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Stay with Me

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Casey was in a rush, he was striding along the sidewalk to meet Shay and Severide for drinks. He was usually so organised and punctual, but today he was late meeting them for more than one reason. He had fallen asleep on his couch the minute he'd got in from the construction job he had on at the moment, then when he was woken by a text message from Severide confirming where they were meeting later, he had to spend at least ten minutes hunting for a smaller belt because the one lying at the bottom of the wardrobe was doing nothing to hold his pants up.

The bar was busy, Casey shouldered his way through the crowd over to the far end of the bar area where he spotted Shay and Severide waiting for him. He must have looked flustered as he walked towards them.

Severide grinned at him. "Hey, buddy, you all right? You didn't need to rush," he said, greeting him over the noise of the other patrons.

"Didn't want you waiting around for me…"

"The whole point of this was to drag you out your house for some fun!" Shay interrupted, threading an arm around Casey's waist.

"You need to get laid," Severide began wickedly.

"Hey!" he retorted.

"Seriously, man, the way you were having a go at your guys on shift yesterday, you need to let off some steam..." Severide took one last gulp of his beer and placed the empty glass down heavily on the table.

"There was a rat in the firehouse," he pointed out indignantly, still annoyed at the state the station must have been in to see a rat scurrying across the bunk room floor.

"Yes. And now there is not," Severide replied with a slight air of superiority. "You should lighten up..."

Before Casey could get a reply out, Shay broke in to shut them both up, seeing how it could turn into a argument about nothing if she left them to it. "So, where are we going first?" She looked expectantly from one to the other and back again, waiting for some sort of sensible suggestion.

Severide just shrugged, picking up one of the beer mats and folding it in half as Shay continued.

"Strip club, gay bar, lesbian bar…" she began listing, with a mischievous smile, wondering what sort of evening it would turn into. The three of them hadn't been out together for a long time, but she was glad Casey had joined her and Severide again. It had been too long.

"Sports bar?" Casey said hopefully. He wasn't interested in picking anyone up and going home with them tonight. He felt more exhausted than ever and would rather just spend some time with friends, having drinks and watching a game, instead of bar crawling around Chicago on the prowl.

Shay was shaking her head. "So boring…"

Severide and Casey just stared at each other, rolling their eyes.

"C'mon, I know exactly where we're going," Shay announced.

Casey groaned inwardly, immediately regretting his decision to go out with the two of them. But he knew that Severide was right, in a sense. He wasn't unhappy with his own personal life at the moment, but he couldn't say he was really happy either. But he also knew that a one-night stand wasn't the solution and wouldn't improve his mood, he knew that from experience. Nor would it make any difference to his exhaustion.

Over the last few years he'd had a few relationships but none of them had worked out. He wanted to find someone and settle down and have a family, but he hadn't met anyone who had wanted the same thing, at least not at the time. He was starting to feel it was all a lost cause but he accepted it stoically, knowing if the time wasn't right, then the time wasn't right. If he was truly honest with himself, he would admit that he hadn't ever felt true love for any of his previous partners and he wondered it maybe he was after something unattainable. At least unattainable for him. He could see that Herrmann and his family had that special relationship he craved for himself, and he'd seen the same thing with Andy and Heather before Andy had died a year ago too.

"Earth to Casey… you coming or what?" Shay was grinning up into Casey's face now, seeing that he had zoned out for a while.

"Yeah, yeah…" he said as she followed Severide back out of the bar and he trailed tiredly behind her.


Casey woke to the sun glaring into his eyes as he lay on the couch. His head was throbbing madly and his mouth was dry. He knew he should have stopped drinking alcohol once he had lost count of how many beers and shots he'd downed, but he hadn't. Severide and Shay were a bad influence but from what little he could recall of the night before, it had been good and he'd enjoyed himself although he couldn't remember any specifics.

"Never thought you were gonna wake up. Talk about the living dead..." Severide joked, as Casey's eyes tried to adjust to the bright light.

Casey pulled himself into a sitting position on the couch, pressing his palms against his eyes. "Where are my pants?" he croaked out. He looked around the apartment Shay and Severide shared, wishing his drunk brain had decided to go home instead. At least he knew where he was, he'd not woken up in someone else's bed and that actually felt like a positive right now.

Severide picked up his jeans off the floor and passed them to him. "Breakfast?"

Casey shook his head, his whole body felt a lot more worse for wear, he really should have stopped drinking but he'd enjoyed it all, he lost that control he usually had over everything but he didn't mind at all, it was euphoric. It also made him realise how easily drinking could turn into a problem for him, he knew he couldn't use it as a vice, not like his parents.

"Best cure for a hangover..." Severide told him, chuckling.

"Not sure that's true," Casey replied, his voice still rough. He stood up, faltering a little, feeling lightheaded, but he managed to pull on his jeans and buckle up the belt.

Severide was still grinning at him. "Why don't we check out that new coffee bar around the block? Only heard good things."

"Sure," Casey answered, devoid of any enthusiasm whatsoever, he'd rather just down some painkillers and sleep off his hangover. "Where's Shay?" he asked, peering around the open plan apartment.

"Showering, so we'll be waiting awhile…"

"She's quicker than you are," Casey retorted.

"True."


Almost an hour later the three of them were sitting in the new coffee bar at a table in the window, the only one that had been available when they'd arrived. The vibrations and noises coming from the street did little to help how Casey was feeling. Severide was almost swallowing down his eggs and bacon whole, Shay was munching her way through a bowl of yoghurt and muesli, with some toast on the side. Casey on the other hand, was sitting with his eyes closed, holding a large mug of black coffee.

The grinding of the coffee machine, clashing of mugs and cutlery, and sizzling of the grill grated inside his head. The ache just seemed to be growing worse. The smell of Severide's bacon filled the air and it made him feel queasy, he brought the coffee mug closer to his nose to disguise the smell but it did little to help his stomach. He was getting too old for partying like they had done, this hangover felt like it was going to be never-ending. He was sitting there in the same clothes he'd worn last night, probably still stinking of alcohol despite the quick shower he'd had once Shay had finished off in the bathroom. He was definitely getting too old for this.

"It's been nice to spend some time with you, Matt, it's been way too long," Shay commented between mouthfuls of food.

Casey blinked his eyes open, trying to focus. "Yeah," he and Severide replied simultaneously, staring directly at each other, each of them thinking about the cause of their estrangement during the past year. Even though things had improved, largely due to Shay's efforts, it was still a touchy subject. Recently not helped by the fact that Severide and Boden had started to push Mills onto Squad before even talking to him, but Casey had tried to accept a long time ago that Severide often did things without thinking them through.

"Here, Matt, finish this. I've had enough," Shay told him, sliding her plate of toast over the table to him, the ceramic gliding across the varnished table made him wince.

He smiled faintly and picked up the last slice of toast, taking a couple of bites before he put it back down. It was almost cold and the butter had been spread unevenly, and the noise of his own chewing sent shockwaves around his head.

"Feeling that bad?" Shay asked, worried for him.

"Shouldn't have drank so much," Casey responded quietly. He reached into his jeans' pocket and pulled out some cash, putting it on the table with a pale hand. "Here, I'm gonna head home..."

"Hang on…" Severide stopped him in his seat. "We can walk part way back together, or get back to ours and I can give you a ride? I'm heading to the boat yard so I can drop you off on the way," he offered. "Can't say no to that."

"No, I can't," Casey answered, giving him a small smile. A ride sounded like a much better idea than walking back to his own place.

"Let's get out of here then," Shay said She was already pushing her chair back and standing up to put on her jacket, leaving Severide's clean plate, and Casey's almost full mug of coffee behind with the half-eaten slice of toast.


Casey had fallen a little behind the two of them as they walked back to the apartment. The noise of the traffic whizzing past was dizzying. He was no longer listening to their conversation, he was simply trying to set one foot in front of the other. Hr couldn't grasp quite why walking had suddenly become such an impossible task. He felt his heart thumping in his ears, and all other sounds seemed to become muffled as his vision started to grey around the edges. He stood still, or at least he thought he had, but the world kept moving around him. Then there was nothing.

When Severide heard the thud behind him he wheeled around in a flash, he couldn't even remember what he'd been laughing about with Shay as he saw Casey lying on the sidewalk. "Casey!" he yelled out of instinct, worry overcoming him.

He wasn't unconscious for very long and was beginning to stir slightly as Shay and Severide dropped to their knees beside him. He was listless and the little colour he'd had was draining from his face. His breaths were shallow and a thin sheen of sweat covered his forehead. After a moment or two he began to blink as he tried to get his bearings.

"Whoa, Matt, don't move yet," Shay told him as he started to sit up. "Stay where you are." She held his arm to try and stop him moving any further.

"Yeah, hang tight, Case. You ok?" Severide asked hurriedly, feeling a lot less calm than Shay sounded as he scanned Casey's body for any possible injuries.

"Yeah, yeah, fine, sorry, must have tripped…" Casey responded quietly as soon as he could get his mouth to work. He felt embarrassed at the sudden attention over something so stupid.

Shay was peering down at his hands and her expertise told her he hadn't tripped. Human instinct would have caused him to throw out his hands to brace his fall, but he had no marks or grazes to indicate that had happened. She said nothing for now.

"Can I get up now?" The question came out far more scathingly than Casey had meant it to, but he was still struggling to orientate himself.

"Yeah, come and sit on the bench though," Shay told him, still holding on to his arm.

Severide reached out to help Casey up, and since he still felt lightheaded and unsteady he let Severide half lift him off the sidewalk and help him over to a nearby bench, where he sat down gratefully, head in his hands.

Casey's two companions cast a knowing look at each other over the top of his head as he sat trying to recover his senses, wishing he had been able to come up with a better lie. He knew it was obvious to them that he hadn't just tripped. He had passed out, he knew it, and he realised Shay and Severide must have also figured it out, it wasn't hard.

"Should have had some more breakfast," Severide said, keeping it light, not wanting to put his foot in it, not wanting to anger Casey. He knew him well enough to realise that he would hide any weakness, illness or defect at any cost, no matter what.

"Yeah, guess I should have," Casey replied slowly, his head still bowed, still looking down at the sidewalk.

"How are you doing now, Matt?" Shay asked him, still in paramedic mode, one hand on his shoulder.

"M'all right. Just need more food, and more sleep..." he told her, annoyed at all the attention.

"You sure?" Shay quizzed him. "Your heart rate was..."

Casey just laughed over her. "Seriously? I drank way too much last night and we all know it."

Shay nodded, but she wasn't convinced he was telling them everything. But he wasn't quite so pale now and his eyes were focused again.

"Next time you feel like fainting, warn somebody so you don't just go splat on the sidewalk, ok?" Severide joked.

"Didn't faint," Casey grunted.

"How about collapsed then?" he suggested.

"That sounds manlier than fainted." Shay grinned as Severide pulled Casey up to his feet and made sure he could walk properly.

They started slowly back towards the apartment. "Disagreement with gravity?" Casey said.

"Just face it, Case; you fainted," Severide responded firmly.


Back at the apartment Shay handed Casey a bottle of cold water from the refrigerator and told him to drink it, she grabbed her first aid kit and practically dragged him into the bathroom. Whilst Severide just sat down on the couch and turned the sports channel on. She made Casey sit down on the closed toilet seat in a manner that told Casey very clearly not to object or protest. He sat there like a school child who was about to get a telling off, his back straight and his legs closed together.

"Take off your hoody," she instructed, kneeling in front of him and opening up the large black bag.

"Oh, this is happening is it?" he said, grinning down at her with his dimpled cheeks.

"Yeah, you're the only guy I'll get down on my knees for…" she responded, rolling her eyes. "Hoody off. You've grazed yourself, there's blood on your sleeve."

Casey did as he was told and dumped the hoody onto the tiles

She took hold of his wrist and read his pulse before he could pull away. "Your heart's still racing," she pointed out.

"Shay…" he began exasperated. "I don't remember much of last night. I have a hangover."

Shay simply ignored him and pulled a blood pressure cuff out of the bag.

"Got a kitchen sink in there?" Casey asked her, peering at the large bag next to Shay as she wrapped the cuff around his arm. He was starting to feel tired and his mind was wandering. He took another gulp of water, dismissing the worried glances Shay was giving him, hoping to stop himself from hurling all over her. He felt far worse now than he did when he woke up, he could deal with a headache but his whole body felt like it was rebelling against him now. He felt the squeeze at the pressure increased around his arm. He closed his eyes and tried to stop his head swimming.

"BP is low," she said.

"I'm hungover," he responded, opening his eyes and offering her another smile.

"A hangover maybe, but you've lost quite a bit of weight and that doesn't happen overnight." Shay wasn't convinced that something else wasn't going on with Casey. She unwrapped the BP cuff then sat back on her heels and looked up into his face. "Are you all right? A lot has happened over the last year…"

He chuckled. "I'm fine. And I look good… you don't think I look good?"

"You've been working out more?" she questioned him.

"No time for more than I usually do," he responded. Unconsciously trying to cover himself. "I'm fine," he said, stressing each word.

"Drink some more, it'll help your BP," she told him. "And you should eat some more before you leave with Kelly."

A wan smile came to Casey's face. "You don't need to mother me," he retorted.

"Someone needs to," she said quietly before digging into the black bag again, pulling out some antiseptic wipes and a band-aid.

"I'm a big boy… I'm 30. You're younger than I am."

"Doesn't mean I can't tell you to eat," she responded, cleaning the graze on Casey's left elbow with one quick wipe.

He winced slightly at the sting. "Are you done?" he questioned sharply, "It's just a graze."

"It's already bruising," she told him.

"Yeah, 'cause you keep prodding it," he retorted. "I'll live..."

"No doubt." Shay placed a band-aid over the damage. "All right, you're done. Go. Eat," she instructed, standing up and watching rather worriedly as he slowly managed to get to his feet and slip his hoody back on. He headed for the kitchen, leaving her to tidy up in the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Casey recovered slowly from his hangover and felt a little better the next day, after a long and reasonably peaceful sleep. He grabbed some fruit and ate it in his truck on the way to the firehouse. The weather was starting to cool off now it had got to September and pretty soon he would be waking and getting up in darkness as winter approached. The long brutal Chicago winters were the one thing Casey disliked about his home city. It made both his firefighting job and his construction job much more difficult than in the other three seasons. He would never move away though.

Severide didn't see Casey until roll call where he stood behind him. It was only then that Severide noticed how long Casey's hair had grown. Long by Casey's normal standards at least, but he had to push the thought to the back of his mind as Boden began to speak.

When they were dismissed he followed Casey out, they were the last to leave the briefing room. "How you feeling this morning? Maybe you should call your doctor?"

Casey just stopped in his tracks, almost laughing at Severide's urgent tone. "I'm fine, thanks. Too much drink. Not enough food," Casey replied somewhat sheepishly.

"You have lost some weight recently, you know?"

"Maybe it was my intention," he responded, grinning.

"Didn't realise you were so vain," Severide chuckled. "Seriously though, maybe you should get an appointment, you've been sick quite a bit over the last few months…"

Casey smiled. "You keeping tabs on me?"

Severide shrugged, not wanting Casey to be thinking he cared. "Nah... Shay. You're not usually sick so..."

"I'm all right. Not had to skip shift, have I?" Casey questioned.

"Guess not," Severide responded reluctantly.

"What's up with you today?"

"Just tired," he answered.

"Late night again?" Casey questioned, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

"You know, I don't sleep with everyone that moves," he retorted.

"No, just women…" Casey's voice was unintentionally accusing.

"Matt…"

"Hey! I'm over it, wasn't the right time." Casey shrugged.

"I don't blame you…"

"The hell, Severide? Why even bring it up?" Casey raised his voice, shaking his head in disbelief. "If it weren't for Andy, I would never have been friends with you. 90% of the time you're a dick…" He walked away, muttering an apology under his breath that he knew Severide didn't hear.

Severide leant back on the wall, sighing and closing his eyes for a moment before he heard Shay's voice. "What was that about?"

"Take a guess," Severide answered, looking in the direction Casey had walked off in.

"You two argue like an old married couple," she responded.

"I'm sick of this, butting heads all the time… it's getting old."

"Maybe try thinking before you speak…"

"Or maybe he should stop being so damn sensitive," Severide retorted.

She stood on her tiptoes and leant into his ear. "You two should just fuck each other and get over it all…"

"Oh, yeah, very clever, very funny," Severide replied, shaking his head at the thought as Shay walked off with a grin still on her face.


Casey was sitting at the table with his crew, flipping through a newspaper and enjoying their company in the common room. Herrmann was going on about some sort of diaper conspiracy theory, complaining about the amount they had been forced to buy lately, telling everyone jokingly that he should be doing a tally of costs for each of their kids to present to each of them on their eighteenth birthday. Casey smiled at that thought but didn't add anything to the conversation. Shay added her opinion in from the other side of the room, suggesting eco-friendly reusable ones but Herrmann just scoffed at that idea.

Casey looked up from his paper as he heard someone's cell phone ringing. He looked up to see Mills taking a call that didn't last very long. Casey's head was starting to feel fuzzy and his eyes unfocused, still looking up at Mills to avoid having to look back at the small print in his paper.

Mills had turned to Otis. "Hey, Otis… you're in charge of this fundraiser, the Chaplain put you in charge?"

Otis nodded, smiling proudly. "Yeah."

"So why do I keep getting calls about it then?" Mills asked. "That was the tenth call in the last three days," Mills complained.

"You're the candidate," Otis replied simply.

"Right and I'm not your PA," Mills retorted, clearly annoyed.

"No, he's mine," Casey said flatly, giving credence to Otis in order to shut Mills up. Casey's head was hurting now, his temples throbbing, the back of his neck tightening. His stomach felt sore still ,and he didn't want anyone to see he was still suffering from the effects of a well-deserved hangover. He wanted to get to the quiet privacy of his office without anyone questioning him. He checked his wristwatch. "81. Go and set up for some down-firefighter drills," he announced.

There were the usual habitual grumbles from his crew as they gathered themselves up and left the common room, heading for the apparatus floor. When the last one of them had gone, Casey stood up slowly and walked into his office to grab some painkillers, dry swallowing them and taking a few long deep breaths before going to supervise the drill.

Fifteen minutes into the drill, Casey realised he was going to have to go and lie down in his quarters before he passed out. For a fleeting moment he thought he would have to tell the Chief that he was going to need to take the rest of the shift off, but he knew he wasn't going to go home just because of a bad hangover.

Casey pulled his phone out of his pocket, looking down at the blank screen, then across at his right-hand man. "Take over for me. I need to take care of this."

"Sure, Lieutenant." Herrmann jumped to it right away, thinking nothing of it.

Casey walked back towards his quarters, knowing he'd feel fine if he could just lie down for half an hour. But luck wasn't on his side and Shay was coming the other way just as he got to his office door, and she stopped him, holding his arm.

"You all right, Matt?" she questioned him.

"Yeah, yeah, fine."

"Uh huh," Shay said slowly, disbelief evident in her voice as well as her expression. "You know Severide doesn't think before he speaks sometimes, well, most of the time."

"What? Oh, yeah, I know, it's fine, doesn't matter," Casey mumbled, already walking away and going into his office, leaving her with an even more worried look across her face as she heard him lock the door and watched him close the blinds.


It turned out to be a fairly quiet shift and after lying down for a short time Casey did go back to his crew, he finished off the drill and then completed some routine checks of his rig. He caught Severide in the locker room before they left the firehouse, he'd not said a word to him since the previous morning. Severide was sitting on the bench, leaning over to fasten the laces on his boots.

"Hey," Casey said from where he stood a few feet away, his canvas bag slung over his shoulder. "About yesterday; that was on me. Sorry."

Severide barely had the chance to turn his head and look up before Casey was already walking away. He shook his head at Casey's back view disappearing through the door, and smiled, wondering how long Casey had been thinking up his apology, if he had been planning it all shift. In reality he knew Casey wouldn't have been thinking about it at all, that it would just have been a spur of the moment thing, even though Casey rarely did spur of the moment things in his personal life, and then he realised he was thinking about the man way too much.

He physically shook his head, shaking away thoughts of him, although he can still feel Casey's lips pressed against his, see the almost apologetic look in his eyes as he pulled away, and more than a year had passed since then, since Severide had then kissed him back. He'd never kissed a man before, and never kissed another after. His breath had been laced with alcohol, his hair still smelt like the shampoo he also used, ocean fresh, it was subtle but Severide had smelt it. He'd never gotten so close to Casey again after that night, but that wasn't because he hadn't liked it, it wasn't because the thought of kissing Casey had disgusted him, in fact, it was the complete opposite, the kiss hadn't disgusted him at all, if it had he wouldn't have kissed him back, and that's exactly what he'd told Casey after a few days of treading on eggshells around each other.

But then Andy died and everything changed.


Casey's downtime wasn't spent quite how he had planned. He had gone over to the Henderson's place to finish fixing the roof for them while the weather was good, and had been up the ladder when he had felt himself going lightheaded again. He couldn't move and clutched onto the ladder until he trusted himself to climb down and sit on the ground, thankful he wasn't on shift. He was still there when Mrs Henderson, now an octogenarian, who Casey had known for many years, doing jobs for her now and again, came out of the house and saw him sitting on the ground.

She had insisted that he go inside, she gave him a mug of coffee and a piece of the pie she had just made. He really hadn't felt like eating but made the effort and chatted to her while he ate. Even she had noticed that he had lost weight and didn't look too well. He assured her that he would stop by the pharmacy before he got home, then he would spend the rest of his day lounging around on his couch and sleeping. He knew he would have to eat more whether he wanted to or not, because if she and Shay, and even Severide had noticed the weight loss, it wasn't going to be long before everyone else started asking questions, and that was the last thing he wanted.

He left her house with the intention of going along to his local pharmacy but his truck wouldn't start. He turned the key in the ignition but the engine wouldn't kick into action. The battery was dead and it wasn't because he'd left the radio or the lights on. He sighed. He'd been meaning to get a new battery for the truck for weeks but he'd kept putting it below other priorities. He jumped out to fetch the power station from the back of the truck, but discovered to his annoyance that the charge was gone, he'd not planned on charging it until he got his winter tyres put on. And now he was sitting in a truck that wouldn't start. He hit the dashboard, more annoyed at himself than anything else. Mrs Henderson didn't have a car so he couldn't just use the jump leads to get his own battery powered up again. Casey had no choice but to call someone.

"Hey, Severide," he began when the call was answered. "I need a favour…"

Severide turned up a half hour later, parking his mustang bumper to bumper with Casey's truck so he could pop the hood open. He slammed the door as he got out onto the sidewalk. "Here to rescue the damsel in distress," he teased as he went up to Casey who had the jump leads ready.

"Ha ha. Just crank the hood," Casey responded shortly.

"Hey… someone's snippy today," he teased before turned around and opened the hood of his car.

"Thanks for this," Casey said as he passed him the other end of the leads.

It didn't take long to get it going and get the leads disconnected. "Come around to mine later, bring a six pack," Severide asked, sounding much more hopeful than he had intended.

"Sorry, Kelly… I can get a six pack to say thanks but I'm too busy, maybe another time though," he responded, it was a lie but he didn't care, he just wanted to get home now, and he still needed to go by the pharmacy.

"Don't need a six pack, happy to do you a favour, wasn't about to leave you stranded," Severide told him, smiling.

"Well, thanks, see you Friday."

"Matt…" Severide began, stopping Casey from getting in his truck and driving away.

He turned to find Severide looking pensive. "What?" he questioned. "I need to get home."

"Just… thanks for calling me, you could have called anyone but you called me," Severide responded.

"I'm trying, Severide. It's…" He swallowed before continuing. "It's not easy, but I liked what we had before."

"Before?" Severide repeated hopefully, his mind's eye reeling back to his lips touching Casey's perfect ones.

"Before that," Casey corrected him, before the kiss, before he'd slipped up. He knew how much Severide was capable of hurting him and he wasn't ever going to let that happen again. "I really need to go."

"Yeah, see ya…"

Chapter Text

Casey had dragged himself out of bed when his alarm went off. He headed straight to the coffee pot when he arrived at the firehouse only a few minutes before roll call. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air as he poured the dark liquid into his mug. He felt as if he was living on the stuff lately, although it was doing nothing to help increase his energy levels. At least he didn't feel at all lightheaded and hadn't since he was working on the ladder.

Severide was at the counter grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl. He saw Casey's arm as he lifted the pot to pour himself a coffee. "You been in a bar fight again?" he said teasingly, nodding at the dark purple bruise on Casey's left arm.

Casey put down the mug and looked down at his arm, pulling a face, unable to recall what he'd done to cause it. "Must have knocked it on the door handle when I was getting ready this morning…" he said, but with no conviction.

"Looks like you got it knocked by more than a door handle." Severide chuckled. "Sure things didn't get a bit rough last night?"

Casey just rolled his eyes tiredly. Normally he would laugh at Severide's humour but now he didn't have the energy. He picked up his coffee just as he was about to turn and head for the briefing room.

Severide gave his arm a tiny but friendly nudge. "Hey, did you manage to get some rest? Not normal to be as tired as you are. You really should go see your doctor, get a blood test, you're probably anaemic or something?" He tried not to sound too concerned, tried to keep it light.

"Bought some iron tablets," Casey answered simply.

"Ah, skipped the middle man," he replied.

"Exactly," Casey said.

"Well, if you're feeling better, fancy going for a run this weekend?" he asked Casey.

"Sure, Sunday morning? I'm working tomorrow, it'll probably take most the day," Casey responded.

"Sunday's good, and I like this."

"Like what?"

"Us getting along, it's been a good few months… generally," Severide answered.

"Yeah… won't last long if you keep telling me to see a doctor though," Casey answered smartly, smiling as he turned to leave for the briefing room with Severide.

"You're going to the fundraiser, right?" he asked Casey as they walked side by side.

"Of course, why?" Casey questioned, glancing at him.

"Are you going with anyone?"

"No, why?"

"I didn't know if it was a date thing or…" Severide began slowly.

"It's the 100 Club fundraiser with stuff set up for kids, I don't think it's 'a date thing.' Struggling to choose one of your many sexual exploits?" he asked grinning at him as they walked into the room.

"Yeah, too much choice," Severide retorted quietly, standing next to Casey at the back of the room, just close enough for their shoulders to touch slightly.

"Heather and the boys will be there," Casey told Severide.

"Yeah?"

He nodded. "Spoke to her the other day. The kids are looking forward to it."

"Good to hear…" Severide responded as Boden strode into the room, ending their conversation.


Casey and his crew were called out to a high school late in the afternoon, there were reports of an explosive noise coming from the building, and another 911 call from within the building. Fortunately, the students had gone home but there were still a small number of staff members inside. Truck 81 and Ambulance 61 pulled up right by the front doors. It was a multi-storey building set right among the apartment blocks. One of the windows by the entrance was boarded up but there was a maintenance van outside. The whole place struck Casey as a typical run-down inner-city school as he jumped out the rig.

He was met by the school principle as they entered the lobby. The man was flustered. "Something went wrong in the boiler room…"

"Take us there," Casey said quickly and the man led the firefighters along a corridor. "Is there anyone in there?"

"Yeah, our security officer is with the maintenance guy, he was just fitting a part, nothing big, just something he hadn't managed to do before we opened up on Tuesday…"

Casey nodded, grabbing his radio. "61, we've got two guys down in the boiler room, don't know the situation yet."

Shay's voice crackled back. "Copy that."

"Mills, get a couple of backboards and c-collars," Casey ordered.

The school principle was still talking as Mills turned and left. "The amount of time it's taken to get this part in… should have all been sorted before the school year, but of course this place has a near-ancient boiler system…"

They reached the door to the boiler room. Casey could hear the steam under pressure before he opened the door, and he could already feel the heat. "Stay put," he told the principle. "Herrmann, with me," he said just before putting his mask on.

The noise was almost deafening as he and Herrmann entered the boiler room. Highly pressurised steam was jetting out from one of the pipes by the floor. The place was small and cramped because of debris that lay around the place now. Squinting Casey spotted the security officer by the corner. They strode over to him, realising why he hadn't left the room. He was holding up an old piece of plywood, protecting the maintenance man.

"Herrmann, get him out of here," Casey told him, taking the plywood from the officers scalded hands.

Herrmann took the security officer out whilst Casey pulled the maintenance man out of harm's way, trying to assess his condition, and shielding him as much as possible from the boiling hot steam with his own body and the plywood. His turnout gear would protect him for a short time.

Cruz appeared a few moments after Herrmann had taken the security man out. Casey fixed the c-collar onto the unconscious man, then they got him onto the backboard. Casey ditched the sheet of wood and they carried the man out into the corridor where Casey handed his side of the backboard to Mills.

"Otis, let's get it shut off," Casey said, watching the activity. He then secured his own mask again before he re-opened the boiler room door.

It wasn't long before Casey had figured out the system and they got it turned off together, they exited the boiler room, pulling off their masks, breathing heavily. Casey could feel sweat pouring down his back now they were out in the corridor. He pulled off his gloves and ran a hand through his wet hair as he and Otis gathered themselves. He felt as if he was sweating buckets and was still feeling the massive adrenaline rush he'd got when they had first arrived at the scene.

He grabbed his radio and spoke. "Mouch, inform the city they need another maintenance crew down here to check the system…"

"Already on it," Mouch responded.

"Good," he said, smiling a little at his well-oiled crew. He turned to Otis. "Sweep the area then get out of here…"

"Cold shower would be nice right now," Otis replied, rolling his eyes and wiping at his face.

"Just got ourselves a free spa day in there." He chuckled.


Casey's real level of exhaustion didn't hit him fully until the adrenaline wore off during the journey back to the firehouse, when he began to feel the cold from sitting in the wet sweat soaked clothes under his turnout gear. As the rig pulled up on the apparatus floor, Casey jumped out and made his way straight to the locker room to take a hot shower, whilst the rest of his team bundled back into the common room amid various cracks about their free spa and steam room experience.

Severide's eye's remained on Casey as the passenger side door opened, he watched as the tuck lieutenant wearily got out of the rig, hanging his turnout coat on the door handle. He knew Casey was cold, he could tell just by the way he was standing. He's eyes followed him as he walked across the apparatus floor to the double doors, Severide saw how his shirt was wet and he heard the rest of his crew talking, and he figured out what had happened at the high school. He knew Casey would go straight for the showers, he always liked to shower after a call even if he'd just been standing around. Casey enjoyed his showers, especially hot ones, and Severide had no doubt that the temperature would be cranked up to its highest point.

The image of Casey walking so wearily wouldn't leave Severide's mind, so, he waited a respectable length of time then he stood up and strolled casually off to the locker room. Walking past the doors to the common room he could see the rest of 81 had decided to sit around and rest. He was glad of that. He wanted to catch Casey alone. He could hear the jets of the shower stream as he entered and went over to his locker. Opening it up and giving it a tidy until he heard the water stop. He soon heard Casey's footsteps on the linoleum flooring. Severide stood up from the bench and walked around the block of lockers. What he saw shocked him, he was speechless for a moment.

Clad in just a towel around his waist, Casey was bent over, rummaging at the bottom of his duffel bag. Although his muscles were still well defined, he did look leaner than usual and there was little body fat left. The usual natural softness had gone. That didn't look right on Casey. Severide just gazed at him as he slipped his white vest top over his pale skin. There were more bruises though, two of them, paler than the one Severide had spotted on his arm that morning.

"Matt…" he began, without really considering what he was going to say next.

"What the hell, Severide? Trying to give me a heart attack?" Casey spun around, clutching his polo shirt to his chest, a disgruntled scowl on his face.

"I just… I… I was sorting my locker out and I heard you…" he stumbled.

"What do you want then?" Casey questioned somewhat harshly, slipping into his polo shirt now.

"You look…"

"You have no right to comment about what I look like," Casey retorted defensively before Severide could get another word out.

"But…" he stopped himself. Nodding in agreement. "Yeah, sorry." He gave Casey a tiny smile before walking by him and leaving him alone. Casey opened up his locker and stared at himself in the mirror on the inside of the door. He knew he looked tired. His eyes were dark with almost bruise-like circles around them. He ran a hand over his wet hair, trying to arrange it into some sort of tidy state, then he pulled on the rest of his clothes, his arms ached a little from the call, and went out to see what Mills was sorting out for dinner.


Casey didn't go home and just relax when their shift ended, he had work to do, he wasn't someone who liked to sit around too much, not when there were jobs to be getting on with. After he had been working outside all day laying a large amount of decking, the final touches to a house he had been working on for the past week, he took a long relaxing shower and made his way over to Molly's. He felt a little better, as if he had more energy, even though he didn't think the iron tablets would have kicked in yet as he hadn't really been taking them long enough. Herrmann and Otis had insisted that he should come along to try one of the home brews they had made and Casey wasn't about to turn down any free beer, especially on a Saturday night when he wasn't working the next day.

As soon as he entered the crowded bar he spotted Severide over in the corner with Capp and Tony. When he spotted the woman he was talking to an indignant beast rose up in his chest, he had to look away, his lips pursed together as he made his way over to the bar.

Casey was sitting at the bar in Molly's nursing a glass of the very potent home brew when Severide sidled over to him, standing next to Casey as he ordered a couple of drinks. He turned to Casey. "Any good?" he asked, looking at the glass in his hand.

Casey simply nodded his head in response, taking another mouthful.

"Still on for tomorrow?" Severide questioned.

"Why wouldn't I be?" He was actually surprised that Severide still wanted to go for a run with him after the way he'd treated him yesterday.

"'Cause you look like a strong wind could knock you over…" Severide just grinned at him, handing over some bills to Herrmann behind the bar.

Casey stared down at the bar, gazing into the beer glass, distracted by Severide's remark.

Severide realised what he had said and back peddled straight away. "Sorry. You know how alcohol loosens my tongue."

He chuckled at that. "Doesn't just loosen your tongue…" he commented quietly.

"Come join us," Severide invited, yanking his head in the direction of where he was sitting. "We're going over to Berlin later, Shay's meeting us over there."

"Berlin?" he questioning, smiling at the image of Severide in that club having a good time.

Severide made a face. "I like Berlin. Berlin is cool."

Casey almost spat out his mouthful of beer as he laughed. "Do Capp and Tony think Berlin is cool?" he asked, eyes widened, questioningly.

"Ok, well, they're not coming…" Severide admitted.

"Yeah, I'm not coming either," Casey told him, sipping his beer again. Severide took his change from Herrmann and picked up the two drinks from the bar.

"All right, if you change your mind, heading over in an hour or so," Severide told him. He went back to his table but all Casey could think about was getting out of Molly's and heading home, so he finished off his glass of beer, thanked Herrmann and set off back to the comfort of his house.


Casey was sweating and panting as he struggled to keep up with Severide as they pounded along the lakefront the next morning. Every time Casey's feet hit the ground his head pounded, his vision blurred and his chest heaved breathlessly. Suddenly he found himself falling. He only just managed to get his hands in front of himself to break his fall, and stop his head smacking down onto the concrete.

Severide spun around to see Casey on the ground on his hands and knees. "Shit, Casey!" he called, running back the few feet that separated them.

Casey just looked up at him and laughed. "Just wanted to see your face…"

"What?" Severide replied, taken aback, bending over, checking Casey over.

"Wanted to see how concerned you would be," Casey teased. "I faked it," he added when the expression Severide's face remained the same.

Severide's face was somewhat stony. He didn't believe Casey for one minute. "Your hands are bleeding. And if you faked it; why aren't you getting up?"

Casey just looked up at him, he didn't have an answer, he didn't have any answers. He was silent as he got up onto his feet, and looked at his hands. His palms were grazed and tiny stones were embedded in the torn flesh.

"Knee's bleeding," Severide remarked, nodding down at Casey's right leg where there was a bloody graze on his kneecap, it seemed to bleed more profusely than it should have done.

"Damn..." he heard Casey say under his breath.

Severide sighed, folding his arms across his front as he stood in front of Casey. "Matt, what the hell is going on with you?"

"I…"

"Don't bullshit me," he warned.

"I don't know," Casey answered truthfully. "Just been really tired lately."

"You're not sleeping?" he pressed.

Casey just shrugged, really not wanting to go into all this now. And besides, he was able to sleep, but no matter how much or how little sleep he got, it made no difference. He still felt constantly exhausted and his head felt heavy.

"Let's walk back, take it steady," Severide suggested, seeing Casey's discomfort following his fall.

"I can keep going…"

"Not sure you can," Severide responded. "You know… we have our differences, and stuff has got in the way too, but you can talk to me, I know I can be a bit of a dick sometimes… if you're having nightmares though, well, it's something we all go through I think, and I know… I know you saw… you saw Andy die, and we see a lot of shit, so it's no shame to need help. Because, well, it's starting to show, Casey."

"Don't need a shrink…"

"So talk to me?" Severide pushed.

He shook his head. "I've got nothing to talk about."


Casey turned up to the CFD Winter Fundraiser wearing a pair of worn stone washed jeans, a red checked shirt and his old leather jacket, which hadn't gotten much wear lately but he'd spotted it hanging at the back of his wardrobe and decided to wear it for a change, and it fitted nicely now. The fall weather was still pleasantly warm but Casey grew cold easily, especially when he was tired and he'd not recovered from the run yet. As he walked along he spotted Shay, he headed over towards her.

"Nice jacket." She grinned at him, passing him a beer from the cooler.

He just gave a little shrug in response and accepted the beer. "Is Severide around?" he asked casually, taking a mouthful, his eyes searching the area for the subject of his query.

"Yeah, we came together, he's around somewhere… why?"

He gave another shrug, and drank some more beer.

"How was your run this morning?"

"Huh?"

"Severide said he went out with you," she pried.

"It was fine," he answered.

"Uh huh… you didn't trip over then?"

"Oh that, it was nothing," he insisted, looking anywhere but at Shay. "Heather and the boys are here," he announced as he saw the three of them walking beneath one of the big CFD banners.

The two of them went over to greet the Darden's. The two boys were ecstatic to see Casey, since it had been a few weeks since he'd been by to visit. He took them over to where one of the live bands were playing whilst Heather and Shay accompanied each other over to the bar area, engrossed in conversation as they went.

"It's really good to see you, Heather," Shay began as they sat down at a bench with their drinks. They had a good view of the small stage and they could see Casey with Ben and Griffin. "How have you been?" she asked sincerely, both of them focused ahead on the boys and Casey.

"Some days everything's normal and fine, other's… well, it is what it is," she responded, offering Shay a small smile. "I've considered moving away but then I think the boys would miss Chicago, and everyone has been so great, making sure things are always taken care of. And I'm fairly settled with the new job I have. I would miss all of you, but don't get me wrong, sometimes things like this just remind me too much of Andy… Matt has been so great though, the boys would miss him. He is family to them."

"He comes around a lot?"

"Not as often as before but I understand that. He needs to move on from what happened too," she answered.

"He loves spending time with Ben and Griffin," Shay responded.

"Yeah, he really does, and I don't think I can take that away from them. Not yet anyway," she added. "Talking of Matt…" she began, broaching carefully.

Shay glanced across at her before responding. "I'm keeping an eye on him."

Severide was sitting at a picnic bench, beer in his hand, surrounded by his crew. His focus was on Casey though, and not the conversation that was buzzing around him. Severide realised that Casey had spotted him when he'd taken Ben and Griffin over towards the stage area, and he also knew Casey would try to avoid him after what had happened on their run together earlier. He wasn't going to try and push his luck, not here in front of everyone, not when Casey's hot Irish temper seemed even hotter than usual. Besides it was nice to see how Casey's mood had brightened up with the boys, making him look younger than his years, making him radiate with boyish happiness now he was with them. Severide wasn't going to put a damper on the afternoon for him, he wasn't going to raise any more worries about his fall earlier, if Casey said he had it handled then he just needed to believe that. He took another few swigs from the bottle, finishing the beer.

He wanted to forget about him, to let Casey just get on with his own life. Severide needed to realise that his actions had consequences and he reckoned Casey would never truly forgive him for what happened after Andy's death. He'd probably never fully trust Severide again, not with his personal life. But still he couldn't get Casey out of his mind lately, their animosity had almost vanished in the past few months and things almost seemed to be returning to normal. Severide wasn't sure they'd ever completely get past what had happened though, not after the damage he himself had caused. Now he was worried about Casey though. As much as he tried not to be, there was concern growing inside him every time he saw the man. The man he had kissed back. Sometimes he wished that had never happened, because if it hadn't maybe things wouldn't be so hard now.

Chapter Text

Casey returned home after a gruelling shift, a multiple-alarm fire resulting in several fatalities, a pin-in accident and a pan fire. He crashed on the couch and stayed there for the majority of the time, ordering a take-away because he had no food in the house. He had planned on going to the store on his way home from shift but felt so tired he didn't want to make the effort. And before he knew it he was back at the firehouse for his next shift. All the sleep he'd had during his downtime hadn't made him feel any better so he was thankful that Thursday was a much quieter shift, and he managed to catch up with his rig checks and a stack of paper work. He did some drills with his crew and had been sitting in the common room playing a card game with Herrmann, Cruz and Shay when the alarms rang out.

Fortunately for the elderly lady who lived in the bottom floor of the house, it turned out to be a false alarm and no gas leak could be identified. After reassuring her that there was no issue and she was safe, Casey walked out of the house and back to the rig. Whilst he was talking to the lady he had started to feel lightheaded and his knees had felt weak. He left the crew to put their gear away and sat himself on the bumper, trying to take deep breaths.

The last thing he wanted was for his crew to see him like this, but Cruz had spotted him and came to sit next to him, a worried look on his face. "All right, Lieutenant?" he asked, sitting down next to him. There was an unspoken confidence between the two men, especially after everything that had gone down with Leon during the past year.

He turned to Cruz, a small smile playing on his lips. "How many of these calls do you reckon we'll get over winter?"

Cruz shrugged. "Beats sitting around all day."

Feeling that Cruz was on the brink of saying something further, Casey stood up, indicating that whatever conversation might have been coming, was over. "Sure does," he responded. "Let's get out of here," he spoke a little louder so they could all hear.

Everyone clambered into the rig. Casey settled down, feeling better already. There were murmurs and talk of lunch.

Casey smiled and turned back to them. "Who wants to go by Chipotle's and pick up some lunch?"

"Yes, Lieutenant!" came the enthusiastic response from all of them.


Shay caught Casey later on that day, she'd hardly seen him since the fundraiser, and hadn't responded to any messages she'd sent him. She stepped into the bunk area after returning from a call and saw him sitting in his office, he was wearing his fleece over his polo shirt and she had no doubt he had a top underneath that too. It wasn't even the middle of September yet and she was still wearing only one layer.

"I feel like you've been avoiding me," she announced as she walked into his quarters without knocking.

"I've been sat at my desk since lunch," he answered. "Not avoiding you."

"Did you have lunch or are you using the word lunch as a time reference?" she asked him incredulously.

He turned in his chair, scowling at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Look, Matt, I'm having some serious déjà vu here," she responded.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Kelly hiding his broken neck. And now I know you're hiding something," she said with utmost certainty.

"Not hiding anything," he retorted, turning back to the paperwork on his desk.

"It's been almost two weeks since I noticed how much weight you've lost recently, and it's not getting any better, Matt."

Casey remained focused on the paperwork in front of him, back straight and breathing steady.

"Matt, you're my friend and I know that things…"

"Spare me the 'go to talk to someone' speech." He sighed heavily, still not turning back to face her.

Shay wasn't at all discouraged by Casey's tone. "If you're doing this on purpose…"

"What the hell?! I'm not doing this to myself!" he spat out, looking at her this time with daggers in his eyes.

"So you admit there's something wrong," she responded, leaning back against the closed door, not phased by Casey's anger.

He sighed, head bowed for a moment before responding. "I'm just tired, and I haven't been eating as much as usual but it's not on purpose, I'm not a teenage girl…"

"Oh, well, there's a sweeping generalisation," she interrupted, rolling her eyes.

His shoulders dropped and he sighed again. "Sorry, that was… that was wrong. But I'm all right, my head's fine."

"For once it's not only your head I'm worried about."

"Look, I'm worried too, ok? I'm just… not thinking about it too much, just need to get on with everything," he told her quietly.

Shay studied his profile for a moment. "You're important."

He turned his head to look at her, frowning.

"You're important," she repeated. "People care about you. I care about you. So does everyone else here. And even if I was the only person who cared, isn't that enough? I'm telling you that you need to figure out what's going on, it could be really simple."

"I've got an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow," Casey admitted. "I'm not sick though… I can't be sick…" he added under his breath.

"Good, hopefully he'll get to the bottom of this," she responded, smiling a little.

"Yeah… 'cause I'm gonna end up risking everyone's lives like this. Not just my own." Casey turned back in his chair and felt her squeeze his shoulder, the touch was comforting and he almost leant into it.

"I'm glad you're on it, wish you were a little more open at times but, I know that won't change. You need to be 100% again, need your strength to stop Mouch from slacking."

"It'll take a lot more than me being at 100% to stop Mouch from slacking," he said, grinning at her.


When their shift was over, Casey went straight to his appointment at his doctor's office, worried he would be a danger to others whilst he was at work if he became lightheaded whilst he was on duty. He explained to him how he had felt unusually tired and fatigued for some time now and the doctor took note of what he was saying, nodding now and again and asking various questions. He gave Casey a quick physical examination and a nurse came in to take some vials of blood. It was all so quick and simple that Casey realised he should have come in within a few weeks of starting to feel so exhausted.

On the Saturday Casey worked most of the day on a construction job, then went back home to shower before he headed off to Severide's place. They had tickets for a pre-season ice hockey game between the Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals. Severide had called him yesterday so it was a last-minute decision to go. Casey figured that Severide had bought the tickets but been let down by someone so he was an afterthought.

Although the arena was busy but not quite full, there was an excited buzz in the air as the audience filtered in. Casey and Severide, hotdogs and beer in hand, found their seats which were in the centre middle so they had a great view of the match. The atmosphere at the United Centre was tense during overtime and the place erupted when the Blackhawks scored to win the game by one point.

"You know they aren't good for you, right?" Severide pointed out as Casey bent down and picked up the energy drink from the vending machine outside the stadium.

"There's a lot of things in life that aren't good for you, reckon these are on par with alcohol," Casey responded, standing up and cracking open the can.

"Beer's never made my piss a florescent colour," he retorted. "You'll never sleep now either…"

"Too immune to caffeine to let this stop me from falling asleep," Casey said as they made their way to the sidewalk.

"Wanna go to a bar?" he asked carefully. "Get a couple of drinks that aren't full of chemicals," he added teasingly.

Casey down the drink and threw it into the nearby trash can. "How about some food? Just something light, not too hungry but I'd rather do that than drink."

"Sure." Severide gave a quick nod, smiling at the suggestion.

Casey had a better time with Severide than he had honestly expected, although he couldn't work out why he'd thought he wouldn't enjoy it. Going to sports games was something they used to do all the time. It had started as a group thing but soon trickled down to just himself and Severide most of the time. After each match they use to go out for a few drinks before crashing at one of their places. Times had changed though, and Casey knew there was no point constantly looking back because it only served as a reminder that things couldn't be the way they used to be. But tonight had rekindled some of the excitement they used to have, and he fell asleep feeling happy and with a smile.


Casey didn't get a phone call about his blood test results for a couple more days, asking him to make an appointment about his results. He had been lounging on the couch after a tiring twenty-four hours at the firehouse, where Boden had pulled him into his office, questioning his health but Casey had assured him he had already seen his doctor and hadn't been told he needed time off work.

The next day Casey found himself waiting in the reception area of his doctor's office again. He was tapping his fingers nervously on his knee, not so much worried about the results but about getting to the trade centre before it closed for the day, he needed to collect the wood he had ordered for his current construction job. There had been little choice for his appointment time and the receptionist had been insistent that he came in today. On reflection, perhaps that should have rung an alarm bell in his head, but at the time it hadn't.

"Mr Casey," the receptionist finally called over to him, breaking into his thoughts. "You can go through now," she said with a smile.

Casey walked through into the office and closed the door behind himself. "Hi, Matt, thanks for coming in again so soon," his doctor greeted as they shook hands.

He sat down in front of the desk. "Something was wrong with my blood test? Or you just can't give any results over the phone?" Casey presumed, already imagining he would hear the word anaemic come out of the doctor's mouth.

"You do have a low red blood count which can explain why you've been feeling tired recently. Your white cell count was also elevated so I need to do another physical examination today. We'll go over here..." the man told him, standing up and going over to the exam bed. He rolled a hygiene sheet over it and asked Casey to take his hoody and t-shirt off and lie back. "Have you hurt yourself since I last saw you?"

Casey looked slightly puzzled but shook his head.

"How did you get that bruise?" the doctor nodded towards Casey's side where there was a dark purple, almost baseball-sized bruise over his ribs.

Casey stared at it, surprised that he hadn't noticed it before. "Don't know, must have knocked myself at work or something…"

"All right," the doctor responded with a thoughtful expression. "Do you have any joint pains, or any pain at all today?"

"No," he answered as the doctor picked up his stethoscope.

"Just going to have a listen to your heart and your lungs again, ok?" He listened to Casey's chest, and then wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm, increasing the pressure until he noted down the reading. "Ok, you can put your tops back on now."

Casey dressed, glad to be clothed in front of the doctor again. Next came the temperature check.

"Matt, you do have a slight fever which you didn't have last time. Have you felt feverish at all? Any headaches or chills? Weight loss?"

"Erm... yeah, I have lost some weight recently," Casey admitted, seeing no point in lying or just not telling the full picture now. "Like I said before, I've not really felt unwell, just tired. No amount of caffeine or sleep does anything."

"You've not tried to lose the weight for any reason?" the doctor questioned.

"No, just don't feel like eating... no appetite." Casey shrugged.

"How much weight?"

Casey shook his head. "I don't know exactly..."

"Have people noticed?" the man queried when Casey's voice trailed off.

"Yeah."

"Right, hop off the bed and get on the scales for me. I need to get your weight now so we can keep a close eye on it," the doctor told him, having not asked him to do so during their last appointment since Casey hadn't brought up the issue.

"Right now?" Casey asked, surprised at the doctor's request.

"Please..."

Casey was reluctant. He knew his weight loss could be due to some underlying problem but he just didn't want to see the numbers. He could see the evidence of it in the mirror, could see how drained he had started to look, how pale he was, how tired looking his face was. He could see how everyone at the firehouse looked at him when they thought he wouldn't notice, especially Severide, and Casey knew it wouldn't be long before he was called in to Boden's office and questioned again. He knew he should have acted and come to see his doctor long ago, but at least it was done now.

The two of them moved back over to the desk and Casey waited with silent nervousness whilst the doctor made some quick calculations. "You're borderline underweight for your height, Matt," he told him.

"Not deliberate... I don't want to look like this..." Casey chuckled self-deprecatingly.

"I know," he said, nodding. "I just need to get some more tests done, Matt. We can do them here for you. We need to be sure."

"Sure of what? I can't be sick, I'm not sick, I'm just tired," Casey said insistently. "Maybe I do need to eat more."

"We need to rule some things out…"

"What things?" Casey blurted out before the doctor could finish.

"You say this has been going on for a while...the exhaustion, the weight loss and the loss of appetite..." he paused as Casey nodded slightly. "I want to get a bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap, we need to check for cancer. The C word can sound dramatic and frightening, but I just want to cover all the bases, we can't afford to miss anything here."

"Oh, ok. So, more tests? When will they happen? I have work to consider…"

"Ideally, I'd like you to come in tomorrow, Matt," the doctor said.

Casey frowned. "That soon? I'm on shift tomorrow, twenty-four hours. Can't swap shifts this late notice..." It wasn't strictly true but he just didn't want to be doing this so quickly, he was only a little tired, it wasn't such a big deal.

"I'm sure the CFD would understand," the doctor responded.

"Sorry, no can do," Casey asserted, suddenly feeling overwhelmed, but trying to keep his face emotionless.

"What about Thursday then? I really think you should come in. Do you have someone who could come with you or at least give you a ride? You won't be able to drive after the tests have been done. We have to give you a local anaesthetic."

"I can get a cab. I have a construction job on at the moment, I'll be fine afterwards?" he asked.

"It can vary with different people but you should be fine. After the tests, you'll get a phone call, could be the same day," the doctor informed him.

"Right, ok. Thanks then…" he said, standing up.

"You need to be here for 9:30am on Thursday, Matt, all right? You'll get a text reminding you with the details the day before."

"Yeah, yeah… see you…"

Chapter Text

Casey almost didn't make it to his appointment on time, they'd been called to a motorvehicle accident at 6am. By the time he had driven home and got a cab he was already pushing it for time. He rushed into his doctor's office and went to the desk, but luckily they were already running late that morning as well, so he had to wait a while before he was taken into one of the procedure room and a patient ID band was secured to his right wrist.

Once he dressed in a hospital gown and was sitting in the procedure room he had another blood test, his arm felt like it had only recovered from the last time he'd had blood drawn but he wasn't about to complain. The bone biopsy was done first. He had to lie on his front for the local anaesthetic, which had stung and burned for a short time, but it shielded him from most of the pain as the aspiration needle went into his pelvic bone. They had warned him that he would probably be sore for a while but he would still be able to work, as long as he could avoid any very strenuous activity for the next day or so. When the large bore needle went in it had brought tears to his eyes and he had screwed his face up, raising one hand to wipe the tears away, not wanting them to see his weakness.

Having already gone through the first procedure the anticipation for the spinal tap made it worse. The lidocaine burned as it was injected into him again. He remained in the foetal position on his side, helped by the nurse, as the doctor collected three small vials of fluid. He had to lie in a recovery room for another hour before he was allowed to go home. A further appointment was made for the next afternoon to go over the results with him.

Once he had got dressed he called a cab to take him home. He wasn't going to be able to do much for the rest of the day, and he made the mistake of trying to bend down to pick up his mail from the porch. Pain shot over his back and right leg, making him straighten back up again, wincing. He ended up just kicking the mail through the door to deal with later. He shut the door behind him and sat down on his couch.


Casey had fallen asleep on the couch not long after he'd returned home. He awoke with a groan when his phone rang. He blindly grabbed it from the coffee table, knocking over an empty glass as he did. The light coming from the screen made him close his eyes, blinking them rapidly before he adjusted to the brightness. The call went to his voicemail as he stared at the screen, looking at the time and the caller ID. Why was Severide calling him at 1am?

He pushed himself up with his elbows, still half asleep, sitting for a few moments just looking out the open window. The curtains were open and he could see the moon shining brightly against the dark blue inky sky. His phone rang again, before he even had chance to think about calling Severide back.

"Hello…" he croaked into the receiver when he accepted the call.

"Hey, Matt… Matty, Matt…" Severide's voice drawled through the line.

He was most definitely drunk and Casey sighed tiredly. "Severide, it's one in the morn…"

"You know… you know I helped you out… need a favour now…"

"Maybe when you're sober," he responded.

"No, no, no… need a ride…"

"Get a cab, or get on the damn L line. You can get yourself home," he retorted.

"Oh, I… yeah, sorry, Matty… Matt, no, Case… Casey. Sorry."

"Wait," Casey stopped him from hanging up. "I'm awake now. Where are you?"


Almost forty minutes later Casey pulled up outside of O'Malley's Bar. Severide wasn't outside, he waited a moment before getting out the truck and heading into the darkened bar. He walked over to the bar stiffly, sore from the tests he'd had done, and from sleeping on the couch, he was about to speak to the barman when Severide came staggering out of the restroom.

"Your ride's here," Casey told him.

"Huh…" Severide looked at him with slightly bloodshot eyes, then a lopsided smile came to his face. "Matty… you came…"

"It's Matt," he responded firmly. "Let's get out of here."

"With you? Definitely with you…" Severide slurred.

"Why did you call me? Couldn't find anyone to go home with?" he asked as he headed back to the door, opening it for Severide who didn't seem capable right now.

"Called you because… because… forget it…"

"Get in the truck," Casey spoke. "Passenger side…" he muttered, steering Severide to the other door. He made sure he didn't hit his head as he manhandled him into the vehicle. Once Casey was sitting in his own seat he looked across at him. "If you throw up in my truck I will not be impressed," he warned before starting the ignition.

Casey pulled away from the sidewalk and began the journey to Severide's apartment. The roads were quiet. He switched the radio on and opened his window to blast cold air into his face, an attempt to keep his exhaustion at bay.

He glanced over to Severide who was silent now. "Why are you out alone anyway? Drowning your sorrows?" he questioned after a short while. "You shouldn't have called me."

"Who else would I call…" Severide responded, moving from his position slouched against the passenger side door.

"A cab," he responded starkly.

Suddenly something, no, someone walked right in front of his truck. He slammed the brakes hard, narrowly avoiding the drunken man. He never should have said yes to Severide. He was exhausted and his reaction time was delayed.

"Get the fuck off the road, you idiot!" Casey yelled through the open window, his temper frayed now.

Casey sat there seething as he waited for the man to get out of his way. "S'no big deal…" he heard Severide mutter.

"Yeah, right, no big deal that I almost killed some drunk," Casey responded shaking his head. He took a breath before laying off the brake and accelerating again.

"What's that on your wrist?" Severide questioned him.

Casey's heart almost skipped a beat as he glanced down to see the bright white patient ID band still secured around his wrist, it was partially visible, sticking out from beneath his sleeve. "Nothing," he answered simply. "Why were you out drinking? Were you alone all night?"

"Wasn't planning on being alone all night…"

"Can't pick someone up when you can barely pick yourself up from the floor," Casey said.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever…"

Casey glanced across at him again. "Is something going on with you?"

Severide just stared at Casey as he tried to concentrate on the road and the traffic, the flashes of streetlights periodically lighting up his face. Even in his intoxicated state Severide could see there was something heavily weighing on Casey's shoulders.

"Matty…"

Casey glared at him. Severide calling him that made him even more angry. "Open your window if you're gonna throw up. Vomit is one my least favourite bodily fluids."

He chuckled. "What's your favourite?"

Casey shot him another glare before focusing back on the road, almost flinching when he felt Severide's hand on his upper arm, not a firm grasp, more of a caress. "Severide!" he exclaimed, shaking the hand off his arm. He took a breath, calming himself. He was too tired for this. "We're almost at yours," he told Severide.

"Uh huh…" Severide responded, leaning his head back on the window.

When Casey pulled up outside of Severide's apartment block, he pulled out his phone, dropping Shay a quick message in case she was asleep, letting her know that Severide was about to make his way up to their place. "We're here," he announced when Severide didn't get out the car. "I'm not walking you up. You can take care of yourself… or at least Shay can if she's awake."

"Yeah, yeah…" Severide muttered as he got out of the truck and slammed the door.

Casey stared after him, almost wanting to get out and follow him, to make sure he made it home all right, but just as he was about to unbuckle his seatbelt his phone pinged with a message from Shay, saying she'd make sure Severide got back to the apartment safely and would reply when he did. She also suggested Casey come up and crash on their couch for the night but he refused, although on the drive back to his own place, part of him wished he had stayed with them, just for the company before he had to get his test results, and because he was exhausted of everything.


Casey was back with his doctor the next day for yet another appointment. His body was still sore from the tests. He was still exhausted from the interruption during the middle of the night, and on top of it all he had felt lightheaded when he had woken earlier that morning.

"Hi, Matt, how are you feeling today?" the doctor asked kindly as Casey walked into the consultation room. Casey nodded at the man and answered the question with a slight smile, sitting himself on the chair in front of the desk.

"It's cancer?" he asked the doctor, making the assumption that it was the worst-case scenario.

The man nodded. "Yes. AML; Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. It effects the blood and it explains why you've been so tired. Abnormal cells, blast cells, have taken the place of healthy cells…"

"Thought I was just anaemic," Casey said quietly, unconsciously biting his bottom lip.

"Well, you are anaemic. Refractory anaemia, your body can't make the right amount of red blood cells," the doctor responded.

"Oh, right…"

"This is a lot, Matt, but it's going to get sorted. You do have a high blast count, 72%, you'll be treated in the hospital and…"

"Yeah, chemo, right?"

"Yes," he answered. "The oncologist, Doctor Park at Gaffney, they have the best specialist haematology and cancer centre in the state, he will talk everything through with you on Monday, with a blast count this high they need to start treatment fairly swiftly, possibly even this Monday. Of course, you're welcome to get a second opinion or choose another oncologist or hospital, but he is someone I do recommend." The doctor paused for a moment, trying to take in Casey's reaction. "It is treatable, Matt, there's been so many advances with the way cancer is treated nowadays."

"Ok, sure," Casey said, nodding, his face remaining far more stoic than the thoughts rushing through his head.

"Is there anything you want to ask me, Matt? I'm sorry I had to bring you bad news but you will be in very good hands, and they will do all they can to get you clear and well again…"

"I…" he stopped and let out a breath, not looking at the man, fearing his emotions would explode and he couldn't let that happen. "I don't know," he said, deciding on honesty.

"This is a big shock, it's going to be a big change in your life for a while, but you didn't do anything to cause it, it wasn't your fault, no one knows for sure what cause's the genetic mutation, sometimes it just happens," the doctor told him, still trying to gage his thoughts, this wasn't the first time he'd had to have this discussion with a patient, and he knew it wouldn't be the last.

Casey was silent, he'd heard the man's words but he didn't acknowledge it, he couldn't think of an appropriate response so he said nothing.

"Is there anyone who can go to the appointment with you? It can be helpful to have another pair of ears, and to have a friend there for you," the doctor continued, not at all shocked by Casey's response, or lack of.

After a moment he looked at the man. "I'll be fine on my own. Is that everything?" he questioned, already standing up from the chair. He wanted to get out of the room, it suddenly felt like he was being suffocated, almost like the walls were closing in.

"For now, you'll see the oncologist Monday at 11am, you'll get a reminder like before, all right, Matt?

"Yeah, fine." Casey nodded and extended and hand to the man.

"Matt, are you sure you're going to be ok? It's a tough time right now and you don't need to rush away..."

"I'm fine, I'll be fine," he answered. "Thanks." He smiled just to be polite and turned to leave the office.

He walked the short way back to where his truck was parked and got in. He buckled up and put the key into the ignition, but he stopped short of turning on the engine, sitting still, his mind all over the place, feeling like he was trapped in some strange kind of warped reality. But he knew he wasn't. Those tests had happened. That appointment had just happened. His doctor had told him he had cancer. Told him that he was sick. Really sick. He had cancer. He knew he would have to face it on his own and deal with it but it would take time to fully sink in, for him to accept how serious his situation was. Despite what the doctor had said, that they would get it sorted and get him better, he guessed he should give some attention to making sure his will was up to date, and that his financial affairs were in order. He would be practical about it all. He sighed, shaking his head to try and rid himself of morbid thoughts, then he turned the ignition on and pulled away from the parking spot.

Chapter Text

Casey tried his utmost to immerse himself in his work the following day, eliciting grumbles and moans from his truck crew when he announced to them that they would be doing ladder drills after lunch. But it was going to serve as a useful exercise for Casey, keeping his mind off everything that he knew was coming. He knew and accepted that he would be forced into taking some time off work, but he also knew that he'd be back the moment he was cleared for duty, and he hoped that wouldn't take too long. For now he was thankful he was still able to be at the firehouse.

"Lieutenant," Boden caught Casey at the end of his shift. "You see the doctor?"

"I have a follow up appointment on Monday," he replied honestly.

"Good, I'm glad you're getting… whatever this is, sorted," Boden said with a nod.

"Yeah, me too," he responded, forcing a smile.

"You'll let me know if you need any time off or anything, won't you?"

"Course, Chief, will let you know when I know," he answered.

"All right, besides from the appointment any plans for your downtime?"

"If you're asking if I wanna join you and the big wigs tomorrow I'm gonna have to decline," he replied. "Severide warned me you've been after another player," he added at the look on Boden's face.

"Maybe I should have bribed someone," Boden joked.

"Have you asked Herrmann?"

"It's Sunday so…"

"So he's ferrying the kids around," Casey finished. "Well, see you next shift."

"Yeah, see you, Casey."

Casey spent the Sunday doing some work on his own house. He'd had the place for more than a year now but there was still a lot to sort before it would be done just how he wanted it all. He was a perfectionist and never cut any corners with anything, not in his personal life, nor his working life. When he had bought the place, it had been in a poor state but it was something he could afford, and he wanted to be able to refurbish something, starting from scratch and getting each room just right. It had been a good distraction for him after Andy had died, especially with all the problems he'd had with Severide blaming him for Andy's death. And today he was using it as a distraction to fend of his fear and the thoughts of the cancer that plagued him. He wanted to keep it all pushed to the back of his mind. He knew he was sick but also knew he was going to get better, he had no other choice, so he would go along to Gaffney the next day to find out just exactly how that was all going to happen.


The clouds were dark and grey, it suited how Casey felt that morning as he drove to Gaffney Medical Centre. Once he was there he was taken to the oncologist's office, where he shook hands with the white coated physician behind a desk. "Morning, I'm Doctor Park, do you prefer Matthew or…" he began, indicating for Casey to sit down.

"Matt's just fine," Casey responded. He sank into the comfortable leather chair, thinking how non-clinical the room seemed. It looked more like the psychologist's office he'd been in that one time that Chief Boden had ordered him to see someone, or he'd be taken off duty. But that was a whole other story. And one Casey would prefer to forget about.

"Ok, well, I've gone over all your results and I've spoken to your primary physician. Today I just want to go through everything with you, if you have any questions just ask me, anything at all, no such thing as a stupid question here, all right?" Doctor Park spoke kindly, warmly, putting Casey as much at ease as he could be in the circumstances. "How are you feeling today? Honesty is always best, I know what some you firefighters can be like. My wife's brother is with the FDNY."

"Oh, really? What…" Casey started to ask, deflecting the real issue.

The man smiled. "But we're here to talk about you, Matt. Not the fire department. Tell me exactly how you feel right now."

Casey was silent for a few moments. "Not too bad, I suppose. Still a little sore from the biopsy, dizzy when I woke up this morning, and still tired... but I've been tired for weeks..."

The doctor nodded sympathetically. "That's because you have a low red blood count. And your white blood cell count is high, but they're not working properly because they're abnormal cells; leukaemia cells. Blast cells."

"72%? That's what he said the other day," Casey responded, recalling his last appointment with his doctor.

"Yeah, 72% blasts, so my recommendation is intensive chemotherapy. There are various stages involved in treating AML, and the schedule can be very rough with a lot of side effects from the drugs," the doctor began to elaborate a little.

"When does this all have to start?" Casey asked. He was listening and understanding but it all still felt like some sort of strange reality. He was listening but the gravity of the situation wasn't hitting him yet. He had never expected this, never planned for this, but no one ever did. He thought now that two days had passed the idea should have sunk in, but it wasn't close to sinking in. He had been shutting off from it since the word cancer had first been mentioned six days ago.

"It doesn't start until you want it to, but, Matt, you really need to start as soon as possible to get the best results, we can start treatment tomorrow and…"

"No," Casey suddenly said firmly. "Sorry, I just… I need to think about all of this, I need to think it through and I have work tomorrow, I need to go to work and I have my own business…"

"This is all a lot to take in, you're gonna go through stages of denial, grief… you have to think about it all, but you don't have the luxury of time here."

"Time…" Casey repeated quietly. "What are the odds? If I go through chemo, that will get rid of it for good? And if I don't get treatment, what happens then?"

"Matt, AML progresses very quickly which is why the treatment schedule is intensive. If you decide not to go through with treatment you'll most likely get an infection and be unable to fight it off…"

"Chemo will do that too though?" he questioned.

"To a degree. The drugs will kill the bad cells but they also destroy some of the healthy ones," he answered. "You have a good chance of remission though, around 75% of people in a similar situation go into remission after induction chemotherapy, after that you'll have consolidation therapy, or depending where we are at that stage, possibly a stem cell transplant…"

Casey swallowed, unable to stop himself blanching, he'd wanted to remained emotionless but cracks were appearing. "Could I… could this all be written down for me? Is that possible? I need to know how much it's all going to be, I don't know what my insurance will cover." His worry was clear from his expression.

The doctor nodded. "Of course, and I can get someone rom finance to check for you so you don't need to be making all the phone calls, unless you want to."

"I'm sorry, I just need to get my head around it all," he said, sitting back in the chair. "Tell me the bottom line, if I'm going to do this; what happens and when?"

"If you decide to go ahead you'll be admitted to the hospital to start chemotherapy, my recommendation is this happens ASAP," Doctor park answered.

Casey frowned at that. It wasn't what he had expected would happen, not what he thought it would be. "I have to be admitted? Could it be done as an outpatient?"

"Yes, you have to be admitted. It would be seven days of continuous IV cytarabine infusions, and for the first three days you'd received another chemo drug as well, daunorubicin. I'll note all this down for you. Your stay could end up being quite long though, you might not be able to leave once the treatment's over because of your blood and platelet levels. It can take three to five weeks for your blood count to return to an acceptable level, there are some medications that can help with that though, as well as transfusions," the doctor said, clearly and concisely. "That's the induction phase, the hope is to bring about remission and once you are in remission… which means there aren't any cells or very little cells, less than 5%, detected in another biopsy. Then you'll do the consolidation phase, if you don't do that then the cancer is extremely likely to come back. This will probably involve more intensive chemo cycles."

"Probably?" Casey questioned.

"Really, we make the decision for definite at a later stage, it depends how you're coping with the chemo, and whether or not there's a bone marrow match. Even if there is, I like to hold off on a transplant just in case the cancer reoccurs in the future."

"Is that something that needs to be looked into now?"

"It can be looked at on a later date but there's no harm in asking family and friends to come in for some tests, it's better to know as early as possible if there's a match. Siblings are usually the best match," the doctor told him.

"I can't ask her…" Casey said quietly, more to himself than the doctor.

"I don't want you to worry about that yet," the doctor replied.

"After all this, the consolidation chemo… how likely will it come back?" he asked.

"It's always a possibility, you'll be tested very regularly afterwards. You do stand a good chance of going into remission now though, Matt. But there is a chance you won't get better despite treatment. If it does come to that supportive care will be in place to make sure you have the best quality of life, that will also be in place during your entire treatment, we'll manage the side effects with other drugs and systems in place," the doctor told him honestly.

Casey looked thoughtful for some seconds before he spoke. "Suppose I don't have any other option but to go ahead then. If I don't do it I'll die, if I do… I might not die…" he said almost sardonically, sighing heavily.

"I don't want to rush you into anything but it is an aggressive form of cancer, the quicker we act, the better the outcome should be," Doctor Park replied.

Casey's heart sank. He'd felt terrible for weeks and he'd just ignored it, he'd ignored all the signs his body had given him, warning him that something was wrong. His life had become all about sleep and making it through his shifts, he knew something had been wrong, yet he'd done nothing about it. "I want to work. Can I work during the treatment? Well, in between hospital admissions? How far apart are the chemo… cycles?"

"Cycles," the doctor confirmed. "We have to wait for your blood counts to return to an acceptable level before doing another cycle of chemo, so anything from three weeks apart. And you won't be able to work, not active duty, Matt, I'm sorry. The very nature of this cancer and the chemo, will mean you are at very high risk of infection and bleeding, you can't take any chances at all. If you hit your head when your platelets are low you could haemorrhage and die before you got to the ER."

"Right, ok," Casey said, nodding his understanding and acceptance, but still not looking right at the doctor.

"I'd recommend that we start on Wednesday if you want to work tomorrow, I'd advise against it but, medically, I can't stop you. Something else you have the option of doing is to preserve some sperm in the morning if that's something you want to do. I do recommend it to all my patients even if children aren't something they've considered. The cytarabine, does supress sperm production and can cause infertility. Most of the time it is temporary, during and after treatment for a short while, but it can be permanent in some cases."

"Do I need to decide all this right now?" he asked, still questioning everything in his own mind. He knew he needed to do this though.

"No, no one's forcing any decisions, and you are welcome to get another opinion or go to another doctor but like I said, it's an aggressive cancer, and your blast rate is high, it's best you start treatment very soon," the doctor responded.

"I just think I need to think it through." He remained silent for a few moments before finally looking at the doctor in the eyes for the first time since he'd entered the room. "It needs doing so, yeah, let's just get it over with," he said with conviction.

"All right, it's the best decision," the doctor responded.

"Just tell me one thing; am I gonna feel worse than I have in the last few weeks? Don't sugar coat it. I nearly went home from shift more than once, and I never…"

"You're probably going to feel worse before you feel better. You're also still going to have good and bad days," he told Casey honestly. After speaking to him the man understood what Casey needed to know, he needed brutal honesty right now. "You're gonna get some of the side effects from the treatment; you're gonna lose your hair, you're gonna throw up, you might even have bone pain, in your arms and legs, you could get mouth sores. Matt, there will be days where you think you can't do it, where even the strongest people just want to give up, but, the team and I here, we will be here every step of the way."

"Thank you," Casey said, nodding. "And you're not gonna sugar coat any of it, are you?"

"I'm not allowed to lie to you, Matt," he responded.

"Yeah, right." Casey nodded again, taking a breath, trying to get his head around it all. It was just going to be a blip in time, he'd get through it, it would all be over and he'd get back to his life again. "Is that all? Can I go?" he asked, standing up.

"If you have any more questions, you can speak to me or the team before Wednesday," Doctor Park told him.

"Yeah, thanks…" Casey muttered, just wanting to leave, he wanted to be on his own right now.

"I mean it, Matt, anything, all right?"

Casey nodded again.

"You should also really consider telling someone about this, it would be good to have someone you can talk it through with, do you have anyone?"

"Yeah, of course," Casey said, but the doctor didn't seem convinced with his response.

"As part of the supportive care there's a lot of people who will be part of your medical team. If you do want someone to talk to about…"

"I don't need a shrink," Casey retorted quickly.

"All right, well, the offer will stand if you change your mind," the doctor told him. "Now, you're welcome to wear your own clothes during your admission, and bring entertainment, books and so on. Food wise, you'll have to be on a neutropenic diet because of the risk of infection, no fresh fruit or unpasteurised dairy products. You can have visitors but they'll be screened for signs of infection before they can see you. How does all that sound?"

"Yeah, that sounds fine. Thanks for all the information," he said, putting out a hand, his face becoming a mask once again.

"Take this," the doctor gave him a leaflet and a piece of paper where he'd written down some notes for him. "I'll see you on Wednesday." He shook Casey's hand and watched as he left the room.

Chapter Text

Casey was on shift the next day. He kept himself away from the others, it wasn't entirely intentional. He had been looking at his health insurance, and he'd been looking at the side effects of the list of drugs the oncologist had given him. He actually wanted the alarms to go off, but as soon as he thought that he hated himself, he didn't want that at all, he didn't want someone else to be suffering just so be could be distracted from his own thoughts. His mind was still reeling with everything, he was trying to compartmentalise. He wanted to put everything to the side so he could think straight again. He didn't even hear Herrmann knock at the door.

"Lieutenant…" Herrmann edged in. "Lunch's up."

"Huh?" Casey looked at him questioningly, having only just become aware that he was standing by his open door.

"Lunch," he repeated. "You all right, Lieutenant?"

"Yeah, just paperwork," Casey responded, shuffling the sheets together into one pile.

Herrmann looked as if he was going to say something more but he turned away. Casey didn't follow him to the common room, he remained in his office, resting his head in his hand as he went through all the information, trying to process it all. This was all going to happen whether he liked it or not. He sighed audibly and as he looked up he saw Severide walking past his door, he followed him with his eyes before suddenly finding himself standing up and leaving his quarters.

He could see Severide sitting at his own desk, opening up a brown folder. He stood there unnoticed for a moment, trying to stop himself from entering because surely he would regret this. Severide was not the best person to talk to, but here Casey was with his hand on the door about to open it, his heart overriding his brain.

"Hey…" Casey said as he strode into the room. "Have a moment?"

"For you? Always," Severide smiled as he turned around in his chair. "What's up?" he asked when he saw Casey's face, and the torment in his eyes.

"I really don't want you to make a big deal out of this but…"

"Matt, what's wrong?" Severide questioned immediately. He'd known for weeks that something was wrong and his heart skipped a beat in anticipation of Casey finally opening up to him.

"I have cancer… there, I said it… I told you, and I think I'm going to regret this…"

"What?" Severide frowned, standing up now.

"Don't make me say it again," he said, chuckling a little and swallowing hard. Already regretting his admission because of the worried expression on Severide's face. He shouldn't have burdened him with it, and he knew Severide wouldn't see him the same way again. He was now the sick person. The guy with cancer.

Severide took a breath, trying to hold back the overwhelming urge to grab hold of Casey and hug him.

"Yeah, so turns out it wasn't just anaemia… it was caused by leukaemia, not my eating habits, so yeah…" Casey explained with a slight shrug, trying to downplay everything. "I just, well, the doctor was really insistent that I tell someone…"

"You're gonna need to tell Boden," Severide told him.

