Chapter 1: Bed of Flames
Matthew had been working relentlessly on trying to figure out the reason behind the trailer burnings. He had been digging deeper and deeper into the case. Looking into everything he could, from the company that owned the trailer park to the people who could be connected to the trailers in any way, shape, or form. Some of the crew at Firehouse 51 thought that their captain was looking too much into the fires. That accidents happen and sometimes buildings aren’t always up to code. But Casey knew that something was up. Trailers just don’t catch on fire randomly, with no proof of how the fire started. Especially multiple trailers in the same park and in such a short amount of time. It was suspicious and nothing was adding up. Casey felt like he was on the verge of figuring it all out and piecing the story together. He just needed more time. Though with his already heavy workload as a captain and having to go out on calls, he didn’t exactly have a lot of time. He had to stop taking care of himself so he could give himself the time to look into the case.
Casey didn’t see this as a big deal. He was used to sleepless nights and missing a few meals. He’s done it before and he told himself he could handle it. Getting this solved is more important, he reminded himself. Lives were at stake and people should not be able to get away with this. Casey not worrying about himself didn’t stop his crew from worrying about him, however. It made them worry about him even more. The second shift of Firehouse 51 knew Casey and they knew he could be a reckless man. Being reckless wasn’t always awful, but when it came to a person’s health, it could be. They could tell instantly when Casey was neglecting to do certain things. But he was also stubborn and wouldn’t listen to a word anyone said. He had his mind set on getting his solved. So everyone decided keeping an eye on him was the next best thing they could do until he was finished. The next few days consisted of Casey keeping up with his paperwork and gathering more proof for his case.
Currently, the young blonde was hunched over his laptop. The rest of the crew asleep in their bunks. The day had been busy with calls. People sliding on the icy roads and having trouble with their heating (resulting in a few too many fires). The only two up at such a late hour being Casey and the Squad Lieutenant whose office was right next door. The two often butted heads. Constantly arguing and disagreeing with each other about almost everything. Regardless, they were still best friends. Kelly had been worried about Matthew more than anyone. Forcing meals down his throat and making sure he was drinking water. Both men were bullheaded, and there was only so much Kelly could get Matt to do. He tried to make him take a nap earlier and that ordeal ended horribly. The captain not taking kindly to the suggestion, as he was already upset with Kelly “babying” him. It wasn’t babying, as Matt had called it, but looking out for his crewmates. Kelly knew no one else would be able to get him to eat.
Severide laid in his bed, watching Casey through the window. The only light coming from his laptop. Severide was positive Casey didn’t know he was being watched. If he knew, he wouldn’t be so slouched in his chair with his elbow on his desk. He didn’t know why he was watching him. Part of him telling himself he was doing it to make sure he was okay. That he didn’t pass out at his desk. He let out a breath, rubbing his eyes. Of course, he was worried about Casey, but another part of him enjoyed watching him. Casey was always tense, making sure he always had good posture and looked professional. But right now, he was letting himself relax. Not worrying about how he looked. Though, it showed how exhausted the blonde really was.
Kelly had thought about ways to get Casey to lay down or give his research a break, but he fell asleep before he was able to come up with a plan. Casey, on the other hand, stayed awake for several more hours. Feeling too close to figuring out the cause of the fires to sleep. If the bells were to go off, signaling an emergency, Casey might not have noticed. Too deep in concentration. By the time he finished, sending an email to the Chicago Police Department to schedule a meeting in the morning, it was already the end of the second shift. Matthew stood up and stretched, cracking his back and moving around his sore neck. He could hardly believe he got a solid case together. It was almost over, all that was left was talking with the CPD about it. He felt like he could finally sleep now. He packed up his laptop and his few things, getting ready to head out with the rest of the crew.
