished." Kelly knew that it would help to ease Matt’s mind simply because they both knew how caring Boden was, and they knew that Boden would not have left him alone if he had not have been cleared by the medical staff.
Matt bit down on his lip hating the logic that Kelly had put forward because he knew how much Boden cared for the both of them, treated the both of them like his sons, and he knew that if Kelly was not cleared then there was no way that he would be home and spread out on the couch. Matt leaned forward and pressed his lips to Kelly’s forehead, placing a delicate kiss on his skin before he pulled back and looked at him seeing the small smile on his lips.
"What do you need? What can I do?" Matt asked as he didn’t want to do anything to cause him more pain but he couldn’t ignore the pained expression or the weariness that Kelly was exhibiting.
"Could you help me up and into bed? I also need to put some arnica on." Kelly figured it would be easier to move from the couch to the bed now as he still felt exhausted although he was not looking forward to any sort of movement due to the pain that he knew it would bring.
"Yeah. What have you been given for the pain?" Matt knew his aversion to taking any pain medication that was not available over the counter but considering the level of pain that he was in he had to take something as he could barely move. It was an uphill battle to get him to take anything stronger more often than not and Matt knew he had to pick his battles.
"I’m not taking it." Kelly sounded like a petulant child but that resolve was what had kept him clean since his serious neck injury as he slowly and agonisingly moved to sit himself up resisting the urge to cry out. Matt moved to help him by carefully unwrapping the comforter and pushing it away from his legs.
“Okay. Just take it slow Kel.” Matt relented as he got a read on Kelly’s mindset simply from his reaction as he stood up in front of him and held his hands out for him to take. Kelly reached up with a suppressed grimace and slipped his hands into Matt's waiting ones before he pushed himself up onto his feet although he stayed as hunched up as he could as he felt almost every bone and muscle scream in protest as his skin pulled taut which only added to the pain and discomfort.
Matt waited and watched closely until Kelly was ready to move although he could see just how pained he was from standing. Kelly took as deep as breath as he could manage as he steeled himself for the walk from the couch in the lounge to their bedroom before he finally started walking. Every single step reverberated painfully through his body and Matt stayed by his side until they reached the bed.
Matt pulled back the blankets and helped Kelly to sit down. “I’ll go get the arnica and then apply it for you.” Matt informed him as Kelly had his eyes screwed closed and had fisted his hands into the sheets beneath him as he focused on breathing through the pain. Matt didn’t wait for an answer instead he moved quickly hating that he had to leave Kelly in pain.
Kelly knew that the pain was not going to subside as he unclenched his hands from the bedding and slowly raised his arms up as he slipped the loose fitting maroon coloured cotton t-shirt off over his head before he raised his hips up to slide down and slip off his jeans leaving them in a pile on the floor beside his feet.
Matt muttered an expletive string of swear words under his breath as he searched through the bathroom drawers for the pottle of arnica that he knew they had until he finally found it buried beneath a handful of other products. Matt stopped and his eyes widened in shock as he walked out of the en-suite bathroom and saw Kelly's bare back with every inch marred with bruises that were still darkening from various shades of reds into blue and purples and blacks. "Kel." The whispered word that slipped from Matt’s lips had Kelly straining to turn around to look at him which spurred him to move so that he was in front of him and in his direct line of sight.
Kelly watched as Matt sunk down to his knees in front of him with tears building in his eyes as the reality of how close Kelly could have come to dying set in and the pottle of arnica dropped down between them. Kelly felt his own heart crack as he reached his hand out and caressed Matt's cheek gently. "I’m right here sweetheart, and I’m not going anywhere for a very long time." Kelly reassured the man he loved and who loved him. "I love you." Kelly wanted to tell Matt just as much as he needed to hear it.
"I love you." Matt raised his free hand up to caress Kelly's hand that was on his face before he blew out a shaky breath. Neither of the men made an effort to move for a few minutes as they both soaked in each other’s presence, both of their minds occupied until Kelly had to shift due to the pain he was in which made him wince and that wince caught Matt's attention immediately.
"Lay down hun and I’ll get you some ice packs." Matt knew that Kelly needed to lay down and hoped that applying some ice packs after the arnica would help ease some of the bruising despite how much a hot bath with Epsom salts seemed like a good idea as well. Matt raised himself to his feet and quickly pulled the blankets back and folded them down before he leant down to pick up the arnica and placed it on the bedside table. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Matt added as he went to leave the bedroom whilst Kelly remained unmoving.
Kelly blew out a harsh breath as he steeled himself for the movements he was about to make and for the pain that he knew would bloom throughout his entire body once Matt was out of the room as the last thing he wanted to do was cause him anymore worry. He suppressed a groan as he shifted so that he was laying on his stomach with his head twisted to the side as he pulled a second pillow beneath him to ease the pressure that he felt on his neck and shoulders as he let his eyelids close as he still felt absolutely exhausted.
"Kel." Matt spoke softly as he made his way to the edge of the bed seeing his eyes closed and his breathing fairly even as he put the three large wrapped ice packs down on the very edge of the bed only hearing a grunt in response. "I’m going to put the arnica on and then the ice packs." He informed him as his eyes wondered over his body seeing how far the bruises extended down his legs to his ankles.
Kelly barely had the energy to answer Matt or open his eyes but he felt as his warm hands began applying a thick layer of arnica cream as gently as he could although every touch was painful so he bit down on his lip until it was over and the ice packs were applied across the three main areas of impact.
Matt had spent the entire time watching Kelly’s facial features for his reaction as he rubbed in the arnica and when he applied the ice packs over the most painful looking areas that were the most heavily bruised, and he knew that every move he made had caused a variance of pain which he hated as he was only trying to help.
"Thank you." Kelly murmured sleepy as Matt pulled the blanket up and over him then tucked him in before he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.
"Get some sleep hun, I’ll be right here." Matt replied softly before he stepped back and made his way over to the chair in the corner of the bedroom by the window then sat down determined to stay close by and watch over the man he loved. He shook his head lightly as only Kelly would not want to worry him after being hit by a car but what he hadn’t realised that he would always worry. Despite how tired he felt he knew that he would spend the rest of the night checking on Kelly and doing everything he could to help take him pain away just as Kelly had done numerous times before.
Chapter 42: Delicious Soft Foods
Delicious Soft Foods
Matt laid on his side wide awake yet seemingly sleepy at the same time in the hospital bed. The anaesthetic was still coursing through his system but at least the pain had lessened significantly although the sore throat still persisted despite having his infected tonsils removed. The bout of tonsillitis had really knocked him around.
"How are you feeling Case?" Kelly spoke softly, keeping his voice low, in the lowly light hospital room. It was after visiting hours but he had managed to convince the nurse to stay, and somehow he had ended up laying on his side facing Matt in the small hospital bed. However there was no where else he would rather be.
"Better." Matt whispered as he gave him a small smile. Kelly gave him a soft nod as his hand found Matt's on top of the blanket, and gently took hold of it, lacing their fingers together.
"That’s good. We’ll go home in the morning, set you up on the couch or in bed, and then I’ll go get some groceries. Stock up on all those delicious soft foods that you can eat like ice cream, jello and pudding." Kelly had already glanced over the food and drink list that the doctor had given Matt, as well as the other pamphlets whilst he waited for him to wake up.
"Can’t just eat dessert." Matt frowned knowing he hadn’t eaten a lot in the past week or so, and it wasn’t going to be substantial.
"I’ll get some other things as well. I’ll take the list with me. Mashed potatoes and bananas are on it as well. Smoothies will be good for you too, I’ll even put some protein powder in them." Kelly knew that Matt had lost weight, he was attuned to Matt's body and had seen that his ribs were more visible than they had been just weeks ago.
"Thank you." Matt whispered before he shifted closer, pressing himself into Kelly's body, and settling against him. Matt knew that the man who had just wrapped his arms around him, and that was holding him close, had been worried, had been more than worried but had hidden it.
"I’d do anything for you Case. And you don’t need to thank me for it." Matt smiled at Kelly then leaned in and let his lips brush lightly against his. It was a soft, sweet, and short kiss. "Get some sleep. I’ll be right here." And Matt knew he would be, there was no getting rid of the man from his side, or from the small bed. Kelly laid awake just watching Matt sleep, glad that he was finally resting peacefully and on his way to feeling better.
Chapter 43: Relief
Kelly wasn’t sure that Matt was really ready to be discharged from Chicago Med after his latest work injury that had left him with severe smoke inhalation that required intubation along with four broken ribs and a lot of serious bruising after an illegal and poorly constructed wooden mezzanine floor had partially given way and sent him falling down to the floor below where he had landed awkwardly and broken his mask but the doctors had discharged him with strict instructions which Kelly was going to make him follow.
Kelly had glanced over at Matt every time they stopped the entire drive home as he had his hands rested against his ribs in an effort to ease the pain as he tiredly rested his head on the cool glass of the window. It was clear to him just how uncomfortable Matt truly was given the way he would shift and grimace every few minutes. “We’re home.” Kelly kept his voice soft before he got out of the car and quickly moved to Matt’s side then opened the door for him before he held his hand out for him to take. Matt slipped his hand into Kelly’s and eased himself out of the car which was an act in itself as he tried not to twist his body too much for fear of pain that the movement would cause to flair.
The short walk from the car to the front door was slow and painful although Matt had tried to hide it but Kelly was too attuned to him and his body language, and could feel as he lent more and more of his weight against him. “Bed or couch?” Kelly asked once they got inside as it was early in the evening as Matt had convinced the doctor that one more night wouldn’t make much of a difference to get himself discharged instead of in the morning.
“Shower.” Matt cringed at the hoarseness of his voice that still lingered from the intubation as he answered wanting to get the sterile smell of the hospital off of his skin as he turned into Kelly’s arms and rested his head against his chest as he was still exhausted and in more pain than he cared to admit too.