"Yeah... I'm hoping I don't have to take too much time off," he responded.

"Ok…" Severide said cautiously, concerned about how lightly Casey seemed to be taking all of this.

"I might need a few rides, I don't exactly know how it's all gonna play out but…"

"Matt, sit down," Severide urged, nodding.

"What? No, I need to get back to…"

"Just sit down and take a breath. And then I want you to explain everything to me, all right?" Severide spoke, stopping himself from manhandling him over to the bed just so he would sit down.

"Oh, I'm gonna be fine, like I said, hopefully I won't have to take too many shifts off, I'm probably just gonna need a ride or two 'cause the treatment could knock it out of me for a bit, but I'll be all right, it's just…"

"It's cancer, leukaemia?"

"Yeah, AML, most common type apparently, so they must know what they're doing with it," he responded, forcing a smile, wishing he'd not entered Severide's office at all now, this was a bad decision.

"I'm sorry, Matt," Severide told him.

"It's not your fault I'm sick," he said simply.

"No, I'm sorry that you've got to go through all of this, but I'm here for you…"

Casey shook his head. "You don't need to be."

"I know," he replied softly. "You'll keep me up to date? I can keep you company when you get your treatment?"

"I've got work to do…" Casey said, turning.

"Matt, wait…"

"Yeah, don't tell anyone, by the way," Casey added.

"You need to tell Boden," he told him firmly.

"I will… I wasn't gonna tell anyone but him… well, I have to, start chemo tomorrow so…"

"Well, I'm glad you told me, you don't have to go through this on your own," Severide responded.

"Don't need anyone by my side whilst I'm puking my guts up and losing my hair," he retorted as he left the room.

Severide stared after him, wanting to follow but he knew it would do no good. He sat down heavily in the chair, cursing. He didn't know what he was dealing with here, it was like going into the unknown, out of control and lost. And he knew for certain that Casey would make getting involved and helping him far more difficult than it needed to be. Casey was a lone wolf. He was too damn private and independent for his own good, it was both a good and bad quality. Casey had many qualities that Severide thought about, probably too often for friends, but they were more than that, Casey was more than that to him. Or that's what Severide kept telling himself whenever he felt conflicted.


Later on, Severide watched Casey carefully as he was sitting in the common room. Casey was sitting at the head of the long table, spinning the spaghetti around on his fork, glancing up at his men every so often, smiling, laughing, and joining in with their conversations.

Casey could feel Severide's eyes on him, he wasn't surprised, he just tried to ignore it the best he could. He focused on the plate of food in front of him, the hum of conversation around him was almost soothing, it was drowning out his own thoughts.

"You up for it, Lieutenant?" Herrmann was asking him suddenly, waving a fork of spaghetti about.

He'd not been concentrating on the current conversation. "Up for it?" he questioned.

"Little friendly competition at Molly's tomorrow night, be a laugh," Herrmann responded, grinning.

"Can't. Got a previous engagement," he replied.

"Ooo…" Cruz began. "Got a date, Lieutenant?"

"Something like that," he answered. He felt a pang of guilt as he spoke the words. Part of him wanted to tell them all, a very small part of him, but he'd learnt long ago to keep things private, to deal with everything on his own, the less people who were involved the better, he couldn't hurt them, and he had less chance of being hurt.

All Casey wanted to do after he'd excused himself from the table, giving more than half of his plate of spaghetti to Pouch, was to go and lie down but he knew he really had to talk to Boden now, since he would have to miss the few couple of shifts at least.

He was hovering outside of Boden's office for a few minutes, Boden knew he was there, he could see him through the glass. "Casey, what do you want?" he called through the open door to him.

"Sorry, Chief, was just thinking," Casey responded as he walked in, closing the door behind him.

"Take a seat," Boden told him.

"Oh, I…"

"Take a seat," Boden repeated, indicating to the couch this time.

Casey sat down on the couch, the cushion sank down with him and he leaned back for a moment, forgetting his reason for entering the office, just for a moment thinking it was going to be one of their usual chats. But it wasn't going to be usual at all, he straightened up again, leaning forwards a little, elbows on his knees, shoulders tense because reality was sinking in.

"Do you need some time off?" Boden asked, quick and to the point.

He remained silent, just looking at his chief.

"You're sick?" Boden continued.

"Yeah, I'm sick," he responded, but he felt as though it needed more of an explanation and Boden's eyes were looking at him kindly. "And yeah, I'm gonna need a little time off, maybe a lot…"

It was Boden's turn to remain silent as Casey trailed off. He was looking at the floor now, his blond hair had fallen in front of his face, he pushed it back behind his ear, it was long overdue a cut and now he saw no point.

After a while Casey looked up and back towards Boden. "I thought it would be easier to tell you, it was easy to tell Kelly… I have cancer, leukaemia, it's not work related." He swallowed. "That's the second time I've said that today. It doesn't feel great."

"How long have you known?"

"Few days, maybe more." He shrugged.

Boden gave a small smile, although it didn't travel to his eyes.

"I'm gonna be out for at least a week," Casey told him. "I start chemo tomorrow."

"I think you'll need more than a week, Matt," he responded.

"There's breaks in the treatment schedule, I thought I could maybe work, it depends, the doctor said I'll be at risk for getting infections, but I might be able to work, I want to work… but…"

"I think we'd have a hard time selling that to HQ," Boden told him. "And I think this is going to be tough for you and I'm no expert, but I reckon the breaks are in the treatment schedule for a reason. You don't have to tell me, but what's the doctor actually told you? What are the odds?"

"The odds? I'm not gonna die, I'll be just fine," he answered, smiling as he let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. The anxiousness he'd felt before he'd entered the office had gone.

"Matt…"

"Honestly, Chief, it's all gonna be fine, they know what they're doing… some of the chemo's gonna be really intensive apparently but I'm sure I'll be fine…" he said, nodding, "Just got to get through that and… yeah, it'll be fine."

"I'll put you on indefinite sick leave…" Boden began.

"I'm going to be fine."

Boden had opened his mouth to respond but had second thoughts. "I'm sure you will be, and your spot here will be waiting for you when you're better," he replied in the end. "You've told Severide…"

Knowing where Boden was leading Casey shook his head. "No special treatment. This is on a need to know basis."

"Ok." Boden stood up with an outstretched hand, shaking Casey's firmly. "You need anything…"

"I know, and thank you."


Severide caught Casey in the locker room later on during their shift. He was putting his toiletry bag back in his locker, he saw Severide but shut the locker and made to leave. "Can I have a word?" Severide called after him. Casey had seemed intent on walking right by him, without stopping for another conversation.

Casey just shook his head a little, still trying to walk off into the darkened bunk room. "I'm off to bed…"

"I know, but I'm… I'm worried about all this, I don't know what's happening," Severide said. He'd not wanted to let on how concerned he was but he couldn't help it, and he needed to know how everything was going to play out and Casey was being less than forthcoming.

"I'm not worried," he replied quickly, moving to leave.

"Matt…"

He stopped and turned to Severide. "I'm gonna be admitted to the hospital for the next seven days and then I'll be back at home sometime after that. It's simple."

"Seven days?" he questioned.

"Yeah, two different lots of chemo, one for three days, the other for seven. It'll be fine, you really don't need to be worried," Casey told him.

"Please don't pretend like this isn't…"

"Like it isn't what?" he questioned. "I shouldn't have told you. I shouldn't have done it."

"Matt, you have cancer," Severide said, speaking each word clearly and slowly because Casey seemed to be brushing over the topic.

"And soon I won't have it… look, I really just want to get to bed, let things stay normal until tomorrow…"

"Maybe you should go home," Severide suggested cautiously.

"I want to be here." He turned and left the locker room, now fully regretting his heart winning over because telling Severide had been a bad idea. He wished he didn't know. He should have just told Boden, no one else was necessary. He'd contemplated talking to Shay this evening but he didn't want to talk to another soul right now.


At 3am the alarms rang out, a single dwelling fire. Casey was up and out of bed in no time, still wiping the sleep from his eyes as he made his way to the apparatus floor, soon pulling on his turnout trousers along with the rest of his crew. There was a hand on his shoulder that almost made him startle. He turned to see Boden standing by him.

"Casey, you're staying put; I've got this," Boden told him firmly.

"Chief?!" he protested immediately, anger and annoyance quickly rising inside of him.

"It's not negotiable," Boden said before telling Cruz to get going without their lieutenant. He then turned to his Battalion car and got inside.

Casey watched as his truck left without him. He sighed heavily and walked back to the bunk room. Severide's light was on as he went past, the alarm would have woken him up, he almost stepped inside without even knocking, something he would have done before Andy had died, and although things were better now, nothing was the same, they weren't close like before, there was always a lingering tension in the air around them that they both chose to ignore, but it was still there.

In the immediate aftermath of Andy's death, when Casey had eventually made his way down from the ladder he had been frozen to, he'd moved away from Herrmann and went to Severide because Severide was the one person in the world that he trusted, over the years Severide had showed Casey that he didn't need to deal with everything on his own. He went to Severide and he was pushed away, literally. He was pushed to the ground and he didn't get back up until Boden put out an outstretched arm.

Casey didn't fall back to sleep. He couldn't. He lay awake until the sun rose, until his crew returned safely back from the dwelling fire. Turned out there was no one home, the family were on holiday and Boden suspected an electrical fault. Casey couldn't help but think that wasn't a nice piece of news to return home to after a family holiday.


Severide caught Casey as he was walking out of the firehouse in the morning. "Hey, Casey!" he called, catching up to him. "Do you need a ride to the hospital?" he asked when he reached his side.

Casey hadn't stopped walking. "Was gonna get a cab there," he told Severide.

"Let me at least drive you there?" Severide watched Casey's face as he considered what looked like a very difficult decision. "Please, Matt." He put a hand out grabbing Casey's shoulder, stopping him from walking to his truck.

He shrugged off Severide's hand. "You hardly ever call me Matt anymore…" he responded, looking at Severide. He coughed to clear his throat, to distract Severide from what he'd just said. "I was just gonna have a shower, grab my stuff and go."

"All right, I'll come over to yours in an hour? Or I could just follow you back now, raid your fridge whilst you get ready? What time do you need to be there?"

"10am," he answered. "Kelly… I don't want you to stay."

"I figured," Severide responded softly.

"Thanks."

Chapter Text

Casey walked up to the front desk in the oncology department carrying two bags and his laptop. Having been up since the early hours of the morning he was tired and ready to sit down and drink some black coffee, but he knew that wasn't what was about to happen. He was about to be admitted to the hospital for at least seven days, and he'd been told it could even be up to thirty days. He wasn't going to let that happen though, he needed to get back to normal as soon as possible. The idea of being sick, and needing help, was the least appealing idea to him in him the world.

All the staff were very welcoming and friendly but by the time he'd been taken up to a different department to preserve some of his sperm, he'd already had enough of everyone, and the reality that his treatment could affect the chances of him having a child wasn't something he wanted to be thinking about. In fact, despite looking at a couple of videos online after scornfully ignoring the selection of magazines on offer, it had made the act of banking his sperm a longer process than usual, something he wasn't going to admit to anyone. There was nothing certain and Casey hated that. It wasn't certain that the treatment would stop him from being able to have a child, and because there had been no time to get more than the one specimen it wasn't certain that's all that would be needed in the future, but he'd still been encouraged to do it, they would divide it into different vials so it could still be used for multiple fertility procedures. The thought of it all made him feel sick to the stomach. He didn't even know if there had been any point in preserving his sperm. He didn't even know if there was any point in going through any of this. He was completely out of control. He'd lost control as soon as the doctor had given him his diagnosis.

He was soon back in the oncology department where he was taken to the haematology ward he would be staying on. His oncologist, Doctor Park, greeted him and he met his main nurse; Catalina. They went over all the necessary paperwork before admitting him. There were a few things to get through before he would start his treatment.

In one of the procedure rooms he changed into the hospital gown. He was given a short physical exam to check his blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature. He had his height and weight measured, his weight would then be checked every day, so they could give him the right doses of chemotherapy.

They'd opted to place a triple lumen central line in his chest. The radiologist talked him through the procedure and Casey soon found himself lying flat on the bed, his gown open and chest draped with a sterile cloth. He seemed to be surrounded by machines and already attached to all sorts of equipment, his blood pressure was being continually monitored along with his heart rate. A small area on his chest was shaved, he wasn't happy about that. He'd been given a light sedative so that he would be relaxed through the process but he didn't feel very relaxed at all, they'd said he could ask for more but he didn't, he didn't want to lose control of himself with more sedation. He soon felt the coldness of the iodine as they cleansed the skin where the catheter would be inserted. His eyes remained focused on the ceiling as he felt the needle burn from the lidocaine to numb the area so he would feel very little. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe deeply to relax and soon heard a voice telling him that it was all over.

An x-ray was taken of his chest to make sure the central line had been placed correctly before they could use it. The radiologist left after a few words whilst the nurse secured the catheter with sterile dressing. She then adjusted the bed so Casey was sitting up a little, then she re-fastened his hospital gown as she spoke to him. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

"That's it?" he questioned, not answering her, he felt tired that was nothing new.

"Yeah, nice and easy," she responded. "The placement is good so I'm going to draw some blood and get it sent to the lab to make sure you can start the chemo today. Then we'll get you to your room. But for now, you'll be heading to the recovery room. You'll see a lot of different rooms today," she added, smiling.

Casey offered a polite smile back before letting his head fall back onto the small pillow. He already wanted all of this over and done with. He was too exposed and too out of control already. In the recovery room he closed his eyes and let out a long breath, trying to remain composed when all he wanted to do was get up and leave. Only once he started the treatment he wouldn't be able to leave. He'd be stuck here, and worst of all he would start to look sick, he wouldn't be able to hide it. The numbing agent had started to wear off and he could feel the central line now, he couldn't ignore the pain, couldn't hide the fact that he had a serious illness that wasn't just a cold or stomach bug. He had cancer. He opened his eyes again and decided to focus on counting the intricate pattern of dark blue squares on the privacy curtains that surrounded him.

The nurse took him to his room after she was satisfied he'd recovered from the procedure. He'd been offered a wheelchair but he looked at the offending object and declined, insisting that he was perfectly able to walk. She had walked alongside him as they made their way to his room. He wanted to get to his things, and at the very least put a hoody on over the hospital gown, the item was too flimsy and he felt uncomfortable walking along in it with just some hospital issue slippers, he was glad no one he knew was there to see him like this. The nurse was friendly, professional and not overly chatty though, and Casey was grateful for that. He saw his bags were already there as he glanced around the place. It was much more like a bedroom than any hospital room he'd been in before.

"Your bags are here, there's spare sockets for when you need to charge your phone. And feel free to stick photos or posters, or anything, up on the walls," the nurse told him.

He looked at her. "I didn't really bring anything like that."

"It's not a requirement," she responded, smiling. "If you want to shower once you're connected to the infusion pump then you need to let me or someone else on duty know. So, you can use the communal area, there's a large TV and Xbox and some couches in a nice room at the end of the corridor, but you're not going to be able to leave the ward whilst the chemo's running, and possibly not afterwards for some time either. If you have questions about anything, there's nothing too embarrassing or weird, trust me I've seen it all, so just ask. It's a lot to take in still and it might take you a while to get settled but we're here to help, all right?"

"Yeah, all right…" Casey responded a little despondently.

"I'll leave you for now. Won't be long until we get you started."

He remained standing in the room when the nurse left, heading over to the window as the door closed behind her. There wasn't much of a view but at least he'd be able to see the sky even if he wouldn't be allowed to open the window and get some air. Conscious he was still only wearing the flimsy hospital gown and slippers he lifted one of his bags up onto the bed and pulled out a hoody and some sweatpants, and dug around for some thick socks. He dressed then decided whilst he waited he may as well unpack. Refolding his clothes and placing them in the small wardrobe by the bathroom helped keep his mind off things for a time. He'd also brought a pillow from home, and an old Blackhawks throw, a present given to him a few years ago. He took it from the bottom of the bag and placed it at the end of the hospital bed, hating that he didn't know exactly how long he would be here for.

Casey emptied the bag entirely, pulling out the tangle of charging cords, even the pair of reading glasses Shay had forced on him years ago, saying that he would strain his eyes if he kept on reading all those technical manuals with the small print. He'd always used hers, preferring them to his own, even though she had gone and got them for him. He smiled at the thought of Shay. He hadn't told her what was wrong with him, Casey had no doubt that Severide would have at least told her that he'd be off sick for some time, and he'd had no phone calls or messages from her so for now Severide was keeping his word and wasn't even telling Shay. He felt bad about it all, he really did, but he didn't want to be the guy with cancer, he didn't want the people around him to treat him differently, he liked the way things were. He'd told Severide and he was already treating him like he was sick, he didn't want others to do that.

Next, he pulled out the books and laptop from his backpack, placing most the books on the windowsill and the laptop by his bed. He placed a notebook and some pens on the side too, planning on taking any notes down about his treatment if he needed to, the notes given to him from the oncologist were folded and slipped inside for reference as well. He took his toiletry bag into the bathroom, it was a wet room and there was even a shower seat. He dumped the bag down and left, shutting the door, disliking the thought of being so weak he would need to sit down to do something so basic like showering. But perhaps every bathroom looked like that on this ward, he'd never have to use it, he was determined of that.

The nurse had been right and it wasn't long until they started his treatment. His blood tests had been rushed through and he was quickly cleared to start his first cycle of chemotherapy. As everything was set up the nurse talked him through it all once again. The nurse first gave him some antiemetics, he'd started to protest but she made it clear it would be better to have them before he even started to feel sick. He'd be given seven lots of cytarabine through twenty-four infusions, because of that he'd be attached to the infusion pump for the next week. She also gave him a shot of daunorubicin, he'd have two more over the next couple of days.

"All done. I'll be just outside, if you need anything or start experiencing any side effects, anything at all, hit the call button."

"Thanks…" he muttered. He rested his head on the back of chair as he watched her leave the room. He glanced at the stand beside him, he didn't feel any different yet, he let out a steadying breath and tried to relax, hoping he wouldn't have to get used to all of this. He already wanted to be at home away from all of it. Seven days. He just had to get through the next seven days, and that was really no time at all.


Casey was lying on his right side with his eyes closed, the bed covers and his Blackhawks throw were pulled right up to his ears. He was nauseous but he wasn't throwing up, and he didn't think he would, he'd coped well with the treatment so far. An hour before he'd felt just fine, just as fine as he'd felt the previous day. It had been a short while since his first infusion had finished, he was on the second now. The nurse had given him his second shot of daunorubicin too, and some more antiemetics to help him cope with the treatment.

He'd spent most his time sleeping, similar to how he'd started spending his time at home. Over the last few weeks he'd reduced the amount of contracting work he'd taken on, and now if anyone made an enquiry he would refer them to someone else. He'd set an auto-response on his business e-mail account, and on his voicemail, to refer new inquiries to a few other firefighters he'd done some construction work with before. He'd even covered up the decals on his truck, but he would get his business back up and running in no time, he was sure of that.

A voice brought Casey from his thoughts. "Matt?"

He opened his eyes and saw his day nurse. "Hmm?"

Catalina was level with him, smiling. "There's someone here to see you," she told him.

"Tell Severide he can go…" he almost groaned into his pillow at the thought.

"It's a Chaplain Orlovsky," she responded.

"Oh… ok, sure." He felt that he should let the Chaplain come to see him since he had made the effort to visit the hospital, even though he didn't want any company right now.

He heard her footsteps walk away and then another pair of footsteps approached. Part of him wanted to sit up and at least make an effort for the Chaplain, but it had taken him so long to get into a comfortable position on the bed that he didn't want to move. His determination not to look sick won out though, he began to push back the bed covers and tried to turn over.

"Don't sit up on my account," the Chaplain said by way of greeting. He took note of the room, glancing at the large whiteboard long enough to see that Boden was listed as his emergency contact. The board also noted Casey's daily weight and goals for the day, as well as information about his care team. There were notations with his blood count and seven boxes with medications listed, only the first box had been ticked off.

"Boden told you?" Casey questioned, still lying on his side, his weary eyes following the Chaplain as he walked over, bringing a stool to the bed.

"He called me yesterday, spoke of his concerns, explained that you were in the hospital and would be for some time," the man explained.

He scoffed, smiling. "Made it sound like I'm dying apparently. I'm gonna be fine. Don't even feel too bad right now…"

"No?"

"Well… I don't feel like I could run a marathon but I've felt worse," Casey responded.

"You've decided not to tell everyone." It was more of a statement than anything else.

"I'm not an idiot, know I'll have to eventually," Casey said, rolling his eyes.

"How are you doing?"

"I already said, I'm fine," he insisted, annoyed at all the fuss that was being made.

"This is a big change," the Chaplain said.

"Won't last forever," Casey countered.

"No," he agreed.

"Why are you here?" Casey asked suddenly. "I know Boden spoke to you but why are you here? Am I supposed to talk to you? I've not been to church since Andy died. I wasn't exactly a regular before…" Casey fell silent.

"Matt?" the Chaplain asked after a moment of seeing Casey deep in thought.

Casey remained silent and focused.

"I know what you're thinking. You didn't cause this, you didn't make yourself sick," he spoke softly.

"I think I…" Casey said nothing more, managing to stop himself from speaking his conflicting thoughts out loud. He had killed Andy. He'd had sex out of wedlock. He'd slept with men. He had sinned according to everything that had been instilled into him as a child. Logically he knew that wasn't why he was sick. He was a logical person and none of those acts created the cancer that raged through his blood. It was a genetic mutation. But what if that mutation happened because of his sins. He had sinned. There was no denying it. He had done this to himself.

"Matthew?" the Chaplain said eventually, his voice barely penetrating the thoughts that still whirled around in Casey's head.

"Sorry… I'm tired," Casey responded to the man eventually.

"You know this isn't your fault, right?"

"Maybe." He frowned in thought. "If it wasn't my fault, and it's genetics, are my parents to blame?" he questioned. He almost rolled his eyes at that idea, of course they would still be hurting him now, and he'd still love them even when logically he knew he shouldn't.

"It's natural to look for someone or something to hold responsible for things that happen to us, and those we love, but I don't think anyone is to blame. It's easier to understand why things happen if we think someone is at fault."

"Yeah…" Casey nodded, sitting up in the bed now. Thinking of Andy and Severide. It didn't make him feel any better though, it didn't make him see Severide in a different light. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to forgive Severide for the way he'd treated him, especially knowing more than anyone else in the world about his past. Severide must have known that Casey would never have done anything to endanger the life of their best friend and yet he had treated him terribly over it. He'd treated Casey liked he'd killed Andy, like he'd shot him and watched him bleed out without doing a single thing to stem the flow.

"You're not sick because you did anything wrong. People just get sick sometimes," the Chaplain reinforced.

"Is that meant to comfort me or something? It just happens? Like all the other crap. Andy just died. It just happened. But stuff doesn't just happen does it? There's always a reason, crap is always someone's fault… things don't just happen."

"I know Andy's death is still weighing heavily on you, Matt."

Casey sighed, closing his eyes for a few moments. "Look, I'm sorry, I'm not great company at the moment, maybe you should…" he began, but stopped when Orlovsky shook his head.

"Not here for great company."

"Are you worried about me? Or is that a selfish thought? That you or Boden are worried about me… probably. I hate it when people worry about me though," he admitted. Orlovsky had this way about him, a way that made Casey admit more to him than he usually would to anyone. He respected Orlovsky and trusted him not to abuse his knowledge. He knew the Chaplain would never repeat anything he told him.

"I know you do, Matt, but..."

"I'm not worth worrying about," Casey said quietly.

"Do you really believe that? Not one of God's children is unworthy of worry, or love."

"Don't want anyone's worry, or their love." He sighed heavily.

"Because it hurts you?' the Chaplain asked him gently. softly.

"Life hurts."

The Chaplain looked at him sympathetically. "It isn't supposed to hurt all the time, that's why we have friends and things we enjoy doing."

"Yeah," Casey said nodding, clearing his throat. "Chaplain, I really am gonna be fine, this isn't going to kill me, it's not… it's just, a thing, and it'll end and everything will be back to normal."

"I'm glad you're feeling positive about it all, that doesn't mean it won't be hard though. You need to be prepared for that," Orlovsky replied.

"I've got through bad stuff before, I'll do it again. Everything's fine."

Chapter Text

Severide was standing at the back of the room during roll call, leaning on the wall. The firehouse felt empty without Casey's presence. Boden was informing everyone that Casey was out sick for the time being, he introduced his temporary replacement whilst everyone was still taking in the news that Casey wasn't going to be here for an indefinite amount of time.

"Severide, a word," Boden requested after he dismissed everyone from the room.

As everyone milled out Severide could still hear mutterings from Casey's men, wondering when he'd be back, and what was even wrong with him, they had all noticed the change in him, especially in the past couple of weeks, but they all knew not to question their lieutenant about personal matters.

"Has Casey spoken to you? How is he doing?" Boden asked him once they were alone.

"Not spoken to him since Wednesday morning, he's not replied to messages or picked up the phone," Severide told him, a sigh escaping his lips. "Wish I could tell you how he's doing."

"No one but you and me know about all this? He's not told his sister? His mom?"

"Not as far as I know. I don't even think he's spoken to either of them much since his mom moved out," Severide responded. Moved out was a polite way of putting it, from what he'd managed to get out of Casey, after a few drinks had loosened his tongue, was that he'd all but kicked her out of his place.

Boden remained silent, contemplating for a moment. "I suppose we wait, I don't like it but Casey is…"

"A stubborn son of a bitch," Severide finished with a small scowl on his face.

"They weren't going to be my exact words but… yes," he responded with a singular nod.

Severide was shaking his head. "You know damn well he won't come to us."

"And you know not to push him. You need to be patient, Kelly..."

"You've done something?" he questioned, looking at the expression on Boden's face.

"I may have informed the Chaplain of the situation, he went to see him yesterday, I don't know how it went," Boden admitted.

"Don't imagine he would have been pleased with that."

"Casey respects the Chaplain," he responded.

"He respects you," Severide countered.

"I think a visit from the Chaplain will have done him far more good than a visit from me."


Severide couldn't keep himself away any longer despite knowing the Chaplain had visited Casey, and when his shift ended he didn't go home, he went to the hospital. Casey had been having chemotherapy for three days now, today would be his fourth day on the ward. He found the oncology ward easily enough and headed over to the reception area.

"Hi, I'm looking for Matt Casey, not sure what room he's in?" Severide began, smiling at the nurse behind the desk. "I'm Kelly Severide, I work with him, I'm a friend," he added, realising that just asking for a patient's room wasn't likely to get him anywhere.

"I know who you are," she responded, smiling.

"You do?" he questioned.

The nurse nodded. "I'm glad he has another visitor," she responded. "His third round of chemo ran overnight, he's starting to the feel it's effects this morning."

"How's he been so far with it all?" Severide asked her.

"So far he's not suffered too badly with it all, until today at least," she responded.

"When does it all finish?"

"This cycle will finish around 3pm on Wednesday," she answered.

"Almost half way now then," he said, nodding.

"With the induction period, hopefully… he's not explained it to you?"

"No, not really. You've probably noticed, he's not really the sharing type. He'll tell me in his own time," Severide responded, although if Casey didn't talk soon he would be back here questioning the nurses and doctors, because not knowing what Casey was going through, and would be going through in the future was agony.

"Ok." She paused. "He's going to need someone. It's not easy," she told him.

"I am his someone. At least, I think I am," he replied quietly. "Which room is his?" he asked.

"Firstly; have you been ill at all, sore throat, anything, in the last few days?" she questioned him.

"No," he answered, his expression questioning.

"The chemo reduces his immune system; he could get sick really easily," she told him. "You'll need to wear a mask. He's in room 1340. He's probably still feeling really unwell at the moment," she warned him as she indicated to the sterile box of blue standard issue surgical masks. He took one and slipped it on, she did the same before they began walking down the wide corridor to Casey's room. She knocked on the door before entering.

Severide remained by the doorway. The distinct smell of vomit entered his nostrils. The sheets on the hospital bed, along with the standard issue pale green blankets, were rumbled at the end of the mattress. "You all right in there, Matt?" the nurse asked, standing next to the open bathroom door.

Severide could hear Casey retching now, and it made his guts twist and turn inside out, and his heart caught in his throat, unable to do anything to ease Casey's suffering.

"You've got a visitor," she informed him.

The retching stopped. Casey appeared out of the small bathroom wearing a very lose pair of sweatpants underneath his hospital gown, and an old CFD hoody with the zip fastened. He couldn't wear his own shirt or a sweater without a zip until he was no longer receiving the chemotherapy infusion. He was even paler than usual and his blond hair was sticking up at all angles. There were dark shadows under his eyes and Severide noticed how defined his cheekbones seemed, he knew Casey had lost weight recently but he'd not really noticed how much, these clothes were too loose on him though, before Casey had been careful about what he'd been wearing, aware that he'd lost weight but there was no point in doing that here, he just wanted to be comfortable.

The nurse walked by Casey's side as he headed back to the bed, his right hand gripping the IV infusion pump stand, moving it along with himself. He got back on the bed. The nurse went to adjust the covers but he stopped her and did it himself. Severide watched as he wrapped himself tightly beneath them, lying on his left side, his back facing him. He could see now that his body was shaking.

"I'll be back in later," she told him. She gave a small smile to Severide as she left the room.

Severide watched her go before turning back to the figure on the bed. He swallowed and took another glance around the room, as if that would give him some sort of clue as to what he should do right now. Instinct, and his heart, was telling him to go straight over to Casey but his brain was telling him to take it slow, to not overwhelm him; Casey didn't react well to care, not when he was exposed like this.

He took a breath and walked over to the bed so Casey's back was no longer facing him. "Hey, Case. Not gonna bother asking how you feel…" he blundered.

Casey's eyes were open but he didn't look at Severide for more than one reason.

He glanced around and moved a small chair over to the bedside. He sat down, focusing on Casey, looking at the tube poking out from his hoody, following it up to the top of the IV stand, he felt a pit in his stomach when he read the words of warning on the clear bag of cytarabine.

Severide watched as Casey's tongue licked his lips, he'd not seen him drink since he'd been throwing up. "Want some water?" he asked, reaching over to the plastic cup and straw that was sitting on the table.

Casey shook his head with an almost grimacing expression.

"You should…" Severide never finished his sentence.

Casey had moved. He was sitting up on the bed now, the blankets and sheets had fallen. He was holding a disposable emesis basin and retching violently. Only bile was coming up. His ribcage spasmed and ached as he body tried to expel contents it did not have.

"It's all right, it's ok," Severide said, putting his hand on Casey's shuddering shoulder. It wasn't all right at all, he hated seeing Casey like this, it was wakening emotions in him that he'd tried desperately to push down. He had nothing to offer him to make him feel even the smallest bit better.

Casey's body lurched as he threw up. "Just go…" he groaned, drool ran down his chin, landing on his hoody.

"Casey, I'm not going anywhere. You're my..."

The retching was relentless. It was uncontrollable and painful as his body tried to expel the contents of his stomach, but nothing but bile was coming up now. "Fucking hell, Severide, this isn't the time for sentiment!" his voice was raised and his teeth ground against each other, trying to stop the continual heaves.

"I'll… I'll come back later," Severide responded quietly, already standing up.

"Please don't come back."

"Matt, I'm your…"

"I don't want you... or anyone, to see me like this," he responded, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.

"But you need someone to…"

"Don't remind me that I have no one," he said, breathing out heavily, clutching the emesis basin.

Severide shook his head. "You have me."

"I - don't - want – you."

Severide left the room in silence, as he walked out he could hear Casey throwing up again. He didn't look back. Part of him wanted to call it quits but this was Casey, Casey who had a ridiculous amount of issues that he tried his best to hide from the world, he wasn't going to let Severide in, and that almost wanted Severide to give up trying. Almost.


When Catalina came in to check on Casey and help clear up the full emesis basin, urging Casey to drink or they'd need to give him some fluid intravenously. He'd been looking at his phone when she'd first entered, he knew he'd been too harsh to Severide, but he really hadn't wanted him to be there, he didn't mean to push everyone away but he always did, and he hated himself for doing it to Severide when the man only had good intentions.

"He didn't leave. I saw him walk into the common room," the nurse informed him as she checked the connection to the central line that snaked out from the top of Casey's hoody.

"Can I?"

She nodded. "Do you want a hand?" Catalina asked as he got up from the bed.

"M'all right now," he told her. "Hopefully that was it," he added, chuckling a little.

Severide didn't notice Casey enter the communal area. He was so deep into his thoughts that he didn't notice until he was sat down next to him.

"Hey," Casey greeted him once they were sitting shoulder to shoulder.

Severide turned to him, more than surprised that he was by his side. "Case, I'm sorry. I get it. I understand. You're gonna push me and everyone away, especially if I try and push you, you're the type of person who..."

"Will you shut up for a minute. It's not you who should be apologising. I was an ass. I mean, I was throwing my guts up so I have an excuse," he teased with a huff of laugher. "I am sorry," he added.

They both sat in comfortable silence for a few moments.

"How was shift yesterday?" Casey asked him.

"Do you really wanna talk about that?"

Casey shrugged. "Nothin' else I want to talk about."

"It was quiet," he answered.

"I'll be back there soon," Casey said aloud. "I've not missed a shift for a very long time."

"You have a lot to go through, glad you're being positive about it all…"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Casey questioned somewhat harshly.

Severide looked down for a moment, not quite sure what to say because despite being here in the hospital on his fourth day of treatment Casey still seemed to be in denial. He turned to Casey. "You have cancer," he said simply.

"And what? I'm supposed to be all depressed and miserable about it? If anything I'm annoyed, angry, because I'm stuck here and it's… well, it's boring, I could be out working and…"

"You're sick."

"I don't need you to remind me… you've not told anyone, have you?"

"No one knows that you have leukaemia…"

"Severide, I'm going to be fine, you don't need to say it like it's a death warrant..." he fell into silence. "I… I don't know when I'll get to go home, none of its very simple."

"That's ok. I can bring more books and things, if you want?"

"Thanks."

"And you'll let me keep visiting you, yeah?"

Casey looked at him. "Don't know why you want to."

He smiled. "You might be an ass, but like I said, I'm not letting you do this alone."

"It's no big deal."

Severide didn't know what to say to that. "Is there anything you want? I can go to your place or the store now, yeah?"

"I don't need anything," he answered.

"Ok, well, let me know when you want me to bring some different books, or magazines or something, anything," Severide told him. "Wanna get back to your room?"

"Would be nice to lie down," he said, smiling self-deprecatingly.

Severide stood up and put out his arm for Casey to take. Casey looked at Severide's hand for a moment before placing his own it and allowing Severide to help him up slowly.

"Thanks," Casey said cautiously. He figured he'd let Severide do this, but ultimately, he knew the man would leave him, he'd grow tired of him, or Casey would do something wrong, or he'd just leave because he didn't actually like him. Casey was sure he was here out of some sense of obligation, he still questioned why he told Severide in the first place, he could have spoken to Shay, he probably should have told Shay, but he'd seen Severide and in a moment of weakness went and told him everything. He wished he hadn't because he would leave eventually, he will have seen him weak and vulnerable and he'll leave and use it as ammunition.

Chapter Text

The next few days were spent feeling exhausted but generally much better than his fourth day of chemotherapy. He'd only thrown up once more, but his bowels had suffered. He was given three blood transfusions and one platelet transfusion to keep his blood count up, so the chemotherapy was less likely to cause fatal bone marrow suppression. Severide had come by a couple of times, most of the time Casey was sleeping but he sat with him for a while nevertheless. It was difficult because everyone at the firehouse knew Casey was sick, and they were worried about him but he could say nothing to reassure them, it was worse with Shay though, he couldn't bear to keep anything from her, he realised that Shay knew something major was up though because she wasn't even trying to press the matter.

Casey was doing his best to eat what he was being given but it took a lot of will power, all he wanted to do was sleep even when he wasn't feeling too unwell, but he'd slept all day and was now lying awake, he couldn't concentrate on the book he was reading so he took off his reading glasses, put on his hoody and grabbed the IV infusion stand, using it to help him make his way to the communal area. The two nurses at the station gave him a quick smile as he headed past them.

There was no one else in the room when he arrived. He switched the light on and looked around, despite being here for almost a week now he'd not made much use of this place. There was even a pool table by the floor to ceiling window, he didn't have strength for that though. He grabbed the Xbox controller and sat down on the couch, turning the console on.

"Hi."

The voice startled Casey, he looked like a deer caught in headlights. There was a petit woman standing by the door, wearing a set of pyjamas and long woollen cardigan, there was a floral pink bandana covering her head and a playfulness in her eyes despite her paleness and thinness. Casey couldn't help but wonder if he'd start to look as sick, and he felt guilty when his first thought was hoping that he wouldn't.

She let out a huff of laughter at his reaction. "Sara. ALL."

Casey just looked at her for another moment. "Matt… AML."

"You've not been here before," she presumed.

He shook his head. "No."

"Mind if I join you?" she asked, looking at the couch.

"No, course not," Casey responded, moving over a little on the couch even though there was plenty of room.

She smiled and made her way over to him, sitting down with a satisfied sigh. "Much better than that damn bed!"

"You're not attached to anything… sorry, I…"

"It's fine," she replied straight away, smiling brightly. "Not too long and I'll be out of here again, for a little while at least."

"You've been here a lot?"

"Two surgeries, five rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemo. Been in and out of here for almost two years now. You'll get used to the place, but hopefully you won't have to. You have nicer hair than I did," she added, teasingly.

"Thanks… erm… do you want the other controller, we can play…" he said, feeling uncharacteristically out of his depth.

"It's ok, I'll just watch. Don't want to thrash you the first time I meet you," she responded, settling back into the couch.

Casey glanced at her again.

"You can ask me anything, by the way, I know there's stuff we you won't really want to talk about with the staff or… family?"

"No family," he answered.

"Well, that's just sad…" she responded wryly.

"I have a family just not typical…"

"Curious," she said, grinning.

"I'm a firefighter," he told her.

"Ah, firehouse family."

"Something like that," he responded.

"You all big, brave and tough then? This will be a doddle," she told him.

"No," he said quietly, shaking his head.

"It's hell, but the other option is worse. Most of the time," she added.

"How about a jigsaw puzzle?" Casey questioned suddenly, looking at the stack of puzzles and games on the shelving unit on view behind Sara.

"Can't focus?" she asked knowingly, watching as he switched off the Xbox.

"Exhausted but I can't sleep, but maybe that's because I've spent most my time here sleeping," he answered honestly. It was refreshing to talk to someone who knew what all of this was about, without having to explain anything at all.

"Best way through it."

"Better than…"

"Being stuck on the toilet or on the floor in front of toilet," she finished.

"Exactly," he replied with a little eye roll.

"Jigsaw puzzle it is then," she said, sitting up straight and smiling.

They both stood up from the couch, Sara grabbed a jigsaw puzzle as Casey sat down carefully.

She studied him for a moment as she stood with the puzzle in her hand. "You better not throw up on the pieces."

"Can't make any promises," he teased.

They continued to chat as they put the jigsaw puzzle together. Sara had moved here with her family from Colorado when she was younger and had spent the rest of her life here. She had worked for a small publishing company, publishing illustrated children's books, she had no boyfriend but was very close to her family, especially her younger brother.

"Take my number, in case I don't get out of here we can have more midnight puzzle sessions. And I can visit you if you get stuck in your room," she told him, scribbling her cell number down for him.

"How likely is that? Being stuck in my room?"

"More likely after you've finished this cycle, your blood count will probably still drop after its over, hopefully it won't go so low that they won't let you out your room but… it'll probably happen at some point," she answered.

He looked at her. "I've already been told if they drop lower I'll be stuck in my room," he admitted.

"Ah, well, you'll most definitely get stuck in there then. It's not too bad really, you can still have visitors and stuff," she responded. "Who's your nurse?" she asked him.

"Catalina," he answered.

"She's brilliant. Doesn't pussyfoot around anything, to be fair most of them don't but some…"

"Can be overly friendly," he continued. 

"Yes! And far too enthusiastic at an ungodly hour!" she exclaimed. "You look like you're gonna fall asleep…"

"Sorry…"

"It's fine. You look very cute," she told him.

"What?"

"Please don't tell me you're not used to people telling you that you look cute when you're sleepy?"

"I'm not," he responded, laughing at her outwardness. 

"Well, I think we should call it a night," she announced.

"This has been nice, thanks…"

"We'll do it again," she assured him. "Goodnight, Matt AML," she said as she stood up.

"Night…"

Casey finished off the puzzle before heading back to his room, she had been right, he was tired now but he hadn't wanted to leave the puzzle incomplete.


During the last twenty-four hours of the continuous infusion Casey's body was wracked with chills. He spent the majority of his time lying on the bed wrapped in blankets, his hood up over his head, as his body shook uncontrollably. He was given IV antibiotics, even though he had no fever the shivering was a symptom and it was protocol to give all febrile patients antibiotics, the nurse warned him that he could be seeing many more bags of broad-spectrum antibiotics during his treatment. Severide was with him, wearing infection control gear, wanting to do something to help but there was nothing he could do, and when Casey had the strength to do so he kicked him out of the room. He didn't want Severide there, he didn't want anyone there.

When it finally let up late on the Wednesday night, almost six hours after the last of the cytarabine had stopped flowing into his body, he never been more exhausted in his life, not even after severe multiple alarm fires where his body was tested to the limit. He was past that point and if he had wanted to lift a finger he wouldn't have been able too, it was a big enough effort to open his eyes for a moment when the nurse came to change one of his IV bags. It had been decided he needed the fluid because he hadn't been able to drink enough over the last few days. He was so exhausted that the thought of going home never even crossed his mind, even just making it to the bathroom and back was a mammoth task. He just lay on his back on the bed, in and out of sleep, not thinking, just breathing. He didn't want to go through those seven days again. He didn't want that poison near him ever again.

By the morning his body didn't feel much better and he barely had any will power left, but with the nurse's encouragement, and threats of an NG tube, he managed to drink most of an Ensure Plus carton. Afterwards he was almost waiting to throw it back up, he actually smiled to himself an hour later when his body had finally decided to cooperate with him. He hoped he was recovering from the side effects already but he soon realised that wouldn't be the case, he was no more special than anyone else who went through this process, and just as he'd been told he knew he wouldn't be allowed home anytime soon. Fortunately, over the last seven days he'd felt well enough to shower a few times with an AquaGuard over his central line and the infusion pump standing behind the shower curtain, so at least he was still managing to do most things himself.

"Morning, Matt, how are you doing today?" Doctor Park asked him the day after his first cycle of chemotherapy was over. He didn't see Casey every day, there was no need.

"I'm fine… bit tired," he responded truthfully.

The doctor nodded. "That's to be expected. No pain?"

"No pain," he answered.

"And how's the nausea been? Still manageable?" he questioned. After Friday they had changed his Zofran dosage.

"Manageable," Casey answered.

"Ok, that's good. Now for the not so good news; your blood count was very low this morning, you won't be getting out of here soon, I'm afraid. But after 4pm today I'm going to give you a shot of Neupogen and that should increase your levels, I want to see how you get on in the next few days before we give you any more transfusions unless…"

"Unless it gets worse?"

"Spot on," the doctor answered.

"Starting to understand it all," he responded.

"Good," the doctor said, smiling. "Now, although the infusion stopped running yesterday the side effects aren't just going to disappear, they may even be worse on some days than others still. You have to let us know so we can help, all right?"

Casey nodded a little.

"Ok, well, today try and stretch your legs in the corridor, and get some rest too."

"Can I go outside?" he asked. He wanted to get some fresh air, he felt trapped in here although on most days he had been allowed out of his room to the common area he was not used to being so restricted.

"Not today, we'll review that after bloods tomorrow but it's unlikely, Matt."

Casey looked down at the bed sheet. "I won't get out of here any time soon then?"

"We'll try our best to get you home at a least day or two before your biopsy but you might not be well enough," the doctor answered diplomatically, he didn't want to give Casey any false hope, but he also knew that it would be beneficial for his mental state to go home. No one dealt with long hospital stays very well, but some coped worse than others, especially if they were used to being incredibly independent.

"If I'm not well enough... wouldn't that mean the biopsy will come back positive for cancer again," Casey commented, frowning up at the doctor as he thought, but for the past few days even thinking was exhausting.

"No, not necessarily," he responded.

Casey rolled his eyes. "Just when I was starting to understand it all…"

"Basically your bone marrow needs to recover from the chemo, we'll be taking bloods every day still and if you don't have a high infection risk we'll be able let you out of here," the man told him. "At the moment we want to make sure you don't get an infection as you're going to be neutropenic for some time, and your counts are still likely to drop following the last infusion."

"I've been lucky so far," Casey commented quietly. "I mean, I don't feel too bad most of the time, just tired."

"You have to let us know if that changes, if there's any pain or aches, literally anything, Matt," the doctor reminded him, as he did almost every day.

"Yeah…" he said, sighing. There was little dignity here. During his bought of chemotherapy induced diarrhoea they'd needed a sample to check for infection, and that was one of the worst things he'd had to do so far, but he was sure it couldn't get worse than that.


A while later Casey's preferred nurse entered his room. Preferred because she just tended to get on with the job without being too personal about it, she didn't try to make him talk and she didn't tire him with small talk, even though he knew everyone had the best intentions he just didn't want anyone to make all this seem like such a big deal, and Catalina just got on with it all without constantly asking him how he was doing, or looking at him sympathetically. He hated needing help, and of course he couldn't do this without the staff, so it was better when they were straight talking and somewhat impersonal.

Catalina gave him a smile as she walked in, he saw the sealed sterile kit she carried, the dressing on his central line needed to be changed today, they were changing the dressing twice a week at the moment, the line also needed flushing. She adjusted his bed a little.

"Is this something I can do?" he asked as held the neck of his hoody and shirt and pulled them down so she could get to the central line.

"It is. You'll have to do it when you're discharged, just like I do," she told him.

"Can I do it now?"

"We'll do it together," she answered, offering him another smile.

She showed Casey exactly how to flush the central line and how to change both the dressing. Everything had to remain sterile so Casey had to put on a mask and sterile gloves just as the nurse did, it took longer than usual since Casey was helping but it was all soon done.

Casey took off the mask ang gloves so she could dispose of them in the biohazard bin. "I can place my own IV line," he announced.

"Oh yeah?" She went back over to his side, smiling.

"Yeah, so if I ever need one, I can do it. I'm a trained EMT," he told her.

She smiled at him. "Matt, it's my job to look after you whilst you're here, to make all of this as easy as possible for you. And hopefully you won't need another line anyway."

"Sorry…"

"So, you're a trained EMT?" she questioned, it was about the first personal information she'd got out of him.

"I'm a firefighter, truck company lieutenant," he answered.

"You're used to all this waiting around then," she responded.

"Yeah. Didn't think it would be like this though, didn't think there'd be so much waiting," he told her.

"There is a lot of waiting, made worse because of lot of your time will be spent waiting in here and not at home," she said.

"Yeah…"

"Well, you'll get a shot of Neupogen later and that will help to bring your blood count up, we will try to get you out of here," she told him.

"Thought I'd be able to work, never been so wrong," he said quietly.

She sat down next to him and reached over for one of the board games that Severide had brought over for him. "How about a game of Scrabble? I'll warn you now; I'm terrible at it so you need to go easy one me."

He chuckled at her admission. "All right then." He could do with the distraction.


It was late in the afternoon when the first shot of Neupogen was administered. Casey had been in and out of sleep after the game of Scrabble and was still half asleep when he received the drug. The nurse stayed by his side and would be with him for an hour as a precaution, there were ECG leads on his chest and a blood pressure cuff on his arm to monitor him for a short period. He just wore the hospital gown and some pyjama pants, using the blanket to keep himself warm rather than the hoody. He didn't own enough clothes to be able to have enough without washing them for this long hospital stay.

Casey was gazing up at the ceiling with his eyes only half open when he felt a strange tingling sensation at the back of his throat. His mouth and lips felt peculiar as if they were going numb and he was having difficulty swallowing. It had only been five minutes since he'd been given the drug and his mind started to panic. His blood pressure had dropped and he was barely aware that the nurse had already noticed all of this and had called for the doctor, she'd spotted the patchy red rash before Casey had even been able to indicate that something was wrong.

His throat was closing up and his eyes were streaming as the doctor injected the epinephrine into his system through his central line. The nurse was holding an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose but he could hardly catch his breath. The oxygen flow was increased and the mask was secured to his face. All the while the nurse had been speaking to him calmly and reassuringly but her words seemed to be fading into the background as grey clouds seemed to overcome him.

Casey's eyes rolled to the back of his head and he knew nothing more.

Chapter Text

Severide turned up at the hospital carrying his sports bag after his shift, he was cleared through infection control and was about to head over to Casey's room when one of his oncology nurses came up to him, informing him about Casey's anaphylactic shock.

He entered Casey's room with caution.

Casey was lying on his left side, his legs tucked up partially to his torso. There was a nasal cannula providing supplemental oxygen. He was only wearing the hospital gown now, he'd not seen him without a few layers on for a while now. His skin was still pale and he was receiving another transfusion to help bring his blood count back up since he couldn't have Neupogen to help. He seemed so small lying there on the bed and Severide couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness at everything he was going through now. He steadied his emotions and walked around the bed, bending down so that he was level with Casey's tear-stricken face.

When Casey noticed Severide he tried to move, to wipe away the tears but Severide took his hand. "It's ok. Catalina told me what happened yesterday."

"I'm fine…" Casey retorted, his voice scratched as he spoke and he pulled his hand back from Severide. He pulled away despite wanting to return Severide's grip, the touch had a calming effect, it soothed him, but he couldn't let it happen.

"I know," he responded softly. "Mind if I stay for a little bit? Meeting someone for drinks nearby but I've got a couple of hours to spare, didn't see the point in heading home then going back on myself," he explained, knowing if Casey thought he was doing him a favour then he wouldn't protest.

He stood up and opened up his bag and pulled out a small box, placing it on the side, along with a couple of magazines.

Casey opened his eyes at the sound. "What's that?" he asked quietly, looking at the box through weary eyes.

"Peppermint tea," Severide supplied, as if was usual for him to bring Casey tea.

"I don't drink tea," Casey replied with a slight frown.

"I know, but this helps with nausea apparently. Shay told me," he said, smiling.

"Does she know?" Casey questioned urgently, his eyes widened.

"No, no, no… she suggested it during a hangover a while back," Severide told him.

"Sorry… I didn't mean…"

"I know."

"You bought me peppermint tea. And you're here."

Severide shrugged. "It was on offer, and I don't have anywhere else to be," he teased. He pulled some more items out of the bag. "I also got you a selection of nuts and dried fruit, know you like that rabbit food stuff and it's small and high in calories and you look…"

"Like crap?"

"Yeah…"

"Still have my hair," he responded, smiling wryly.

"You didn't ask for anything specific but I wanted to get something, and before you say it; I know I didn't need to." He passed Casey the mixed bag of dried fruit and nuts. "Will you have some?"

"My throat's still a bit…" Casey trailed off, watching Severide's expression. "It's not an excuse. I want to eat."

"Ok, how about some Ensure? Does it taste off? I read that chemo can make…"

"You read?"

Severide nodded. "Want to make all this easy as possible for you because I know it's hell."

"It wasn't too bad," he said.

"Matt, it's not over yet," Severide responded.

"I was wrong," he began quietly after a few moments.

Severide remained silent, letting Casey find his words.

"I thought I'd be sick for a little bit but not like this," Casey continued. "I thought I'd just get through it but it's going to take a while… I… I don't want to be remembered as the guy who got sick."

"You won't be," Severide told him firmly. "You will get better and you'll go back to work."

"Not even allowed to go outside, or leave this floor… I was sick for ages, and I didn't do anything, because I'm not allowed to get…"

"Not allowed to get sick?" Severide questioned, frowning at Casey's thought process, thinking of its origins.

"Don't know why I thought I'd be different, don't know why I thought I'd do those seven days, do a few more cycles of chemo and that would be it."

"You don't know it won't be…"

"I thought I'd be able to work, I thought I'd be able to go home… they didn't lie to me, they told me about all of this."

"Matt, you were in denial and I think, maybe, the gravity of the situation has hit you today, especially after what happened earlier," Severide responded.

"I couldn't breathe, I thought…" he stopped and shook his head, closing his eyes for a moment. "I'm fine," he said, looking back at Severide.

"You don't have to be."

"You should probably go…"

"Don't do that now," Severide warned.

"You always say I have issues…"

"Yeah, you a have fuck tonne of them so shut up and let me sit here for a bit longer, all right?"

"You have issues too," he said, pouting a little.

"Yeah…" Severide picked up the bag of dried fruit and nuts again, placing it on the bed. "My issues are this big…" he said before reaching down and picking up the sports bag. "And your issues…" he finished, grinning.

"You're very funny, Kelly Severide."

"Cold?" Severide questioned as Casey pulled the blanket up closed to his chest.

"I… erm…" he swallowed, clearing his throat. "I kinda ran out of clean sweaters, with all the throwing up and stuff…"

"You should have said, I'll do some washing for you…"

"No, don't, you're not doing my washing. They have hospital gowns…"

"They're not going to keep you warm," Severide commented.

"No, but they have robes too…"

"Do you want to wear a robe?"

"A robe is fine," Casey retorted.

"Matt… look, I'll take them to the dry cleaners if you don't want me to do them? And you can pay me back? How about that?" he suggested, although he was never going to ask Casey for the money, in fact he'd just do them in his own machine, it was no trouble, the least he could do.

"All right," Casey accepted.

"Good," he responded. "Are you… are you doing all right for money? Does the insurance cover everything?"

"Yeah, just have deductibles to pay for, and I'm getting sick leave, I have savings too," Casey added.

"Of course, you do," he said, smiling. "But I reckon this is all gonna be really expensive. So, you'll tell me if you end up struggling though, yeah?"

"Probably not…" Casey chuckled. "I am tired now, well, more tired. I'm not kicking you out but I am gonna close my eyes," he said, struggling to keep them open.

When Casey woke up bleary eyed, his throat still tender and sore, he frowned at the sight he saw. Severide was still sitting by the side of his bed. He looked at the clock on the wall, it was well past midnight. "Sev…" He coughed to clear his throat and spoke again. "Severide?"

Severide sat up, opening his eyes. "You all right?" he questioned immediately.

"It's 1am," Casey told him. "Thought you were meeting someone?"

"Erm… yeah…"

"You fell asleep," Casey stated.

"Looks like it," he responded simply.

"They've not kicked you out?" Casey said, frowning again. "Why are you…" he trailed off, looking away from Severide. "You should leave."

"I do need to take your washing, I'll get it sorted, get it back to you tomorrow, that all right?"

"You don't need to," Casey responded.

"No, I don't need to but I'm gonna do it. Call me if you need anything else," Severide said as he stood up. He grabbed his sports bag plus the clear bag that Casey's soiled clothes were sealed in, and he turned to leave.

"Kelly… thanks."

Severide grinned. "Thanks for not kicking me out; if you do it again I'm only gonna come right back to you."

Casey was left sitting up in the hospital bed with a bemused expression across his face. He couldn't understand why he kept turning up, not after everything, and not when he was barely capable of holding a decent conversation. Severide had been so concerned about his wellbeing though, even suffering from the after effects of the anaphylactic shock Casey could see that, and Severide had said nothing bad despite walking in and seeing the fresh tear tracks on his face. Fresh tear tracks because everything was sinking in now, it was finally hitting him how serious everything was, he really had been naïve to think it would all be over and done with quickly, perhaps not naïve, but he knew for certain that he had been in denial.


It was the early hours of the morning when Sara came into his room wearing a surgical mask and carrying a brand-new jigsaw puzzle. Casey was lying flat on his back, he'd been in and out of sleep since Severide had left him, unable to find any proper rest with his thoughts demanding too much of his attention.

He sat up in the bed, using the bed controls rather than much physical movement. "You're still here?" he questioned her, hoping the dimmed light in the room hid the fact that he'd been crying.

"Not busted out of here yet. Feeling any better?" she asked as she set the box down on the table.

"I'm fine," he responded, taking in her own appearance, she was paler than usual and there were shadows beneath her eyes.

She raised an eyebrow. "Oh yeah?"

"Perfectly fine."

She nodded. "Me too," she responded softly as she made herself comfortable at the end of his bed. Surprisingly, he didn't find her lack of personal space annoying, it was just nice to be treated normally, like neither of them were sick.

"What's the puzzle?" 

"Costa Rica," she answered.

"A map?" he questioned as she pulled the table over his lap.

"No, a beach. I actually went there after I graduated from college, not sure I'll ever get to go back…"

Casey looked down at the cover on the box then smiled at her. "Who wants to go to a lovely beach in a nice hot country anyway?"

His grin was infectious and she laughed at him, shaking her head. "So, who's the hot guy that keeps visiting you?"

"Kelly," he told her.

"Kelly… girls name… all right…" She chuckled and he joined her.

"He's a colleague," he explained.

"Colleague? That sounds very formal," she said, grinning.

"Best way to keep it… maybe…"

"Huh… you are very intriguing," she continued.

"That's just because you're stuck in here, everyone seems intriguing," he told her.

"Maybe..." She nodded, opening up the box and tipping the pieces onto the table.

Together they made sure each piece was facing upwards. They separated the edges from the rest of the pieces.

"Why are you still here, you're not sick enough to be stopped from coming in here, what's stopping them from letting you go home?" he asked her, both of them were still focusing on the puzzle, already connecting a few of the pieces together, each starting from an edge.

"My kidney's are failing," she told him simply.

He glanced up at her but she remained focused on the jigsaw. "I'm sorry."

"It was probably gonna happen eventually, you know… or something like it…"

"Treatment was never going to cure you?"

"It did, then I relapsed four months ago. I'd already moved back home with my parents, was already only managing to work from home, not they want me to work... they're happy to look after me and support me, we even got a book public for kids with cancer, little illustrations with hair loss and all the types of medical procedures and stuff…"

"Kids shouldn't have to go through this," Casey commented, looking down at the jigsaw pieces.

"No one should," she responded.

"I'd rather suffer more so innocent kids don't have to, and more than you; you're a good person," he told her, glancing her up at her for moment.

"You're not innocent or good?"

"I've had a life I guess, kids haven't had the chance," he explained.

"Yeah, I get that," she said.

"Will you get a kidney?" he asked her, connecting two pieces of the puzzle together.

"Maybe, hopefully, guess we'll find out eventually. Doesn't mean I'll be stuck here until I do, I think they just want to make sure I'll survive if I leave and I'm fairly certain I will."

"I think you will too," he said, nodding.

"This has been far too dismal. Can I have your chocolate pudding?" she asked him, smiling as she looked at the pot on the side.

"Take it."

Chapter Text

A few more days went by and Casey was still confined to his hospital room, he wasn't even permitted to use the communal area at the moment, but Sara had been able to visit him in his room and they completed another jigsaw puzzle, it had been nice to be able to message her and chat whilst he was stuck here, she was honest as well as friendly. He still felt absolutely exhausted, the transfusions he was being given hadn't seemed to improve anything much yet and he was becoming less and less patient. He just wanted to get home, get out of here and away from all the constant check-ups, poking and prodding.

Severide had dropped by again, he came with clean clothes but Casey had closed up on him once again and had sent Severide packing. The nurse had overheard the encounter and spoke to Severide briefly before he left, telling him not to take it all too personally, he just replied simply, telling her he was used to all this from Casey. It didn't make Casey a bad guy though even when Severide felt like throttling him at times, he had to see things from Casey's point of view and he knew how the man hated to be seen when he was vulnerable and hurting.

"Is it gonna be worse because I can't have the Neupogen?" Casey asked the nurse as she set up another blood transfusion, this morning it was red cells, overnight it had been platelets. He was thankful to everyone who gave blood, and blood products, without them he realised he probably wouldn't make it through any of this.

"It shouldn't be, it will most likely just take longer for your counts to come up," she answered.

"Is there another drug I can have? Don't care how much it is, I want to go home," he stressed, too tired to care.

"It's all based on the same protein, and they won't give it you because of the severe reaction you had... it's actually a very rare reaction," she told him.

He resisted rolling his eyes. "Really?"

She nodded, hanging the red bag of blood onto the stand. "Yup."

"What if you try again?"

"Then you could go in anaphylactic shock again," she responded.

"But I might not?"

She grinned. "You can keep trying but no one will give it you again. You're stuck with the old-fashioned technique; blood products only."


Casey was lying awake, he felt sick but he wasn't throwing up, even if his body attempted to there was nothing in it to expel. He was exhausted but he couldn't sleep, he couldn't get comfortable. His body was shaking and his joints ached painfully. He'd sat on the chair for a while, then got back on the bed, then went to the chair and was now back on the bed again with his hood pulled over his head. He wasn't wearing the hospital gown since he was no longer tethered to the infusion pump, just an old shirt, some sweatpants and some thick socks, courtesy of Severide.

At the thought of Severide he looked over to the open bag he'd fetched back with his clean clothes. Casey was constantly feeling a mix of guilt and annoyance at the man's presence, Severide just didn't seem to want to leave him alone. They'd become so close in the years before Andy's death and it had all been destroyed, although Severide didn't seem to think so, he seemed to think that despite everything that had happened in the months following Andy's death it could all go back to normal after an apology, after they stopped butting heads. But it wasn't that, it wasn't about their blame game. Casey had trusted Severide, really trusted him, and it had been blown back in his face. Maybe Casey had just been too naïve to think they would have grieved together, that he could have gone to Severide in a time of need, he had gone to him, and he'd been pushed away, literally and figuratively. He'd deserved that black eye and bloody nose though because he really was partly to blame for Andy's death. He'd become too lenient with his men. He'd crossed a line too far into friendship and he lost his leadership, Andy decided he knew best and went ahead without a word from Casey. That wasn't on Andy; that was on Casey. It wouldn't have mattered whether or not Severide had vented the back, despite Casey's instruction, because Andy would never have entered the building if he'd been less lenient with his crew.

Casey turned over in the hospital bed and readjusted his pillows for the fourth time in the past hour. One of the nurses popped his head through the door every so often, he'd even asked if he wanted something to help him sleep but Casey had declined, and he actually regretted it now because he wasn't going to ask for anything, he couldn't. Casey gave up with his pillows and sat up in the bed, his legs crossed with the blankets rumpled over the top of them. Sara had been discharged earlier so there would be no late-night jigsaw puzzle building.

He grabbed his phone from the side. He'd had a few messages over the last week, mostly from his crew, all sending him get well wishes, he was still happy with his decision not to tell them exactly why he was off sick. He hadn't ignored them, he'd replied late to a few messages but he had replied despite just wanting to ignore everyone. He'd not received anything from Boden and he was glad of that, he'd rather not receive any messages from anyone. Shay's message had brought a lump to his throat and was actually one of the most recent he'd received, he did feel guilty for not talking to her.

Whilst looking through his phone Casey saw he'd had a text message from Severide that had arrived early in the evening, he must have missed it whilst his phone was charging. It wasn't anything special, but in a way it was because it was incredibly normal, another reason he'd not wanted anyone to know how sick he was, he didn't want anyone to treat him differently. Severide had sent him a link to a YouTube video, something he used to do all the time. Casey smiled as he watched the link and without thinking he rang Severide.

"Matt? You all right?"

"Hey, yeah, sorry, it's late, but I…"

"S'all right, I'm still out. You all right?" he asked again.

"Yeah, I just…" Casey trailed off, suddenly wishing he hadn't called.

"Can't sleep?" Severide asked him.

"No," he answered.

"You allowed out your room? You could have a go on the Xbox? Thought I saw one there?"

"Still stuck in here," he told him. "Tell me what you've done today?"

"You want me to bore you to sleep?" Severide questioned.

Casey grinned. "It's got to be better than my day," he told him.

"Very true. All right then…"

Casey was still listening to Severide, and smiling at everything he had to say, when there was a knock at his door. It opened a moment later, he glanced over and frowned at the person who had appeared. "Thought you were the nurse…" he said, putting his phone down by his side.

"Sorry, I can dress up next time if you want?" Severide grinned as he walked in, wearing a surgical mask over his face, his smile still showed in his eyes though.

Casey smiled at that.

Severide walked further into the room. Only the light above the bed was on. "You look… tired."

"My hair has started falling out…" he muttered. He kept finding short blond strands on his pillow. It only proved to him how sick he was.

"Well, knowing you, I bet you'll still look just as hot without hair."

"I don't want to look sick," Casey told him quietly.

"You're shaking…"

Casey nodded. "It hurts. Calling you was distracting."

"I'm glad you called," he responded, fighting the urge to ask him what was hurting.

"Didn't think you'd come though."

"I'd rather be here with you then where I was…"

"You said you were out. Where?" Casey questioned.

"Out with Shay," he answered.

"You left…"

"Nah, she's with friends."

Casey nodded a little at that. "How'd you get in here?"

"Slipped the nurse a note," he teased.

Casey offered another small smile. Too tired to do much else

"Can't sleep then? Despite the tale of my boring day, " Severide said, sitting down now.

"Think the chemo look is a permanently tired look, whether I've slept or not," Casey responded.

Severide chuckled. "You realise you're a master at deflection, right? You hardly ever answer personal questions."

"I just answered you." He shrugged.

"You didn't answer the question," Severide retorted, still smiling.

"Well, if I'm so bad at answering questions then you should go!" He was already regretting calling him in the first place, he should have managed on his own, that's how he always managed, how he had always managed because being sick was being weak, and being weak was unacceptable. He wasn't allowed to get sick, he wasn't allowed to show any weakness because it put his family to shame.

"Matt?"

Casey looked back to Severide. "Sorry, what?"

"I didn't say anything, you just looked… far away," Severide responded.

"My brain's probably being turned to mush, being stuck in here."

"Still not even allowed out into the corridor?"

"I've forgotten what your face looks like without that mask," Casey teased.


Severide ended up staying with Casey for a few more hours until he fell asleep, he was gone when he woke up with a fever in the morning though, he'd not wanted to leave but he had to get to the firehouse. Casey was put back on antibiotics before his blood test results even came back that morning. His head was throbbing, his body was wracked with chills and he was shaking beneath the numerous blankets that covered his weak form. He drifted in and out of consciousness for the entire day, he didn't eat, and he didn't even manage to sip at the water despite the attempts the staff made.

Severide turned up again the next day. Casey was still feverish and his blood counts had dropped, he had to wear more than just the surgical mask to enter Casey's room. The precautions worried him because Severide was sure he was supposed to be getting better since the chemotherapy was no longer being pumped into his system.

Catalina was with Casey setting up another transfusion when he walked into the room wearing a mask, cap and eye shield, the look was completed with the yellow gown he wore over his clothes. The same ensemble that the nurse was wearing. Casey smiled at him wearily. "Was joking 'bout the nurse costume…"

"You have a fever, how you feeling?" he asked as he walked over to the bed.

"Not funny?" Casey croaked.

"You're sick," he responded simply.

"Been sick for ages," Casey said with a little chuckle.

"Didn't have to wear all of this because your counts weren't as low and you have…"

"A fever. You told me. I know I do."

"Sorry, this is all just… you're really sick, Case, and I wish… I wish you weren't," Severide responded, wanting to say more but not wanting to upset Casey, upsetting him was the last thing he wanted to do.

"Well, I don't exactly want to be sick either…"

"Yeah, I know, I didn't word it very well… like with most things, especially when it comes to you," Severide admitted.

"All set, Matt," Catalina spoke up. "Do you need anything?"

Casey just smiled at her and she left the room. He looked back at Severide. "Please don't do this, we can't do this. You can't keep coming here, and I shouldn't call you..." he said, shaking his head a little.

"Matt, one of the worst things about Andy dying was losing you as well. And now, with this, I can't help but think what if you…"

"I'm not going anywhere. Everything will get back to normal soon."

Chapter Text

Casey's fever didn't break until late in the evening, and he didn't feel much better for it. Sara had been sending photos to him from the outside world, teasing him with them, knowing they would make him smile, and they did, he was glad she was out and having fun with her family. He'd given up with even the thought of being able to leave the hospital anytime soon which was why he was surprised to hear that his blood count came back good the next day, and he could go outside to get some fresh air if he wanted. He didn't want to though, despite more transfusions his body felt so weak, it didn't even seem like it was his own anymore.

"We going outside then?" Severide began as he walked into the room, with just a surgical mask on today. He knew Casey had not wanted to leave his room today, Catalina has spoken to him, explaining that Casey had refused the offer when she said they could go out into the small hospital garden together.

"Not today," he responded despondently.

"Might be your only chance for a while," Severide said, trying another tactic now.

"Might be," he repeated. He turned to look at Severide. "You didn't need to come today."

"No. Good thing I did though, we can go outside," Severide told him.

"Severide… I feel like death warmed up. I'm not…"

"Fresh air will do you some good," he insisted.

"Won't if I get a fungal infection," Casey retorted dryly.

"I'm gonna fetch you a wheelchair and surgical mask, then we'll go out."

"You're not allowed to just manhandle me out of this room," Casey said, almost pouting indignantly.

"Thought you enjoyed being manhandled," he said, winking at him before he slipped back out of the door.

Before long Casey was sitting in the wheelchair, already protesting. "I really don't need this, I can walk just fine…"

"Catalina specifically said you need to use the chair if you're going outside," Severide informed him.

"Well, that's another reason to put on the 'I don't want to go outside' list…" he grumbled. "What are you doing?" he snapped suddenly.

Severide stopped and smiled at him. He'd been tucking a blanket over Casey's lower half and was about to pile another one on his lap for good measure. "It's mid-October, it's cold out."

"Severide…"

"Casey…" Severide said in the same exasperated voice. "I know you were basically begging to get out of here before, this is your chance! Freedom! Sort of…" he added.

"Sorry, I'm just tired," he said ruefully.

"You're tired and you've been stuck on this ward and in this room for days, let me take you for a joy ride," Severide responded. "I'm stuck in the firehouse tomorrow so c'mon, let's go…"

"One condition," he began.

"Oh, there's conditions now?" Severide grinned.

"You steer?" he asked, all but admitting how tired he felt as he took one of the surgical masks out of the box.

"I will happily steer," Severide answered. He'd almost joked about Casey actually asking for help but he knew he'd never get him out of the room if he did that.


Severide couldn't help but smile as he sat next to Casey. He'd pushed the chair over to the small water fountain in the hospital garden and he had sat himself down on one of the grey slabs as Casey closed his eyes and took in the sounds of the city. Even in the peaceful looking garden he could hear the noise of traffic, honking and sirens. They could hear noises coming from the nearby park, dogs barking, children laughing. He couldn't pull his eyes away from Casey though.

"Picture lasts longer," Casey said, smiling as he opened his eyes. The cap he wore shielded them from the fall sun.

"It's strange not having you around the firehouse," Severide spoke. "You're missed."

He frowned, still smiling. "You've seen me here almost every day you're not at the firehouse. In fact, you've probably seen me more in the last fourteen days than in the past few months."

"Fourteen days, huh? You're not counting or anything?" Severide grinned at him.

"No, I'm not, Catalina's doing it for me," he retorted. "But it's not like I know when I'll get out of here."

"Maybe you will soon," Severide said optimistically.

"Maybe."

"When you do, you're probably gonna need…"

"Need what, Severide?" he questioned harshly, already knowing where Severide was leading.

"Some help around the house," Severide responded undettered. 

"I can manage."

"Case… you struggled to get out of the bed," Severide pointed out, a softness in his tone.

"I can manage," he repeated.

"Not saying you can't, but, well, it's not a bad thing to need some help. You help people all the time."

"I know."

"But it's different right, because Matthew Casey doesn't need anyone," Severide scoffed.

"That's not true…" he responded quietly.

"Sure looks true from where I'm sitting," Severide retorted.

"We need to go back inside," he announced.

"You mean, you need to avoid this conversation?"

"And what conversation is that? Severide, it was never going to work. You and me; it's not supposed to happen."

"Maybe it would if you stopped pushing me away," Severide snapped.

"What the hell, Kelly?!" he yelled. "I wasn't pushing you away and then…" He had to stop to get his breath back before he continued. "Then you hit me, I got that, I did, I understood that, but then  you barely spoke two civil words to me for months! You hurt me and I won't let you do that again!"

"I never meant to hurt you… and it was only the other week, we were saying things have been better between us…"

"I don't love you."

"Matt…"

He was shaking his head. "Can we just be friends? Or not… look, I'm sorry, not using this whole being sick thing as an excuse but… I am exhausted, and I'm finding your constant visits… weird… for want of a better word…"

"You're gonna have to let someone care about you one day, Casey," he responded.

"I wasn't kidding when I said I need to go back inside," he commented, about to start wheeling himself back into the building.

Severide stood up and grabbed the handles, stopping Casey momentarily. "I've got this."

Chapter Text

Casey didn't speak to Severide over the following days, determined to distance himself from the man, because what had happened between them following Andy's death had hurt, far more than he was willing to admit. Severide had hurt him too and he wasn't a forgiving guy. He'd gone to Severide because he'd needed someone, but he was left alone. Severide had been the reason he couldn't sleep at night, the reason he would drown his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey, the reason he almost swallowed an entire bottle of sleeping pills. He was also the reason he didn't swallow an entire bottle of sleeping pills, because he didn't want to cause Severide any more anguish or hurt, but maybe it was selfish to think Severide would have been hurt by his own death, as much as Andy's death, after Severide had made it pretty clear who's fault that had been.

It was the middle of the morning when his nurse came in, she had a mask on but Casey could see that she was smiling. "Hey, Matt. Got some good news for you. You can get out of here today."

"What? Really?" He almost couldn't believe it was true, he'd given up expecting to get out of here, it had been a long twenty-three nights in the hospital.

She nodded. "Really. Doctor just called up after seeing your blood test results, he's happy that you can go home and be back here for the biopsy on Monday," she told him.

"If the blood test is good does that mean the biopsy will be good?" he questioned.

"It means your blood count has recovered from the chemo, it doesn't mean you're in remission," she replied diplomatically.

"I can just go?" he said, sitting up straighter on the bed.

She nodded. "You can't drive, and it's best just to stay at home to start with, make sure you don't come into contact with anyone who might be sick, or has been with anyone who's been sick. Where the surgical mask out in public and out of this room, stick with the neutropenic diet. Any signs of fever or infection out of hours then go to the ER, all right?"

"All right," he said, nodding.

"Got a ride? Or is Kelly at work today?"

"Kelly?" He frowned, although he should have expected his name to be mentioned, but Casey had just been trying to ignore all thoughts of the man.

"Yeah, can he give you a ride home?" she asked.

"Yeah, maybe," he responded, offering a smile.


In the end Casey called Boden, he'd considered taking a cab but he hadn't wanted to whilst wearing the surgical mask, it was like a big flashing sign announcing to the world that he was sick, at least getting a ride with Boden meant he could avoid most of the public. There was mostly silence between the two of them on the way to Casey's house, and when they spoke Boden did most of the talking, filling Casey in on life at the firehouse and even on his own personal life.

Boden followed him slowly into his small townhouse. He'd not seen his truck lieutenant for more than a fortnight and the change in his physical appearance seemed drastic. His hoody hung too lose on his shoulders. His hair seemed thinner and his face gaunt, with dark circles around his eyes. Boden held his bags as Casey fumbled with his keys. Once in his house he glanced around and Boden put his bags down. His mail had been piled up on the dining table, he assumed that was Severide's doing, he went over to the couch and all but collapsed onto it.

As Casey had sat down on the couch Boden went into the kitchen. He opened up the refrigerator and checked the cupboards. Casey had his head resting on the back of the couch with his eyes closed. He could hear Boden looking around but he didn't give it much thought.

"I'm going to pick up some groceries for you," Boden said, appearing back in front of him.

He opened his eyes. "No point in protesting, right?"

"None at all," Boden responded with a nod. "Is there anything else you need?"

"I'm all right, but thanks."

"Toiletries, clothes…" Boden started to list.

"Don't need my boss getting my…"

"Not here as your Chief," Boden pointed out.

"Don't worry, I'll manage," he told him.

"I don't doubt that," Boden responded.


Casey's time at home wasn't spent much dissimilar to his time in the hospital. Although his house seemed messier, he mostly slept but after his second night at home he felt a sudden surge of energy and he took advantage of it by cleaning his house from top to bottom. He suffered for it the next day though and he could barely get himself out of bed, and when he did he discovered a mass of blond hair on his pillow, he stared down at the hairs as he felt his head. He knew losing his hair would be inevitable eventually, he'd been finding loose clumps for days. He brought his hand away, accidently bringing more hair with it. This was it, he was really going to start looking sick now. He got up, faltered and then went over to his wardrobe, digging out all the hats he owned, he wasn't ready to shave his hair off just yet.