Casey didn’t know how he managed to get home. He felt half asleep by the time he got to his car. But he was home now, heading up the stairs and into his apartment. He knew driving while that exhausted was never the best idea, but he made it and he didn’t want to think about what could have happened. Besides, he wasn’t about to ask another firefighter for a ride home. His pride couldn’t handle that. All that mattered to him was getting into some sweatpants and laying down. His laptop on his nightstand. Severide had watched Casey stumble to his truck, wanting more than anything to stop him and ask him if he wanted a ride to his place. He kicked himself as he watched the grey car drive away. He was worried that Casey wouldn’t make it back to his place, but he also knew Casey. Casey wasn’t dumb enough to drive when he knew he couldn’t. Kelly got to his place, changing into comfortable clothes and sitting on his couch as he watched TV. A beer in one hand and the remote in the other. He was tempted to text Casey, make sure the man was okay. He stopped himself, knowing he was probably already asleep or very cranky.
“If he didn’t make it home, I would have heard about it by now,” he muttered to himself, taking a drink of his beer. “And everyone worries about each other like this. Nothing new or strange.” He turned up the volume of the show he was watching. His mind still on Casey.
Matthew was out the moment his head hit his pillow. His body curling up into his blankets as he slept. He was too exhausted to wake up and notice the sound of someone getting his front door open. And he stayed asleep through the sound of someone slamming closed the same door five minutes later. When he finally did wake up, it was because he had to use the bathroom. He got out of bed, moving to open his bedroom door. As soon as his hand grabbed the doorknob, he flinched back. The hot metal burning his skin. His heart started to race, grabbing hold of the knob once again and jerking the door open. His heart speeding up even more at the sight of his kitchen and living room in flames. He shut the door, backing away and trying to calm down enough to think.
“Fuck.” He grabbed a shirt, getting it on before moving one of the bedroom walls.
Matt knocked down his bookshelf, not even bothering with any of the windows. None of them would open, nor would any of them break. And it would be impossible to get out through his front door. He grabbed a metal rod that held his clothes, breaking it off his wall and letting the hangers fall to the floor. He moved back to the wall, starting to knock on it to find the most hollow and thin part of it. Once he found it, he started to break the wall with the rod. Ramming it until the wood until he made a hole big enough for him to fit out of. He climbed through it and wasted no time banging on his neighbor’s doors.
“Fire! Come on, let’s go. This is not a drill.” He yelled, moving through the hallway.
Disoriented and groggy people filed out of their apartments. Some were angry at first until they saw the smoke and realized that Casey wasn’t messing around. People helped each other out of the building quickly, coughing as they supported one another. Casey guiding them and making sure everyone was evacuated from the floor. He was about to head out behind the others until he remembered all of the evidence he spent the last few days collecting was still in his apartment. Without it, he wouldn’t be able to prove anything about the fires. He knew it was a dumb move, but he ran back to his apartment. He crawled back through the hole, coughing heavily as he got closer to the smoke. The fire had made its way into his bedroom, the room almost completely engulfed in the flames. It hurt Casey to know that all of his things would be destroyed, and it was too late to try to save anything. Except for his laptop that sat on the nightstand still. One could say that it was already too late. With the fire burning everything around it. Casey ran to his bed, grabbing the laptop and holding it close. Besides some singeing on the device, it seemed fine enough. But Casey was surrounded by the fire now. He looked around for a way out, the wall he had crawled through inflames. He knew one of his neighbors had called the Fire Department by now, though he wouldn’t have time to wait for them.
Matt looked around before grabbing one of his jackets from the ground. He wrapped it around his laptop to try to keep it safe. By now, he was having trouble breathing. Coughing constantly from the smoke that was filling his lungs, and the heat was unbearable. If he could just get out of the room, he would be okay. Matthew tried to ready himself, holding his breath and running through the fire. He dived through the hole, landing on the hard carpeting. He laid on the floor for a moment to collect himself before he pushed himself up. He made his way out of the building, keeping his focus on walking down the stairs. When he got outside, he let out a few long, nasty coughs. His lungs trying to get as much fresh air as possible. The residents of the apartment building were across the street, talking with each other. Families making sure they had everyone. A moment later, a firetruck came speeding up to the building. The firemen jumping out. Casey moved to them as quickly as his body would let him.