“Since when was that an option?” Kelly teased glancing at the clock on the wall and silently working out when Matt could have his next dose of Dihydrocodeine which left him dry mouthed, nauseous and sleepy but it was the best to treat the moderate to severe pain that he was in depending on how much he moved. He wrapped his arms around Matt to keep him upright feeling how more and more of his weight was transferred onto him which he didn’t mind.
“I want to shower with you first and then I’ll choose the bed.” Matt’s voice was muffled as he pressed his face into Kelly’s collarbone. It was part practicality as Matt wasn’t sure that he could stay standing for long enough and part indulgence as he had missed Kelly’s body against his own despite having him hardly left his side.
Kelly sighed softly before he tilted his head forward and pressed a kiss to the top of the mop of blonde hair. “Can’t say no to an offer like that.” He kept his voice light understanding the part that Matt wasn’t saying, the practical and the indulgent parts because he to needed the reassurance that simply showering together would bring. “Don’t fall asleep on me yet… Come on.” Kelly knew Matt wasn’t ready to let go of him so he began to walk with him towards the bathroom being careful that he didn’t trip over anything as it wasn’t the easiest to move together when Matt’s exhaustion left him barely able to lift his own feet.
Kelly managed to make it to the bathroom with him without incident. He carefully moved one of his arms from holding Matt and reached out to turn the shower on making sure it was nice and hot just as Matt liked before he glanced down at him again having felt him turn his head towards the shower so his ear was pressed against his chest.
“Let’s get you undressed and in.” He gently pried him back and managed to trap his body between his own and the bathroom counter so that he had some stability as he as quickly and as carefully as he could undressed him, watching for any visual signs of distress and pain as he did so and trying not to look at the dark bruises that lingered on his skin. Kelly helped Matt step into the shower straight beneath the water flow seeing the way he steadied himself with his hands pressed flat against the wall before he let go and stripped himself of his own clothes as quickly as he could then stepped in behind Matt and slid his arms around him letting him lean back against him.
“Okay?” Kelly asked as Matt leaned back against him letting his head rest on his shoulder as he let his eyes slipped closed at the feel of the hot water on his skin knowing that he was being held up by Kelly who wouldn’t let him fall. Kelly raised his hand up and brushed his fingers through his blonde strands pushing the wet hair back so it wasn’t dripping into his eyes.
“Hmmm... I am now.” Matt answered feeling as Kelly removed one of his hands from his body and reached out to grab a loofah before he placed it under the nozzle of the bottle of body wash and applied a large dollop to it. He bought the loofah to Matt’s battered body and very gently moved it over his skin in a circular motion making the soap bubble and the shower fill with the smell of it. “This is nice.” Matt murmured sleepily as he nuzzled his face into Kelly’s neck trying to move as little as possible as he was still in pain and the pain medication had worn off.
Kelly didn’t answer as he finished soaping him up and then helped to wash all of the suds off before he turned off the shower. “Let’s get you into bed.” Matt was almost asleep against him which didn’t surprise him at all as he reached out and grabbed the towels then wrapped one around each of them being as quick yet as careful as he could be to get him dried.
Matt grunted lightly in affirmation as Kelly manhandled him out of the shower and into their bedroom before he very gently rubbed arnica over his bruised body then helped him into a pair of boxers but foregoing a shirt as he knew it hurt to raise his arms before he pulled the duvet and sheet back and helped Matt lay down then tucked him in not even worrying about getting dressed himself as he only had a towel secured around his waist. Kelly quickly flicked the electric blanket on hoping that the heat would help ease the soreness that was plaguing Matt. “I’ll be back in a minute, I’m going to get you some water and your pain pills.” Kelly kept his voice low as he watched Matt snuggle down into the blankets before he left the room making sure to keep his footsteps light on the wooden floor.
As quickly as he could he returned to Matt with the correct dosage which was two pills and a large glass of water seeing that he was already half asleep although he looked in pain. Kelly sat down on the edge of the bed and reached his free hand out to Matt’s damp hair, pushing his fingers through it lightly as he watched his eyelids flutter. “Have your pills and then you can go to sleep babe.” Kelly made sure that he kept his voice low and soft as he held the glass of water and pills out for him to take, once he had helped to haul him up so that he didn’t choke and could swallow the pills easier. Matt didn’t even argue instead he took the pills and put them in his mouth, and then shakily took the glass of water and washed them down before Kelly took the glass of water back from him and sat it down on the bedside table.
Kelly helped Matt ease himself back down then tucked the blankets around him. He didn’t want to move away but he needed to get dressed as his body was starting to cool rapidly and goosebumps were forming on his skin. Kelly reached his hand out and caressed Matt’s stubbled cheek for a few moments seeing that he was already asleep before he withdrew his hand and stood up to go and get dressed in a pair of sweatpants and a long sleeved top all the whilst keeping his eyes on Matt.
Kelly settled himself down in the corner chair of their bedroom like he had so many times before and smiled softly as he watched Matt snuggle deeper under the blankets as the medication took effect. As he watched Matt the sense of relief that he was home settled in nicely for the first time in the past few days.
Chapter 44: Crazed Actions
Matt could see even from across the apparatus floor that Kelly was going over and over the morning’s call in his head, that the call had left him more troubled than usual. It had been a house fire and Kelly had desperately fought his way through the collapsing structure to get to the young woman even after he had been ordered to stand down and abandon the rescue but she was walled off by the fire and the conditions had deteriorated rapidly which AI were investigating. Matt was not sure why Kelly had been so determined not that he wouldn’t do what he could to save any life but there had been something different that he was unable to pinpoint as he had seen it in his eyes. Maybe it had something to do with the husband who had managed to get himself out of the house and had to be held back by Otis, Cruz and Boden as he cried out for them to save his beloved wife. And even after they had managed to extinguish the fire, it had been Kelly who had recovered the body with the utmost care, and it had been Kelly who had apologised to the new widow for being unable to save his wife before he had slowly meandered over to the Squad truck and climbed inside as he ordered Tony to take them back to the firehouse while everyone else looked on.
“Go check in with him.” Herrmann suggested from beside Matt as they had been going over some last minute requisition forms before his attention had shifted over to the troubled man. “He’s taking this one harder than I have ever seen him take any loss. We all saw and heard how hard he fought to get to her but that house was too far engulfed for her to be saved… He seemed numb to Boden’s reprimand too.” Herrmann was not saying anything that Matt did not know or had not observed himself but it was nice to hear that everyone was on the same page and that he was not over analysing.
“Yeah, thanks Herrmann.” Matt handed off the clipboard to him and headed for the Squad table sending a silent nod to the rest of the men of Squad to scatter as they had been staying close to Kelly since they had returned from the call although Matt was not sure that Kelly had recognised their movements or intentions. The men all gave silent subtle nods to the Captain before they moved away from the table deciding to head outside and wash the truck.
Matt sat down at the table in the seat nearest Kelly and his recliner as he took in the man in front of him seeing how pale he was up close, and how distracted he really was but what really struck Matt was the sadness that he could feel coming from him. “Sev… Kel.” Matt spoke softly not wanting to startle him but it was failing to capture his attention so he reached out and placed his hand on his nearest knee finally catching his attention and seeing him look up at him.
“You did everything you could this morning Kel, everything.” Matt knew that Kelly needed to not only hear it but believe it because he had.
“Still couldn’t save her. I failed her Matt, and her husband.” There was a hint of contriteness to Kelly’s voice that Matt could not explain.
“What is it about this one Kelly? What is it about this call, this loss that has you so shaken?” Matt knew even as he spoke that he sounded as though he was being completely unfair but he had to know what was so different about it. He did not mean for his words to sound so blunt and abrasive but he hoped that he would get an answer or some sort of emotional response.
“I need some air.” Kelly answered after a few minutes of thoughtful silence before he shakily pushed himself up, watching as Matt’s hand dropped from his knee and instantly he missed the contact, before he headed out leaving Matt sitting alone watching him go.
Kelly made his way out of the firehouse and found himself lent up against the corner of the firehouse closest to the bay doors of Ambulance 61. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back against the bricks as he thought about the call and about Matt’s questions. What is it about this loss? What is it about this call? Truthfully he didn’t have all of the answers but the answer that he did have was not one that he was ready to share with Matt however he also could not even explain the storm that was brewing within him.
Kelly blew out a breath and raised his hands to scrub at his face feeling the weight of it all bearing down on him. He had been going over all of the possibilities in his head since he had walked away from the scene for the final time but as he ran through every possibility he knew that the outcome would still have been the same, that there had been no possible route that would have led him to her not when she was in the middle of the house with fire on every side. A shiver went up his spine as the woman’s face came into his mind, after all it had been the smoke inhalation that had killed her as he had seen that she did not have any burns when he recovered her body from the room that became a death trap as it had no windows and only one door as it was in the middle of the house. The answer that he could not tell Matt was that the woman bore an incredibly remarkable resemblance to the blonde detective Bianca Holloway; she was one person that he had not thought of in a long time and there had been no romantic involvement between the two of them however he had spent a lot of time with her son J.J and he had felt the loss of her death.
“You were the fireman.” The distraught voice bought Kelly out of his revelry as he opened his eyes and let his head fall forward to see the woman’s husband making his way over to him. The man, Kelly couldn’t recall his name although he could not recall if he had even asked, stopped about four feet away from him and had his hands shoved deep in his pockets. His face was blotchy and his eyes were swollen red.
“I was Sir.” Kelly answered as he pushed himself away from the wall so he was stood at attention and took a small step forward lessening the gap between them.
“You don’t even know my name or hers, do you?” The man accused although he seemed too calm considering he had just lost his wife.
“I’m sorry, I don’t.” Kelly couldn’t bring himself to lie to the man or himself, he just did not have the energy too.
“My wife who you couldn’t save was named Michelle and she was the most incredible woman, and you couldn’t even be bothered to save her. And my name is Tim.” Tim told him.
“I am sorry for your loss Time but I can assure you I did everything that I could.” Kelly kept his voice soft and steady despite how defensive he suddenly felt in regards to his actions.
“But you didn’t save her.” Tim’s demeanour changed and it was so sudden that Kelly did not have a chance to even decipher it nor protect himself as two gunshots rang out and made his knees buckle as his vision blurred.