He was thankful Boden had been out to get him groceries, but making sure he had food in wasn't the only problem with food, he also lacked the energy for any sort of food preparation so he barely ate anything despite Boden's good intentions. Casey was sure if his doctor knew he'd be going home and getting no help from anyone then he wouldn't have been discharged, but he'd just wanted to get out of the hospital so badly. He was tired of being disturbed, of having no privacy, of hearing people in the rooms beside his, moaning, throwing up and even just walking around or talking. The walls of the hospital weren't thick. His house was peaceful and quiet despite the cars driving by, anything would be better than the hospital. It was a modest house, spacious for just himself, with traditional décor, he'd lived there for a few years now, he'd moved in not long after he received his lieutenants' position at 51. There were two storeys, plus a basement, there was a main bedroom and a spare on the first floor but he'd spent most of his time home from the hospital on the couch, close to small downstairs bathroom, comfortable and in front of the TV.

He felt like he'd barely been out of the hospital when he was back in the oncology ward waiting to have his blood drawn, and another bone biopsy. He'd already lost count of the amount of blood draws he'd had, but at least they didn't have to stick him with a needle every time. He was slouched on one of the waiting room chairs, wearing a Blackhawks cap, old CFD hoody and some worn jeans, he had his arms wrapped around himself, he was struggling to keep warm, despite now being inside out of the harsh winter winds.

A familiar face approached him with a bright smile. "No one with you today?" Catalina asked after she greeted him.

"Was just fine on my own last time," he responded. He knew everyone was on shift today, Boden had offered him a ride to the hospital but he'd decided to take a cab despite his earlier concerns about wearing the surgical mask in public, he was too tired to care now.

"Come on through then, Matt, just the bone biopsy and blood draw today," she said as he followed her into the procedure room.


After the biopsy Casey had to wait in the recovery room for a while, and he didn't protest to the wheelchair. They'd given him a light sedative, often the anticipation of having the biopsy done after having been through the procedure in the past made the experience more nerve-wracking, so the doctor had insisted despite Casey's protests. It had made him a little unfocused and even more tired than usual but he was actually glad of it, it did help him to relax and the biopsy felt like it hadn't taken much time at all.

It wasn't long before Doctor Park moved back the privacy curtain and walked over to Casey's bedside, he sat down on the small stall before he spoke. "Hi, Matt, I've had your results. Unfortunately, we're going to need to do another cycle of induction chemotherapy, not what we were hoping for but…"

"It was a possibility," Casey finished tiredly, although the sedative had worn off.

Doctor Park nodded. "Your blasts are still quite high at 48%, so, this time I…"

Casey had zoned out, he was looking through the window. It was trying to snow. There were small white flakes littering the grey sky.

"Matt?"

"Sorry… 48%?"

"Yes, so we're going double the chemo dose, you coped very well last time so I'm happy we can do that, and hopefully that will bring the blasts down to 5%, get you into remission," the doctor told him. "Your CBC also came back and we need to admit you, your white count and your platelets are too low again. We'll start chemo again tomorrow morning. I want to give you a blood transfusion today and we'll draw some more blood tomorrow to make sure we can start on the chemo though, how does all that sound?"

"It is what it is, I guess."

"All right. Catalina will be by soon and you can get settled in again."

"Yeah, thanks."


Casey had come prepared with a few items and clothes in case he needed to stay, it was always a possibility depending on the results, but he had really hoped he would have been able to go back home. Three days home from the hospital hadn't nearly been enough. It only made him miss being home more as he sank down into the hospital bed. He gazed out the window and didn't bother making conversation with Catalina as she set up his blood transfusion, she remained silent and didn't try to talk to him, she worked as quickly as she could so that he could be left alone for a while.

His phone started to vibrate on the side table, he almost considered ignoring it until he saw the caller ID. It was Boden.

"Chief?" he began as he answered the phone.

"Casey, I'm calling to offer you a ride, if you're not back home already, would have called earlier but there was a pin-in accident," Boden explained.

"Oh, thank you, Chief, I don't need a ride though," he responded.

"You're home? How about I come over tomorrow, we can watch a game?" Boden suggested.

"I'm…" he stopped himself, he'd almost considered lying. "I'm still at the hospital. They've had to admit me."

"What's happened, Matt?"
Boden asked.

"The chemo didn't work, well, it worked a bit, but it didn't work as well as it was supposed to..."

"I'm sorry, Matt, what can I do?"

"Nothing. But thank you for offering," he responded.

"Please call me, keep me updated, let me know if there's anything you need," Boden insisted.

"Yeah, sure. Thanks."

Casey ended the call before Boden could say anything more. He started another cycle of induction chemotherapy the next day and it didn't take long until he started feeling the side effects of the drug running through his system. Like last time they had given him some antiemetics before the chemotherapy started but it didn't seem to help much now the cytarabine dose had been doubled, he put up with it stoically though, that was until late at night when he was unable to sleep despite his exhaustion when everything hit him. Chemotherapy was hell and there was no way around it. It felt like it was killing him and he shed tears alone in his darkened room.

Chapter Text

Casey was lying on his bed, it hadn't been long since he'd started chemotherapy again but this time he was already feeling the effects. He'd not thrown up yet but he felt as if he would and his head was aching, it wasn't agony, just throbbing annoyingly, it made his forehead feel tight and his eyes heavy. He'd had some messages arrive on his phone, he'd switched it off after he'd spoken to Boden. There was one from Shay, checking on up on him, wanting to know if she could come around and help him, Casey still hadn't told her that he was in the hospital, he'd not told her what was really wrong. He was going to have to explain eventually, and that would mean admitting that he'd kept it all from her and most of the others. Severide had also sent him a tentative message, presumably Boden had told him he'd been admitted again. He didn't feel like replying, not yet.

"Hey, found your way back into this joint, I see," Sara spoke as she walked into his room. He opened his eyes and saw she was wearing a hospital gown rather than her usual lounge clothes, and was pulling along an IV stand

"How long have you been back?" he asked her, pulling his hoody around himself, feeling oddly uncomfortable in her presence, he wasn't feeling well at all though so he put his self-conscious thoughts down to that.

"Few days, finally been let out of isolation, and I was told you were back in, you didn't message me?"

"I was sorta hoping you were out living your life," he answered wearily, his exhaustion was clearly seen by Sara, but she was already making his heart feel lighter with her presence.

"Nope, just feverish and delirious instead," she responded. "I have something for you though," she announced, holding up the box she'd carried in.

"That's not a jigsaw puzzle," he stated.

"How very astute of you. Origami. My mom picked it up from the craft store," she explained.

"For me?" he questioned with an incredulous look across his face.

"For me and my sick friends," she answered, smiling. "Thought you'd like it, you know with your construction background..."

"I don't build stuff out of paper," he told her.

"No, but looks like that's probably all you can lift right now," she responded, smirking a little.

"True."

"You wanna crack it open then?" she questioned, still smiling.

"You're making it sound far more exciting than it probably is," he responded tiredly.

"I know do you'll do it for me. You're a sucker for a sob case… my kidneys are dying, just a reminder," she added persuasively.

"Do you bribe everyone?" he questioned, letting out a breath.

She gave him a simple nod. "Yes."

"I'm likely to throw up in the near future," he warned her as he sat up a little more in the bed.

"That's ok, I'll just pass you the basin," she retorted.

"People ever tell you; you're annoying?" he groaned.

"Yes."

They smiled at each other. "Ok. Open it up then," Casey responded.

She opened the box and moved the table over Casey's lap so he could empty out the contents. She looked at the bag hanging by the bed. "Double the dose," she commented.

"Yeah. You have a photographic memory?"

"No, I just remember what it was last time," she responded.

"They're repeating the cycle, it didn't work," he admitted quietly.

"Aw look! There's instructions on how to make penguins!" she exclaimed with a delighted squeal, distracting him from his thoughts again.

He smiled. "Think they might be beyond my capabilities."

"Guess we'll find out."


It had been almost a fortnight since Severide had last seen Casey. He had been torn about visiting, he'd desperately wanted to be there for him, but he also knew Casey didn't want him. Casey didn't love him. Severide didn't want to push him too much, he knew he already had, but he couldn't keep away from him, it was like he was drawn to him just like a magnet would be, but his heart ached knowing Casey didn't want him, and he understood it, he really had hurt Casey, and perhaps that had been intentional, he did want Casey to hurt because he had been hurting too, but Casey was already hurting for the same reasons, Severide had just piled on more pain.

It was late in the afternoon and the door to the hospital room was open. Severide walked in to find Casey vomiting violently. He was sure there was nothing to come up since he could see how much weight Casey had lost, he knew he wasn't eating. Catalina was holding the emesis basin for Casey as he heaved and retched. Severide stepped back out of the room. Casey wouldn't want to be seen like this, he knew he'd already overstepped his boundaries and he was determined not to do the same this time.

Catalina found Severide sitting in the communal area. "He's feeling a little better now, if you want to see him," she spoke gently.

"Don't think he wants to see me," Severide responded.

"I'm not sure about that," she told him, she'd almost walked in on him crying alone in his room the night before.

Severide shook his head, almost chuckling. "You don't know him like I do."

"No, I don't, but I've seen so many people go through this, everyone needs someone," she replied.


Casey was lying on his back, he could still taste the fresh mint flavour from the mouthwash he'd used, he heard a set of familiar footsteps walk into his room. He looked towards the dark-haired man he'd not seen in days.

"I'll leave if you want me to," Severide said as he walked into the room.

Casey just looked at him wearily through half lidded eyes.

"Can I stay?" he asked.

Casey just looked down at the fresh emesis basin. He was still feeling nauseaous but he was hopeful he was no longer going to throw up. His abdomen still ached from all the heaving.

"I'm sorry that you're going through this again. I know saying that doesn't change anything but I am, and I wished I'd been there when you found out, but I know you prefer to do things on your own, and I know I have habit of pushing you too much."

"It's ok. Being sick doesn't excuse me from being a jerk, and I was a jerk," Casey responded, his throat sore and scratchy.

"The chemo didn't work?" he questioned. Casey hadn't exactly been forthcoming with his treatment plan but from what he understood he knew Casey was repeating the induction cycle.

"Can we just watch TV?"

"Sure." Severide nodded, not saying a word about Casey's deflection.

He grabbed the TV controller and began flipping through the channels. He landed on Die Hard, it was twenty minutes in but they'd both seen it plenty of times for that not to matter.

The credits rolled eventualy and Casey turned to Severide, who thought he'd fallen asleep since he'd been so silent during the last quarter of the film. "Thought you were gonna start snoring," he said.

"Not quite," Casey replied.

"Wanna watch another movie?"

"Gonna have to tell the guys," Casey announced, not bothering to answer Severide's question.

"It's your choice," he responded simply, taken aback a little by Casey's comment.

"Think I should, maybe, probably," he scoffed. "I mean, they'll find out eventually, well, I'm gonna have to say something eventually, I'm obviously not gonna be back at work for… well, I don't know how long, I don't know if… there's not a lot of concrete answers… so yeah, they need to know."

"Ok," Severide said.

"Can you do it? I don't think it's a phone call sort of conversation, and I don't know what to say, not after not telling them right away…"

"Matt Casey not knowing what to say. That might be a first," he teased. "Of course, I'll do it though. And they'll understand why you didn't say anything to start with."

"Thank you."

"Did you make the penguin?" Severide asked him, noticing the origami animal as he poured some fresh water from the jug.

He frowned. "What?"

"The penguin on the side?" Severide elaborated.

"Oh… no, Sara did, insisted I kept it, she made two because they mate for life," he explained.

"Sara?"

"A friend," he told him.

"That's… that's good," Severide responded, wishing he'd not stuttered, he was happy Casey had someone else to talk to, even if he wished he would just talk to him.

"Severide, she's sick too, lymphoma. You're not being replaced, don't worry," he said, rolling his eyes. "She's nice. You'd like her. She thinks you're hot," he added as he let his eyes close.


Severide spoke to Boden before roll call the next day, informing him that the time had come to tell the rest of second watch exactly what was going on with their truck lieutenant.

"Morning everyone," Boden greeted as he walked into the meeting room. "Got a few housekeeping things to go over but first I have some news for you all. Severide, do you want to?"

Severide gave him a nod as he walked over to the front, away from his usual position leaning on the back wall. "You all know that Matt…" He coughed, clearing his throat. "Lieutenant Casey has been on sick leave for almost a month now, and I know you've all been talking and gossiping about it all so, the truth is… Matt has cancer, leukaemia…"

"But he's gonna be all right? Yeah?" Hermann questioned, interrupting, and allowing all the others to begin talking.

"Hang on, guys..." Severide spoke up, silencing them again. "He's being treated, and he's coping well with the treatment so far. There is no certain outcome but you all know Casey, he'll do is best to fight through it all. Now, he can't have visitors very easily because of the risk of infection, but I'm sure when he's discharged he'll want to see all you guys. And when does happen, he does look…" he trailed off, not wanting to say anything, but needing everyone to understand the situation.

"Copied, Lieutenant," Herrmann responded with a nod.

"All right, well, that's about it then, I'll try to keep you updated with everything, don't bombard him with messages; he is a sleep most the time and… well, you know what he's like…"

Boden stepped back over to the front. "Thank you, Severide."

As Severide walk through everyone he tried to ignore all their faces, fearing he would let his own concern show too much at the sight of their worry.

"Good thoughts and prayers need to be directed to Matt right now, he has a tough time ahead of him but we will all make sure he's well looked after," Boden was saying as Severide leaned back against the wall.

He didn't pay much more attention to anything else Boden was saying having moved on from Casey. Severide's thoughts still remained on him though, and the image of him in the hospital, looking sicker and sicker as time went on. That didn't seem right at all and he wondered when Casey would start to feel and look better because so far everything just seemed to be getting worse, and he couldn't stand for Casey to feel so bad for much longer.

Chapter Text

Casey had woken in the morning with painful sores in his mouth. Oral ulcers. Catalina warned him that they were likely to get worse before they got better. He was grimacing when she helped him to apply some ointment to create a film over the sores, but it did little to help him eat the breakfast he'd been given. Instead Catalina made sure he drank two cartons of Ensure Plus, but he started vomiting again a few hours after the third dose of daunorubicin was given and the third infusion of cytarabine had started. Once the heaving had abated he slept all day, only waking up to discover another origami animal by his side, another penguin, only this one had been coloured in, he smiled at it before closing his eyes, and for just a moment he thought he heard Chaplain Orlovsky's voice but he'd fallen back to sleep before giving it much thought.

Severide stepped into Casey's room the next day, he wore a surgical mask over his mouth and nose but there was no need for any other infection control precautions today. He'd come straight from the firehouse and Casey looked completely and utterly depleted. He was lying flat on his back and barely managed to move his head to look at him as he walked over.

"Hey, bud," he began softly, sitting down by his side.

"Kel…"

"S'all right, you don't need to talk, they said your mouth's been sore," Severide responded, fighting the urge to take Casey's hand.

"M'ok," Casey told him, finding the energy to look at him now. His stomach ached, he almost felt like he was going to throw up but he'd managed not to vomit since yesterday afternoon. His bones ached too, something he never thought was possible, lying as still as possible seemed to be the best solution.

They'd fallen into silence and Severide could tell that Casey was uncomfortable, pain showed easily in his eyes. "Can I do anything?" he asked.

"Stay with me?"

They'd been the last words Severide had expected to hear but he appreciated them more than anything else that could have been said. "I'm not going anywhere, Matt," he told him firmly.

"Sorry for everything… for Andy, blaming…"

"Shh… don't. I know. And you know I never meant anything I said to you, right? I could never hate you…"

"You were allowed to hate me, I hated me…"

"I know you did, that's why I should have been there for you, we should have been there for each other. But here for you now, all right? I'm always going to be here."

"I might not be…"

"Well, that right there is very negative thinking…"

"Oh yeah?" Casey offered him a weary smile.

"Yeah, you just need to focus on fighting this," Severide told him.

Casey laughed at that. "Don't think lying there and telling my body to keep going and get through this is gonna make a difference. I'll either get through it or not. My mind willing my body to cure itself isn't gonna do anything."

A little disappointed by Casey's line of thought he retorted. "It might. Power of positive thinking and all that."

"Yeah 'cause positive thinking is really gonna cure this…"

"It might help," he repeated, unable to stop his voice from cracking with emotion. "Erm... I have a video message from the guys to show you," he said, hoping to improve Casey's mood, hoping to instil some sort of positivity into him.

"You told them yesterday?" Casey asked quitely.

He nodded. "I did."

"What happened?" Casey questioned, worried they'd hate him for keeping stuff from them all, he knew it was possibly a juvenile worry but it was one he had nonetheless.

"I think you should just watch the video," Severide suggested, passing him his phone.

Severide watched Casey's expression change into a smile as he listened to the words from his crew in the brief video they'd put together for him. It made him miss the firehouse, and reminded him what a great family he had, even if they were a little dysfunctional at times. He was thankful for 51 though, the first firehouse he'd been stationed at had filled a small hole inside of himself and 51 had cemented it.

"Thank them for me," Casey said as he gave Severide his phone back.

"You can do it yourself, they're desperate to come by and visit," he responded.

"I think, maybe, I'll go round to Molly's or the firehouse when I get out of here, think that's a better idea."

"Yeah, all right, thought that would be the case." Severide grinned at him, but couldn't help but noticing the pain in Casey's eyes as he looked at him. "You're hurting. Do you want me to get…"

"I need to eat," Casey announced with a slight nod. He moved a little and adjusted the bed so he was no longer lying flat.

Severide smiled, glad that Casey was trying to keep his body as healthy as possible. "Ok. Ensure?" he questioned, going over to the small fridge they had in the room now, Boden and the Chaplain had brought it over when he found out Casey would be going through another cycle of induction therapy.

Casey weakly took the carton from Severide's hand but he was too tired to hold it, never mind tearing open the straw. Severide took it back from him immediately, apologising.

"Here. You just suck…" Severide instructed as he put the straw in between Casey's chapped lips.

Casey smiled as he took a sip.

"Just keep sucking… just keep sucking…" Severide began.

Casey grinned at him, almost spitting out some of the drink. He let the straw fall from his lips. "I'm never gonna watch Finding Nemo the same way again."

Severide made a face. "How often do you even watch it?"

"With a surprising amount of regularity," Casey replied without missing a beat.

"Well, that's something I didn't know."

"It's on TV a lot... it's easy to watch," Casey added.

"Uh huh…" He just smiled, but it soon faded from his face. "Case… Matt, I want to be better at this, better at being a friend, but you're gonna have to help me out…"

"You're not a very reliable friend," he responded, treading carefully.

"Or you don't trust easily," Severide retorted.

"Or both," he said quietly.

"How do I get past this then?"

"Severide, I'm not in the mood for this," he responded. He felt like he was going to throw up again, and hope that he wouldn't, not in front of Severide but he'd just drank some of the Ensure so it was a possibility. He'd definitely noticed the increase of side effects now both the daunorubicin and cytarabine had been doubled and it wasn't pleasant, after Severide had left the other day he'd thrown up some more and then he'd spent a few hours on the toilet, his body dispelling all the food he'd managed to eat after he'd been admitted. It was exhausting and degrading, and the same had only happened yesterday as well.

"I remember a time where we were on a first name basis every moment we were off shift," Severide commented.

Casey just turned his head away, he wasn't kidding when he said he wasn't in the mood for Severide's change in conversation. Sometimes the man just pushed him too much, and when he didn't get an answer he knew just what to say to get a reaction from him, but not today, today he was too tired, today he'd broken down and asked Severide to stay with him, he didn't want to regret that decision, perhaps it had just been a childish need, to want someone near him when he was suffering, perhaps he shouldn't have said those three words at all.

Severide was looking at Casey, he was still facing away from him, Severide was running through things he could say to fix all of this, but maybe there wasn't anything he could do at all. Casey's body lurched suddenly and Severide heard liquid splatter onto the hospital floor. "Shit…" he muttered, quickly moving and reaching for the same emesis basin that Casey's right hand was near, they grabbed it at the same time. Severide let go, he just watched as Casey sat up on the other side of the bed, back to him, as he retched into the basin. Casey hit the call button and it only took a moment for the nurse to arrive, it wasn't Catalina but Severide supposed she must have some days off.

"Sorry…" Casey muttered to the nurse, glancing down at the floor, having been unable to reach the emesis basin in time, he knew he should have grabbed it the moment he felt sick but he'd not wanted to in front of Severide. But this was worse because he was now sitting there with a pool of liquid vomit by the bed, and splatter down the front of himself. He couldn't look at Severide, he wished he'd just leave the room and not come back but he could still feel his presence behind him.

He retched again but nothing came up. Tears streamed out of his eyes as his stomach continued to twist and lurch, but there was nothing left. After what felt like an age the agonised heaving subsided, the nurse had been rubbing her hand on Casey's back, holding the emesis basin in front of him since he was too tired to do that himself.

Severide had been standing rooted to the spot wanting to take the nurses place.

The nurse gently helped Casey so that he was lying back on the bed, she wiped away the drool from his chin and the tears from his eyes as his breathing softened. Severide looked at the nurse, feeling completely and utterly useless, his heart stuck in his throat, and without thinking he took hold of Casey's hand, caressing it gently, sharing his warmth.

Casey was too tired and weak to pull away, and even if he hadn't been he would have had a hard time convincing himself that Severide's touch wasn't nice. Severide held his hand as the nurse cleaned up his room, only letting go so she could change his hospital gown, and together they managed to help persuade Casey to swirl some mouthwash around before spitting it back out. Once he was lying back down Severide went over to the shelving unit where there were some spare blankets, Casey's eyes were barely open when he tucked him under the bed sheets, wrapped the blankets around him, making sure he was warm and comfortable.

He didn't let go of Casey's hand for the rest of the night. Even his own urge for the bathroom didn't stop him. He found himself willing Casey's body to let him rest, to at least stop him from heaving and retching for a little longer, each minute passed Severide would repeat the mantra in his head, willing Casey's body to get better and to heal.

Casey opened his eyes to find the sun had set and the moon had risen. There was a weight on his right hand so with his left he wiped away the sleep from his weary eyes, then he realised what exactly the weight was. "Kel?" he croaked out, his voice too strained and quiet for Severide to notice. "Kelly?" he tried again, this time Severide heard.

Severide's own eyes opened and his was faced with a slightly confused expression on Casey's face. "Hey… how are you feeling?"

"Wa… water?"

"Yeah, here…" Severide let go of Casey's hand for the first time in five hours. He grabbed the cup from the side and held the straw to Casey's sore and chapped lips. He made a mental note to get him something for that. "Take it easy, just a few sips for now," he told him before he pulled the cup away.

Casey struggled under the layers of bed covers, trying to sit up a little.

"Hang on." Severide moved back a couple of the blankets and adjusted the bed to help Casey into a more upright position. "Better?"

"Better," he repeated hoarsely. "Mouthwash?"

"Yeah, course, here," Severide said, picking up the Colgate bottle, unscrewing the lid and tipping a small amount into to lid.

Casey took the lid gratefully, swirled the minty fresh liquid around his mouth as he reached for an emesis basin. Severide had beaten him to it and held it on front of him so he could rinse his mouth out. He made a face as he did. "Stings…" he muttered.

"It's good to keep your mouth clean though, I read up on it whilst you were sleeping. At least the Ensure is all right?"

"Except I keep throwing it back up," he responded, shrugging a little.

"Is there anything I can get that you might keep down? Have you kept anything down?"

"Jell-O," Casey answered, his voice still quiet.

"Not highly nutritious or calorie dense but it's something, I guess," he responded.

"Why are you doing this?"

Severide just shook his head. "Don't question it, Matt, don't overthink either, just let it happen."


Casey spent the night tossing and turning. His whole body ached, having managed to eat a decent sized portion for dinner he then ended up rushing to the toilet, instantly regretting the food he'd eaten because the medication they'd been given him to help with his stomach hadn't done anything. He was hot one moment and cold the next, he couldn't get comfortable and his head throbbed in pain until the painkillers finally got to work. He was woken up a few times in the morning once he'd eventually fallen asleep, he slept lightly and woke up to a noise from the room next to him, he'd groaned and moved one of the pillows over his head, next, he woke to footsteps and then the beep of the infusion pump woke him. Then they needed his weight to check the chemotherapy dosage before they could start day five of the infusion. He was exhausted with it all and knowing he wouldn't be able to go home once it was all done only soured his mood.

He sent Severide a message telling him he wasn't up for visitors. When he'd become more aware of what had happened during the previous day he'd felt embarrassed, even guilty at his behaviour. He was lying on the bed with his eyes closed trying not to think about it all too much, there was a cool cloth over his forehead, and he was dressed in just a hospital gown, a pair of new sweatpants that Severide had bought for him and some cotton socks. Catalina had helped him to wash and freshen up in the afternoon, he'd been too tired to do it all by himself, but after how ill he'd been the previous day and how he'd felt overnight he'd desperately wanted to feel human again. Three days of vomiting had depleted him but he finally managed to keep down some Ensure, and he'd had a few pots of the Jell-O and chocolate pudding.

He'd wanted to eat a proper meal again that evening, he was hungry which was a rare feeling at the moment, but he was worried about the effects it would cause on his digestive system especially after the previous night. His mouth was still sore too, in fact, just as Catalina had warned him, it was already worse, his lips, tongue and throat were now all affected, it made talking and swallowing painful.

"You have to try and eat some more, I know it's hard but you're losing too much weight and it may end up delaying treatment," Catalina was telling him towards the end of her shift.

"I'd love to be able to eat a steak right now," he responded, chuckling. "I am hungry… haven't been hungry for ages."

"Pureed steak?" she teased.

"Thought of that makes me queasy…"

"Doesn't take much to make you queasy," she said.

"Hey… I definitely don't think you're allowed to make fun of me… and my very delicate digestive system right now," he responded, smiling. "I'll just have to down some Ensure…"

"You're gonna need a few, might be worth trying to drink one every few hours if you can," she suggested. "They're surprisingly filling though but it's worth trying, you really need to gain some weight."

Casey looked at her with a disgruntled expression, he really didn't want them to resort to an NG tube but he was worried it would come to that eventually.

"You've not tried ice cream yet, how about I get you some? Zero fibre and full of fat. There's even some sprinkles I can put on it," she suggested.

"Sprinkles? How about chocolate sauce?"

She gave a quick nod. "I'll see what I can whip up."

"Thank you," he responded

"No worries, Matt, and if it's all right, make sure you have some for breakfast too. My shift doesn't start until 10am tomorrow… in fact, I'll note it down…" she said, already walking over to the large whiteboard that was on the wall by the door. All his care details were on there, as well as daily goals, and a countdown for this cycle of treatment.

"Maybe you should just bust me out of here when your shift finishes?"

"You're gonna have to try harder than looking at me with those pretty eyes of yours, I'll accept a cash bribe," she said, chuckling.


Casey had not long started the sixth infusion of cytarabine. He was gripping the sides of the sink in the small bathroom in the corner of the hospital room he was currently restricted too, his blood count was too low to even sit in the communal area, fortunately they could keep going with the induction therapy. He was feeling better in comparison to the last few days though, Severide was on shift and he'd spent most of his morning sleeping, waking to a message from him, telling him to aim for the emesis basin, it made Casey smile. His smile had faded when he saw the amount on blond hair on the standard issue hospital pillow, which was how he found himself in the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror, he'd been avoiding his reflection for weeks now and he had been right to do so, he could hardly recognise himself.

A few strands of hair had fallen into the porcelain sink. Most of his eyelashes had fallen out, and when he brushed a finger over his left eye they all came away. He'd not needed to shave for weeks now either, the stubble that was there had fallen away with the touch of his hand and it hadn't grown back. He opened up his gown to see how most of his chest hair had gone, and he could count his ribs. He felt sick at the sight of himself. He had to brace himself against the sink again, staring at the reflection his face made, his cheekbones were sharp, his eyes surrounded by dark circles, the rims of his eyes were red. His lips were cracked and covered with ulcers. He looked worse than sick right now, the sight of himself made him feel physically sick.

"Are you all right in there, Matt?" Catalina called through the door, she'd walked into his room and waited for a few minutes before speaking to him. "Matt?" she questioned again, and when he didn't answer she opened the door and saw Casey gazing at his reflection in the mirror, his hospital gown open.

He turned to look at her, still gripping the edge of the sink. "Do you have hair trimmers?" He'd been hiding his thinning hair, the balding patches under hats for too long, and they weren't really hiding anything.

She nodded, offering a small smile. "Sit down, I'll go and get them."

Chapter Text

Severide entered his hospital room carrying a grocery bag in one arm, with a sports bag over the other. The blinds were still open and he could see the sun starting to set. He smiled at Casey, forgetting he had the surgical mask on, glad he was awake, he didn't look quite so pale and ill as he had done a couple of days ago when he'd last been with him. That had been scary to see, he always thought of Casey as someone who was physically strong and to see him barely able to move on the hospital bed was one of the most terrifying things he'd ever witnessed, and he'd seen a lot of things in his line of duty.

"You cut your hair," Severide commented as he set the bags down.

"Was getting bald patches…" He laughed self-deprecatingly. "I didn't do it, Catalina did, I tried but was too tired. Story of my life right now."

"It looks good," Severide told him honestly.

Casey frowned. His mouth was still sore despite the care from the staff, talking was painful, as well as tiring now.

"Your hair… well, lack of…" Severide said, stumbling over his words.

He smiled a little. "Still have my eyebrows… for now. Eyelashes have all fallen out though…" he responded quietly.

"I noticed," Severide said, now sitting beside him.

"Yeah? You make a habit of looking at my eyelashes?" he questioned wearily.

"You have…" Severide trailed off, looking down at the ground.

"I have what?" he said, his voice scratching.

"You have nice eyelashes. Had."

Casey was silent for a moment, studying Severide's face. "Thanks... I guess."

Severide cleared his throat and distracted himself by opening up the sports bag. "Do you need anything else? I brought some more clothes for you, and picked up some pants from the store, just basic but…"

"But small," Casey finished.

"Yeah. Put some of my older sweaters and shirts in the bag too, thought they'd be useful for layering when you get cold 'cause… well, yeah…" he trailed off, fighting the urge to tell Casey to eat more. It wasn't like he was losing weight on purpose but he knew Casey would need his strength during this second cycle of chemotherapy.

"What's in there?" he asked, looking at the grocery bag.

"A weeks supply of blue Jell-O, that's still your favourite flavour, right?"

"Yeah… a weeks supply?"

"Well, the bag is full to the top with the stuff, bought out the store," Severide responded. "Please tell me you can still eat it?"

"Bout the only thing I can eat, mouth's a mess still," he answered.

"Yeah, sorry, I shouldn't be making you talk," Severide said apologetically.

"It's not that bad." He offered a smile.

"You keep wincing?"

Casey deliberately looked away from Severide.

"It's not just your mouth. Have you had any painkillers?" Severide asked him.

"Few hours ago," he replied, his voice thick, and hoarse sounding

"I think you should have some more, don't you? You're in pain...''

"Kelly…" he breathed out. "My bones hurt. Like… like nothing I've felt before," he admitted.

Severide nodded, not knowing what he could say or do to help so he pressed the call button for the nurse.

"I don't know if I can do this…" Casey muttered just before the nurse entered.

"Pain, Matt?" Catalina asked as she walked over to him.

He just nodded, wiping the back of his hand over his eyes in an attempt to clear them a little.

"I'll give you another shot so you don't have to swallow the pills," she told him, stepping out the room for a moment.

Casey continued to avoid Severide's gaze, still not wanting to look at him and Catalina quickly returned, injecting a mild painkiller into one of his lines.

She checked the infusion pump too. "You're almost half way done with this last one, Matt, not too long now," she told him before leaving the room.

"You should go," Casey told Severide, looking down at the pale green blanket that was covering his legs.

"Why don't we watch a movie?" he suggested as an alternative. "We can binge on Jell-O. Wonder if it will make our piss blue?" He chuckled but Casey didn't.

"This treatment might kill me, the cancer might kill me," Casey said suddenly, looking at Severide now. "But you know what's worse? It might not kill me but, the chemo could damage my kidneys or liver, even my lungs, and I won't be going back to the firehouse. And that will kill me, because what is the point if, after all of this, I don't get to go back to doing what I love, the only thing I'm actually good at?"

Severide was lost for words for a moment. He didn't want to say the wrong thing after Casey's confession, but he also didn't know what was the right thing to say.

Casey sighed and shook his head. "Sorry. Guess it's all just getting to me. Don't worry. I'm fine. Sorry… shouldn't have opened my mouth…"

"Firefighting isn't the only thing you're good at," Severide responded simply. "You can hammer stuff together…"

That made him smile. "Is that what you think I do?"

"Something like that… I'll leave you to it then, see you tomorrow?" Severide asked tentatively as he stood up to leave.

"Sure."

Severide smiled, knowing that Casey wanted to see him again. Just as he left Sara arrived, Casey could tell she was smiling beneath the surgical mask but he didn't miss the way she was leaning heavily on the door frame.

"Thank you for my family of penguins," Casey spoke.

"Thought you'd like them," she responded. "I'm busting out of here. This is just a courtesy visit, thoguht I'd make you jealous before I get out of here for a week."

"Just a week?"

"Yeah, it's all I managed to wrangle. Can't have any more chemo at the moment so I'm out of here."

"Enjoy your freedom, or your own bed at least," he replied.

"I will definitely enjoy my own bed," she said, glancing out into the corridor. "Well, I better go. See you in a week, Matt."

She left before he managed to say goodbye, it astounded him how much energy she radiated, but he was pleased she was able to go home for at least a little while.


When the infusion pump let out a sound just after 10am, telling Casey it had finished, he hit the call button. His nurse soon came in and disconnected him from the pump, it didn't take too long and he was still being given some fluids because he wasn’t managing to drink enough. She also gave him some more painkillers and made sure he drank another bottle of Ensure Plus, his third that morning. Once she left he soon fell into a light doze despite the noise of the TV he could hear from the room behind his wall. He barely heard the knock on the door, he only turned his head and opened his eyes when he heard the light footsteps and rustle of bags.

He frowned at his visitor. "Shay?"

"I bring snacks," she announced as she walked into the room.

"Hi…" he greeted, still surprised by her arrival.

"I'm not an unwelcome visitor, am I?" she questioned tentatively.

He shook his head, sitting up in the bed. "Never."

"Good, because I stole all these from the guy in the room next door…" she said, looking at one of the bags she'd put down.

"What?"

"I'm kidding," she said, grinning. "Not sure what you're up to eating so I got a wide selection of what is essentially junk food."

"They'll have to check my blood sugar more regularly then," he teased, looking into the bag. He smiled at her but he quickly cast his eyes away, thinking, before looking back to her with an apologetic expression. "Sorry, I didn't tell you... after everything I should have told you… didn't want to tell anyone, I think I told Severide, hoping he wouldn't care so much… I don't know… but I'm sorry..."

"You have the right to privacy," she responded, dumping some of the snacks on the swing table besides the bed.

"If it's any consolation I've kicked Severide out a few times. I wish I hadn't told him."

"He's a worrier and he pushes your buttons the wrong way, he's not always the brightest, especially when it comes to you… doesn't always use his head around you."

"Yeah."

"And I was worried about you too... so two weeks ago I may have helped Kelly drink quite a bit… may have lowered his inhibitions and got him to tell me the truth, it took everything I had not to come find you once I knew. Don't blame him for him for telling me."

"Has he…" He swallowed. "Has he been telling you stuff?"

She smiled. "Stuff?"

"You know, about all this…"

"To be honest, he wasn't the best source of information, I was hoping to get something out of you today, but if you don't wanna talk about it then that's fine. All I know is that you have AML and that this is your second cycle of induction chemo. I might be a paramedic, but I don't know that much about all this, not the specifics, I don't know your treatment plan, I don't know much at all. I do know that I will be here for whatever you need."

"I never told Severide or Boden exactly how long all this was gonna take, or exactly how sick I am… I was in denial though, I know that now. I'm not even half way through all this and it's… it's not easy."

"Don't expect it is," she responded, kicking off her shoes, grabbing the TV remote and joining him on the bed. "You sick of daytime TV yet? Or are you becoming an avid viewer of all the trashy soaps?"

He just smiled at her, chuckling, as she wrapped her arm around his.

"You wouldn't tell me if did enjoy them, would you?" she questioned, grinning beneath the surgical mask.

"You'd be sworn secrecy… actually been watching a lot of movies," he told her.

"Eugh, don't tell me… Bond films, Die Hard and Mission Impossible…" she listed off as she flicked through the available channels.

"Maybe," he said, grinning. "Wish I could say I've been spending all this free time productively, can hardly concentrate on staying awake…"

"You're sick, you don't need to pretend that you're not," she told him.

He moved over in the bed a little, allowing her more room, accidently twisting one of the lines he was attached too, Shay sorted it like the consummate professional she was, saying nothing, and just continuing to flick through the channels when she settled back down beside him.

Casey had drifted off to sleep before she'd even found something she wanted to watched, so she pulled another blanket up over him and turned down the volume on the TV.

She smiled when Casey woke a short while later. After a moment he tried to push the bed covers away. "What's wrong?" she asked him.

He looked at her as if he couldn't remember why she was there. "Bathroom," he answered simply.

She moved off the bed and helped Casey out from under the covers and onto his feet.

"I got it…" he muttered as he made his way into the small bathroom.

Shay watched as the door closed then turned back to the bed. She fluffed up the pillows and untangled the sheets. She was sitting down on the stool by the bed when the bathroom door opened, she gave him a quick smile as he started to walk steadily back over to her. She fought the urge to get up and help him. She tried not to look at him, not wanting to make him feel self-conscious but she couldn't help glancing at him.

Suddenly Casey faltered, he'd almost been back at his bed, his knees had felt weak and his grip on the pump stand slipped. Shay stood up but she wasn't quite fast enough. Fortunately for Casey two strong arms grabbed him.

It was Severide, he was smiling at Casey, their faces only millimetres away from each other. "I got you…"

Casey frowned. "Sev?"

"That was good timing," he said, still grinning. He'd darted over to Casey as soon as he'd opened the door into the room.

Casey moved away from his hold and got himself back onto the bed, leaving the pump by the side. Severide made to help with the bed covers. "Can do it…" Casey muttered.

Shay just shot Severide a look and he stepped back from the bed. "I'll leave you with the junk food," she began, speaking to Casey now. "Get some more rest. I'll come back up later, gonna get you a nice warm hat, bright pink, all right?" She grinned teasingly.

"I have hats..."

"She won't take no for answer," Severide spoke up.

"Anything but pink them," Casey responded.

"All right, neon yellow it is," she joked. "You want anything else?"

He shook his head. "Take my card…"

"It's an early Christmas present," she responded.

"Not even November," he replied quietly, now settled under the bed covers.

"Almost is," she responded before ushering Severide out of the room with her. They both stepped out of the room in silence, shutting the door quietly.

"We should stay for a bit, I only just got here," Severide said as he pulled off the surgical mask.

Shay link her arm around his. "Matt doesn't want us in there at the moment. Let's go down and get something to eat."

He sighed. "Fine, sure."

Chapter Text

Severide and Shay were in the hospital cafeteria. They sat down by one of the large glass windows, overlooking the busy street outside. Severide took their food, drinks and cutlery off the tray. "We could have eaten with Casey," he commented as he cracked open his can of soda.

"You really think that's a good idea?" Shay questioned him.

"Might encourage him to eat…"

"He wants to eat, he's not doing it on purpose," Shay responded. "It's difficult to see him like that," she added softly.

"Yeah," he said, nodding.

"But you gotta act normally, Kelly," she insisted.

"I am… well, maybe I'm not, I'm worried about him…"

"He's lost every single normal thing in his life right now, we need to be normal for him, no treading around on eggshells, no mothering, we just need to make things as normal as possible for him. No wonder he kept kicking you out," she adding, teasing.

"None of this is normal though. The other day he said… he's scared and I practically bolted out of the room, he actually spoke to me and I left. I can't do it, he either doesn't want me there or I don't know what to say to him. He's sick, he looks… none of this is fair…"

"Of course it's not fair, but it is what it is, but we cannot treat Matt like he's fragile right now…"

"I want to make things better," he told her.

"Annoying him isn't going to make things better, keeping your distance, acting normal, and not making a big deal if he does ask for help, that's going to be helping him. It was a big thing, him telling you he was sick, he didn't have to tell you, or ask from some rides…"

"I haven't given him a ride. He called Boden," he said, still displeased.

"Yeah, because you're treating him like he's sick," she retorted.

"He is sick! He's really sick! He might die, Shay! He said that himself…" he almost yelled, his voice raised so much that they earned a few glances from those sitting near them.

"And what would you want if you were as sick as he is?" she asked, her tone hushed, trying to stop the onlookers from eavesdropping.

Severide sat back in his chair, the plastic squeaked at little as he did. "I don't know, can't imagine…"

"C'mon, Kelly."

"I'd want things to be normal, I suppose, but how is anything ever gonna be normal? You've seen him, you know what's wrong with him," he responded, his eyes easily showing the sadness he felt.

"When the people around you don't treat you any differently, and you have been treating Matt differently. You can see that, right? You've basically been butting heads since Andy died…"

"We were friends before, maybe more, almost… and after, recently things have started to return to the way they were," he countered, feeling like he was being accused.

"He's not just gonna forget what happened after Andy died. You treated him like he killed Andy."

"What? What are you talking about?" Severide questioned.

"You're not really that oblivious, are you?"

"Hey, you're supposed to be my friend, not sitting here for you to have a go at me," Severide said, offended.

"I am your friend, I'm Matt's friend too, being stuck in the middle of you two wasn't exactly the greatest time of my life either."

He shook his head. "It was over a year ago…"

"So he should be over it by now? He died right in front of Matt's eyes."

"Casey should have…"

"Casey should have what?" she questioned, cutting him off and letting out an exasperated breath.

Severide shook his head again. "I'm not getting into this now, it's in the past," he said.

"It's not in the past. What Matt saw is going to be stuck with him for the rest of his life, how you treated him will be stuck with him too," she pointed out.

"None of us saw what…"

"None of us saw what he did? No, we didn't, and we're not haunted by Andy's body going up in flames every time we close our eyes."

"You're exaggerating."

"I can't even imagine what he saw but I did see his face, I saw his eyes when Herrmann got him down from that ladder."

Severide was almost taken aback. He frowned, thinking back to that dreadful day. "Herrmann got him down? He wasn't hurt…"

"Yeah, not until you threw a fist at his face."

"I… I did overreact."

"Look, there's no point in going over all of this. It's not going to change what happened, but you do need to change how you're treating him now," she told him firmly, it was for Severide's sake as well as Casey's. She knew they would need each other through everything that would be coming their way.

"Yeah, guess I do. Half the time I don't know what to do or say. I just… I want him to know that I care, because I think I care more than I should."


When Casey woke late in the afternoon it took some time to become aware of his surroundings, being stuck in the hospital with no fixed sleeping pattern was disorientating. He scrunched his eyes open and closed a few times, listening to his own steady breaths, he could hear footsteps walking past his room, snoring from the room behind him, the soft murmur of his own TV, and voices coming from the other room. Something felt different, it felt softer, he clenched his hand around the throw and opened his eyes again. There was a new faux fur dark grey throw covering the top of the bedsheets and turning his head to the left he chuckled at the site that met him. By his left arm there was a brown teddy bear dressed in a firefighter's costume. Shay. This was all her doing, she must have turned back up here whilst he was sleeping.

He adjusted the bed and sat himself up, finding a note and two woollen hats sitting on the table, one grey and one navy. He smiled at Shays handwriting then picked up one of the hats, running his fingers over the knitted ribbed lines. He was certainly going to look the part now.

His oncologist came by to see him. They spoke for a short time but there was nothing new to report. Afterwards, still feeling relatively decent, Casey showered with the AquaGuard covering his central line, afterwards he was due for a dressing change, he did it all by himself, it wasn't hard when he was feeling well. It was Catalina's day off and the other two nurses that were on his care team were far too chatty for his liking, not that he would ever say anything, he just preferred Catalina and he had become much more comfortable around her.

"You'll be taking my job soon," the nurse responded once Casey had done the dressing change. "Now, options for dinner…"

"I'll just have Ensure," Casey told the man. He did feel well at the moment and he was worried eating something would change that. "Besides, I've got all these snacks now," he added.

"All right, you've got half an hour to change your mind," the nurse said before leaving Casey alone. The ward seemed to have quietened down now. He couldn't hear anything coming from the rooms that surrounded his. He moved onto his left side and looked out the window at the grey sky, wondering how long it would take for his blood count to return to an acceptable level this time, although the prospect of going home wasn't even exciting, despite the thought of being able to be on his own for more than two hours at a time.


Casey was sitting up in the bed, wearing the same worn t-shirt he'd put on after showering the previous day, still grateful he was managing to do most simple tasks like that himself. The table was over his lap, there was a tray with a cup of water, with his sore mouth orange juice was out of the question, and a small bowl that was now left with a little amount of porridge left inside. Soft foods were the best to go for at the moment because of his mouth. He wasn't allowed any fresh fruit but there was a chocolate pudding on the tray, as well as an empty bottle of Ensure Plus.

"You managed breakfast," Catalina smiled when she walked in and saw the half-eaten tray of food. Casey was still wearing his hat, she'd complimented it when she'd drawn his blood a few hours ago. She'd also noted how worn he looked this morning but knew him enough now not to ask more than she needed to for her job.

"Almost a whole bowl of porridge. Do I get a gold star? Feel like I should," he croaked out, smiling back at her. "Collecting my breakfast isn't why you've come in though, right?"

"No, not the only reason," she answered. "CBC came back, your platelet count is less than ten…"

"Ten… it's never been that low," he responded, looking at her with tired eyes as she refilled his water cup, pleased he was drinking at the moment, even though he was still on IV fluids. He was despondent when he heard that news, having hoped for much better results by now.

"No, the doctor's ordered a transfusion, the bag will be up soon, but you need to be careful today, no…"

"No knocking myself or anything," he said, rolling his eyes a little. This was a bad situation to be in and he knew it.

"Exactly. Don't be too alarmed if any bruises just appear though…"

Casey lifted his arm to show her it's underside. "Like this one?"

She nodded. "Yeah."

"You know before all this, maybe a week before I went to my doctor for the first time, Severide noticed a bruise on my arm and I didn't think anything of it… I could have hit my head or something at work, or even at home and just died…"

"Or you could have not seen your doctor at all," she replied.

"I left it a bit late though, didn't I? I was feeling terrible for weeks… well, thought that was terrible. This is worse."

"The dosage was double this time around, you've coped well though," she told him.

"Don't feel like I have," he said, gazing down distractedly at the faux fur throw across the bed.

"Cancer is cruel and ugly. There's no way around that," she responded.

Casey shot her a half-smile. "Saying I'm ugly? Your bedside manner is terrible," he teased. "No hair, no eyelashes, covered in sores and rashes… I look beautiful right now."

"I think that might be the painkillers speaking," she said, winking. "And talking of painkillers. Are you comfortable?"

He nodded. "Yeah."

"Yeah? Really?" she questioned.

"You have kids, don't you?" he asked.

"You're avoiding the question," she responded.

"I'll ask for more painkillers when I need some," he reassured her, giving her a dimpled smile.

"Good. And yes, I do have kids," she answered.

He smiled. "Glad that conversation wasn't an induced delusion… I'd like to think to my hallucinations would be… stranger or at least more exciting…" he said. "It's Halloween tomorrow, do you take them Trick or Treating?"

"Not this year, but my husband will. Why?"

"Boden, my boss, he loves Halloween, even made me like it… a bit, at least," Casey told her.

"Do you prefer Christmas? I prefer Christmas," she responded.

"I don't like holidays," he admitted.

"They're great for kids."

"Yeah, they are," he replied as his phone pinged with a message. He smiled at it.

"Good news?" she questioned.

"Severide. We're having a classic horror movie marathon tomorrow apparently," he answered. "They're not on shift so I can't get out of that one."

"I'll bring the popcorn then," she joked as she stood up from the stool.

She was soon setting up a transfusion, Casey was starting to think he should be keeping a tally of them all but he supposed he'd discover how many he'd had in total when he started getting his medical bills through. A prospect he was not looking forward to. He earned a decent salary and didn't spend frivolously, he also had his construction business. He had savings he could dip into and he was being giving sick pay from the CFD, but he was dreading discovering how much of the bill he would be liable for, so he tried to push the thought to the back of his mind. There wasn't anything he could do to change what was happening to him, he had no control over anything now, but he just hadn't been intending on being unable to work and having to delve into his savings at this stage in his life.

It wasn't long after Catalina had left that he felt his nose start to run. At first, he thought it was simply a normal runny nose and he wiped the back of his hand over his upper lip, bringing it back down slick with blood. It soon started pouring out of his nose. He was holding the white bed sheet up to it, having had nothing else within quick reach to grab. He hit the call button as the sheet began to become saturated in the warm red liquid.

Chapter Text

Severide arrived at the hospital once his shift had ended, and despite his conversation with Shay the other day he couldn't help but be alarmed when he saw Casey. There was nasal packing in his nose, it had been the only way they'd been able to stem the flow of the blood, and they couldn't remove it yet, even though it had been more than twenty-four hours. Despite the blood-soaked nasal packing Casey was sitting up in the bed, wearing some fresh clothes, he was still grateful Severide, and now Shay, were helping him out with his clothing situation. He smiled at Severide when he entered, aware of how awful he looked this morning, but he truly felt a lot better than he looked.

"Are you ok? What happened?" Severide questioned, he couldn't stop himself.

"My platelets are really low... I just keep bleeding everywhere," he said, chuckling self-deprecatingly. "Look the part for Halloween at least."

Severide smiled at that, trying not to say anything more, he really was trying to make an effort and not seem to overbearing or out of character. "Well, I brought some classics with me, not seen some of these since I was a kid," he announced, pulling some DVDs out of his bag.

"Shay's coming too?"

"Yeah, around lunchtime, so you're stuck with me for a bit," he responded. "Sara could come and join us?" he half-questioned, looking at the family of origami penguins.

"She was discharged, not back 'til Monday," Casey told him. "And you know, I don't really like horror movies."

"The old ones are good. Don't tell me you've not seen some of these?" he questioned, holding up some of the movies.

"Not seen any of them, don't like things that make me jump…"

Severide smiled. "You'll be fine. I've had plenty of…" he trailed off.

"Plenty of dates watch them with you?"

"Yeah," he admitted.

"We on a date then? Threesome with Shay?" Casey said, grinning at the look on Severide's face.

"Can't believe you don't do horror movies," Severide commented, steering the conversation.

"Why?"

"I dunno, just thought you'd watch anything… although only the other week you admitted to watching Finding Nemo more than once," Severide responded, eyebrow raised.

"Everyone has seen Finding Nemo more than once," he said.

Grinning, Severide tilted his head. "Hmm… I'm not sure that's true."

After a moment he spoke quietly. "Kelly… thank for you this."

"Even though you're not a horror movie fan?" Severide asked him.

"Yeah. Thanks."

When Shay arrived a few hours later Casey was sleeping heavily, cocooned in the bed covers and pillows. She smiled when she saw Severide watching the muted TV, the subtitles were on, he didn't want to disturb Casey, although he was sure nothing would wake him at the moment.

"I bought more snacks, not much, figured he'd still have some from the other day," Shay spoke quietly, setting down the bag.

Severide responded by glancing over to the shelving unit in the room, showing her that most the food she'd brought the other day remained untouched.

She looked to where he indicated, sadness crept across her face. "Have they said anything about TPN?" she asked him quietly.

"What? I don't know, I don't even understand all of this, when I got here, asked him about his nose, he just said his platelet count is really low… I did do some reading online but I don't know what's what… I wish he'd tell me… staff won't be able to say anything really, will they? I just want to know what's happening, I'm out of the loop…"

"He's finished a cycle of induction chemo, now he has to wait until his blood count is back up, once it is, and once he's gone at least twenty-four hours without showing any signs of fever, then he'll be discharged," Shay explained.

"That's it?"

"This is what he had the last time he was here, but had to do it again because…"

"It didn't get rid of the cancer," Severide finished.

"No, but it did reduce the amount that's in his blood, so it worked to an extent, this time they doubled the dose of both the chemo drugs," she responded.

"That's why he's felt so much worse this time?" he asked, looking at Casey as he spoke.

She nodded. "Yeah."

"So, this should be it, although weeks ago, the nurse said this was all just the start…"

"Yeah, so he'll have another biopsy, if he's in remission he has to do at three more cycles of chemo," she explained simply.

"How do you know all this?"

"I asked him a couple of questions the other day, plus there's stuff on the board that gives away some information," she told him.

Severide let out a breath. "Thought I'd feel better for knowing."

"It's gonna be a long and tough road for him," she said.

"Which is why I need to be normal, like you said," he responded, looking at Casey lying in the hospital bed. He knew he was going to have to be strong for him when he couldn't be, but he wasn't sure he could be, he didn't know if he could be what Casey needed right now. "He deserves better than me," he muttered.

"You're better than anyone else," she told him.

Severide just looked at her, a mix of disbelief and shock across his face.

"Oh c'mon, do you see his sister here? His mom?" she questioned, putting her arms out for emphasis.

"He's not even told them, has he?"

"Don't think so, and if he had, do you think they'd be here? Another question; do you think they'd be here if he kicked them out?" she said, smiling a little now.

Severide dropped his head into his hands.

She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Kel…"

He looked back up at her. "This shouldn't have happened to him. He's dealt with enough crap, including stuff I've thrown at him."

"He holds grudges but I think, sometimes, he struggles to hold them against you," she told him.

"Dunno, he can be downright nasty sometimes," he responded, chuckling a little, but feeling more relaxed than before.

"So can you," she said, smiling. There was a brief knock at the door, drawing her attention over as it opened, someone came in with a tray of food. She stood up and took it the man didn't need to come over to the table. She removed the lid to see what the food was.

"Should we wake him?" Severide asked as the warm bowl of soup was revealed.

Shay didn't get chance to answer as the door opened again, this time revealing Casey's nurse. "Does he…" Shay began but she needn't have bother as Catalina smiled at her.

"He needs to eat. I'll wake him though," she told them both.

Shay and Severide exchanged a glance. "We'll wait outside, probably better we're not here, maybe…" Severide said as he stood up and they both left the room, Shay smiled at him as they did.


Catalina approached Shay and Severide in the communal area a while later, almost an hour, much longer than they'd expected. "Hi, guys," she greeted softly, sitting down on the couch adjacent to them.

"Is Matt all right?" Shay asked. "He doesn't want to see anyone?"

"No, he's just showering," she responded.

"Oh… lunch didn't go so well then," Shay assumed.

"Is there anything we can do? Anything to make him feel better than he does?" Severide asked the nurse.

"I can tell you he has really appreciated the clothes and things, and the company," she responded.

"Good. Wish there was more we could do," Severide commented.

"Give him another five minutes or so and I think he'll be ready for that horror movie marathon," she said, smiling at them both.


Ten minutes later Severide and Shay walked back into Casey's room. He was sitting in the bed with a fresh set of clothes on, he was being given some fluids through his central line now.

"Hey, bud…" Severide began.

"What's with the mask?" Casey croaked out, looking bemused at the mouth Severide had drawn onto the surgical mask with a thick black pen.

"It's my Halloween costume," he responded.

Casey smiled at him, then looked at Shay apologetically. "Fell asleep before you got here, didn't I?"

"Yeah, but it's not even 2pm, plenty of time left for movies," she replied. "How are you doing?" she asked cautiously.

"Managed to throw up soup only a few minutes after I finished it… that might be a new record," he scoffed, rolling his eyes. It was not a nice experience, not with the nasal packing still in place. He could barely catch a breath before, but with his nose blocked off it was even worse. He did feel a little better after showering though, despite thinking it was a bad idea when Catalina had suggested it. "Think I'll lay off the movie snacks," he added.

"Probably wise," Severide spoke up, already setting up a movie over by the TV. "Don't want you barfing all over the place, you'll disrupt our marathon."

"This is about the only marathon I'll be doing for a while…" he said quietly.

"Best type of marathon, and only type I will ever do," Shay commented.

"Right, let's dim the lights and shut the blinds," Severide said as the trailers began to roll. He went over to the door and turned the main lights off, just leaving the light above Casey's bed lit, as Shay shut the blinds and curtains, sending the room into semi-darkness.


Casey only managed part of one movie before he fell back to sleep and in the end Shay and Severide left him to give him some peace and quiet, as much as he'd be able to get in the hospital. Severide turned up again the next day, this time with no mouth drawn onto the surgical mask. He'd taken some of Casey's clothes away with him and had washed them, of course, he'd tell Casey the dry cleaners had done them and not himself. He was happy to discover Casey was managing to keep down everything he was eating now, and had even walked in on him nibbling at the popcorn leftover from the previous day. His mouth still looked sore though.

"Newspaper," Severide said as he placed the folded paper on the side table. "And earplugs," he said, pulling out a small box from his pocket.

Casey smiled at him. "They're a great idea, thank you, didn't even think about earplugs."

"Hopefully they'll let you get some peace and quiet," Severide said.

"Thank you, and for the paper."

"You know, you could just look at the news on your phone, there's apps for it, even Twitter has…"

"I know," he responded before Severide could finish.

"You were born an old man," Severide teased.

"Don't get the paper every day, this is the second I've had in the last few weeks," he retorted.

"What about the environment?" Severide questioned him, still smiling.

"I recycle," he countered, smiling back at him.

They were disrupted by a knock at the door, when no one entered Casey spoke up. "I'm decent."

The door opened and he was met with another familiar face. "Matt Casey decent. Not sure I believe that," the man said.

Severide just sat back and watched the interaction take place with an intrigued smile across his face.

"What are you doing here?" Casey questioned the man.

"I'm off home for the day, and I heard through the grape vine that you were here… don't worry it's not major gossip," the man responded.

"So, come to see if it's all true? Am I sick as they say I am?" he questioned, masking his true annoyance that word seemed to have spread further than the firehouse with sarcasm. Really, he knew it had been bound to happen, questions would be asked because despite not thinking he was important, despite believing he didn't matter, he did matter and his absence had been noted.

"Came to see if you needed anything," the man answered. "Looks like you're sorted though," he added, glancing at Severide for a moment.

"This is my friend, Kelly Severide," Casey told him, the emphasis on the word friend didn't go amiss with either of the men in the room.

"Ah, the Kelly Severide," he replied.

Severide frowned at that.

"Squad Lieutenant," he clarified.

"That's me," Severide responded with a singular nod.

"Well, I'll leave you to it. You have my number still, Matt? I have yours," he asked.

Casey nodded and watched him leave.

"Who was that?" Severide asked him as the door closed.

"He's a scrub nurse," Casey told him simply.

"Uh huh…"

"What?"

Severide shook his head, smiling. "Nothing."

He looked down at his bruised and pale arms, letting out a breath. "I look like crap…"

"Well, if it's any consolation, he didn't seem to mind," Severide told him.

Casey just looked at him. "Pass me my hoody, please?" he asked.

Severide did and Casey thanked him as he slipped it on, zipping it up and pulling the hood over his head. "Joining a gang now?" Severide teased.

"See who's the old man now?" Casey countered as he settled down into the pillows behind his head.

"Are you all right?" he asked, unable to stop himself.

"Cold, tired..." Casey answered.

Without a word Severide stood up and turned the heating up in the room, although there wasn't much more it could go up. He went back over to Casey who'd now adjusted the bed so he was almost lying flat. "Do you mind?" Severide asked, taking the throw that was folded up at the foot of the bed.

Casey shook his head and closed his eyes as Severide pulled the throw up and over him, covering his arms, bringing it up to his neck and tucking him in. He murmured his thanks as he fell into a light doze. Severide stared down at his pale face, concentrating on every feature, the weight loss was so evident in his face now and Severide knew his eyebrows were almost gone but the thick woollen hat Shay had brought for him was covering where they should be. There were still dark shadows around his eyes, now there were little bruises around them too, reddening the skin. His soft, perfect lips, one of the many things Severide always noticed about him, they were chapped and sore, pale and dry. He could tell Casey was asleep now so he reached across to the lip balm on the side table, he squeezed a small amount onto his finger and gently rubbed it onto Casey's lips, it didn't seem to be doing much to help, but he figured it was better than nothing, and all he wanted was for Casey to at least be comfortable.

Chapter Text

Casey's platelet level had improved and whilst Severide was on shift the nasal packing was finally removed, resulting in a minor nosebleed but nothing as bad as the one he'd had a few days ago. Severide turned up straight after he'd finished off at the firehouse in the morning. He drove straight over to the hospital with some gifts from all of second watch, from all three watches. Everyone wanted to visit but they knew Casey would prefer to maintain his privacy, and they also realised the hospital would only permit Casey to have very few visitors whilst he was still at a high risk for infection. They hoped to be able to see him once he was discharged from the hospital and back home for a while. Since they were unable to visit their truck lieutenant they'd clubbed together and bought some gifts for him. Fresh flowers weren't allowed due to infection control but there was no problem gathering other items, including some decorative lights to make Casey's hospital room cosy for him since they'd discovered he would potentially be there for a lengthy period of time again.

Severide was carrying a box of gifts and a bunch of helium balloons when he walked into Casey's room. The bed was empty and Severide could hear noises coming from the bathroom. He put the box and balloons onto the bed before walking over to the bathroom door, intending on asking Casey if he was all right. But he stopped in his tracks as he recognised the sounds. He backed up, grabbed the box and balloons and stepped back out into the corridor where he sat down.

Fifteen minutes later the scrub nurse who had come by the other day walked out of the room wearing casual clothes. He gave Severide a smile as he took off his mask and walked past. Severide waited a while longer before he got up and stepped back into the room.

Casey was sitting on the side of his bed. His back was facing the door. He started to speak before he turned around. "Come back for…" he trailed off, stopping as he saw Severide. "Kelly? I didn't realise you were coming today."

"Dropped you a message when I was on my way," he told him, putting the items down.

"Oh, sorry, didn't see it," Casey responded.

"You look… you have energy," he said, still holding the balloons.

Casey nodded. "Yeah, blood transfusions will do that." He chuckled a little.

Severide cleared his throat. "Erm, maybe I should go…"

"Ok," Casey shrugged.

Casey just sat and watched as Severide turned to leave with the balloons but he stopped, hovering hesitantly by the door, then turned back.

"Actually Matt, do you want me to set up all this stuff for you? Where do you want the balloons? They're from the guys. Got some lights too."

"Kelly, you ok?" Casey asked him. "You seem… off."

"Long shift," he said, giving an excuse for his obvious discomfort.

"Something happen?"

"No, just… everything's fine, Casey," Severide lied.

"Oh, all right…"

"Shay and Rafferty had quite a gnarly call though," he went on.

"Gnarly?"

Severide grinned. "Yeah, you wanna hear about it?"

"Of course I do!" Casey exclaimed, his face lighting up. "Feel so cut off from it all now… Boden wouldn't even give me any of the reports from the last few weeks."

"You're in hospital and you wanna read reports?" Severide chuckled.

"It's been more than a month since I was last in the firehouse now, doesn't feel like I'm gonna be back there any time soon…"

"What happened to your…"

"My positive attitude?" Casey shook his head. "Was never a positive attitude, just denial."

"Then there's anger?" Severide continued.

"Maybe I skipped that…"

"Straight to acceptance?"

"No. Maybe. I know I'm sick, does anyone accept that?" Casey questioned.

"It is what is, I suppose."

Casey rolled his eyes. "I've said that a lot but…"

"Doesn't mean that you've accepted all of this," he pointed out.

"I dunno… doesn't really matter, not really. Besides, everyone deals with things differently," Casey responded with a small shrug.

"You been speaking to a shrink?"

Casey just looked at him with a smile that answered that question very clearly.

"No. Course you haven't. Stupid questionm huh?'' Severide said.

"Yup. Don't need my head being poked at," he responded. "Could you imagine what might come out?" He laughed.

"Yeah, probably safer not to have anyone look into your mind. Just think of all the dirt in there," Severide teased.

"Exactly." He smiled, closing his eyes and resting his head back on his pillow.

Severide could literally see the energy drain from his face.

"So, you wanna go through all of this stuff then?" he questioned enthusiastically, hoping to stir up enough energy for the both of them.

"Sure…" Casey responded after a moment, opening his eyes. "Need to tell me about 61's call too."

"Of course."


Casey had little energy the next day, he'd fallen asleep as Severide had spoken to him, and he'd barely woken since, leaving Severide to decorate his room with the cards, items and balloons all the guys at the firehouse had organised for him. He was happy to do it, hoping it would be nice for Casey to wake up in a newly decorated room, it wasn't much but it had to be better than before, and it felt as though there was little he could do for Casey at the moment and he hated that, everyone did.

Catalina's voice woke Casey far too early for his liking. "Morning, Matt." He heard the blinds opening.

"Mmm…" he groaned in response, not opening his eyes quite yet.

"How are you doing?" she asked kindly, adjusting the bed so he was sitting up a little.

After a moment he forced his eyes open. "Tired, sore… the usual."

"Need any painkillers?" she asked as she prepared to draw his blood. He even left her to unzip the front of his hoody, feeling far too exhausted to lift his hands and do it himself.

"M'all right," he responded in a weary slur.

"Good, you let me know if that changes," she said as she took some vials of blood from his central line. "I like the balloons," she commented whilst she worked.

"Do you know when Sara's getting here?" he asked her tiredly, still drowsy from medication. "Made a half-hearted attempt at a family of polar bears…"

Catalina smiled softly at him, looking at the side table where the open origami kit remained, and the three paper polar bears lay. She looked back at him. "Oh, Matt… I thought someone would have told you yesterday."

He felt his heart sink. "Told me what?"

"She died. I'm sorry."

"But she…" he trailed off, not seeing the point in continuing. Nothing he said would be able to change the truth, change what he'd just been told. He wasn't ready to believe it though. Sara had so much energy and brightness about her, he didn't think it was possible for her to just be gone. He knew it was possible though, he'd seen it before, he'd seen so much death before.

"She was at home with her family. She died in her sleep. No pain."

Casey realised she must have known she might not return to the hospital, she had been sparing him from that truth. And he realised she must have known others on this ward who had died. Yet she had been protecting him and she didn't even really know him. She'd saved him from some harsh realities that no one had spared him from before. She had brought a brightness into his life that only a few others had ever done, that no one could do as well as Kelly Severide, and Casey would be lying to himself if he said he didn't have feelings for him. But he had been deliberately pushing him away for so long now, because he was terrified of being hurt again by the only person he had ever truly opened up to.

"Matt?" Catalina's voice broke into his reflection.

Casey pulled his eyes away from the colourful array of balloons in the room. He looked at her, sure she had left but she was still by his side.

"I'm sorry that no one told you yesterday," she continued.

"Wouldn't change anything," he responded. "How did your eldest's swimming gala go?" he asked, voice steady although he felt as though a tiny piece of him had snapped inside, and cracks would soon start to show.

"He had a lot of fun," she responded.

He nodded, offering a smile, but didn't look her in the eyes. "That's what counts."

Chapter Text

Severide was approached by Casey's nurse after he had cleared infection control to get onto the ward. She informed him of the bad news Casey had been given, saying that he really needed a friend. He stepped tentatively into the hospital room, not quite sure what he was about to get himself into, but he knew Casey shouldn't be alone right now. He'd happily faced barbed insults and yelling if it meant Casey weren't alone with his own thoughts. There was paper strewn on the floor. Polar bears and penguins. He bent down and picked them up. That was anger checked off the list, he thought, as he tried to flatten the few that had been scrunched up and broken. He set them on the side, placing a heavy book on top of them, hoping to fix them, he was sure Casey would want them despite what he had done.

"Hi, Matt," Severide greeted gently.

Casey turned his head a little. It was obvious he had been crying and Severide felt like he was intruding on something very private. He had never seen Casey cry before. Not like this.

They gazed at each other for the longest moment.

Casey let out a shuddering breath as his tears began again. "Hold me… please just hold me…" His body was visibly shaking. He was too exhausted, physically and mentally, to push Severide away. It was time to lean on him. He needed his touch, his steady breaths and familiar scent. He didn't care what it all meant, right now he needed to be held.

Without a single thought Severide went right over to the him, kicking his shoes off, getting on the bed and scooping his arms around Casey, holding him tight and never wanting to let go.

Casey relaxed into Severide's hold, feeling safe beneath his grip.

"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry, Kelly…"

"Shh… shh… just relax, don't talk. We're just gonna lie here together for as long as you need."

It didn't take long for Casey to fall asleep in Severide's arms. He didn't dare move in case he woke him up but he managed to cover him with another throw, Casey's skin felt cold even within his embrace. Severide must have drifted off eventually too, he woke with Casey's woollen hat topped head tucked underneath his chin. Severide became astutely aware of every single breath and movement he made. Every single movement because he wanted to memorise it, memorise it forever because he didn't think he could ever let Casey go. He couldn't even pinpoint what it was, he just knew that he was supposed to be with him right now. His grip increased in strength. He wasn't ever going let Casey feel alone again.

Casey's nurse was smiling at him, she entered the room and took a couple of cartons of Ensure Plus out of the small fridge, Casey wasn't up to having anything more, his mouth had felt even worse when he'd woken earlier in the morning, and the thought of anything substantial made him feel nauseous. Severide hoped he would be eating more by now, a whole week had passed since the chemotherapy had ended, and Casey's body felt so light within his embrace, his cheekbones and jaw line were so prominent now, Severide could only imagine how he looked beneath the layers of clothing.

"I'll make sure he has them," he said quietly, just above the sound of a whisper. He was quite sure Casey would sleep for some time though.

Catalina gave a quick nod and then left the room, closing the door carefully behind. Severide had been right, Casey slept undisturbed for another two hours, he'd lost most the feeling in his left hand but he didn't care.

Casey stirred in his embrace, letting at a breath that almost sounded like a groan.

"Are you uncomfortable?" Severide asked him gently, not sure whether he was uncomfortable because of pain, or because he was lying in his arms since Casey's body had tensed since he'd woken.

"Kel…"

"Yeah, it's me," he responded and he felt Casey relax again. "Before you get too comfortable again; need you to eat something."

He heard Casey groan as he moved away from his arms, Severide wished the moment could have last longer. Casey looked at him. "Don't wanna see another carton of that stuff again."

"Do you still have some Jell-O left?"

"Don't want that," he responded.

"Is there anything you do want to eat? I'll move heaven and earth to make it happen," Severide told him.

"Sorry…"

Severide picked up one of the cold cartons from the side. "Do these really taste that bad?" he asked, holding it up.

"Why? You gonna drink it and say I did?"

"Nope."

"They taste fine. Well, most the flavours are ok… but I have to have at least six a day, really they want me to have eight, not always managing six though. I'm… I think I'm gonna end up being fed through a tube…" he admitted, looking away. Severide could see him shaking.

"If it's what you need, I don't think it's a bad thing," Severide responded.

"I see how people look at me," Casey said quietly.

"This is temporary," he countered. "Now, do you think you could eat something? If you could have anything you wanted right now, what would it be?"

"I don't want to throw up," Casey admitted, barely above the sound of a whisper.

"I know you've been throwing up after just drinking, so…"

"PB and J sandwich, but blackcurrant jelly," he said suddenly, smiling at the thought.

"That's a good start, what else? Or do you just want kids' food?" Severide teased him.

He thought for a moment. "Some onion rings, the beer battered ones."

"Anything else?"

"Kelly, I don't want them, not really…" Casey responded, the thought of eating the sandwich he'd been craving for the last twenty-four hours was being overwhelmed with the thought of the aftermath, even though he might not throw up he was letting it get to him.

Severide got up from the bed. "Well, I want them now, so I'm gonna go and get us some food. You relax here and drink them, deal?"

"Deal? Don't think I benefit from this," he said with a frown across his face.

"You will when I figure out where I can get a PB and J sandwich with blackcurrant jelly."

"I don't want…"

"Not another word. I'll be back."


When Severide returned to Casey's room, he was a little shocked at the sight that greeted him. Casey was sitting hunched over the side of the bed, right hand clamped to his face, blood running between his fingers, ribboning down his wrist in thin streams, dripping onto his clothes and the bed cover. The nurse was there beside him, having arrived quickly from the nurse's station after Casey had pressed his call button.

Casey looked directly at Severide. His eyes were wide and fear filled. Fear Severide had never seen in his eyes before. He dumped the bag down and went straight to his side where he pulled Casey's hand away from his face. Blood was pouring from his nose and his nurse was now holding a wad of tissue to try and stem the flow.

"Need you to lie back, Matt, all right?" she instructed him.

But Casey didn't seem to hear her, or maybe he just didn't want to comply so Severide wordlessly swapped places with the nurse, holding the tissue to Casey's face and they both helped him to lie back, lowering the bed until it was flat.

"Matt, it's already slowing down, it's not like last time. It should stop on it's own… just gonna this ice here…"

Casey winced when the ice pack came into sudden contact with the bridge of his nose and his cheeks.

"I know, it's not nice, I'm sorry…"

"Matt, look at me," Severide instructed, getting down so he was closer to Casey's head.

"Sorry…"

Severide shook his head in mock. "If I'd known you'd wanted to turn this place into a murder scene I would have got some fake blood packs, save you all this effort," he teased him, hoping to earn a smile.

He coughed some more, spitting saliva and thick red blood out into the basin. He dropped his head heavily back onto the pillow, his exhaustion showing now, eyes cloudy and half lidded, breathing almost laboured with all the effort.

"All right, you should be good now. How are you feeling? Are you lightheaded at all?" Catalina asked after Severide took away the tissue, showing him that the bleeding had slowed down almost to a stop.

"No…" Casey murmured. "Fine now...thanks...''

"Just tired?" she questioned, already starting to untuck the bedsheet that had become bloodied.

"Uh huh…"

"All right, let's get you cleaned up," she said, smiling.

Casey shook his head a little, not wanting to move and risk the nosebleed starting up again.

"Just need to sit you up a bit, Matt, so I can get this sheet off and get you sorted out..."

Casey tried to sit up but she pressed the button and the bed moved him without effort.

"Here, let me help." Severide volunteered, holding Casey while Catalina expertly gathered the sheet up around him. Severide rolled Casey over a little so she could get the sheet out from under him, and she smiled as Casey's head just rested forward against Severide's chest. Severide just grinned at her in response. "Magic touch," he said, trying for nonchalance but hardly succeeding.

Catalina just kept smiling as she cleared up the bloody wads of tissue and the ice pack, disposing of everything in the yellow hazardous waste bin on her way out of the room, with Severide telling her they'd be fine on their own now.

"We're gonna need to move again, Matt, but you'll feel better with a fresh shirt," Severide told Casey after a few moments, still holding onto him. He wasn't in a rush to move and had his eyes closed.

"Sorry..." Casey said quietly as he sat up off the bed slowly.

"I don't mind helping," Severide said, already attempting to remove Casey's bloody t-shirt.

Casey just allowed Severide to pull his shirt off over his head, too exhausted to feel self-conscious. Severide was the one who felt self-conscious when he saw Casey's ribs and his prominent hip bones. It was a disturbing image to see Casey's body looking so fragile and Severide felt unnerved, trying not to stare, trying not to hesitate, trying to keep it all matter of fact. Severide hated to see the central line embedded in Casey's flesh, flesh that had once been so taut and perfect but that was now so pale and marred by spots of bruising and discolouration. Severide still couldn't get over how thin and bony he seemed with his gaunt face and his concave abdomen. It wasn't right. It didn't look like Casey any more.

Severide wipe away the dried blood from Casey's face, neck, chest, arms and hands with some sterile wet cloths. He was gentle and kind with his touch. Casey almost found himself drifting off again but he didn't want to sleep, he'd had enough sleep for one lifetime.

"Almost done," Severide spoke softly, grabbing another wipe. "Be as good as new soon," he said as he gave one final wipe over Casey's chest, then stepped back to admire his handiwork.

"'Sorry…" Casey said again, repeating his apology over and over every so often.

Severide just gave him a smile. He knew well enough not to tell Casey to stop apologising. Casey had spent most his childhood believing that he needed to be perfect, anything less than perfect was unacceptable according to his parents. Saying sorry had become an instinctive part of Casey's nature now and Severide knew he would never be able to change that, there was no point in telling Casey to stop, it wouldn't work and it could even make things worse.

He stood up once he was done and went into the small bathroom, staring down at the blood on his own hands, some of it had come off as he'd cleaned Casey up, but most was still on his skin, a stark reminder of how sick Casey really was. He turned the faucet and let the water heat up, holding his hands under the stream, watching the red run down into the sink as he used a generous amount of soap, rubbing his hands over and over again.