“Parker! Fire’s in 1 C.” He called out.
The older fireman was surprised to see him. “Casey?” He furrowed his eyebrows together before ordering his men to get inside and deal with the fire.
Parker moved to Casey, taking in how rough he was looking. He was covered in ash and burns. His skin beat red from the heat.
“Casey, what the hell happened?”
“Someone set my apartment on fire.” He held his laptop still, coughing against it to cover his mouth.
“Let’s get you over to the ambulance and get you checked out.”
“That can wait. I need to talk to a detective.”
Parker wanted to argue that his health was more important and that he could talk to one after he was helped. But he knew he wouldn’t be able to talk Casey into doing anything. He knew the captain had his mindset. Parker shook his head, moving to check in with his men and help them. Casey had found the detective he’s been talking with over the past few days. Quickly explaining his theory of arson. “How are you sure about that?”
“Last time I checked, my apartment didn’t normally smell like gasoline.” Casey shifts his laptop. The adrenaline was leaving his system. His body left feeling exhausted and in pain.
The detective was about to argue with Casey that it could be anything still. But that’s when Parker came back over to Casey. Chief Boden walking over as well. The chief had just arrived, hearing that it was his captain’s apartment that had caught on fire. He was too worried not to show up and check on him.
“We found a gas can in the living room. And someone had jimmied the lock to the apartment.” Parker took off his helmet, looking between the three men.
“You’ll need to come in for questioning. Casey.” Was all the detective said before turning and heading to his car. Parker patted Casey on the back gently, leaving his hand on his shoulder for a moment.
“I’m sorry, captain. But the apartment’s destroyed. There’s nothing left. We managed to get the fire out, but that’s about it.”
Casey shook his head, a mixture of numbness and exhaustion making it impossible to speak for a couple of moments.
“He saved a lot of lives on his way out. Still in his pajamas none the less.” Parker looked over to Boden, who couldn’t help but smile proudly.
“I would have been surprised if he didn’t. Thank you, Parker.” With that, Boden nodded his head at Parker, hinting that he needed to speak to Casey alone for a moment. Parker wanted to apologize to Casey and offer him help. As well as making sure he got his injuries checked out. But he respected Boden’s wishes. He turned around, going back to his truck. Everyone was already packing the gear away, talking softly amongst each other. The paramedics stayed put, keeping the stretcher out as they waited for Casey.
“You didn’t have to come, Chief.” He managed to say.
“I wanted to. Make sure you’re okay, Casey.”
“I’m fine. Just pissed off.”
“You look a little more than just pissed off. Our paramedics seem eager to take a look at you.” Boden put an arm around Casey.
“It’s just some minor burns, Chief. I can check them out myself later.” He says.
“I’m not asking you to get help. I’m telling you, Casey. Whatever you need to talk to the police about can wait.” Boden didn’t want to be too stern with him after what happened to him tonight, but he wanted to get the message across that Casey’s health wasn’t optional. He knew the case he had been tracking had something to do with the fire and Casey was ready to finish it. But he wasn’t about to let Casey go anywhere until he was helped.
Boden led Matthew over to the waiting ambulance, helping him onto the stretcher. The fact that the young man didn’t try to argue or push everyone away was a clear indicated of how much pain he was in. Boden carefully took his laptop away, laying it inside the ambulance. The two paramedics instantly starting to check out the burns and cuts that covered his body. Casey muttered about how they were minor and that he was fine. Trying to keep up the act that everything was perfectly okay. Boden had stayed by Casey’s side, rubbing his shoulder as the paramedic slipped an oxygen mask over Casey’s mouth and nose.
It wasn’t long until Casey passed out from pain and the paramedics worked on getting his burns wrapped up. None of the burns were that serious, only needing some cleaning, burn cream, and bandages. But with how many there were, it was no doubt excruciating to even sit down. Plus with how much smoke Casey he breathed in, no one was surprised to see him knocked out so quickly. The paramedics were able to check his lungs, make sure there was no lasting damage to them, before Casey had woken up. He wasn’t out long, though long enough to cause concern to everyone. They were ready to load him up into the ambulance and head to Med.