“Kelly!” Matt screamed having heard the distinctive sound of gunshots and having heard the various cries of ‘Severide’ from the men who were all behind him as he ran for Kelly while the shooter fled. He had been walking out in search of Kelly deciding that he had had long enough to get some air as he was concerned.
“Kel… Sev… talk to me.” Matt slid down to his knees catching sight of how bewildered Kelly looked before he pressed his hands to the two gunshot wounds in Kelly’s chest and abdomen. “Get me a jump bag and call another ambulance. And someone get Boden!” Matt ordered as Herrmann knelt down on the other side of Kelly. It was the worst time for Ambulance 61 to be out on a call.
“Here.” Otis dumped the jump bag from Truck 81 down on the ground seeing the blood pooling beneath Severide faster than it should have been. He quickly opened it and ripped open numerous packets of gauze and handed it to Herrmann who worked seamlessly with Matt to slip it in place beneath his hands and on top of the wounds.
“Case…” Kelly choked out wincing as Matt pressed down on the bullet wound to his chest just below his heart as Herrmann took over applying pressure to the second wound that was just above his right hip.
“I’m here Kel.” Matt desperately wanted to take hold of his hand but he couldn’t risk easing the pressure he was applying as Kelly became increasingly pale.
“What’s going on? Status?” Chief Boden came out of the firehouse quickly following behind Cruz who had burst into his office telling him that Severide had been shot as he came to a stop by the men and was immediately concerned due to the pool of blood that seemed to be growing. Boden dropped down to his knees on the concrete beside Herrmann as he looked over Kelly seeing his eyes closed. “Open those eyes of yours Severide!” He ordered making Kelly force his eyes open although they were unfocused and close to closing again.
“What’s the ETA of that ambulance?” Herrmann asked keeping his voice as level as he could as he swapped out the blood soaked pieces of gauze for fresh ones and applied even more pressure despite the involuntary groan of pain from Kelly that the pressure caused.
“Eight minutes. It’s coming from across town.” Cruz answered in a distressed pitch.
“Chief…” Matt glanced up at Boden with every bit of desperateness he felt shown on his face as he knew that Kelly didn’t have eight minutes to wait for an ambulance.
“Cruz get a backboard. Capp clear the floor of the Squad truck. Tony bring the truck up as close as you can. We will transport him ourselves. Casey and Herrmann keep applying pressure, do not let up at all. Mouch hand me a pair of gloves, he needs an I.V and get a bag of fluids ready. Otis get Truck ready to go.” Boden ordered with each man moving as soon as they had their instructions knowing that time was not on their side. Boden snapped on the pair of gloves immediately and was thankful that he was medical trained like every first responder as he moved so that he could gain intravenous access.
“Case… resemblance to Bianca… sorry.” Kelly was struggling to get the words out as he used what little energy he had to raise his shaking hand, the hand that was closest to Matt, and wrapped it around his forearm although his grip was weak.
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for Kelly. You did everything you could. Now you just need to stay here with us. We’re getting you to the hospital.” Matt’s own words felt hollow and the panic could be heard in his voice despite how much he tried to cover it just as Cruz returned with a backboard and they worked in unison to position it before they slid Kelly onto it and maintained as much pressure as they could to continue to stem the blood loss of the through and through gun shot wounds.
“Let’s go.” Boden ordered as soon as Capp had the door open before Tony was even stopped. “Lift.” Boden ordered and everybody that was available helped. As soon as Kelly was loaded along with Matt and Herrmann alongside him, and Cruz had clambered in with the jump bag as Capp took hold of the bag of fluids making sure to keep it flowing. Tony took off with the lights and sirens blaring knowing that Truck 81, Engine 51, and Battalion 25 would be following closely behind as he radioed in that they were transporting Kelly to Chicago Med.
“Kelly… Severide… keep talking to us.” Herrmann spoke louder than necessary as he watched Kelly’s eyes flutter closed again. “Cruz. Sternal rub now.” Herrmann ordered seeing Kelly was not responding which was not a good sign. Cruz leaned over and using his fist applied a hard sternal rub making Kelly groan again and just barely open his eyes but for now that was enough and any awareness that they could get was what they would take.
“Cruz, get some oxygen on him.” Casey ordered feeling the way his breathing was slowing down which Cruz did as quickly as he could despite how Kelly tried to move away from the oxygen mask as it got close to his face. “Kelly I need you to talk to me.” Casey pressed down even harder on the bullet wound, hard enough to elicit a groan from him.
“…’urts…’leepy.” The words were muffled by the oxygen mask and the fact that he was slurring his words as he fought to communicate to them but they all knew that if Kelly was admitting that he was in pain than it really was serious as he had an exceptionally high pain threshold and was the master at masking pain, not that the seriousness of the situation had escaped them given the blood that was coating them and the floor even though they had packed the wounds to his back where the bullets had exited, and the large pool that had been left behind on the driveway outside of the firehouse.
“Can we give him something for the pain?” Cruz asked already searching through the jump bag knowing they were running dangerously low on gauze pads as Kelly had bled through too many of them.
“We’re three minutes out from Med.” Tony yelled probably a bit louder than necessary as he focused on the road in front of him.
“Kel I know it hurts but I need you to stay awake for a little bit longer, just until we get you to Med. Lets wait until we get to Med Cruz.” Matt wanted to take every last bit of pain away from Kelly but he also did not want to risk giving him any medication that could hinder any medical treatment he was to receive from the staff at Med especially with the volume of blood that he had lost and was continuing to lose rapidly.
“Case… me’allion...” Kelly tried to raise his other hand up towards the medallion on his neck but he did not have the strength or the energy to do so as he felt his world tilt.
“I’ll make sure they do not take your medallion off, I promise Kelly.” Matt had no idea why Kelly was trying to talk about his medallion or trying to reach for it but he had to reassure him that no one was going to take it off. Kelly was not religious but Matt knew how important the medallion was to him given how he never took it off.
“Want… ‘ave it…” Kelly’s words were slurred and he was getting more and more difficult to understand as he was fading fast.
“Kelly, do you want Casey to look after your medallion?” Herrmann asked in understanding of what Kelly was trying to get across to them or at least he hoped that it what Kelly was trying to ask. Kelly nodded his head before he let his eyes close as he was unable to keep them open any longer despite how much he wanted too.
“Cruz, check his pulse and give Casey the medallion.” Herrmann ordered seeing that Casey was melting down at Kelly’s words and at his condition.
“Its there, barely, but I can feel just the faintest pulse.” Cruz sounded relieved despite how desperate the situation was just as the truck lurched to a hard stop jostling them all but he managed to unhook the medallion from around Severide’s neck and slip it around Casey’s which went unnoticed as they were all too focused on the medical care.
“We’re here.” Tony informed them as the door to the truck was already being opened by the awaiting medical team after Boden had radioed ahead putting them on standby.
“What have we got?” Connor Rhodes asked as the firefighters and the medical staff worked in unison, quickly and effectively, to slid the backboard out and onto the gurney with Casey and Herrmann still applying as much pressure as they could.
“Two gunshot wounds, close range, pressure has been applied but severe blood loss.” Matt rattled off what he did know as he and Herrmann both moved along the gurney as they rushed Kelly into the hospital, into the trauma room for the most critical.
“Okay, Herrmann, Casey, April and Maggie are going to swap out with you on my count.” Rhodes ordered as soon as they had transferred Kelly over and onto the bed. No one missed the pool of blood that was beneath him. “Now!” Rhodes ordered and the two men let go and stepped back, allowing Maggie and April to take their places whilst another nurse ushered them out of the room and then the hall and into the waiting room.
Matt wanted to protest, wanted to be as close to Kelly as he could but he also knew there was nothing he could do and the last thing he wanted was to get in the way of the medical professionals doing everything they could to save Kelly. Matt didn’t even realise that Cruz had guided him over and down into a nearby seat as he was too focused on the thick layer of blood that was now coating every inch of the skin on his hands until Boden was knelt down in front of him.
“Casey, go with Herrmann and get cleaned up.” Boden spoke softly seeing how spooked the Captain was by the blood on his hands, by having Severide’s blood on his hands. Matt barely registered what Boden was saying even as he was hauled to his feet and guided to the closest bathroom by Boden with Herrmann standing on his other side.
Casey was frozen stiff as he had not moved from the seat that he had been pushed back down into hours ago when Boden and Herrmann had guided him back from the bathroom after his hands had been thoroughly scrubbed of any and every trace of Kelly’s blood although his uniform still bore the horrors of the scene that he and everyone else had found themselves a part of unwillingly. If for the fact that he had not have blinked or breathed then he would have looked like a mannequin.
It had been hours since they had been pushed out of the trauma room, hours since they had any news or an update on his condition, and none of that was good. The waiting crowd had swelled in numbers as news spread and everyone waited for word on his condition.
“Casey…” Sylvie ran her hand over his forearm concerned at how cold his skin felt as she sat next to him and tried to get his attention speaking as softly as she could, concerned at where his head was at given she had never seen him so still or so silent before in all the years she had known him. She knew how close he and Kelly were especially given everything that they had been through over the years. “Casey?” She spoke again and this time softly pinched a small section of skin by his wrist making him finally turn and look at her. There was a heart-breaking and haunting desperateness in his eyes that floored her, and she almost wished that she had left him in his trance like state for a little longer until they had news.
“I got you a bottle of water.” Sylvie pressed it into his hand although his eyes didn’t move from hers. “He’s strong and he will make it through.” She reassured him although she had seen the floor of the Squad truck as she had had a few of the hospital orderlies clean up all of the blood and used medical supplies that were left laying amongst the congealing liquid.
“He gave up.” Matt uttered his first words in hours and they were horrifying even to him as the realisation of what he said dawned on him as he recalled Kelly’s last words as he lost consciousness.
“And he’s fighting. Severide is a fighter just as much as he is a survivor.” Sylvie replied although she was not sure whether it was for Matt’s benefit or hers or anyone that was listening to their conversation.