"Kel…" Casey's voice came through the closed door. It was faint but Severide heard it and he turned the water off. "Kelly, are you ok?"

Severide smiled to himself. Typical of Casey to be worried about him when he wasn't even the one stuck in the hospital right now. "I'm fine, was just cleaning up," he responded as he dried his hands.

When Severide opened the door, Casey was standing just outside the bathroom, one hand against the wall to steady himself. "Hi…" he said, smiling at Severide.

"What are you doing standing here? You should be lying down."

"Needed to clear up, then realised you'd been in there for a long time, figured you weren't taking a dump," he answered, laughing.

"Just cleaning my hands," Severide repeated.

"Sorry…"

"Go sit down before you fall down," Severide told him.

Severide watched as Casey nodded tiredly. Satisfied when he was safely back on the bed, having resisted the urge to go and help him, he set about completing Casey's task. By the time he'd tidied up the room, Casey had fallen asleep, exhausted from both the nosebleed and his destructive outburst earlier on, so Severide sat down and opened up the bag of onion rings he'd picked up from a local take-out joint and began to eat a few of them, they were almost cold now.

Casey woke and opened his eyes to find Severide sitting by his side. He hadn't left. He was still here with him, even though he was essentially getting nothing out of being here, except for what he was sure was cold onion rings. The thought of that brought a small frown to Casey's face.

"You all right?" Severide asked him. "Go back to sleep if you want, you've not been out for very long."

"Bit hungry," he responded quietly, pushing himself up in the bed from his sleeping position.

"Good. I got you a PB and J sandwich, with blackcurrant jelly," Severide told him.

"Why?" Casey asked, not managing to stop the word slipping through his lips.

"If you're gonna throw something up you might as well enjoy it first," he commented.

"Let's just hope it doesn't come back up," Casey responded.

Severide smiled as Casey's eye lids started to droop. "Think you can sleep-eat?" he asked.

"Huh?"

"Sleep-walking, sleep-eating. Not funny?"

"Oh… yeah," Casey responded tiredly.

"Maybe have it later, Matt," Severide told him, seeing how tired he'd become.

"No, can have it, and need a carton too…"

"All right, I'll keep you awake for now then," Severide responded. He stood up and went to the small fridge, picking out a bottle of Ensure for Casey. He opened it and even took the straw out of its wrapper before handing it to him. "Are you going to be ok tomorrow? I can take the shift off?" he asked as Casey began to sip at the drink.

Casey smiled with the straw still in his mouth, just shrugging his response.

Severide smiled back at him. "Don't be thinking I'm worried but… are you going to be all right tomorrow?"

"I'll be fine."

"You always are."

Chapter Text

Severide smiled as he checked his phone. Casey had sent him a photo of his breakfast, with the message 'can't beat hospital food' below. He was smiling because he was glad Casey was eating. Having the food yesterday and not throwing up afterwards had given him back some confidence.

There was a knock on his door. He turned to find Herrmann standing outside of his quarters and he indicated for him to come in. "Severide, how's our boy doing?" he asked.

"He's... he's managing," Severide answered. "He's finished the second cycle of induction chemo but he'll still be in the hospital for a while. When he gets discharged it might not be too long before he's back in but he's going to need some help."

Herrmann nodded in agreement.

"He's going to need help but he isn't gonna ask for it," Severide clarified.

"Sounds like our Casey," he responded.

"Yeah…"

"Cindy wants to make some meals for him, to make things easier," Herrmann told him.

"He's erm… some soups and stews and things, they would be best," he explained, not quite wanting to go into too many details about how sick Casey was at the moment. He wanted to protect Casey's privacy, and his dignity.

"Ok. We'll make it all as easy as possible for him… without trying to be too involved," Herrmann added with a smile.

"He is becoming more accepting of help but we still shouldn't push it," he pointed, sitting back in his chair.

"Tell you what, have you got a key for his place?" Herrmann questioned, a thought had suddenly entered his mind.

Severide nodded, curious.

"Well, give it to me, I'll send Cindy round to give it a once over."

"That sounds like a great idea," Severide told him, smiling. He knew it would make Casey's crew feel better about everything that was happening with their lieutenant if they could help him as much as they could, he wasn't going to deny them that even though Casey would have tried to protest.

"I do have them occasionally," he retorted. "And financially, how's he doing? Do you know?"

"He's not been overly forthcoming on that front but I don't think he'll struggle, not at this stage, we'll play it by ear I suppose. I know you're desperate to send the boot around but I don't think he won't accept it."

"Yeah, of course he won't… well, make sure to tell him that if he does need anything, anything at all, we're all here for him," Herrmann responded.

"He knows, and he is grateful."


Casey was dozing lightly in the chair by the window when Chaplain Orlovsky walked into the room, he took a seat, noticing the bible on the side. The afternoon sun was low in the sky and sending rays of light into the room, casting a warm glow over Casey's pale skin. After a while he opened his eyes and found the man sitting on the stool at the side of the bed. He rubbed his eyes with his hands and stretched a little, the blankets that had been covered him slipped down, revealing more of worn shirt he was wearing.

"Afternoon, Matthew," the Chaplain greeted him softly as he pulled the blankets back up.

"So bored you've had to come by here and see me?" Casey smiled tiredly, still waking up.

"You called me this morning, remember?"

Casey was still smiling at him. "If I pretend I don't remember, can you pretend I didn't?"

"'Fraid not," the Chaplain responded.

"I had a moment of weakness," Casey spoke.

"I don't think it was weakness, it was the opposite."

Casey let out a huff of laughter and resisted rolling his eyes at the comment.

"Who was Sara?" the Chaplain asked him.

He glanced down at the polaroid on the side, it was lying next to the family of origami penguins that Severide had salvaged whilst he'd slept. The photo was the reason he'd broken down and called the Chaplain that morning. Sara's parents had been by with a gift for the ward, just some chocolates and flowers for the nurses and staff, they'd also knocked on Casey's door and met him for the first time, giving him the polaroid that Sara had taken of the two of them late one night, saying that she'd want him to have it. He hadn't said much in response to them, partly because he was still bleary with sleep, and they left without saying much either.

"She died, and she shouldn't have done," Casey told the Chaplain.

"You met her here?" he questioned.

Casey nodded.

"She was very sick?" the Chaplain assumed.

"Yeah… but it shouldn't have been her. She was…"

"Too nice to die?" he continued.

"Yes. And she has… had so many people who cared about her," Casey replied.

"So it should have been you instead? Matt, you could say that about every death you come across, and I'm sure you do a lot of the time, and I know you know that you have people in your life that care about you, even if you think you're not worth caring about…"

"I do know. This is why I shouldn't have called. It really was just a moment of weakness," Casey responded, chuckling a little, trying to offset the reason for the Chaplains visit.

"You're sad that she died because you don't think she deserved death," he commented softly.

"I don't know. She was very sick. Much more than she let on apparently… maybe it was for the best, it was pain free, and now she's not sick, not in pain or anything," Casey told the Chaplain, his voice quiet, betraying his emotions, his weariness.

"Are you worried you're going to die? It wouldn't surprise me if this has hit you and made you realise how sick you are," he responded.

"She had a different type of leukaemia," Casey answered.

"Are you worried you're going to die?" the Chaplain asked again.

He shook his head. "No."

"Have you been reading this?" the Chaplain asked, looking at the bible on the side.

"Yeah. Just wanted to remind myself of some things…"

"Has it helped?"

"Maybe, yes, I don't know… I think so…" Casey said, swallowing down his emotions.

"Are you embarrassed?"

Casey turned his head to him. "Embarrassed?"

"About reading some passages?" the Chaplain reiterated.

"No… I don't know. I'm conflicted. Part of me doesn't believe a damn thing it says, well, more like, doesn't believe in the whole concept because logically when everything's over then it's over, and…"

"It's not wrong to question what you think, Matt," the Chaplain responded when he trailed off. "Sometimes..."

"Bad things happen. Yeah, right..." Casey retorted unable to stop himself sounding annoyed, but not really meaning to be.

"Simply put, but yes," he responded.

"And I know and understand all the reasonings for that even if there is some sort of higher power. I just wish I knew either way, but I don't know if that would help or not."

"Help with what?" he asked.

Casey laughed. "The meaning of life… do you want a drink? Got my own little fridge now, there's some soda in there if you want a cold drink," he said, trying to steer the conversation.

"I didn't come here for a drink, Matt," he responded. "Everything you're feeling, it's valid, it's fine to feel how you do, even if you think you shouldn't have those feelings, or want them to go away. Can I read something to you?"

"Looks like you're about to," Casey said, smiling a little as he watched the Chaplain pick up the bible.

Casey closed his eyes and listened to the Chaplains words for some time. He didn't know how long he'd laid there peacefully listening to the man, it was a while after silence came into the room that he reopened his eyes. He offered the Chaplain a tired but heartfelt smile.


Casey was quiet the next day when Severide arrived, it worried him because he wanted to spend time with Casey, but at the same time, he didn't want to annoy him. He really did want to spend every moment he could with Casey right now though. He wished this feeling he'd been pushing away, and burying deep inside of himself hadn't only come to the surface because of current circumstances, he wished he'd treated Casey better since Andy's death, treated him like he deserved, because Severide never really blamed Casey. Now his life was being threatened and Severide didn't want him out of his sight, he wouldn't want him out of his sight even everything was all right.

"I'm feeling fine today," Casey spoke up. "You don't need to be here. I can think of a thousand things I'd rather do than be here." He was annoyed at himself. Annoyed that he had called the Chaplain yesterday, even though speaking to the man had comforted him. He was even more annoyed that he had figuratively, and literally, leant on Severide after discovering Sara had died. It now felt like he'd lost control of the only thing he did seem to have control over at the moment; his emotions. Now he felt uncomfortable in Severide's presence, not quite sure what was expected of him now, wondering if their relationship had changed, because it felt like it had, but Casey was reluctant to even admit those feelings to himself, but he could still recall those two perfect kisses all that time ago, and he couldn't lie to himself about how comfortable he felt in Severide's arms.

"What if our positions were reversed?" Severide asked him as he pulled a stool over. "Would you be able to think of even one thing you'd rather be doing?"

He sighed, understanding Severide's logic. "I suppose not."

"Nothing wrong with needing someone," Severide commented, sitting down.

Casey turned to look at him. "You hurt me."

"I know, and if I ever hurt you again, I'll leave, I'll go, I won't have anything to do with your life again. But I'm not going to hurt you again. I can't. I can't because it'll kill me," he responded sincerely, so tempted to take Casey's hand but he resisted the urge.

"I don't want you to leave. Ever." Casey took his hand as he spoke, Severide couldn't hide the surprised expression from his face.

"Matt…"

"Leaving hurts too," Casey said before Severide could continue.

"I'm right here and you can lean on me as much as you want, as much as you need," he told him.

Casey looked at him for the longest moment, still holding his hand. "I want to."

"There's nothing stopping you."

"I don't want to hurt you," Casey spoke.

"You could never hurt me," he responded.

"I could die, and I'd just be another person in your life that died… or maybe that doesn't matter, I… maybe I think I mean something more to you than I actually do…"

"You mean everything to me," Severide told him firmly.

Casey was stunned silent.

"How about, I promise I won't get upset if you do die," Severide added, smiling at him now.

Casey chuckled at that.

"But I would miss you and I would regret not saying… things to you…" Severide had leaned in, his face was only millimetres from Casey's now. He moved in again but Casey turned his head away, it was slow and deliberate. Severide sat back. He swallowed. "Sorry."

"No. Don't be. Just… just maybe wait. It should be perfect, and I'm not," Casey told him apologetically, hoping Severide wasn't offended by his actions because that's the last thing he wanted.

"You are perfect to me," Severide said sincerely.

Casey chuckled again. "You're like a horny teenager trying to get into bed with someone with all this flattery."

"Made you smile though, and you can't deny that you have the most perfect smile."

"My mouth is full of ulcers," he responded.

"Doesn't put me off," Severide commented, shaking his head, still smile at how Casey had laughed.

"You must be desperate then," he told him.

"Desperate for you," Severide continued, grinning now.

"Kelly…"

"Sorry. I get carried away," he said quickly.

"Yeah, you do." Casey nodded. He sank back into the bed, letting his head rest on the pillows before he spoke again. "It's ok, I'm… sensitive. That's what dad always used to say anyway. He's right. He was right about most things."

"I don't know what he told you, but I still don't think he was right about most things, not from what I do know about him," he responded.

"Which isn't much," Casey said.

"Not much at all, but…"

"The whole mom killing him thing kinda gives him a bad vibe, and her," he said, rolling his eyes.

"That's another thing, Matt, you don't have to tell me anything about your past, I know you like to be private, and I want you to know that I respect that."

"I'm not gonna keep secrets from you, I mean, I don't really have secrets but, I'm not gonna hide things from you… maybe if I didn't hide stuff from you, or myself, I'd have gone to the doctor earlier and maybe this wouldn't be so bad…"

"Do you feel…"

"I still feel fine. Well, it's a new definition of fine, but that's what I am. I'm fine. Exhausted but fine," Casey answered. "I did wonder… would it… would it be too much to ask if…" he began, unsure if this was too much too soon.

"Go on," Severide urged.

"Could you maybe, will you maybe be my medical proxy… just in case…"

"Yeah, of course, Matt," he responded without any hesitancy.

Casey let out a breath. "Thank you. That actually really helps, I feel better. You really don't mind?"

"I'm honoured that you asked me," Severide answered.

He shook his head, holding back more laughter. "Not sure you should be. I've always had my mom listed, I mean, who else was I ever supposed to put down as my next of kin… and I've had Boden listed as my emergency contact here, but they can put you down for that too, if you don't mind… you're gonna regret telling me I could lean on you…" he added.

"I'll never regret that," Severide responded. "Have you told her?"

He rolled his head to look at Severide. "Huh?"

"Your mom. Have you told her?" Severide asked.

"No."

Severide just nodded.

"She's in the wind anyway. Having her making medical decisions for me when I don't even know where she is now, well, that's just a bad idea, isn't it? As an emergency contact Boden would get some say but…"

"Hopefully you won't need anyone to make your decisions for you," Severide responded.

"Yeah, hopefully… erm… there's another thing… you can say no, but I also wondered if you could be the executer of my will, you and Boden?"

"Your will?"

"You can say no," Casey responded. "I just figured I should update it, I'm still on track with this whole treatment thing but just in case… I've barely changed it since I started with the CFD…"

"I'm saying yes," Severide said so that Casey didn't need to carry on.

"Thank you…" He let out a breath. "Feels like a weight has been lifted… lawyer's coming to see me tomorrow and go through it all…"

"I'm glad I can help, and that you trust me to carry out your wishes," Severide responded although at the thought of it all his stomach was already twisting in knots. He didn't want a future without Casey in it.

"There's not gonna be very many wishes, but it does make me feel better, just in case, you know?" Casey continued tiredly.

Severide nodded. "You should sleep," he told him.

"I'm all right…"

"Your eyes are almost closed," Severide said, smiling at Casey's stubbornness.

"Yeah… I just… I don't want to miss anything, what if I miss things?" he questioned, voice slurred with weariness and a childlike worry that Severide had never seen him express before.

"You're not gonna miss anything," Severide reassured him.

"And what if… what if I don't wake up? Did she know? When she fell asleep, did she know she wasn't going to wake up?" His words were quiet, whispered, and Severide was sure he wouldn't remember speaking them.

"You're not dying, Matt." Severide smiled down at him. He pulled up another throw and tucked it around Casey after he adjusted the bed for him. "Get some rest," he said and warmth erupted in his heart as he watched Casey's eyes close. He gazed at him for a few moments before leaning in. He planted a light kiss on his forehead and sat back, trying to contain his emotions as he watched the corners of Casey's lips turn up into a smile.

Chapter Text

Severide stepped into Casey's hospital room, ready with his apology, knowing how late he was. "Sorry, Matt, traffic… should have left earlier," he spoke as he strode over to the bed. He'd actually slept through his alarm, having stayed up late the night before, unable to sleep at the thought of helping Casey with his will today.

Casey was sitting up in the bed, casual clothes on and the swing table pulled over his lap. There was a man sitting by him who most definitely looked like a lawyer. "We've only just started," Casey told him. "This is who was telling you about; Kelly Severide," he spoke to the lawyer.

The man got to his feet and shook Kelly's hand, smiling at him warmly. Severide returned the greeting.

"So, just in case, Boden's gonna be the other executer… just in case, you know?" Casey said. Severide knew immediately what he was getting at. Their job was dangerous and anything could happen to any of them.

Severide smiled at him, sensing Casey's tension. "Relax, Matt, I want to do this… and hopefully we want see all this again for a very… very, very long time, yeah?"

He nodded determinedly. "Yeah."

"So, do I need to do anything now?" Severide asked.

"Sit and listen, poke me when I start falling asleep," Casey responded with a small smile.

The lawyer spoke to Severide now. "Once it's all finalised I will take it and write it up, I'll be back for Matt to sign it in front of a witness, you can't do that, but a doctor here will be the witness, and then it'll be sorted and updated."

"Simple…" Casey said, looking at Severide. "Especially since I don't know own much and have very little family… erm… whilst that's in my head… Violet, my niece, she gets something, the rest, the rest will go to two charities, the 100 club and Equality Illinois. And then money to cover the funeral. That's it, that's all it needs to be…"

The lawyer smiled at Casey. "Let's get it all in order for you, Matt. I'll try not to take too much of your time but…"

"Needs to be done properly, one less thing for me to think about then," Casey continued.

Over an hour later, Severide and Casey watched the lawyer leave with everything he needed to write up Casey's will and bring it back to him to sign. He turned to Casey, who looked depleted now, the whole process had taken a lot out of him.

"All done then, hey?" Severide spoke up after a few moments. It hadn't been as difficult as Severide thought it would be, although he figured he'd feel emotionally drained later on. Keeping all his own feelings in check whilst Casey had expressed his wishes had been hard, because Severide still didn't want to face the possibility that he might actually have to carry out those wishes in the not too distant future.

"Yeah… thanks," he responded wearily.

"It's nothing."

"No, it's a lot. Thanks," Casey repeated.

"Well, it's little more than giving you an endless supply of blue Jell-O, I'll admit. But I don't mind. Now, we've got a couple episodes of Hawaii Five-O to catch up on before tomorrow's…"

"Nope, we haven't," Casey responded.

"You watched it? Last weeks too?"

"Uh huh," he said, grinning tiredly. "Besides if I'm awake I'll be watching it on my own tomorrow night 'cause I know you'll watch it at the firehouse…" His eyes slipped closed, no longer able to keep them open. 

"You promised though, we were supposed to watch this season together… at least I pretend I've not already seen it if I've watched it on shift," Severide responded. 

With his eyes still closed, Casey pouted. "I never promised… put it on anyway, I'm gonna sleep, I won't give you any spoilers…"

Severide could barely concentrate on the show so once he was sure Casey was asleep, he paused it. His thoughts were racing, he'd just helped his best friend, the man he wished was more than just a best friend, write his will. His mind turned to Casey's choices, Violet made the most sense to him, she was the closest thing Casey would most likely ever have to a child in the near future. The 100 Club made as much sense too, the LGBTQ charity just piqued his curiosity, he always figured Casey'd had a hard time growing up, given his family background but he hadn't given much thought to his sexuality, Casey had always seemed so self-confident in front of him, but it must have been a struggle growing up and realising who he was, knowing his father would never accept him, having to hide it. He'd hidden his true self until he became comfortable at 51, since the first house he'd been stationed at wasn't accepting, or at least his first lieutenant wasn't and that had trickled down into the rest of the crew. Severide had known for a while, although Casey had never really told him anything outright, but he was comfortable with him, and 51, where he was completely accepted and respected for who he was, and where he no longer needed to hide anything.


Four days later Casey was discharged from the hospital, having spent another twenty-two nights there. He'd accumulated a lot of items and clothing during this last stay and it took some time to pack, even with Severide's help. Every so often he had to sit down and rest for a while before continuing, although Severide told him he would take care of all the packing, Casey didn't take any notice and was determined to at least do some of it himself.

"It looks cold out," Casey commented as he looked out of the window at the drab greyness of the sky and the bare trees devoid of greenery.

"I'll turn the heater right up as soon as we get in the car," Severide responded. "Won't take too long to heat up," he added, watching Casey as he pulled on his winter parka. It drowned him now and Severide was sure it would fit two of him in there.

Casey turned to him. "Let's get out of here," he said, smiling. He was glowing with happiness in Severide's eyes.

"I've parked as close as I can. You gonna be all right?"

"I really need the exercise. Walking around my room, or in the corridor, doesn't do much for me," Casey responded, still smiling, happy that he was leaving the hospital. He'd managed to go outside a couple of times in the last few days but he was looking forward to sleeping in his own bed, and having some peace and quiet. The earplugs had been great but it wasn't the same as being in his own home with his own comforts.

"You need some junk food too," Severide pointed. "Stop by McDonalds on the way back?"

"That sounds good," he replied with a smile. "Get a whole load of fries and nuggets and… oh… apple pie, lots of those little apple pie things…"

Severide grinned. "Feeling good?"

"Feeling hungry," he told Severide.

"All right, our McDonalds feast awaits us…" Severide spoke dramatically as he opened the door for Casey. He had bags slung over both his shoulders, and carried his backpack in one hand. Casey pulled the small wheeled suitcase Shay had brought along, much easier for him than having to carry anything. "Sure you're gonna be all right?"

"Leaving the hospital, or in general?" Casey asked.

"Both," he answered.

"Don't worry, they wouldn't let me out of here if they didn't think I'd be ok," Casey reassured him.

"I'm not convinced you're above bribery," he said, smiling.

"I didn't bribe anyone to get discharged, trust me."


A while later they were both sitting on Casey's couch, surrounded by empty paper bags, food wrappers and drinks cartons in front of them on the coffee table, and on the couch by their sides. Casey had a blanket over his lap, comfortable enough in Severide's presence to do so, and even though they'd cranked the heat up he still felt cold. Although he had his eyes closed and was leaning back into the couch cushions, he was awake and listening to the Blackhawks game that was playing on the TV.

"So, do I get the spare room or the couch?" Severide began, determined to stay.

Casey opened his eyes. "You're staying?"

Severide nodded. "Just for night, at least."

"That's why you brought an extra bag inside," Casey commented.

"Uh huh, you can borrow my clothes but I think I'd just stretch yours," he added, smiling. Pleased that Casey hadn't protested at the mention of him staying overnight.

"I have an old shirt of yours in my closet," Casey told him.

His mouth fell open. "You do?"

He grinned. "Maybe."

"You're terrible at lying to me," Severide responded.

"Yeah?"

"Uh huh." Severide nodded. He sat up, leaning over to start tidying up the food wrappers and boxes. "You still hungry?" he asked Casey.

"Why? Will you go out and get me more McDonalds?" he asked, smiling sweetly.

Severide turned to face him. "Yes."

He grinned and cast his eyes away.

"You look like you're gonna fall asleep," Severide carried on.

"Yeah, but I don't want to sleep, don't want these next five days to just disappear," he explained quietly. "And I don't wanna go back there…"

"Well, you will be going back there, you have to," Severide replied, expression insistent although he was sure Casey wasn't going to try and miss it all, no matter how much he wanted to. 

"Yeah… if I could just skip the biopsy, that would be good," he said, chuckling self-deprecatingly.

"You're worrying already? About the results or the actual procedure?"

"Would it be cowardly of me if I said both?" Shrugging weakly as he spoke.

"Not at all."

"You are staying?" Casey asked him again, clearing his throat now.

"Matt, what are you thinking?"

Casey gazed at him for the longest moment, then he just shook his head, pushing his thoughts away. "I should go to bed, shouldn't sleep on here. The spare room is all set up and there's spare towels in the closet, but stay up, watch TV, eat, use my laptop or whatever…"

"Are you going to be ok? Should you shower or…"

"I'll shower tomorrow, maybe," he added, smiling.

"Ok, if you need anything, anything at all just yell, doesn't matter if I'm sleeping, all right?" Severide told him, nodding his head to emphasize what he was saying.

"All right," he repeated as he stood up, letting the blanket fall to the floor.

"I'll sort it," Severide spoke up just as Casey was about to bend down and tidy up the blanket. "Night, Matt."

"Night."

It wasn't long before Severide heard Casey rushing along the landing, presumably to the bathroom. He almost winced as he heard the tell-tale sounds of heaving and retching. Quickly he got up from the couch, grabbed a fresh glass of water and went to help as much as he could.

He found Casey on his knees in front of the toilet bowl, heaving wretchedly.

Severide knelt by Casey's side. "Hey…" he began sympathetically, rubbing a circle on Casey's back.

"Sorry…"

Severide just shook his head. "We probably just overdid it with the McDonalds. No worries."

"No… got it on the floor…" Casey groaned.

"That's fine. Floors can be cleaned."

Casey sank down onto the tiles, exhausted, his skin pale, vomit around his chin and down the front of his hoody. He looked at Severide, cheeks flushed. "You didn't need to come up," he grumbled.

"Why d'you think I'm staying over? I have a TV at my place, and it's bigger," Severide responded.

"I know, but you're not here to play nurse," he said, a little breathless still, wiping the back of his hand over his chin.

"No?"

"You're here to… to keep me company," Casey said.

Severide reached forward, slowly bringing a hand to Casey's cheek, touching it softly.

Casey ducked his head back a little, an almost unconscious movement. "I should brush my teeth," he announced, allowing Severide to hold him and get him up from the floor. He flushed he toilet and stepped over to the sink, Severide still holding onto his arm and one hand remaining on his back for a few more moments, to make sure he was steady enough to stand on his own.

"Looking forward to sleeping in your own bed?" Severide asked him as Casey rinsed his toothbrush, feeling better with the sour taste of vomit gone.

"More than anything right now," he answered, drying his hands and heading out of the room with Severide on his tail, hands ghosting over him in case he felt faint or became unsteady on his feet.

At his bedroom door Casey turned around, smiling at him. "You don't need to tuck me up."

"Yeah, well, goodnight then."

"Goodnight, Kelly."


Severide was standing at the end of Casey's bed as the sun rose, watching the gentle movement underneath the bedcovers that let him know that Casey was sleeping soundly. He was holding a mug a coffee, sipping it slowly as he continued to gaze at the bed. Despite the sun filtering in, the room was still only half light. Casey was mostly hidden under the covers, lying on his left side, barely taking up any of the mattress space.

He smiled as Casey rolled over in bed, pushing the covers away and opening his eyes. "Morning," Severide greeted.

"You stand there all night?" Casey questioned, voice hoarse from sleep.

"Yup," he teased.

"Did you sleep all right?" Casey asked him, wiping a hand across his face. 

Severide nodded. "Your shower's great too."

"Glad you liked it," he responded, still sitting in the bed with the covers halfway down his bare torso, the central line dangling down.

"This whole place is nice, you've done really well with it," Severide told him, glancing around the bedroom.

"It was nice to do up," he said simply, wondering where the conversation was going, it all seemed too casual, and he was still not dressed, and he was self-conscious of his sick body.

"How long have you been here now?"

"Since last summer," Casey answered.

Severide just nodded in response.

"You really wanna talk about when I moved in here?" he questioned, unconsciously fidgeting with the bed covers that were scrunched up around his waist now.

"I wanted to ask how you're feeling this morning, but I didn't, don't wanna overwhelm you or whatever Shay keeps telling me not to do," Severide told him.

Casey smiled, letting out a small chuckle. "I was an idiot. I was… cruel, even."

"You weren't cruel," Severide retorted.

"Just 'cause I'm the guy with cancer doesn't mean I get a free pass," Casey told him.

For just a moment Severide's gaze dropped to the floor and he didn't look at Casey at all, he shuffled his feet, clearly uncomfortable.

"Took me awhile to accept it too," Casey commented, looking at him softly.

"Huh?"

"Every time I say the word you look away from me," he explained.

"Yeah, well… yeah," Severide said, shrugging.

"It's all gonna be over eventually, one way or another," Casey responded. "But, until Monday I just want to… not ignore it but, you know what I mean."

Severide nodded. "I do. And I was actually thinking we could maybe go to Molly's together, or not…"

"I'd like to. I'd really like to see everyone," he admitted. "Don't wanna sound vain or anything but I'm really gonna need to find something decent to wear when we go."

"Don't think they'll mind if you show up in sweats," Severide responded.

"Not showing up in sweats," he said, shaking his head at the idea.

"Well, maybe we could go shopping, get a pair of jeans?"

"Shopping sounds like a mammoth task… and talking of tasks; who cleaned my house and filled the fridge?" Casey asked, having noticed how tidy his place was when they arrived home yesterday.

"Cindy and Shay," Severide answered.

"Dunno how I'm ever gonna thank everyone for everything…"

"You don't need to," Severide responded. "Is there anything you need to do now you're home?"

"I don't think so, you guys seem to have everything covered, don't even have much mail to open since you've turned into my personal delivery boy," Casey answered with a smile. "I'm gonna get dressed now," he told Severide as he pushed the bed covers away.

"Oh, right, course, I'll go downstairs," Severide said with a nod, already moving away to give Casey some privacy.

"You can go home if you want?" he suggested, stopping Severide from leaving the room.

"Nah, I'm happy here… if you are?"

"I'd be happy anywhere now I'm out of hospital," Casey responded, his brain not quite catching up with Severide's answer. He was tired and sometimes it took all the energy he had to process his own words, never mind remember exactly what was being said. Shay called it his chemobrain, he'd just looked at her sadly when she'd done that, just for a moment before he recovered and chuckled along with Severide, who teased him for forgetting what he'd been saying before he'd even finished his sentence. Fortunately, it didn't seem to happen very often.

When Casey came downstairs a while later, dressed in his usual outfit of choice, sweatpants and a hoody that looked far too large for his small frame now, Severide turned to him and smiled. "Breakfast," he announced.

"Later," Casey responded, grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator. "Don't let me stop you eating though."

"Do you feel sick?"

"I'm just not hungry. I don't want you to turn into the inquisitorial squad," Casey told him, his mood had gone downhill since dressing. "I'm gonna sit on the couch and well, that's my only plan for the day, I guess. Thanks for staying over…"

"You're kicking me out?"

Casey looked at him for a moment. He gazed into Severide's eyes, his shoulders dropped and he let out a breath he didn't realise he'd be holding, and with it the truth came out. "I wanted to take advantage of being at home but now, kinda wish I hadn't bothered getting out of bed."

"Ok. Well, that's fine, and you have got out bed which is great, even if all you do today is sit on the couch and watch TV, it's a good plan," Severide said, nodding.

"I don't want to waste time," he continued.

"I get that, but if your body's telling you to rest, then you need to rest. Like we were saying, we can go to Molly's. I'm on shift tomorrow but how about Saturday night?"

"All right," Casey answered.

"Even if that's the only thing you do before Monday, I think that's enough," Severide explained. "But, if you suddenly feel really good and wanna go out, go fishing, go for a walk… we can."

"We can?"

"I'm in this with you, Matt, all the way. And might I suggest, actually, no fishing, not unless you wrap up in a sleeping bag or something," he said, chuckling at the image.

"I'm sure I'm gonna say this way too much or it's gonna be too… I dunno… too weird or whatever but, thank you. Really, thank you, I wanted to deal with all this on my own, you know 'cause I'm an idiot like that, so thanks. I am grateful, for everyone, especially you."

Severide smiled. "I know you are."

"Know I'm an idiot?"

"Yeah, Matt; that you're an idiot," Severide responded, rolling his eyes.

Chapter Text

Casey and Severide were standing on the sidewalk just outside of Molly's. Severide looked across to Casey, who was gazing at the large wooden door he'd picked out with Herrmann before the summer when they'd started renovating the place.

"It's a good door," Severide commented. "Maybe we should open it."

"Or maybe…" Casey began but he stopped, frowning, studiously looking in front of himself and not at Severide.

"Matt, if you don't wanna see everyone then that's fine, we can go somewhere else," he responded, shrugging a little, not quite sure why Casey was hesitant.

"No. I want to see them. This just kinda makes everything official, I just needed a moment before it's real," he explained.

"They all know already," Severide responded softly. 

"Yeah, I know but they haven't seen me for months, and I lied to them… well, lies of omission…"

"Someone will open this door any moment now, and we're just gonna be standing here looking like lemons," Severide told him.

Casey pulled his eyes away from the intricate pattern on the door and looked at Severide, shaking his head a little at him and smiling as he grabbed the door handle and opened it. He stepped inside and his face masked itself from emotion, becoming the truck lieutenant that they all knew well, not Matt, Matt whose mouth and lips had only just recovered from the chemotherapy, who had nightmares on a weekly basis, and who had tried to hide away from them all.

"Lieutenant!" Herrmann's voice boomed over from behind the bar. In the seconds that followed it felt as though every face was turned towards him, and every eye was watching him as he walked into the bar, closely followed by Severide.

Casey unbuttoned and unzipped his winter parka as he reached the bar, he pulled it off, leaving his beanie hat on, revealing a casual shirt and loose sweater combination. His crew had gathered together, greeting him enthusiastically. Severide had mentioned to everyone that they would come by, he had wanted to warn them not to comment on Casey's appearance, not to even bring up the C word at all, but he'd held his tongue. He couldn't protect Casey from the world, a world that had already thrown its worst at him, and he knew his crew would never do anything to intentionally hurt him. They had all been incredibly supportive and understanding.

"What do you want to drink, Lieutenant?" Herrmann raised his voice so he could be heard over the others, who were still greeting Casey and chatting to him.

Casey looked to Herrmann who was waiting for his answer behind the bar. "Can I just have a lemonade?"

"Coming right up," he responded with a single nod.

"Sit down, Lieutenant," Cruz insisted, making a path for him over towards one of the tables, taking Casey's drink from Herrmann and carrying it for him.

Casey gave him a bemused expression as he sat down. He looked around at everyone who had followed him over, which was everyone except Herrmann and Severide, who had felt his presence so close to Casey could be construed as something it wasn't, but as he went and got his own drink, waiting by the bar, he realised he wouldn't mind what people thought about him if he stuck by Casey's side for the rest of time. He turned his head and looked at Casey sitting at the table, smiling and laughing, surrounded by his crew. He never wanted to forget that image. That look on Casey's face when he was happy, that wide bright smile and sparkling blue eyes made Severide's world light up, and made his heart sing.

"You know, I'm gonna expect all this preferential treatment when I get back, right?" Casey said, smiling at them all gathered around him, sitting and standing. "You're taking care of my rig, I hope," he added.

Cruz nodded. "We're all being extra careful with her."

"Just 'cause I'm not there doesn't mean Otis is allowed behind the wheel," he responded, smiling at Otis mischievously.

"Hey…" Otis began, protesting in a whiny voice, prompting a smug expression to appear across Cruz's face.

"No one is sitting in that seat except me," Cruz announced loudly and firmly with a laugh.

"Good. So, who wants to get into my good books, ready for when I'm back on shift?" Casey began. "Get me the reports from the last few weeks?"

"You want to read reports?" Mouch questioned incredulously. "You should be watching TV and relaxing."

"Wanna keep up to date with what's been going on," Casey replied.

"Just ask Boden… he wouldn't give them to you?" Cruz realised as he spoke.

"No, he wouldn't," Casey answered pointedly.

"Well, maybe that's for the best," Otis spoke up with a grin, partly in payback for the good-natured jibe about him not being able to drive Truck 81.

"I'll get them for you, Lieutenant," Mills announced.

"Ah, Mills! Thank you!"

"Suck up…" Otis muttered, scowling petulantly at Mills.

"Sucking up is almost half of his job as candidate," Casey responded, grinning. "You remember those days, Otis, wasn't that long ago…"

Casey looked around the room as the others by him started to talk, filling Casey in things that had happened. He found Severide, smiling as he watched him chatting to Herrmann over the bar, the way he was standing, leaning onto the bar a little, one hand around his beer, the other turning a beer mat over and over. Casey noticed how he did that, he noticed how Severide's hair had grown longer recently, noticed the stubble on his face, he'd not shaved since he'd given him a ride home from the hospital. Severide had also not gone home and the twenty-four hours when he was on shift had felt almost lonely, despite sleeping through most of the time.

At that moment Severide turned his head and caught Casey's eyes. He looked away, smiling at whatever it was Cruz was now talking about.

"Mills, can I have a word, in private," Casey requested, standing up and excusing himself from the others.

"Sure, Lieutenant," Mills responded. The two of them stepped to one side, away from the others.

"I know you didn't get onto squad this time," he began. "But that doesn't mean you won't next time. If it's still what you want?"

"I want it," Mills affirmed insistently. The young man was clearly determined that was where his future lay.

"Ok, I know I'm not there at the moment but…"

"It's fine, Lieutenant," Mills said, nodding in understanding.

"I'm not there at the moment but, I'm keeping in touch with Boden over it all, and if you keep working for it then I don't see a reason why you wouldn't make it eventually," Casey told his eager candidate.

"Thank you, and I realise I may have gone about it the wrong way last time…"

"You were enthusiastic, that's all. And that's a great thing. Kel… Severide gets enthusiastic too, and he wanted to prove his dad wrong from what I know… and Boden…" Casey stopped himself from continuing, he was tired now and his exhaustion was showing, he was talking too much. "I only want what's best for you, I have no other motive, so when I say I think you can do it eventually, I mean it, it's not to satisfy myself," he explained sincerely.

"Sure, Lieutenant, and thanks."

Casey nodded at him before walking off casually, going over to the bar and standing next to Severide. The close proximity was welcome, and comforting. In fact, he would go so far as to call it safe, to call Severide safe.

"Sit down," Severide spoke quietly so no one else would catch what he said.

He did as Severide said, and let out a shaky breath as he sat on a stool.

Severide sat down on the bar stool next to Casey. "Herrmann, can we get a bag of chips or something?"

"Got some gummy snakes left over from Halloween in the back?" Herrmann offered with a quizzical look on his face.

"Perfect," he said, smiling. He studied Casey's face for a moment, seeing how he was looking even more weary now.

"I'll grab you some," Herrmann responded. Once he went into the back it didn't take him long to return, chucking a packet of candy over to Severide.

"Here," Severide said as he opened up the packet, offering them to Casey.

He shook his head. "I'm all right."

"I know but, you like these and all you've eaten today is half a Pop Tart," Severide spoke.

"Sorry…" Casey muttered, elbows resting on the bar, propping his head on his hands.

"You just looked like you needed to sit down and get some food in you," he explained, looking at his profile as Casey focused his gaze on the row of optics at the back of the bar.

"I'm not in danger of falling over if we head to the car," Casey responded, shrugging with the shoulder closest to Severide.

"You want to leave?" he questioned.

"No. Not at all," Casey said thickly, suddenly feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It bubbled up inside, he couldn't explain it, couldn't pin down the reason for it, but it was there.

Severide smiled at him.

"I want to stay in this moment. I like this moment. I don't want to go home, I don't want this to end," he continued quietly.

"We can come back another night," Severide responded.

"I don't mean it like... I don't think… I mean…" he paused, turning his head to his right to see Severide looking at him in earnest. Casey shook his head, offering a huff of laughter now. "I am too sensitive," he said, his voice hardened now, his fathers' words in his head.

Despite their location, despite the openness of it all, and despite Herrmann standing mere feet away, Severide put a hand on Casey's forearm. "I don't care," he spoke gently into Casey's ear.

"Do you mind if we stay a while longer? Or I can get a cab…"

"You don't need to get a cab, Matt. We're staying if that's what you want. Eat the gummy snakes."

Chapter Text

Monday came around quickly, Severide went straight to Casey's place after his shift had ended. They went to the hospital together, with a small bag of clothes and toiletries since it was likely Casey would be admitted for another round of chemotherapy after his bone biopsy.

Casey smiled meaningfully at Severide as they sat in the waiting room together. He was sitting there in his warm coat, CFD beanie and sweats, dressing for comfort these days more than anything else. "Thanks for this," Casey said.

"I love hospitals," Severide responded with a quiet snicker.

Casey looked across at him, a bemused expression on his face. "You love hospitals?"

"Well, maybe I just love the company," he quipped, a little glint in his eyes as he turned to look at Casey.

"Huh?" Casey questioned, somewhat surprised at the response, unsure of quite how to read Severide's remark. His eyes widened as he suddenly heard the receptionist's voice coming over from the desk on the opposite side of the room.

"Matt Casey? You can come through now," she announced in a warm friendly voice.

Casey was still looking at Severide moments after the announcement, pondering curiously, making Severide's cheeks flush slightly.

"We should probably go," Severide told him with a small nod.

"Erm... what did you say?" he asked, still wondering if he had heard Severide correctly.

"We should probably…" Severide repeated softly, a tiny smile on his lips.

"No. Before that?" Casey went on.

Severide just smiled even wider, offering him a hand as he stood up. "Let's get this over and done with, yeah?"

"This isn't the last one I have to do you know," Casey grumbled, a small crease between his brows.

"No, but you're getting closer to the end," Severide said.

''We don't know that," he responded, using Severide's hand to pull himself up to his feet.

"We will after the biopsy," Severide retorted, attempting to remain positive for Casey's benefit.

"Thanks," he said, gazing at Severide's face for what felt like an age but was no more than a few seconds, before pulling away.

"I'm here for you, always," Severide responded as they began to walk together through the double doors.

"I know. That's why I'm saying it; I'm grateful, I appreciate it, it means a lot…"

Severide put his hand on his shoulder, just smiling at him as Catalina walked over to them, and took Casey into the procedure room. He followed them in, and stood at the edge as Casey change into a hospital gown. They got him on the scales to check his weight, then his blood was taken and Casey was soon lying face down on the hospital bed as the doctor walked into the room.

Casey looked towards Severide. He stepped over to his side, unsure whether to take his hand or let him just know he was here if he needed him. Severide needn't have thought about anything, Casey took his hand as the local anaesthetic was injected into the biopsy site once it had been sterilised. He'd been offered something to help him relax but he'd declined, not wanting to appear weak in front of Severide.

"Squeeze as hard as you want," Severide told him.

"Don't wanna break your hand," he said, chuckling self-deprecatingly.

"You won't," Severide reassured him firmly. He knew Casey didn't have the strength  anyway, his hand wasn't what he was worried about right now.

Casey swallowed his emotions, offering Severide a smile in response just before the aspiration needle pierced his flesh. He bit his lip, sucking in a sharp breath, and gritting his teeth with a small grunt even though he was trying not to let them see his discomfort. He tried to let his thoughts drift off to the jigsaw puzzle he'd completed with Sara. Costa Rica. He pictured the beach, the white sand, the heat of the sun and the lapping of the waves. His tight grip on Severide's hand didn't lessen until the doctor announced that it was all done, and even then, he didn't let go.

"Sorry…" Casey muttered a while later, realising that he was still holding Severide's hand, even though the doctor who'd performed the procedure had left the room several minutes ago.

"It's fine, Matt," he responded, but Casey let go, suddenly feeling self-conscious about the hand-holding.

Casey sat himself up on the bed, pulling his hand to his side. "I can get changed? I'm done?" he asked Catalina in quick succession.

She nodded, telling him to take it easy, and an hour later Severide and Casey were sitting in the oncologist's office. Severide was fighting the urge lean over so he was close to Casey, to take his hand again, longing to be able to do more than just sit there by his side.

"How are you feeling, Matt? All right after the biopsy?" the doctor asked as he walked into the room, holding a file.

Casey just nodded in response, waiting to hear the results.

"The biopsy results have come back. Blasts are down to 3%," Doctor Park told them both.

"That's good, right?" Severide questioned, looking from the doctor to Casey.

"It's good. So, we'll be starting consolidation chemo, this will reduce the likelihood of the cancer coming back," the doctor responded. "However, we can't start the treatment today, I don't think your body will handle it at the moment, despite the low blast count. Your white cell count is a little high and you've lost more weight, Matt. You need to gain at least 5lbs, ideally more…"

"His mouth has been sore, and he's just not hungry," Severide said before Casey could get a word in.

"I didn't think I'd lose more weight, only threw up once whilst I was home, I ate every day," Casey added.

"I know, Matt, it's a hard situation to be in, your body needs a lot of energy right now, but being sick has only decreased your appetite. How is your mouth at the moment?"

"Been fine for a few days now," Casey responded honestly.

"Ok, that's good," the doctor replied, nodding. "What I think what we should do now is enteral nutrition, just to help you for a while. Not permanent."

"A tube?" he asked, somewhat deflated by that news. He had no wish to have a permanent tube in his nose.

"Yes, an NG tube. And when you're up to it, you can still eat normally alongside it. We just have to make sure you're getting all the nutrition and calories you need," the man explained.

Casey looked at Severide, he hadn't meant to, no, he did mean to do it, but he didn't want to be alone right now. He didn't want another decision to make, as childish as that seemed, he didn't want to be alone and Severide was there with him so he looked to him for advice and reassurance even though Severide knew less about all of this than he did, he needed him right now.

"Sounds like a good plan to me," Severide spoke, smiling a little at Casey, offering him the reassurance he was craving right now. And it was of no cost to Severide, he would gladly reassure Casey, and be by his side every single moment he could if that's what it took.

"Yeah, it does," Casey said, nodding slowly and looking at the doctor now.

"All right then. You can go back to the waiting room and Catalina will come and get you, she'll get you all sorted, then you just need to rest, come back in same time next Monday," the doctor responded.

"For another biopsy?" he asked, a pit already opening up in his stomach at the thought.

"Hopefully just for bloods," the doctor answered.

"Ok. Thanks."



Once the NG tube had been placed and Catalina had shown Casey how to use the pump that would feed him, and how to clean the tube, they were on their way back to Casey's place. Severide had made sure he paid close attention to Catalina's instructions as well just in case Casey ever needed him to help.

"You don't need to stay over this week," Casey told him during the ride back. He was physically and emotionally drained, but, when wasn't he? Part of him wanted Severide to stay with him, to even skip his shifts, but he didn't want to be that person, he didn't want to need anyone, let alone need Severide.

"Why don't you come to mine, maybe? Change of scenery and all that, Shay will be around too. Just for a night?"

"Yeah, guess I could," he responded unenthusiastically, staring out of the window at the rain and the grey miserable sky.

"Don't make it sound like I'm forcing you." Severide chuckled, focusing on the road ahead and the increasing volume of traffic.

"You're not. Really," Casey replied. "I just… I feel even worse than usual right now…"

"You feel sick? I can pull over?"

"No, not sick just… tired… more than tired or exhausted… just… I don't even know… I want to come over though, I do."

"Well, I'll take you to mine then," Severide responded.

"I don't want to waste my time," he spoke quietly, glancing at Severide. It wasn't the first time he'd said this and Severide was sure it wouldn't be the last.

"You're not, Matt. Orders are to rest right now, and do you feel like you could do anything else but rest today?"

"No, but I want to do more," he answered with a small shrug. The NG tube was irritating Casey now and he was struggling to resist the temptation to pull the thing out. He knew it was for his own good but nevertheless it was causing him extra stress, although he did know he would get used to it.

"We'll take advantage of your days, like, how we went to Molly's. That was good, wasn't it?" Severide questioned.

"Yeah, it was good."

"And… erm… gaining some weight back should help you feel less like this," Severide continued quietly, wondering if he was stepping over a line but he needn't had worried.

"Never thought I'd be in a situation where I need to gain weight," Casey said wearily.

"You didn't have much to lose in the first place," Severide responded.

"Kelly…" he began, his voice soft, eyes searching.

"If you're going to say thank you again, don't bother. I know."

Casey turned his head back to the road again, just nodding in response.

"We going to mine then? I can turn around up here if we are," Severide asked him.

Casey smiled a little, settling down into the seat and closing his eyes. "Yeah, let's go to yours." He felt relieved more than anything. Relieved that he wouldn't be on his own to wallow in any self-pity that might overcome him, and relieved that he would be with Kelly for a bit longer, and Shay always brightened up his days.


"Shay!" Severide called as Casey trailed slowly after him into the apartment, he felt ready to sleep now. "Got a visitor…" he announced when he heard movement and sounds coming from the kitchen.

Shay appeared and grinned at the two of them. "Matt, hey… how are you?" she asked as she walked over to him, giving him a quick hug. "Aren't you supposed to be getting more chemo today… see you've got a brand-new accessory..." She indicated to his NG tube.

"Yeah," he responded simply with a slight smile. "Good news though, blasts are down and I can start the next stage, so, yeah, that's good… just not quite yet though…" Even though it had been good news, Casey was still being cautious, not wanting to tempt fate.

"Yeah, he just needs to eat a little more," Severide added.

"Well, you've come to the right place then, you're staying over?" she asked hopefully.

"Yeah, if you don't mind," Casey replied.

"Don't mind at all, it'll be a nice change from being stuck with Kelly every single day of the week," she said, chuckling and throwing a cheeky grimace of a smile at Severide.

"Make yourself at home," Severide told him. "I'll put your bags in the spare room."

As Severide took Casey's things, Shay headed over to the couch with him. "It's really good news, Matt."

"Yeah," he said, nodding. "And I'm actually kinda glad I've got another week of freedom."

"And maybe a little worried?"

"Maybe," he admitted, letting out a short huff of laughter.

Later on in the afternoon, Casey took himself to bed, it had been an emotionally draining day, and he was struggling to keep his eyes open and stay focused on the movie Shay had chosen for them as she tucked into a tub of ice cream, offering Casey a spoonful every so often.

"Think I should check on him?" Severide asked her, glancing over to the spare room as the hour turned late.

"He's fine, Kelly, you worry too much," she responded, smiling.

"Yeah, he's fine," he said, nodding in agreement. "Ok, well... I'm gonna have a shower then…"


When Casey woke it took him a few moments to realise where he was, the bed in the spare room was extremely comfortable, and with the bed covers and a blanket over him he was warm and cosy, but he needed to get up, he needed a drink and he needed to use the bathroom. He slipped quietly out of the room, not quite sure what the time was, not wanting to disturb anyone.

Shay was sitting on the couch, and when she heard him, she paused the TV. "All right, Matt?"

"Thirsty," he answered as he headed over to the kitchen.

"Kelly's just showering, if you wanna sit and watch some more TV with us?" she suggested as he poured himself a glass of water.

"How long did I sleep?"

"A while, it's almost nine," she told him. "If you wanna go back to sleep then do, not trying to force you to stay awake…" she added.

"I'd rather stay awake," he replied.

Casey hadn't been sitting on the couch next to Shay for very long when he heard Severide's voice. "Hello sleeping beauty," he greeted as he sank down onto the other chair, hair still damp from his shower.

He chuckled. "Don't feel very beautiful."

"How about handsome?" Shay asked him, smiling.

"Oh… new Hawaii Five-O episode?" he asked quickly, looking at them both. "Can we watch it? I'll pull the sick card if you say no…"

Severide frowned. "How did handsome lead to…"

"He has a thing for dark haired guys." Shay laughed mischievously.

Severide just felt heat rise in his cheeks, and he stayed silent, grabbing the TV remote from the coffee table and finding the latest episode for Casey.

Casey stayed awake for the whole episode, as well as one of Shay's shows and he used the NG tube for the first time. It went smoothly although Casey wasn't fond of sitting there with the bag of nutritional feed flowing into his stomach as Shay and Severide munched on some chips.



He decided to stay for one more night, or rather Shay and Severide persuaded him to. Severide would drop him back at his place on their way to the firehouse the next day. Casey was getting some fresh air, walking around the block with Shay as the sun started to set. The day had been bright and sunny and had lifted Casey's mood a little. She had her arm wrapped around his as they ambled slowly along, in no rush to be anywhere anytime soon.

"You good?" she asked, looking up at him.

"Yeah, this is nice," he responded.

"I was thinking about tonight…" she began as they headed back towards the apartment building.

"Oh yeah?" he retorted with a grin. "Got a hot date?"

"Gonna do my weekly face mask... figured we'd do you one too, and I'll do your nails, just some clear stuff I've got that's good for brittle nails… help you feel a bit nicer? What do you say? I'll give you a little pampering session, yeah?"

"Sure..." he replied, a little hesitantly. "I must be feeling weak if I'm saying yes to this."

"I thought I'd ask when you were tired, when your guard is down... feel better if Kelly joins in too?"

"Definitely, but his finger nails can be red or something…"

Which was how Severide ended up getting his toenails painted pink. He'd been given the option of red fingernails or pink toe nails and decided on the latter since he didn't want any comments at the firehouse the next day. Casey grinned at him as he almost squirmed while Shay gave him a pedicure and painted his nails.

"At least he doesn't have gross feet…" Casey spoke. "You have nice feet, Kelly," he told him.

"At least my skin's not falling off my feet… when can I wash this off," Severide responded, indicating the facemask, he was sure it was going to take all his face off with it after the amount of scrubbing he'd had to do before it was left to dry.

"Your face isn't falling off," Shay said, laughing.

"How come Casey got a nice one? Why couldn't I just have a peel off mask… if my face never returns to normal, I will never forgive you both," he huffed.

"Your face has never been normal," Casey teased, chuckling, his own face a pale green colour.

"Right, your toes are done, and you can wash that off in fifteen minutes as long as your toes are dry," Shay told Severide. She then looked at Casey and spoke again. "Yours are probably dry already."

He nodded, touching his nails gingerly to check.

"Good. You can peel off the mask now…"

"So, do I look younger then?" Casey asked once the mask was gone.

"Fabulous darling," she mocked in response.

He smiled wearily at her, grateful of her attempts to improve his mood. "I'm gonna go crash… if you don't mind…"

"Go, sleep, Kelly's beauty treatment is gonna take a lot longer to see any results than yours," Shay replied cheekily, patting Severide's head gently.

"Yeah, she's gonna be plucking hairs from places I don't want hairs plucking," Severide spoke up, shaking his head ruefully at the thought.

"Ouch..." Casey said, pulling a pained face. "I'm off then. See you both in the morning.''

"Night, Matt," the other two chorused in unison, watching him go.

Chapter Text

Casey decided to return to his own home for the rest of his break from the hospital. So Severide then ended up staying over with him for two nights, making up some story about saving on hot water at his apartment, because Shay took showers that were long enough for ten people. Casey just accepted the story with an eye roll, and for once he didn't protest.

On the first night he woke from a nightmare, nothing out of the usual, because he'd been plagued with them since he was a teenager. What was out of the ordinary was the way he ended up in the spare room, lying in Severide's arms. He hadn't been able to sleep and he'd wandered wordlessly into Severide's room. He had woken to the sound of Casey's nightmare but had decided it was best not to make a big deal about it so he'd simply lifted the covers up, a silent invitation for Casey to join him, and he'd wrapped his arms around him until they both drifted off to sleep.

Casey woke with more than the weight over the bed covers over him. It took him a moment to realise it was Severide's arm, so he moved carefully underneath him, turning onto his side, not wanting to disturb him. He smiled, facing Severide's sleeping form now, feeling safe and comfortable lying there with him. He closed his eyes again, one hand under his chin, and his head resting in the crook of Severide's neck.

The light was shining through the edges of the curtains when Severide woke, realising he needed the bathroom. He was about to move when it dawned on him that Casey was curled up against him, breathing softly, clearly sleeping peacefully and painlessly. For now, he could postpone going to the bathroom, so he settled back down for a while so Casey could stay asleep.

"Morning," he spoke when Casey eventually started to stir.

"Hi…" Casey responded, moving back so he could see Severide's face smiling at him.

"How are you feeling?"

Casey just nodded in response.

"Good..." he responded, starting to move.

"Please don't," Casey said, stopping him.

"You want me to stay?"

"Maybe," Casey replied, dimpled cheeks blushing a little.

"Maybe?" he repeated.

"Please don't move... this is nice," Casey admitted.

"Ok," he said, the pressure on his bladder could continue wait.

A short while later Casey moved away from Severide, sitting up in the bed, still enjoying the warmth and comfort. Severide took the opportunity to relieve his bladder.

"Maybe you should have some breakfast now you're feeling ok," Severide suggested as he sat on the side of the bed.

Casey shook his head.

"You need something. You've lost too much weight," Severide said insistently.

"Don't need to remind me," he responded with a low chuckle, pointing at the NG tube. "I don't want to throw up," he added quietly.

"Don't think there's anything in you to throw up," Severide tried to reassure him. "And you haven't been sick for ages."

"Sorry… I'm being childish…"

"You're not being anything, being worried about throwing up is valid, you're not being childish," Severide responded caringly. 

"I am, 'cause I want to ask you to stay with me tomorrow too. I'm going to miss you…"

"I'll call Boden, get the shift off, spend the day with you," Severide said, smiling.

"You can't. I'd feel guilty," he replied, shaking his head a little.

"Even though you just admitted that you want me here with you," Severide retorted, eyebrow raised.

"Yes…"

"It'll go quickly, and I'll call you every half hour if I need to," Severide continued.

Casey laughed a little at that. "You don't need to, but thank you… erm about last night… sorry…"

"Sorry? I thought you didn't want me to move this morning?" Severide asked him.

"I didn't, but I don't want you to think…"

Severide smiled. "Friends give friends hugs, especially when they don't feel good."

"Do they sleep together too?"

"We slept in the same bed, we've done that before," Severide responded, shrugging.

"After a large consumption of alcohol, and when neither of us had spare rooms, or decent couches…"

"Friends can sleep in the same bed, don't worry about it," Severide repeated.

"I slept in your arms all night…"

"Matt, a while ago I said just let things happen, don't think about it all too much. You do too much thinking," Severide spoke, smiling at him.

"I just… I don't want you to think there's more to it," he said carefully.

"Isn't there?" Severide asked.

"I don't know," he responded quietly.

"Don't overthink, Matt," Severide told him. "Get dressed, I'll be in the kitchen."


After Severide's shift he went back over to Casey's house, they didn't do very much, they spent their time together just the same as the rest of the previous week, only Severide helped Casey pack a couple of bags for the hospital. He was due back the next day so he could start his first of three rounds of consolidation chemotherapy. Severide could already tell that Casey was dreading the prospect of being back there as he was silent most of the time, preferring just to listen to Severide than have much of a conversation. It wasn't much of a consolation but at least the treatment would only run for five days this time, rather than a whole week, that was if he'd gained enough weight for his body to be capable of tolerating the drugs.

When the morning came Severide woke up to the alarm, and he pulled himself out of bed, knowing he was probably going to need to help Casey. He made the bed, dressed and headed across the hall into the main bedroom. The curtains were still drawn meaning the room was almost completely dark, the way Casey liked it. He switched the light by the bed on, smiling at Casey's sleeping form before waking him gently.

"Morning, Matt… time to get up," he began, touching his shoulder, the majority of his body was hidden under the bed covers.

Casey groaned in response, turning over onto his front.

"Do I have to pull the covers away?" he teased.

"Mmno…"

"Come on then," he encouraged, aware they only had a couple of hours before Casey needed to be in the oncology department.

"Don't want to go," Casey moaned into his pillow.

"I know, I know… I'm gonna be with you all day though, that makes it a little better, right?"

"Maybe a little," he responded, smiling, as he sat up in the bed.

"There's my favourite smile," Severide commented.

"A tired smile?"

"A Matt Casey smile," he told him. "So, some liquid breakfast?"

"Suppose I better…"

"You get dressed, come down when you're ready," Severide said, standing up from the bed.

"How about, I'm never ready?" he responded, his smiling growing, eyes weary but mischievous.

"Then I will knock you out and drag you to the hospital myself," Severide told him with a very serious expression on his face.

"Extreme."


At the hospital Severide stayed with Casey as his blood was taken, and whilst he was given a physical where he was directed to a set of scales in the sterile room. It wasn't until his blood results came back that his own doctor appeared and gave Casey the good news, he was fit enough to start consolidation chemotherapy. Casey didn't smile or thank the man in response though, he just nodded, mentally preparing himself for the next five days.

"Matt?"

Severide's voice broke into his thoughts and caught his attention. He just frowned at him, wondering how long he'd been sitting alone with him in the waiting area.

"They're gonna admit you now, same room as last time. It's all ready for you," Severide told him, concern edged his tone since Casey still seemed completely unaware. "Matt?"

"Yeah… let's do this then…" he responding, standing up a little too quickly.

Severide grabbed Casey's arm to stop him from falling back down into the chair. "All right?"

"Yeah, yeah…" he replied, but he didn't look it.

As he held Casey's arm Severide could feel him trembling. "Everything's fine," he spoke, whispering into his ear, mouth so close to his skin that Casey could feel his warm breath.

"Everything's fine," Casey repeated, it was then that he spotted Catalina.

"Hi, Matt. Ready to come through?" she asked.

"No…" he responded, smiling even though he was shaking his head.

"Just five days, and only cytarabine," she reminded him as they walked onto the ward.

Casey sat himself down on the edge of the hospital bed when they reach his room, and Severide put his bags down. He swallowed the antiemetics, used to the routine now, and Severide found himself wishing he wasn't so familiar with everything. Catalina left them, saying she'd be back in an hour to administer the first infusion.

Severide pulled out the fairy lights from the top of one of the bags. "Location preference?"

"Where you put them last time was great," Casey answered.

"Yeah?"

He nodded. It had been nice to lie propped up in the bed, able to see the lights in front of him in the darkness. At times they almost made him forget where he was. Severide set about getting the room organised, with Casey helping to start off with but ending up sitting down in the chair, only able to watch. Severide didn't mind at all since he'd been the one who insisted that he should just rest and direct the proceedings, telling Severide where he wanted his things to be put.

When Catalina came back, true to her word, an hour later, Casey just looked at the equipment she was carrying with a grimace. Severide could see the hazard labels and poison warnings on the IV bag of cytarabine, and it made his stomach sink, but he smiled reassuringly at Casey nevertheless, determined not to let him see his own fears.

"Let's get you set up, Matt, then I'll leave you both in peace, for a short while at least," Catalina told him as she placed the tray down and began to prepare the it for use.

Casey had already removed his hoody and pulled off his t-shirt, ready to be attached to the infusion pump for five days now. Severide grabbed the hospital gown from the side so he could slip it on after the IV bag was connected to his central line. Despite the nutritional feeds Casey had been getting he looked no better, his ribs were still prominent, there was no flesh on his abdomen. It wasn't right, he had always been athletic, but never this skinny. It was a scary sight, and the more he read about cancer and chemotherapy the more worried he became, hoping that Casey could get through all this, and get his life back. Severide knew how devastated Casey would be if he couldn't return to firefighting. He'd put on a brave face for sure, but he loved his job and his job was his life.

Chapter Text

Almost like clockwork, Casey started vomiting during his second twenty-four hour infusion. Severide was working at the firehouse and Casey was glad of that as he wiped drool on the back of his hand. He was alone in the hospital room, he didn't need Catalina to hold the emesis basin for him, he was perfectly capable of that at least. He'd needed her when he'd thrown up the NG tube though, and it had been a struggle not to breakdown when it was reinserted, knowing it would likely happen again. When Severide turned up the next day the nausea had mostly subsided thanks to an increase in antiemetics, but his body was wracked with chills. Severide walked tentatively up to him, worried at how he was curled up on his side, shivering despite the layers of clothes and blankets, back facing the door.

With little thought Severide sat down by the bed and reached for Casey's hand, cupping it beneath his own. After a moment Casey's eyes opened and gazed at Severide, his eyes piercingly bright compared to his skin, Severide smiled at him, at those beautiful eyes. "Hey…" he began.

Casey offered him a small smile.

"You wanna hear about my shift?" he asked full of enthusiasm, determined to distract Casey from his current predicament.

He nodded a little, still looking at Severide.

"Was pretty quiet, one call out, some teenager got his head stuck in some sort of art… although if you ask me it didn't look much like art… you'd probably say something clever about it being modern… and metal… didn't do anything for me…"

"Modern and metal?" Casey repeated quietly, lips curling upwards.

"It had some sort of fancy name… it's now in three pieces," Severide told him. "Kid's gonna be fine though, little shook up, but I bet he's back home right now."

"You got to destroy a priceless piece of art then?"

"Dunno about priceless but it was defiantly out of my range, wouldn't fit in my apartment anyway… Oh, and Shay isn't gonna be happy next shift, someone subbing in for Rafferty… probably McAuley…"

"Mr Doom and Gloom… that'll piss her off," he responded wearily.

"Heather spoke to her apparently, asking after you," Severide informed him.

"She knows?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah, so do the boys, they want to come and see you, think Shay managed to stop that from happening, Heather may come by at some point though…"

"Thanks for the heads up," Casey said gratefully.

"Do you erm… want another blanket or something?" Severide asked him, it had been hard not to notice him trembling.

"Not actually cold… just shaky apparently… not very fun," he admitted.

"Nothing I can do then?"

Casey smiled. "Your company is nice."

"Yours is too," he retorted.

His smile turned into a small airy chuckle. "Yeah… I look so good right now too, not showered since I got here, not brushed my teeth either… thank God for mouthwash…"

"Do you want to shower? I could get Catalina… or I could help you?"

"I don't want to move," he admitted. "Like… never wanna move… just gonna stay here and sleep forever and ever…"

"I'd prefer it if you didn't sleep forever," Severide responded.

"Hmm… thought I would, but sleep… sleep is good, can mostly ignore everything then… don't wanna ignore you though… I like that you're here… I like it a lot… it's nice… it's good… thank you…"

"Sleep now if you want, I won't leave, got today's paper to read," Severide said.

"I want to sleep… but I don't… just in case…" he said as his eyes closed, it was a struggle to keep them open.

"Matt…"

His eyes flickered open. "Mmm…"

"You will wake up," Severide reassured him, they'd had this conversation before.

"What if I don't want to?" he asked, looking at Severide's gentle expression.

Severide leaned in closer. "Matt…"

"I mean, part of me doesn't want to sleep in case I don't wake up… but then maybe I don't have to wake up to this…"

"You're feeling really bad today, that's all, and it sucks for now, but it's gonna get better," Severide tried to ease Casey's mind.

"Felt worse, felt better," he responded, shaking his head a little, letting his eyes close again.

"It's Thanksgiving tomorrow," Severide stated.

"You're on shift the day after?" he asked, eyes still closed, resting them.

"Yeah… I can take it off if you want some company?"

"It's fine," Casey told him.

"I know what the 29th means to you," Severide responded.

He opened his eyes at that. "It'll be the first time I won't be visiting his grave… don't know how I feel about that," he admitted.

"I could go if that would help?" Severide said, but as he spoke, he realised there wouldn't be much meaning in it and he shrugged, hoping Casey wouldn't think it was a weird thing to say.

Casey smiled. "You're such a good person."

"I'm really not…"

"You have your moments… but you're good," Casey told him. "I'll go when I get out of here… sixteen years… it's flown by really…"

Severide watched as he drifted off to sleep, once he was sure he wouldn't disturb him Severide stood up and pulled the blanket up, tucking him in so he didn't get cold as he slept. He placed a hand on his shoulder comfortingly before sitting back down and opening up the newspaper. He was still flicking through it a while later when there was a brief knock at the door.

It opened, revealing the surgical nurse that Severide had seen before. "Hey, how's he doing?" the dark haired man asked.

"How do you think he's doing?" Severide retorted, already on the defensive without even truly knowing why. Frowning as the man sat down in the corner chair, already looking far too relaxed.

"I've been thinking about him, want to make sure he has someone…"

"He has me," Severide responded, sitting up straighter.

"Your track record isn't great, I was there for him when you weren't," the man said simply, looking at Casey who was still sound asleep.

"Well, I'm here now, and I'm here to stay. Don't you have somewhere else you could be?"

The man let out a sigh and got up. "Fine, I'll go. I suppose you won't tell him I came by."

"I'll tell him," Severide replied as he watched him leave, feeling at ease once the door was shut and he was gone. Was that jealousy? Was he jealous of a man Casey'd had casual sex with, or was he worried it had been more than that? He looked down at Casey and wondered if this thing that was blossoming between them could be anything more than casual, as far as he was aware Casey wasn't a casual guy, he was in things for the long run, but he had a tendency to need comfort and sex ended in comfort at least some of the time. He wanted to be more than casual for Casey, even if he'd had a relationship last longer than a few months and that was rare, he just hadn't wanted the commitment, figuring it would just end anyway, but he was committed to Casey, there was no other reason he would be sitting on this uncomfortable plastic chair for hours a day if he weren't, he chuckled to himself as he realised that.

He loved Matthew Casey. Really loved him.

Chapter Text

Casey tried his best to take part in the small Thanksgiving celebration Severide had organised, he'd even managed to put some of the autumnal leaf style paper bunting around the hospital room. Casey had smiled at that when he woke to discover him hanging some of it on the infusion pump stand next to the bed.

"Penultimate twenty-four hours," Severide had said, smiling at him. Most of those hours were spent curled up on his side, hoody and beanie on, with his stomach cramping, destroying all hope he'd had of a relaxed day, eating the food the Herrmanns had sent Severide over with, and watching movies.

Severide felt useless, nothing he was doing felt like it was helping Casey right now. He'd left him alone for a short while earlier on in the afternoon, to give him some privacy as his body reacted to the poison running through his veins. Casey had been grateful, but it wasn't like he could hide anything that was happening to him, not unless he pushed Severide away, and he wasn't going to do that, he didn't want to do that.

"Kel… I'm not kicking you out, but don't feel obligated to stay…"

"I don't feel…"

"If I was you, I'd hate not being able to do something. We rescue people for a living, we fix stuff… you can't rescue me or fix anything right now. Wish I could fix it, it feels like I'm doing nothing whilst everyone else is… well, doing everything." Casey sniffed and wiped his nose on his hoody sleeve, screwing his eyes closed for a few moments to try and clear his vision.

"I do feel useless, doesn't mean I'd rather not be here… I'd feel even more useless at home," Severide admitted in response.

A smile graced Casey's face. "Remember last thanksgiving?" he asked, recalling the birth on the highway, the nausea he felt now almost forgotten.

"That's something I'm never gonna forget…"

"Me too… it was so scary, I didn't know what I was doing, so much could have gone wrong, and then it was amazing. Never thought I'd deliver a baby," Casey responded.

Severide was just looking at him, smiling.

"What is it?" Casey asked him.

"Just… the look on your face when you think about kids," he replied, still smiling.

"I have a look?"

"Yeah, you have this look, almost content," Severide tried to explain.

"Only almost?" he repeated.

"It makes you look happy," Severide told him.

"Don't I usually look happy?"

"Most the time you have the weight of the world your shoulders… don't worry you're pretty good at hiding it," Severide added.

"You notice a lot," he commented.

Severide nodded. "About you, yeah."

Casey swallowed and looked away from Severide's gaze, not wanting to say or do something he would regret. But would he regret it? Would he regret leaning in and kissing Severide's soft lips? Would he regret running a hand through his short dark hair? Looking down he could see Severide's hand still resting on the bed, and slowly, still gazing intently at Severide's hand, Casey reached out and hesitantly took hold of it in his own.

Severide squeezed his hand back, and smiled, although Casey's eye contact was fleeting. He felt like a nervous teenager; his stomach was fluttering like there were a hundred butterfly wings inside. He could see how tired Casey was though, and he knew it wasn't just his feelings that were causing him to struggle with eye contact.

He cleared his throat and spoke to Casey. "Do you want erm… do you want your earplugs?"

"Earplugs?" Casey repeated, his heart fluttering still.

"So you can sleep a little better," he explained. "You look like you need some rest."

"Are you leaving?"

"No… unless you want me to?" Severide asked him, feeling like it was a conversation they had almost every time he was with Casey. 

Casey shook his head, smiling a little.

"I promise you'll wake up," Severide said, sensing Casey's hesitancy.

"Still in two minds about that…"

Severide pulled his mask down, his lips turned upwards, and he leant forwards to place a chaste kiss on Casey's forehead. Replacing the surgical mask, he sat back without saying a word, watching Casey's reaction.

Casey's face was unreadable and there was silence for the longest moment before he spoke. "Do it again."

"I don't want to make you sick," Severide responded with a small shake of his head.

A huff of laughter escaped Casey before he leant forward and pulled the surgical mask away, planting his lips gently on Severide's. It was short and sweet. Then his weight rested on Severide, leaning into him and relaxing as Severide put his arms around him, holding him softly. Casey fell asleep like that, Severide could tell by his slow breathing, so he gently laid him back into the pillows.


Catalina entered Casey's room quietly, the lights were dimmed and the blind closed even though it was the middle of the day. She didn't know it was the anniversary of his father's death, but Severide did, and he'd FaceTimed him for an hour that morning, not mentioning the 'dad' word, just spending the time distracting him, sad to hear that his mouth was sore again, Severide knew how badly he had struggled with it last time. Catalina had interrupted their conversation, there to give Casey his last infusion of his current round of chemotherapy. He'd fallen asleep not too long after that, happy to ignore the world for now, and had been dozing on and off since.

She smiled when she saw Casey's eyes were open as she checked his central line, she bent down a little so she met them with her own. "How you doing?" she asked in a hushed tone.

He just nodded a little in response.

"Someone's come to see you, up for a visit?"

"Chaplain?" he asked quietly.

"Heather," she told him.

He cleared his throat. "Not showered…" he muttered, hairless brows furrowed in muddled thought.

"I don't think she'll mind, sounds like she really wants to see you, but if you don't want to, I can give her an excuse…"

He shook his head, sitting up a little. Catalina passed him a face wipe so he could feel a little more human at least, she rearranged and tidied the bed sheets once she had adjusted the bed so he was sitting up now. He brushed his teeth, rinsing and spitting into the bowl she was holding up for him before she left to fetch his visitor. He slipped one of his beanie hats over his head, it wasn't going to make him look any less sick, but it felt like the least he could do to make himself feel less self-conscious about his appearance.

"Heather," Casey greeted, trying to look enthusiastic when she entered his room. "You look good, you've changed your hair."

"You changed yours too," Heather said, smiling as she sat down by the bed, a surgical mask covering the lower half of her face.

He grinned back at her. "Yeah, less effort."

She remained smiling but didn't quite meet Casey's eyes, the situation being a little uncomfortable because it was hard to see him like this. He was too tired to notice though. "Erm…" she began, opening up her bag. "The boys made some cards for you."

She showed them to him briefly before putting them on the side.

"They're great, tell them that I loved them. How are they doing?"

"Really good, they're both doing so well in school this year, after everything… I'm proud of them," she responded, nodding.

"You should be, you're doing great with them," he responded.

"They've missed you coming around," she told him. "They wanted to come and visit when I explained everything, I thought it was best to keep them away… for now."

"Tell them I'll try and see them when I get out of here, unless… well, erm… might not be nice seeing me like this…"

"I don't think it matters to them, it'll be good for all of you to see each other," she replied.

Casey nodded, eyes closing for a short time.

"I'll… I'll leave you to it…"

"You can stay if you want, or not… I just tend to fall in and out of sleep," he said.

She smiled. "I'll stay then."

"Won't be offended if I wake up and your gone though."

Chuckling at him she responded, "Get some rest before you fall asleep mid-sentence."

Heather sat with him for a while, looking through one of the magazines Shay must have left behind, wondering if Casey had been desperate enough for entertainment to flip through it as well.

She almost jumped when Catalina entered, doing her usual checks. "Sorry," the nurse began. "He can be quite a light sleeper so I try to be as quiet as possible."

Heather shook her head. "I was just too engrossed in the latest celebrity gossip… I can step outside…"

"No need, just checking on everything," Catalina explained.

"How… erm… how is he doing?" she asked Catalina. "He doesn't talk."

"I noticed," Catalina responded.

"He's been so good to me since my husband… he died on the job last year, working with Matt."

Catalina nodded sympathetically. "He's doing well, he has a few more rounds of consolidation chemo, that's to help make sure the cancer doesn't come back…"

"It's gone?"

"Mostly, but he has to keep going with the treatment for a while," she explained.

"So, this is good," Heather commented.

"He's doing well, it's really hard but so far he's on track," she told her.

"Good… good… I know people must say it all the time but, well, he's such a great person, and he's already been through a lot…" She swallowed, feeling her emotions bubbling up inside. "Can't lose him, not after my husband… erm… I should go, I need to pick up my youngest…" Heather said as she checked her watch and stood up. She held Casey's hand briefly, and then said her farewells to the nurse.

Catalina finished her checks, she made sure Casey seemed comfortable and let him continue to rest.

Chapter Text

Casey was suffering from agonising stomach pain as the last of the infusion entered his body the next day. The side effects were always worse after the chemotherapy had been running for a few days, and he had almost completed the fifth twenty-four hour. His pain was so severe that by the time the infusion had finished late in the morning, one of the doctors came along to examine his abdomen. Casey had groaned as the cold gel touched his skin before the ultrasound made contact. His whole body was uncomfortable, and he was exhausted, but the pain was unbearable and preventing him from sleeping.