“No hospital.” He muttered out, his eyes cracking open.
“Casey, you suffered some pretty nasty burns and the amount of smoke you took in is no joke. You-” Boden was ready to convince him that going to the hospital was the best option, but Casey interrupted him.
“I know, Chief. Trust me. But I know I’m fine.” He took off the oxygen mask, his movements sluggish. “I just need to get some fresh air. I don’t need to go to the hospital. Besides, I have enough I need to do right now.” He moved off of the stretcher. A paramedic quickly helping him to sit up.
“You’ve been through a lot tonight already. At least take a shower and get some rest somewhere. Let me know if you need anything.” He knew arguing with the captain would do no good.
“Thank you.” Casey forced a small smile. He was grateful for the concern, but he just wanted to get his research turned into the police and finish up.
Boden was reluctant to leave him, but there was nothing else he could do for Casey right now. He gave the man a nod before heading to his car and driving away. Matt thanked the two paramedics before moving to see if he could get into his apartment. The police stopping him, telling him it was too dangerous and it was a crime scene. He put up a fight for a bit, giving up to go to the police station and talk with his detective.
Chapter 2: Rough Mornings
So, I typically have Thursdays and Fridays off and those are the days that I will most likely update the story on. I work on the chapters throughout the week and finish them on one of those days. I will try to update weekly or every two weeks. That being said, I see this as more of a rough draft. I write it and I plan on fixing and/or adding to it later. I really just want to get some ideas out. I'm not completely happy with it right now.
As always, if you have any suggestions, complaints, etc. please let me know!
Boden had called a meeting when the entire second shift got there. The chief stood at the front of the room, looking deathly serious. His eyes on everyone as they moved inside. The chatting died down rather quickly. The sound of voices being replaced by a few whispers and the sound of a heater kicking on from somewhere in the building.
“Brett, do you know what’s going on?” Foster mumbled to her partner. Sylvie only shook her head, feeling as though speaking would earn her a glare from her boss.
“Whatever it is, it must be pretty important,” Kidd whispers from her seat next to Brett.
The stiff, unsettling air of the room did nothing to help calm their nerves. Herrmann’s fingers tapping against the wooden table. Everyone’s confusion grew when they noticed their captain was nowhere to be found. Kelly stood in the back of the room, leaning against the wall. His foot bouncing against the floor. He glanced around, trying to see if anyone was as nervous as he was. Not nervous. Curious. Kelly Severide didn’t get nervous, at least not nervous over a shift meeting. He just couldn’t keep his mind from wandering. He had a lump in his throat that told him that something happened to Casey last night. Though, he tried to think positively and tell himself that it was most likely nothing. Maybe he was just sick from overworking himself and needed a day to rest up. Kelly instantly knew that Casey would never let himself do that. Several different scenarios of fatal situations racing through his mind. From car accidents to passing out from dehydration.
What if it’s not even about Casey? Just because he’s not here right now doesn’t mean anything, Kelly told himself. People have run late before. Hell, Mouch was late yesterday. No big deal. Kelly wasn’t sure why all the conclusions he jumped to involved Matthew. But he told himself if it were anyone else, he would have been just as worried. The thing was, this wasn’t like Casey. Casey didn’t run late. Casey didn’t skip his shift unless the matter was that serious. What was like Casey, though, was overworking himself and not realizing it.
Boden cleared his throat, gaining everyone’s attention. “Alright. Last night there was an accident with Casey. Before we start asking questions, he is alright.” He starts off.
Kelly felt his throat tighten up at the mention of Casey. He was hoping he wouldn’t be right about the situation involving him, but of course it did. He couldn’t tell if he was pissed or worried. Maybe a mixture of both. He immediately wanted to bombard the chief with questions, however, he stopped himself. Would that look like I care too much? Being that forceful about getting answers? Or are all friends like that? He tried to think of other people he would do the same with.