“I shouldn’t have left him alone. I shouldn’t have let him walk away from me, walk outside without me. He was already distressed from the call this morning.” Matt was earnest with his words although Sylvie shook her head at his words.
“There’s no way to know if that would have changed what happened. For all you know, we could have be sitting here waiting on news for the both of you. Whoever it was that shot Kelly will be found and prosecuted.” Sylvie paused hating that he was thinking the way he was. “I know the call this morning rattled him but he knows that you, that we, are here for him.” She wished she could be more comforting but she could see he was still too deep in his thoughts to really process what she was saying.
The silence washed over them again as Matt turned to look at the bottle of water in his hands but suddenly it occurred to him that he was wearing Kelly’s medallion as he felt it hit against his collarbone with the movement of his body. He raised one of his hands up and let his fingertips nimbly grasp the medallion that was so precious and treasured by Kelly, and that was now around his neck although he did not recall how it got there.
The feeling in the waiting room changed and Matt forced himself to look up then stand up as he saw that Rhodes was walking towards them. He didn’t realise that Sylvie had subtly angled herself into him and had a hold of his arm as he looked ready to collapse. Rhodes held his hands up as soon as he reached them indicating that they were to hold all of their questions. “Kelly is in recovery. The first bullet grazed the top of his hip bone but it was lucky as it changed the trajectory and it avoided all of his major organs. However the second bullet did cause some major damage as it ricocheted around his abdomen after breaking three of his ribs on his left side. We have managed to repair all of the damage to his liver, kidney, pancreas and spleen without any dissection or removal, and his left lung was nicked although it did not collapse. The bullet became lodged in his ribs as it attempted to exit his body so there was an exit wound but the bullet was still inside of him. The blood loss was severe and we are transfusing him with blood products but the volume that he has lost has put a significant strain on his heart. He is fighting but he is critical.” Rhodes explained without too much medical jargon as he could see that everyone was just as tired as he felt; it had been a hell of an effort to keep Kelly Severide alive and they had lost him once on the table as he had stopped breathing but still had a pulse.
“For now I am going to have to restrict his visitors. Matt, you’re listed as his next of kin and emergency contact so you can stay with him if you want too.” Rhodes offered as he had checked before he had made his way out to inform them all of his condition.
“I don’t want him to be alone.” The earnest words fell from Matt’s lips without a single thought, and he knew that Kelly would not let him be alone if the situation was reversed.
“Go Matt. I’ll stop by yours and Kelly’s place and get you both some clothes then be right back.” Sylvie knew that Matt needed to get out of his blood stained uniform but she also knew that he would not be open to it until he had seen Kelly; and she did not want Kelly to wake and see Matt coated in his own blood. Matt nodded numbly and with shaking hands managed to pull his keys out of his pocket and press them into her hand before he allowed himself to be guided away to the room in the Intensive Care Unit where Kelly was being settled.
Matt barely made it to the chair that was placed by Kelly’s bedside as his legs were shaking, and he barely registered the nurse’s words before he was left alone. Kelly’s torso was covered in stark white bandages and he looked far too pale compared to his usual complexion. The soft steady beeps of the monitors provided a small amount of relief that he was holding his own although Matt knew enough to know that his vitals were still low. He was terrified.
Matt reached up and gently unclasped Kelly’s necklace from around his own neck before he pushed himself to his feet and lent over the unconscious man. As gently as he could, he placed the necklace back around Kelly’s neck where it rightfully belonged making sure to snake it around all of the tubes and leads that were monitoring him and giving him oxygen through the mask that he was wearing. “I love you.” Matt whispered as he let his hand reach up and brush back Kelly’s hair from his forehead before he placed a kiss on his temple then he returned to his seat. He reached both of his hands out, his right hand taking Kelly’s right hand in his own while his left hand settled on his forearm as he settled into watch the man for any sign of consciousness.
Sylvie made her way through the familiar halls of the hospital after she had gone home to have a shower and then stopped by Kelly and Casey’s shared apartment before she picked up a few small items of food for him to eat. She stopped as she got to Kelly’s room seeing how weary Casey looked with his red puffy eyes as he watched Kelly intently.
“Casey.” She spoke softly as she stepped into the room and put the two bags that she had packed for both men down along with her handbag and the brown paper bag that had the food in it down. “I’m going to stay right here with Kelly while you go and have a quick shower. You need to get cleaned up and changed into something more comfortable.” She was not giving him a choice as she pointed towards the attached bathroom and she had already snagged a towel from the nurse on her way in which was on top of the bag she had packed for Casey.
“I don’t want to leave him.” Casey sounded so lost, so broken, and it tore her apart.
“How long have you two been together?” She hadn’t meant to ask, hadn’t meant to pry but he needed somebody right now and it was her. She had guessed it when she went by their apartment and found the majority of Casey’s things with Kelly’s in their bedroom.
“Officially, six months but if you include the time we spent trying to fool ourselves then it will have been a year last week. We haven’t told anybody.” Casey wasn’t even thinking about how she had figured it out, or how he was so readily giving her an answer to her question as all his focus and energy was on Kelly who was unusually still which was alarming and unnerving to him.
“You’re happy and that is what matters the most. But I know Kelly doesn’t want to wake up to you being covered in his blood so go and have a quick shower and then you can be back by his side and have something to eat.” She felt bad for being dismissive of their conversation but having experienced being covered in someone else’s blood before she knew how unpleasant it really was especially as it dried. “I promise I will stay with him.” She was resolute in keeping her promise to him as she could see him wavering in indecision.
Matt stood up painfully slow as he glanced over to Sylvie and then back to Kelly before he looked down at himself and at the blood that was coating him, Kelly’s blood. “I’ll be right back.” He whispered before he kissed Kelly’s temple once more than unwrapped his hand from his and stepped away.
Sylvie handed him his bag before she moved and took his place at Kelly’s bedside as Matt disappeared into the attached bathroom. She waited until the door was closed and she could hear the water running from the shower before she leant closer to Kelly. She placed her hand in his just as Matt’s had been. “You have to wake up soon Kelly. He needs you almost as much as you need him.” She spoke softly knowing that Casey needed someone just as Kelly did, and she had seen how happy the two of them had been over the past several months. She had seen how Casey had struggled in previous years and how he was struggling now. “Oh, and I promise to keep your secret.” She added on even though he couldn’t respond as he was still unconscious. It was unnerving even to her to see Kelly so still and so pale.
It was barely ten minutes later when Matt walked out of the bathroom freshly showered and changed into a pair of jeans and a hoodie, and dumped his bag down on the floor next to Kelly’s bag. Sylvie stood up and let him take the seat next to Kelly’s bedside as she grabbed the paper bag with the food and placed it on the bedside table nearest Matt. “Thank you.” He really was not hungry but he was grateful that she had stayed by Kelly’s side while he freshened up.
“Do you want me to stay?” She asked sensing that he wanted privacy which she understood but she wasn’t sure he should be left alone given how distraught he was.
“It’s okay.” His attention was once again focused on Kelly again as he had his hands back on Kelly’s where they were before he showered.
“Make sure you eat. I’ll be in the waiting room with the others.” She gave his shoulder a soft squeeze before she took her leave with one last look at the two men before she closed the door behind her.
Kelly grunted as he struggled to open his eyes feeling as the pain rippled through his torso and made his breath catch. His head felt foggy and he finally forced his eyes open only to screw them closed again as the bright light assaulted his eyes although he couldn’t understand where he was.
“Kel… open your eyes for me honey.” Matt’s voice penetrated the fog that he felt and had him turning his head towards him. “Come on Kel, it’s okay, you are okay.” Matt assured him seeing his heartrate rise markedly even though he felt relieved that he was finally waking up. Kelly let out a pain filled groan as he finally opened his eyes and blinked heavily as his vision was blurred until it had cleared enough to see Matt and his blue eyes that were filled with concern looking straight at him. Kelly smiled softly before he winced at another spike of pain shot through his hip and his torso as he tried to move his leg.
“Case… what happened?” Kelly’s throat burned and his voice was incredibly hoarse as he spoke for the first time although he still couldn’t clear the haze in his brain to work out what had happened or where he was.
“You’re in the Intensive Care Unit at Chicago Med honey.” Matt kept his voice soft as he paused unsure of how much to tell Kelly given how serious his injuries were and how he was still in a serious condition. He watched carefully as the confusion only increased on Kelly’s face. “We were at the firehouse on shift. You got shot twice but you’re okay.” Matt informed him as he squeezed his hand tightly.
“Anyone else?” Kelly asked as he screwed his eyes closed again as nothing made sense to him.
“Everyone else is alright.” Matt was not surprised in the least that Kelly was concerned about everyone else. Matt watched as Kelly’s eyelids fluttered closed before he forced them open again. “Go to sleep honey, I will be right here.” Matt decided not to push Kelly to stay awake.
“Case…” Kelly trailed off as he let the drugs flowing through his system overcome him as he let his eyelids close finally. Matt ran his hand along Kelly’s forearm repeatedly as the relief coursed through his body and rested alongside the panic that he still felt within him.
Matt watched as Kelly woke with a start and opened his eyes again a few hours later, and his eyes looked clearer than they had previously. Matt leaned forward in his chair as Kelly moved to try and get comfortable as his entire body ached.
“Take it easy Kel.” Matt murmured softly, his voice hoarse from disuse, as Kelly squeezed his hand weakly.
“It was the husband from the call… I didn’t know her name and he shot me.” Kelly was clear with his words as everything rushed back to him. He raised his hand that wasn’t being held in Matt’s up to his neck and found his medallion which he grasped in between his fingers.
“I put it back on you as soon as I could.” Matt could see the confusion once again cross Kelly’s face as he fingered his medallion. “Kel, you did everything you could at that call.” He reiterated, and he would reiterate it as many times as he needed, as he could see the anguish in his eyes.
“I didn’t know her name. He asked me and I told him I didn’t know.” Kelly turned away from Matt as he finished speaking.