Severide never once left his side, even holding a heat pad over his stomach for some time. Fortunately, the ultrasound showed nothing wrong, even though they had been worried about some kind of blockage or perforation. Casey was sure there was something wrong but eventually the pain started to lessen, and he actually felt better after vomiting, although it had affected him with such force the NG tube came up, and it was a scary sight, seeing it dangling from his mouth.

"I'll get Catalina…" Severide let go of Casey's hand and slipped out of the room. He could have used the call button but he needed a quick breather. It was a difficult day and no matter how many times he saw Casey like this he would never get used to it. He practically laughed at himself as he went out to the nurse's station. Big tough squad lieutenant unable to cope with watching someone, his someone he hoped, vomit.

Catalina walked quickly into Casey's room and it didn't take her long to get him sorted as Severide hung back in the corridor.

"He ok?" he asked her when she closed Casey's door.

She nodded.

"Anything I can do for him?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

"Sorry, Kelly," she responded before heading back to the nurse's station. "We're keeping him as comfortable as we can."

Severide just nodded, steeling himself. Casey was lying on his side when he entered, his back facing the door. Severide walked around the bed so he could face him, and he sat down, taking his hand.

"Thought you'd had enough of me," Casey croaked out.

"Never."

A few hours later and Casey felt so much better that it was hard to believe how much pain he had been in before. Severide glanced across at him, smiling as he watched Casey laughing at the comedy show on the TV. The knot in his stomach had gone, feeling much more relaxed now Casey wasn't in pain. He couldn't stand seeing it, and had to push the thought of the possibility it could happen again to the back of his mind.

"Sorry about today," Casey said, offering Severide a small smile once the show ended.

He chuckled. "Of course you are," he responded. "I'm just glad you're feeling better now."

"Million times better," Casey confirmed. "I'm gonna shower and change…" he said, moving so he was sitting over the side of the hospital bed. He looked at Severide again. "You could go home and shower or… whatever if you want?"

"Not getting rid of me today," Severide replied. "Take your gown off…"

"What?" Casey's face was priceless as he gave Severide a somewhat surprised side-eyed look.

"I'm gonna stick the AquaGaurd on," he explained.

"Oh, right, yeah, thanks…"

"What d'you think I wanted to do?" Severide sniggered.

He shook his head, laughing too.

"Go shower, do you want Catalina?" Severide asked him.

"Should be fine… but if you hear a thud…"

"Don't joke," Severide responded.

Grinning now he responded. "You're so serious. Honestly, I really do feel so much better, better than I have since I was home."

"Really?"

"Really," he said, nodding.

In the small bathroom, clutching fresh clothes, Casey let out a shuddering breath, silent tears ran down his cheeks. He really did feel much better than he had earlier on, so he wasn't quite sure why he was feeling emotional. He just wanted to hold himself together for Severide's sake, he didn't want to be the needy one because it looked like Severide needed someone to lean on right now. He'd looked so worried even when Casey had insisted that he felt great now.

Severide gave the hospital room a quick tidy once he heard the jet of shower water, he swapped the sheets and throws on the bed for fresh ones, and sorted out the items strewn all over the swing table and on the side. He sat down again once he was done, then stood up again, pacing the room a little as he waited for Casey to finish in the bathroom. He was tempted to knock on the door and make sure he was all right but in reality, it had been less than ten minutes since he'd heard the shower start. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, took them out again, ran his hands through his hair, fidgeted, scrolled through his phone screen seeing messages he needed to reply to, put it back in his pocket, then finally sat back down.

When Casey exited the bathroom, he was met with Severide suddenly shooting upright from the chair. "Whoa, you'll make me dizzy…"

"Sorry," Severide said, shaking his head. His apologetic expression turned into a frown. "You're leaning on that doorframe pretty heavily."

"Yeah… may have over done it," he admitted.

Severide was by his side in an instant, helping him over to the bed.

"Wait, don't really wanna get into bed, spending most my life there at the moment," he spoke.

Severide smiled. "Let's get you cosied up on the chair then."

"Can just about walk on my own…" He felt Severide's grip on his waist loosen. "But this is nice… just in case… don't wanna go splat…" he said slowly as he walked over to the chair in the corner of the room.

Severide kept his arm securely around Casey's waist whilst taking his hand and helping him sit down. "Good?"

Casey nodded but Severide was already turning away, fetching a couple of blankets and some chunky socks. He bent down, slipping each sock expertly onto Casey's bare feet before proceeding to wrap him in blankets. He went back over to the side table, returning with one of the hats that made up Casey's growing collection.

With both hands wrapped securely by the blankets Casey let Severide position the hat onto his head, the thick brim rested just above his eyes and covered the tops of his ears. "It'll take me two hours to get to the toilet now," Casey commented, giving Severide a wide smile.

"Bet you're cosy though?" Severide asked him.

"I am," he responded.

Severide smiled at him, eyes shining as he gazed into Casey's.

A blush crept onto Casey's pale cheeks. "What?"

"You just look very…" Severide didn't finish though, Catalina walked into the room carrying a container of liquid feed.

They both turned their heads.

"Did I interrupt something?" she asked as she bustled over, rolling the feeding pump over from beside the bed. Casey was sick of seeing it, having spent a lot of his time attached to it whilst he'd been home. It was an essential piece of equipment at the moment and his weight was now holding steady.

Severide could see the happiness leave Casey's eyes. It broke his heart to see it.

"Please can it wait," Casey asked her quietly.

"Already held it off, Matt," she reminded him understandingly.

"I know but…"

"If your stomach starts to hurt again, I'll stop it, ok?"

"Ok… I guess," he responded, although Severide could tell he was definitely not ok with that idea.

"You've had some more antiemetics now, and this will be slow, shouldn't upset your stomach," she told him.

"But it might," Casey continued, looking at the patterned curtain, wanting to look anywhere but at Severide's face right now, because he knew how pathetic he sounded at the moment.

Severide almost couldn't bear to see Casey like this; afraid. He moved so he could catch Casey's eyes, they gazed at each other for a moment, Severide smiled beneath the surgical mask as he simply nodded encouragingly.

Catalina was already preparing the pump, shaking the container and turning it upside down, connecting it to the machine and then to Casey's NG tube.

Severide's small offer of encouragement had done very little to wipe the anxiety from Casey's face. He brought his hand to Casey's face, cupping the right side of his jaw. "You got through everything so far today, you can do this, it might hurt again, but if it does; it will stop. And I'm not leaving."

"Even if this scares me more than burning buildings?"

"I'm not leaving because it does scare you," he told Casey firmly.

Casey let out a small huff of laughter. "Probably won't even be that bad."

"Probably not," he agreed, dropping his hand away from Casey's face. "Besides, it's already started." He glanced at the pump beside the chair, he'd seen the liquid feed start to travel through the tube a few moments ago. He realised, much like all the tests and biopsies Casey was subjected to, the anticipation was more likely far worse than the actual process.

Catalina started to leave the room, but as she did an alarm started blaring out like none Casey had heard on the ward before, and she left in a hurry. Before his door shut Casey heard the words 'Code Blue' over the tannoy system.

"Kel…" his voice was small, hesitant and filled with worry.

"Someone's probably just fallen over," Severide responded.

Casey locked eyes with him, looking like a deer caught in headlights.

"Or they've gone into anaphylactic shock like you did," Severide suggested.

"Yeah… maybe…"

"You're not gonna die, Matt," Severide said resolutely.

"Can't say that," he responded.

"They're fixing you," Severide told him.

"They're trying to. No guarantees," he replied. "I… I just don't want it to happen here. If it ever does happen, I really don't want to be in a hospital… and I want it to be fast, I don't want to be conscious..."

Severide nodded, unable to find the right words to reply right away. "I suppose… I guess I would want the same."

He smiled a little. "Also… I don't want it to happen for a very long, not because of all this. Most the cancer is gone, I'm on the home stretch now, Kelly."

"Yeah, yeah, you are."

Casey realised he must have dozed off because when he opened his eyes the sky outside was darker and the food pump had been moved back to the side of the hospital bed. He moved a little, alerting Severide that he was awake.

"Hey, careful you're not on your bed," Severide warned him, putting down the magazine he'd been flipping through.

"You're still here? Did you sit on the stool the whole time?" he asked.

Severide nodded. "How's your stomach?"

"S'fine," he responded.

"Good," Severide said, smiling.

"Think I want to get into bed now though," he told Severide.

It didn't take Severide long to get Casey untangled from the blankets, so he could get up out of the chair and walk the short distance to the bed while Severide carried them, replacing them around him once he was lying down. "You're like a little burrito," Severide remarked, smiling down at him.

"What? Sloppy insides?" He chuckled, teasing Severide.

"I love it when you laugh like that," Severide commented.

Stopping himself from laughing so he could talk, Casey continued. "I love it when you smile like that, lights up your eyes… and when you sit on a stool for hours whilst I'm sleeping… why did you do that? Why didn't you use the bed?"

"Your blood count is low, didn't wanna wipe my clothes and my germs all over your bed," he responded, his heart racing from Casey's first comment.

"Wipe your clothes all over my bed? How do you sleep?" Casey asked, that soft chuckle leaving his lips again.

"Ok, so maybe I just wanted to be next to you," he admitted.

"Well, unless you've gained a couple hundred pounds this bed can take both of us…"

"Matt…" Severide began hesitantly. "Erm… I'm not sure it's the best idea…"

"But the other day we… we kissed, or was I dreaming that?"

"We did, but…"

"But," Casey repeated under his breath.

"I just want this… want us… I don't want you to regret this… when you're better," he tried to explain.

"Oh…"

"I'm sorry, it's for you more than me, I would happily…"

"You think I'm letting you get close because I'm sick?" Casey asked him. "Then why have you been here so much? I thought, maybe…"

"No… no… I do, I really do… I… like you a lot, Matt," he responded.

"Then get into the bed with me, because I've not stopped feeling the same way about you… I guess it was bad timing before…"

"No, I'm glad it happened before, I've not stopped feeling the same way about you either, even if I treated you like crap… I just want to make sure your reasons for doing this are…"

"Are real?" Casey continued. "I pushed you away a thousand times and you kept turning up… you're the only person ever in my life to just keep turning up, the only person who has ever… ever cared. I can't help but fall for that apparently…"

Severide smiled. "I think I might be worrying a little… panicking maybe about what I feel."

"That's ok," he responded.

"I like you a lot… more than friends…" Severide continued. "I love you, Matt."

"You…"

"It's ok, you don't have to say anything," Severide said, just smiling.

"No one's ever… you love me?"

"That so hard to believe?" Severide asked him. "I… erm… I tried to stop loving you, and I treated you like crap, I blamed you for Andy's death, but I never stopped feeling… things for you."

"Are you going to get into bed with me then? Not sure how much longer I can stay awake," he added.

"I've never done this before," Severide continued.

"I know," he responded.

"You don't mind?"

"That you've never been out with a guy before?" Casey asked him.

"Are we going out now?" he questioned.

"If going out means staying in this hospital room then yeah?"

"Ok," Severide said, nodding.

"Ok… this isn't out of pity, right?"

"Hate to break it to you, Matt, but the 'sick look' isn't something that turns me on," Severide told him.

"Erm… sorry…"

"Oh God, no… I didn't mean it like that… shit… I'm making a mess of this…"

"Maybe let's just sleep?" Casey asked him wearily. "Together."

Severide shut up and nodded, smiling as he stood up and carefully joined Casey on the bed. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"

Casey shook his head, he'd already closed his eyes and wrapped an arm around Severide's.

"Goodnight, Matty," he said, still smiling.

"I love you too," Casey muttered a few moments later as he drifted off to sleep.

Even tucked underneath all the blankets Casey was like a limpet in his sleep, attaching himself to Severide's side, and when he woke to find Catalina in the room he realised he was clutching a pillow not Severide's arm.

"Kelly had to pick Shay up, her car broke down, he'll be back in the morning," Catalina told him softly. "How are you feeling?"

"Just tired… he told me loves me," he added.

Catalina smiled. "He hangs around here more than the average boyfriend or family member."

"Guess his shift pattern helps with that…"

"I've seen the way he looks at you're when you're sleeping, he does love you," Catalina responded.

"Yeah, he does…" he said, letting out a small huff of laughter. "No idea why, but he does…"

"Now, I need you to drink more or you'll be attached to an IV again, all right?"

"All right."


The next morning Severide returned to Casey's hospital room. He'd woken early, unable to fall back to sleep because of all the thoughts running through his head so he headed to the gym, showered there and then made his way to the hospital with some fresh clothes for Casey, and the latest edition of the firefighting magazine he liked, he wanted to keep as up to date as possible with things. Although Casey found his concentration wondering easily, and he often read the same articles more than once without realising.

"How was he overnight?" he asked Catalina when she entered the room.

"Slept through it as far as I know," she told him. "He's struggling with his mouth, but he's getting along better with the kids mouthwash you got him."

Severide nodded. "Good, that's something at least. His counts today?"

"Low, don't think he'll be getting out of here soon, but he's being giving another transfusion," she responded.

"I better invest in some different board games then…"

"I'll see if I can get the Xbox in here for you guys later, how about that?"

"That does sound good… he'll thrash me at whatever game we play though, always beats me, don't ever play poker with him," he said, chuckling.

She grinned. "Thank you for warning me… he seemed happier than usual last night by the way," she added.

Severide's eyes narrowed. "He told you?"

"He did," she responded.

He smiled down at Casey who remained asleep throughout their whole conversation.

"I'll be back in later," Catalina said, gathering up her things and leaving the room.

Severide readjusted the sheets and blankets around Casey before settling down on the stool, grabbing one of the well-read magazines from the side, making a mental note to get some new ones, although he was sure it wasn't Casey who was reading them as he was spending most of his time sleeping. When he was a wake it was a struggle to concentrate on anything more than a light-hearted movie or show, and the odd episode of Hawaii Five-O. Maybe Severide would beat him on the Xbox after all.

He glanced at Casey, alarm ringing out in his chest when he saw the trickle of blood beneath his nose. He got into action immediately, pulling a wad of tissue from the box on the side to hold it beneath Casey's nose. He hit the call button. The blood wasn't flowing too quickly but it still quickly soaked the white tissue red.

Catalina wasn't worried about the nosebleed so she left Casey in Severide's capable hands, saying that he was happy to deal with it, he'd call her again if it didn't stop soon.

As the trickle slowed, Severide dabbed away at the blood. By the time it had all but stopped bleeding completely Casey stirred, his brows knitting together as he moved his head away from Severide's touch.

"It's just me," Severide told him. "You've had a small nosebleed, nothing to worry about."

"Kel?" he spoke hoarsely as he opened his eyes.

"How you doing?" Severide asked, smiling at his sleepy eyes.

"Very fed up of that question…"

"How are you feeling?"

Casey rolled his eyes wearily. "That one too…"

"Do you wanna shower? Or just a change of clothes?"

He shook his head.

"There's blood on your hoody," he told Casey.

"Probably have another nosebleed anyway… plus, I'm covered in bruises again, would rather you didn't see that," he responded, letting out a short breath.

"I'm not gonna find you any less attractive," Severide replied.

He chuckled. "You find me attractive?" 

"I think you're beautiful," Severide told him.

"With no eyelashes? Surprised you didn't fall down at my feet when I was well then," he teased, moving a little in the bed, changing position because his body was aching.

Severide chuckled with him. "Wanna catch up with Hawaii Five-O?"

"I'm sleepy… so I'm just gonna…"

"Sleep?" Severide finished for him.

"Mmm…" he muttered, curling up on his left side. "Kel…"

"Yeah?"

"I like that you're here."

Severide watched Casey as he drifted off to sleep, it happened almost immediately, he could tell by the way Casey's breathing softened out and his jaw relaxed. He was getting used to seeing Casey like this now, although it did still feel very unnatural to see Casey so vulnerable, and even fragile. He kept having to push his fears to the back of his mind but it was hard when Casey looked the way he did, even if Severide was putting on a brave face in front of him, his worries were keeping him up at night, and he'd had more than one bad dream about Casey when he had been able to sleep.

Chapter Text

It was a couple of days before Casey started to recover from the chemotherapy, his mouth was still sore and he was still tired, but the aches he'd felt in his bones had lessened and he hadn't thrown up for a few days now, nor had any infections. Severide and his doctor had a surprise for him once his blood tests returned. He'd spent most of his time sleeping, thankful that his stomach hadn't pained him again, but his entire body ached, and no matter how he positioned himself on the bed he couldn't get comfortable whilst he was awake and it was making him miserable.

"How do you fancy leaving the hospital for a few hours today?" his doctor asked after a short chat about how everything was going.

"Leaving?" Casey repeated, not sure he'd heard the man right.

"For a few hours," the doctor responded, nodding, glancing at Severide who was smiling.

"How?"

"Your bloods have come back relatively good this morning, I think a little excursion will be good for your mental health. Now, insurance won't like that, so, I will discharge you and meet you in the ER this afternoon where I'll re-admit you. I'll be down there, say around… 2pm?"

"2pm is great, thank you," Severide responded. "How's that sound, Matt?"

Casey nodded now. "Really good."

"Good." The doctor smiled. "There's a few things I need you to do though. One, no enclosed crowded places, two, wear your mask, and three, only letting you out of here if you use the wheelchair."

"Ok," Casey responded. Severide had expected some sort of protest, especially to the wheelchair, but he supposed Casey realised if he struggled to make the distance to the bathroom then the wheelchair was a sensible idea.

"I'll go get your discharge papers then."


Severide held the car door open for him as he stood up from the wheelchair and got onto the passenger side seat. Severide then quickly figured out how to fold down the chair so he could fit it in the back before getting into the car himself. Before starting the engine, he turned to Casey. "So, I was actually thinking we go to your father's grave? Unless that's weird? I just thought because you missed…"

"It's perfect, thank you," Casey spoke.

"And then maybe some lunch by the lake after? If you're feeling up to it then," Severide suggested.

"Ok. Thank you for this," he responded.

"I don't know if I was right in doing so but… I got a little something from the Blackhawks Memorabilia shop," Severide explained.

"You did?"

"I know you like to leave something for your dad," Severide responded, nodding.

"All my good memories of him are Blackhawks games," Casey told him. "I can count them all on one hand but that doesn't matter."

"Did you play hockey?"

He nodded. "Yeah, dad even helped out with the team sometimes. He wasn't a bad guy, not really."

"You loved him, you visit his grave and leave gifts, and I don't always love my dad…"

"The whole mom shooting him thing really blows things out of proportion, mom has issues, they both did, but mom probably should have seen a doctor about some of hers, wasn't until I was older, when she was locked away, that I understood, at least a little anyway," Casey admitted, looking ahead.

Severide nodded, realising that Casey wasn't going to divulge any more information. He turned the key in the ignition and set off for the cemetery, making sure the heating in his car was on full blast, and directed towards Casey.

It wasn't a long drive to the cemetery, Casey got out the car as Severide sorted the wheelchair out. "Park your skinny ass in here."

"It's hardly a walk from here…"

"I'll give you some privacy when we're closer," Severide told him.

He nodded, accepting what Severide was saying, and he sat down in the chair, allowing Severide to push him over to his father's grave. It was the second time Severide had been. The first time was quite a few years ago, Casey's truck had been in the shop and he'd insisted he drove Casey around for the four days it took to get his vehicle back. He'd waited in his own car back then, but he'd seen Casey swapping the worn miniature teddy bear wearing a Blackhawks shirt for a Blackhawks scarf.

As they approached the grave Severide could see the flag Casey had left last year, he put the brakes on the chair and handed Casey the small bag containing a miniature Stanley Cup. Casey started to stand up from the chair, Severide hung back, not wanting to interfere as he started walking over to his father's grave. Casey spent a short time knelt down in front of the headstone before Severide decided to join him. He silently walked over and stood beside him for a few moments before Casey put his hand out, he took it and helped him to his feet.

It wasn't until they were sitting back in the car that Casey spoke. "I don't really feel up to lunch, but we've got a bit of time…"

"It's not really the weather for it but we could go to Navy Pier or somewhere quieter?" Severide suggested.

He nodded. "Navy Pier… yeah, I'd like that. Could we leave the chair in the car though? I'll lean on you, just don't tell the doctor. I'd… I want to feel normal even if it's just a short walk down the pier," he added.

"All right, my lips are sealed."


Severide and Casey were standing at the edge of the pier, the wind was rushing through Severide's hair, it was making both their eyes water a little as they looked out onto the lake. Casey was gripping the railing and the smile in his eyes was breath-taking. Severide couldn't help but gaze at him.

"I've always wondered what it would be like to jump," Casey began, smiling gone now, as he looked out over the lake.

"What?"

"I'm not going to, but I've always wondered. I spent so much time here as a kid..."

Severide smiled softly at him. "How about I get you onto a scuba course when you're back in action? Then you can jump into water."

"And have more excuses to do your job when you're late to a scene?" Casey teased.

"You love it really," he responded.

Casey just turned to him, giving him one of his best smiles, he could tell even with the mask over his face. 

Severide wanted to wrap his arms around him and kiss his perfect lips but he didn't. "You doing ok? It's pretty chilly, even I can feel it. Do you want to head back?"

"No."

He placed his hand on Casey's, which was still gripping the railing.

"Let's go on the Ferris wheel," Casey suggested.

"Really?" he questioned, looking at him.

"You don't want to? Scared of heights?" Casey chuckled.

"Very funny…"

A comfortable silence washed between them as they got into one of the gondolas on the Ferris wheel. As they began gently whirring up into the air, Casey couldn't help the smile that crossed his face. He turned to look at Severide and followed his gaze to the gorgeous view of the lake. As beautiful as it was, the sight of Severide was even more pleasing to take in.

His heart raced as he reached a tentative hand to the back of Severide's neck, fingers conforming to the soft, warm skin. Severide turned toward him, his eyes alight with a happiness that Casey wished could stay there forever.

Casey initiated the kiss, pressing as much of himself towards Severide as he could, despite all the layers between them. Severide groaned softly as he was overtaken by Casey's determination, as he was kissed powerfully and with passion, even with how sore his lips and mouth still felt at the moment. It surprised him how soft and caring it still felt, despite Casey's confident drive. He exuded control and certainty, and Severide found himself loving every moment of it.

Severide reciprocated the kiss with everything he had, expressing to Casey exactly how he felt without even saying a single word.

Eventually Casey sat back. "I've been wanting to do that since we left the hospital," he spoke, breathing heavily.

"Yeah, cemetery isn't the most appropriate make-out location," Severide responded.

"My dad would turn in his grave," he replied, chuckling softly. "Thank you for today… how much did you bribe my doctor?"

"I really did just ask… very nicely, and mentioned your dad, we were just waiting for a day your blood tests came back better," Severide explained.

"Wonder how many germs are in here…"

"Don't even think about it… I was close to bringing a spray bottle of antiseptic… or getting you a giant bubble," Severide told him without a hint of sarcasm.

"A giant bubble?"

"Oh yeah, turns out they're actually pretty hard to get hold of," he teased. "Now, put your mask back on before I start getting palpitations."

Casey chuckled. "Worried about me?"

"Always."

Casey fell silent, gazing at Severide's sincere expression

"Are you ok?" Severide asked after a while.

He nodded. "Yeah…" he spoke, unable to keep the emotion from his tone. "No one… no one cares about me, it's not what people do."

"Lots of people care about you," Severide responded.

"Yeah… I'll never get used to it," he said, rolling his eyes, trying to offset the emotion that he felt was streaming out him.

Severide placed his hand on Casey's. "I hope one day you will."

"Or maybe I'll just get fed up of you fussing over me," he retorted, teasing Severide now.

As enjoyable as his first make out session with Casey had been, and first ever on a Ferris wheel, there was something on Severide's mind. It came and went but this time he opened his mouth and spoke. "Erm… so it slipped my mind, but not long ago that nurse came by to see you," he began.

"Which one?" He chuckled.

"Dark haired surgical nurse," Severide explained.

"Oh…" Casey frowned. "He came by?"

"Yeah…"

"What's wrong?" Casey asked, sensing Severide's unease.

"Who is he to you?" he questioned.

Casey shrugged. "And old friend, I suppose."

"Old?"

"Was just casual sex really," Casey continued.

"Oh, right…"

"I won't be having casual sex with him anymore," he told Severide. "I was kinda surprised when you said he turned up, because we barely saw each other outside of the bedroom."

"He came by before…"

"Yeah… erm, well, I just figured if all this chemo is gonna make my dick drop off or something I better, you know, enjoy it one last time…" he said, looking out over the lake now as the gondola journeyed down, rather than looking directly at Severide now.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't going to bring it up, but well, whether you're sick or not you have… needs, I want you to know that I know that," he said, coughing to clear his throat.

Casey smiled as he turned back to him. "Are you blushing, Kelly Severide?"

"Look, just, let me know if…"

"If I want you to bang my brains out? Think we have time now?" Casey continued mischievously, leaning closer to him.

"And I want you to know if… you don't have to pretend either, because you are sick," he told him, trying to get his thoughts across, worried he'd already made a mess of it all and was potentially ruining their trip out.

"You don't need to be so careful around me, Kelly, I know you won't hurt me again. You told me you love me, you wouldn't do that if you didn't, I trust you."

Severide smiled broadly. "You have no idea how happy that makes me, happier than you saying you love me back."

"I'm glad I can make you happy, thank you for caring."


Severide wheeled Casey into the ER at precisely 2pm, his doctor was waiting for him with a smile on his face. The ER was relatively quiet, and it was nice to get back inside after warming up in Severide's car then stepping back out into the cold air, although they'd parked as close as they could to the entrance, it was still a fair distance.

Casey looked up at Severide as he stopped by the doctor. "Thank you for today."

"My pleasure," Severide responded, now facing Casey, smiling at him.

Casey returned the smile. "You should go home, I'm just gonna sleep for the rest of the day."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, go to the gym, clean your apartment or something, do something fun, hang out with Shay…"

"I don't mind staying," Severide said.

"Really, I'm just gonna sleep, I'd rather you didn't spend all your time with me when I'm sleeping… people are gonna start thinking it's creepy," he added, smiling.

"All right then," Severide conceded. "I'll see you tomorrow…"

"No you want, you're working tomorrow," he reminded him.

"Ah yeah… see you Friday then," Severide corrected himself.

"Already looking forward to it."

"Call me later?"

Casey just nodded, then watched Severide leave, turning his head, eyes following him out the automatic doors. His neutral expression transformed to exhaustion as he turned back to the doctor.

"How are you doing?" he asked Casey.

Casey only nodded again, his weariness really showing now. He felt like he could sleep for a week.

"Let's get you admitted and back up to your room, then you can get some rest," the doctor continued, stepping behind to push the chair.

"Thanks for today as well, I'm exhausted now but it was great," he told the doctor, appreciative. 

"Good, I'm glad."

The excursion from the hospital had been a fantastic break for Casey but he was happy to be back in his bed, something he never thought would be possible during his admission. He'd fallen asleep almost immediately after getting settled back in his room, waking late in the evening, he dropped Severide a text message, not wanting to disturb him in case he was busy. Severide called back only a moment after the message had sent. They spoke to each other briefly before Severide could tell Casey was on the verge of drifting back off to sleep, but he still stayed on the phone with him until he could hear his soft breaths, only when Severide was sure he was asleep did he put the phone down and go to bed himself.

Chapter Text

Another week in the hospital passed by, Shay was sitting on the chair whilst Severide sat on the stool by Casey's side. He was sitting up in the bed, he was having a good day, eating a full breakfast for the first time since he'd been at home, they were still keeping the NG tube in place for now though, and he was currently being given a platelet transfusion. He wasn't talking much, but he was laughing and smiling along with Severide as Shay recalled the disastrous date she'd been on recently.

"Honestly, I should have just got up and left right then and there…"

"How did it get worse?" Severide guffawed.

"Trust me, you do not want to know," she said loudly.

"You tease…" he responded, shaking his head. His attention then turned to Casey, who was adjusting the bed so that he could lie down on his side. He looked at him questioningly, concern in his eyes.

"M'ok, tired… same old same old," Casey reeled off.

Smiling softly, Severide placed a gentle hand on Casey's shoulder now he'd settle down on his side. It made him look even smaller, something Severide was sure he would never get used to. "I think I'll go grab a drink then, do you want anything? They have new pyjama sets on display in the shop if you…"

He smiled wearily at Severide. "You just wanna get me undressed…"

"I don't think I need to buy you new PJs for that," Severide responded.

"Don't want hospital shop pyjamas, don't want hospital anything…"

"Not even a new crossword book?" Severide suggested.

Casey shook his head. "Chemo's turned my brain to mush. You don't have to buy me stuff, Kelly," he added.

"I know, I just want to…"

"Don't need stuff, just you," Casey spoke quietly, eye lids drooping.

"All right, I'll be back quickly then, don't want you to miss me too much," he responded, grinning, leaning down and giving him a quick kiss on his forehead, not bothering to remove his mask. The gesture was still the same.

Once Severide left the room, Shay made her way over to Casey and sat down on the stool. "So, got something to tell me?"

Casey opened his eyes. "You think I have?"

"Kelly just kissed you," she responded.

"Oh, yeah, we're kinda a thing now."

Shay said nothing, and her expression gave little away.

"I won't hurt him," Casey added, looking at her.

She nodded. "I know you won't."

"And he won't hurt me," he responded, holding eye contact.

"I hope not."

His head tilted a little. "He's your best friend?"

"Yeah, he is, and so are you," she responded. "I am happy for you, it's just hard to forget how you were after…"

"It happened, I'm fine now," he told her.

"Yeah… you won't forget how he treated you though," she replied quietly.

"No, but I understand why he did, I forgive him."

"I know, and I'm just trying to look out for you both, I'm not against this," she insisted, smiling.

"I understand, if it all goes to hell… we'll just have to sue each other for custody of you," he teased.

"As long as you don't end up throwing punches at each other…"

"It might not work out, but maybe it will," he responded, hope in his tone.

"You must think it will, you don't take stuff like this lightly, not like Kelly," she reminded him.

"He's not taken it lightly," he responded.

"No, guess not." She grinned as she continued. "Must be a first, hey? You are lucky."

"I really am."

She coughed, clearing her throat as she glanced around the room. "Other than this, and the whole family thing…"

"Nah, that's nothing… I'm in love."

"Yeah, you really are, lying there smiling like you're in a romantic comedy," she responded, letting out a short laugh as the door opened.

"Romantic comedy?" Severide asked as he walked in, carrying a couple of coffees. "No way are we watching one your movies again," he told Shay, setting down the coffees.

"He loves them really," Casey mouthed to Shay.

Casey soon drifted off to sleep, Severide had smiled when he realised Casey was never going to respond to what the three of them had been talking about. It was still hard to see Casey like this, but he was glad he was comfortable enough to sleep most of the time, he supposed it meant it all passed a little quicker for Casey then. He just hoped he'd be released from the hospital soon so he could go home and get some proper rest.

Shay was looking at him expectantly.

"What?"

She raised her eyebrows, just looking at him.

"He told you?" Severide presumed.

She chuckled. "I saw you kiss him. If you're trying to keep it discreet, you're doing a crap job at it," she told him.

"Are you going to give me some sort of talking to now?" he asked. "I won't hurt him," he added.

"That's exactly what Matt told me… just be careful, for both your sakes," she replied.

"You know, we don't need a mother figure," Severide responded, laughing.

Shay just pursed her lips and sat back.

Both their attention turned to the heap of blankets on the bed. "Everything's gonna be fine…" Casey spoke tiredly, falling asleep almost immediately again.

Severide and Shay just grinned at each other.


A few days later Casey was sitting outside as it snowed, he'd been cleared to go outside so Severide had covered in him in blankets and wheeled him out into on of the small hospital garden. He'd had a transfusion the previous day, in fact, he'd had one most days recently, but they were hopeful he'd be home from the hospital for the holidays, and hopeful they could give him a couple of weeks to recuperate before his next cycle of chemotherapy.

Severide shivered, rubbing his hands together and letting out a long breath. "You are insane. It's either the drugs or… I think you were insane to start with…"

"You can go inside if you're cold," Casey told him.

"Cold? Cold? I'm freezing my balls off out here!"

"Thought I was the cold one?" he responded, grinning up at him.

"You are; that's why you're covered in blankets that probably weigh as much as you do," Severide retorted, pulling his leather jacket across his chest, trying to get warm.

"Seriously, how have you survived this long?"

"I don't make a habit of standing outside in the cold," Severide answered.

"What if you got caught outside though? In an accident?"

"Do you always think of the worst-case scenario?"

"Apparently," he responded, chuckling. He looked away, gazing at the sheet of snow that lay over the grass, the slow falling flakes landed softly, covering the remaining blades. Their fresh white surrounding made Casey look even paler, but his eyes were glittering in the light from the shaded sun. The flakes stopped falling and the sky slowly turned blue as they sat there, it hadn't been any more than fifteen minutes but now Severide was squinting, the light reflected harshly from the freshly fallen snow. He didn't mind though, and in all honestly, he didn't mind the cold. Not when Casey seemed so happy to be outside, his expression was one of pure content. He'd closed his eyes now, basking in the winter suns gaze as Severide smiled at him.

"I was wondering…" Casey began quietly, breaking the silence. "You're not on shift Christmas Day."

"I have no plans," he responded.

"Assuming I get out of here before… do you, maybe, want to make plans?" Casey asked him a little hesitantly, biting his lower lip.

Severide smiled. "What do you like to do for Christmas?"

Casey looked at him and just gave a little shrug.

"Well, I like to eat and not do much else, maybe watch some Christmas movies, go for a walk…"

"That all sounds good," Casey said.

"Shay's going to her parents for a few days, she managed to take a few shifts off," he told Casey.

"I could make us lunch?" Casey suggested.

"Herrmann mentioned that they're doing a big get together, I think they'd like to have you join them," he responded.

"Might be nice to have Christmas there… busy, decorations, kids, great food…"

"Sounds very normal," Severide said.

He nodded. "I like normal."

"You are very easy to please," Severide teased him.

"Oh, should I be playing hard to get?" he questioned.

"You are hard to get… I mean, I don't mean… you're easy, or that you're hard… I mean…"

Casey just sat there grinning as Severide grew more flustered.

"You're hard to get to know, but you're not hard to please," Severide continued. "You like simple things, and cuddles, you love cuddles… and board games, books, and you hate shopping for clothes, food… anything. For some reason, you love snow, you're like a kid when it comes to snow, and I love that."

Chapter Text

Casey was discharged and home from the hospital in time for the Christmas holidays. It had been his longest admission to date, a total of twenty-three days. Severide gave him a ride home and followed him up to his front door. As usual, he'd helped Casey to pack up his things in the hospital room and was now carrying most of his bags, Casey hadn't objected.

"You'll get sick of me if you keep spending all your time with me," Casey said as he dug out his house keys.

"Not possible," Severide replied.

"Trust me, I've spent too much time with me," he responded as he opened the door. He flicked the light on as he walked in, dumping his bag down on the floor. Then he paused, looking around the ground floor of his small townhouse. There were Christmas decorations everywhere.

Severide shut the front door and smiled as he watched Casey's look of wonderment, he gazed wide eyed at it all.

"Did you do this?" he asked Severide, the look of amazement still on his face.

"I had a hand in it… go into the lounge," Severide told him, and he followed as Casey steadily made his way into the lounge.

The first thing Casey noticed was the full size Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the room. "That's a real tree?"

"Yeah," Severide said, nodding. "Don't worry though, we'll clear it up after the holidays for you."

"We?"

"Everyone," Severide clarified.

"You all got me a tree, and decorated my house?"

"You hate it?"

"No… I… no one's… I've never had a real tree, and never really bothered with decorations," Casey admitted, looking around at the other decorations that had been put up in the room, bells hanging down over the top of the fireplace, bunting and red bows strung up on the walls. "Don't feel sorry for me," he added. "Could have had a real tree if I'd made the effort, just never saw the point. This is nicer, I think. You're on shift on Friday?"

Severide nodded.

"Think I might come by and say hi to everyone, say thanks for all this," Casey spoke, he had been missing the place.

"Would be nice to see you at the firehouse," he responded, smiling.

"Hopefully I'll be up for it, and won't make an idiot out of myself…"

"Why would you do that?" Severide asked him as he trailed off.

"My head just feels real slow," he answered, sitting down on the couch, unable to stand any longer.

"Just your head?"

"Ok, my whole body," he admitted.

"You've got more mail," Severide told him. He picked up the envelopes from the floor and placed them on top of the small pile on the side that was just over a weeks' worth of mail. He would come by the house once a week at least, to make sure everything was in order, and he'd taken Casey's mail to the hospital along with anything else he'd asked for, which was never much.

"Bills are stacking up," he commented as he rested his head on the back of the couch.

"Stressed?" Severide said sympathetically. It was one thing being so ill, but having to worry about the cost of treatment on top of that was another.

"Insurance is taking care of most of it," Casey said with a shrug.

"Most of it?" he repeated.

"Being sick is expensive." Casey let out a sigh. "But don't worry, I have savings, and I'm getting sick pay."

"You'll let me know if you start worrying about it?" he asked.

Casey chuckled. "Probably not."

"So, erm…"

"You can stay, I'd really like it if you did… unless you have something to do?" Casey asked, suddenly concerned he'd overstepped.

Severide smiled. "Wanna get started on some Christmas movies?"

"Actually fancied going for a walk," he said brightly.

"What is it with you and wanting to go outside in these freezing cold temperatures we're having at the moment?"

"Think you're just gonna have to get used to me and my strange ways, Kelly Severide," he responded, chuckling a little.

"Are we official then?"

Casey raised his brows. "Official? Sure, we can say that… I mean, we did make out on a Ferris wheel not long ago," he added.

"We kissed before too," Severide said quietly.

Casey's eye contact dropped; he swallowed his emotions.

Severide shook his head. "Sorry…"

"No, it's just, a lot has happened since then," he responded.

"I think we can just live in the present," Severide continued, offering him a smile.

"I like that."


Severide stayed at Casey's house, claiming that since Cindy had outdone herself with all the prepared meals, he would need to stay to help Casey lessen the strain on his fridge-freezer. Casey had just laughed at him, calling him an idiot, telling him he didn't need an excuse to stay, he wanted him to stay. Casey really did want him to stay, everything felt a little easier, a little lighter, when Severide was around, which was probably helped by the fact he kept insisting on doing everything so Casey was barely lifting a finger, he accepted it though. He knew it made Severide feel useful in an otherwise helpless situation.

Casey lay awake in his bed the second night back at home, the house was quiet except for the noises from the city outside, he'd slept quite a bit during the day and was suffering for it now, unable to find sleep when that's all he wanted to do, his body was exhausted but his mind was wide awake.

He got out of bed and stepped out into the small corridor, he knew Severide was awake, he could see the light coming from the spare room so he headed over to the partially opened door, poking his head in. "Hey…" he began, seeing Severide sitting up in bed. He stepped into the room.

"Hey... you all right?" Severide asked him immediately.

"Yeah..." He sat down on the edge of the bed. "I just wondered if you wanted to sleep with me tonight."

"Sleep with you," Severide repeated.

"I mean you don't have to, but…"

"I didn't think you'd be in the mood because of the chemo," Severide said.

"Oh, God no, I don't mean... well, unless you want to?"

Severide smiled, cheeks reddening at the misunderstanding. "You mean sleep in the same bed again?

"Yeah... sorry, I'm not very good at this... "

"Yeah, me too apparently," Severide responded with a small eye roll, still smiling.

"So far I've just accidently slept with you, and I don't want to just fall asleep next to you because I'm tired, I want to sleep with you because I like waking up next to you, because I like sleeping with you," he explained.

"And you like my hugs," Severide continued, smiling.

"I love your hugs."

Severide pulled the bed covers back. "Get in here then."


Determined to make the most of his time away from the hospital Casey got up and dressed with the intention of going along to the firehouse with Severide. He wanted to speak to Boden, and it would be nice to see the all the others, it had been a while since he'd dropped by Molly's. He caught himself in the mirror though, and the plans he'd had vanished.

"Matty?" Severide began, shrugging his jacket on, noticing Casey hadn't moved. He wondered if he should have taken down the mirror that now had tinsel draped over the top. "Hey… you all right?"

"Sorry, what?"

"You look fine, promise," Severide told him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"I look sick," he responded pointedly, still gazing at his reflection. The hue had gone from his skin a long time ago and despite weighing enough to continue with the chemotherapy, he barely recognised himself anymore, and his strength had faded. When he showered, he would try to close his eyes, not wanting to look at the muscle wastage that had occurred. He sighed. "I'm a guy, not supposed to care what I look like but… not like I can put make up on or get a wig to make me feel a little better… I have cancer, but why do I have to look so sick too? No amount of hats or baggy clothes are gonna help." He turned to face Severide. "I don't see myself anymore."

"I can see you."

"About this… about us… and me looking like this… do you want to sleep with me?" Casey asked him, looking into his eyes, searching for an answer. "Do you… do you find me attractive?"

"You'll always be beautiful in my eyes, and I'm pretty sure we slept in the same bed again last night," he responded with a small smile.

"You know what I mean," Casey continued. "It's just… I'm not sure I have… the energy right now, and whatever you say, I'm not exactly turning anyone on, looking like this..." he added.

"Matt, you're not like anyone else I've ever been with, I'll wait," Severide told him.

"You'll wait?" he repeated.

"Until you're ready." Severide nodded.

Casey smiled. "Wish I was ready now."

"Well, we'd be cutting it close, we're gonna be late if we don't leave now," Severide responded.

"I could just pull the sick card," he teased, as Severide slipped his CFD beanie over his head. "Don't even have to get myself dressed anymore," he added, smiling at Severide before giving him a kiss.

Severide smiled. "Don't think I could ever have enough of your kisses."

"You're not worried?" Casey asked him.

"Worried?"

"About liking me? Liking guys?" Casey reiterated.

"Guess I've not really thought about it," he replied honestly.

"Ok… just don't treat me like a girl," Casey told him.

"Have I done that?"

"No, it's just… I'm your first…"

"I messed around a little bit in high school," Severide responded.

Casey chuckled. "Messed around?"

"My parents insisted it was a phase," Severide told him.

"Did they hit you?" he asked, not really thinking.

"What?"

"Nothing… sorry… forget I said anything…" Casey said, shaking his head and cursing himself inwardly. "And I know I'm sick, but…"

"You have needs," he responded.

Casey frowned a little. "We've had this conversation before?"

"Not exactly, similar," he replied softly.

"Sorry, my head…"

"Full of mush," Severide continued for him, smiling.

"Yeah," he said, his happy demeaner falling away.

"Few days at home and your head will be back to normal," Severide reassured him, putting a hand on his arm.

"Hope so… everything seems slower each time," he admitted, shaking his head.

"Only two more cycles to go."

"If everything works out," he responded, nodding. "Feels like it'll last forever… we really need to leave now though..."

"What happened to the sick card?" Severide asked, smiling again.

"Don't wanna use them too much," he said, rolling his eyes as he grabbed the house keys.


Casey met most of everyone from 51 on the apparatus floor, they'd all poured out knowing Casey had arrived with Severide, who had stood back, watching everyone greet Casey with enthusiasm. The smile on Casey's face made his heart melt, it was nice to see him happy. Boden came and stood next to him, pleased to see Casey like the rest of them. There was a studious look on his face that Severide caught.

"He's feeling better than he looks today," he told Boden, looking back at Casey again.

Severide saw Boden nod in response from the corner of his eye. "I'm glad he's come by."

"Yeah, this place still feels odd without him," Severide responded before Boden walked over to greet Casey him. The others parted allowing him to walk over to him.

As the excited chatter died down, Boden invited Casey to his office so the two men made their way past the others and through the firehouse. When they arrived, Boden indicated to the couch so Casey sat down, offering his chief a smile.

"I'm sure you're sick of this question, but…"

"Things are fine, well, no complications really, or change of plans so far, I've got two more cycles of chemo to go, past the halfway point now," Casey said, nodding a little as he did. "And I have a longer break from it now, over the holidays."

"How are you, Matt?"

He let out a breath and relaxed back into the couch. He didn't respond right away. "Tired," he admitted after a while, gazing down to the side. "Everyone's been great though," he added with another smile.

"It's gotta be tough," Boden responded.

Biting his lower lip, he nodded again. "Yeah… I'm determined to get back here though, if you'll have me?"

"There's no question about that."

"Was tired before I even reach the apparatus floor so…"

"You'll build your strength back up, I have no doubt about that," Boden told him.

"Thanks, Chief," he responded in earnest. "Do you think…"

"Do I think what?"

He cleared his throat, glancing over to the door before looking back to Boden and responding. "Do you think things will be the same? You know, after everyone has seen me like this… sick," he added.

"I think they'll all see you as even stronger than before," Boden spoke sincerely.

Casey shook his head, chuckling. "Sorry, I know it's silly."

"It's not silly if that's worrying you," Boden replied softly. "So, you're home for the holidays, will you be coming over to Herrmanns for Christmas dinner?"

"That's the plan, should be good," he answered, smiling, relaxing with the change of topic. "You're coming along too?"

"I will be, I'm fairly certain everyone but Tony and Capp will be there," Boden replied

"Shay's visiting her family," Casey said, remembering what Severide had told him.

"Ah yes, of course, got someone covering two of her shifts. Should be a good day though," he added.

Casey nodded. "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

A short while later, Severide found Casey in his own quarters, having told him on the way to the firehouse to take a break in there if he needed to.

Severide sat down on the edge of his bunk and placed a gentle hand on Casey's shoulder. "Hey… sorry, just didn't think you'd want to fall asleep here."

Casey moved, sitting up a little and nodded.

"Boden can give you a ride back home," Severide told him.

"Cab…"

"Cab's fine, yes, but Boden's already offered," Severide responded. He glanced around, looking into the bunk room before planting a light kiss on Casey's cheek. "Will you be ok?"

Casey nodded, smiling tiredly.

"Let me know when you're not sleeping… don't want to wake you by calling," Severide continued.

"I'll probably sleep through it if you did," he responded with a slight shrug.

"You're that tired?"

"I'll recover after I eat and have a little power nap," Casey replied, nodding.

"All right, I'll speak to you later then?"

Casey nodded again as he moved to stand up. He gave Severide one last smile before leaving his quarters.

Chapter Text

After his shift ended, Severide went straight over to Casey's place. He entered the house and headed upstairs. He slipped silently into the main bedroom where he found Casey dozing in bed, curled on his side under the covers. He turned over when he felt a weight on the mattress next to him.

"Hey…" he said, voice hoarse from sleep, hands poking out over the top of the covers so he could move them down.

"Morning," Severide greeted him.

"Get in here…"

"Hmm, I like this," Severide said as he slipped under the covers, moving himself towards Casey and wrapping an arm around him, hugging him close to his own body. He grinned even though he knew Casey couldn't see his face.

"Yeah?" Casey murmured sleepily.

Severide nodded, leaning in to kiss Casey, but he turned his head away. "Still sore, I know, I'll be gentle."

"Sorry, I know you are, was just…"

"A reaction."

"Kiss me again then," Casey said, smiling now and shifting himself into a better position.

Severide touched his lips softly onto Casey's, one hand stroking his arm, the other holding him close as they kissed.

"Think that's the best way to start the day," Casey said once they came up for air. "How was the rest of your shift?"

"Fairly quiet," he responded as Casey rested his head on his chest, his breaths slow and rhythmic.

"Fairly?"

"MVA last night, and a false gas leak not long after you left," Severide listed off.

"Tell me more," he urged.

"You are demanding in the morning."

"Gotta remember you're basically my access to the outside world, I'm living vicariously through you," he pointed out.

"Oh… there we go with the big words," Severide said, raising an eyebrow.

Casey chuckled. "Yeah, brain's not completely mush yet," he said, his hand trailing down from Severide's shoulder to his bicep. "When did your arms get so big?"

"I do work out," Severide responded, grinning at him.

"I know, I know," he said, rolling his eyes. "They're just so… strong…"

Laughing now, Severide spoke. "What drugs have you taken this morning?"

"None, I swear," he replied.

Severide curbed his chuckles. "My arms your favourite feature?"

He shook his head. "Your eyes, and just you, all together, you."

"Ah, that's good then," Severide said, smiling, gently pulling Casey tighter into his embrace again, letting him relax on his chest.

"You smell like the firehouse," he muttered into Severide's shirt.

"Is that bad?"

"Nope," Casey responded, shaking his head a little.

"So, plans for today?"

"Erm… think I'm still recovering from yesterday, won't blame you if you wanna go out and do something without me," Casey told him.

"Can't think of anything I'd want to do without you…"

Grinning, Casey responded. "Not even going to the gym to improve on those very strong arms?"

"Not today. I'm all yours today."


Severide stayed over at Casey's again that night, he slept in the spare room, not wanting to disturb Casey by joining him in the main bedroom. Casey been fast asleep in his own bed, oblivious to the world as his body slowly recovered from his treatment, and from the emotionally and physically tiring trip to the firehouse.

In the morning, once persuaded by Casey, he did go to the gym. It felt good to distract himself from Casey's situation for a short time. Casey wanted him to carry on with his life as normal, but how could he do that when there was a constant pit of anxiousness in his stomach? The feeling faded throughout the rest of the day though, Casey seemed back to his usual self by the time he returned.

Casey made dinner for him in the evening.

"You really didn't need to go through all this effort," Severide said as he sat down at the dining table.

"I quite like making food for people," Casey told him. "And I can't even remember the last time I made something myself." He'd been living off quick and easy microwave meals, or just snacking on something, in the time before his diagnosis.

Severide was pleased to see that Casey's appetite was back, he even had seconds when Severide did. It was late by the time they'd both finished eating, and he could see how tired Casey was getting, so he cleared away the dishes whilst Casey showered. He was still in the bathroom a while later so Severide went to lie down on the bed in the spare room, still full from the meal he'd eaten.

"Kelly…" Casey began as he walked over to the bed, wearing only his boxers.

Severide smiled and pushed himself up onto his elbows.

"Don't move," he continued as he slipped his boxers off. He stood by the side of his bed, feeling uncharacteristically nervous in this situation, he had always been comfortable with his body, but now he couldn't look at himself in the mirror. He gazed at Severide, unconsciously biting his lower lip, trying to gauge Severide's thoughts.

"What are you waiting for?" Severide pulled back the covers. "Need you in here."

His nerves vanished that instant, he gave Severide the biggest smile, the one that caused those cute dimples Severide loved so much, and he got onto the bed.

Severide could already feel the heat pooling below his own boxers and Casey could already see him becoming aroused. He really was still attracted to him, even with his body like this, he lowered himself down over Severide, feeling his growing erection on his thigh. He sat back and with his hands pulled Severide's boxers away, allowing his cock to move free.

They were both breathing heavily now as Casey leant back over Severide, planting a line of kisses down from his lips to his groin. He suddenly stopped and sat back again. Groaning a little, but it was a noise of frustration not pleasure.

"What's wrong?"

Casey looked away, letting out a short chuckle as he responded. "Apparently cocks and cancer don't mix… it's not going up…" He wrapped his hand around his own flaccid flesh, hoping to stimulate some action because he felt as turned on as ever even if his body wasn't showing that.

"Matt…"

"Don't… just give me a minute…"

"It's fine, here, let me," Severide said, moving.

"No. Don't touch me!"

"Hey… hey… it's fine, no pressure, all right?"

Casey was sitting on the edge of the bed now, his shoulders slumped, disappointment mixed with embarrassment emanating from him.

Slowly Severide moved so he was sitting next to him. "You've been pumped full of drugs for months, Matt, we can still have fun, still enjoy each other's bodies…"

"Think I killed the mood. Sorry."

Severide said nothing, instead he touched Casey's shoulder with his own and kissed his neck. When Casey leant into his touch, he moved up to his ear, nibbling on it. Casey smiled and turned, locking lips with him, and they were quickly lying back down on the bed.

Then they made out on top of the rumpled covers.

"Think that might be the best blow job I've ever had," Severide said, coming down from the pleasurable high.

"You didn't do too badly yourself," he responded.

"See, no need to worry about… side effects," Severide replied.

"I'll worry when it's all over," he said with a nod.

"I think you'll be just fine," Severide reassured him, running a hand over Casey's smooth arm.

Chapter Text

Christmas day seemed to have come around quickly, and Casey found himself sitting in the lounge at the Herrmanns' house. The place was packed, buzzing with life and covered in Christmas decorations. Severide was sitting on the opposite side of the room to him, Boden was sitting next to Casey, making him look even smaller than he really was, and Cruz was by his other side, chatting to Casey privately when Herrmann walked over to him.

"You're being summoned into the kitchen, Lieutenant," Herrmann told Casey.

Casey smiled up at him. "Must be serious," he teased, standing up. Herrmann took his place on the couch as he headed out of the room.

Cindy turned around as he entered the kitchen. "Hey, sweetie…"

"Wow, all this looks lovely," he said as he looked around at all the food that was being prepared.

"I wanted to ask what you wanted to eat? There's soup for starters, chicken or vegetable. The chicken flavour has some fresh veg in it too though, I can always heat up a tin of chicken broth if that's better?" she asked him kindly.

"Homemade chicken is fine," he responded.

"You're sure?"

He nodded. "Honestly, don't do anything special for me, you've already done so much."

She gave him a warm smile, briefly placing a hand on his shoulder. "Well, everything will be put out on the table so you'll be able to have what you want, and as much or as little of it as you want too."

"Thank you."

"Now, go sit back down and relax," she instructed, still smiling.

"I can give you a hand if you'd like?"

She shook her head. "You can send my husband back in here."

Soon enough, everyone was sitting around the large dining room table, extra chairs and place settings had been carefully arranged so everyone could fit. The soup was served to the hungry guests as they all continued to chat. Severide was sitting across the table from Casey, they kept glancing at each other when the other wasn't looking. No one noticed though. Casey managed to finish the bowl of soup, and although he had a sneaking suspicion that Cindy had given him as smaller helping than the others, he was full, and glad of the short break between courses.

Herrmann was in the kitchen with Cindy, helping her dish out the main course, when he noticed someone's phone ringing on the counter top. He knew it was Casey's from the old photo of him with Severide at a Blackhawks game on the screen. Severide had a picture of his car on his own. He grabbed it, noticing the person had rang more than once.

"Casey," he began as he walked up to his lieutenant at the dining table. "This number's rang your phone three times in the last half hour… Indiana area code according to your phone."

As Casey took the phone from him it rang again. He answered. "Hello, this is Matt Casey…"

"Matthew Casey?"

"Yes," he responded, frowning with curiosity.

"We got this number from your moms parole officer…"

He stopped himself from letting out a sigh. "What's she done now?" he asked resignedly.

Severide was looking at him. 'All right?' he mouthed.

"We need you to come to the hospital, Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis,"
the voice at the end of the phone continued.

Casey's mouth opened but he didn't respond right away. "I… I'm in Chicago, erm… I can't drive right now, I…"

"Matt?" Severide spoke up this time, his stomach tingling, anxiety spreading.

"Something's happened to my mom," he responded numbly.

Severide nodded. "Ok, we'll get everything sorted. Pass me the phone," he said, encouragingly.

He gave Severide the phone then got to his feet, heading away into the lounge, away from the others, who had all fallen silent now.

Severide soon came and stood by his side. "Ok, so I couldn't get anymore information, I tried, so we're gonna get in my car now and drive there, all right?"

"Indianapolis? It's… I don't even know how far…"

"It's a little over three hours away according to Cindy," Severide replied.

"Three hours… I'll just…"

"I'm coming with you so I may as well drive us there," Severide told him insistently, he'd been fully prepared for Casey's objections.

"It must be bad if they won't say over the phone? If I need to be there?" Casey responded, looking at him now.

"We won't know anything until we get there, shall we leave now?"

"Erm… sure…"

"I'll just grab a couple of bottles of water and…"

"Christmas dinner," Casey stated.

"They understand, grab your coat…"

"Kel," Casey began, emotion in his voice, but no other words followed.

"Try not to think the worst, I know it's hard," he said, taking Casey's hand briefly, giving it a comforting squeeze.

"I should say goodbye," Casey spoke, his voice little more than a rough whisper now.

"It's fine, Matt, just grab your coat, I'll get some water, and we'll go, get there as soon as we can."


Despite his worry, Casey fell asleep half way into the long journey to the hospital. Severide didn't wake him until after they'd arrived, once he'd found a parking space and switched the engine off. He didn't want to disturb Casey, he looked so peaceful and Severide knew that wouldn't last long once he was awake.

They headed into the hospitals main entrance and were directed to the emergency room. Severide wished Casey was wearing some infection protection as they walked into the busy area, going over to the large desk area in the centre. Casey introduced himself and they were told a doctor would be over to them shortly.

A man in scrubs soon approached them, having been directed to the pair by one of the nurses. "Matthew Casey?"

Casey nodded in response.

"I'm Doctor Wong…"

"My mom?"

"She was in a car accident, earlier on today, we did all we could for her, but the damage was too great," the doctor began.

Casey took a sharp intake of breath. Severide had been looking at him the entire time the doctor had been speaking, and now he took his hand.

"Her brain was starved from oxygen for too long, there's no brain function, we've been performing checks but there's no chance of recovery. I'm very sorry," the doctor told him.

It took Casey a moment to take in everything the doctor was saying. "She's brain dead?" he asked, looking at the man, holding his emotions together.

"Yes, she's still on life support at the moment…" the doctor paused for a few moments before he continued speaking. "We wondered if she had ever discussed organ donation with you, Mr Casey..."

Casey shook his head slowly. "You need her organs?"

"We couldn't find a donor card or anything on her medical record about her wishes," the doctor answered.

"Oh… erm… my sister, she's the eldest…" Casey said quietly, trying to maintain his composure.

"We tried to get in touch with your sister, but we've been unable to so far," the man responded.

"Ok. When do you need to know by? How long can you wait for my sister?"

"The organs start to deteriorate twelve to twenty-four hours after brain death despite keeping the blood flowing, so really we need to know in the next few hours so everything can be organised," the doctor explained.

"Ok… What happened? Was anybody else hurt in the accident? Was she alone?" Casey asked the man.

"I don't know the exact details, the police report can give you that," the doctor responded. "As far as I know, no one else was brought to this hospital with her."

Casey nodded numbly. "Where is she?"

"I'll take you to her now," he said, indicating for them to follow him. "Now, there's a lot of machines and monitors around her, and she was severely injured in the accident but the nurses have cleaned her up. It may be a shock though," he said as they headed over to the small room where his mother was.

Before Casey followed the doctor inside the room, he glanced at Severide, who gave him a small reassuring smile. The woman lying in the hospital bed hardly looked like the mother he knew, but he could see that it was her. There was a length of gauze wrapped around her head, holding a small rectangular shaped piece of cotton wool to the side of her forehead. She was bruised and pale. She looked old. Much older than Casey could remember. There was a tube in her mouth, and he could see the ventilator moving her chest up and down as it pumped oxygen in and out. The heart monitor on the side showed a steady rhythm, it made her seem alive, but Casey understand that she was already gone.

"I'll give you some privacy, if you have any questions, I'll be around to answer them," the doctor said before stepping out of the room.

"Matt," Severide began once the doctor had left. "I'll be just outside too…"

"No," he spoke up suddenly, still looking at his mothers unmoving form on the bed. "Please don't leave me alone with her." Those words stabbed at Severide's heart.

Severide only nodded, but he hovered by Casey as he sat down, letting out a huge angst-laden sigh as he did so. Severide wanted to offer him at least a few words of comfort but he knew there was nothing he could say that would make a difference. He noticed Casey tapping his thigh as his gaze remained on his mother. He could see how tired and worn Casey looked, the tired but joyful look on his face at the Herrmanns' for their Christmas celebrations had vanished now and he looked exhausted.

After a while, Severide walked over and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"My sister hasn't called back?" Casey spoke up, knowing Severide had tried calling from his own phone whilst they'd been in the room.

"No," he responded softly.

"I need to do this," Casey continued, eyes not leaving his mother.

"I'll try calling her again…"

"No, I'll get the doctor, it's gonna happen either way," Casey responded, already getting up onto weary legs.

"Matt, you have time to sit with her," he told him, hand on his arm now, stopping him from leaving.

"She's not in there. He said she's brain dead," Casey said, looking anywhere but at Severide or his mother now.

"I know, but…"

"I don't want to do this, Kelly, but I have to… I… I haven't really spoken to her since she left, since I kicked her out. I could have made more of an effort, but I didn't, would I have done in the future? Probably not. I didn't tell her I was sick, I had no intention of doing that, because… there just wasn't any point in her knowing."

"I think you should sit back down, talk to her, I'll leave the room," Severide said.

"She's not there," he spoke quietly, shaking his head a little.

"What if some part of her is?"

Casey looked back over to his mother lying in the bed. "She was the one who always insisted we went to church, when I realised I liked guys, I thought this big pit was going to open up beneath me in the middle of the service and swallow me up."

"I can't imagine how hard it was for you to grow up in an environment like that," Severide replied.

"It really wasn't that bad, it could have been a lot worse," he spoke, facing Severide again.

Severide just nodded, listening.

"My mom just… well, ignored stuff mostly, that's what it seemed like at the time anyway," Casey continued, sitting back down again.

"Your dad hit her?"

"Sometimes," Casey responded, nodding.

"He hit you?"

Casey looked at him for a moment before replying. "They both did, but it wasn't… it sounds stupid, but it wasn't abuse, and it didn't happen that often… I think the emotional stuff was worse… just knowing I wasn't wanted, no way I could make them happy. When I visited mom in prison, she always told me how proud she was of me, that I was her greatest achievement, she said it too much, and the way it was said… I just can't believe it."

"I'm sorry, Matt," he said, wishing there was more he could say or do.

"I don't want that, I don't want anyone to be sorry for me," Casey responded. "It's always easier if I don't say anything, then I'm not worrying about what everyone else is thinking."

"What happens if you say something?" Severide asked him gently.

"A teacher… she got social services involved, then my parents split, then mom killed dad and I was moved around group homes until I was eighteen." He looked to his mother. "She didn't think about that when she did it, did she?"

"I think you still need to say goodbye," Severide responded. "Not for her sake, for yours."

Severide left the room without another word then, giving Casey some privacy. He stepped into the corridor and looked into the main body of the ER. He hadn't noticed how busy it was when they'd arrived. He saw a couple of empty plastic chairs along the corridor, so he sat down and pulled out his phone. The battery was running low but he'd be able to charge it in the car. He ignored the backlog of messages for now, opting to call Casey's sister, scrolling for her number, seeing Nancy's details below, although he wasn't sure that had been her current number for a while.

He didn't expect Christie to answer, and she didn't, it went straight to voicemail. This decision was going to have to be Casey's, as if he wasn't already going through enough trauma right now. Casey had seemed resigned to the decision, and perhaps that was better than waiting for his sister, but how would she react when she found out that her brother had made the choice without her? As far as Severide was aware, Casey's relationship with his mother had been better than his sister's after their father had died, but that wasn't to say Christie would want to be kept out of the loop.

It wasn't long until Casey appeared out of the small room. "Kelly," he said, catching Severide's attention.

"Ready?" Severide asked, seeing Casey nod. He stood up. "I'll get the doctor."

Chapter Text

Severide was standing in the small hospital room, next to Casey, who was focused on the doctor. "She'll be taken up to the operating room, there's already a large team setting up. The ventilator will be turned off, your mom's heart will stop beating and then her organs will be used to save eight people, who are already being prepped for their surgeries. You can see her again afterwards if you wish, we'll let you know when it's done. All that's left to do now is signing the papers."

"Ok," Casey responded, nodding. He took the clipboard from the doctor, flipped to the back of the pages, printed and signed his name.

"Thank you," the doctor said as he took the signed papers back. "We have a small private family room you can wait in on the surgical floor, if you'd like?"

"That sounds like a good idea," Severide piped up.

Casey turned to him tiredly. "You don't mind staying?"

"Of course not."


Casey had fallen asleep in the private family waiting room, lying across a row of chairs and his head lying on Severide's lap. Severide was glad he was getting some rest, he wasn't sure he would be able to with everything going on, but his body was just too exhausted to stay awake any longer. He'd started with his head resting on Severide's shoulder and then when he was sleepy enough to lose inhibitions, he lay on the chairs, and moved his head down onto a more comfortable spot. Severide must have dozed off at some point because when he next looked up, the clock on the wall showed that several hours had passed.

The doctor who had coordinated everything with the transplant team, and met them in the ER initially, entered the waiting room, the same sombre expression on his face that everyone they'd met at the hospital seemed to regard them with.

"Matty…" Severide spoke softly, gently touching his shoulder to wake him.

"Mmm…"

"Matt," Severide said again, and this time Casey's eyes opened.

Severide could see it took a moment for Casey to realise where he was, and to remember everything. He looked to the doctor once he was sitting back upright on the chair.

"It's done. You can come and see her if you'd like?"

Casey just shook his head.

Placing a hand on Casey's arm, Severide spoke to him. "Are you sure?"

Casey nodded.

"Ok," he said, standing up and walking up to the doctor. "Can I leave you my number… for arrangements?" he asked the man, glancing back at Casey quickly, he seemed unaware.

The doctor took Severide's details, and the man left them.

Casey didn't notice that Severide was sitting back down next to him, not until Severide's hand gently touched his leg. "Can we go?" Casey asked him.

"Yeah," he responded, nodding.

"It's 2am…" Casey commented when he looked at the clock.

"Yeah," he said again. "I was thinking we could go to a motel, get some rest before the drive back. The doctor said there's a motel just down the block."

"Sure."

"And we'll find a McDonald's or something that's open and get something warm to eat, yeah?"

"S' the middle of the night, and it's Christmas." Casey looked doubtfully at Severide, shaking his head slightly.

"We'll find something, I'm sure… if not, it's vending machine food for us," he added with a smile, good naturedly nudging Casey's shoulder with his own.

Casey looked as if he was going to say something but he hesitated.

"What?" Severide asked, raising his brows a little.

"Kelly, thanks for today, you didn't have to do any of this," he told him sincerely.

"I love you, and I really sorry about your mom, and I'm sorry that you had to make this decision."

Casey nodded slowly. "I think I'm ok with it. Does that make me a bad person?"

"No, not at all."


Severide finally found a place that was open for them to get something to eat, so he ordered, took the greasy brown bags from the server, got back into the car and drove to the motel they had driven past a half mile or so ago. Casey was half asleep when he pulled up in the parking lot, so he left him in the car and went over to the reception to book a room for the night, what was left of the night now anyway.

"All sorted, Matt," he said, back at the car, holding the room key in one hand.

Casey opened his eyes slightly. "Could eat a cow," he said drowsily.

"Good thing I got a ton of food then, let's get inside, eat and warm up," Severide responded, grabbing the brown bags from the back seat while Casey pulled himself out of the car. "41," he told Casey as he followed him slowly along the parking lot and up the steps to the upper level.

Inside the pleasant motel room, they sat at the small round table, opening up the food bags, relishing the various delicious aromas and smells. Casey immediately grabbed a handful of fries, and Severide grinned at him, glad he was regaining an appetite.

"At this rate, I'm gonna have to go on a diet in the New Year," Severide joked as he took his burger in both hands. He took a bite. "Why is everything that's nice bad for you?"

Casey looked at him for a moment, thinking as he chewed on a French fry, a perplexed expression on his face.

"See, you can't come up with any examples to prove the opposite," Severide spoke.

"Sports massage? That's nice, and good for you…"

"That it?"

Casey opened his mouth but closed it again before responding. "Dunno why you're asking me; brain's mush now." He shook his head and unwrapped his own burger, some of the sauce dripping out as he picked it up and bit into it.

By the time they had finished eating the burgers and fries, Casey was yawning, his exhaustion had hit him hard and fast as if often did nowadays. Without any spare clothes he pulled off his jeans, then clambered onto the bed and lay down, shuffling around to make himself comfortable. As soon as his head hit the pillow he drifted straight off to sleep and Severide soon found himself pulling the bed covers over Casey's softly breathing form. He smiled at the sight before he peeled off his clothes and slipped into the bathroom, took a quick shower and then got into the double bed beside Casey, wearing just his boxers.

The sun woke Severide in the morning, the curtains in the motel room doing little to keep out the bright winter light. He turned over in the bed, feeling warm and comfy as he stretched, reaching out a hand, but the space next to him was empty. He sat himself up and looked towards the bathroom door, trying to work out whether or not Casey was in there, and for one horrible moment, his heart was in his mouth, fearing Casey might have gone in there and passed out. He started to get out of the bed because there was complete silence in the room and no sign of Casey.

The reason for which became apparent a few moments later when the door swung open and Casey walked in, carrying a take-out cup. "You're awake," he began. "Got you coffee." He passed the Styrofoam cup to Severide.

"Where'd you go?"

"Gas station over the road," Casey supplied.

Severide nodded, taking a tentative sip of the coffee, it was too hot to drink so he put it down on the side. "Didn't get anything for yourself?" Severide asked, seeing that Casey seemed to be empty-handed.

"Pack of Luna Bars," he responded, pulling them out of the large pocket on his winter coat. "You like this flavour, right?"

"I like all flavours," Severide answered. "Think I'll have one later though, still full from last night."

"Yeah, me too, thought we might need something for the journey back though," he said.

"Always thinking ahead," Severide commented, leaning back on the headboard. "How are you doing?" he asked softly.

Casey pulled a chair out from under the table, he sat down before responding. "Just feel like I'm waiting to get hold of Christie, she'll wake up soon, turn on her phone at some point today and see all the missed calls."

"You think she's at home?"

"I think she probably had her phone turned off because it was Christmas Day, she might be away, I don't know. I'm a lousy brother," he responded.

"I could always speak to her…"

Casey smiled airily at the suggestion. "Definitely something I need to do."

"She doesn't know you're sick?" Severide half stated.

"No," he replied, resigned to the fact she'd find out soon. "Was that wrong of me?"

"You're not close, and you weren't hiding it from her," Severide told him, not wanting Casey to keep feeling guilty about his secrecy concerning his illness.

Casey just smiled at him lightly, before changing the topic. "When do you want to leave today?"

"How about after my coffee?" Severide suggested, lifting the still too hot coffee up and slurping a quick mouthful that stung his lips but was delicious anyway. He needed a caffeine fix before they set off on the long journey back to Chicago.

"Sure, ok."


Casey was resting his head on the car window as Severide drove back to Chicago, he spent most the journey in and out of sleep, anxiously waiting for his sister to phone him, and she did. They were about an hour from home when his cell phone rang, he looked at the screen for a few moments, seeing his sisters name, before sliding his finger across to accept the call.

"Hey, Christie," he began, and Severide slowed down to quieten the noise around them.

"What's up, Matt? Just had all these missed calls…"

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that," he responded.

"Are you all right?"

"Listen, I'm sorry but… yesterday… mom was in an accident…"

"Oh God…"

"She died, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry you've found out like this," he continued.

"What happened?"

"She was in a car accident, they tried their best but they couldn't save her, there was no brain function," he explained, his voice thick with emotion.

"No brain function?"

"And no chance of recovery, her organs were donated…"

"She was lying the hospital whilst I was having Christmas dinner?"
she asked him.

"I'm sorry," he responded.

"She's… it's not your fault, Matt. Where are you? You sound like you're driving?"

"Yeah, I'm on my way back, don't worry about anything, I'll make sure everything gets sorted and get her body back to Chicago…"

"I can help…"

"It's all right, I'm sorry, I hope you're Christmas isn't ruined… I'm sorry…"

"Don't apologise… I'll erm… I'll call you, we can sort stuff out… yeah?"

"Yeah," he repeated, nodding.

"All right, bye, Matt."

"Bye…"

Severide glanced across at him once he put the phone down. "That wasn't too bad?"

"No," he responded, looking straight ahead.

"We'll be home soon," Severide said, knowing there wasn't anything he could say to help. He placed a hand on Casey's thigh and gave him a comforting squeeze.

Casey turned his head and gave him a small smile. "Thanks, Kel."

Chapter Text

Severide had returned to his own apartment the day after they'd got back to Chicago. Leaving Casey alone. In hindsight maybe it hadn't been a wise idea, but Severide had thought it could be good for Casey to have some time on his own, without thinking that Severide was hovering over him. He came by in the evening, having not been able to get hold of Casey on his phone, he could have just been sleeping, but either way he wanted to check on him, to make sure he was ok.

He found Casey in his bedroom. Several holes had been punched through the plasterboard walls. The lamps on both night stands had been thrown and were in pieces on the carpet, and some items off one of the shelves had been swiped away, all scattered on the floor now. Casey was sitting on the floor, leaning against the end of his bed, legs crossed, knuckles grazed, wrist swollen, right hand bruised and bloody, cradled across his lap. He barely noticed Severide, and was too exhausted to care that he'd been found in this state, his emotional fuelled adrenaline had gone.

Wordlessly, Severide sat down beside him. Nothing was said for some time but he could feel Casey's anguish.

"My sister phoned again, she wants to meet for lunch and go over all the arrangements for Sunday," Casey explained eventually, glancing at Severide, revealing his red rimmed and watery eyes. "Said I'd call her back later, when I know my plans. Was kinda hoping I'd see her at the funeral and that would be it because…"

"Because?" Severide urged.

"She does blame me," he said quietly.

"But that's ridiculous…"

"Not for her death, for not waiting to talk to her, I explained about the organ donation."

"She'll realise it was the right thing," Severide replied.

"Maybe, don't think she ever really got over me speaking for mom's parole release, she's pretty good at holding a grudge," he responded. "I don't want to have lunch with her for more than one reason, but I really don't want an argument."

Severide placed a hand on his left arm. "Tell me what I can do to help."

He shook his head at the offer. "You're already taking another shift off… I mean, do you really wanna be there? It'll just be Christie, Jim and me, she's not bringing Violet… I don't even know why she wants to go over all the arrangements, it's all simple. She's gonna bring up me not waiting for her, I know it…"

"Maybe she just wants to see you," Severide suggested. "Can I have a look at your wrist?" he asked after a moment, reaching to the arm that was laying across Casey's lap.

"Huh?"

"It's swelling by the minute," Severide responded.

"My wrist? Yeah… it does hurt… sorry, I… everything just, I dunno, just got too much all of a sudden, and I just felt so angry," he said, looking away as tears sprang to his eyes.

"I shouldn't have left…"

Casey shrugged. "I'd probably have pushed you away if you hadn't… almost 100% of your time has been spent with me."

"We are seeing each other… am I overkilling it?"

"No." He shook his head. "It's me, don't worry, I'm the one with the issues."

"Yeah? What issues are those?"

He tilted his head, as if to say they were obvious. "Do you really want this? Do you really want me? I may not look it most of the time, but I am a mess, my family is a mess, I don't know how to do relationships normally, I'll be too much, or too little, or just… I'm a mess."

"It's too late, I'm already in this for good," he told him clearly.

"I don't want you to come," Casey said suddenly, eyes focused ahead.

"Come?" Severide frowned at him, already thinking he meant he didn't want Severide to come to his place, or to the hospital, or to the funeral, or maybe all three. He looked crestfallen.

"To the funeral, you don't need to be there, and I don't want you to be there," Casey clarified.

"Ok," Severide responded stiffly, doing his best to hide his emotions. "We'll have this conversation later. Right now, we need to go to the hospital."

"No."

"You need that arm looking at. If I have to haul you over my shoulder, I will," Severide told him firmly, getting up from the floor, waiting for Casey to follow suit.

When Casey made no attempt to move Severide reached out towards him. Casey let out an audible sigh and grasped hold of Severide's outstretched hand. He let Severide pull him up to his feet, in too much pain and too tired to make much effort. He couldn't look Severide in the eyes though, but at least he did trail after him out to the car, carrying his coat, not wanting to attempt to put his arm through the sleeve.

Casey was so utterly exhausted; he was barely aware of the journey to the hospital. And once there, everything passed by in a blur, the doctor examining his wrist, the x-ray confirming broken bones, and finally the cast being put on. Since he was still susceptible to infections, he was prescribed antibiotics because of the small cuts on his hands. No one asked questions about how Casey had come to injure himself, so there were no embarrassing explanations needed, for which Severide was eternally grateful.


Back at Casey's house, Severide felt like he was walking on eggshells, sure that Casey was going to tell him to leave him alone at any moment. But he didn't, he just walked quietly through into his bedroom and stood silently, looking at the mess he had made earlier on in his fit of rage and frustration. He shook his head ruefully, regretting what he had said to Severide earlier on about not wanting him at the funeral.

"Kelly," he called, just loud enough for Severide to him from the spare room where he was lounging on the bed scrolling through his phone, knowing that Casey needed to be left alone for a little while to mull things over. He looked up from his phone as he heard Casey's voice, he threw the phone onto the bed and got up.

Severide smiled softly as he went into Casey's room and saw him surveying all the damage he had done.

"I'm sorry about earlier, Kelly..." he said, and they sat down at the end of the bed together.