“Someone set Casey’s apartment on fire. He escaped with only some burns, and he managed to save several people on his way out. Now, he lost everything last night but we need to stay focused.” He seemed to look at Severide more and more as he spoke. “We have a job to do. So while we want to help Casey out during this tough time of his life, let’s keep that in mind.”
The room was silent for a few moments before Herrmann stood up, grabbing a boot from the shelf. He looked to Boden.
“Can I, Chief?” Herrmann asked, earning a nod from him.
“Like Chief said. Casey lost everything last night. He has insurance, but that’s going to be months of red tape. So let’s kick in.” Herrmann looks around the room.
Everyone seemed to nod in agreeance, shuffling around to take out their wallets. It had been a while since the boot came out, which was a good thing. It meant fewer tradies had been happening in Firehouse 51. There was still a thin layer of dust on the toe. Herrmann knew Casey wouldn’t be happy with his crew pitching in to help him. He was against any kind of help like that and he would deny needing it. The whole room knew Casey would never accept it unless they really forced him to take it. They’d find some way to get him to take the money. It was the least they could do for him right now besides being there for him.
Boden watched before heading to his office. The crew seemed to relax after finally hearing the news and knowing that everyone was okay. Kelly, on the other hand, felt his heart racing against his chest. He wasn’t expecting a fire, something he couldn’t have controlled. Even if he had called and checked on Casey, the fire would have still happened. He wanted to ask Boden where Casey was, though the question felt too weird to ask. Instead, he tried to calm himself. Walking out of the room with everyone else. He started to head to his office when he glanced over at the lockers, shocked to see Casey standing at his. He froze as he took in Casey’s appearance. Grey sweatpants and a plain black t-shirt, his arms covered in bandages and he had some smaller burns and cuts on his face. He looked awful, but Severide was glad to see he was up and walking. Not in the hospital, most likely where he should have been.
“What the hell are you doing here?” He moved over to him.
Casey got his locker open, taking out a few things. “Taking a shower, changing. They won’t let me into my apartment.” Casey shut the door, looking over at Severide.
“You look like shit. Boden told us what happened.”
“Yeah, well. It could have been worse.”
“It could have been, and we’ve seen worse. . . I’m glad you’re okay, man.”
Severide couldn’t explain the relief that had spread over him. He wanted to talk to Casey more; ask him about his injuries, what he was planning on doing now, and if he finished up with the case. He already knew that the fire had to have been set by someone that knew what Casey was digging into. He had no doubt about it, and he prayed that Casey was done with it and could put it behind him. The man deserved a break. But before he could get another word out, the bell rang.
“Truck 81, Squad 3, Ambulance 61, vehicle accident, Roosevelt and Western.”
“Here.” Severide tossed him a set of keys.
“Stay at my place. That’s your new home for as long as you need.” Kelly smiled, jogging to the truck and getting ready with the rest of the Squad.
Matt was surprised at Kelly’s offer, but he wasn’t sure if he could turn him down on it. Sure, he could get a hotel room, yet after a while, it would start costing a fortune and he wouldn’t have a kitchen or anything like that to use. At least at Kelly’s, he could spend more time with him. Keep an eye on him after his break up with Kidd. Maybe that’s what he needed right now, someone with him. He knew Kelly was torn about their breakup and having someone there would help. Kelly could turn to Matt whenever he needed to talk or just to have some company. He put the keys in his pocket, grabbing his few things from his locker before heading out and to his truck.
Matt had been to Kelly’s apartment before. Several times, even spending the night there when he was too drunk to drive home. There was something about his apartment that Matt liked, but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It could be the cozy yet open-feel it had to it. He imagined Kelly taking home women to it. Having sex with them, the women waking up the next morning and putting their feet on the cold hardwood flooring. They’d have to steal a shirt from him to wear into the kitchen to make coffee, maybe a button-up or a plain long-sleeved shirt (where they’d have to roll up the sleeves). Kelly wasn’t the kind of person to kick out his one-night stands quickly, like other guys. He liked them staying until he had to leave for work. He liked having the company for as long as possible. The woman would stand at the counter, holding a hot mug of coffee between her hands as she tried to warm up. Kelly would sneak behind her, only wearing some boxers. He would wrap his arms around her, his bare legs against hers. Kissing her head and asking how she slept.