“I didn’t know it either Kelly. You not knowing did not give him the right to shoot you.” Matt’s voice was firm before his breath hitched and he had to pause. “You terrified me honey.” Those softly spoken words made Kelly turn back to face him. “I love you.” He needed to say it and he needed Kelly to hear it.
“I know.” Kelly answered although Matt was not sure which part he was alluding to that he knew but he could see Kelly’s brain working overtime in his eyes. “How bad is it?” He asked as he pulled at the hospital gown until the strings loosened and it fell down exposing his entire upper body that was bandaged. Kelly swallowed thickly as he looked down at his own unrecognisable chest as he untangled his hand from Matt’s and began pulling the bandages away before he could be stopped.
Matt could not grasp Kelly’s hands quick enough nor could he look away at the sight of Kelly’s stitched and bloodied torso as he heard Kelly’s breath hitch and saw a shudder go through his body.
“The surgeons managed to repair all of the internal damage. You have a number of broken ribs, and you lost a lot of blood. Your hip bone was grazed as well.” Matt gave him the abridged version as he watched Kelly’s own fingertips linger over the surgical incisions and his eyes glaze over again.
Kelly felt his chest heave as he took in a ragged breath, and the pain that spiked as his body protested the quickened movements, and the monitors started blaring out in warning as his heart rate increased rapidly. Matt moved quickly seeing the panic that was enveloping Kelly and took a seat on the edge of the bed as he grabbed a hold of Kelly’s wrists to still his movements as he was concerned that he was going to tear out his stitches. “Kel, just breathe for me nice and slow.” Matt instructed as medical staff flooded the room, all pausing as they saw what Matt was attempting to do, how he was attempting to calm the panicking man down.
Kelly couldn’t breathe and the more he tried too the worse he felt. He fell forward into Matt’s arms and buried his face into his shoulder as the weight of everything hit him. Matt let go of Kelly’s wrists and wrapped his arms around him, enveloping him in a hug, as he tried to calm him down although he could see the nurse inching closer with a needle ready to sedate him.
Matt felt as Kelly’s body finally went lax in his arms as he exhausted himself although Matt was not sure if he had cried himself to sleep or if he had passed out for the lack of oxygen due to his hyperventilating. Matt very gently unwrapped his arms from Kelly then eased him back down into the bed seeing the small amount of fresh blood that was running from Kelly’s wounds where he had broken his stitches. Matt moved off of the bed and let the doctors and the nurses in so they could attend to Kelly, watching as they put an oxygen mask back over his face and worked to replace the stitches then re-bandaged him and added another dose of morphine into his intravenous drip. Matt was once again alone with Kelly as the last of the medical staff left once they were sure he was settled and sleeping.
Kelly didn’t make a sound as he finally became conscious again although he did recognise the familiar and warming feeling of the morphine that was still lingering in his body and making him more relaxed than he felt he should be. He rolled his head to the side and smiled softly as Matt was still at his side with his head laid down on the edge of the bed sleeping with his hands still holding his lone hand. He reached up with his other hand and clumsily pulled the oxygen mask off of his face then let his arm drop back down as his body still felt heavy and disorientated.
“Matt…” His throat ached and his voice was gravellier than he cared for but that was not concerning to him, not yet at least. He stretched his fingers out feeling how they ached from their lack of movement and wiggled them out just enough for the tip of his middle finger to brush lightly against Matt’s nose. He wanted to chuckle at the way Matt’s nose twitched but knew that it would cause him more pain and he would do anything to prolong feeling it. “Matt, sweetheart, need you to wake up.” Part of him wanted to leave Matt to sleep but there was no way that he was comfortable or would not wake with a painful neck at the very least. Kelly watched as Matt’s eyelids fluttered a few times before finally they opened completely. Within seconds Matt had realised what had woken him and quickly sat up.
“How are you feeling?” Matt rushed to get the words out of his mouth as his eyes roamed over Kelly for any sign of panic or further injury however he was relieved to find nothing of the sort.
“Morphine is still working… Sorry.” Kelly barely recalled what had happened in his panicked state but he did recall small snippets that he knew had left Matt more worried than he already was.
“You have nothing to apologise for honey.” Matt meant it after all he knew how disorientating and concerning it was to wake up in the hospital unaware of the surroundings although he had never been shot so he figured that added another panic inducing element especially given Kelly had not been in a great place mentally prior to it happening. “It’s okay.” He added on in futile reassurance. “It’s all going to be okay.”
“Yeah it is.” Kelly could hear that Matt needed some reassurance just as much as he did.
“Sylvie knows about us… she went by the apartment to get us both some things. She stayed with you while I cleaned up too.” Matt quickly yet quietly rushed out feeling that Kelly needed to know even though there was a chance that he would need to be told again once the morphine left his system as Matt knew how fuzzy that particular medication could make the recipient.
“Yeah? She’s a good person to know first. Sweet, kind, caring... I’m glad she was here with you…” Kelly drawled off as Matt could not help but smile because even in his morphine induced bliss he still recognised the good and that he had not been alone. “Can you do something for me?” Kelly suddenly asked, more aware than he had been just seconds ago.
“Sure…” Matt had no idea where the clarity had come from but if Kelly was asking for something it had to be important.
“Can you ring and check on J.J? I need to know he is okay.” Kelly’s request was one that Matt had not thought of at all but it was a part of the man that he loved. Of course being reminded of Bianca would bring J.J. to the forefront of his mind although Matt knew that Kelly had stepped back so that the young boy would not be reminded of the worst day of his young life by the person who had to tell him that his mother had died even though he still checked in with his aunt regularly.
“I can do that for you.” Matt would have obliged Kelly’s request on just about anything.
“Thank you.” Kelly had drifted off again somewhat and he had let his eyes close this time and Matt felt as his body relaxed as the last bit of tension left him. It was like Kelly needed to ask that before he could let himself fall back into the blissful morphine induced state of sleep that he desperately needed given all that his body had been through in the past several hours.
Matt untangled his hand from Kelly’s as gently as he could so that he did not disturb him before he leaned over and placed a soft fleeting kiss on his temple then took his leave to go and make the phone call that was important to Kelly knowing that he would be asleep for a while as his injuries especially the blood loss had left him weakened.
Matt smiled softly as he walked back into the room having been reassured enough that Kelly would be alright for a few minutes while he went to the café to grab himself something to eat although his appetite was still absent but he had been convinced by one of the nurses that he needed to take care of himself for Kelly’s sake as well as his own. Kelly was just moments away from waking up as he was showing all of his tell-tale signs which included snuggling his face into his pillow and the noticeable change in his breathing as well as the soft moans and grunts that left his slightly parted lips.
Matt quickly put the half eaten bagel with a poached eggs and a couple of slices of bacon in it along with the small container of fresh fruit salad and a bottle of orange juice down on the nearest table then took the seat by Kelly’s beside again wanting him to wake up as calmly as possible in the hospital environment. Kelly had slept through the majority of the night thanks to the morphine that had been given to him, and when he had woken it was only for a few minutes at a time and he was disorientated as the nurse checked on him and his wounds although there was a small part of Matt that was relieved that he was in a morphine induced stupor as it meant he was not going over everything endlessly in his head nor was he suffering in pain.
“’ime?” Kelly’s voice was gravelly and hoarser than usual as he finally opened his eyelids and he still sounded exhausted. His eyes finally focused on Matt but they were not their usual vibrant blue instead they were dulled. He raised his hand wanting to scrub it over his face, temporarily having forgotten about the intravenous cannula in his arm until he felt it pull and he stopped his movements as he winced involuntarily and let his arm drop back down onto the bed.
“It’s just after 6am.” Matt responded quietly realising that he was trying to grasp how long he had been in the hospital for.
“Been here all night?” Kelly knew the answer, knew that Matt had not left his side, but he wanted to be sure as he vaguely recalled having seen him at his side when he had woken up.
“I was not going anywhere.” Matt smiled softly but he knew that it was the reassurance that Kelly desperately needed. “I checked in with J.J’s aunt and he is doing well, adjusting well and is settled into his school and his new routine. Patch stays close as well as they are absolutely inseparable.” He added on although he was unsure whether Kelly actually recalled asking him to make the phone call before he had fallen into his morphine induced slumber.
“Thank you.” Kelly reached for Matt’s hand and effortlessly entwined their fingers together. He had recalled asking Matt to ring and check on J.J and he was grateful that he had done so but he was more thankful that he had not woken alone however he also knew that it went both ways and he would never let Matt wake up alone either if he could help it.
Chapter 45: Concerning
Kelly grunted as he instinctively pressed his hand against his ribs in aid to ease the ache as his ribs protested every movement as he slowly followed Matt into their home after being discharged from Chicago Med following a long visit to the emergency room to remove metal shrapnel and have the lacerations stitched up after a factory fire where a series of drums blew up sending the metal into several pieces through the air. Kelly’s turnout gear had shielded him from the worst of the impact as he had been the closest to the exploding drums but a few fragments had still penetrated the thick layers and embedded into his skin.
Matt stepped to the side so that he could close the door behind Kelly and lock it, having already dumped both of their duffel bags on the floor to be dealt with later as his priority was Kelly. “Sit down Kel.” It was early in the morning as the sun was still rising but Matt figured that neither of them were going to bed instead it would be a lazy day on the couch with very little movement on Kelly’s part.
Kelly grunted again as he shuffled his way over to the dining room table and took a seat gingerly making Matt frown in confusion as he was sure that the couch would have been comfier. Matt shut the door and locked it before he made his way over to Kelly who was unusually and incredibly quiet, and had been since the explosion had sent the shrapnel flying. He took the seat beside Kelly and reached his hand out to caress his stubbled cheek feeling how Kelly turned into him.
“Do you want some aspirin?” Matt asked softly knowing that Kelly had refused anything other than a local anaesthetic whilst he was stitched up at the hospital despite the fact that he was clearly in pain. He wished that they had something stronger pain medication wise but they didn’t keep anything stronger than aspirin in the house. In fact it had been a request of Kelly’s that if they didn’t need it then they wouldn’t keep it in the house.