"Nothing to apologise for," Severide responded, gently pulling Casey in so that he was leaning on him now, sensing that he needed some closeness and comfort, Severide put and arm around him.

Some of the tension that felt as if it was crippling his muscles, began to subside a little and he rested his head onto Severide's shoulder. "It's not fair. I'm getting more out of our relationship than you are."

"That's not true, Matt, you think it's true because you don't want to be selfish, and right now, with everything going on you need someone to lean on, literally and figuratively. You're not used to that. You're so damn independent it's scary," he teased. "Do you know how many times I've needed to ask my dad for help? More than I'd care to admit. I don't like asking for help, but I will eventually. You seem to avoid it at all costs."

"It's been nice, having help, just having someone," Casey admitted.

Severide nodded a little, not disturbing Casey's position. "Good, that makes me happy."

"It does, really?"

"It does."

Casey looked down at his right arm. "I broke my wrist," he said sadly, annoyed at himself.

"Are you in pain?"

"No, those painkillers kicked in," he answered.

"So, your sister then," Severide prompted.

"I don't know what to do, maybe I should have waited for her... and maybe I should have told her I was sick," he responded. "Do I tell her over the phone, or do I just wait until she sees me… think at this point there's no point in saying anything over the phone. It is what it is, I didn't tell her, but I'm not dying, I'm just a little sick, I don't have to tell her the details, she doesn't need to know."

"And lunch tomorrow?"

"I need an excuse…"

"Construction job came up?" Severide suggested.

"That's good, and shows how I'm not completely sick… right? Or maybe this is wrong, it's a lie…" Casey shook his head.

"A white lie," he said.

Casey closed his eyes, letting out a deep breath, his head still resting on Severide's shoulder. "I don't want any of this."

Severide hated to see him like this. He was normally so strong and determined, and knew what to do in all situations. He was a natural leader and used to making snap decisions under pressure. Now he was a world away from that. "Matt, listen to me, you're physically and emotionally spent, you're sick and your mom has died, but I know you. Everything is going to work out. Tomorrow you need to rest, and Sunday, well, I'll be there with you. And put it this way, you can't not do it, I know you'd regret it."

Casey moved and looked at Severide now. "Sorry, I'm…"

"Talking, letting me in, telling me how you feel," Severide listed kindly. "Never apologise for that."

"Sorry…" he answered, unable to stop himself. Severide's silent response was simply to hold up a hand and press his fingers to Casey's lips.


Nancy Casey's funeral took place on the Sunday; she was laid to rest in the same cemetery her husband was buried. It was just Christie, her husband, Casey and Severide, along with the officiant. Christie and Casey had decided not to have a religious ceremony, Casey was glad as it meant they wouldn't have to wait quite so long to bury their mother, and they hadn't wanted to go to the church they'd grown up going to, not after the fallout over their parents' divorce. They all met in the small parking lot before the short service began. Casey had used Severide's construction job excuse, but had suggested that he and Christie could go somewhere together after the funeral if she wanted to. Christie couldn't have looked more shocked as she watched her brother approach them, long black coat swamping his now thin frame and his head bare despite the cold weather, Casey hadn't felt it appropriate to wear a hat at the funeral, not when all he had was beanies and caps.

"Matt…" his sister began, red-eyed.

"Hey, Christie," he returned her greeting softly, standing in front of her, suddenly feeling very small and fragile.

After a moment Christie responded by holding her arms open and giving her younger brother a hug. He tensed under her grip, hoping she wouldn't realise just how much weight he had lost because of his illness.

"I'm sorry you weren't there," he said once she pulled away.

She shook her head. "You're sick?"

He smiled. "I am?"

"Don't joke," she responded seriously, studying his face. "Why didn't you tell me? Wait, I know why… I do wish you'd told me though."

"Nothing you can do," he said simply.

"Are you… are you going to be all right? Is it serious? It's cancer, right? You're going to be ok? What's wrong with your arm?"

"I'm gonna be fine, I am fine, just need my hair to grow back so everyone believes me," he said, letting out an airy chuckle.

Severide was standing back, watching their interaction, listening to Casey's hopefulness. He knew Casey was on track with his treatment, and he was hopeful too, but he couldn't help worry that there would be a setback, or the cancer would come back. Casey sounded too optimistic, he knew he was putting on a good show though, and he also knew in the past he'd suggested a positive attitude would help, even knowing it wouldn't make a difference medically.

The funeral was a short affair, with no other family, and with Nancy's friends all back in Indianapolis, it was quiet and dignified. Casey gave a short eulogy about his mom, then there was silence as the coffin was lowered into the ground. That was until Casey's attention was drawn from the coffin and over to the cemetery entrance. He couldn't believe what he was seeing at first and his eyes widened in surprise as he watched what was taking place.

Truck 81, Engine 51, Squad 3 and the Battalion car had pulled up by the gates and their respective crew members were getting out and heading over to the burial site.

"Did you do this?" Casey asked Severide quietly.

He smiled. "Maybe."

"Thank you," he spoke back to him.

Once the coffin had been fully lowered, Christie dropped a single flower down into the grave and Casey followed suit, stepping away briefly from the members of 51. He bent down, taking a handful of soil, then closed his eyes as he sprinkled it onto the coffin. And that was it, all over and done. His final chapter with his mother. He held his emotions together for some time after the burial, only silent tears had fallen during his short eulogy, everyone left, after passing their condolences on to Casey, Boden giving him a characteristic nod with sympathy filled eyes. They were on shift after all, but they had all wanted to pay their respects to one of their own on what they knew would be a sad occasion for Casey. Once the firefighters had departed, there was just the four of them left in the quiet cemetery.

"Let's do lunch another time, I'd like to get home to Violet," Christie told Casey, her husband holding her hand, her eyes reddened with tears. "I don't feel much like a meal now."

Casey just nodded his silent understanding in response.

"I'll call you, I know we're not exactly great role models for siblings…"

He shook his head. "Don't worry about it, you're not to blame."

"You aren't either," she responded. "I will call you, and please keep me updated?"

"Sure," he said, nodding again.


By the time they arrived back at the house, Casey was even more exhausted, even allowing Severide to help him from the car, inside and into the lounge where he sank down gratefully onto the couch. Severide was glad Christie had postponed lunch plans, he couldn't even imagine how tired Casey was already, without having to cope with that on top of the funeral.

He fetched Casey a glass of water, making sure he drank a little before placing it on the coffee table. Casey made a move, trying to sit up straighter, despite the deep bone exhaustion he was feeling now.

"You ok?" Severide asked, concerned.

"Yeah, yeah," he said, nodding. "Just need to clean the central line…" He made to stand up but even just sitting there was taking all the effort in the world. All he wanted to do was lie down and sleep.

"You're exhausted," Severide told him. "I'll do it. I've seen it done enough to know how."

Casey sank back into the couch gratefully but he let out a quiet sigh. "I don't want you to be my caretaker… just want you to be my boyfriend."

"I am your boyfriend, so I am going to take care of you when you need it. And right now, you need to be cared for."

Chapter Text

The day after his mother's funeral, Casey was sitting in the hospital getting a blood test, and undergoing a thorough physical examination to make sure he could withstand the next cycle of consolidation chemotherapy. Severide was with him, although he would be going back to work soon, having taken quite a bit of time off over the holidays for Casey's sake. He smiled when Catalina approached them in the waiting area. She gave Casey an affirming nod; his bloods had come back and he could get started on the next round of treatment. Casey was just relieved he wasn't going to need another bone biopsy for a while, and he was grateful for small mercies like that nowadays.

Severide wished that they weren't so familiar with this ward and the routine, but nevertheless he set up the hospital room whilst Casey sat on the bed and pulled out some books, a pack of cards, his headphones and the notepad he used for jotting information down about his treatment in an attempt to keep track of it all. Severide had once looked through whilst he'd slept, noticing how much Casey's handwriting, once way neater and far more legible than his own, had deteriorated and was now almost an illegible scrawl. Only going to show how severely he was being affected by the treatment.

Casey was quiet, which wasn't unusual before he started chemotherapy, and it didn't go unnoticed by Severide. He'd already swallowed down the Zofran pills and was now just waiting to be set up with the infusion pump. He knew Shay would be visiting him today, so he was at least looking forward to catching up with her and hearing what she had got up to over the holidays.

Once Severide had the hospital room organised and looking a little more homely for Casey, he sat down on the bed next to him. "You don't need to wait," Casey told him, flipping the brown teddy bear, that Shay had bought it some time ago now, over and over in his hand.

"I'm waiting," he responded, a side smile quirking his lips, and a sparkle in his eyes.

"Thought you said you'd need to move the car or something?" Casey frowned as he asked.

He nodded. "I can do that once the chemo's running."

"Don't want you to get a ticket," Casey continued, they'd parked in a nearby short stay area so Casey didn't have so far to walk.

"And I don't want you starting this round without me," Severide said, putting his hand on Casey's forearm, stopping him from fidgeting with the bear.

"I'll be fine today, it'll hit me tomorrow, and I'll be painting the walls with my projectile vomiting," he added with a forced huff of laughter. "You'll be here though… no private bodily functions for me…"

"Oh, I…" he stammered at Casey's remark, not sure how Casey meant it or quite how to respond.

"That came out wrong. I want you here, I just mean, you'll have seen everything and we've not even gone on proper date," Casey explained.

His eyes widened. "You want a proper date?"

"I do," Casey responded.

"With candles and flowers, and wine?"

Casey smiled at him. "You can skip the flowers. I do like candles and wine."

"Nice fancy restaurant?" he suggested.

"Not too fancy, I'd rather have normal food in normal portions than super fancy food," Casey said with a chuckle.

"I'll have to see what I can do then," he responded.

"Where do you usually take your dates?"

"What makes you think I take them to the same place?" Severide asked him.

He shrugged. "Seems like something you'd do."

"Is it a bad thing?"

"No, it's easy," Casey replied.

"You think I like easy?"

"No, if you liked easy you'd have run away from me, even before the cancer," Casey said with a short chuckle.

"You're not hard to love, Matt," he answered tentatively, waiting to see how Casey would react to him pushing the boundaries a little now.

Casey just turned his head away from Severide's steady gaze, swallowing hard, trying to stem the emotions that were gathering up inside him, rising into his throat, stopping him answering.

Gently Severide placed a hand on Casey's jaw, turning his head back towards him. Seeing unshed tears glistening in his eyes he spoke again. "You're easy to love."

Casey was shaking his head now.

"You're easy to love," Severide repeated firmly.

Shaking his head still, he started to respond. "Then why…"

"Why what?"

"Why didn't they love me?" Casey whispered. "My parents, why didn't they…"

"You are loved, Matt, by me, most of all, but by everyone around you, everyone you meet. Don't tell anyone I told you this, but, you're definitely the favourite officer on second watch," he added, lowering his voice.

Before Casey could respond there was a brief knock at the door, Catalina walked in with his medication on a rolling table, plastered with hazardous and toxic labels all over the infusion bag.

"Here we go again…" Casey said quietly as she approached. Severide gave his arm a comforting squeeze then stood up from the bed, getting out of Catalina's way. Casey opened up his gown so she could check his central line before attaching him to the infusion pump.

"So," Catalina began as she set up the pump. "How did you break your wrist? Bar brawl?" She grinned at Casey, knowing humorous banter would cheer him up a little.

Severide glanced at him, wondering how he would respond. He watched Casey smile as he spoke. "I wish. Sent my fist through some plasterboard."

"Felt better for it?"

"Yeah, until the adrenaline wore off and the pain kicked in," he responded with a brief eye roll.

"Right, you're all set up, Matt," she told him. "You know the drill; I'll be in every couple of hours to check on you, or hit the call button if you need me. And don't go putting any holes in my hospital walls, all right?"

"I'll try not to," he replied with a wry smile.


Casey was sitting on the comfortable chair in the hospital room alone a short while later, he sighed as he flipped through a magazine, uninterested and struggling to concentrate. His mood was greatly improved when Shay entered the room, blonde hair tied up in a messy bun and surgical mask covering her smile as she let the door close behind her.

"Hi, Matt, I'm sorry I've not been able to see you sooner, I'm really sorry about your mom," she said, smile fading. She saw the cast on his wrist but decided not to say anything.

Casey shook his head, not wanting to talk about it. "How was your Christmas?" he asked her as she pulled a chair over to him and sat down.

"It was… nice the first day I was surrounded by my whole family, then I was already sick of it all… and, well, I'm definitely glad I left when I was younger, can't stand that town," she told him, shaking her head.

"No?"

"I never had a place there, didn't fit in," she responded. "Didn't want to fit in there."

"Bet most places are too small for you," he said, smiling.

"You ever think about leaving Chicago?" she asked him.

"Every winter when it's too cold, every summer when it's too hot," he joked, happy to be talking about something unrelated to the situation he was in, or his mothers death. 

"Kelly not here?"

"He's around somewhere, he went to move the car, parked in short stay," he explained.

"How are you two?"

"Good, no complaints," he answered with a smile. "I'm sorry, don't really have anything to say."

"I can tell you about the rest of little trip, or I can shut up and put the TV on?"

"Tell me more about Christmas," he said, settling down into the chair.

Casey didn't notice Severide return a short while later, he'd drifted off into a light doze as Shay had given him some stories from her time back at home. Shay stood up and went over to him, smiling as she approached him, hugging him tightly when she reached him.

"How are you?" she asked.

Severide just nodded, looking over to Casey.

"Kinda glad he's fallen asleep, he looked exhausted," she commented.

"Yeah, been a rough few days," he said, nodding.

"For you too, I'm sure," Shay responded. "You look exhausted too."

Severide shook his head. "There's no comparison."

"You gotta look after yourself too, if not for yourself but for Matt, you don't want him to start worrying about you," she told him.

"I'm… concerned, worried he's not gonna cope so well with chemo this time."

"Because of his mom," she finished.

"Yeah… he's gonna have more time to think now he's here, now the funeral's over and done with. It's gonna hit him hard, I dunno how much more he can deal with."

"He broke his wrist," she commented.

"He did, uncomplicated break at least, cast should be off in eight weeks. I think it's gonna get worse than that though. We know him well enough, know him more than anyone. Having time to think now isn't gonna help his head, maybe in a while, but not straight away," he said, already thinking about re-plastering Casey's bedroom wall himself, although he wasn't sure he'd do a good job at it, but right now he didn't think Casey would manage it either.

"All you can do is be there for him," Shay told him, placing a hand on his arm comfortingly.

"He'll push everyone away," he said sadly.

"Yeah, he might try, but you're as stubborn as he is," she reminded him.

Chapter Text

The side effects of the chemotherapy started to hit Casey the day after he'd started the penultimate cycle. He'd spent most the morning throwing up, having spent the early hours of the day wide awake unable to sleep because of the waves of nausea that assaulted him. He couldn't get comfortable, no matter what position on the bed or chair, even the floor at one point. Time went too slowly, unable to rest, unable to feel comfortable. A nurse came in at regular intervals but there was little the man could do. Severide could do even less when he arrived, but the company was appreciated, even as he sat on the tiled floor in the bathroom, gripping the toilet, tasting the acrid flavour of vomit in his mouth, heaving bodily and choking on bile.

"How about another game of chess?" Severide suggested, looking over at the set he'd tidied away earlier on. It was getting late in the afternoon now. Casey had managed to get a couple of hours sleep once the vomiting had subsided. He'd woken feeling marginally better and had accepted Severide's offer of a game of chess, after rinsing his mouth out again and freshening up with one of the cleansing wipes Shay had provided.

Casey shook his head at the idea now though, he'd struggled too much with the game of chess, still feeling nauseous, and his mind wondering, unable to focus on the task at hand, unable to predict Severide's next moves, but he could tell that Severide was taking it easy. He still lost though, he didn't mind losing, but it really showed how much he was struggling right now.

"Cards? We could do something simple, go fish?" Severide suggested, tone hopeful.

He shook his head again and smile softly. "You don't need to keep me entertained."

"It's keeping me entertained too," Severide responded, he'd already grabbed the tatty pack of cards, sliding them out so he could shuffle them.

Casey just watched him for a moment, preoccupied by the movements of his hands. "You're trying to distract me," he said, already realising his brain was doing a pretty damn good job at that anyway, but Severide had an aim with his distraction.

"Maybe..." Severide replied with a small movement that resembled a shrug, giving up with the cards. "It's just everything's happened so quickly and now things are slowing down and you're..."

"Gonna have time to think," he finished succinctly.

"Yeah."

Casey reached out for his hand and held it. "Kelly, you can't stop that from happening, you don't have to."

"I can try though, can't I?" Severide said, that soft smile Casey loved so much gracing his face.

"You're a very stubborn man." He chuckled. "You know, a lot of people think you're a jerk, think you jump to conclusions," he added.

"A lot of people, and you?"

"I think you wear your heart on you sleeve, you care a lot," Casey responded.

"You care too much," Severide retorted.

"No, sometimes I don't care at all."

"I don't believe that," Severide replied, shaking his head. 

"I just switch off, go through the motions," he explained. "I don't want to care too much."

"Who hurt you?" Severide asked with a short huff of laughter, trying to keep the conversation light.

"What?"

"I always thought it was your dad, but you visit his grave every year, you love him," Severide continued.

"I do love my dad. Loved."

"So, who hurt you?" Severide repeated.

"Why do you think someone hurt me?" he replied, eye brow raised.

"You said it yourself, you're a mess," Severide responded with a smile.

"I am… but not because of one specific thing," he said. "And, please try not to worry too much about me coping with my mom's death…"

"You broke your wrist," Severide stated gently.

"Not all down to my mom's death. Really, Kelly, I am fine. It wasn't my fault, I couldn't have done anything differently, it is what it is."

"I want to believe you're fine," Severide told him.

"Well, believe me!" he responded, voice raised. "Sorry…" he added quietly, shaking his head.

"No, I should stop going on about it," Severide replied.

Casey let out a long breath, closing his eyes momentarily, almost like he was bracing himself.

"All right?" Severide asked. 

He nodded a little, forcing a smile. "Just one of those many waves of nausea."

Severide moved to grab the emesis basin.

"Not gonna throw up, not eaten anything all day, and pretty sure there's nothing else left to vomit anymore…" he listed off, he didn't explain to Severide that the gagging sensation he usually suffered with before throwing up hadn't occurred, nor had acidic bile travelled up into his mouth. He'd spare him the details.

"You've not eaten?" Severide asked, surprised and concerned.

"Please don't start," he said, sinking back into the bed and closing his eyes, shutting out the world. His mood, and his ability to cover up how he was really feeling. was rapidly declining and he didn't want to say anything he would regret.

Severide sat back in the chair and ran a hand over his face, taking in a breath to compose himself.

After a while he spoke up. "I'm back at work tomorrow," he told Casey.

Casey peeled his eyes open. "You'll be careful?" he asked quietly.

"Of course, always am," Severide responded.

"I don't want you to get hurt," he said simply. "Not because of me," he continued.

"Because of you? What do you mean?"

"Nothing…"

"Must be something," Severide said.

"Why do you think I'm sick?" he asked, voice cracking.

"You just… are," Severide responded, unsure where Casey was going.

"What if it's because… because of who I am," he explained slowly.

"Matt, I don't understand…"

"Because I'm gay," he stated, his stomach churning. 

Casey's thought process suddenly dawned on Severide. "And you think God is punishing you?"

"What if you get hurt because you like me?" he responded, trying not to gag now. 

"Oh, Matt… logically we know that's not how it works, and it's the twenty-first century, and even way back, there's always been gay people. It is normal, no matter what a small fraction of people think," Severide responded in an attempt to reassure him, although he wasn't sure he'd be able to, it seemed like something Casey had thought about before.

"I know, I know, and I spoke to the Chaplain, I did, and I felt better, but I get these thoughts stuck in my head, and I'm just… I'm scared you're going to get hurt," he said, swallowing hard, blinking rapidly and trying to grab the emesis basin as quick as he could. Unable to stop himself any longer he heaved into the basin, gripping it weakly until Severide took hold of it for him. His stomach lurched violently, paining his whole abdomen, pale watery liquid landed into the basin and drooled down his chin. Severide wiped it away immediately.

"Try and take a breath for me, baby… you're shaking?"

Casey's eyes scrunched together as he fought against the tears that had been threatening to fall since he'd starting throwing up again.

"Matt, take another breath for me," Severide instructed, gripping Casey's arm.

"Make it stop…"

"It will stop, I promise, Matt, it will stop… take some deep breaths…" he said, and deciding he wasn't going to wait any longer, he hit the nurses call button.

It was Catalina who soon entered the room, seeing Severide holding onto Casey who was trembling and gripping his own stomach. She rushed over and leant down so she could face him. "Hey, Matt, can you talk to me?"

She was only met with silence.

"Matt, what's my name, honey?"

He didn't respond. She paged for his doctor, wanting to be able to give him some stronger medication because the nausea wasn't letting up.

"Make it stop," Casey repeated, groaning. Both his hands coming up to his central line, wanting to pull the damn thing out. He was stopped though.

Severide had taken his hands, preventing him from pulling at the central line. The doctor had arrived, much to Severide's relief, he still kept a gentle hold of Casey's hands as the man spoke to Catalina and examined him. They took some blood to send off for testing in case he'd caught an infection, but the doctor was sure his agony was caused by the never-ending nausea.

Casey was barely aware of anything, he'd stopped moving now, the room spinning around him, his head throbbing, and his whole abdomen aching, he felt like he was going throw up again and then just never stop, his stomach twisted and turned, his throat gagging unconsciously.

Catalina's face flittered into his blurry vision, her voice pierced his skull despite her soft tone. "Matt, the doctor is gonna give you some more medication for the nausea, it's probably gonna make you feel pretty out of it, but don't worry, it should help, all right?" She looked to Severide. "We're giving him some Ativan, it should help pretty quickly."

The medication did help, they had to attach Casey to some monitoring equipment because of the risks with the dosage they gave him, but as Casey's face relaxed, so did Severide. "Better, Matty?" he asked, holding his hand.

Casey's eyes flickered open. "Did you call me baby?"

"Oh, maybe, sorry…"

"S'ok…"

"How are you doing?" Severide asked him.

"Good stuff," he murmured, eyes rolling towards Severide, a small smile playing on his lips.

"You're not feeling sick anymore?"

"Fading," he responded. "Why… why'd I not get this… before?"

"Because you're pretty out of it now… I think they prefer to keep you awake," Severide told him.

"M'wake…"

"Yeah?" Severide responded, head cocked to the side questioningly.

"Mmm… half…"

Catalina stepped back into the room after a discussion with the doctor, who'd expressed his concerns about Casey's weight again, if it dropped much more the NG tube would be back, Catalina thought it would be for the best even if his weight didn't drop, letting the doctor know how little he was eating at the moment.

"It's worked," Severide told her as she came over, checking the monitors. "All good?"

She nodded. "Yeah, everything looks good."

"How long will it last?"

"It'll last a while," she answered.

"Good… I couldn't do anything to help him…"

"Being here is helping," she told him.

"I can't stop him from feeling sick… and that was… it was horrendous, I didn't know you could be that nauseous, it was worse than when his stomach hurt him last time… will it happen again?" he asked her, already worried.

"It might do. The chemo is really taking its toll on his body now," she responded.

"He gets weaker, gets worse each time, takes him longer to bounce back…"

"It's intensive, but it's working," she said.

"Yeah, there's that," he said, smiling. After a moment, he spoke again, looking down at Casey as he dozed. "I'm not here tomorrow, supposed to be going back to work, I could delay it again…"

"Go to work, it'll be good for you, and if anything happens I can call you," she told him.

"Thank you, and thank you for looking after him," Severide responded sincerely.

"It's my job," she said simply.

"Yeah… I say that all the time, people always thank us, but I get it," he replied with a nod.

She nodded. "If you want a coffee break, I'll be sitting with him for now."

"Yeah, could do with another coffee," he said, standing up. He took Casey's hand. "I'll be back soon, Matt."


Casey spent most of his time dozing comfortably, and Severide had felt happy enough to leave him when visiting hours ended, not that he did a very good job at sticking to them anyway. In the morning he went off to the firehouse, dropping Casey a message before he left his apartment. Casey woke up blearily when he heard his phone ping, but he quickly fell back to sleep. Severide hadn't expected him to reply.

"What day is it?" Casey mumbled when Catalina woke him at the start of her shift.

"It's Wednesday, Matt, January 1st," she told him.

"What a way to start the year," he groaned.

"How are you feeling?"

He shook his head as he responded. "Just tired."

"That's better than yesterday. I was told you slept through the night too, but you've not eaten anything," she responded.

"Not hungry," he said.

"Worried you're going to throw up if you eat?" she asked him.

"Too tired."

"You'd have more energy if you ate," she replied sympathetically.

"Don't want more energy, just wanna sleep." He let his eyes close.

"If you don't eat anything today, the NG tube will be back," she warned him.

"I don't care," he responded, not bothering to open his eyes again.

Catalina cleared her throat. "Have you spoken to Kelly this morning?"

"Not yet."

"Wanna call him?" she asked suggestively.

He opened his eyes, annoyed he was still being spoken to. "Nothing to say."

"Don't think he'd agree with that," she responded, offering him a small smile.

"Don't pretend you know us," he snapped.

Catalina said nothing more, she knew nothing she could say or do would help his mood right now, so she silently finished her checks before leaving him alone again.

It wasn't until the afternoon that Casey began to seem more like his usual self, he'd spent most the day sleeping, but he had spoken to Severide, which had improved his mood immensely. It had been nice to just lie in the hospital bed, listening to Severide talking, hearing his voice and his laughter as he told him all about the latest project Otis and Cruz had got themselves into.

The NG tube was back now, and he told Severide, knowing he'd see it tomorrow anyway. Severide just treated it like any other normal conversation though, he didn't make a big deal of it. Their mostly one-sided conversation was cut short when the alarms rang out at the firehouse though.

"I'm sorry about earlier… this morning, sorry," Casey told Catalina when she entered the room, not long after hanging up the phone call from Severide.

"I've been at worse ends of bad moods, don't worry," she said as she disconnected the NG tube from the feeding pump.

"Really, I am, I'm sorry," he spoke again.

"I know, Matt," she said, nodding.


Casey was barely awake but he smiled when Shay and Severide arrived, he'd missed their company yesterday in his short waking hours. But he was glad that Severide had been back to work despite his worries, he'd taken a lot of time off whilst Casey had been home from the hospital, and he knew he wouldn't have been good company with the mood he had been in yesterday.

"Picked something up for you in the New Year's Sale this morning," Shay announced, already pulling the item out of the large shopping bag she was carrying.

Severide smiled at her enthusiasm, moving past her to lean over and give Casey a kiss on his forehead through the surgical mask he wore, he gave his forearm a quick and comforting squeeze before taking a seat by his side.

"It's fleeced lined," Shay explained as she pulled out the large grey throw, unravelling it so Casey could see the natural coloured fleece lining underneath.

"What am I gonna do with all these throws when all this is over?" he asked tiredly, not able to make much more of an effort than look wearily at her purchase as she removed the one that was currently covering his body.

"We all know you like them, Matt," Severide spoke up.

Shay was busy tucking him into the new blanket, he didn't have the strength to touch the fleece lining but he could feel it on the back of his hands now. "Don't get me too comfortable I'm gonna need to move soon," Casey told her, closing his eyes.

"Bathroom?" Severide asked.

Casey nodded then felt Severide running a hand over his forehead.

"Headache?" Severide half stated since Casey's eyes hadn't reopened. 

"Well, you're here now, aren't you?" Casey responded humorously.

"Haha…" He smiled. "You want some painkillers?"

"They erm… they gave me some more Ativan, I think, this morning, well, like, middle of the night kinda morning," Casey told him.

"Got bad again?"

"Think I got it so no one has to hear me moaning… but, yeah, don't really want more drugs, well, I do, but I don't," Casey said, giving a small shrug as he opened his eyes for a brief moment.

"Can't imagine you moaning with no good cause," Severide responded.

"Had enough of it all now," he murmured.

Severide and Shay shared a worried glance at each other.

Casey forced his eyes open again. "Sorry."

Shay smiled at him, shaking her head. "Would you like us to go?"

"No, and yes…"

"How about some fresh air? You're allowed out of here?"

"I am but, don't wanna go outside, sorry," he answered. He pushed himself up in the bed and rubbed his eyes, letting out a long breath. "Sorry…" he groaned out, sighing again and closing his eyes.

Severide moved closer and silently took his hand. He waited for Casey to squeeze his own back, and he did, then he opened his eyes again and gave him a smile.

"This sucks," Casey said.

Shay nodded in agreement as she sat down at the end of the hospital bed. "Big time."

"Sucks less with you guys," Casey admitted before letting his eyes close once more.

Chapter Text

Casey watched drowsily as Catalina wrote on the whiteboard in his hospital room, noting down plans for the day, which were simply to eat, drink, wash and take a few laps up and down the corridor since his bloods were good enough to allow him outside of the room. She ticked off day four of the Cytarabine infusion, since he'd not long started on his fifth and final twenty-four hour of treatment, of the penultimate cycle. The rest of his morning passed by in a blur.

Not long after Catalina had disconnected and cleared away the feeding pump, Casey needed to use the bathroom, and he thought it would be a good idea to wash his face and freshen up before Severide turned up. He pushed the bed covers away, and sat us as swung his legs over the side. He pushed himself off the mattress and promptly collapsed onto the floor.

He must have blacked out for a moment because he couldn't remember getting up from the bed, and now, here he was lying on the floor. Then he realised something else. There was a warm wetness on his legs, and his sweatpants were clinging to his thighs. He looked down. "Oh God…" he muttered when he saw the spread of the darkened patch on his pants. He took a breath, trying to convince himself it wasn't that bad, he just needed to get back up and put on some fresh clothes. No one would know. He rolled onto his side, putting his hands onto the floor.

But he couldn't get up. He didn't have the strength. He tried once more but the room kept spinning around him. He waited a few moments and tried again, knowing a nurse would be in to check on him again soon.

As that thought crossed his mind, he heard his room door open. He was about to be discovered on the floor, unable to get up, his pants soaked in his own urine.

"Matt?" a female voice called.

It was Catalina, not one of the other nurses, he was actually grateful for that. He cleared his throat. "Down here."

"Oh, Matt… are you hurt at all?"

"Just dizzy… I erm… sorry…" he muttered, casting his eyes down to his pants. He was too exhausted to be embarrassed, in a past life he would have been mortified.

"Ok, it's all right, I'll get you up, and we'll sort everything out, no worries," she told him.

"Sorry…"

"It's fine. Did you get up for the bathroom?" she asked as he helped him up, putting his arm over her shoulders and steadying him as he got onto his feet.

"Yeah. Kelly, he might turn up now, don't want him to know…" he added.

She smiled. "Hang on a moment then," she said before heading out of the room, leaving Casey sitting on the edge of the bed as she told the nurse at the desk to have Severide wait if he showed up.

She was back with Casey quickly, he'd already removed his sweatpants so she grabbed him some fresh underwear and pants and helped him into the bathroom.

"How are you feeling now?" Catalina asked him. He was back on the bed now, washed and changed.

"Lightheaded," he admitted.

"Sick at all?"

"No," he said.

"Ok. So, you're not gonna like this, but for now, whenever you need or want to move from the bed you need to call for assistance…"

"No, I'll be all right soon," Casey protested, which Catalina had predicted.

"And when you are all right, and when you're told that you are, then you'll have permission to move without assistance. That clear?" she told him firmly.

He took a long look at her before responding acceptingly. "Yeah."

"Won't do you any good if you get up, fall and crack your skull, or break your other wrist," she pointed out.

He nodded a little, he did know that what she was saying was for the best.


Severide arrived about half an hour later, and was greeted with a welcoming smile from Catalina as he entered the ward, surgical mask already in place. He stopped by the desk. "How is he today?" he asked her.

"Tired but not too bad," she responded

"That's positive then," he said with a nod. "Anything on the agenda for today?"

"Just rest," she told him.

"All right, thanks… sure I'll see you again later," he replied before heading off in the direction of Casey's room.

He stepped into the hospital room, the sight of Casey lying on the bed tugged at his heart. Casey's eyes were closed but Severide knew he was awake, even if it was only barely. There was more equipment that usual surrounding him, but Severide knew what it all was so it didn't worry him too much. He could see the blood pressure cuff wrapped around Casey's upper arm, and the wires that sneaked out from under his hospital gown.

"Hey, how you doing?" he spoke softly as he approached the bed.

Casey rolled his head towards him and opened his eyes. "Betting on a transfusion later."

"Oh yeah?"

"Oh yeah…" he drolled. "You go to the gym?" he asked after a moment.

"Gave blood," Severide responded. He had told Casey before that he was going to be late today because he wanted to go by the blood bank, but he wasn't surprised it had slipped Casey's mind.

"That's good… I'd be a goner without people giving blood," Casey replied.

The monitor let out a quick noise and Severide's eyes widened.

"S'all right, normal, blood pressure's all over the place," Casey explained, offering him a reassuring smile. "Had to connect me to more machines, keeps beeping when my BP changes. It's very annoying."

"There's worse things," Severide said.

"Hmm… on the scale of things at the moment, the beeping is pretty much second," he responded resolutely, looking up at the ceiling.

"Second, gosh, is there anything I can do to distract you from the horrendous beeping noise?" Severide asked him, trying to refrain from grinning now.

"Don't joke, it really is annoying… but, it's nice to see you, been a long morning," he replied.

"Think you can focus on some TV? Got Hawaii Five-O to catch up on," Severide suggested.

He shook his head a little. "Don't have the mental capacity for… anything," he said, for want of an example.

Severide took his hand then, and Casey turned his head towards him, watching him with half closed, sleepy eyes. He smiled at Severide.

"So… erm, you gave blood, huh?" Casey asked.

"Yeah, getting all the guys at the firehouse to do it regularly too," Severide responded, nodding. "Had a little lie in before I went, watched a late-night movie before bed last night, had a day-old pizza for dinner, oh and I did some washing. That about sums up my time spent without you."

"Working tomorrow," Casey half-questioned.

"Uh huh," he confirmed. "What did you get up to last night, this morning?"

"Sleeping, then a bit more sleeping," Casey replied, omitting a few grimmer details.

"Look like you could do with some more sleep," he responded.

"If I close my eyes, I'd be out like a light," Casey admitted.

"Don't stay awake on my behalf."

"Kelly…" he spoke again after a moments silence. "I love you."

A grin swept across Severide's face. "I love you too."

"Sorry 'bout all of this," Casey slurred out.

"I know you are," he said.

"Actually, think the Chaplain might have been around this morning…" Casey spoke, frowning a little.

"You think?"

"Could have been a drug induced dream, I guess," Casey responded.

Severide chuckled. "I'd like to think you're dreaming of better things than the Chaplain visiting you."

"Yeah? What should I be dreaming about? You?"

"Me, and other hot guys," Severide answered.

"You think very highly of yourself," he said in jest.

"Bet I'm totally ripped in your dreams," Severide continued.

Casey grinned tiredly. He rolled his eyes as he spoke, teasing. "Totally, and lathered up in hot oil, or whatever it is body builders use…"

"I could pull that look off right now," he replied with an almost indignant expression.

"Yeah? You gonna start flexing for me?" Casey asked him, grin only growing bigger, almost masking the tiredness in his features now.

"I'll do anything to see you smile like you are right now," he responded.

"D'you know how cheesy that sounds?"

"Don't care," he said, leaning over the bed so he could give Casey a kiss through the surgical mask.

Casey smiled up at him.

"Seriously, close your eyes and get some rest," he told Casey. "I'll be here all day."

True to his word, Severide remained with Casey right up until the very second visiting hours were over. Casey had been right about the likelihood of receiving a blood transfusion, he was given one late in the afternoon, and the next day whilst Severide was at the firehouse, his penultimate cycle of treatment ended, though he was still affected by the side effects for quite some time afterwards. He looked forward to the Ativan induced sleep, something Severide was increasingly worried about, but if the drug helped Casey to feel better for a short while, he wasn't going to complain. He just wanted Casey to stop suffering so badly, because he was actually getting better, the treatment was working.

Chapter Text

After a total of twenty-two days spent in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy and waiting for his blood levels, and health to become acceptable enough for Casey to go home, he was discharged. Severide once again took some time off work, Boden was more than understanding. In Severide's eyes, Casey wasn't healthy though, he'd lost more weight despite the parental feeding, and he was just skin and bone now, Severide had never seen anything like it, except for those adverts on TV asking for aid in third world countries, although Casey didn't look quite that bad. Yet, he feared. He'd never been as worried as he was now about Casey coming home, just because he looked like he should still be in the hospital. His blood count was good though and he was moving about on his own easily, there was no reason to keep him in the hospital.

"Coming home will never get old," Casey said as Severide helped him up the few steps to his front door.

"I've got some more time off, so more time to spend together too," Severide responded, unlocking the front door.

"You've taken a lot of time off?" he half-questioned before stepping into his house.

"I've wanted to," Severide reassured.

"Ok," he accepted easily. 

Severide closed the front door, leaving it unlocked as he would go back out once Casey was settled to get the rest of the bags from the car. Casey stepped into the lounge and smiled. The Christmas decorations were gone, the place looked immaculate, and the large couch had been transformed into a makeshift bed.

"Figured it would be nice to have somewhere almost as cosy as your bed, but without needing to go upstairs. It was this or move the TV upstairs," Severide explained.

"It's brilliant," he said. "Thank you."

"Sit down before you fall down, I'm gonna get the stuff from the car, need anything?"

"A month of sleep?" he responded, smiling.

Severide was grateful of every smile that graced Casey's lips. He walked up to him, wrapped his arms around him, and in that moment, it was going to take a lot for him to let go, afraid he would disappear into thin air.

"Kelly…"

"Sorry, you ok?" Severide asked him.

"Bit tight," he responded with a short airy laugh.

"Sorry, baby."

"Again with the baby." Casey had moved back from Severide's loosened grip, there was another smile on his face.

"It's becoming a habit," he said.

"It's a good habit." Casey's smile turned into a grin. "Think it would only be a bad habit if I started calling you daddy."

Severide chuckled.

He shrugged weakly. "Maybe when I'm high on meds it'll slip out," he teased.

Severide reluctantly let go of Casey, he watched as he made his way slowly over to the couch, sitting down with relief on his face. Severide left him alone for a short while, and when he returned Casey was sound asleep.


It was good to be home, but Casey noticed how much harder he was finding things this time, he'd struggled more than usual during his hospital stay and he'd hoped getting home would be the same as usual. Sure he was tired most of the time, and weaker than usual, but now everything seemed different though, even just making the effort to keep his eyes open exhausted him. He had no expectations that he'd manage to drop by the firehouse, or Molly's to see everyone, he knew he'd just let himself down because, besides the fact he couldn't walk up the stairs without grasping at the hand rail and having several breaks on his way up, he didn't want to be seen like this, not by anyone other than Severide.

Severide was keeping a close eye on him. Almost carrying Casey to his bed once, he had vehemently objected though, telling him he could still walk, even if he was a little slow right now. The heating was on the highest setting in the house, and Severide kept a fire going whilst Casey was in the lounge, at times he'd been sitting around in just a t-shirt whilst Casey was wrapped up in several layers. A snow storm had hit Chicago though, and it didn't seem likely that it would let up anytime soon. They had a good supply of fuel and food though, and if the power did go out, they could camp out in the lounge by the fire.

Since the NG tube was still in place and Casey's fridge-freezer was still almost bursting with supplies, Severide had made sure to let everyone know that no more food was needed. It was a little disappointing since everyone wanted to help out, and it felt like there was little they could do, but they all put some money together and bought Casey an iTunes gift card so that he could buy himself some new music and audiobooks. Casey was grateful, and did spend a few hours sitting next to Severide, who had his laptop open on his lap so Casey could go through the iTunes store, he let Severide take control, too tired to even scroll through looking, but they were both glad of the distraction.

Casey was lying on the couch, snuggled up in blankets, one afternoon. Severide smiled at him as he started to crouch down. "Turning the couch into a bed was a good idea, right?"

"Right," Casey repeated, he was still grateful of Severide's decision. "Gonna join me?"

"I'm worried I might cook," he responded.

"Take your hoody off, and your shirt…"

"Are you ordering me to strip?" he asked, brows raised.

"Apparently," Casey responded.

Soon Casey was resting his head on Severide's bare chest, his left hand idly traced patterns over his skin, the heat radiated off it. Severide had relaxed into the couch, plenty warm enough without his top, with the fire roaring and under Casey's many blankets. Casey felt incredibly safe right now, the safest he'd ever felt. Nothing could harm him in any way when in lay in Severide's arms.

"Your skin is so nice," Casey spoke quietly. "It's soft… and strong, all at the same time."

"You have…"

"My skin is dry and horrid right now," Casey said.

"I could slather you up with moisturiser?" Severide offered. He'd offer anything to make Casey feel even the slightest bit better.

"Don't have any," he answered.

"There's some in the care package Shay dropped by," Severide said.

"Shay dropped by?"

"Yeah, the other day," Severide told him.

He frowned. "I don't remember."

"You were mostly asleep," Severide explained.

"Mostly?" Casey repeated.

"Let's call it dozing," he replied.

"Dozing, huh? You swallow thesaurus?" Casey joked.

"No need to tease, just 'cause I'm not as book smart as you…"

"You're cleverer than people think, almost how you're more caring than people think. Why do you do that?"

Severide rolled his head so he could see Casey's eyes looking up at him. "Why do you behave like you do?" he asked him rhetorically.

Casey just smiled and rested his head back on Severide's chest.

Chapter Text

Severide had got himself ready for bed after watching TV for most of the evening, he enjoyed the warmth of the shower, he had the heat turned up in Casey's house but the hot shower was still appreciated. Once he was dressed, he entered Casey's bedroom, he was going sleep in the spare room tonight despite how much he wanted to slip into bed with Casey, but he didn't want to disturb him by moving the covers. He quietly went over to Casey's bedside, the lamp on the nightstand was lit so he could see the sheen of sweat on Casey's pale skin.

"Matt…" he began, placing a hand on his forehead. Casey was burning up. "Shit…" he muttered.

"Kel…" Casey's voice croaked breathlessly.

"Hey, you've got a fever," he said, pulling back the thick bed cover and throws. That's when he realised something else. "Oh… Matt…"

The bed sheets below Casey's lower back to almost half-way down his thighs were soiled but Severide called for an ambulance before he did anything else. Once the ambulance was on the way he got some disinfection wipes and towels from the bathroom. He pulled Casey's shirt over his head and off, careful of the central line and NG tube, then gently moved Casey onto his front so he could pull away the soiled pyjama pants and boxers, slipping them over his ankles. Once the pants were out of the way he wiped away at the diarrhoea that clung to Casey's pale skin. He pulled the soiled sheets away from underneath Casey and dumped them on the floor before moving him from his front and onto his back. Severide then slipped some fresh clothes back on his emaciated body, despite the fever the rest of his skin felt cold to touch.

"Kel…" Casey began again when Severide returned with a trash bag, there'd be no saving the clothes Casey had been wearing. Severide had hoped he'd fallen asleep, now he hoped he just wouldn't remember this ordeal. He was incredibly sick, none of it was his fault, and Severide would be here for him no matter what.

"I'm still here. There's an ambulance on the way, I can't get you to the hospital fast enough in this weather, you need some fluids and antibiotics right away…"

"Sorry…"

Severide just shook his hand, running a hand over Casey's forehead comfortingly. He longed for his hair to grow back so he could run his hand through his blond locks again, like he had just that one time when he'd woken up from a nightmare after spending the night out together. That had been a week before Andy had died.

The ambulance took longer than it usually would to arrive because of the snow storm, Severide knew from Shay that the fire department were also having communication issues because of the weather. He let out a breath of relief when there was a loud knock at the door and voices calling into the house.

"Come in!" Severide yelled back downstairs, not wanting to leave Casey's side. He was still shaking and trembling.

"Lieutenant Severide?" one of the paramedics questioned when they stepped into the bedroom.

"He's burning up," Severide said straight away, moving out the way so they could see the gaunt form on the bed. They didn't even recognise Casey right away.

He was in and out of consciousness as the paramedics got to work.

"He's in between chemo treatments. Leukaemia," Severide told them as Casey was lifted onto the gurney, he was attached to a heart monitor now and one of the paramedics was already setting up some fluids, using his central line. "He's not been feverish for long, he was actually feeling fairly decent today, no other symptoms," he added as he watched an oxygen mask being slipped onto Casey's face.

The journey to the hospital took some time, but Casey was already getting the vital fluids he needed, the main reason Severide decided to call for an ambulance rather than take him to the hospital in the car in the current weather. They made the journey as comfortable as possible for Casey.

When they arrived at the ER Severide stayed by Casey's side as he lay on the gurney. They took a few vials of Casey's blood and did a portable x-ray of his chest. He was still barely lucid, but he did attempt to reach out for Severide's hand. He took it and held it gently, lacing his own fingers with Casey's, watching him for any sign of change and keeping an eye on the monitoring equipment that measured his vital signs.

"Kel…" Casey murmured through the oxygen mask that still covered his ashen pain-filled face. He was clearly struggling and didn't really know where he was.

Severide would be lying if he said it didn't make his heart swell when Casey said his name like that. "We're in the ER, Matt. You have a high fever," he told Casey.

"No…"

"They're gonna make you feel better soon, all right," he assured Casey, stroking his arm comfortingly where the plaster cast ended.

Casey just shook his head. "Infection?"

"Your chest x-ray was clear, they're waiting for your blood test results, and cultures," he explained clearly. "They say they'll have to admit you whatever the results, because you're febrile."

Casey's test results came back shortly and the ER doctor spoke to them. "Hi, Matt, nice to see you awake. How are you feeling?"

"Tired… headache…" Casey muttered in response, quickly losing his ability to remain focussed on anything that was happening around him, or what anyone was saying. It was all blurring into one hazy sea of discomfort.

The doctor nodded. "I'll get you some painkillers, what usually…"

"Tylenol," Severide supplied, wishing Casey had told him that he was in pain earlier.

"Infection?" Casey asked the doctor wearily, hardly able to keep his eyes open, already forgetting what Severide had told only a short while ago.

"Your blood count is very low, and..." the doctor began.

"No… want to go home…" he moaned, realising that he wouldn't be leaving with a low blood count.

"I'm sorry, Matt, you do need to be admitted. There's a room in oncology and the ER is just gonna get busier with this weather, they'll do all the admit paper up there. An orderly will be by to take him up as soon as one's free," the ER doctor told them.

Casey just groaned as Severide thanked the doctor. Severide took his hand once the doctor left. "You're gonna be all right, baby, they're gonna take real good care of you. I'm staying put too. I know this is the last place you want to be right now, and I can't comprehend what it's like to be feeling like you do, but we'll make the best it, ok?"

"Shh…"

"Headache? The meds will kick in soon."

Casey groaned. "No. Quit… worrying…"

"I'm not…"

"Talk a lot… when… when you're worried," Casey explained almost breathlessly. "I'm not worried… you're here… all gonna be fine…"

Severide watched, a grim smile on his face, as Casey's eyes finally slipped closed and he was aware of very little until he was being rolled into the elevator. The bright lights on the ceiling hurt his eyes when he opened them, but he could see Severide beside him as the gurney's brakes were snapped on. He was smiling down, his face floating somewhere above Casey, surrounded by the bright lights. He felt the motion of the elevator as it started its journey upwards, then it stopped quite quickly and suddenly, the bright lights flickered out, plunging them into blackness for a few seconds until the elevator was bathed with green light.

"S'all right the generator will kick in and we'll get moving again," the orderly told them, although Casey was barely aware, and Severide knew that would be the case though, they'd dealt with incidents like this since they were candidates.

The elevator cart didn't start to move again though. The monitor on the side of the gurney let out a noise, bringing Severide's attention right back to Casey. He was almost hyperventilating underneath the oxygen mask.

"Hey, Matt, it's fine, the elevators just stopped 'cause of the power, it's not gonna plummet to the ground or anything, you know that. It's fine."

But Severide's words didn't do anything to reassure Casey in his feverish state.

"Matt, talk to me, tell me what happens when an elevator loses power, talk me through it…"

Severide took Casey's hand. He didn't care what the other man in the elevator thought. He took Casey's hand and he squeezed it comfortingly as he bent over Casey.

"Look at me," he instructed, his face now obscuring Casey's view of the elevator.

It took a moment but Casey soon focused on Severide's eyes. Those perfect green eyes, he stared into them for some time as his breathing calmed down. "Where?" he asked, heart no longer racing because Severide was safe.

Severide smiled down at him. "Believe it or not we're stuck in an elevator, the power went out."

"Snow storm…" Casey commented, his voice still muffled behind the oxygen mask. He could remember feeling cold, and the smell of the snow, and the worry on Severide's face back at his house. He couldn't remember what had happened though and now that a moment had passed, he didn't know what was happening right now.

"We'll be rescued soon, and we'll never live it down," Severide responded, looking down at Casey's quizzical expression.

"What? No… we need to get everyone out…"

"Matt? It's just the three of us," Severide spoke as Casey muttered away on the gurney.

"Herrmann…"

"Matt, look at me. You have a fever. We're the ones who are trapped," he told Casey firmly, taking his hand.

"He hit his head…"

"Matt, that was almost three years ago," Severide stated, unable to hide the concern from his tone, although the orderly with them didn't seem phased.

"Yeah, yeah… sorry… why are we here?"

"Just rest, all right, you need your energy," Severide told him. He loosened his death grip on Casey's hand, taking a few breaths, trying to relax himself, hoping that would help Casey too. "Everything's fine."

Chapter Text

Casey suddenly jerked awake as he heard a clatter and a bang, followed by what sounded like the squeal of hydraulics somewhere close by. Disorientation flooded over him and he struggled to open his eyes, he tried to reach up to pull off the obstruction from his face.

"It's all right, Matt," a familiar voice reassured him before his vision started to focus.

He rolled his head in the general direction of the voice and tried to say something, but it came out as nothing more than a unintelligible whine.

"Stay still, we'll be out of here soon," the voice spoke again.

Casey could feel a hand on his shoulder. His vision finally focused, although everything he could see, which wasn't much, was shrouded in a green hue. The name of the man whose familiar voice had been reassuring him finally came to Casey's lips. "Kel…"

"Everything's fine," Severide told him, readjusting the oxygen mask that Casey had tried to remove.

Trusting him, Casey let his eyes slip close again. He was safe with Severide watching over.

Another clatter and bang woke him. He was still in the small green room. Was it a room? It seemed too small. And too loud. He didn't know how much time had passed, and didn't realise he'd been in and out of consciousness for the past hour.

"All right, Matt, you're getting out of here first." It was Severide, his eyes flickered up at him, he was nodding reassuringly. "Just relax, you don't need to anything."

"Kel…"

"S'all right, everything's fine. I've got you."


Severide thanked the firefighters once he was out of the elevator, a doctor had come up from the ER to check on Casey, and then they were on their way to the oncology ward. Severide's chest was still tight with worry as he walked alongside Casey's gurney.

"This one isn't going to break too, right?" he quipped as they got into another elevator.

"The power's switched over now," the porter said as he put the brakes on the gurney.

"Yeah, I'm actually a firefighter too," he said.

"That'll explain why you weren't worried then," the man replied.

"Not about being stuck in an elevator, no," Severide responded, glancing down at Casey.

He finally relaxed a little and sat down by Casey's side once they were up on the oncology ward. For a short while after they'd arrived, Casey had fought with unconsciousness but was defeated, he'd been confused and delirious again. It was a struggle to see him so out of it, not because of medication, but because he was so sick.

As Casey lay still in the hospital bed, connected to more monitors and equipment than before, Severide couldn't help but think back to what Casey had told him all those weeks ago. That he was sick because he was gay. He knew that logically Casey understood that wasn't the case, but logic doesn't always stop thoughts like that appearing, and Severide hated to think that part of Casey believed it. Believed it because of the attitudes of people he'd grown up around, and the opinions of other people, who in Severide's mind were a minority, but a loud minority. He was actually quite impressed at how well-adjusted Casey was, or perhaps that was because he'd always done a pretty fine job a putting on a good face, something that, if Severide really thought about, meant Casey wasn't quite so well-adjusted. But if Severide thought about it all too much he'd want to down a nice stiff drink because people can be the absolute worse, despite how limited everyone's time on this earth actually was.

"People are assholes…" Severide muttered to Casey. Earning a look from the nurse who was checking the monitors, Severide had been so deep in thought he hadn't noticed the man enter.

He realised he was going to need to go home soon but the thought of leaving Casey alone like this was not pleasant, and he at least wanted Casey to wake up lucid for a short while before visiting hours ended. He wanted to tell him that he'd be right back by his side in the morning, but Casey never woke.


Severide went home to his own apartment where Shay was waiting up for him. He'd given her the bad news about Casey and told her there was little point in coming over to the hospital. He dumped his things down by the door and headed straight into Shay's room. She pulled the covers up, an invitation for him to get in, and he flopped down beside her, letting her wrap her arms around him. He couldn't face going back to Casey's house right now, he needed Shay's comfort and wise words. He also knew he'd need to clean up Casey's room properly if he went back to his place, and he couldn't deal with that yet.

"Do they know anything more since you phoned me earlier?" she asked him.

"No, and they'll call me if there's any changes before the morning," he answered, feeling utterly exhausted now he was lying down and the stress was ebbing away from his body.

"Have you told the others?"

"No, I'll put something on Facebook in the morning, or call Boden or something…" He let out a sigh. "Feel like I could sleep for a week, also don't want to…"

"Nothing you can do at the moment, and it won't do Matt any good if you get sick too, right?"

"Me getting sick is very different to Matt getting sick…"

"I know you wouldn't want him to worry about you, and that's what'll happen if you don't rest," she said knowingly.

"No choice but to rest, can't see him until nine," Severide said, sighing as he leant his head back onto the pillows.

"That's not very far away now."

"What's the time?"

"Almost 4am," she told him.

"I woke you?"

"I couldn't sleep, but we should sleep now, we can go to the hospital together in the morning, I'll drive. I'll have had a little more rest than you," Shay said.

"What would I do without you?" he asked, settling down underneath the bed covers.

"You'd be a walking disaster," she teased. "Now, get some rest. You have a rare opportunity to share a bed with me, not many guys have ever had that."


Casey was barely conscious for three days, but each time he woke, lucid or not, Severide would greet him with the widest smile he could muster. He stayed with Casey for as long as he was allowed. He had been back to the house and he'd given Casey's bedroom a thorough clean too, breaking down whilst he had, unable to get the image of Casey's frail body from his mind. Shay and the Chaplain had dropped by the hospital too, to check up on Severide as well as Casey. Others had sent meaningful messages for Severide to relay to Casey, knowing he wouldn't want visitors while he was in such a vulnerable state.

Slowly Casey became aware of his partially blocked nose, and a familiar unpleasant smell. Sterile. Antiseptic. He shifted in the bed and became aware of another, more familiar smell, this time one he liked, and he knew right away that Severide was with him. His mouth and lips were dry, and his throat was sore, but he forced his sleepy eyes open. It took a while but eventually he was able to take in his surroundings. Definitely a hospital room.

"Hey, baby," Severide greeted him. He was kitted out in infection control gear, which Casey would have understood meant he had a really low blood count, but his brain skimmed past that information, too tired.

Casey then realised that his hand was being held gently. He smiled. "Barely recognised you in all that get up," he spoke wearily, voice only a whisper but Severide was leaning in, listening carefully.

"Yeah, height of fashion," Severide quipped.

His lips turned up into a small smile again. "Could have gone for a better colour."

"You don't like yellow?"

"You look good in green," he told Severide, sniffling.

"I'll make a note. How are you feeling?" Severide asked as he grabbed a tissue from the side, gently wiping beneath Casey's nose.

"Like my head is as heavy as a house or something really heavy…"

"Pain?"

"Tired…" he responded. "Why am I here?"

"Erm, looks like you got a cold," Severide explained.

He frowned, even though it felt like it took all his energy to do so. "A cold? I'm in the hospital?"

"Yeah, baby," Severide answered.

Casey let his eyes close. "Immune system's shot," he murmured.

"Yeah…" Severide responded sadly, glancing away for a moment.

"M'ok," Casey slurred, even with his eyes closed he could sense how Severide was feeling.

"You are." He nodded. "Should get some more rest though, if I'm not here when you wake later; I'll be back in the morning," he explained, giving Casey's hand a gentle squeeze.

"Thanks, Kel…" Casey muttered, already on his way back to sleep.


It wasn't until another two days later that Casey really started to improve. He wasn't waking for long but he was conscious much more often, and he was much more interactive despite how full of cold he felt. Severide now knew the inner working of the ward, personal lives and all. He'd inadvertently discovered who was sleeping with who, and that one of the nurse's sons had been accepted into Harvard, and how the janitor on the ward had once saved a patient's life.

"Thirsty…" Casey muttered wearily, head moving to where he knew Severide was sitting, keeping his eyes closed.

"Here, suck on this," Severide instructed, cup of water in his hand.

A huge grin erupted across Casey's face, eyes still closed.

"You have a dirty mind, Matthew Casey," Severide told him, as he positioned the straw between Casey's dry lips.

Casey just opened his eyes and looked at him as he sipped on the straw, the water soothing his throat temporarily.

"Better?" Severide asked once Casey moved his head away.

"Mmm… thanks," he responded, eyes closing again but only for a short while.

"Do you want me to call for the doctor? He can talk to you about…"

"I trust you with it all… do you mind?" Casey asked him, eyes rolling towards him.

"Don't mind at all," he answered, giving his arm a comforting squeeze.

"Kel… how sick do I like right now?" Casey gave him a small smile, more from his eyes than his chapped lips.

He smiled back. "You're a picture of radiant health."

It made Casey let out a short burst of airy laughter.

"Hey… have you drawn on my cast?" he asked after a few moments.

"I was wondering when you'd notice," Severide responded, grinning.

"Wanted to keep it white…" he muttered wearily.

"I know you did, but I've been pretty bored waiting around here," Severide teased.

"Then find some paper," he grumbled. He was smiling as he spoke though.

"How are you doing?" Severide asked him, noticing how worn he'd become after such a short period awake.

"Can't breathe through my nose, not very fun," he answered.

"Sick at all?"

"Just tired, not too bad… I could go home, feel all right…"

"You still have a fever," Severide responded.

"But I just have a cold? When can I leave?" Casey continued.

"Matt, look, I know you don't wanna be stuck in here, but you'd only be lying in bed if you were at home," Severide tried, desperately wanting Casey to feel at least a little bit better, but he knew the prospect of being here wasn't one either of them relished.

"My own bed," Casey pointed out.

"True, but here smart people can keep an eye on you," he said, offering him a smile. He couldn't offer him much more right now.

"You're smart," Casey retorted, his lips curling up a fraction.

"I'm not a doctor," he commented.

"You don't want me to go home?" Casey asked him, struggling to keep his eyes open but not wanting to lose the precious moments of consciousness that he got at the moment.

"No," Severide answered honestly, shaking his head. "You're better here right now."

"Ok," he accepted, and to Severide it almost sounded like he'd just given up.

"You will get out of here eventually though," Severide added.

"Sure…"

"You will," Severide reiterated.

"Long road," he responded simply.

All Severide could do was take his hand and give it a comforting squeeze. It was a long road, the longest. Severide was tired of it all, he missed normalcy, but he couldn't leave Casey now and he didn't want to. He was struggling to see past all the cancer and chemotherapy though, but for Casey's sake he needed to, and he needed to be positive for when Casey wasn't. He had to keep everything together, he didn't want to risk their relationship or Casey's mental health.


Shay came by the next day, wanting to check on Severide as much as Casey. She found them talking together, she was glad to see Casey awake, but she didn't miss how he was sitting on the bed, propped up with pillows, too tired to lift his own head up. She scanned the room, checking the monitors, and seeing the large amounts of used tissue in the bin, along with empty coffee cups. The infection control measures had been reduced, a good sign of Casey's recovery.

"Nice to see a fresh face," Casey greeted her wearily, offering her a smile.

"Hey…" Severide protested mockingly.

Casey just smiled at him before his eyes followed Shay as she took a seat. "How are you?" he asked her.

"How am I?" she responded; her eyebrows raised. "Kelly has been eating all my yoghurts, that sums up my morning," she said, deciding not to mention the fact that Casey was the one who was in the hospital and she should be enquiring about how he was doing.

"No breakfast, huh?" he replied, voice getting quieter as he grew more tired. "Well, I can offer you whatever it is they pump down this tube…"

"Hmm… as tempting as that is, don't think I'll take you up on it."

"Talking about food… I'm just gonna go to the vending machine," Severide spoke up.

"Get something proper to eat," Casey responded, looking at him.

"I'll go and grab a fresh sandwich then," he replied. "Won't be too long, Matt," he told Casey as he stood up.

Shay studied Casey's face as he left the room. His smile fell, his eyes grew tired and his features grew even wearier than when Shay had first set eyes on him today.

Once the door closed, Shay spoke up. "You can't stop him worrying."

"Huh?"

"You seem to be putting on a bit of an act for him," she told him.

"He's been so worried, and I am getting better," Casey said, almost insistently.

"He'll always worry, and you'll worry about him."

"I just don't want him to sit around here all the time, still sleeping most the time anyway, he needs to do stuff, even if I can't right now," he explained, growing more tired with each word.

"Well, when he gets back, I'm gonna head home. Want me to take him with me?"

"Don't want to upset him," he responded.

"You both need some proper rest," she replied. It was also exactly what she told Severide when she suggested he came back to the apartment with her, he agreed eventually, and Casey was left alone, already dozing.


Casey couldn't remember much between Severide and Shay leaving to waking up the next day, finding Severide by his side. He was freshly shaved, and it even looked like he'd gone and had his hair cut, he was dressed for comfort; khaki t-shirt under his burgundy sweater with loose fitting jeans. He smiled, pleased to have company, especially Severide's, even if he did worry about him spending too much time in the hospital. He supposed Severide wouldn't do it if he didn't want to though. His smile grew with those thoughts; Severide wanted to spend time with him.

"Hey, how you feeling?" Severide asked him, taking hold of his hand.

He nodded a little in response, throat still sore.

"You're doing really well according to the doctor, he came by earlier. Did you want to speak to him?"

He shook his head a fraction, focusing on Severide, not thinking about what he was saying. "You look better," he told Severide. He was glad he'd gone home and spent some time looking after himself.

"You look a little better too," Severide responded.

"Tired… need to get up later apparently," he replied.

"That's a good thing," Severide said.

"Not convinced my legs will work… would be nice to get rid of that tube down there though," he groaned.

"You'll be up and about in no time," Severide told him.

"Until something like this happens again…"

"Might be smooth sailing from here."

"Still have more chemo, not gonna be smooth sailing… you're attitude's making up for mine though, I like it," he said, smiling up at Severide.

Severide watched as a frown then crossed his face. "All right?"

Casey groaned, bringing a hand to the nasal cannula. "This is annoying."

He took Casey's hand and gently moved it back down to his side. Then a tear fell from Casey's eye, he looked away from Severide.

"This isn't forever, Matt."

"What if it is?" he asked. "I'm tired now."

Severide wiped away the tear from Casey's cheek. "One day you'll look back at all of this… and you'll say, why the hell didn't I make out with Kelly Severide on a Ferris wheel sooner?" he teased.

Casey let out a short burst of laughter at that. "That already feels like a lifetime ago."

"Well, I'm totally up for Ferris wheel session as soon as you're out of here," Severide told him.

"Me too," he responded, voice quiet and tired but he was still smiling. "Wonder what my chances of getting out of here before chemo are?"

"I'm just hoping there's no delay with the chemo, get it over and done with for good," Severide said.

"Yeah," he responded, nodding a little, eyes closed now.

Severide didn't say anything more, letting Casey drift off to sleep, undisturbed for a few hours.

It wasn't long until he saw Casey jerk awake from over the newspaper he was reading. He dropped it and was immediately by the bedside. "Hey, hey…" he began soothingly.

Casey's eyes darted towards him. Wide and alarmed.

"You're in the hospital, Matt. I'm here, and you're ok, everything's fine." He gave Casey reassurance, even if he wasn't sure why he'd woken up the way he had, but it did seem to soothe him.

"Thought I was trapped somewhere…" Casey muttered, shaking his head.

"You're fine, not trapped anywhere," Severide said.

"Except this bed," he responded, much more aware now.

"Yeah, except this bed," Severide sympathised.

"Not forever."

"Not forever," he repeated. "Hey, we should go fishing or hiking or something."

"I like both those ideas," Severide responded, smiling at the idea.

"Hmm… maybe fishing, let's go fishing," he voiced his thoughts.

"Out on a boat or my dads' cabin?"

"Mosquitoes…" Casey moaned.

"It's not that bad," he responded, chuckling at Casey's reaction.

"Me and… me and Andy were eaten alive."

"It really wasn't that bad," he insisted.

Casey let his eyes close, they'd been threatening to do so for some time now. "Uh huh… whatever you say, Kelly…" he just murmured, asleep only a moment later.

Chapter Text

Casey was awake and talking to Severide when the doctor came in on Friday morning. He was looking better, although the dark rings around his eyes had hardly improved, and his cough still remained, his demeaner was brighter though, and his vital signs were much improved.

"Bearer of bad news," Casey said as the man approached.

"How about neutral news," the doctor countered, taking a seat at the other side of the bed so he was level with the two of them.

"It's bad," Casey insisted, looking at him.

"We're not going to be discharging you, Matt," the man announced.

"See, what did I say? Bad news," he responded, glancing at Severide.

"It's safest to keep you admitted, ready for the final round of chemo," the doctor said. "Few days ago, I wasn't sure we'd even be thinking about chemo anytime soon. We'll do bloods after the weekend and get you started on the final round. If you're up for it today, you can leave this room again, but you need to stay on this ward, we'll reassess this every day as usual."

"That's not much of a consolation," Casey commented

"I know, I've also instructed the nurses to increase the amount of enteral nutrition again," he responded.

"They tell you I ate two melon fingers earlier?" Casey asked him, naked brows raised.

"They did," he said with a nod.

Casey shook his head. "Doesn't cut it?"

"Not yet, it's better than the day before though," the doctor replied.

"Small achievements," he responded, a small smile on his lips that didn't travel to his eyes.

"You're doing well, Matt."

Casey just nodded a little in response.

"All right, I'll leave you guys to it. Any questions, or want me later; just shout," the doctor said as he stood back up.

Casey smiled at Severide when the door shut behind the doctor. "Leave us to it," he repeated. "Suppose we are very busy sitting here doing nothing."

Severide chuckled softly. "Well, if you're up to a short stroll to the end of the ward, we can do some eavesdropping at the nurses station, grab something from the vending machine?"

"Maybe later?" he suggested.

"All right, is there anything you want to do? You've got some new messages on your phone we could look at."

"I'm too tired… could put a movie on if you want? Or you could go to the gym or home or something, think I've forgotten what normal people do, forgotten what I used to do… didn't do much I guess, work, more work… how sad is that?"

"Well, what would you want to do? Travel or something?" Severide asked him.

He shrugged. "I like working, never done or thought about anything else though."

"Do you want to see the world?"

"My world's big enough… do you want to see the world?" he added, looking at Severide.

"I'm happy enough with my dads cabin," Severide responded.

Casey smiled. "We're not very ambitious, are we?"

"Apparently not," he said, chuckling.

"You know, I never thought I'd get where I am… an officer, my own business, my own house, hell, for years I didn't think I'd ever get a car either. I'm pretty lucky, really," Casey explained.

"I don't think luck has anything to do with it," Severide replied. "You've worked hard every single day of your life."

"Just did what I had to do, and I'll do that again, to get back to everything I was doing before all of this," he said, looking at Severide. "I will, right?"

"You will."

"Now I am more than tired," he finished, letting out a breath and closing his eyes. "Think I'll sleep now."

Severide took his hand and held it until the moment his breathing softened. He then readjusted the bed covers, tucking Casey in, before sitting back in his chair and opening up a magazine, happy to remain by Casey's side for the rest of the day.


Boden stopped by the hospital the next day. Everyone had been informed that Casey had caught an infection and was back in the hospital, but only Shay had visited so far because of the risk of further infection, and knowing Casey wouldn't want to be seen by everyone at his weakest.

The firehouse chief knocked at the hospital room door, Severide opened it before sitting back down by Casey's side. He was awake, greeting Boden with a smile.

Casey didn't notice the look on Boden's face, but Severide did. It was hard for their chief to see Casey like this, Severide understood that, it must have been quite a shocking sight, he was actually thankful Casey was in the hospital right now, it would have been worse for Boden to see him outside in this condition. Severide saw Casey every day, and had for some time, the sight of him without his hospital gown on wasn't upsetting but nothing shocked him anymore.

"I've bought you a couple of reports from 81," Boden told Casey.

"Thought I wasn't allowed?" he asked.

Boden smiled at him. "Who do you think gave Mills that large stack a while back?"

"So he didn't sneak them out then?"

"I know everything that goes on inside my firehouse," Boden responded, giving his two lieutenants a quick glance each.

"Thanks," he said as Boden placed the files down on the side. "Not sure I'm up for much reading, or anything at the moment," he admitted.

"You rest up then, especially for Monday," Boden said.

"I will," Casey responded with a nod.

It was at that point one of the nurses bustled into the room with a container for the feeding pump that was nearby to Casey's bed. She offered them all a smile as she proceeded over to Casey.

"We'll step outside, Matt, I could do with another coffee," Severide said, making an excuse to give him some privacy.

Boden cleared his throat as they left the room together. "How is he? Really?"

"He's improved a lot in the last few days… even if he doesn't look so great right now," he added.

"He looks…"

"I know," he responded, nodding.

"I thought I was prepared," Boden continued.

"Matt didn't notice, so I wouldn't worry about it," he told his chief.

"They think he'll start chemo again on Monday?" Boden asked.

Severide nodded. "That's the plan, five more days of it, then, well, I wanna say it'll all be over, but not so sure it's that easy."

"We'll all be there for him, whatever he needs, and I imagine you won't be coming back to work right away either…"

"I am sorry about…"

"Don't be, it's nice to see you two together."

"Together?" Severide repeated.

"… again after Darden," Boden finished, smiling.

"Yeah. Bet the drugs wear off and he's feeling better, he'll push me and everyone away though," Severide said.

"I don't think you'll let that happen," he replied.

Severide let out a short sigh, glancing at the door as the nurse walked out. "It's gonna be nice to get back to normal."

"That won't happen right away, Kelly," Boden responded.

"No," he agreed. "I just want him to… I want him to feel better, that's all I want right now, he won't tell any of you guys but this has been so hard on him, he'll get back to work, and he'll blow it off like it was nothing…"

"It'll be a while before he's back at work," Boden said.

Severide looked at him again. "He's lost a lot of weight again, makes him look even sicker than he is right now, he's recovered really well from this infection," he said, nodding. "And he'll recover from the next round of chemo, he'll get his strength back, and he'll be back at work in no time. You know how stubborn he is."

"You sound like you're trying to convince yourself," Boden pointed out.

"I have to be… we all have to be positive for Matt," he responded. "I'm gonna get back to him, spend some more time with him whilst he's awake."

Boden nodded. "Keep me updated."


It was the day before Casey was due blood tests to see if he could receive his final round of treatment. He was propped up in the bed, too tired to even lift his head up after the short walk up and down the corridor assisted by one of the nurses, and he'd not slept well overnight. Now, he kept thinking he'd never start on the final round of chemotherapy, he didn't think they would say he was strong enough to cope with it all. He didn't think he was strong enough to cope with it all.

Severide was with him now, they'd fallen into silence after their usual greetings. Part of Casey wanted to try and keep Severide entertained whilst he was here, but understood that he wasn't here to be entertained.

"Are we moving rooms tomorrow?" he asked Severide.

"Oh, I don't know, I'll find out, imagine you will be if chemo is going ahead… are you all right? You seem a bit… off," Severide responded. Casey had been much quieter than usual, and there was a look in his eyes, he was uncomfortable but it wasn't from pain. Severide could tell that much.

"I'm sick," he responded, shrugging.

"You sleep ok last night?"

"Fine," Casey said.

He looked at Casey disbelievingly. "Uh huh…"

Casey made the effort to move his arm. He placed his hand on Severide's, and he just took some breaths and Severide smiled kindly.

"It's silly," Casey began after a short while.

"Don't care how silly it is," he responded.

He shook his head.

"Talk to me, tell me," Severide tried.

"I… I needed help last night," he said slowly.

"That's fine, nothing wrong with…"

"I know, and I asked for help but it's like… like I was just…"

"Matt?" he urged.

"I'm probably being stupid but it just felt like I was an inconvenience to the nurse," Casey explained quickly, feeling embarrassed about even mentioning it now.

"Which nurse?"

"Dunno, not sure I've seen her before," Casey answered.

"Right," Severide said, standing up.

"Kelly, don't make a big deal about it, it was probably just me, I'm making it sound like it was something it wasn't…"

"I'm not gonna make a big deal about it, but I'm gonna make sure it doesn't happen again," he told Casey.

"Kelly, don't, don't get her in trouble or something, she was probably having a bad night or something…"

Reluctantly Severide sat back down, only to please Casey. Once Casey was asleep, he would go and sort the situation out, he'd make sure that nurse didn't take care of Casey again. He knew it was tough enough on Casey to ask for help, he didn't want him to be put off asking again.


Late in the afternoon, Casey was lying on his side with the bed covers pulled up to his chin. He was awake, and the lights were on because the stormy grey clouds outside hid the winter sun away. Severide had set up his phone so they could listen to their local radio station, it was preferable to silence for Casey, he couldn't concentrate for too long on much else.

"How's my little burrito doing?" Severide asked the mound of bed covers after glancing at the weather through the window.

"Heating up nicely," Casey responded after a few moments.

"Not too warm?"

Casey simply responded by shaking his head on the pillow.

"Good. I'm gonna grab something to eat now, gonna hit the gym on the way home," he explained as he stood up. "I won't be too long, want anything?"

"Could I have some toast?"

"Yeah, of course, butter?" Severide responded, not hiding his surprise at Casey's request, having only really asked him out of courtesy.

"Nutella," he responded.

Severide smiled. "Feeling good?"

"Good enough for real food," he said.

"Not sure Nutella on toast counts," Severide replied with a frown.

"Definitely does."

"Can't stand the stuff," Severide added.

"You don't like nuts… the food kind anyway…"

"Still got your humour then," Severide said, chuckling as he rolled his eyes.

Casey rolled his head to look up at him. "Huh?"

"You're like a prepubescent boy with your dick jokes," he responded.

"You love it…" Casey's grin broke into a laugh.

"Don't say it," he warned, smiling.

"... My dick and my nuts."

"That's it. You're getting a dick joke jar," Severide told him.

"Am I now?"

"You could pay for half your treatment with it," Severide replied.

"All of it… Kelly, kiss me," he said.

Severide looked at him for a moment.

"I feel good, kiss me," Casey repeated.

He pulled the surgical mask down. He leant down and put one hand behind Casey's neck, feeling his warm skin under the covers. "Won't be kissing you when you have Nutella breath," he said before pressing his lips onto Casey's as they both chuckled.

When Severide stood back up, he responded. "You kissed me after I threw up. Vomit is better than Nutella?"

"Vomit is better than Nutella when I want… when I need to make you feel better and your mouth is too sore, even for mouthwash," Severide explained.

"I'll make any of this up to you, I'll never be able to give back anything you've given me," he responded.

"You do every day, Matt. I love you."


Monday morning began by being woken by a nurse, blood was taken and breakfast was offered. Casey declined, he just wanted to go back to sleep. He'd spent the night tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. Casey's oncologist arrived with the results not long after Severide had turned up, who woke Casey up.

"One day I'll stop getting woken up when I want to sleep," Casey muttered as he wiped a hand over his eyes, an attempt to wake himself up further. "Results?" he asked tiredly.

"We'll start you on an infusion in a few hours, an orderly is going to come along soon and take you over to the haematology ward," the doctor explained.

"View's better over there, bigger windows, why is that?" he questioned.

The doctor gave a one shoulder shrug. "If you find out, let me know, Matt. I'll see you both later," he said before leaving them alone again.

"I'll pop home and get you some things once the chemo's running, yeah?" Severide said as the door shut.

"Yes, please."

"Wanna do a list for me?" Severide said, phone in his hand, ready to take down Casey's requests.

"Sorry, what?"

"What do you want from home?" Severide asked again, knowing Casey's mind was already anticipating the chemotherapy.

"My own bed covers and some clothes," he responded, pushing the sheets down and sitting up, using the bed controls to help.

"That's it?"

"I think so… you're an expert at all this now anyway, although I wish you weren't," Casey replied, sat up straight with the help of the bed now.