Or, that’s how Matthew imagined it would happen. That’s what he speculated, and he knew he shouldn’t be thinking of that kind of thing. It was none of his business what Kelly did with women in his own home. But Matthew would have to see it now that Kelly broke up with Kidd and Matthew with living with him for the time being. He didn’t know why he was thinking about it. Was he jealous? Did he miss having women to hold and sleep with? Kelly always seemed to be able to get women so easily. Matt would admit Kelly was very good looking. His friend had a nice, muscular and tall body. He was handsome and the small tooth gap he had was always something Matthew couldn’t help but smile at. It was cute and kinda sexy. He finished off his thinking with ‘ and I don’t look like him. No wonder I can’t get women like he does.’ To him, that seemed to make his thinking make sense. He was just jealous because he couldn’t look like Severide.
Casey got to Severide’s apartment after a few minutes, suddenly feeling nervous. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why. Was it because he had never been to Kelly’s place alone? He tried to push away the feeling. He still had a lot of things he needed to do. He had already gone to the police station early that morning, without being able to show any of the evidence he had. From what he gathered, he’d be able to show the company was burning down their own trailers for insurance money. Hiring people to make the fire look like an accident. The trailers weren’t up to regulations and the company would hardly get any money from selling them. Casey had enjoyed digging into the case, but with what happened, he was ready to close it and put it behind him.
Casey parked his truck and got out, taking the keys from his pocket that Severide had given him earlier. He played with them slightly in one hand as he got his bag from the car. He moved inside the building and up to the apartment. He stopped at the door for a moment, slowly putting the key in the lock. He felt nervous again, like he shouldn’t be here. It felt wrong without Severide leading the way. He shook his head to clear his mind, telling himself he was overthinking things. He unlocked the door and moved inside, taking his shoes off and pushing them close to the wall. He could feel the cold floor through his socks as he moved to put the keys on the table. He wasn’t sure whether Kelly had given him his spare set of keys or if they were his own set. Just to be safe, he kept the door unlocked.
Matthew put his bag on the ground by the couch, wondering what would be considered off-limits to him. Was it too much to look around? This was his temporary home after all, but he didn’t feel comfortable yet. He wanted to ask Kelly if he was staying in the guest room or on the couch, was he allowed to mess with the heat and should he get his own food? He’d have to talk to Kelly later. As for now, he wanted to get a short nap in then head up to the police department. The detective had said that being there by two p.m would be a good idea, and it was only ten. So he had some time to kill, and he couldn’t remember the last time he got some decent sleep.
Casey wanted to go sooner and get it over with. Have the men in charge of the fires arrested and get the weight of it off of his own shoulders. He tried to get the detective to change it. But he wouldn’t listen and kept saying he was too busy. Casey knew that he wasn’t busy, though he didn’t want to keep pushing and make him mad. The truth was, the detective knew that the man needed some rest and the only way to get him to actually rest was to make it so Casey had a few hours of nothing to do.
Matt moved over to the couch, part of him not wanting to touch it in fear of messing it up. Kelly’s apartment looked so clean and nice. But he knew no matter how much the two fought, Kelly wouldn’t care if he laid on his couch. If a blanket got messed up, it was an easy fix. Matt laid down, almost instantly falling asleep. The sun shining in his face from the large open window. He didn’t seem bothered by it, curled up slightly on his side with his head lying against the armrest.
Severide did his best to work and get time to move faster. It felt odd to look over at Casey’s office and not see the captain in there. He was so used to having him here, sitting at his desk and doing paperwork when they weren’t on a call. He found himself thinking more and more about the blonde. Worried and relieved at the same time.
“He’s safe, at the apartment, resting,” he muttered to himself as he set his pen down.