“No, thank you.” Kelly replied softly as he closed his eyes for a moment before he opened them again and looked at Matt with an absolutely unreadable expression as he shifted painfully in his seat clearly uncomfortable.
"What is it hun?" Matt asked cautiously growing concerned at his unusual behaviour, and he was beginning to worry that something had been missed at the hospital.
"Do we have any of those waterproof gel bandaids left?" Kelly wanted nothing more than to get the disgusting stench of whatever had been in those exploding drums off of his skin as well as the lingering smoke and the iron smell of his own dried blood. However he knew he couldn’t get his stitches wet.
"Yeah, under the sink in the bathroom. We’ve got the large squares as well as the small rectangles... How about you have a shower and I’ll set up the couch and make us breakfast?" Matt knew that Kelly was avoiding his question and changing the subject but it was easy to let it slide for now instead he focused on getting him cleaned up and resting.
Kelly nodded wordlessly before he pushed himself up out of the chair, his hand still pushing on his ribs over the stitches, as he was unable to withhold a pained groan before he wandered off to the bathroom to shower. He stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind himself before he shuffled over and turned the shower on, letting it warm up as he painfully stripped his clothes off and then applied the waterproof gel bandaids after removing the bloodied bandages from the side of his ribs and his arm. He stepped into the shower and pressed his hands up against the wall to steady himself as he let his head drop down underneath the flow of water and closed his eyes. He closed his eyes as his mind went back to the last time he had been caught in an explosion, the explosion in the emergency room at Chicago Med, to when he could see Shay, could hear her laugh and talk. She had been so vivid, so real, but she hadn’t appeared this time and he couldn’t help but feel disappointed as he loved to hear her voice as it provided comfort to him even now, years after her murder. And then there was a part of him that was relieved too because it would have only made him miss her even more although he wasn’t sure that he could miss her any more.
Matt moved round the apartment trying to keep himself busy as he kept glancing at the clock watching as the minutes ticked by before he would glance towards the bathroom as it had been almost half an hour since Kelly had disappeared into it. He had the couch made up with two pillows and a large comforter, and had the bread sitting in the toaster ready to be toasted as he wasn’t sure how hungry Kelly was. He allowed himself to wait another ten minutes before his concern grew too much and he had to check on Kelly.
Kelly slowly and with great difficulty washed the last of the shampoo from his hair and the soap from his body before he shut the water off and leaned against the wall to steady himself as he felt more exhausted than he had in a long time and he felt short of breath but quickly put that down to the heat in the small confined space of the bathroom.
"Kel?" Matt called through the door accompanied by a light knock; he could hear the worry in his voice even through the door. "Kelly?" Matt called again a bit louder as he waited for any kind of response. He waited a few more moments before he opened the door, relieved that it wasn’t locked, to see Kelly leaned precariously against the wall and looking significantly paler than he had before he entered. Matt quickly crossed the small space, grabbing a fresh towel on his way, and opened the glass door. He stepped into the shower not the least bit concerned that the lingering water was soaking into his socks as he reached his hands out to Kelly. “Put your arms around me.” Matt instructed as he wrapped the towel firmly around Kelly’s hips. Kelly grunted out in pain as he pushed himself off of the wall and let his arm rest over Matt’s shoulders.
Matt helped Kelly out of the shower and sat him down on the edge of the tub. He could feel Kelly physically trembling and could see the blood that was filling the space between his skin and the clear waterproof gel bandage over his ribs. “Breathe for me Kel.” Matt reminded him as it looked as though he was holding his breath as he pulled off his soaked soaks so that he didn’t traipse water through the apartment then threw them in the hamper before he knelt down in front of him. “Kel, look at me...”
Kelly felt like he was underwater as he tried to overcome his shortness of breath and he could barely hear Matt’s voice as his trembling hands gripped the edge of the bathtub as hard as they could to steady himself. He felt as Matt’s warm hands covered his own which helped to shift his focus away from the pain.
Matt watched Kelly until his breathing slowed and his eyes focused. “Let’s get you dressed and laying on the couch once we sort these bloody bandages out.” Matt kept his voice soft and spoke slowly unsure of what exactly was going on although his worry was only growing. Kelly’s head dropped as he looked down at his blood slicked ribs silently thankful that the gel bandage was containing it all before he lifted her head up and looked at Matt then gave him a shaky nod.
Matt leaned over and grasped the first aid kit from underneath the bathroom sink blindly and sat it down in front of him then grabbed a wash cloth. With practised ease Matt removed the bloodied gel bandages from his ribs and his arm, and replaced them after he had delicately cleaned the wounds. Kelly had closed his eyes as he held himself upright feeling each and every movement that Matt made despite how gentle he was being.
Kelly didn’t even realise that Matt had left until he returned with a pair of red chequered boxers and a pair of grey sweatpants, and massaged his hands over the top of Kelly’s towel covered thighs making him open his eyes. "I’ve got it." Kelly let go of the edge of the bath tub and reached out for the boxers, hating how his hands were shaking. Matt knew that he had to let Kelly dress himself as he wanted but it didn’t mean he couldn’t help as he held the clean boxers out for him to take rather than having to strain to reach for them. Kelly grunted and winced as he pulled the boxers on as he pushed himself up onto his feet with Matt quickly standing up and slipping his hands around his waist to help steady him. "Thanks." Kelly spoke softly, his throat felt hoarse, and the pain was hitting him full force as the local anaesthetic had well and truly worn off, and his head was spinning as he tried to process everything.
Kelly wrapped his arms around Matt's neck and leaned into him as he pressed his forehead against his. "I’m sorry... I wish I could explain it to you..." Kelly’s voice was muffled but Matt still understood what he had said even though he did not understand what it was he was apologising for or what he could not explain. Matt slid his hands round Kelly’s back making sure he was careful with his touches so he did not cause him any more pain. "It’s okay hun, you’re okay." Matt spoke softly, reassuring Kelly who just tightened his hold. Matt loved the way Kelly held him in his arms usually but there was something deeply concerning this time especially with how distraught he sounded.
"Come on honey, let’s get you laying down on the couch." Matt could feel how Kelly was wavering, how his body was physically trembling against his own, and could see how exhausted he was. He felt as Kelly nodded his head and a few moments later pulled back away from him although Matt kept his arm around his lower back.
It was a slow and unsteady walk from the bathroom to the couch. Kelly settled down on the couch immediately as Matt lovingly tucked him in beneath the duvet knowing it wouldn’t be long before he was asleep.
"I love you." Matt said softly before he pressed his lips to Kelly's damp hair seeing his eyelids already closed as his breathing evened out signalling he was asleep. Matt sat on the floor between the couch and the table wanting to be as close to Kelly as he could as he ran his fingers repeatedly across his forehead feeling him relax with each swipe beneath his fingertips.
It was in that moment that Matt felt overwhelmed by the events of the morning given how easily different the outcome could have been. He took a deep breath to steady his racing heart as he willed away those unpleasant thoughts and instead focused on the fact that Kelly was alive and at home asleep beside him even if his state of mind was concerning.
Chapter 46: Cursed
“Casey: So, you comin’ back to 51?
Severide: The house is cursed, Casey. There’s nothing but misery and heartbreak there.”
Fifty One was a sea of memories, most happy but the tragic ones were the hardest to live with, were the most difficult to reconcile. The house is cursed, Casey. There’s nothing but misery and heartbreak there. It had been what he had told Casey when he came to look for him up at the cabin in his self imposed exile from all that haunted him although all of those haunting things were never far away from his mind and his heart. All Kelly could see was the misery, the heartbreak, and the pain that Fifty One housed for him now and in the past. Two line of duty deaths, his two best friends, Andy Darden and Leslie Shay were killed while working at Fifty One and in such a short time span of each other.
Kelly had returned to work within days of Andy’s death, his anger helping him through it but there had been moments in those proceeding days when he would find himself looking for him only for the crushing weight of his death to come back. Then again those days were spent blinded by pain along with his misdirected anger. Maybe there was something easier about Andy’s death in hindsight, maybe because he knew that Andy had defied protocol, had disregarded orders, and had not waited until the building had been properly vented before he entered, or maybe it was just different although he couldn’t explain how it differed. Or maybe it was because Andy knew the risks like they all did but Shay was a paramedic and although she went into dangerous situations it was not an inherent part of her job and it wasn’t what should have killed her. Kelly would never stop missing Andy, never stop wishing that he was still with them, but Andy was dead and nothing was going to change that.
This time though after Shay’s death he could not bare to go back to that firehouse with all of the memories that he would never forget, and all the memories that he would be reminded of by if he was surrounded by those walls. They had barely had time to reconcile how the day had turned so tragic especially after such a happy occasion that was Boden and Donna’s firehouse wedding. He was grateful he had told her he loved her one last time and held her warm hands before they went into that building but he wished he could tell her a thousand more times and could hear her tell him that she loved him a thousand more times.
How was he meant to be in the locker room where she asked him to consider fathering a child with her? How was he meant to stay in his quarters where she had spent countless hours with him? How was he meant to walk the halls without her there? How was he meant to watch Ambulance 61 roll out to a call and know she was not one of the paramedics in it, and would never be again?
Misery and heartbreak. That was all he could reconcile Fifty One with, and even when Casey sat Boden’s ledger down on the large tree stump in front of him, it was all he could see despite all the lives that they had saved distinguished by the bright red numbers in the margin by each and every single call. Misery and heartbreak. Those words were all he could think about.
Chapter 47: Toll Taken
Matt quietly made his way into the lowly lit apartment, and closed the door behind him then pressed his forehead against it as he let out a soft sigh. The last few weeks had taken their toll between Katya’s death, being held hostage, and Gabby’s pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, it all feel like too much.
“Matt.” Kelly spoke softly as not to startle him as he walked out of his bedroom having heard the door open and close but nothing else.
“Yeah?” Matt asked as he lifted his head up tiredly, and turned himself towards the other man.
“How’s Gabby?” Kelly asked as he took a seat as Matt made his way over to the couch and let his body fall heavily onto it.