"Five days, Matt," he reminded him.

"Five days," Casey repeated, nodding. "Sorry I've been so…"

"So what?" Severide asked him when he trailed off, clear he wasn't going to continue.

"Was gonna say weak recently, but you'd tell me I wasn't, it's how I feel though, you can tell me I'm not, won't help," he said.

"I'm sorry," Severide responded, feeling helpless.

He shook his head. "You're here, you're amazing. Going through all this with me, not sure I could do it."

"You wouldn't be sitting here if I was in that bed right now?"

"Not a fan of vomit," Casey pointed out.

"It wouldn't stop you," he said, smiling.

"I'm not the good person you think I am… can we just watch some TV?"

"Sure, Matt," he responded, getting up and switching it on.

Casey eye's followed him, and fixed on him when he sat back down. "You're tired?" he half-questioned.

Severide nodded, there was little point in hiding the fact from Casey.

"Join me on the bed?"

"This afternoon I will," he responded. "If I get too cosy now, I'll never leave."

"I can wait for things, can't wait for you," Casey said.

Severide just nodded and stood up from his seat. He sat on the edge of the bed and Casey leaned into him, he wrapped an arm around Casey's smaller frame, and using his other hand, he rubbed Casey's arm comfortingly. The orderly found them like that and Casey felt the loss of Severide's contact as he moved away so he could help Casey onto unsteady legs and into the wheelchair. Severide remained with him until after the final round of treatment began. 

Chapter Text

Casey had been receiving chemotherapy for three days now. The usual side effects were in full swing, and as usual, had worsened with each round of treatment. He was on a cocktail of medication to help counter the effects, but they were making him spend the majority of his time either sleeping or almost entirely unfocused.

Severide stepped into the hospital room carrying a fresh cup of coffee, he saw the rumpled bed covers, and the bathroom door was ajar. He put the cup down and headed over to the bathroom.

"Matty?" he spoke, holding the handle. "All right in there?" he continued when Casey gave him no response.

He pushed the door further open and peered in, he could see Casey now. He'd dozed off, leaning to the right, still sitting on the toilet seat, propped up by the tiled wall. He spoke again as he knelt down in front of Casey, wanting to stir him without shocking him. When words didn't work, he placed his hand gently on Casey's cheek.

Casey's eyes flashed open.

"S'all right, you're in the bathroom," he reassured him.

Casey frowned. "Huh?"

"Fell asleep on the toilet," Severide explained.

"That's a first… I think…" he responded, voice croaking.

"I think it is a first too," Severide said, smiling up at him softly. He moved his hand down from Casey's cheek to his bare knee. "Back into bed?"

"Hmm… sorry…"

Severide smiled up at him again. "We're gonna do this together, all right? You can put your weight on me if you need to," he explained, before standing up, helping Casey up at the same time. Once Casey was stable, one hand holding the metal bar on the wall, the other gripping Severide's arm weakly, Severide bent down and pulled up the boxers and pants that were lying around Casey's ankles. He grabbed the infusion pump and wrapped his free arm around Casey's waist, and helped him over to the bed.

Back in bed, Casey looked over blearily to Severide who was sitting down by his side. "When d'you get here?" he asked, smiling as best as he could, given his tiredness.

"I nipped out to get a coffee, wasn't gone for long," Severide explained.

"Oh," he responded, rolling his head back to look up at the ceiling.

Severide picked up his coffee, which had now cooled sufficiently enough to take a few long sips.

"Why do I have three eyes…"

"Sorry, what, Matt?"

"Got three eyes… when'd that happen?" Casey responded.

Severide didn't say anything for a moment, trying to think why Casey had become so confused. "Are you dizzy?"

"Huh?"

"What day is it, Matt?" Severide asked him.

"Tuesday," he answered after a while.

"It's Wednesday, Matt." Severide glanced at his watch to see if a nurse would be in soon. Casey was checked on every two hours, and it would be another hour before someone came in again, so Severide hit the call button.

He was pleased to see that Catalina had started her shift, he greeted her with a grim smile as she entered the room.

"Everything all right?" she asked them.

"He's confused… a different confused to normal," Severide explained, standing back so Catalina could check him over.

After a worried few minutes while Catalina went through a few small tests on Casey, Severide watched as she stepped back, smiling and placing a gentle hand on Casey's shoulder. Casey seemed oblivious to Severide, and to Catalina's presence and the checks she had just performed.

She turned to Severide. "He's dehydrated, we'll get him started on some fluids. He'll be fine, and it's been caught pretty early thanks to you."

Once Casey was set up with some IV fluids, and Catalina had left, Severide sat down by his side. He smiled as Casey's eyes flickered open. "Hey," he greeted.

"Hey…" Casey repeated.

"How many eyes do you have?" he asked.

Casey's brows knitted together. "What kinda question is that?" he slurred.

"Not a good a question?" Severide responded.

Casey was frowning still. "Weird…"

"Nothing bad about weird. Got an answer?"

"Answer?"

"How many eyes do you have?"

"Two…" he responded, uncertainty and confusion in his tone. "You're being weird," he added, turning over in the bed and closing his eyes.


Severide was smiling as he watched Shay talk to Casey, he was grinning and laughing with her, and it warmed Severide's heart. It had been a tough few days. His last chemotherapy infusion would finish before midday tomorrow though, it had been a rough round with dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and even bone pain and bleeding gums. Casey was tired and weak from it all, physically and emotionally. Severide had lost track of the number of transfusions Casey had been given. His mouth was sore again, making the small appetite he had vanish because of the pain his lips and mouth felt when he did try to eat. His bright eyes had dulled but were still a stark contrast to the rest of his face, skin sickly pale and dry, some bruising on his neck and chest could be seen and Severide knew the hospital gown and sweatpants hid more. His head was currently bare, his skin had become itchy as it was dry, and Shay had helped him to moisturise, they'd not replaced his cotton beanie afterwards. The hospital band on his wrist hung on loosely, along with the bright yellow fall risk band. Catalina had kindly recovered his cast, hiding Severide's lewd doodling's.

Shay stopped talking, noticing Casey grimace. Severide swooped over with an emesis basin in his hand with practiced ease, but Casey shook his head. Severide shared a worried glanced with Shay.

After a few moments of silence, Casey forced a smile. "M'ok. Carry on," he told Shay just as a thin trail of blood trickled out of his nose. He felt it and moved his hand up to his face, bringing it away and seeing blood on the tips of two fingers. And then a tear fell from his eye. He looked over to the window, away from Shay and Severide.

"It's all right, Matt," Shay tried to reassure him as Severide gently wiped away the blood. There was only a small amount so far and he held the tissue under his nose to absorb the light flow.

"It's not," Casey responded as a nurse came into the room.

"It's not a massive one but his nose is bleeding," Severide told the man.

It didn't take too long for Casey's nosebleed to stop, but when it finally let up, he was already close to sleep so Shay and Severide dimmed the lights and stepped outside of the room.

"He's so tired of all of this, chemo will stop tomorrow but he's not gonna suddenly feel better," Severide said as he sat down on the couch in the empty common room.

"But he'll feel better eventually," Shay answered softly, one hand stroking his arm.

"I hope so," he responded.

"Won't be quick or easy, but this will all be in the past soon."


When Casey woke, Catalina was in the room with him. He'd woken slowly, sensing movement around him, and he'd opened his eyes to find his nurse smiling down at him. "Didn't wake you, did I?" she asked him quietly.

He shook his head.

"How are you feeling?"

He nodded.

"Non-verbal responses tonight, hey?" Catalina chuckled.

"Tired, the usual," he spoke. "Last night though," he added with a smile.

"Last night," she repeated.

"Well, hopefully," he continued. "About three weeks until the biopsy?" he asked her.

"Yeah, it'll be just over three weeks, you'll have that cast off before then too," Catalina told him.

"Closer I get to the end of this, the less sure I am about being able to go back to work," he admitted quietly.

"It's good to think about the future, things to look forward to doing, but you also can't think too much about it because it can be hard to see past how you feel right now, you think you think you might feel like this for a long time," she responded, taking a seat in Severide's usual spot.

Casey nodded.

"To me, there's nothing to indicate you won't be able to go back to work, if that's what you want to do," she said, giving him some reassurance.

"I'd wanted to work during all of this… I was an idiot," he responded, chuckling lightly.

"No, you weren't."

"Things won't go back to normal as soon as I'm discharged, will they?"

"No," she answered honestly.

"I'll be worried about the final test results," he said.

"And every check-up and test result after," she added.

He nodded. "New normal."

"Yeah," she confirmed.

"Does everyone always worry?"

"Ones I've met, yeah," she told him.

"I almost feel bad for making it this far, when other people…" he trailed off and forced a smile. "Kelly's going to be so happy when I'm out of here, everyone will be."

"It's all right to be a little scared about it all," she responded.

Casey looked her in the eyes. "But I should be happy too, and I am, but that's not the only feeling I have, didn't think I'd be scared," he admitted.

"All normal," she confirmed.

"Sorry," he responded, letting out a short huff of nervous laughter.

She shook her head. "Talking about how you're feeling is really good, Matt, not something that needs an apology."

He nodded.

"When you do get out of here, promise me something; you won't bottle everything up inside?"

He smiled. "That's kinda how I operate."

Chapter Text

Severide was with Casey when the final infusion finished, the pump let out a noise, telling them it was all over. Casey had been dozing, partially upright on the bed, but he opened his eyes as he heard the noise. He licked his dry lips, Severide must have noticed because his hand was suddenly in front of him, holding a well-used lip balm. Casey smiled to thank him.

"Maybe we should have done some sort of count down, feels like a none-event," Casey said as he hit the call button so someone could come and detach him from the pump for the final time.

"I could go out and get a party-popper or something if you want?" Severide asked him, grinning at the idea.

"How about some beer?" he asked, before using the lip balm.

"Now I know you're not serious," Severide responded.

"I'd be out like a light if I had some, like that idea, could mix it with some Ativan and IV Benadryl. That would be one hell of a combo," he commented. 

"Well, I don't think Catalina would approve…"

"What wouldn't I approve of?" she said, entering the room.

"You don't wanna know," Casey said as she bustled over.

It didn't take too long to disconnect the line from the infusion pump. "There we go then, Matt. You wanna tick off day five?" she asked him, glancing back to the large white board where day five had been highlighted with exclamation marks."

"You can have the honours, I'm too cosy right now," he told her.

"I'll do it," Severide said as he stood up.

"When will the central line come out?" he asked Catalina.

"Before your discharged, so your blood tests will be taken from a vein in in your arm or hand before your bone biopsy," she told him.

"Think we should skip the biopsy," he muttered, watching Severide sit back down by his side.

"Ask for some Valium, it'll help," she responded, smiling kindly.

"Can I have Valium the night before too?" he said, chuckling to offset his worry.

"You could try and do something tiring or distracting late on in the day before, that might help you sleep, going to the movies in the evening might be distracting," Catalina suggested.

"When can I drink again?"

"Well, I wouldn't suggest drinking the night before blood tests and a biopsy," she told him.

"Spoilt sports, both of you," he responded, looking at them.


When Severide turned up the next day he entered Casey's hospital room with a six pack of non-alcoholic beer, although he realised right away that Casey wouldn't be up for drinking it. He was lying on his side, hood pulled over his head, his cast-free arm wrapped around his abdomen, and he was a few shades paler than when he'd left him yesterday.

"Hey, baby," Severide spoke softly as he went over to his side. He pulled the chair over without taking his eyes off Casey. He sat down and began to stroke Casey's cheek gently.

"Morning…" Casey croaked.

"Rough night, yeah?"

"Mmm…"

Severide put the back of his hand against Casey's forehead. "Bit of a temperature?"

Casey nodded a little in response, not wanting to move much.

"Close your eyes," Severide instructed, now stroking his arm. "It was snowing again when I woke this morning, big thick flakes, like the snowflakes you imagine when you're a kid…"

"I can smell it," he muttered sleepily.

"Not made you feel cold too, have I?"

"Nah… I'm toastie… toasted… I don't get it…" he murmured, frowning.

"Don't get what?" Severide asked him.

"Toast isn't even that warm? Not unless it's just popped out the toaster… it cools down real quick…"

Severide smiled at him.

"Don't laugh at me," Casey said, an adorably disgruntled look on his face.

"I'm not."

"You're laughing inside your head," Casey responded, eyes open now.

"Am I?"

"Mmm… what did you bring?" he asked, seeing something on the table.

"Beer," Severide told him.

"Beer? You banned me," he said, rolling his head in Severide's direction.

Severide chuckled. "Banned you? Not sure I did."

"You said no beer," he responded.

"Well, this is non-alcoholic beer," Severide explained.

"Oh… is it the same?"

"I don't know, never had any before," he answered.

"Huh… what's the point if it doesn't make you all like… nice and stuff?" Casey asked him, slurring his words a little.

"Not sure it matters at the moment, think you're a little sleep-drunk right now anyway," he responded.

"What the hell's sleep-drunk?" Casey chuckled.

"Kinda like you're out of it because of meds but looking at your board, doesn't look like you've been given much today," he told him.

"Nope, last night, not today, not yet anyway."

"You seem a bit brighter already," Severide said, happy he seemed to be helping Casey.

"You're a good medicine then… still feel sick though…" he groaned.

"I'm here all day to distract you," Severide reassured him.

"Not hard with those eyes of yours… and your ass," he said.

"You can't see my ass," Severide replied.

"The image is ingrained in my head," he responded.

"That's… creepy," Severide said, grinning.

Casey smiled back at him. "Creepy, huh?"

"Nice to know I'm appreciated too, well, my ass," he added.

"It's a good ass," Casey responded. "Can we go outside?"

"Not today, sorry, Matt," he said.

"Oh… maybe later then."

"Maybe tomorrow," Severide corrected.

"Yeah, maybe tomorrow." He nodded a little in response.

"Can go for a short leg stretch now if you want?" Severide suggested.

He shook his head. "Just wanted air, want to breathe."

"You'll get air," Severide said calmly, sensing Casey's emotions building up.

"Be stuck here forever," he muttered.

"Matt, take a breath…"

"I'm fine," Casey snapped. "Not having a panic attack or something, I just wanted to go outside."

Severide didn't respond.

"Sorry…" Casey muttered.

Severide just shook his head, Casey didn't need to apologise, this wasn't his fault. "I'm thinking," he said slowly after a few moments.

It brought a grin back to Casey's face. "Don't strain yourself too hard."

Severide just cocked his head playfully at him. "Pass me your phone."

He reached over to the side and disconnected his cell phone from the charging cable. "What are you doing?" he asked as he handed it to Severide.

"I have an idea," he said as he looked through Casey's phone. After a short while, he smiled. "All right, get cosy again."

Soon Casey was lying flat on the bed, his headphones on, listening to bird and wind sounds on his phone, and Severide was sitting back in his chair, smiling and being able to help Casey, even if it would only be for a short while.


One week later and Casey was still in the hospital, although his blood count seemed to be getting better each day. With the hospital stay before his chemotherapy round, it seemed like he had been here forever, he had been able to get some fresh air a couple of days ago though. It had made the world of difference to his mood that afternoon, and if he lay back now he could still smell the cold air and feel the winter breeze on his skin.

Shay was with him now, Severide was at the gym, and then he'd be running a few errands. Grocery shopping, clothes washing, apartment cleaning, all the things he seemed to be neglecting at the moment as he wanted to spend his time with Casey.

"You really don't need to babysit me," Casey said.

"I'm not babysitting you," she retorted.

"Uh huh… Kelly told you he was going to be busy, so he asked you to come by?"

"Well, yeah, but, I'm not babysitting you… you've got nurses for that," she added teasingly.

"You're halting any party plans, right? Don't wanna get discharged and head straight into a surprise party, as much as I know their efforts are well meant, I really don't want that…"

"All talks of discharge parties have been shushed," she assured him.

"Thank you," he said appreciatively. "Looking forward to seeing everyone though, and might feel better about some sort of gathering after the final test results. Or maybe no one will want…"

"Everyone wants to see you, and they'll love a party if the results are good," she said.

"If," he repeated. "I still feel pretty crappy… I'm probably still sick…"

"You're recovering from the chemo still, Matt," she responded.

"I'm probably still sick, I mean, at least I know what will happen after if I am," Casey said, letting his eyes close for a short moment.

"I'd say try not to worry but, you're gonna worry," she replied with a sad look in her eyes.

"I just want to stop thinking about it, only time that happens is when I feel really shit, not been long since my fever finally broke, not wishing for another… but it did stop me thinking too much…" he sighed, tapping his fingers on the mattress. "Pretty bad, isn't it? Sure I've begged and screamed for the drugs that knock me out."

"None of this was easy, and there's gonna be hard moments in the future too," Shay told him, trying to reassure him.

"I want everyone to forget, I want to forget, I don't want to be talking about it anymore…"

"Otis and Cruz are at each other's throats right now, it's getting ridiculous, at first they just weren't talking to each other, but now they're sending death glares and starting arguments over absolutely nothing," she began.

He was frowning now, at the sudden change of conversation and the topic. "What?"

"I don't know what's caused it all," Shay went on.

"You don't know? If you don't know then no one will… and no one will be able to fix it." He smiled.

"Exactly… it's been going on for weeks," she informed him.

"Over a girl?" he presumed.

"That was my first assumption, but I'm not convinced because they normally tell us about their dating lives."

"Work related?" he suggested.

"Another assumption of mine, but Boden has kept himself out of it, and no transfer requests have been put in," she responded.

"They better not whilst I'm not there," he grumbled.

"There's a betting pool, most think it's over a girl, gonna join?"

Casey was silent for a few moments, thinking. "Put me down for something to do with Otis' grandma."

She smiled widely at his response.

"What is it?"

"That's exactly what Kelly's gone for too," she told him.

"Kelly knows? He needed a distraction too?" he asked.

"Yup," Shay said with a nod.

"Well, it's worked, I'm also exhausted again, just used up all my brain power and energy," he said.

Shay smiled. "You don't need any brain power right now, so I wouldn't worry."

"Want brain power… and energy," he muttered.

"It'll come back," she assured him. "Although, Kelly may beat you at chess for a short while longer."

He smiled broadly at that.


Casey thanked Catalina as she removed the empty bag of from the IV stand, he'd been given another transfusion, it was taking a while for him to recover from the chemotherapy but they were now hopeful he'd be fit enough to be discharged to continue recovering at home soon. Severide was currently dozing on the chair by the window, the one Casey had been occupying for a short while during the night, unable to get comfortable on the bed. Casey gazed at him until Catalina's face popped into his line of sight.

"Huh?" he said, aware that she must have said something he'd missed.

"Just going to clean your central line," she informed him.

"I can do it…"

"I know you can, but let me," Catalina said.

"I'm struggling to concentrate?"

"Yeah," she responded with a kind smile.

"That's not gonna be permanent, right?" he asked.

"You just need time," she replied.

He was frowning now, trying to think. "You were talking to me?"

"Nothing important," she answered.

"But worth saying?"

"You were asking me about my plans for my day off," she explained.

"Sorry, I don't remember," he responded.

She was still smiling kindly at him, and suddenly he was opening his eyes and discovering Severide sitting by his bed. He stopped himself from asking what day it was, settling for asking the time instead, his eyes not fully adjusted to the light in the room to focus on the clock.

"Good sleep?" Severide asked him.

He nodded, still not fully awake yet, although he never seemed to be fully alert and awake at the moment.

"Catalina told me it shouldn't be long now until you're outta here," Severide spoke. "And you've got a couple of appointments tomorrow morning, physio and nutritionist, they should be useful, right?"

"Can you, maybe, be here with me?" Casey asked tentatively, vaguely recalling being told about the appointments by his doctor now that Severide had reminded him.

"Sure I can," Severide said.

"Thanks…" he muttered, turning onto his side. "Gonna get some more sleep… sorry…"

"No worries, I'll watch a bit of TV," Severide told him, smiling softly, trying not to convey his worry at how tired Casey had been recently.

Casey woke again a few hours later, he listened to the TV for a short while before opening his eyes. "Hey…" he began, smiling across at Severide.

"Hey, hope you don't mind, thought I'd catch up with Hawaii Five-0," Severide told him.

"I'm caught up… but I think I'll need to watch them again," he responded.

"Dinner?" Severide suggested hopefully, glancing at the tray of food.

"Dinner?" Casey repeated, not able to see what he was looking at.

"It was dropped off twenty minutes ago," he explained.

"Oh…"

"I didn't wanna wake you but it should still be pretty warm," Severide responded, lifting up the cover from the plate of food. "Looks like boiled potatoes and sausages."

"Oh…"

"I can go to the cafeteria if you want? Or across the street to the store…"

"Nah, I'll have this, need to prove they can remove this tube," Casey responded, pushing himself up onto his elbows.

Severide leaned over and adjusted the bed as Casey moved, smiling as he did. He then moved the swing table over Casey's lap and revealed the dinner the orderly had dropped off a short time ago.

"You know, I think I'm actually looking forward to fresh vegetables again, not sure mom… not sure mom would believe that," he said, hesitating, realising he'd not spoke about his mom since her funeral.

"You didn't like vegetables as a kid?" Severide questioned.

"Apparently I was a really fussy eater, that and her being in labour with me for so long, was always brought up," he said, rolling his eyes at the memory.

Severide smiled, recalling his own childhood. "I used to mush the vegetables under the table, tried to get them to stick… like gum."

"I can't believe that worked?"

"It didn't, I'd just end up with mushed up veg on my lap," Severide told him.

He chuckled. "You idiot."

"I was four," Severide pointed out.

"But how old were you when you finally stopped?" Casey asked him, giggling.

Casey's laughter was infectious, he chuckled as he responded. "Pretty sure I didn't do it for very long."

"I'm gonna ask your dad… or was he not around?"

"He was in my early years," Severide answered. "You gonna eat that sausage or just stare at it… don't say it," he added warningly.

Casey just grinned and picked up the cooling sausage with one hand, not bothering with the utensils. It still took him a while to finish his dinner, but he did manage to eat all the food eventually, and it exhausted him.

"I'll head home for the night, look like you should sleep well again," Severide, clearing away the swing table.

He nodded a little in acknowledgment. "You'll be here in the morning, right?"

"Of course," Severide answered.

"Nutritionist and physio are coming at some point after rounds, I think that's what he said… be really helpful if you were around, just in case my head, well, decides not to function properly," Casey said, smiling softly.

Severide leant down and gave him a kiss through the surgical mask. "I'll be here."

"Thank you, sorry…"

"See you in the morning," Severide said, giving his hand a quick squeeze as he stood up.

"Night."

Chapter Text

After receiving good news from his doctor, his blood count was on the rise and he expected to be able to discharge him soon, Casey found himself waiting for Severide, the physiotherapist and the nutritionist. When it got to 10am, he started to worry that something had happened to Severide. He called him and sent him a message, and kept glancing anxiously at the clock on the wall as he scrunched up the bed covers in his hand over and over again. He wanted to call him again, but didn't want to appear too desperate. 

His meetings with the physiotherapist and nutritionist went by in a blur. Worse still, Severide had still not arrived. Tired and vulnerable, he cried. He tried to hold it together but his lip trembled and soft sobs began to escape his mouth, and the tears started to fall.

An apologetic voice caught his attention and his eyes widened at being discovered. "Oh, I'm sorry, Matt," Catalina began, still by the door. "I can come back."

Casey shook his head and used the back of his sleeve to wipe his eyes. "It's fine. I'm fine."

She gave him a smile and came over, performing her usual checks. "I'll be cleaning your central line when I come in later," she informed him, breaking the silence. 

"Ok," he responded.

She could see he was barely keeping himself together. "Did it go all right this morning?"

He nodded. "Sorry…" he muttered, looking away as tears threatened to fall again. "Kelly was supposed to be here, I'm pretty sure I asked him and he said he would be, and I can hardly remember anything everyone was talking about this morning. And I've called him, and messaged, what if something's happened? Or what if he doesn't…" He sobbed. "What's wrong with me? Why am I being like this? I'm sorry… I'm sorry…"

"Just try and take a breath, Matt. It's been a challenging morning," Catalina responded calmly.

"Sorry…"

"Shh, it's all right, just take some deep breaths," she spoke.

After taking one final long breath in, Casey shook his head. "I'm fine, sorry."

She smiled. "Now, about this morning, everything's gonna be written up, nutritionist will be making a food plan for you ready for when you're discharged, the notes from the physio will all be going on your online chart as well, so if you did want to look back at it all then you can, or if you had any questions then I can get her to come back another day…"

"I don't have any questions," he responded.

"No worries about starting to do more again?"

"No," he said, shaking his head a little.

"So, nothing to worry about with either of those things. Now Kelly, you said you called him?"

"Yeah, but it doesn't matter…"

"It does matter, if it didn't then you wouldn't be upset. Have you called Shay? They live together, right?" she asked him.

"Yeah, and no, I haven't," he answered.

"Well, if you're worried about him then calling her would be my next suggestion," she said.

"No, it's fine, I'll just wait, I don't want to bother her," he responded, letting out a small breath.

"Choice is yours but I don't think you'd be bothering her," Catalina replied, smiling.

"I'll just wait for him to turn up," he said, nodding.

"Ok, and remember, you need to go for a short walk, expect to see you walking past the nurses station today," she reminded him.

"You will, and I still think I should get gold stars for being a good patient," he teased.

"Kids wards only I'm afraid," she responded, smiling, pleased that Casey seemed a little brighter.


When Severide arrived at the hospital later that day, he looked hungover, but Casey kept quiet as he pulled the chair over to the bed and sat down. Casey just gazed at him for a short while, although his heart was pounding in his chest. "Are you all right?"

"Fine," Severide responded gruffly. "Shouldn't I be the one asking that?"

"Sorry," he muttered. "So, erm… what did you get up to last night?"

"Ended up meeting the guys at Molly's, then me and everyone on Squad went over to Buzzards… sorry I wasn't here this morning, could barely open my eyes…"

"It's fine… you had a good night?"

Severide didn't answer. "Oh God… I was supposed to be here, you had appointments, Matt, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I…"

"It's fine, it's all right," Casey responded gently, seeing how distressed Severide was with himself.

"It's not fine, it's not… God, I'm a fucking idiot… Matt, I am so sorry, it was nothing you did, I just got carried away last night, again nothing to do with you, I am so sorry."

Casey was smiling at him, Severide didn't notice right away.

"You're not mad at me?" Severide asked, noticing Casey's expression. 

"How can I be?"

"I said I'd be here," Severide responded.

"I'm not eight… you thought I'd yell at you? Be angry?"

"Yeah…"

"Sorry… maybe in the past I would have… I was worried when you didn't turn up, and yeah, it crossed my mind that I was, dunno… asking for too much… but you've come this far… I mean, I look like crap right now, you're obviously not sticking around for my looks, or even my stimulating conversations, or even…" He chuckled but didn't finish his sentence. "I trust you, you won't hurt me."

"Never intentionally," Severide responded.

"Sorry I made you feel like you had to apologise so much…"

Severide just shook his head, smiling and effectively calling an end to the matter. "How did it go this morning?"

"Don't really know," he answered honestly. "Guess it was all right."

"Cast off tomorrow at least," Severide beamed. "I'll be here for that, really this time."

"Barely noticed it, would have been a major inconvenience if I didn't have cancer, although might not have happened if I didn't, not that my mom wouldn't have… erm… but I'd probably have been stronger, my bones, not my head…"

"I like this," Severide told him as he trailed off.

Casey frowned "Talking?"

"Real talk," he reiterated.

"I have nothing left, and I don't want to hide stuff from you… tell me if I get too much?"

"You'll never be too much," Severide responded. "Really, Matt, never."

He smiled. "What do you want to do when I get out of here?"

"Huh?"

"Confusing concept? Everyone keeps talking about me, focusing on me, but when I'm discharged, what do you want to do?" Casey asked him.

"Lay in bed together, without worrying I'm gonna fall off the edge," he said, smiling at the idea.

"You could just put the guard rails up…"

"We'd be squished in there like sardines." He chuckled.

"What else?" Casey asked him.

"Walk together, and run together, just normal things but, together, grocery shopping, cooking… showering," he added, smiling.

"Bathing," Casey commented with a wry smile.

"I'd like to celebrate the end of all this too, after your results we should do something, Molly's or something," he suggested.

"It would have to be Molly's, don't want to upset Herrmann," Casey said.

"Yeah, good point."

"Only eleven days until the biopsy," Casey pointed out.

"You're right," Severide almost sounded surprised.

"You seemed shocked?"

"No, you just, seem to be getting better," Severide replied.

He smiled at Severide, his eye's bright. "Being able to count down until the biopsy?"

"Yeah," Severide responded truthy.

"Today's date and the biopsy date are on the board," he explained. "Although I did know it was Thursday today without putting too much thought into it, although like I said, no idea what anyone was going on about this morning… think I'm better when I've been awake awhile, shame I still wanna sleep twenty hours a day," he said, chuckling softly. He fell silent and thoughtful. "I couldn't do this again, feeling like this, and not knowing, and having everything paused."

"What are you saying? If the biopsy comes back and you've still got cancer… you'll not do this again?"

"I don't know, I just wanna go home now," Casey responded, sighing heavily, mood fallen. 

"I bet this time next week we'll be sat on your couch, you can rest and relax, and you can breathe, I can't imagine being stuck in here for the amount of time you've been, know it won't be doing your head any good, you're not a sitting around sort of guy," he said, trying to reassure him.

"You're not either… I can come to the boat yard with you? Keep you company," Casey suggested.

"Company? I'll be handing you tools," Severide told him. "Work is starting to pick up now we're getting to March."

"I don't know anything about boats," he responded.

"You know about carpentry," Severide retorted. "You're good with wood…"

"I'm not saying it," he replied, grinning.

"But you thought it," Severide said, smiling back at him.


The next day Casey finally had the cast removed from his wrist. Severide was with him, he'd made sure he was with Casey several hours before he was even due to have the cast cut off. He was still so worried about breaking Casey's trust. It was a rare thing for him to let it known that he needed someone, and he'd trust Severide to be that person. Casey had said nothing more about the previous morning, and perhaps he really wasn't bothered that Severide hadn't made it, maybe Severide was overthinking it all. He hoped he was.

"That doesn't look like my wrist anymore," Casey said as the cast was cut off and taken away.

"There's that scar you got from camping at the cabin with Andy and me," Severide told him, looking down at the small mark on the side of his wrist joint.

"Don't remind me, that was a terrible weekend…" he groaned at the memory, watching as the equipment was cleared up. He thanked the nurse and watched him leave the room

"Wanna go for a stroll around the corridors?" Severide asked Casey after a short while.

Casey stopped flexing his newly freed wrist. "Probably should," he responded quietly, he had no desire to walk around or do anything much at all. 

"Almost a hundred percent chance you'll be out of here on Monday morning," Severide said, trying to improve his mood. It worked.

Casey smiled at the thought. "Can't wait… will you… do you want to stay with me for the night?"

"I have another two weeks off work, can I stay that long?" Severide asked tentatively.

Casey produced an even broader smile. "Yes."

"Yes?"

"I'd love you too," he exclaimed.

"You're gonna forget you agreed to it," Severide teased.

"I won't," he assured him.

"You almost poured Gatorade on your cereal this morning," Severide retorted.

"Maybe that was my intention," Casey huffed.

"Uh huh…" he responded doubtfully. His expression betraying his worry.

"Kelly, you're not still thinking about yesterday, are you?"

"I let you down… again," Severide said.

"I'm just glad you weren't dead in a ditch," Casey responded. "Really, it's no big deal," he added as sincerely as possible.

"I'll be here tomorrow, and for your biopsy soon… and every one of them, all your appointments, and blood tests and… just everything," Severide insisted.

"I know, but let's not talk about biopsies and stuff yet," he responded, wincing at the thought.

"No biopsy talk, ok. How about an update on the whole Cruz and Otis situation," Severide suggested.

"Crotis," he corrected.

Severide frowned. "What?"

"Crotis, put their names together and that's what you get," he explained.

"Right… well, we're not doing that…" Severide responded, letting out a huff of laughter.

Casey smiled back at him. He reached down to the end of his bed, but stopped, he looked at Severide again. "Can you pull that blanket up, please…" He could have done it on his own but he wanted Severide to feel useful, as well as let him know he wasn't mad at him.

"Sure, baby," he responded, grabbing it and pulling it up over Casey as he settled himself back into the bed. Severide tucked it around him, making sure he was comfy and snuggled underneath.

"Go on then, give me some real life updates…"


Monday morning came around, Casey was woken up by Catalina and she took some blood from his central line, he fell back to sleep right after, but when he woke a short while later he managed to eat all his breakfast, even though his mouth was sore, and was then given the news that he would be discharged later on. He couldn't quite believe it at first but then he was flooded with relief, especially when he shared the news with Severide as he arrived.

Casey had also received further good news, as well as the central line, the nasogastric tube would also be removed. It had been worth making himself eat the food they offered him after all. Severide packed up most of Casey's things throughout the morning, and at midday Catalina came in to remove the NG tube and central line. The NG tube removal wasn't pleasant but it went smoothly. Severide held his hand throughout.

The central line had been in for so long that Casey hadn't actually thought about it's removal, but now he realised that of course it was going to have to come out, he grew nervous as Catalina started to prepare. The seal was removed, a process that had been done before when it needed changing, Catalina always made sure it came off smoothly, not all the nurses were so good.

"Be over really quick, Matt," Catalina assured him. "Take a breath and close your eyes."

Catalina was right, and after a few pulls and tugs, she removed the central line painlessly and quickly.

Casey was relieved. "Finally, thank you."

"Not gonna miss it? It's been in your body for months," Severide spoke up, looking at the length of tubing that had been inside Casey. He watches as Catalina then placed a dressing over the small wound where the central line had been.

Casey shook his head distinctly. "Never again."

"Just imagine how many time's you would have been poked with a needle without it though," Catalina said and she disposed of the equipment in the yellow hazardous waste container.

"Mmm true…" he conceded.

"What are you gonna do when you get home?" Catalina asked him.

"Sleep in my own bed, nothing too ambitious," he answered.

"The couch is all set up," Severide spoke up.

"Or just sleep on my own couch if I don't make it upstairs," he said, smiling.

"Matt, do you want to do those… things… now?" Severide asked him cryptically.

"Things?" he repeated, frowning. "Oh… yes, please, thank you."

Severide stood up from his seat and opened up one of the drawers that Casey had been keeping some clothes in. He pulled out a carrier bag and passed it to Casey.

"Presents," Casey announced, looking at Catalina. "I can't take much of the credit, but I wanted to get you something, and there's some chocolates for everyone else as well to share."

"You didn't have to, Matt," Catalina said, smiling as she carefully took out the contents from the bag.

"I did… and like I said, not much effort on my part. Kelly got it all for me," he explained.

Inside the card she opened up was a multi-store gift card, and underneath the layers of tissue paper were some scented candles, and a box of bath bombs and soap from Lush.

"Thank you, Matt," she said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I love this stuff," she continued, picking up one of the candles and taking a sniff.

"I'm glad, you've been really helpful with all this, least I could to do to say thanks," Casey responded.

"So, the doctor will be in soon," Catalina went on to explain. "He'll get you discharged, and I'm sure you've noticed it on your travels but you can ring the end of treatment bell, and then head on home."

"Do I have to ring the bell?"

"I think you should, Matt," Severide told him.

He smiled. "All right, sure, I'll ring it… I'm going home."

"You sure are," Catalina responded, smiling happily.

"So, all this isn't just in my head?"

"You're definitely not dreaming, baby," Severide told him.

"Good."

Chapter Text

Severide trailed behind Casey, carrying a couple of bags, as they walked up the few steps to the small porch. "I'll never get tired of being home," Casey announced as he walked through his front door.

"Rest and relaxation now," Severide told him following him inside.

"No being woken up at ungodly hours and having my name and patient number checked… no more weighing, no more blood draws," Casey listed, smiling as he took in the familiar scent of his own home.

He headed into the lounge as Severide put his bags down.

"Settle down, get cosy," Severide said as he watched make himself comfortable on the couch. "I'll grab us some drinks."

When he returned with two glasses in his hands, he chuckled softly at the sight that greeted him. Casey was asleep on the couch, breathing gently and looking content. Severide put their drinks down on the coffee table to free his hands, he grabbed one of the throws from the side and covered Casey, tucking the chunky knitted wool around him so he'd stay warm.

"Kel…" Casey croaked several hours later, opening his eyes. "Why'd you put me in some sort of straitjacket?" he muttered, looking down at himself when he couldn't move his arms.

"Oh, here, sorry…" Severide said, scooting over and untucking the throw from around Casey.

"Fell asleep then?" he responded; voice hoarse.

"Yeah, and you looked way too cosy to wake," Severide said.

"Is it late?" Casey asked him.

He shook his head. "Coming up to six. Up for some dinner?"

"Think I'll go to bed," Casey responded, sitting up straighter on the couch, ready to stand.

Severide smiled at him. "Ok, sure."

"Sorry…"

He shook his head again. "It's been a long day, a tiring day. I'll shower then join you?"

"Yeah?" A smile grew across Casey's face.

"Definitely."


Casey spent his days sleeping. He slept even more in the first few days he was home than he did during his recent days in the hospital. His bed seemed even comfier than before, and even the sound of the traffic, and occasional noise from the neighbours on the street didn't disturb him. Severide was staying with him, and he made sure Casey ate and showered regularly, knowing it would help his recovery.

The closer they got to the date of the bone biopsy though, the worse Casey's quality of sleep became. He started having nightmares, Severide didn't notice right away, but three days before Casey was due back at the hospital he was woken abruptly by Casey's pained gasps. It took him a moment to realise what was going on, and even longer to help Casey calm down.

"It hurts…" Casey muttered, face scrunched up and fresh tears on his cheeks.

"What hurts, Matt?"

"My side… it's hurts…" he groaned in response, still trapped in his own nightmare.

"Matt, look at me, we're at home, what's happened? Did you fall? Talk to me…"

Casey finally opened his eyes. "No… what? Fall? What? Where… we're at home?"

"Yeah, we're at home," Severide confirmed.

"I thought… oh God, I'm sorry… I woke you…" he groaned again, taking in Severide's concerned but tired expression.

"You were having a nightmare?"

Casey shook his head. "I'm fine, sorry…"

Both of them were sitting up in the bed down, and the lamp on Severide's side was switched on, illuminating the room in a low glow. He placed his hand on Casey's pyjama clad arm. "How long's this been going on?"

Casey just shrugged.

"What are they about?" Severide continued, although he had a fairly good idea of the cause of Casey's bad dreams. "Hey… talk to me…"

"It's silly, really," he said.

"I like to think I can be pretty open minded," Severide responded.

"Open minded?"

"Often quick to judge, but I'm open minded," Severide said. "We all have bad traits."

"It really is silly, it's that damn biopsy, don't even know why I'm so worried, it's not the results, I don't think… it's just… well, the biopsy… every time I close my eyes…" He shook his head.

"Maybe it's a little of both, the procedure isn't nice, and you're bound to be worried about the results," Severide responded.

"Eugh…" he groaned, running his hands over his face. "I just don't want to think about any of it, I want it out of my head."

"C'mere," Severide said softly, opening his arms up, letting Casey sink into his hold. He rested his chin on Casey's bald head, and he let out a long relaxed breath.

"Sorry," he muttered, but Severide chose not to respond. He could tell Casey not to apologise, but he knew he would again in the future for things that he did not need to apologise for.

"How about a shower now? Get you all warmed up, clean and fresh," Severide suggested.

Casey didn't respond, he'd not showered for about thirty-six hours now, not wanting to make the effort despite Severide's attempts. Getting undressed and standing up hadn't felt at all appealing.

"I think you'll feel better for it," Severide continued.

Severide led Casey slowly into the ensuite bathroom, he sat down on the closed toilet seat, it would be easier for Casey to stand as little as possible. He switched the shower on, wanting the temperature to be perfect for when Casey was ready to step inside. Casey's eyes were closed when he turned his attention back to him. Severide gently cupped his jaw with his hand, Casey opened his eyes and just smiled tiredly at him.

"Let's get you out of these clothes…" Severide said, already starting to unbutton the front of Casey's pyjama shirt. He'd joked about the pyjamas Shay had bought him but he had to admit they did keep him warm, even if they looked like 'old man PJs,' which had been the exact term he'd used when he first saw them.

Casey stood up but kept his arms around Severide as he was helped out of his pants and underwear. Severide smiled at him. "Joining me?" Casey asked.

"Fearing that you'll pass out and crack your skull open; yes."

"That's the only reason?" Casey raised his bare brows.

"I'd never miss an opportunity spend some time with that fine body of yours…"

Casey snickered.

"You're already looking better," Severide told him sincerely.

"All lies… hey, least I'm saving on shampoo costs at the moment," he pointed out.

"Yeah? Did shampoo make a huge dent in your wallet?" he teased.

"Bet you use more hair products than I do," Casey responded.

"I have to work at my hair, all you have to do is wash that blond mop and you look like an Australian model… minus the tan," he said.

"Ha… Australian model… when did you last get your eye sight tested?" Casey asked as Severide turned the shower on. "I never got around to redoing this room," he commented, looking at the shower curtain.

"What are your plans for it?"

"Big standing shower tray, all kinda open, one of those big showerheads, tiled all over, white and grey, two sinks, two mirrors, freestanding ones…"

"Storage?" Severide questioned him.

"Small unit connecting the toilet, hiding the cistern and blending in nicely with the cupboard for first aid and spare shower gels and stuff," he explained.

"It sounds nice," Severide responded, nodding.

"Yeah, it did, probably too expensive now," he said with a quick eye roll.

"Well, I'm sure you'll make it happen one day."

"Hmm…"

"Now, get in that shower whilst I get undressed," Severide ordered, grinning at Casey's expression. 

Admittedly, Casey did enjoy the shower once he was under the warm stream of water, especially when Severide joined him. They washed each other gently, sensually, it was calming, they explored each other's bodies under the heat of the water, and it wasn't the only heat Severide felt. But Casey had grown tired quickly, leaning much more heavily on Severide as the minutes passed, so they called it a day, turning off the jet of water and stepping out of the shower.

The room had steamed up, and heated up, but Severide still covered Casey in the large fluffy bath towel after they'd dried each other off. He sat down on the closed toilet seat as Severide fetched clean pyjamas for them both. Once dressed, Severide turned to him. "Let's get some mouthwash into you."

"I wanna brush my teeth again…"

"I know, baby, let me have a look, but I think it'll hurt too much… use the mouthwash, then use some of that Orasep," Severide responded, arm outstretched with the mouthwash in his hand.

"Finished it," he said, shaking his head as he looked at the bottle.

"Oh… you should have told me, I'd have got some today… I'll go to the all hour pharmacy now…"

"No, don't," Casey said as Severide stood up, reaching out to stop him but his arm fell short.

"You're mouth's almost cleared up, this stuff helps you feel better," he responded.

"It's… I don't even know what time it is… I'll come with you if you have to go," Casey replied. "I'll stay in the car so I can stay in my pyjamas," he added, smiling. 

"I wasn't gonna change," Severide said, looking down at his navy pyjama pants.

"You were gonna put a shirt on though, right? It's freezing outside," he responded.

"It's almost spring," Severide stated.

Casey looked at him incredulously. "It's February."

"Technically it's March, it's gone Midnight," he pointed out.

"Oh… well, it's still not spring." Casey shrugged.

"I'll get changed, as long as you put another layer on and grab your coat," he bribed.

"Your car has heating," Casey said.

"What if we break down?"

"You don't carry spare blankets and stuff around?" Casey asked him.

"No… you do?" he responded.

"Yes, always be prepared," Casey answered.

"Didn't I have to come and jump start your truck a while back?" Severide countered.

"Ok, so I hadn't charged my power station, but I'd been planning to," he retorted.

Severide grinned. "Or maybe it was all a ploy for you to get me to rescue you."

"I don't need rescuing," he replied.

"You sure don't," Severide said, smiling at him as he bent down and kissed his forehead.


Before they stepped out of the front door, Casey bundled up in as many layers as Severide could persuade him to wear, he turned to him. "You sure you want to come with?" he asked Casey.

"I'm sure," Casey responded, nodding. "Besides, not left the house since I got back."

He dozed off in the car, as Severide made the fifteen-minute journey to the twenty-four seven pharmacy. He pulled up outside, and deciding it was best that Casey was awake, so that he didn't wake up alone, Severide gently touched his arm. "Baby…"

"Mmm…" Casey's head turned towards him.

"Ah, so you are awake then," Severide said, his tone one of mock surprise.

"Mostly," he mumbled.

"We're here, I'll pop inside, you sit tight," Severide responded.

"Uh huh…" he replied sleepily.

Severide wasn't inside the pharmacy for long, and they were soon driving back home. Casey was sitting up straight now though, putting the gel inside his mouth, he was grateful of all the efforts Severide went through to make sure he was feeling comfortable.

"Hey… stop at MacDonald's," Casey suggested as he saw the luminous yellow 'M' in the distance.

"You just wanna avoid sleeping when we get back," Severide said, glancing across at him.

"Can't have nightmares if you don't sleep," Casey responded succinctly, rolling his head to the left to look at Severide. The street lights illuminated his face, and Casey could see his five o'clock shadow.

"Do you really want MacDonald's?"

"Wouldn't say no," he responded. Having spent a lot of his time sleeping, although Severide did make sure he did eat, he'd not had anything for more than twelve hours, and his appetite was increasing now he was recovering.

Severide smiled, still focusing on the road ahead. "Drive-thru or eat in?"

"Drive-thru? Eat at home?" he responded as Severide signalled to turn into the fast food restaurant.

"Thanks," Casey said as they drove onto the lot.

"Don't think I could ever say no to you," he replied.

"Hmm… you better hope I don't start taking advantage of that…"


Severide stepped into the house carrying two paper bags, full of their MacDonald's food order, they had probably ordered more than they would eat, especially since Severide was sure Casey would drift off once he got himself comfortable on the couch, even if he didn't want to sleep. 

Half-asleep, Casey took fingerfuls of French fries from the box Severide had placed on his lap.

"Good?" Severide asked him between mouthfuls of his own food.

"Mmm…" he responded, mouth full.

"You know, I don't mind if you wake me up, if you ever need something, or if it's accidentally waking me… I don't mind," Severide told him sincerely.

"I am sorry," he spoke.

"We all have bad dreams at some point," Severide said.

"Yeah? Do you have bad dreams?"

"I do," Severide self-confessed with a nod.

"What about?" he asked softly.

"People we couldn't save… the kids," Severide admitted. "Andy. You."

"Me?"

Severide nodded. "You, and don't feel guilty about that, nothing you can do to change it. It's because I care about you a lot… more than… well, more than anyone."

"More than anyone?" he repeated, frowning.

"Not such a strange concept, is it?"

"No, guess not… but, me? Are you sure?" he asked, chuckling self-deprecatingly.

"150% sure… what is it?" Severide questioned at the change in Casey's expression.

Casey shook his head, turning away so Severide couldn't see his eyes.

"Hey…" Severide began gently, cupping his cheek, gently turning his head so he could see him.

He tried to hide his tears and failed, in the end he snuggled up against Severide's chest, resting his head under his chin. They stayed like that for a while, Severide didn't mind that it meant that the food grew cold.

Casey sat up.

"No, stay," Severide urged, remaining open armed.

"I'm sorry," he said, not moving back into Severide's embrace.

Severide gazed at him softly for a short while. "Matt, can I tell you the truth?"

"What?"

"I like to be needed… I feel pretty useless most of the time," Severide admitted, offering Casey a small smile.

"You're not useless, you're a Squad Lieutenant," he retorted.

"As you get better, you'll need me less and less, but I'll still care just as much about you," Severide said.

"I'll always need you, simply because I love you. Everything's so screwed up right now though, what if you realise you don't like me when I'm not sick?"

Severide smiled. "I liked you before, you kissed me before, I kissed you before. None of this is because you got sick, it's simply because I love you," he repeated Casey's words back to him.

"I'm so tired…" Casey admitted, leaning back onto Severide's chest. "Normal seems like a lifetime ago… but I'm happy about us."

"Me too."

'What if it's all a lie?' a voice appeared in Casey's head. 'He'll stop caring, just like everyone else. He'll stop caring and he'll leave. He was mad at you for ages. He's only here because you're sick. He didn't even show up when you needed him. How could you forgive him for that? He doesn't really care.'

"Matt?" Severide spoke, looking at Casey's blank expression.

"Huh?"

"Was just saying we should go back to bed?" Severide told him.

"Ok, yeah, sure…"

"Or you can stay down here on the couch, if you're not up for the stairs? Or I can carry you… or we can stay on the couch together?" Severide added. "Are you feeling all right? Ate too much?"

"Just tired now," he responded, offering him a quick smile. "Let's go upstairs."

Severide looked like he was about to say something more, but he just smiled, nodding at Casey's request.

Chapter Text

Casey was sitting at the small table in the kitchen. He was watching as Severide made breakfast, expertly flipping the pancakes and humming a tune as the mid-day sun shone through the window. Having been up so late the night before they'd both slept in late. Casey had woken alone but soon discovered Severide in the kitchen making pancake batter from scratch. He was gazing at Severide now, and not hiding the fact. Severide could feel Casey's eyes on him, it made him smile.

"You're not going anywhere, are you?" Casey spoke to Severide's back.

He turned. "Today? No plans to. Do you need something picking up? Wanna go out?"

Casey just smiled at his misunderstanding and let him get back to making their breakfast. His posture relaxed as he continued to watch Severide, satisfied he'd defeated the doubts in his own mind.

"Special 'Matt' pancakes," Severide said as he placed the plate down in front of him a few moments later. 

"Erm… 'Matt' pancakes?" he repeated, glancing at them before looking up at Severide again.

"I added protein powder," Severide explained as he sat down with his own breakfast.

He chuckled. "At this rate you'll make me fat, I better start exercising soon…"

Severide didn't say anything. 

"Sorry, I know I've lost loads… none of my decent clothes fit," Casey said.

"We could go shopping? Or I could pick something up for you? Or online?" he suggested, starting on his own food as Casey took a bite of one of the pancakes.

"Don't need nice clothes for lounging on couch in, do I?"

"If they'll help you feel better then maybe it's a good idea," Severide said, shrugging.

"I feel fine," he responded a little too stiffly. He really was determined to be fine; he'd been discharged, his treatment was over; he was fine, right?

"Wouldn't expect you to be, not with… Monday happening," Severide spoke with a little caution.

"We should skip Monday, maybe it's better not knowing," he said with another chuckle.

"You're only saying that because you don't want to have the biopsy," Severide replied.

"Maybe," he responded with a small smile.

"I'll be with you," Severide told him.

"As nice as that is…"

"Doesn't stop it being horrible," Severide finished for him.

"I know there's worse things and worse pain, I mean, it's not even that painful… it's just… I really don't want it, not again…"

"They can give you some Valium, that'll help with how you're feeling," Severide said, trying his best to reassure him.

"Why can't they just knock me out?"

"Maybe they can," Severide responded.

"I'm being such an idiot… it's just a needle…"

"You're not being an idiot," Severide told him. "And I'm not going anywhere, ever, Matt," he added after a moment.

"You…"

"I knew what you meant," Severide enlightened. "Don't listen to those voices in your head."

"What?"

Severide smiled and went on. "The one's telling you not to trust me, telling you it'll all end badly, or just end like everything else does."

"Since when did you start mind reading?" he retorted.

"I know you," Severide responded simply.

"Better than anyone apparently… and I do trust you, I just…"

"You're scared of being happy, because you think it'll end," Severide said.

"Everything ends," he replied quietly.

"It does," Severide agreed, placing his hand on Casey's. "Doesn't mean you can't let yourself be happy before the end."

"I meant it when I said I was happy with you yesterday."

"I know," Severide responded. "If you weren't you wouldn't have asked me to stay with you."

"Or maybe my brain is just completely useless at the moment," he said, sitting back in the chair. 

"I think you're doing really well, and I'm not just saying that. Considering everything you're doing well physically now, and other than the nightmares, your head's doing pretty well, don't you think?"

"Yeah, I think so… these pancakes are great," Casey added, smiling, waving his fork. 

"End of that conversation?"

"Uh huh," he said, nodding. "Actually… Kelly, I'm more worried about hurting you, than being hurt, than my happiness ending… I don't want you to be unhappy. More than anything, I don't want you to be unhappy."

"That's because you're a good person."

Casey shook his head. "But if I was a good person, I wouldn't have…"

"Wouldn't have what?" Severide asked when he trailed off. "Got sick?"

"Look, I know it's stupid, I know it's not true really…"

"Good, because it's not true, not true at all."

"Sorry for being an idiot sometimes," Casey responded, smiling at him before concentrating back on his breakfast. 

"Me too."


Severide could sense that Casey was still awake. It was the early hours on Monday morning, and despite his attempts to distract Casey from thoughts of his biopsy, he'd failed. He lay awake for a short while, listening to Casey's breathing, hoping Casey would drift off to sleep, but his breaths never relaxed. He reached over to the bedside table and switched the lamp on.

"Can't sleep?" Severide presumed as he turned over in the bed to face Casey.

He shook his head.

"Nothing I can do, is there?" Severide continued sadly.

"Being here is enough," he responded, looking at Severide now.

"Do you want to get up? Watch a movie? Might be a bit of a distraction," Severide suggested, low on options.

"Don't think anything will distract me," he replied. "Why am I more nervous about the biopsy than the results? Guess I can't change the results… but not a fan of that big needle sticking in my hip."

"I'll be with you," Severide assured him.

"Yeah, you can see me cry again," he scoffed.

"Do you get the results tomorrow or…"

"Few days, cheaper with no rushed service, and I need cheap right now," Casey said.

"Whatever happens with the results, I'm not going anywhere," he stated.

"Stuck with me now, huh?"

"Yup. Even when your breath smells like nuts," Severide told him.

"My breath doesn't smell," he replied, pouting. 

"Not now, but when you're eating them, and you eat a lot of nuts..." Severide said, letting out a short laugh.

"They're not that overpowering, not like onions or something," he responded.

"They are when you don't like them," Severide retorted.

"Well, I'm honoured that you make me Nutella sandwiches," he said.

"And PB and J, and make sure you're supplied with nutty snacks," Severide replied.

"You gave me cheese cubes the other day." He smiled.

"Gotta get a bit of variety into you," Severide responded.

Casey frowned thoughtfully. "Isn't pineapple or something supposed to be with cheese cubes… did you eat the pineapple?"

"There was no pineapple," Severide answered.

"Do you like pineapple? I can't make my mind up about it, plus apparently there's an enzyme in it that actually eats you or something…"

Severide just chuckled. "I'm sorry… what the hell are you talking about? Pineapples don't eat people…"

"No…" he groaned. "There's something in it that if you eat it, it eats you, like, I dunno, your stomach lining or something…"

"No way, you're making this up. A pineapple has never eaten anyone."

"Not literally eaten someone… I'm not gonna get anywhere with this, am I?"

"No, because you're making it up," Severide scoffed.

"I read it somewhere, well, I saw the headline and didn't look at the article. Google it, you'll see I'm right," he said.

"You need to go to sleep, I'm turning the light out again," Severide told him.

"Yeah, yeah... because you know I'm right, you just don't wanna admit it."

Severide chuckled as he switched off the light, plunging the room into darkness.


Casey couldn't have looked more apprehensive if he'd tried as he followed Severide onto the familiar ward, although they made a right turn, heading to the outpatient waiting room this time. He remained silent as Severide spoke to the friendly receptionist, getting Casey signed in. He then ushered Casey over to a couple of the spare seats. Casey sat down as Severide did, then looked around at the other people waiting. He certainly didn't stand out here.

Severide put a hand on his thigh and gave him a smile. He knew there was nothing he could say to help right now, so he saved Casey from the platitudes.

"Matt," Severide spoke gently after ten minutes had passed, it was the first time he'd spoke to him since the short car ride over.

Casey was brought out of his thoughts, he looked at Severide expectantly.

"We can go through, they're all ready for you," Severide told him.

He just nodded, watching for a moment as Severide stood. He took Severide's outstretched hand and got to his feet slowly. Severide kept hold of his hand as they walked through a set of double doors. They were led into a small procedure room where Casey was asked to change into a hospital gown.

Severide could feel Casey trembling. He offered him a smile as he moved in front of him. "I'll help you change," Severide told him, giving him a firm assuring nod.

Casey managed to shake his head.

Severide looked to the nurse hoping she could help, he just wanted to make all this bearable for Casey. "Is there anything he can have to help him relax? Valium doesn't do much…" he trailed off at the sound of Casey's hitched breathing.

The nurse came over to Casey at that point too. His skin had lost the little colour it had in the waiting room and he was visibly shaking now. 

"Does this usually happen?" she asked Severide.

"He's been having… I dunno… little panic attacks about today since he was discharged," Severide explained.

"Ok, I'm going to get the doctor, see if we can get an anaesthetist in here to help it all go smoothly," she responded, giving Severide a reassuring smile, seeing the worry in his eyes.

"I'm sorry." It was Casey, he was trembling, scrunching his eyes open and closed and his breaths caught in his throat. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine, honey, you've been through a lot," the nurses spoke gently.

"See, it's all right, Matt, it's all right," Severide continued, holding Casey's arms now, leading him over to the bed, carefully pushing him down to make him sit.

"I'm sorry," he muttered again as the nurse left the room.

"I know you are… c'mere…" Severide opened his arms up, allowing Casey lean forwards into his embrace which is where he remained until a long time after a couple of doctors arrived back with the nurse.


Casey came around slowly and the first thing he was aware of was a hand entwined with his own. He squeezed it gently and the gesture was returned. After a short while he opened his eyes. His mouth was dry so he remained silent as Severide's face came into view.

"Hey, baby," Severide began softly. "You're in the hospital, biopsy is all done, you did really well."

"Hi…"

"Hi," Severide repeated, smiling. He then directed a straw to Casey's lips. "Not too much," he warned as Casey drank. He took the water away, placing it back down on the side as Casey moved in the bed, pushing himself further up onto the pillow.

"All done?" he asked Severide.

"All done, be able to go home really soon, but for now you can just rest, wait for the drugs to wear off."

"Kel…"

"Hmm?"

"Thanks for making them drug me…"

"Least I can do, get some rest, relax, next time you wake we'll probably be able to get out of here," Severide told him, leaning down and planting a light kiss on his forehead.


Severide led Casey through the front door, arm around his waist, he was still suffering the effects of the anaesthesia but the doctor had happily released him into Severide's care. Casey was already starting to feel sore from the biopsy and was quite happy to let Severide steer him over to the couch, where a mound of throws and pillows were scattered, prepared for his return.

Wordlessly, Severide sat Casey down on the couch, wrapping several throws around him before he slumped back into the soft pillows as Severide placed one final throw over his lap for good measure. He disappeared for a few moments before returning with snacks, consisting of dried fruit and nuts, and a bottle of Gatorade which he placed by Casey's hand.

"TV, music?" Severide asked, he'd almost asked if Casey wanted a book or magazine but he thought better of it and stopped himself. Casey still wasn't doing so well at concentrating on anything that required too much focus.

"What do you want?"

"I want you to choose," Severide said.

Casey grinned tiredly at him. "I want what you want."

"We'll be going around in circles," he retorted.

"Uh huh… you better choose something then," Casey said, his grin increasing.

Severide shook his head, chuckling as he grabbed the TV remote, switching it on. It didn't take long for Casey to drift into a peaceful sleep, Severide was pleased to listen his soft breathing for a while, knowing how restless his sleep had been in anticipation of the biopsy. Casey could run into a burning building, but he'd feared the short procedure so much that Severide was wondering if there would be any other effects from his long treatment. He tried to push those thoughts to the back of his mind though, and he left Casey sleeping, wanting to shower and rid himself of the hospital scent that lingered on his clothes and in his hair.

Casey woke alone on the couch. "Kel?" he said, glancing around but only seeing more pillows and an empty space next to himself. He pushed away at the throws and managed to untangle himself, immediately feeling the loss of warmth and comfort as they all fell away. He faltered as he got to his feet, he wasn't sure if it was the drugs still in his system, or from general weakness. He wasn't convinced it was the drugs; his side ached from the biopsy needle now and it was limiting his movement.

Freshly showered and wearing clean clothes, Severide headed down the stairs with a spring in his gait; he was happy, the shower had done him some good, and Casey had got through the biopsy. He saw Casey on his feet and heading into the kitchen as he took the last couple of steps on the stairs. He followed him into the kitchen, his presence went unnoticed.

Casey stumbled into the small table and chairs set, making them screech on the tiled flooring. He groaned in pain but he didn't lose his footing though. A strong but gentle arm had quickly wrapped around him, securing him.

Severide caught Casey and took the moment to kiss the side of his neck. His arms remained around Casey's smaller frame as he whispered in his ear. "Let's get you back to the couch."

"Where d'you go?" Casey asked him, voice husky from his nap.

"Missed me?" Severide responded, smiling into his neck, kissing him again.

"Mmm…" he murmured before Severide led him back over to the couch.

Severide sat down next to Casey once he was secured underneath the throws. "Gonna stay put this time?"

"Couldn't see you," he said simply.

"That's good, means you don't have x-ray vision which would definitely be an alarming side effect. I was taking a shower," Severide explained, smiling at Casey's confused expression.

"Oh…"

"How you feeling? Any pain?"

"Hmm… right side, little achy…"

"Want some painkillers?" Severide asked him.

"I'll manage," he said, slurring a little.

"Let me know if you change your mind."

"Uh huh… I'm gonna sleep now…" he muttered, leaning to the right, letting Severide take his weight as he drifted off to sleep.

Severide rested his chin on the top of Casey's bare head, and smiled contentedly.

Chapter Text

On Thursday morning, after a couple of anxious days, Casey and Severide were sitting in Doctor Parks office about to get the biopsy results. The last time Casey had been sitting in this room was when he'd recently been given his diagnosis, and he'd been alone. Now, Severide was by his side, his hand was resting on his thigh comfortingly, offering support without words. Something good had come out of being sick, and Casey tried to remind himself of that, despite the negative thoughts that told him Severide felt obliged to be with him, that he would eventually leave.

Casey looked across at Severide and simply smiled.

An almost confused expression reached Severide's eyes as he smiled back, and then the doctor entered the room.

"The chemo worked perfectly, Matt," Doctor Parks announced as he sat down, wasting no time at all. "The cancer's gone, the biopsy came back clean. 0% blasts. You're in complete remission."

Casey just looked at Severide for moment.

"You were prepared for bad news, I don't have any bad news for you," the doctor continued.

"It's gone?" Casey asked, some scepticism in his tone.

"Gone, and the DNA in your cells is back to normal," he responded with a nod.

"0%, does that mean it's never going to come back?"

"No, that can't be guaranteed. For the next year you'll be having check-ups once a month, to monitor everything. After a year, your check-ups will get less and less frequent, until you have them yearly once you've been in remission for five years."

"What happens now then?" Casey asked.

"Whatever you want, Matt, and I assume you'll be wanting to get back to work, you weren't eager about taking a break," the doctor said with a smile. "Other than your check-ups, you just need to be extra careful in sun, as going through the chemo means you're more susceptible to other cancers. If you're feeling unwell at all, or worried then you can call or email me, or if really concerned go the ER or clinic. During your check-ups you'll also need to tell me if there's been any unusual bruises, pain, bleeding, anything that you don't feel is normal. It can be helpful to make notes, either in your phone or in a diary, you just need to be really honest when you have appointments."

"Just blood tests at the check-ups? No biopsies?"

"Mainly blood tests but we will do a bone biopsy every so often, if any leukaemia cells are found, less than five percent blasts, it'll just help is monitor the amount," the doctor answered. "You've still got a long road ahead, don't push yourself to get back to work quickly, take your time and build up your strength, and weight, gradually. If you want, I can get some information about local support groups, I also recommend you speak to a psychiatrist…"

Casey shook his head. "I don't want to do that."

"It is your choice, and the option will be there in the future if you want it," the doctor told him.

He nodded, but was firm on his decision; he didn't want someone poking around in his head. "Who needs to sign me off for work?"

"Your primary physician," the doctor said. "And I mean, don't rush it all, but it's good to have work to focus on now."

"I won't," Casey responded, smiling now.

"Good. Now, I'm going to write all this up for you, give you an appointment, extra contact details if you need to get in touch with any of your team, and you really can just email me any time you want if you have any worries or questions," he told Casey. "It really is a case of taking things steadily, but do go and do things you would normally do. You'll tire fairly quickly but that will improve."

Casey nodded and stood up to leave. He shook the doctor's hand. "Thanks for everything."

Severide also shook the man's hand and thanked him before they left the office.

"Celebratory nap when you get home?" Severide suggested as they walked down the corridor, sensing Casey's weariness.

"How about a date?" he proposed.

Severide paused.

"No need to be so shocked," Casey told him, grinning.

"When should I pick you up?" he asked as they resumed walking.

"Whatever time suits you," Casey answered.

"Restaurant?"

"Your choice."

"Nap this afternoon, date tonight?" Severide asked him. "I can drop you off, give you a bit of peace and quiet then swing by about five?"

"Five?" he repeated, chuckling. "Don't want me sleeping between courses?"

"Who said anything about more than one course?" Severide teased him.

"5pm is fine, one course is fine, none of it really matters…"

"As long as you're with me?" Severide finished.

"Tacky I know, but true."

Chapter Text

Severide pulled up outside of Casey's house and switched off the engine. He sat and looked out onto the street, focusing on Casey's house, the sun was setting and the porch light was already lit, ready to illuminate the three steps up to the front door. As he was sitting there Severide could imagine the familiar smell of the house, warmth and cinnamon from the winter fragranced plug-ins. Casey liked his home comforts and enjoyed looking after his home, he appreciated it all so much, much more than Severide did but he supposed that was due to their different upbringings.

He glanced at the time then stepped out of his car, heading to the steps that led up to the front door. He knocked and waited patiently. The door opened after a short while and he smiled at Casey. "Hey, you ready?"

"Almost," Casey responded. "Just not sure what to do with my hair," he added with all The seriousness he could muster.

"What?"

Casey chuckled, grinning broadly. "I'm ready," he said, grabbing his jacket, chucking it on, and putting a beanie over his head. "Where are we going?" he asked as he followed Severide to the car.

"New pizza place," he told Casey.

"A recommendation from Shay?"

"Actually from Otis," Severide responded.

"I should message everyone, I've not even told Shay about the results…" he realised as he got into the car. He'd slept most the afternoon before showering, still appreciating his own bathroom, and getting ready for Severide's arrival.

Severide smiled at him once he'd sat himself down and closed the door. "It can wait until tomorrow."

"Yeah, good. I'd rather tonight was just us, don't want to be inundated with messages and phone calls… or maybe not," Casey added, suddenly thinking himself selfish again, expecting everyone clamouring for news about the results.

"You've been missed, everyone's looking forward to having you back and healthy," Severide responded simply.


The restaurant was busy but Severide had booked a table earlier on when he'd called the place. He didn't want to take Casey anywhere they'd have to wait around, he figured despite the good news, Casey was still going to find this all quite tiring. Casey had pulled his beanie off as they'd entered the warm establishment, and shoved it into his jacket pocket. He felt self-conscious without it on in public, not wanting to look sick, but no one seemed to be paying any attention to him.

Severide smiled at Casey as they were seated at the table, they sat opposite each other and hung their jackets on the backs of their chairs. The waiter took their drinks order and left them with the pizza menu. Deciding it was best to stick to simple food for now, Casey ordered a classic margherita, Severide said he could always have a slice of the chilli beef pizza he'd chosen for himself.

A short while later, unable to eat anymore of his pizza, Casey sat back in the chair. "So, there's something I wanted to ask you," he told Severide.

"Ah so there's a reason for the date?" Severide responded after swallowing down the last bite of his pizza.

"Other than the whole 'cancer free' thing, yeah," he said, smiling.

"I'm intrigued," Severide commented.

"So... financially, I'm pretty stretched... I'm not gonna go bankrupt or anything, but I was thinking I might have to sell the house and rent an apartment for a while, just until I got back on my feet," he began.

"You love your house…"

"I like my house," he corrected. "But, erm, well, I thought, well, there's no harm in asking, and I realise there's loads of things to consider, but, maybe, I wondered if, perhaps, well… would you like to move in with me? I don't have a mortgage or anything, it's just the upkeep is relatively costly, I've not managed to reinsulate the roof yet and the plumbing all still needs re-doing and…"

"I'd love to," Severide said, stopping Casey from fumbling on.

"You would?" he asked, sounding surprised.

"How could I say no?"

"Oh God, no… you can say no, you can definitely say no, I'm not trying to pity you into it, I would be happy back in an apartment, I just, you know, you said you like the house and…"

"How could I say no because I love you," Severide explained.

"Oh, right, yeah, oh… sorry," he responded, nodding.

Severide chuckled at him for getting so flustered.

"Shay…"

Before Casey could continue, Severide spoke. "Shay can easily find another roommate; I'll speak to her about it about it on Saturday."

"You're back at work on Saturday? That's come around quickly," Casey realised.

He nodded. "I can delay it."

"No, don't, I'm still sleeping most the time anyway," Casey responded.

"Seems less to me." He smiled.

"Yeah?"

"For sure," Severide said.

"That's good, I guess… maybe it won't be so long until I'm back at work too. I think I want to have a date in mind now, maybe give it six weeks or something," he told Severide.

"Six weeks?" Severide repeated. "That's not far away."

"Yeah, it's six weeks away," he said, letting out a short chuckle.

"I was kinda thinking it would be more like six months than six weeks," Severide replied carefully.

Casey laughed. "What am I supposed to do for six months?"

"I mean, would you pass the physical in six weeks?"

"I… I don't know, but I can try," Casey answered quietly.

"What did Parks say about taking things slowly," Severide reminded him. "Six weeks is nothing, Matt. I just, I really don't want you to rush things, and be disappointed. I know you'll achieve loads in the next six weeks, but going back to work shouldn't be one of those things."

"I guess not, suppose I won't even be able to go for a run in six weeks, exhausted just walking up the stairs," he scoffed.

"Hey…" Severide put his hand on Casey's arm across the table. "I didn't mean to put you on a downer, I just, don't want you to push yourself and have a setback."

"I know, and I'm not on a downer, I just want to know when things will be back to know, want an exact date," he responded.

"This is all a…"

"New normal," Casey finished for him. "I don't like new normal," he added. He sat back in the chair and gazed around the restaurant, catching himself in one of the mirrors by the bar. "I still look sick. And I'll probably sleep most of tomorrow now."

"You wouldn't have come out to a restaurant this time last week, you wouldn't have managed this food a few weeks ago," Severide pointed out. "Small steps."

"I prefer big steps," he retorted.

"What's that saying? Don't run before you can walk," Severide told him.

Casey laughed again. "Thought you were gonna say don't run with scissors."

"Don't do that either," he responded. He looked down at his empty plate, and across to Casey's almost empty one. "Desert?"

Casey shook his head. "Not for me."

"I'll get the bill then, and I'm paying, my treat," he said.

"Been a lot of treats from you recently," Casey responded.

"There'll be more too, my living situation is about to change and I'm gonna be saving some money," he replied.

"You will be?"

"I could have rented a cheaper apartment, but the views were too good to pass up," Severide explained.

"I don't have good views," he said,

Severide grinned. "You're a good view."

"That was smooth."


That night Severide lay next to Casey, he was gazing at him as he breathed softly, watching him slowly fall to sleep, comforted at how relaxed Casey appeared to be. It was slowly sinking in that Casey was cancer free. He was cancer free, and things could only go up for him now, for the both of them.

"Are you staring at me?" Casey muttered tiredly, keeping his eyes closed.

"Maybe," he responded slyly.

"You're a creep," Casey quipped.

"Are you asking me to move in with you as a boyfriend or a roommate?" Severide asked him. "Will I be in the spare room or in here?"

Casey opened his eyes. "Boyfriend… is that ok?"

"Perfect," he answered.

"I wasn't just asking you because I can't afford it without you," Casey told him, opening his eyes and looking at Severide now.

"I know," Severide responded. "You asking me to move in is actually a pretty big thing, I mean, it's big thing for most people, but even bigger for you."

He chuckled. "I'm really not as broken as you think I am."

"Uh huh."

Casey moved over, closer to Severide, their eyes locked and lips almost touched. "I'm really not," he said, before kissing Severide goodnight and closing his eyes, feeling Severide's arm wrap around him.

Chapter Text

On the first Sunday after Casey had been told he was officially in remission, he found himself sitting in Severide's car being driven the short distance to Molly's for a surprise party. Severide had told him it was a surprise party, he knew Casey didn't like surprises, he also knew Casey was only participating with the whole thing because he knew how much everyone wanted to celebrate his remission. Severide figured it would be good to get Casey out the house though, even if it was for a party entirely focused on him, although he was only supposed to think he was meeting his crew for a couple of drinks and a catch up, there would have been no other way to lure him over according to Herrmann.

When they arrived Severide parked as close to the bar as he could, and then he stopped Casey from getting out, placing a hand on his knee. "Tell me when you want to leave, we can go whenever you want," he told Casey, not wanting him to overdo it tonight.

"I'm fine, Kelly," Casey responded, putting his own hand on Severide's.

"You still look like a strong breeze would knock you over," Severide said.

"Well, it's good thing we'll be inside then," he quipped.

Casey truly relaxed when he got back into the car a while later. They'd been inside Molly's for several hours, it had been exhausting physically and emotionally but the party had been nice, and he'd managed to act surprised enough to be convincing to most. Herrmann had cornered him once the initial greetings, and even hugs, had ceased, asking if Severide had told him, Casey had been honest with his response before Herrmann pulled him into a bear hug and spoke close to him. "I'm glad you're better now."

He enjoyed the afternoon, catching up with his crew and managing to chat briefly to almost everyone in the bar, their happy moods lifted Casey's more than he was sure they realised. Severide's presence by his side the entire time was welcome, Shay also sat with him for most of the afternoon as everyone else flitted by, even a few from other firehouses, and some from first watch. The Chaplain stopped by too, smiling warming and placing a hand comfortingly on Casey's shoulder.

"Thanks for doing that," Severide said as he buckled his seatbelt.

"I enjoyed it," he responded sincerely.

"Sure it wouldn't have been your idea Sunday night though," Severide continued.

"No, really, Kelly, it was good to catch up with everyone… it was… awkward at first, but only at first, there was a moment not long before we left; everything felt normal. Just for a moment anyway," Casey explained, smiling. "It was nice."

"Bet you're even more determined to get back to work then?"

"Yes, everything will be normal then," Casey responded, smiling in relief at the thought.

"It was nice to be back yesterday," Severide admitted. "And I wasn't even sick," he added.

"Thank you for being with me, sorry for keeping you from work…"

"I wouldn't have had it any other way," Severide told him. "Let's get home, do want to pick up some take-out or anything for dinner?"

He shook his head. "Just wanna go to bed," he answered honestly.

"After you've had some dinner," Severide said. "I know you might not feel hungry but… have some for me."

"Breakfast," he responded.

"For dinner?"

"Yeah," Casey confirmed, smiling.

Severide smiled back and nodded. "Let's head home then."


A couple of weeks passed by, and whilst Casey had been enjoying his freedom from the hospital, and the fact he was now cancer free, things weren't going as well as he'd imagined. He was still spending the majority of his time sleeping, which annoyed him, putting him in a foul mood, which in turn made him just want to get back into bed and hide away from everything. He was failing again and again every day at what he thought he should be doing, at things he wanted to be doing. He wanted to be getting ready to complete his CFD physical and get back to work. In reality, he hadn't even walked around the block. The thought of going outside, of leaving the comfort of the throws and pillows, filled him with dread. Each night he would go to sleep, telling himself he'd get up in the morning, shower, have breakfast and then go for a short walk. Most of the time he didn't make to the showering stage, and breakfast only happened because Severide made sure it did.

When Severide arrived home from a busy shift he found Casey under a mound of throws and covers on the bed, he'd come to expect it whenever he returned home.

"Can I join you?" Severide asked, and when there was no objection, he managed to slot himself into the cocoon Casey had made. "Can I wrap my arm around you?"

"Mmm…" came Casey's positive response.

They lay together in silence, Severide gently stroked the soft blond fuzz on Casey's head as he listened to his relaxed breaths. It would take a few more weeks for normal hair to grow back, but it would come back, and Severide was convinced it was going to be even blonder than before if the soft fuzz was anything to go by. Casey's eyebrows were so light they could only be seen up close at the moment, but short eye lashes had started to appear in the past couple of days too. So far Severide hadn't notice any chest or arm hair, and he hadn't seen any other growth yet, but everything seemed to be heading in the right direction. Except for Casey's current low mood.