Severide knew he was worrying too much about the man. Sure, he was his best friend and he had lost everything just that morning. He could have died and he was lucky to get away with only a few burns. Which, Severide reminded himself, he should look at later. There was no way that Casey was going to check on the injuries and Severide didn’t want them to get worse. If that stubborn fucker wasn’t going to look after himself, then Severide was going to force Casey to let him look after him. It’s what friends do for each other. And Severide was starting to realize he should be a better friend to him. Casey was always looking out for him. He noticed when Kelly was upset or angry. He always knew when he needed to talk or go out for a drink. The man was always there for him and Kelly couldn’t say the same. ‘Maybe this could make up for all the times I fucked up. At work and outside of it.’ He felt good about it, especially since he might not have to admit to doing anything wrong.
After zoning out and having his own therapy session with himself, Kelly felt a million times better. He felt as if his thinking made more sense and he wasn’t being weird about anything. He started to fill out the report again, wondering if he should call Casey and check on him. Wanting to make sure he was doing okay. He talked himself out of it as Casey would, or should , be in bed sleeping. Soon he realized that no matter what, he couldn’t stop thinking about the blonde man. He filled out the report the best he could, jotting down answers without really thinking about them. It was usually all the same questions and answers anyway.
The rest of the day went on mostly uneventful. A few more calls here and there. Cruz and Otis trying to dare other crew members to sit outside without a coat on. Kelly couldn’t help but roll his eyes at them. Every year when it snowed, they instantly tried daring people to sit in the snow or betting on how long others could last in it. The problem was that it was only the first snow of the year, and there was hardly any on the ground. Sure it was snowing, though not enough to really buildup on the ground just yet. He ended up falling asleep in his bunk as he listened to Otis scream at Herrmann for getting some snow down his shirt. How Herrmann managed to get enough snow to make a snowball was a mystery to him.
By the time Casey woke up again, it was long past two. It was pitch black in the apartment and he couldn’t even see a few inches in front of him. It took him a few minutes to remember that he was at Kelly’s place, on his the couch. It was much colder than it was earlier. The sun no longer up to provide any warmth. He wasn’t sure what woke him up besides possibly how freezing he was. The more he woke up, however, the more aware he was. He could feel how stiff his limbs were, the cold not helping at all. The burns were hurting more than earlier and his breathing wasn’t as even as it should have been. He felt like he didn’t have the energy to get up and find some pain medication or grab a blanket from the other side of the couch. Instead, he tried his best to calm himself and just fall back asleep. At least when he was asleep, he wasn’t in pain. He didn’t have time to focus on the fact that he missed his appointment before he was back asleep. Restless, but asleep.
Severide’s shift ended a few hours later. He made his way out to his car, sitting in the cold as he waited for the heat to kick in. Usually, he was exhausted after work. He would go home, eat a quick dinner, then go to bed while watching TV. Today was different. He felt like he wouldn’t be able to sleep for days. He had more energy than he did when he woke up that morning. As the car finally heated up enough for him to stop shivering, he started to drive to his place. Halfway there, he realized that he didn’t have his keys. He gave them to Matt earlier and his spare keys were in his bedroom. So he hoped that either Matt was awake or that he had left his door unlocked. If he was sleeping, he would hate to wake him up just to make him unlock the door and let him in.
Severide parked his car and got out, grabbing his work bag from the passenger’s seat before making his way in. He jogged up the stairs and paused at his front door. He let out a breath, reaching out and slowly turning the doorknob. Relief spreading over him as the knob turned, unlocked. The relief was short-lived as he moved inside and found the apartment freezing. Why the hell didn’t Casey turn the heat on? He thought as he moved to the thermostat, turning on the hallway light and changing the temperature to seventy-five degrees. Severide moved into the guest room, using the light from the hallway to see inside. The whole room laid untouched. The bed still perfectly made. He felt himself tense at this, but he moved to his room and turned on the light. His room just the way he left it that morning. He was about to call Casey’s name before stopping himself. He moved to the living room silently, peaking over at the couch. Casey laid in the same position as hours earlier, curled up with his head against the armrest.
“Goddammit Casey,” Kelly muttered, just relieved to find the smaller man.