“Antonio’s with her.” Matt answered as he truthfully didn’t know how Gabby really was. The video from Herrmann had helped but she was still somewhat despondent, and he was at a loss for words.
“And how are you doing?” Kelly’s question made Matt lift his head and look at him rather confused. “It was your baby too Matt. Everyone is focused on Gabby, understandably, but it was your baby too.”
“I’m exhausted… and I wish there was more I could have done, could do.” Matt rarely opened up, and truthfully he wasn’t sure he had comprehended any of it.
“There was nothing that could have been done for any of it. You did all you could, you’re doing all you can Case.” Kelly told him sincerely, concerned at the weight that his friend and fellow Lieutenant was carrying on his shoulders.
“Doesn’t feel like it.” The words slipped out easily in Matt’s tired state as he let his head drop back tiredly again, and then allowed his eyes to close. Kelly wanted to push Matt but he knew that wouldn’t get him anywhere; and given Matt’s condition it didn’t seem right.
Kelly let the silence settle and within minutes Matt was sleeping soundly. He got up and grabbed the blanket that was folded over the back of the couch, then without waking him spread it across his exhausted friend.
“You’re going to be alright Matt.” Kelly whispered to the sleeping man, not bothering to turn off the lights as he made his way back to his bedroom and back into bed.
Chapter 48: Spiralled
Matt frowned as he followed a few cars behind Kelly as they pulled into the parking lot of Chicago Med; he hated that he had to resort to following Kelly but he had been so secretive about where he was going and what he was doing over the past few weeks that Matt's concern had made him resort to this. Now that he found he was going to Chicago Med Matt's concern only grew as his mind went to a very dark place as he worried that Kelly was hiding an illness from him.
Matt made sure to stay several feet behind Kelly as he followed him into and through the halls of the hospital frowning when he stopped on the Paediatrics floor. Matt stopped and hid behind a wall peeking his head around like a child playing hide and seek as he watched the interaction between Kelly and the nurses at the station. Whilst he could not hear what was being said he could see the familiarity between them.
Matt watched, unmoving, as Kelly moved over to the large station, after he had removed his jacket and given it to the nurse who put it beneath the desk, and scrubbed his hands and up his arms before he washed all of the lathered up soap off and dried off. He took a yellow paper gown and pulled it on before he stepped into one of the small rooms just off to the side and out of view of Matt.
Matt wasn’t sure what to do, after all he had followed Kelly to the hospital to find out what he was doing secretively and he had been terrified that something had been wrong with him but now he was completely confused given the floor that they had ended up on and the familiarity that Kelly seemed to be receiving and reciprocating. He had to admit that he was completely lost and he still did not have any real answers. He let his body drop down heavily in a nearby chair and tipped his head back against the wall as he blew out a heavy breath whilst he debated what to do - whether to leave or see what Kelly was really doing. Matt went back and forth silently in his head as he debated what to do until he realised he could not keep wondering and not have any answers although there was an element of fear at what he would find deep inside himself.
With that final realisation, Matt pushed himself up onto his feet and took a few deep breaths before he made his way down the hall towards the room that he had watched Kelly walk into although he had no idea of how much time had passed as he had sat having a silent debate with himself.
The sight beyond the window took Matt’s breath away as he found Kelly sat in a rocking chair with a tiny baby held perfectly in his arms in between all of the tubes and monitors that were attached to the tiny body. He felt frozen as he took in the scene in front of him as Kelly poked his tongue out and smiled at the baby in between talking however Matt could not decipher the words being said through the thick glass.
Matt couldn’t tell how much time had passed when Kelly finally looked up and over at him unable to hide his surprise momentarily before he resumed a neutral facial expression and waved at him to come in. Matt was about to walk into the room when he recalled the procedure of hand washing and gown retrieval that Kelly had gone through which made him stop and follow through with those actions as endless questions made their way into his mind.
Kelly had felt that someone was watching him as he held the nameless premature baby boy in his arms, and he had hoped that whoever was watching would go away but after almost half an hour he couldn’t stand the feel that eyes were on him so he looked up and over. Matt. Matt was watching him and he looked to be in shock. Kelly swallowed thickly as he carefully waved Matt into the room knowing that it was not a coincidence that Matt was there as he turned back to the baby in his arms who had reached out to grip his finger with his tiny hand.
Kelly frowned down at the baby after he had glanced back over to the window to see that Matt was no longer standing outside of it but he had not entered the room either. It unnerved him and a part of him wanted to get up and follow after Matt but the nurses had all beamed at how well the baby was improving with the physical contact on a near daily basis after he had visited. His musing did not last too long as the door opened and Matt stepped inside still wide eyed and somewhat wearily.
“Hi.” Kelly was at a loss for words as Matt stepped closer although he retained a fair distance.
“Hi.” Matt replied still confused at what he had found considering how he had expected the worst. He blew out a harsh breath as he sat down on a nearby stool as he couldn’t bring himself to move any closer. “He’s gorgeous Kel.” The baby was so content in his arms and watching Kelly.
“Yeah he is.” Kelly replied almost dreamily as he smiled down at the baby. “Remember how I told you about that call from a few weeks ago that we were called into assist with and there was a pregnant woman who had been pinned underneath the beam.” He knew he had to explain as he could see the worry etched in Matt’s facial features. Matt nodded numbly and waited for him to continue. “I couldn’t shake how she begged me to save her baby so after our next shift I stopped by here to check in. She didn’t survive but they managed to save this little guy and he was really ill because of how premature he was, he still is. So for the past few weeks during every off shift day I’ve been coming here to hold him as they haven’t found any next of kin but they are looking for a foster family for him. The medical staff reckon it helps.” He went to shrug his shoulders but stopped as he didn’t want to upset and jostle the baby. He could see the way Matt’s eyes softened. “You can come closer.” He offered leaving it up to Matt whether he wanted to or not.
Matt took in what Kelly had told him but made no effort to move any closer. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Matt’s voice was small as his insecurities came to the forefront of his mind. Kids were important to both of them but it wasn’t as simple for them as it was for a man and a woman to have a child or many children. "I’ve been so worried because of all of the secrecy and then I followed you here and all I could think was the worst scenarios." Matt continued as the words fell from his lips without even giving Kelly a chance to answer his question. "I’m sorry." Matt quickly apologised for his outburst as he sunk his teeth into his bottom lip.
"Matt, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you, I didn’t mean to scare you... I should have told you.” Kelly paused angry at himself for causing Matt pain. “I just can’t shake hearing her begging voice.” That voice, those words, would haunt him for a long time although he didn’t want to tell Matt that.
Matt nodded slowly as he took a few deep breaths as he tried to process everything. “Do you want to bring him home? Give him a family? Be his father?” The questions tumbled from his mouth before he even realised what he had said.
"What?!" Kelly sounded breathless and astounded as his eyes widened in pure unadulterated shock. "Where did that come from?" He asked unsure of how they got to where they were.
Matt slid closer on the stool somewhat cautiously then raised his hand up and let the little boy wrap his little hand around his finger before he finally met Kelly’s eyes. "We could give him a home, a family. You’ve gotten attached, I see that." Matt sounded so clinical even to his own ears although he didn’t mean to be.
“Matt… We are not in the position to bring him home.” Kelly cringed as he had thought about it more than he cared to admit to but he had considered the option but with their lives the way they were it really was not an option.
“But you want too.” It was a statement that Kelly could not deny nor would he attempt too. “Could you say goodbye to him? Can you hand him over to someone else?” Matt was pushing for an answer to a question that Kelly could not bare to hear. Deep down inside Matt knew he was being unfair and unjust but his head was spinning.
“I think you should leave. We can talk about everything once I get home.” Kelly let no room for any protest or argument as his voice was hard and far removed from his emotions. He had no idea how they had gotten to this point and truthfully he was not sure whether he really wanted to talk once he got home but the conversation also should not take place in front of the baby nor in public despite being in a private room.
Matt scoffed as he withdrew his hand from the baby’s grasp and stood up with a pained glare towards Kelly. “Why bother when there is clearly nothing to talk about.” Matt was exasperated but he took heed of the harsh tone of Kelly’s voice and knew he had gone too far although he had not been able to stop himself.
“Matt...” Kelly barely managed to get his name out before Matt was out of the room. He sighed heavily before he turned his attention back to the gorgeous baby boy in his arms, to the innocent boy who had started his life as an orphan, as Matt’s questions bounced around in his head. Things had spiralled so quickly and he really hadn’t meant for them too.
Kelly stayed well into the early evening, putting the nameless baby boy into the plastic crib with a light kiss on the crown of his head, before he left heading home to face the problems that he had created unknowingly and then unwillingly.
Chapter 49: Helplessness
The helplessness had well and truly set in as he could do nothing but watch and wait, neither of which were his strongest attributes especially when it came to the man he loved, the man who was laying terrifyingly still after saving him. Matt let out a stuttered breath as he could still hear the scream that ripped its way from Kelly’s throat and he could still feel how forcefully Kelly had shoved him to get him out of the way to save him from the explosion that ripped through the blazing inferno of the building sending debris raining down on top of him.
It had been six days, six long and torturous days, since Kelly had been rushed to Chicago Med and he had still showed no signs of waking despite having been extubated and disconnected from the ventilator as he had been fighting the vent and triggering it enough to signal that he could breathe on his own. Matt ran his fingers gently over Kelly’s lifeless hand wishing he would respond but nothing seemed to be working. The list of injuries was extensive, so extensive than Matt could not even remember every single medical term, but what he did know was that he could vividly recall every bruise and cut and scrape that lingered on his beautiful skin beneath the bandages.
“You have to wake up Kel.” Matt spoke softly almost terrified to speak any louder as he delicately wrapped both of his hands around Kelly’s one that was free of any intravenous lines and the pulse oximeter. “I need you to come back to me.” Those words sounded bitter, sounded hollow, but they were the truth. Matt needed Kelly more than ever because he could not lose someone else, could not lose someone else that he loved.