Casey shuffled under the covers and looked into Severide's eyes. "How was shift?"

"Long," Severide responded.

"Everyone's ok?"

"Yeah, everyone's fine," Severide told him.

"You're ok?" he asked.

"Bit sore, tired… worried," Severide added.

"Worried?" Casey repeated.

Severide stopped stroking Casey's hair. "You've been pretty tired for the past few days."

"Oh, me," Casey said quietly.

"Yes, you," he responded, touching his cheek. "Can I do anything to help?"

Casey buried his head under Severide's chin. "I don't know, I'm sorry," he muttered into Severide's chest.

"You've got nothing..."

"I'm meant to be better now," Casey responded, voice muffled.

"No, you're still recovering from the chemo," he explained.

Severide felt Casey give a small shrug as he replied. "Maybe."

"Once you're recovered from treatment things will pick up," Severide told him.

"I hope so."

"Me too, I don't like it when I can't do anything to help you."

"I know." Casey moved so he was lying on his back, looking up at the ceiling.

"What's going on in your head? I'm worried about you, what are you worried about?" Severide asked him, looking at the side of his face.

"You when you're on shift," he answered.

"What else?" Severide urged.

"My check-up," he admitted.

Severide nodded. "Ah ok. That makes sense. It's a logical worry to have."

"Yeah?"

"Of course."

"Ok."

"You're worried that you're worried about it?"

Casey chuckled. "Sounds stupid when you put it like that."

"Not stupid," he responded. "Now, let's talk through the check-up. You'll have a chat with the doctor, he'll ask how you've been doing, they'll take some blood, possibly weigh you, maybe give you a physical. That's all it'll be, I think. Doesn't seem too bad?"

"No, sounds fine," Casey said, but he didn't sound convinced.

Severide went on. "Worried about the blood test? The needle?"

"I don't think so… what if… what if there was a mistake with the biopsy? What if I'm still sick? Or what if I was in remission but it's back?"

"Whatever happens in the future; we'll deal with it. I'm not going to be worried about things we can't control, and your cancer coming back, and I'm hopeful it won't ever come back, it's not something we can control," Severide responding, offering him a reassuring smile.

"Wish I could be like that," he said.

"Bad things will happen in the future that you won't be able to prevent," Severide responded with a nod.

"Am I supposed to have a 'living in the now' attitude now I've been sick? Was it supposed to be some sort of life altering… life affirming thing? Because it wasn't, it isn't."

Severide shook his head. "You're not supposed to have any sort of attitude now you've been sick, you're just you, you're not meant to feel a certain way now."

He pushed himself up onto the headboard and peered at Severide. "Have you been looking stuff up on the internet again?"

"Yes."

Casey grinned.

"What? Shouldn't I be doing?" he asked, frowning.

"No, it's… it's nice…" Casey told him. "Has anyone ever told you, you're really sweet?"

"Sweet? I'm not sweet, I'm… I'm just… I'm not sweet," he responded, nonplussed.

"You're blushing, it's cute. You're sweet and cute," Casey said, smiling.

"Well… well, don't let word get out, I've got a reputation to maintain. There's already rumours flying around the firehouse because of how much time I've spent with you," Severide added with a short laugh.

The smile fell from Casey's face as he regarded Severide's expression. "What sort of rumours?"

"Oh… just all sorts, you know what they're like," Severide responded airily.

"You don't like the rumours? Are they close to the truth? Do you not like the truth? Does that damage your reputation?" he questioned him slowly.

"Matt, I didn't mean anything by it," Severide said, shaking his head.

Casey looked at him for a short moment. "Would you mind if everyone knew?"

"Of course not," he answered.

"So being gay won't damage your reputation then?"

"I'm not… oh… I…"

"You are in love with me?" Casey spoke with some uncertainty in his tone.

"Yes, but I…"

"But you're not gay?"

Severide let out a breath. "I'm just not labelling it, I love you, isn't that enough?"

"Everyone at the firehouse will label it, will that damage your reputation? Will it hurt you?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"I've not thought about it. I've never liked another guy before," Severide said.

Casey nodded acceptingly. "Sorry, I know, I guess I thought, maybe, you didn't want people to know about us?"

"I don't know… I've not thought about it," he responded.

"What happens when I get back to work? I don't want to be your dirty secret, I don't want to hide our relationship," Casey said.

"Like you wanted to hide your cancer from everyone?"

Casey looked taken aback, and remained silent.

"Sorry, I didn't mean that," Severide told him.

"Well, clearly you did, you said it," he responded. "It's not like we'd be flaunting our relationship, but, well, how else do you explain spending so much time with me? Moving in with me?"

It was Severide's turn to remain silent.

"Look, I'm sorry, I know this is new for you, you need time to think about it all, I guess. I've known who I am for a long time now, and I'm comfortable. I want you to be comfortable too," Casey said, realising he'd taken Severide's comment about rumours way out of proportion. Regretting his questioning and harsh words, he suddenly felt much smaller as he sunk back into the pillows, against the headboard.

"I am, really, I've not given it any thought because I didn't need too, maybe I just panicked a little, imagining some sort of big announcement at work when it doesn't have to happen like that," Severide responded.

Casey chuckled. "I hope it doesn't happen like that. Once one person knows for sure then it'll just spread, no big announcement in front of everyone needed. And I'm sorry I didn't want to tell you or anyone about being sick. I know I hurt you. I'm sorry."

"I know you are, and this is good, we shouldn't hide things, or not say things to each."

"I agree, no secrets."

Casey gazed at Severide for a short while, he still felt awful about what he'd said. "Sorry for blowing that up, almost wish I could blame chemo… my head's a bit, bit foggy sometimes but I knew what I was saying. I am sorry."

"I know you are," Severide responded again, leaning closer to Casey and resting his forehead against his. "I know you are," he repeated.

"I love you," Casey spoke quietly, he'd grown tired, exhausted mentally and physically.

"Love you more," he teased back.

"That gonna be a thing now? 'Cause I totally love you more," Casey said, grinning.

"I love you more," he responded with a light chuckle, gently moving Casey so he was lying in his arms. "I need to go down to the boat yard later, will you come with me?" Severide didn't need to go to the boat yard, but he thought it would get Casey out the house for a short while.

"Kay…"

"Rest now though," Severide told him.

"Uh huh…"


Casey was sitting on the stool inside the large shed at the boat yard, he had his thick down winter coat on and one of the many beanie hats he now owned. He was smiling as he watched Severide tidy up one of his work benches.

He looked across to the boat and spoke up. "You don't need to do anything to the boat? You're just tidying up?"

"The owner's picking it up tomorrow," Severide told Casey.

"Spring cleaning then?"

"Thought it'd be good for us to get out the house," Severide admitted.

"Well, am I allowed to get up and help you at least?"

"You can just relax and rest," Severide said as he picked up a pencil.

"I've been resting for months," he retorted. 

"You're not supposed to be pushing yourself," Severide told him.

"You're standing there filing a pot of pencils… that wouldn't be pushing myself," he responded incredulously.

Severide put the pencil he was holding back down. "Finished," he said, now putting down the small plastic sharpener.

"What's next on the job list then? I could do some dusting?" Casey asked looking up at the shelving.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," he responded.

"It was, you wanted to get me out the house, your plan worked. How about we drive over to the pier and go for a short walk? I promise to tell you when I've had enough," he assured Severide.

"I'm sorry," Severide said.

Casey chuckled.

"What?" Severide frowned.

"The doctor did say to get back to doing normal stuff, I will get tired quickly but I need to do normal stuff. I think this has messed us both up a little, you need to worry less and I need to… worry less too I guess," he said. 

"Yeah, suppose so…"

"I've been home for weeks, I've barely left the house, barely left my bed or the couch. What was I thinking? Six weeks… I'm never going to be back working at this rate…"

"We both lack patience," Severide began. "You've already made progress, I guess it's difficult to see when you've not reached your end goal yet."

"I just want to know to when, I hate not knowing," he said, sighing heavily. 

"I get that, I do."

They were walking arm in arm along the lake front, along a path both of them usually used for running. Several runners did jog past them and Severide could see Casey's sombre expression as they did. He understood Casey's frustration and low mood, it had been bound to happen, but he knew Casey would get through, and he would help him.

Chapter Text

They'd spent the weekend at Severide's apartment, soon to be his old apartment as Shay had found another roommate so that Severide could move out. Casey was going for daily walks, with and without Severide, although he was under strict instructions to let Severide know he'd made it home safely when Severide was on shift. He didn't mind if it made Severide worry less about it, it was actually nice to have someone that did care so much, even if sometimes it felt too much. He'd been used to being independent since a young age, he relaxed around Severide though, he could let his guard down, even when he wasn't drugged or in pain.

They were lying in Severide's bed together, their clothes lay scattered around on the floor and Casey was resting his head on Severide's warm bare chest. His body heat was more than enough to keep Casey warm.

There was a quick knock at the bedroom door. "You two decent?" Shay called in.

Before Casey could respond Severide put a finger on his lips, silencing him with a smile.

"I know you're awake," Shay spoke again before the door opened and she entered.

Casey quickly pulled the bed covers up to cover his chest. He was still conscious of his weight and muscle tone loss, but at least his body hair had mostly grown back though, it made him feel much better about himself.

Shay sat down end of bed. "Tonight's dilemma. I have two dates," she announced with a huff.

Severide grinned at her. "I don't see the dilemma," he said, earning a shove and a scowl from Casey.

"Different locations?" Casey asked her, brows raised questioningly.

"No. But different times," she responded.

"Oh... pull a sickie? Or say you had to take me to the hospital or something," Casey suggested, shrugging.

"No. Don't say that. You'll jinx it," she told him.

He frowned. "What? I'm not even sick anymore."

"Can't say it," she said, shaking her head.

"You're gonna have to reschedule one or it will be a disaster," Casey went on.

"Maybe, yeah, probably," she responded.

Severide spoke up again. "How did it even happen in the first place?" he asked, laughing a little.

"I don't even know because I've not had one single date for weeks, and now two on one night?" She scoffed. "What are you guys up to today?"

"Gonna move the rest of my stuff out," Severide told her.

"New roommate isn't here until the end of the week, you that desperate to leave me?" she teased.

"Sorry," Casey muttered, glancing down for a moment.

"God, no, Matt, I'm gonna be glad to be rid of him and all his stuff, you're doing me a favour… besides, it was about time you two got your act together," she told them both as she left the room.

Severide and Casey exchanged a bemused expression and smiled at each other. They relaxed back into the warmth of the bed once the door was shut. Severide's arm round its way around Casey. Casey found himself in deep thought as he lay in Severide's arms. "Kel?" he began after a short while.

"Hmm…"

Casey moved onto his front, propping himself up on his elbows. "Don't feel pressured because of me and my own issues. We don't have to tell anyone else about us. I trust you, I know it's not about me, or you not loving me. If you don't want to tell everyone at the firehouse yet, or ever, then that's fine."

"What happened to not wanting to be my dirty secret?"

"I'm sorry I said that. I wasn't thinking, I hadn't thought about you and what all this means for you. I'm sorry."

"You were a bit of an ass," Severide admitted, smiling.

"More than a bit," he corrected.

"Would you really not care if we didn't tell anyone at the house? The rumours are already circling," Severide said.

"They're just rumours." He shrugged.

"You really wouldn't care?" Severide asked dubiously.

"I want you to be happy, I want you to figure yourself out without any pressure from me, there's no time limit."

"You're not the only guy I've ever found attractive... but I do like girls too. And Matt, you're the only person I've ever loved, I've never told anyone before that I love them because I haven't felt this overwhelming... feeling... it's like I couldn't wake up tomorrow if you weren't here, I don't think I could be here if you weren't," Severide told him, full of anguish as he tried to explain how he felt.

"You're the only person I've ever felt safe with. Like really safe. Like nothing could hurt me. And I felt so bad, so tired and sick and it was... it was hell, but you were there so it was ok, because you were with me."

"I didn't do anything," he responded, letting out a quiet sigh, his eyes sad.

Casey shook his head. "You did it all, you saved me. You're still saving me now, even though I was a complete jerk last week."

"I'm not doing anything, I wish I could help you more and..."

"You're here."


Severide had officially moved into Casey's house two days later, they celebrated with a take-away from one of Casey's favourite Thai restaurants, Severide paid despite Casey's protests. He insisted it was his treat, and that he enjoyed buying things for Casey. Although Casey had gained some weight back over the past couple of months, helped by the NG tube in the hospital, and Severide's insistence that he ate once he'd been discharged, the progress seemed to have stalled and Severide was a little concerned that Casey wasn't eating much when he wasn't around to make sure he did.

He watched Casey pick at his food, eyes focused on the show they were watching on the TV, although every so often a glazed look would cross his face, then a frown as he tried to concentrate on the food and the TV screen. Severide kept quiet, and hid his worry, this was just all part of Casey recovering, the chemotherapy drugs had really done a number on him, he would recover eventually. He had to.

Casey didn't notice Severide gazing at him. He put his unfinished food down on the coffee table and sat back before looking to Severide and smiling. "I've never lived with anyone before," he told Severide. "You'll tell me if I do something wrong?"

"What could you do that's wrong?"

He shrugged. "Dunno. Maybe there's a reason no one's ever wanted to live with me… I'm not an easy person to be with."

"You are," Severide responded. "You've just been unfortunate to come across a lot of idiots. It's nothing to do with you, I think you're perfect."

He chuckled. "Just gonna stroke my ego?"

"What ego?" Severide responded with a quick eye roll. "Seriously though I wish you could think better of yourself."

Casey looked back at the TV screen, ending the conversation. "Can we stop this movie? I… I got distracted, think I'm tired, dunno how they've got here or what they're doing…"

"Yeah, sure… how about some stand-up comedy?" he suggested, knowing the shorter format would be better.

Casey soon fell asleep with his head resting on Severide's shoulder. He didn't have the heart to wake him even as his arm cramped. He was careful not to jolt Casey awake as he laughed at the comedian on the screen. When the hour turned late and he grew sleepy himself, Severide carefully moved so that Casey was lying down on the couch without waking him. He kissed his forehead and pulled another blanket over him. He still didn't want to wake him, so he took himself up to bed after an embarrassingly long time of watching Casey sleep soundly on the couch.

Chapter Text

Severide dumped the grocery bags down on the kitchen worktop and quietly put his purchases away since Casey was asleep on the couch. Their busy day moving boxes and bags of Severide's things into the house had tired him out, and surprisingly he'd not pushed himself, although Severide wouldn't have let him, but it was all quite emotionally tiring as well. Severide just hoped he was doing the right thing for Casey, it felt right for himself, he just hoped it would make Casey as happy as it made him. Casey wouldn't have asked if it was something he didn't want though, and Severide was still so pleased he had asked.  

Once the groceries were put away, he headed over to Casey, he smiled down at him. There was an open book on his lap and he had his reading glasses on. Severide took them off and put them on the coffee table and then removed the book, he placed the bookmark on the page it was open at, noting how little Casey had been reading lately, but it was an improvement.

Casey opened his eyes, his lids fluttered before he focused on Severide. "Hey…"

"Hi, baby, how are you doing?"

"You're back already?" Casey spoke, clearing throat.

"No, you're hallucinating now," Severide retorted.

"Ha ha… very funny," he drolled. "How was shopping?"

"There was some near-misses with a few of the elderly with my cart, other than that it was pretty uneventful," Severide replied.

Casey chuckled. "Near-misses?"

Severide grinned at him and shrugged, just pleased he'd made him smile.

"Well, I'm glad you didn't bowl over any old people," Casey continued.

"It's raining at the moment, when it stops, we can go for a walk?"

"Don't really fancy it today," Casey responded, glancing away.

"Ok, lunch out? Molly's?" he suggested.

Casey shook his head.

"Cuddles on the couch all afternoon then?"

Casey smiled and nodded at the suggestion before lifting up part of the throw that was covering him, inviting Severide under.

Severide got cosy with him, holding him under the warmth of the throw. He was gently rubbing Casey's forearm comfortingly. "You're sure you don't want me to come with you tomorrow? I don't like the idea of you getting a cab and being there on your own… I could give you a ride, I'm sure I can take an hour or two off shift, Boden would cover for me…"

"I'm a grown man, I'll be fine," he said, rolling his head to look at Severide. "And I'm only getting a cab because you don't want me to drive yet."

"I know you'll be fine, but are you sure you don't want me there?" Severide asked him.

"I'm sure."


Casey let Severide know that he'd safely arrived at the hospital in time for his appointment just before he entered the doctor's office. The sterile smell in the building made him feel queasy but he knew he wasn't actually going to be sick, at least that's what he kept telling himself as the smell infiltrated his senses.

He shook Doctor Parks hand and forced a smile.

"How are you doing, Matt?" the doctor began, smiling back.

"Good," Casey responded, nodding.

"We'll get the physical done with first and take some blood," he explained, motioning over to the other side of the room where there was a hospital bed and equipment tray set up. "You've been managing all right for the past few weeks?"

"Things have been good," Casey said again as they moved over from the desk.

"Really?"

"Kelly's moved in with me, that's good. Other than that… I feel fine, well, I'm tired all the time and I'm struggling to concentrate on things, and I think I'm forgetting stuff too,"

"You think?"

"I don't know… Kelly looks at me every so often, like I should be saying something or like I've repeated myself or something, I dunno… think he's glad I'm not driving yet, but I can, right?"

"Not yet," the doctor responded.

"Well, there's something I forgot then… physically I'm ok though, I think… just tired… and erm… I haven't… I haven't had an erection for months," he spluttered out, if he didn't say it then and there, he was sure he'd leave the office without mentioning it. "Erm… not that I've not been turned on…" he added. In fact, now that Severide had officially moved in, and now Casey was sleeping less, he desperately wanted to satisfy his own sexual need, as well as Severide's, but every time he'd been in the mood, he'd been unable to get hard. Severide was patient and understanding, and they did continue to satisfy each other but it wasn't the same and Casey felt disappointed in himself, and embarrassed. He didn't want cancer to have taken away this.

"Impotence is not unusual in the weeks following chemo," the doctor responded, not at all phased by Casey's anxiousness.

"It's been more than just weeks since my last lot of chemo," Casey said, stifling a frustrated sigh.

"I can write you a prescription for Viagra, if you take it about half an hour before any sexual activity it can help you to achieve an erection," he told Casey.

Casey was silent for a moment before responding. "What if it's permanent?"

"If the drugs help it's something you can continue to use in the future, I'll prescribe a few for now and we can discuss it again at your next check-up if there's no improvement," Doctor Park explained.

"So I just… take a pill?"

"One pill, half an hour before any sexual activity, no more than one pill in a day though."

"It'll work?" Casey asked, a little dubious, he was willing to try anything at this stage though.

He nodded. "Most likely."

Casey let out a sigh as he put his head in his hands.

"Matt, I'm afraid things need time, and the erectile dysfunction is one of those things," the doctor spoke sympathetically.

"I want my life back," he murmured before lifting his head back up.

"It's going to take time for you to recover, I know firefighters aren't a patient breed, but just try to take things one stage at a time," the doctor told him understandingly.

"I'm walking," Casey said positively.

"That's good, and walking is just as good as running for exercise," he responded.

Casey nodded. "Yeah, not very far at the moment and sometimes I just can't force myself to leave the house but it's something."

The doctor agreed and began the physical, taking some blood, checking Casey's heart rate and blood pressure before asking him to step on the scales. There was nothing concerning and Casey relaxed even though the blood test results would take a few days. The doctor reassured him that physically, he was doing as well as expected at this stage, and he was glad that Casey wasn't pushing himself too much.

When Casey arrived home from his appointment all he wanted to do was curl up on the couch with Severide, only Severide wouldn't be home for another sixteen hours. In the end, he slipped on the sweater Severide had worn last night, made himself a hot chocolate and sat on the couch alone.


It had been a couple of weeks since Casey's check-up, his blood test results had come back clean, and he put his next appointment to the back of his mind. He'd started going to the gym a few times a week, it made his mind feel better, he didn't do a big workout but getting out the house and starting to improve his fitness levels was helping him get into a routine, and he could feel some improvement already. He was still walking as well, he enjoyed his short strolls with Severide, they spoke more than when they used to run together. Their sex life had improved too, although Casey was keeping the medication quiet for now, hopeful that it was only needed temporarily.

Casey looked dubiously at Severide as he drove them off the highway. "You're really not going to tell me where we're going?"

Severide grinned but remained looking ahead at the road. "It wouldn't be a surprise then, would it?"

"I don't like surprises, you know that..." he responded. They'd been driving for well over an hour now, Severide had informed Casey that he had a surprise for him when he'd woken up in his arms that morning. He told him to dress comfortably, they were driving out of the city. Severide hadn't given him anymore clues.

"I know," Severide said, smiling at the disgruntled look on Casey's face.

A short while later, Severide pulled over to the side of the road. "This is the surprise?"

"No. Put this over your eyes," Severide told him, passing him an old tie.

"I'll just keep my eyes closed," he replied, looking disgruntled at the idea of a makeshift blindfold.

"No, you won't, put it on," Severide said, smiling.

Casey did as he was told and Severide set off driving again. It wasn't long until Casey felt them turn, they were now travelling slower on a track rather than a small road. He was trying to imagine where they were heading but he could only think of limited options.

Severide switched the engine off. "We're here, I'll come over and help you out."

Casey could hear barking and yapping as Severide got out of the car. His own door was opened and Severide took his hand, helping him out of the car.

"Ok, I'm gonna take this off you now," Severide told him after guiding him for a few steps.

The tie was removed and Casey found himself looking into a metal pen where a dozen small blue merle border collie puppies were milling around. He looked at Severide, frowning.

"You said you always wanted a puppy," Severide announced.

Casey didn't take his eyes off the puppies. "I did?"

"You were pretty high on meds at the time, but yeah," he responded. "So… pick a puppy. Call it a late Christmas present or remission present or whatever you wanna call it. You can have some company when I'm at work."

Casey grinned. "You know, this could have been a disaster if I had been totally off my head… but I have always wanted a dog," he responded. "They're so fluffy…" he said, bending down so he was closer to them all.

An older man walked over to them, stereotypically dressed in a red checked flannel shirt and worn dungarees. Severide shook his hand. "We spoke on the phone yesterday," he told the man.

"You're the first here, got the pick of the litter," the man responded. "The parents are in the barn if you'd like to meet them."

Severide went off with the man as Casey got acquainted with the puppies that were now swarming over him since he'd got into the metal pen. When Severide returned the sight that greeted him warmed his heart, the smallest of the litter was lying in Casey's arms, fast asleep.

"I'll have this one please," Casey said, smiling.

"That's the runt of the litter, you don't want her," the man explained.

"I definitely do," he responded, nodding his head.

Severide smiled. "We'll take her."


Severide couldn't stop looking over at Casey as he drove him and the puppy home. He was holding her on his lap. He was still grinning at everything that had transpired, he'd never thought he'd ever have a pet, not with his long work hours, and he'd always rented before he bought his house.

"She's so small," Casey said as he stroked her soft fur.

"She won't be small for long," he responded.

Casey spoke to the ball of fluff in his hands. "You're gonna have to win Boden over with those eyes of yours, you'll be a firehouse dog in no time."

"I actually did speak to Boden, he was all for it, gives Pouch someone to play with too," Severide told him. "I'm gonna go to the pet store once we're home too, then she won't need to be left on her own."

He smiled at Severide. "We can have a little nap, that sounds good, doesn't it?" he spoke to the puppy again.

"You need to name her, or I'm gonna get confused about who you're talking too," Severide told him, already realising he was now only going to be getting 50% of Casey's attention.

"Do you have any suggestions?" he asked Severide.

"She's yours, you should name her," Severide said.

"You paid for her…"

"She's all yours, Matt," he explained.

Casey looked down at her and just smiled, he couldn't help it, just looking at her made him feel happy and content.

"That means you're responsible for her crap too," Severide teased.

"How about Margot? She looks kinda sophisticated."

"A sophisticated puppy?" Severide repeated. "Margot. I like it."

"What do you think? Margot?"

The puppy looked up at him with her large blue eyes.

"Margot it is then," Casey announced.

By the time they were back in Chicago both Margot and Casey were fast asleep. Severide snapped a couple of pictures of them before he woke Casey gently. As gentle as Severide was though, Casey woke with a start, waking Margot in the process.

"S'all right, you're in the car," Severide told him.

"Thought I was…" he trailed off, looking down at the puppy. He just stroked her soft fur and smiled.

"She can go outside when she's had all her injections, we can take her to the vet later today if you want?"

"Maybe tomorrow, we've both had a long day," he responded. "Haven't we?" he continued, looking down at Margot.

Severide chuckled to himself, pleased with his decision to get Casey a furry little friend. She would be good for him, he'd be able to take her walks, and go running with her once she was older, and once Casey was up to the task. Severide was sure Casey would decide to take her to puppy training classes too, he liked to do everything by the book. He also realised already that he'd be getting less of Casey's attention but he didn't mind; it was so nice to see the happiness radiating from Casey right now even if the day had worn him out.

Chapter Text

Casey looked noticeably healthier. His cheeks had regained their fullness, and his eyes looked even brighter than Severide could remember. Proper hair had started to grow too, he'd even shaved for the first time in months. Severide was convinced his hair was even blonder than before, and he looked beautiful, he always looked beautiful, but he was practically glowing now he was getting healthy.

He was back driving, and he got new business decals for his truck after he and Severide checked it over, making sure it was still in good working order since it had just been sitting around for so many months. He was slowly picking up some light construction work, he'd struggled to get to his first job back without Severide towing along, but he'd conceded in the end, trusting that Casey knew his limits, and it was a nice simple paint job for one of his longstanding elderly customers. She would ask him to do odd jobs for her, a bit of painting and some handy-man work, he had a few regulars who liked him to do such work. He made sure he wasn't booked in solidly; he still needed a good twenty-four hours to rest and recover, so the most he worked in a week was three days. He also liked to make sure Severide was around for Margot, although he'd soon start taking her out with himself. It did exhaust him but he knew that only a few weeks ago he wouldn't have coped with any of it, he was getting out there, working, and discovering what was enough, and he was resting. He didn't want to make himself sick, he didn't want to push himself too much and have a setback. Severide was surprised at how well he had listened to his doctor's advice, but he wasn't going to question his healthy attitude.

Although Casey was allowed to drive again, Severide still drove them both to the veterinary office one morning, Margot was sitting in Casey's lap, quite content during the short journey. She was having her vaccinations so she could start to go outside properly and go to the training classes Casey had booked her into.

In the examination room, Casey looked away as the injection was given, which didn't go unnoticed by Severide but he just gave him a smile and they were soon on their way out of the small building.

The next stop for the three of them was the pet store. Margot had already outgrown her dainty puppy collar, and Casey wanted to treat her to a new toy, thinking it would be a nice idea to let her choose one from the store. She ended up with four toys, her indecision made them both laugh as she even tried to pick up a toy with another already firmly between her teeth.

At the checkout Severide picked up a few dog treats, Casey looked at him. "I'm paying," Severide told him.

"Can't let you pay for everything," he responded.

"Part of the package," Severide said.

"Package?"

"Well, I bought you a puppy, I need to make sure you're kitted out with everything you need," Severide explained.

"I'm really not struggling with money as much as you think…"

"I know, you're not going bankrupt anytime soon… I like buying things for you," Severide said, smiling.

"Guess I'm just not used to it," Casey replied with a shrug as he packed the items they'd bought into a bag with one hand, he held Margot up with his spare arm.

"I'll get you used to it," he retorted, still smiling.


Margot had wiped herself with the busy day she'd had, she now lay flat on her back on Casey's lap, who was also fast asleep on the couch. Severide snapped a picture of the two of them before a warning flashed up on his phone, he was almost out of storage space.

On Saturday afternoon they were planning on going to a charity run, Casey obviously wasn't taking part but he was going to be there, with Margot, for moral support as Severide, Shay and a few others from the firehouse were taking part. Severide wasn't sure Casey or Margot would be up to the task, they'd both be eager and enthusiastic, but their energy would be quickly depleted.

He chuckled at the comparison of Casey and a puppy. His chuckle woke Casey, and Casey's movement woke Margot. They both woke slowly, large eyes bleary as they greeted the conscious world. "Hey…" Casey began, stretching a little, careful not to move too much as he could feel Margot's small warm body on his lap.

"Speaking to me or Margot?"

"Why? Gettin' jealous?" Casey teased.

"Ha ha… At least I piss where I'm supposed to," he retorted.

"You've got one up on her then… she's been getting good at asking to go outside now though, and you're probably hairier than she is," Casey continued teasing him, laughing as he did. "What's the time? Should I get dinner going?"

Severide smiled. "Mmm… what are you making?"

"Erm…"

"We've got stuff for chilli, lasagne, curry and some stir fry stuff," Severide told Casey when his expression remained blank.

"What would you like?"

"How about chilli?" Severide answered, it was one of the easier options.

"Chilli it is. Rice or jacket potato, or what about homemade wedges?" he asked enthusiastically.

Severide grinned. "Sounds like you want wedges."

"I do want wedges," Casey responded, nodding.

"You want any help?"

"Nah, I got it," Casey said as he stood up from the couch.

Severide sat back into the couch cushions and smiled as Casey strolled into the kitchen. Casey still tired easily but the improvement was so noticeable it made Severide happy, he still worried about him of course, but he always would, whether he was 100% healthy or not.


Severide found himself grinning again as he kept his eyes on Casey, the man would always make him smile, and right now they were by the lake front, at the starting line for the charity fun run. Everyone was stopping and smiling at Casey and Margot, all wanting to see the small puppy.

"I should have carried a puppy around when I wanted to get laid," Severide teased as he walked up to Casey, he'd been to sign up and grab his numbers for the run.

Casey let out a short snort of laughter. "Don't think you had trouble without a puppy?"

"No, but I think it would have made things easier," he joked. "You doing all right?" he added quietly.

Casey nodded, using one hand to readjust his hat. "She's getting all the attention, not me, it's nice. Are you ready? Feeling good?"

"I am, I'll see you at the finish line, are you gonna hang out with Cindy and everyone?"

"Yeah, although Herrmann said to keep Margot away from his kids, he doesn't want them begging for a puppy again," Casey explained, eyes smiling.

"Again?"

Casey shrugged. "I dunno… and anyway, all kids should have a puppy so Herrmann's not gonna be very pleased with me," he said, chuckling.

"They'll have fun with her for an hour," Severide responded.

"An hour? How quick are you gonna be?" he asked, brows raised.

"I intend on winning," Severide stated.

Casey smiled at him. "I love you, I do, but you're not gonna win."

"Hey…"

"You're built for stamina, not speed," Casey pointed out.

"Hmm…. All right, I'll forgive you for that," he responded.

Casey glanced behind Severide. "Right, Shay and the others are heading over," he said, taking Severide's hand. "Have fun, I'll be waiting for you." He squeezed Severide's hand, letting it go just before Herrmann reached them.

Well over an hour later, which Casey had mostly spent sitting down on a picnic bench with Cindy and the children, all of whom were besotted with Margot, Severide crossed the finish line. Herrmann, Shay and Boden weren't far behind.

Casey and Severide couldn't say no to the invite to Molly's, Herrmann said Margot would be welcome, but warned everyone that he wasn't going to make a habit of letting cute puppy dogs into his bar. All Severide really wanted to do was head home, shower and get cosy with Casey on the couch, at least he had a spare change of clothes in his car so he could feel a little fresher after the run. Neither of them wanted to stay at the bar for too long, but it was nice to join in with the post-run celebrations with everyone.

With Margot occupied by Shay, Casey slipped off to the bathroom, he'd watched Severide enter only a few moments before. He glanced around the small room, checking the coast was clear before he gave a quick knock on the only closed stall door.

"Fire department, open up," he spoke.

Severide grinned, recognising the voice.

"Open up," Casey repeated. There was a sharp click as the lock was opened, and he moved inside the small space, managing to close the door as his lips met Severide's with fervent need. He pulled back, taking a breath, already panting a little. "Been wanting to do that since you crossed the finish line."

Severide slipped his hand down the front of Casey's jean pants, making his breath hitch.

"Good?"

"Cold hand," Casey explained, letting out a short chuckle. He felt drunk, but it wasn't the small amount of alcohol he's consumed, it was Severide's presence, his touch, his heat, and his mouth that was currently nibbling on his ear. Severide's hand was back in his pants and his lips were trailing down his neck, a hand pulled at the shirt he was wearing as he clutched Severide's biceps. He squeezed his eyes shut, his lips parted as he let out a pleasurable groan.

Severide's hand cupped Casey's mouth, stifling the delectable noises he was making, conscious and even more aroused knowing the majority of their colleagues were only feet away. They're both breathing hard. They're both hard. Casey can feel Severide pressing up against his thigh. Severide was still kissing him, he was plundering his mouth, muffling his groans, he can taste beer.

Casey came first, he let out a long-pitched moan, and relaxed forwards into Severide's hold. He smiled. He'd needed no drugs this evening. Silently he unbuckled Severide's pants and slipped them down around his ankles as he bent down to his knees.

They were interrupted five minutes later as they were both readjusting their clothing. "Guys, it's me…" it was Shay. "You all right, Matt?"

"I'm fine," he responded, eyes wide, looking at Severide.

Severide had his hand over his own mouth, chuckling.

"Everyone was concerned, you've been in here… well, for a noticeable amount of time."

"Tell them I was feeling sick, throwin' up or something," Casey said with a boyish expression, smiling at Severide.

"You almost did throw up," Severide teased him, jabbing his side. "I think we're gonna head home," he continued, speaking to Shay now and looking at Casey, who nodded. "Do you want a ride?"

"I'm good," she responded. "I'll leave you two to neaten yourselves up. It smells like sex in here. Spray something before you leave." She grinned as she exited the bathroom.


Another week passed and Casey found himself running up the set of training stairs at the academy. It was almost 10pm, and certainly not his usual Saturday night entertainment, but with Casey's physical coming up soon, Severide had pulled some strings. Severide was waiting for him at the top of the building, he'd been up and down quite a few times now, Severide checked his watch and decided to head down them himself, worried Casey had slowed down, even more worried that he could have hurt himself, he regretted not sticking with him, but Casey had insisted he just waited.

Severide met Casey half way down the stairs. "You ok?" he asked Casey.

"Yeah, yeah…"

"How about we just walk up now? Cool off," Severide suggested.

"I wasn't doing much more than walk, barely running now," he replied, a hint of annoyance in his tone."

"A jog," Severide corrected. "A jog, slow walk, same thing."

"No. A jog is a slow run, was barely doing that."

"It's just like the in between walk and run phase," he said.

"Google it," Casey told him. "A jog is a slow run, not a fast walk."

Severide frowned at him. "What?"

"See who's right," he responded.

Severide just laughed at him. "You're too hard on yourself, you were doing a hell of a lot more than walking, more than jogging. You've been great tonight; we've been at it a while though now."

Casey's expression sobered. "Will you laugh if I fail the physical next Tuesday?"

"No. You want to push it back?" Severide asked him.

"It's over a week away, I'll get fitter by doing more, and I need to be back at work to do more… Boden might not even want me back once I've passed the physical…"

"He wants you back," he assured Casey.

"At least I don't need a psych eval," Casey responded, scoffing with laughter.

"Why? Feeling… unstable?"

"No but…"

"But?"

Casey shrugged. "Dunno."

He took Casey's hand. "You know you can talk to me, right? It's all part of the relationship deal."

"I know," Casey responded, smiling. "And thank you… I've already piled so much on you."

"Keep piling, I'd rather carry the weight on my shoulders than watch you carry it," he insisted.

"You're too good to be true, Kelly Severide."

Severide grinned as he pulled Casey into an embrace. "Yes, I am," he said, planting a kiss on Casey's lips.


Severide was sitting at his desk in his quarters, he was supposed to be working through a pile of paperwork, which only seemed to be growing, but he was flicking through his camera roll on his phone. Casey had his physical at the academy this morning, and he should be finished by now, so Severide was anxiously waiting a phone call. He really hoped Casey passed, and he was sure he would pass, but part of him didn't want him to, it felt too soon, it felt like it had only been a few weeks since he was having treatment, but it had been a few months since his last cycle of chemotherapy.

There was a quick rap at his office door, he turned and smiled, met with a pleasant surprise.

"Hey," Casey said as he slipped inside, closing the door behind himself.

"Hey… What are you doing here?" he asked, not hiding his surprise.

"Thought I'd tell you in person; passed the physical," Casey responded as Severide stood up.

"Oh, Matt, that's brilliant," he said, wrapping his arms around Casey and giving him a quick hug. "No one see you get here?"

"Snuck in, looks like Truck's out on a call," Casey explained.

"Ah, yeah, MVA. Do you want some lunch?"

"No, should get home soon. First time Margot's been on her own, although I've not had any angry phone calls from the neighbours saying she's barking or anything," Casey responded, smiling.

"Knowing her, she's probably fast asleep," he said.

"Was hard to leave her this morning, bribed her with treats," Casey explained.

Severide grinned. "Course you did, you're a big softie."

He just shrugged, smiling in response.

"I'm really pleased for you, how was it all?" Severide asked him.

"Was all right, I passed so…"

"You feel all right?"

"Yes… Kelly, I feel all right, I feel fine, I feel great," he responded, grinning before leaning in and kissing Severide's lips, aware no one was in the bunk room. "Now, I'm gonna go see Boden, then I'll head home."

"Come see me again before you leave?"

Casey nodded, smiling as he turned and left Severide's quarters.

"Hey, don't be disappointed if you don't work the next shift… you've passed the physical, but you still don't need to rush back to work, there's no deadline, you've got nothing to prove to anyone," Severide said before Casey could leave.

"I know."

"I mean it, Matt," he continued firmly.

"Have I been pushing myself too hard? Or have I been taken on the doctor's advise and given myself time?"

Severide's face brightened as he grinned. "I am actually pretty impressed at how you've not forced yourself to do stuff when you aren't ready," he admitted.

"Guess I learnt my lesson the hard way," Casey responded solemnly.

"Lesson?"

"I was sick for weeks before I told myself something was wrong, I just kept pushing myself."

"You didn't know," Severide replied.

"I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew I wasn't well," he said, expression grave.

Severide offered him a smile. "You're well now."

Chapter Text

Severide entered the house quietly and dumped his things by the door before heading into the kitchen, seeing Margot asleep on the couch as he walked through. He poured himself a fresh mug of coffee from the pot and saw a couple of dirty dishes by the sink. He heard movement from upstairs as he took a tentative sip of the hot liquid.

"Matt, I'm home," he called. Wanting to let Casey know he was back, now that he knew he wasn't resting. "I'm in the kitchen."

"Come up to my room," came Casey's response. It only been a few days since he'd passed his physical and it was his first shift back tomorrow, although Casey had told Severide that Boden insisted on light duties for a few weeks to ease himself back into it all, and if he needed to step out then there was no shame in doing so. Severide wasn't sure Casey would stick to that now he had his doctor's permission, and the CFDs, to be back at work. Casey had been careful not to push himself too much over the past couple of months, but this all felt a bit too fast for Severide, and he wasn't convinced Casey would take things slowly once he was back on shift. It hadn't quite been three months since Casey had finished his treatment, and whilst he was pleased for Casey and the progress he'd made, he'd always be concerned too. 

Frowning, Severide put his mug down and did as Casey asked.

"Hey," Casey greeted him, looking up at him from his position on the floor.

"Hey… been doing some tidying?" Severide asked him.

"Cleared out some more space for your things," he responded, getting up from where he was surrounded by a few neat piles of clothing. Severide had been keeping a lot of his clothes in the spare bedroom. "So, all these drawers are free now, and there's about three quarters of hanging space in the closet… what?"

"Nothing." Severide smiled, shrugging as he spoke.

"You're grinning like a Cheshire cat," he retorted.

"This is just really nice of you," Severide said.

"It's provided a bit of a distraction," he responded.

"First day back," Severide mused.

"Was hoping my hair would have grown back just a little more." Casey ran a hand through his short blond hair.

"Hang on…"

Casey stared after him, frowning, as he went into the ensuite, it was only a few moments later that he realised what Severide was doing, when he heard the buzz of the hair trimmers.

He darted into the bathroom and looked at Severide open mouthed as the man continued to trim away long strips of his hair. "What the hell are you doing?"

"You don't like it?" Severide asked, turning to face him, still holding the trimmers in his hand.

"Kelly…"

"If anyone's gonna make any comments about hair on Friday, then it's gonna be about mine," Severide insisted.

Casey smiled, shaking his head unbelievably. "You're insane. I love you," he said. "Erm… but maybe I should do the rest for you," he added, letting out a soft chuckle at the mess Severide was creating.

"Just the hair, you can leave the eyebrows, chest and pubes…"

Casey raised his brows. "Not up for any manscaping then? You are hairy down there…"

"Hey…"

"You are a hairy man… how about one eyebrow?" Casey teased.

"Wait…" he paused. "Do you tidy up down there?"

"I have done in the past… been to the same place Shay does," Casey told him.

"Oh… I didn't know that," he responded, a little taken aback.

Casey just laughed as he took the trimmers from Severide's hand.

"Did you just snort?" Severide questioned, laughing now too.

"Stay still or I'll cut off an ear…" he warned.

"Or an eyebrow," Severide responded, composing himself so Casey could tidy up his hair.


After his impromptu haircut, Severide made dinner for the both of them. He wanted to give Casey a nice relaxed evening before his first shift back at work, he'd popped out and bought some nice steaks and fresh vegetables, as well as a nice treat for dessert. Casey had gained enough weight to look much healthier, and fit in the majority of his clothes now, there was a little way to go in Severide's opinion, but he was healthy and that's what mattered now. He just hoped he wouldn't drop weight again with the increase of work once he was back on shift.

Casey chuckled as Severide placed a plate down on the table in front of him. "Can't believe you shaved off all your hair," he said. "Insane…"

"Yeah, suppose everyone will be talking about it tomorrow," Severide responded with smug smile as he sat down with his own food. He felt as though he hadn't been able to do as much as he wished to help Casey over the last few months, but he knew he could take some of the focus away from him on his first day back at work.

"At least it doesn't look bad," he commented as he took a bite of the meal.

"Good?" Severide asked him, watching as he ate a piece of the steak.

"Perfect," he responded.

"Good," Severide said, relaxing now, glad Casey was enjoying the food he'd cooked.

Casey peered at him. "Are you worried about tomorrow?"

"Yeah, guess I am."

"Me too. It'll be all right though, once we get a call in… not that I'm wishing misfortune on anyone... but things will feel normal when I get out on my first call."

"Normal?"

"Yeah, everything will be back to normal tomorrow," he responded with an adamant nod.

Severide just smiled and went back to eating. He didn't want to put a damper on Casey's mood, or his belief that things would be normal as soon as he got back to work, he just hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed if it took more than just being back at work to feel normal again. He'd done a lot of reading up around recovery after cancer in the past couple of months. Although, admittedly, he'd initially thought once Casey's cancer was gone then things would be normal, but having been with Casey throughout everything now, and having done his own research, he wasn't sure Casey would ever get back the normalcy he kept insisting would happen.

"Was thinking about going over and seeing Griffin and Ben after shift, Heather says they've been asking to see me, you should come to? If you want?"

"How about we go on Sunday instead?"

"You're busy Saturday?"

"I just think… well, shift might take it out of you, first one back and all…"

Casey was silent for a few moments, just looking at Severide before he eventually responded. "I don't want it to."

"Won't take long to get back into the swing of things though, I'm sure. First few might be rough though," he warned.

"We'll go over on Sunday then," Casey said, nodding. "And tonight we can…"

"Quench your sexual appetite?"

Casey smiled, shrugging. "What can I say? I missed out on a lot when I was sick… and twenty-four hours without be able to touch you isn't something I'm looking forward to." Then Casey looked at him, his eyes wide with worry. "Unless you don't want too… if I'm being too much, needing too much then just…"

"Shut up, Matt. I want to."

Chapter Text

Casey was welcomed into the common room with a loud applause, it quickly trickled off when Boden joined them all in welcoming Casey back. Severide's new hairstyle was met with surprise and friendly laughter, it was getting just as much attention as Casey, and he was glad he'd divided everyone's focus so that Casey wasn't overwhelmed by everyone's good intentions. Margot was also getting a lot off fuss from everyone, as well as Pouch.

Once everyone settled down, they all headed into the briefing room, there wasn't much to say, Boden highlighted some gang activity that had been brought to his attention by the CPD, and then they were all dismissed. Boden inconspicuously asked Casey to remain behind, Severide gave them a look before leaving the room too, taking Margot with him.

"It's nice to have you back," Boden began. "I want you to take it easy though…"

"Chief… I'm not just gonna stand and order my guys around," he said before Boden could finish.

"I know, but if you need a break then you take a break, agreed?"

"I passed the…" Casey paused. "Yeah, agreed," he conceded, he didn't want an argument, and he understood where Boden was coming from.

"You do not need to prove yourself to any of us, you've already done that a thousand times over, everyone is pleased you’re back," Boden said.

Casey nodded and spoke again after a moment. "I just… I don't want anyone to think I can't do it."

"They all know you can do it, they all know how capable you are," Boden told him.

Casey just nodded again in response.

Boden smiled. "Better go dig out your turnout gear," he told him, and Casey went and did just that. He was glad to be walking the corridors of 51 again, nothing had changed.


The alarm rang out a few hours into their shift, the familiar noise of the tannoy got Casey and the rest of his crew up from the table in the common room, where they'd been filling Casey in with as much gossip and news as possible. From the squad table, Severide watched as Casey left, giving him a smile as Casey had glanced back at him before jumping into his rig. He saw Boden watching as Truck 81, and Ambulance 61, left the firehouse with the lights and sirens blaring.

Severide spoke to him. "You're staying put?"

"He doesn't need a babysitter," Boden responded simply.

"Feels like he's throwing himself in the deep end," he said, looking at the empty spot on the apparatus floor.

"He knows how to swim," Boden stated.

Truck 81 turned up at the vehicle collision scene. Casey got out of the rig, put on his helmet, and headed over to the vehicles, his crew followed, all taking in the scene and awaiting Casey's instructions. They got to work quickly, freeing the trapped victim from her car. Despite how serious the accident seemed, no one was gravely injured, and the woman who had been trapped was only taken to the nearest hospital as a precaution.

Herrmann came up to Casey as they were clearing up the debris from the street so that the road could be reopened. "Good to be back, Lieutenant?"

"More than good," he responded, bending down and picking up some scrap metal.

Herrmann smiled. "It was weird without you here."

"I'm sure you got used to it," Casey replied.

"Not something I want to get used to again," he spoke, shaking his head.

Casey smiled at that. "And to think that you didn't like me when I got transferred to 51," he said, raising his brows.

"Yeah, well, you were a very young lieutenant with no experience being a lieutenant…"

"Hey, I'm still young," he protested.

"Didn't take you long to win Mouch and I over," Herrmann continued.

"What? After I broke my arm and still managed to drag Mouch out of that building?" he replied with a chuckle at the memory. "Feels like a lifetime ago," he added quietly.

"I've had three children since then," Herrmann responded.

Casey was silent, contemplative, for a moment, he no longer knew if he'd be able to have children. He smiled at Herrmann though. "You're a great dad."

"They're great kids most the time," Herrmann replied as Mills came up to them both.

"Road's clear, Lieutenant," Mills told Casey.

"Let's pack up and get back then," he responded.

Herrmann noticed Casey watching Mills carefully. "He's a good kid," Herrmann said.

"He's been working hard with all the extra classes at the academy," Casey commented.

"He has," he confirmed.

"Severide thinks he's ready to do his Squad certification," Casey responded, half questioningly.

"He has a good shot," Herrmann said.

"I've missed a lot… I don't want him to be disappointed if he doesn't get it… I've managed to catch up on all the reports, but they haven't really helped to tell me if he's ready. You think he has a shot?" he asked.

"As good as anyone else doing it, and if Severide thinks he's ready…"

Casey nodded as they re-joined everyone who had now finished packing up the rig. They were ready to set off back to the firehouse. He listened to his crew chattering as they drove back to the station, smiling at the triviality of it all as he adjusted his cap, the sun was shining brightly into his eyes.

"Lieutenant?"

He turned to see Cruz glancing at him quickly from the drivers seat.

"Severide's hair. Did he lose a bet?" Cruz asked him.

Casey chuckled in response, noticing his whole crew waiting expectantly for an answer. "You'll have to ask Severide," he said eventually. Using his surname again had felt forced, but he knew he'd get used to it.


Severide slipped into Casey's quarters a short while after he'd returned to the firehouse, he'd watched Casey get out of the rig and it had taken all his self-control not to walk straight over to him right then and there.

"I'm fine," Casey stated before Severide had a chance to ask.

"Good," he responded, sitting down on Casey's bunk, giving Margot a quick scratch behind her ear.

Casey turned in his chair. "Mills," he said simply.

"Yeah?"

"You said a few weeks ago, you think he's ready to do his Squad certification?" Casey asked him.

"He is," he responded.

"Ok," Casey said, nodding.

"He really is ready, Matt."

"Yeah, I trust you," Casey replied, smiling.

"He's been working hard at it," he continued.

Casey smiled. "I believe you. Tell him he can do it."

"You don't want to?"

"I've not been here," Casey explained.

"I think it'll go down well coming from you," Severide told him as he gave Margot some more attention.

"It was your idea," he retorted.

"And you didn't like it, so it would go down well from you."

"I didn't like it because you can't just poaching people from my crew, we need good guys too," Casey responded.

"You have good guys," he said.

"That's not the point, and I don't really want this conversation," Casey replied, sighing.

Severide held his hands up as he stood back up. "Ok, fine."

"I'll speak to Mills," Casey said as Severide left his office. "Shit…" he muttered under his breath once the door closed. It hadn't been a conversation he'd wanted with Severide, and now he just wanted to go after him and apologise, even though he realised he didn't have anything to apologise for, he felt bad for the argumentative tone. Perhaps he was tired too, stepping straight back into his role as Truck Lieutenant was full on, and he hadn't slept well last night in anticipation for his first shift back.


Casey caught Mills outside the common room later that day. Just as he expected, Mills was ecstatic about the news. Casey left him to tell the others in the common room as he went off to find Severide. He discovered him by the toilets and walked up to him with an apologetic expression.

"I'm sorry," they spoke simultaneously, chuckling at themselves afterwards.

Casey took a breath and continued. "We're gonna have disagreements at work, about work, and just… we're gonna have disagreements about things, as long as we're not idiots about it then it's just part of a normal relationship. It would be wrong if we agreed perfectly on absolutely everything, especially at work. We're different at work, we have different approaches and different ways of seeing things. And that's good, it means when we're doing something together, we can bounce off each other."

Severide smiled. "Did you rehearse that?"

"The first bit," he admitted, grinning back at him.

"And yeah, we are gonna disagree, that's normal, but keeping work and home life separate is gonna be good," Severide said.

"Yeah… it's gonna be hard not to bring something home though," he responded.

"Then we talk, and we're honest with each other, but we both know we'll disagree, at least to some extent about things at work. We'll be ok with this," Severide continued.

Casey nodded. "Yeah, we'll be ok with it."

"And… you're all right? Everyone's being nice…"

"Yeah, Kelly, everyone's being nice… not about your new hairstyle though, think people noticed the coincidence with the timing," he said with a smile.

"I actually quite like it, I'm quicker in the shower," Severide pointed out.

"You'll never be quicker in the shower," he quipped.

"Ok, probably not, I like a good shower…"

" Truck 81, Squad 3, Ambulance 61, Battalion…"


Severide hadn't realised what Casey being back at work meant, not in the way he realised as he watched him walking into a burning building. He was no longer sick, but he wasn't out of danger, Severide was watching him walk straight into danger right now. He'd not thought about that aspect of their new lives together at all. He'd never wanted Casey to get hurt before, but the sick feeling that was currently in his stomach had never been there before, Casey could be killed so easily, human beings were so fragile.

A voice broke through his thoughts. "Lieutenant?"

Severide looked questioningly at Capp.

"Erm, we're wanted in the basement," Capp explained, as if he'd already told Severide.

"Right, let's go."

When it was all over, Severide found himself watching Casey again, relieved everything had gone smoothly.

Caught up in his thoughts again, he didn't notice Shay approach him from behind. "Picture will last longer," she spoke, grinning as she glanced in the direction Severide was looking, meeting eyes with Casey who gave her a quick smile before he rounded up his crew.

"Shouldn't you be on the way to the ER?"

"Guy refused transport," she responded simply. "He's happy to be back at work," she commented, glancing at Casey again.

"Yeah."

"He'll be exhausted tomorrow," she continued.

"Yeah, me too," he said absentmindedly.

Shay smiled softly. "He can look after himself, has done for years."

Severide knew it was supposed to be reassuring, but it wasn't. He moved away from her without another word to help his guys clear up so they could leave the scene.


Back at the firehouse a short while later, the apparatus floor was buzzing with actively as everyone returned. Casey was standing still, watching his men as they took off their turnout gear and chatted away, before the all headed back through the double doors off the apparatus floor. He smiled at the familiarity of it all.

Chapter Text

Severide was sitting in the common room with Capp and Tony, perusing through the daily newspaper as he sipped his first coffee of the day. It was almost 8am and roll call would begin shortly, but for now he was content with his coffee.

"Where's Casey?" Herrmann asked the room loudly as they all started to head out to the briefing room.

"Hospital, he'll be here by lunchtime, he couldn't get his appointment changed," Severide answered as he folded up his newspaper.

"He's ok?" Cruz questioned.

"Routine appointment," he responded simply, standing up now.

"But he's all right?" Herrmann spoke up again, pausing in the corridor.

"Lieutenant Casey's absolutely fine," Boden's voice carried through the corridor from where he was standing outside the briefing room.

They all turned to look at their chief before filing into the room and taking their seats. After they finished. Shay caught Severide as they headed out, smiling at him.

"Friday night, you, me, Matt, out to that new bar in Boystown," she announced.

"Matt's working tomorrow," he replied.

"Not at night," Shay said.

"I doubt he'll wanna go out when he gets back."

"He's keeping himself busy," she commented. Her smile had faded away now.

"Yeah, barely spends any time at home, gets up at the crack of dawn to take Margot out for a run, then heads to work, I see him more on shift…"

"Oh… sorry," she responded sympathetically.

"Yeah… I don't think something's wrong, but it's just… I dunno, like he's afraid to stop, dunno if that makes sense…"

"How about I ask him about tomorrow?" she suggested.

"You can… you'd think he'd want to do fun stuff, make the most of, well, not being sick," Severide responded, downhearted.

"He likes work," she stated.

"He does…" he agreed. "Don't say anything but, sometimes I wake up at night and he's holding my arm so tight, like he thinks I'll disappear if he lets go, I just pretend I'm asleep, I don't want to embarrass him, it's something I don't think he'd want me to know, he'd think I'd see him as weak," he said sadly.

"Matt has issues, he's always gonna have them, but he trusts you, he loves you," Shay responded simply.

"And I love him, I just… I hope I'm enough for him… I'm nothing special."

"You're special to him, and I think if he is really struggling, he'll talk to you, he's holding you at night when he needs that comfort, he likes touch," she said thoughtfully.

"He loves touch," Severide corrected. "I don't know why but it always seems to help him, calm him down, lets him focus, relax. He's still recovering," he added.

"He is, he was really sick, he might be back at work now but things are different, you're different, your relationship is different, your home lives are different. There's been a lot of change," Shay explained insightfully. "He wanted things to go back to normal, he's probably realising that won't happen. Too much has changed, too much has happened."

"I hope he knows most of it is good change. Me and him; we're good, really good… he knows that. If he didn't, he would never have asked me to move in with him, he wouldn't have cleared out space for my things, and he wouldn't… he wouldn't seek comfort from me if he didn't think we were a good thing, that I'm a good thing…"

"You're good for him, you're good for each other. But if I have to keep reminding you of that, I'm gonna get very tired, very quickly, I'm not your couples counsellor," she added, chuckling.

Severide let out a short laugh. "Sorry, I just want us to work."

"Exactly, so you're gonna be just fine," she responded. "Matt just needs some time to adjust, he's back at work, which is good but he still needs time."


When Casey finished at the hospital and got to the firehouse, he checked in with Boden, then headed straight for his quarters. Severide could see him through the glass with his elbows on his desk, head resting in his hands. He got Margot off his own bunk and took her over to Casey's quarters, knocking on the door before opening it to allow her in. Casey turned to her and smiled, greeting her with enthusiasm before looking up at Severide.

"Hey," Severide began.

"Did I miss anything this morning?" he asked, getting down from his chair to give Margot a belly rub as she lay flat on her back.

"Ambo had a couple of runs," Severide informed him.

Casey just nodded in response so Severide got down on the floor to join him and Margot.

"How was this morning?" Severide questioned him, letting his hand touch Casey's as he stroked Margot.

"Was fine," he answered.

"Yeah, all good?"

Casey nodded. "I'm booked in for a biopsy next time," he informed Severide. "Wrote me a 'script for Valium."

"Just for the biopsy?"

Casey nodded again.

"You look tired, why don't you get some rest," Severide suggested, knowing Casey hadn't slept much overnight because of his worries over the check-up.

"Not here during the day, I already get enough worried glances," he scoffed.

"You do?" Severide asked him, as if he hadn't noticed.

"Yeah, from everyone when they don't think I can see them," Casey said tightly.

"They just care," he responded, offering him a smile.

"Yeah…"

"Hey, you're back at work, you don't have to go to the hospital for another month, and summer is almost here, the weather's already nice," Severide spoke enthusiastically, wanting to bring back a smile to Casey's face. "Shay wants to go out tomorrow night, new bar, she was gonna ask you if you wanted to go."

"I guess we could," he said with a small shrug.

"You could sound a little more enthusiastic," Severide responded, he was still smiling though.

"Sorry… I suppose it might be good," he agreed, smiling back.

"Might be? It'll be great, we've not been out for so long," Severide said.

Casey looked at him slowly. "Sorry."

He shook his head; there was no blame. "Say yes when Shay mentions it, it'll be fun."

"Yeah, all right," he agreed, smiling again, thoughts of his next check-up and biopsy fading.


Casey swayed with the music, he was comfortable, at ease, mostly because of the alcohol flowing through his veins. He wasn't drunk, not yet anyway, he was pleasantly relaxed. He was smiling and laughing with Severide, holding his arm as they stood by the band, Shay was nearby, dancing with someone she'd met there.

Severide was saying something, but Casey could barely hear a word above the music so he just smiled before Severide steered him over to the bar area. Suddenly some food was shoved into his hand. He shook his head at Severide, he wasn't hungry, he didn't want bar food.

"Eat it," Severide mouthed. "Or you're gonna get very drunk, very quickly," he warned.

Casey chuckled and took the bottle Severide was holding, he took a long gulp of the beer, shook his head again and handed the bowl of fries back to Severide.

They both staggered into their house in the early hours of the morning.

Casey moved closer to Severide, almost on him like a limpet. Severide chuckled at the way Casey's hands glided over his body, as if drawn by a magnetic force, unable to pull away. Casey's lips found his, kissing him tiredly, drunkenly, but lovingly nonetheless as his hands held his head, feeling Severide's buzz cut, gripping him tightly. Then his hands found their way down to Severide's pants.

"Stop," Severide spoke when he heard his own buckle open. 

Casey paused his actions, lying heavily on top of Severide.

"You're drunk," he continued.

"Shh…" Casey put a finger to his own lips. "Don't tell anyone."

"I mean, we should just sleep," he explained, eyes tired and body weary.

"Don't wanna take advantage of me?" He grinned before leaning down and kissed Severide again.

"Think you might be taking advantage of me with that goofy smile of yours," Severide responded, chuckling airily.

Casey pouted. "Goofy," he objected.

"All right then… boyish."

"I am a boy," he retorted.

"You're a man," Severide said.

Casey's body stiffened. "Do I look old?" he asked, frowning.

"No," Severide responded, shaking his head, and stifling a chuckle at Casey's question.

"Not too old for hugs?"

"You're not old… and no one is ever too old for hugs," Severide said. "Do you need a hug?"

"I do," he responded, smiling.

Severide opened up his arms, allowed Casey to nestle against his chest, tucking his head underneath his chin, before wrapping his arms around Casey's smaller frame.

"Tonight was good, huh?" Severide asked him.

"Mmm…"

He smiled and continued. "You've been so busy lately, was nice to have some fun with you. We're on shift next weekend, but maybe we could go out in the week, just a meal or something?" he suggested. "Matt?"

Casey had fallen asleep in his arms. He looked down at him, careful not to disturb him, Casey's lips had parted a fraction and he looked peaceful. Severide gave the top of his head a kiss, switched the bedside light off and closed his own eyes.


Severide woke before Casey, he lay with him for some time before getting out of bed, his stomach empty and mouth dry. He took Margot out for a short walk, which was something Casey usually did but Severide wanted him to sleep a while longer. He was tidying up after eating breakfast when Casey appeared in their small kitchen area.

"God… I feel rough…" Casey announced gruffly as he entered.

"Morning to you too," Severide responded, smiling as he watched Casey head to the refrigerator.

He drank straight from the cartoon of orange juice. "Mind you, not as bad as I have felt before in the last ten months," he added.

"Ah so on a scale of feeling sick…"

"Chemo is worse than a hangover, possibly because the hangover is self-induced," Casey said with a smile.

"Breakfast?"

"Oh no…" he answered, scowling, the thought of food right now made him feel queasy.

"Coffee?"

"Please," Casey responded, smiling again. He sat down at the table and watched as Severide poured him a mug from the coffee pot. "Thank you," he said when Severide passed him the mug, he wrapped his fingers around its warmth.

Severide sat down opposite him. "Margot's been out for a walk, but we could take her for a longer one later, if it doesn't get too warm for her?"

"I've got some work to do," Casey answered.

"It's Saturday."

"I said I'd sort the guttering out for Mrs Henderson, she's been worrying it won't withstand any heavy rain," he responded.

"It's June," Severide said.

"I know, but she's still worried, won't even take me an hour, and it'll put her mind at ease," he explained.

"Matt…"

"She does make good pie too," Casey continued.

"You're not gonna charge her, are you?"

He shook his head and continued to sip his coffee. Severide just watched him, he always wondered how he ended up so well-adjusted, at least on the surface, and so caring and nice, when knowing what he did about Casey's childhood, and everything he's gone through, would lead anyone to think he'd be the exact opposite. Casey was loyal, hard-working, selfless, thoughtful, willing, and strong. Severide admired him, even though he could be harsh with his words, and stubborn to a fault. He liked to think he understood why Casey hid behind walls and pushed people away, it was a defence mechanism. He loved him, and he admired him, much more than Casey would ever believe, because Casey would never understand why anyone could ever love him.

Casey put his mug down on the table. "Have a got something on my face?" he asked Severide, a quizzical expression in his eyes.

Severide didn't respond right away. "Want a hand with the guttering?"

Casey smiled. "Sure."

 

Chapter Text

August came around with speed, and roaring heat, Casey never complained about the heat though. He would complain about the cold, in private at least, but he enjoyed their hot summers even if they were a little too hot at times. Severide kept saying he should live in a warmer climate, and not have to suffer through their cold Chicago winters, but Casey loved their city too much to even consider moving. He had been back at work for a little over two months now, and he'd thrown himself back into it with full gusto, and Severide could hardly believe it had almost been five months since Casey had been given the all clear. Things at the firehouse had changed, Mills had passed his Squad certification, Casey was down a man on his crew as Boden had managed to get Mills a place on Squad 3. He had spoken to Boden about getting another candidate, he enjoyed training them up, not all officers did, and he was hopeful he'd get one in the near future.

Severide hovered outside Casey's quarters for a few moments. He watched Casey through the glass, he was sitting at his desk, there was paperwork in front of him but he wasn't paying any attention to it. Severide knocked once before opening the door, and stepped inside without waiting for a response. "Dinner's ready," he announced.

Margot lifted her head up at the interruption from the silence.

Casey turned. "Huh?"

"Dinner," he repeated.

"Oh, yeah, Herrmann told me," Casey said, turning back to his desk.

"Yeah, half an hour ago," he responded.

"Oh…"

"What's up?" Severide asked him, sitting down by Margot on the bed.

"Did you notice me knock myself at that scene this morning?"

"No…" Severide responded, and before he could ask Casey why, he showed Severide a bruise on his arm. "Oh, erm… I don't know if that's from this morning… erm… it could be…"

Casey turned back to face his desk again, taking a breath as he did.

"Hey," Severide began, placing a hand on his shoulder. "You probably did knock yourself."

"What if I didn't?"

"If you'd feel better getting an appointment, then make an appointment and get some blood tests," Severide suggested calmly.

"Maybe I should go now," he responded.

Severide could hear the panic in his voice. "Matt, look at me. You've not lost any weight, you've not been ill, and you still feel all right?"

Casey nodded, face several shades paler than when Severide had sat down. 

He smiled and continued. "You feel all right, and look all right…"

"My heart's pounding," Casey spoke, almost gasping.

Severide went over to him. "Take a deep breath with me… and let it out…"

Casey's panic only increased and his breaths shortened. Tears started to roll down his cheeks and he tried desperately to control his breathing.

Severide felt useless in his attempts to stop Casey from hyperventilating. He could do nothing but watch as Casey's panic worsened. He was shaking his head now, tears had made small wet patches on his grey polo shirt, Severide had his hands on his upper arms as he continued to struggle.

Suddenly Severide wrapped his arms around his body, holding him close, and slowly Casey's breaths began to match his. Severide became aware that Casey was muttering something.

"Sorry… sorry… sorry…"

"Oh, Matt..." Severide began. "This is fine, it's ok, you're allowed to be worried."

He shook his head. "Bathroom," he spoke as he stood up. He dashed out the room and Severide followed, fearing he'd worked himself up so much he was going to vomit.

Fortunately, everyone was still in the common room having lunch so no one saw the two lieutenants walking briskly too the bathroom. Severide let out a breath of relief when he watched as Casey simply stood by the sink and splashed cold water on his face.

Severide stayed by his side as he rinsed his face, he leant on the sink and peered into the mirror as he took a deep breath. He turned to Severide. "My head's not in it, gonna speak to Boden," he said.

"Ok," Severide accepted.

"You don't mind? You don't think I'm being… weak?"

"I could never see you as weak," Severide responded firmly.

He let out a steadying breath. "I'm gonna speak to Boden," he repeating before leaving Severide alone in the bathroom.

Just as Casey reached Boden's office the alarms rang out, calling for Truck 81 and Ambulance 61. He paused for a moment, Boden had seen him approaching and had been about to wave him in before the tannoy sounded. He turned and headed for the apparatus floor.


Severide was on the apparatus floor when 81 and 61 returned, he made himself busy, making sure it didn't look like he was waiting for Casey. He hadn't realised straight away that Casey had left with the rest of his crew, not until he saw Boden, as he was sure their chief would have covered for him if he had left, and then he'd gone outside to see Casey's truck still in the parking lot.

It had been an uneventful call, a false gas alarm, but the distraction of work had focused Casey's mind again, and he felt a hundred times better when he arrived back at the firehouse compared to how he'd felt when he'd walked over to Boden's office. He spotted Severide as he hung his turnout jacket on the door to his rig.

Casey gave him a small smile and walked up to him. "I may have overreacted earlier," he told Severide quietly as his crew filed past them. He left Severide on the apparatus floor as he followed everyone else to the common room.

Shay was suddenly walking alongside Casey. "Overreacted to what?" she asked him, mouth close to his ear.

"You're hearing is amazing," he responded, brows raised.

"Overreacted to what?" she simply repeated.

He stopped just before the common room. "Nothing," he answered.

She put a hand on his arm. "You know you can talk to me, I'm good at keeping secrets, even from Kelly," she told him.

"I'm fine, and I know, and thank you," he said before moving away from her and into the common room.

Shay watched him go and let out a short sigh. She was trying not to worry about Casey, but after everything, it was hard. She understood why he didn't want anyone to be concerned about him, understood why he pushed people away and acted the way he did, but she cared about him, just like everyone else at the firehouse. She wanted to make sure he was fine, wanted to help if there was anything she could do, and she wanted him to be happy. He didn't seem happy at the moment, most his smiles seemed forced, and it felt as if he was trying really hard to put on a good face, converse happily with everyone and act as though nothing had happened, that he hadn't been sick. It had been horrible for him, but she didn't think it was healthy to pretend it hadn't happened, no one dared to mention it anymore, and everyone was overly cautious when it came to talking about anything that was remotely relatable.


Shay was in the locker room in the middle of their next shift, she heard Casey curse and slam his locker door shut. She remained silent for a moment, and still, before deciding to make her presence known to him. She stepped down the row of lockers and smiled softly.

"Matt, hey?" she began.

He turned and she saw a flash of hurt in his eyes before his features neutralised. "Hey…"

She peered at him questioningly.

"Sorry," he sighed, looking at his locker.

She remained silent, waiting for Casey to talk.

"My sister phoned," he said simply. He'd been getting dressed after showering, needing to wash and change clothes after the call he'd been out on that morning, when he heard his phone ringing. He'd almost ignored it but decided it was best just to answer it and get it over and done with.

"Is she ok? Violet?"

"They're fine… she was just checking in with me," he responded, shrugging.

"That's a nice thing," she replied.

"My sister never checked in on me before she found out I was sick, she didn't check on me when I was going from group homes, to foster houses, back to group homes… but she's been speaking to me at least once a week since… since mom died… I know I never made much effort but it was almost like she just left me, my whole life fell apart overnight, she was at collage, she came back for the funeral, then went back to collage and got on with her life. I don't blame her for that, but I was here before I was sick too. Everyone's made such a big deal about it," he said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

"It probably put things into perspective for her," she responded, trying to offer him an explanation.

He let out a heavy breath. "Sorry, I didn't mean for all that to come out… Don't say anything to Kelly, but I am tired. Being back here… it's not quite how I thought it would be. I just wanted things to be normal, but that's not gonna happen… earlier, my overreaction? I spotted a small bruise on my arm and all I could think about was being back in that hospital room. I felt sick."

"You're gonna be worried, Matt," she said.

"Everybody else is worried too. It's been two months and it still feels like everyone is keeping an eye on me, and not on the job at hand. No, it doesn't feel like it, it is what's happening. I am not going to break. I might not be as fit as I usually am yet but I'm well on my way, and I wouldn't have passed the physical if they thought I wasn't good enough to be back, Boden would have sent me home if he didn't think I should be here."

"Matt, I don't think people are keeping an eye on you because they don't think you're good enough to be back," she responded.

"They why else would they?"

"Just to make sure you're doing all right, most of them know it's difficult to come back after a break," she told him.

"It's not difficult," he retorted.

"Don't tell me that you don't wanna crash as soon as shift is over, that you don't wanna sleep for the next forty-eight hours?"

Casey cast his eyes down.

"It's normal," she said.

"I wish people would quit talking about what's normal, this new normal… I've been back here for ages, I want the old normal."

"I know, that's not gonna happen though," she replied, shaking her head.

"I wish I'd died…" he muttered.

"What?"

"I… I wish it was easier, coming back to work, this new normal, I've been doing as much as I can to stop myself from just going home and crashing, I've been trying to do as much work as before…"

"You didn't say that, Matt."

"I did," he responded.

The tannoy went off as soon as Shay was about to respond, calling Ambulance 61 into action. "I'll see you later."

"Stay safe," he responded.

"We're gonna talk later," she added as she walked away.

Casey sat down heavily on the bench, swearing inwardly as he ran a hand through his hair.


Severide found Casey in his quarters shortly after the tannoy had gone off, he'd watched Shay and Rafferty leaving the firehouse. He then got himself another coffee before looking for Casey.

He didn't bother knocking on Casey's door. "So, I've been given some tickets…" he began as he walked inside. "You all right? Matt?"

Casey looked up at him slowly, he was sitting on his bunk, his hand lying on Margot's back. "Huh?"

"You looked a little lost, tired?"

"I'm fine," Casey said, giving him a smile.

"You know, I'm pretty tired after that run out Squad had this morning, even the simplest of calls can be tiring, all that adrenaline and stuff…"

"I'm fine," Casey repeated.

"My point is; you don't have to be, and not being fine doesn't have to be because of…"

Casey's look stopped Severide from saying any more.

"We're not saying the word now?" Severide asked him as he sat down on the desk chair.

"No," he responded simply.

"Ok… so, I've been given some tickets to a monster truck rally, you game?"

"Sure, who gave you the tickets?" Casey asked curiously. 

"Someone handed them in yesterday and Boden gave them to me. That guy who wrapped his car around a streetlight last week?"

"He was very grateful then," Casey responded, remembering the incident.

"Yeah, nice to be back here for that, right?"

"Yeah, nice to be back," he responded with no enthusiasm.

"You're settling into the routine again?"

"It's been more than two months, Kelly."

"Feels like we're barely seeing each other, even when we're at home," he commented.

"Probably because you spent so much time with me when I couldn't work," Casey said.

"Yeah, that's probably it," he said, nodding.

"I have my life back now, I always did keep myself pretty busy," Casey continued.

"Yeah, you're not overdoing it, are you?"

"I know you're worried," Casey said.

"Sorry for being so obvious," Severide responded.

"It's cute," he said with a shrug and a smile. "I'm just… getting used to it… I don't mean to seem like I'm… I dunno, pushing you away, I'm just going through… stuff right now."

"Ok. Well, I'm here when you need me," Severide replied.

Casey smiled. "Thank you. So… a monster truck rally?" His smile turned into a grin.

"Oh, yeah," Severide enthused. "Two tickets for mayhem and destruction this Saturday."

"I've never been to a monster truck rally," he responded.

"Me either… I think there's alcohol involved… and trucks," Severide said, grinning.

Casey chuckled, but he soon sobered as his previous thoughts returned.

"I'll come with you tomorrow," Severide spoke again after a moment, realising where Casey's mind kept going. His fifth check-up was happening tomorrow afternoon.

"I don't need a babysitter," he retorted immediately.

"I want to come along as your boyfriend," Severide responded softly.

"Sorry, I…"

"I know," Severide said, nodding.

"You're so good and I'm so… I'm so shit to you right now. You're not getting anything from this."

Severide frowned, tilting his head. "Anything from what?"

"Being with me," he answered as though it was obvious.

Severide shook his head. "I get so much from being with you, don't even think that I don't."

He smiled and nodded in response. Severide wondered what it would take for Casey to ever believe that he got so much from his relationship with him, that he couldn't even bare the thought of having to wake up without Casey by his side, without his smile and laughter, without his curiosity and love. Shay was right; Casey would always have his issues, but that would never stop Severide from loving him, and trying every single day to make sure Casey felt loved and cared for, because he deserved it more than anyone else in Severide's eyes.


Casey was sitting in the control centre, waiting for Shay to return, gazing through the glass at the empty space on the apparatus floor where the ambulance parked. He had paperwork he could be doing, but he was tapping his hand on his thigh as he waited. He bit the corner of his mouth, not enough to draw blood, but enough to ease a little of the tension he'd felt since his conversation with Shay.

He shot up from the chair when the ambulance returned, and headed straight out onto the apparatus floor.

"Hey," he said, smiling at Raftery as he greeted Shay.

Rafferty smiled back, brows raised. "I'll leave you two to it then," she spoke before she walked away.

"Hey," Casey repeated.

"Hi, Matt," Shay responded with a thin smile.

"How was it?"

"It was fine," she answered.

"Good," he replied, nodding. "I didn't mean what I said, I really didn't, it just slipped out."

"Uh huh," she said doubtfully.

Casey swallowed. "Are you going to talk to Kelly?"

"No."

"Thank you," he said, his shoulders relaxing.

"But only because I don't want to worry him," she explained.

"I really didn't mean it."

"Yeah, whatever you say, Matt."

"I'm sorry," he said.

"I don't want you to apologise," she stressed, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

"I am sorry, I'm sorry you always seem to be caught between me and Kelly; it's always about us, about me. I'm sorry."

She put a hand on his arm and shook her head. "It's not always about you. You guys help me out too, only the other day Kelly came by to get rid of a huge spider from my bathroom," she added, smiling.

"He did?"

"It was massive, bigger than my hand I swear… and my new roommate was useless so I had to call him," she said, chuckling.

"It must have been big then," he responded, grinning. "How is the new roommate?"

"So much tidier than Kelly, and he doesn't eat my yoghurt or finish my milk," she told him happily.

"Good."

"Does he finish your milk without replacing it?"

"Not yet. He makes me breakfast in bed at least once a week too, he runs hot baths for me, all ready when I get home from a construction gig… he cleaned my truck the other week, I went outside and there he was, scrubbing away," he said, smiling at everything Severide did for him.

"He's a sweetheart really," Shay responded.

"Biggest softest sweetheart ever."