Kelly was still concerned; needing to know what Matt’s injuries were like, if he ate at all, and how he was feeling. For starters, he knew he had to be freezing. He had no blankets and the heat was off for the whole day. As much as he didn’t want to, he knew it would be best to wake him up. He kneeled down beside the couch, putting a hand on Casey’s shoulder gently.
“Casey. Casey. Can you wake up for me?” Kelly couldn’t remember the last time he made his voice that warm and mellow. It’s the same tone of voice he would use for hurt or scared kids.
It took him a moment, and a small shoulder shake from Kelly, for Casey to wake up. His eyes cracking open weakly. He locked eyes with Kelly for a second before closing them again. Kelly only frowned, rubbing his arm now.
“Hey Case. You gotta wake up for a bit. Can you do that?”
Casey opened his mouth before closing it again and nodding. He was feeling too weak to actually speak, not to mention he was surprised to see Severide was home. He didn’t realize he had been out for that long. He expected himself to wake up a few hours before the shift would have ended.
“Did you eat anything yet? Drink?” Kelly asked first, his hand reaching for a first aid kit he kept under the couch. He was used to getting minor injuries constantly and he liked keeping a first aid kit close at hand so he could patch himself up while he relaxed.
He waited for Matt to shake his head before asking another question. “Do you hurt anywhere?” He opened the kit, taking out what he thought he might need; burn cream, alcohol wipes, and bandages.
“No.” Casey’s voice was hoarse and Kelly knew instantly that it was a lie. Leave it to Casey to force himself to talk to lie and seem better than he actually felt. He wanted to try to get Casey to admit to hurting, but he decided he had other things to fret over first. He knew Casey was in pain.
“Do you mind if I look at your burns?” Severide reached over to turn on a lamp, causing Casey to cover his eyes for a brief second.
“I can look at them later.”
“And I can look at them now. Just, let me help you, Casey.” He dropped his voice, making it low and soft again.
Casey wanted to deny it more, wanting to keep the last bit of pride he had. But he knew that Kelly could be just as stubborn as he was, if not more. He knew this could go on for hours, back and forth, before one of them eventually gave up. He hated to be the one to give in. Feeling pained and exhausted, he decided he didn’t really have a choice.
“Alright, fine. Just for a moment.” He grumbled out.
Kelly didn’t waste any more time, removing the bandages from Matt’s arms. He took them off as careful as possible, not wanting to hurt him anymore. The burns weren’t too awful. With some burn cream and a few weeks, they would be healed up. He watched Matt as he took the cream, gingerly applying it to the burned skin. Matt didn’t let any emotions show. Staying stoned-face and silent. He was a little too good at hiding his pain, Kelly thought. The two men were silent as Kelly bandaged Matt’s arms and cleaned up the small mess he had made. He knew Casey would be pretty embarrassed for a while and he didn’t want to add to it anymore.
“There’s some Advil in the bathroom. And I was going to make myself some soup, do you want some?” Kelly got up, moving to the kitchen.
“Sure. Thank you, Severide.” Casey felt like it would be too awkward to say no to the food. Not to mention, he was starting to get his appetite back and he didn’t want to just eat Kelly’s food. At least Kelly was cooking and he had offered Matt the food. He wasn’t just taking it.
Matthew felt guilty laying back down on the couch, feeling as though he should be helping Kelly one way or another. He was starting to feel sleepy again after Kelly had changed the bandages and put cream on his arms. The cream was cooling his arms and easing the pain. He felt better already and before he could think about anything else, he was fast asleep. The apartment was heated up now, and the warm glow of the kitchen lights made the apartment feel cozier. Plus, the snow was still falling outside the window. Kelly’s apartment hadn’t had a comforting feel to it in a long time. Kelly missed it. He missed his apartment feeling like a home and having someone there. Though he wouldn’t admit that. He just smiled to himself as he worked on homemade chicken noodle soup, throwing an occasional glance at Casey. Kelly did have canned soup and any other day he would have just made that. But Casey was here.