Matt moved one of his hands up and brushed his fingers through Kelly’s hair that had been shaved incredibly short upon his admission and surgery to relieve the bleed on his brain from the head trauma he had suffered being careful to avoid the bandage covered incision. After a few minutes of carding his fingers through his hair he moved them down to his cheek feeling the days old stubble that had grown on his jaw. “I need you. I love you.” It was a soft murmur once more as he couldn’t bring himself to speak any louder in fear of what could happen. It didn’t matter how long he had to wait, how long he had to sit at his bedside, he would be there until he opened those beautiful blue eyes for him to see again.
Chapter 50: Tenseness And Easement
Tenseness and Easement
Matt had been watching Kelly all throughout their shift and it appeared that as every hour went by Kelly became even more tense. When Kelly had told Matt that he was going to the gym as they were leaving the firehouse at the end of their shift Matt hoped it would help him work through whatever it was that was bothering him that he wasn’t yet ready to talk about. However when Kelly walked through the apartment door just over ninety minutes later none of the tenseness had dissipated and when he barely acknowledged Matt on his way through to the bathroom to shower Matt knew it was time to step in.
Matt waited for a few minutes listening intently for the sound of the water being turned on but when it didn’t come he made his way through to the bathroom concerned enough that he felt the need to check on him.
Kelly had his hands wrapped round the edge of the bathroom counter, his knuckles whitening in response to the tightness of his grip which only highlighted the damage he had done to his knuckles which Matt quickly surmised was from boxing at the gym with no gloves or wraps and an improper technique. He was staring down into the sink and completely oblivious to anything around him.
Matt stepped into the bathroom and made his way over to the shower, turning it on before he stepped in behind Kelly who hadn’t moved. He lifted his hands up to Kelly's shoulders and guided him to turn around so that he was facing him. Matt let his eyes roam Kelly's face taking in the dark circles under his eyes, the days old growth of scruff, and how his beautiful eyes seemed stormy and were almost unreadable.
"Let’s get you in the shower honey." Matt spoke softly as he let his hands skim lightly over the fabric as he moved them down to the hem of the sweaty tank. He clutched the fabric in between his fingers and eased it up and over Kelly’s head. There was no words of protest as Matt stripped Kelly out of his clothes, letting each item fall to the floor, and then led him into the shower. Once Kelly was under the steady hot stream of water Matt quickly stripped and stepped in behind him.
The silence was overwhelming and worrying to Matt as usually Kelly would have made a suggestive comment or began to initiate any intimacy between them but instead he had said nothing and only moved if Matt physically made him. Matt again placed his hands on Kelly’s shoulders and turned his around so that his back was to the stream of water and he was facing him. Kelly’s skin was flushed red where the water had streamed down on his upper body, and bits of his wet hair had stuck to his forehead.
"Breathe honey." Matt whispered once he had squeezed some shampoo into his hand and lifted his hands up to Kelly's hair, gently massaging the shampoo into a lather as he let his fingers scrap lightly over his scalp. Kelly let out a stuttered breathe, it almost appeared as if he had forgotten to keep breathing as his hands lightly wrapped around Matt's forearms in an effort to steady himself as Matt tilted his head back to wash the shampoo out. Just as quickly as Kelly grasped Matt’s forearms he released them as his legs gave way and he hit the cold wet shower floor then eased himself back against the wall. Matt was down on his knees beside him in mere seconds, his concern growing by the second as he had not seen Kelly this despondent in a long time.
"Kelly... talk to me honey please." Matt was barely keeping the panic out of his voice as he watched as Kelly lifted his own hand to his chest and scratched at his skin causing the skin to rise and become an angry red.
"I don’t know." The first words that Kelly had spoken since they left the firehouse separately and they didn’t give Matt any insight.
"Don’t know what?" Matt had to push for an explanation as he was scared for Kelly, scared at what he didn’t know.
"Why I feel like this, why I feel like everything is collapsing around me and crushing me... It just happened." Kelly couldn’t explain the overwhelming feeling that had settled deep inside of him as his voice shook and his body trembled uncontrollably and involuntarily.
"When did this feeling start honey?" Matt asked hoping to help Kelly figure out why he felt the way he did as he reached up and eased his hand away from his chest and entwined their fingers.
"A few hours before shift started yesterday. I... I can’t shake it." His breathing was staggered, the fear was evident in his voice, and his heart was pounding so fast it felt as though it could leap out of his chest.
"What were you thinking about when it started?" Matt asked in desperation as he didn’t know how to help, and only hoped that he could. Kelly shook his head from side to side as he sunk his teeth into his bottom lip.
"Okay, okay..." Matt was at a loss for what to say or do.
"Matt... I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep, I haven’t slept since I woke up yesterday, and I don’t want too." His voice was small and it seemed to be getting shakier with each word. The physical strain on his body from his staggered breathing wasn’t helping either. Matt knew how physically exhausting their shift had been with the calls they had had and that he hadn’t had much sleep the night before instead he had spent the majority of the night pacing the apartment; he reached up and turned the shower off as the cool air wrapped around them then reached out and grabbed two towels. Matt stood up then pulled Kelly up and onto his feet, noting how unstable he appeared to be, then wrapped a towel around himself before he dried Kelly off as he didn’t seem to have the energy to do it himself.
"Let’s have a lazy day on the couch." Matt spoke softly hoping that it would help him to relax and put his mind at ease. Sure there were things that needed to be done but it could all wait because the only thing that mattered was Kelly and his well-being. A soft almost hesitant nod was all that Matt received in response but it was enough for him to lead Kelly out of the bathroom and into their bedroom where he searched through their drawers pulling out a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt for both of them. They got themselves dressed and once again Matt took Kelly's hand and led him out into the lounge.
Matt sat himself down and Kelly ended up laid out across the rest of the couch with his head in Matt's lap, he was laying on his side so his face was pressed into Matt's cotton covered torso. Matt ran his fingers through the soft wet hair all the while looking down at his lover dismayed that he couldn’t do more to help while his other hand delicately traced patterns over top of his cotton clad ribs. With each stroke Matt could feel as the tension melted away bit by bit from Kelly’s body.
"I think I’m ready to retire but I don’t know what would be next." The stark admission broke the comfortable silence as it clicked into place for Kelly as to why he felt the way he did. He had fought so hard to come back but now he was ready to give it all up or at least he had been thinking seriously about it but he didn’t know what was next and that was the part that was crushing him. Matt's hands paused in their movements as he thought he misheard him but there was no mistaking his words.
"You want to retire from the CFD?" He had to confirm what he had heard as it was a shock, one that he wasn’t prepared for. He knew the man he loved, knew what he loved, and how much he loved his job so to hear that all of his angst had been caused by the thought of retiring and of what would be next had left him reeling. He felt blindsided but it wasn’t about him, it was about the man who had his head in his lap who was searching for answers to the war that was going on inside his head.
"I’ve been thinking about it... I don’t know if I will ever be totally ready to leave it all behind but... I don’t know what’s going on in my head." Kelly let out a sigh as he turned over onto his back and moved his eyes to the ceiling, admittedly saying what was on his mind was reliving in a way even though the whole thing was terrifying to him.
"Honey, if this is what you want, if you’re ready... I’m with you every step, whatever you decide but this has to be your decision. And all I hope is that whatever you decide is next is that you’ll love it just as much as you love what you do now." Matt had to be supportive and he would be but it would be a huge adjustment for the both of them, every facet of their life would change. He resumed his hand movements.
“I know you are. I’m sorry and I love you.” Kelly murmured as he closed his eyes feeling as his exhaustion caught up to him. He was apologising for more than he could explain, for more than he could ever verbalise. He had seen the worry that had flickered across his face at his words and he knew until he figured it all out that Matt would be worried even if he wouldn’t say it.
“I love you too honey... Get some sleep.” Matt whispered softly hoping that Kelly would be more at ease and able to work out what he needed too after his exhaustion had eased.
Mere minutes later and Kelly was asleep somewhat restlessly as Matt watched as the man he loved did so. Whatever the storm that was brewing inside the man whose head was in his lap, Matt would be the calm for him even if he didn’t feel it himself.
Chapter 51: Aching Nap
Kelly frowned as he stepped into the all too quiet apartment knowing that Matt was home given that his truck was parked outside in the driveway and it was early in the afternoon. Usually Matt would be in the living area looking over construction plans or reports, or in the kitchen snacking. Kelly placed his keys down on the table next to Matt’s then shrugged off his jacket and threw it down over the back of the nearest chair.
Kelly made his way through the apartment in search of Matt. He walked into their darkened bedroom and found Matt curled up in bed underneath a couple of the thickest duvets they owned that had only been added to the bed, and he knew just by his even and softened breathing that he was asleep. Suddenly a nap sounded like a good idea, but a nap with Matt sounded like an even better idea. With that a soft loving smile made its way to his lips as he stripped down to his briefs as silently as he could letting the discarded clothes fall languidly to the floor in a neat pile by his feet.
Kelly raised the blankets just enough for him to slip in between the warmed sheets. He pressed his body against Matt’s back and wrapped his arms around him as he pressed his face into the nape of his neck inhaling the familiar and comforting scent that was him.
“Kelly.” Matt’s voice was thick with sleep as he involuntarily pressed back into Kelly’s warm embrace.
“Go back to sleep sweetheart.” Kelly kept his voice light almost at a whisper despite how badly he wanted to ask Matt if he was alright given that he did not often nap during the day.
Matt grunted and Kelly knew it was a grunt that signalled that he was not feeling well as it was almost turned into a whine near the end. "I’ve got a headache and the pills aren’t helping." Matt informed Kelly of what he had already figured out although it was good that Matt was sharing as usually he would remain tight lipped and suffer in silence, or try to at least.
Kelly knew there was nothing he could say and how sensitive Matt could be to sound and light so instead he tightened his arms a little tighter around Matt and pressed a kiss to the exposed skin of his neck before he let himself relax and settle down into the mattress. He waited until Matt’s breathing evened out before he allowed himself to fall asleep.