The Beauty of the World - Part Two
Ever since that night in Australia, Matt had been looking at the world a little differently. He’d gone back to Chicago with a renewed sense of hope for the future. When Hallie died, he’d pretty much shut himself off to the possibility of ever finding fulfilment again, but Sylvie had changed that. She showed him that there is more beauty to be found and he was determined to find it again.
His optimism came as a surprise to the people of 51. They hadn’t expected Casey to go to Australia and come back a changed man. They hadn’t expected him to walk into 51 with a spring in his step. They hadn’t expected him to laugh so much with his crew. They were incredibly thankful for it, but they were nonetheless confused. Nobody said anything, however. They didn’t want to draw attention to in case it sent Casey back into a bad mood – it wasn’t until 6 months later that Severide finally cracked.
“6 months.” He called after Casey as he caught up with him in the hallways of 51.
Matt frowned at his friend, “… ok?” he said as more of a question to his friend’s statement.
“I mean…” Severide began to clarify. “It’s been 6 months since you got back from Australia and you’re still walking around here with a new lease of life. Something changed out there are you are being mum about what.”
Matt stopped and looked at Severide, “I haven’t been mum about anything. Nobody’s asked and I haven’t felt the need to drag my business all over the firehouse.” He explained reasonably. He may have been in a happier place, but he was still the same, reserved and cautious guy. His business was his and his alone.
Severide nodded his head, “Ok, I’ll ask then… what happened out there?”
Matt shrugged, “I just decided it’s time to move forward. That’s all.”
Matt’s response seemed to satisfy his friend. Severide knew that there was probably more to this story, but Matt would tell him when he was ready, or if he wanted to at all. All Severide knew was that something or someone had altered his outlook on life – and he was grateful on behalf of his friend.
Matt was grateful too. He was thriving in his job and in his friendships and for the first time in a long time he actually longed for the future. He longed for the future because there was a chance that he would see her again. He couldn’t quite accept that this beautiful stranger would walk into his life, change his world and then just disappear again.
Severide briefly glanced into the lounge that they had stopped in front of. He immediately noticed that Gabby Dawson was staring in their direction. Her eyes peeping ever so slightly over the top of her magazine. Severide smirked. Matt may have been oblivious to Gabby’s huge crush on him – but Severide wasn’t. He loved both of his friends dearly and saw a certain spark between then. They had always gotten along well, they trusted each other, and they respected each other as colleagues and friends. Gabby had really stepped up in the friendship department when Hallie died. Maybe this could be the future Matt was talking about grabbing by the horns.
“Since you think it’s time to move forward…” Severide began as Matt eyed him curiously. “Maybe it’s time you give it a chance with Dawson.”
Matt looked into the lounge and saw Gabby set her magazine down and walk in their direction.
“I don’t know man…” Matt mumbled. Before Matt could continue, Severide backed away slightly to let Gabby talk to Matt.
“Hey Casey” she greeted with a smile as she awkwardly rubbed her hands together.
“Hey. What’s up?” Matt asked as he shifted awkwardly, briefly sending a glare in Severide’s direction as he stood behind them holding in a little laugh. His friend had really landed him in this one.
“Uh… nothing much.” She said with a shrug. “I was just – I was wondering what you were doing off shift?” she asked curiously.
“A couple of construction gigs and I might try and see Christie and Violet at some point.” he said. “Nothing too exciting. You?” he asked back, trying to be friendly, and hoping this wasn’t going somewhere Severide seemed to imply it was going.
Gabby smiled and appeared hopeful, “Well, there’s a new restaurant down on Shore Road that’s supposed to do the best steaks in all of Chicago and I was wondering if you wanted to go and check it out?”
Matt nodded, “Yeah, yeah, I know the place. Severide’s been wanting to go for ages, we should totally get everyone together and go.” He said excitedly. He genuinely wanted to try this place out and would happily go… with a bunch of friends. Gabby’s face fell a thousand miles as he clearly missed what she was trying to ask him. She didn’t want to get steak with Severide, she wanted to get stake with Casey and Casey alone.
“Oh, I—” she began to protest, but the bells went off and she stopped talking as they called for truck, squad and ambo to attend to a car accident downtown.
Matt set his papers down on a nearby table before briefly turning back to Gabby, “Text me with the details?” he asked as Gabby clenched her jaw and nodded her head.
Nice try Dawson. Real nice try.
The car accident was a fairly straight forward one to deal with. There was one person trapped and a few ambulances were needed to transport victims with non-life-threatening issues, so they dealt with it quickly and efficiently. Now, they were just tidying up the scene a little bit before the cars were taken away.
“So…” Severide said as he walked over to Casey, taking the opportunity to question his friend about Gabby’s advances while their crews cleaned up. “Why did you completely friendzone Dawson like that? She’s clearly into you and you get along…”
“Gabby and I are like oil and water.” Matt began. He just knew they were not a good mix. “I mean, I value her friendship, I really do, but it would be chaos if we ever went beyond that.”
“You can’t know until you try” Severide suggested.
“Gabby doesn’t want a partner, she wants someone who will just do as she asks.” Matt said. He knew it was a little harsh, but it was the simplest way he could put it. Gabby Dawson did what was best for Gabby Dawson and nobody else. “No matter what anybody says, she always does what she wants to do, and I don’t want that. I want someone that wants to work through life with me together. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to want.” He explained.
Severide nodded his head in understanding as he put his hand on Matt’s shoulder, “After everything you’ve been through man, you deserve to find exactly what you want.”
“Thanks man” Matt said appreciatively. It was nice to have his friend on board, rather than having something thrown upon him.
“And I’m sure this partner you want is out there” Severide added before he started to walk away.
“I know she’s out there.” Matt replied almost immediately.
Severide froze in a moment of realisation. He slowly turned back around and looked at his friend with a growing smirk on his face.
“You met someone.”
Matt frowned, “What?”
“In Australia. You met someone who made you realise that a true partnership is possible.” Severide said as he put the pieces together. The details were obviously non-existent but for Matt to be so sure that she was out there, he had to have met someone who made him think like that. There had to be someone who made him realise that he could fall in love again.
Matt sighed, “… it’s a long story.”
Severide looked at his watch, “Well… we’ve got another 18 hours left on this shift. I’ve got time.” He said with a bright grin. He couldn’t wait to hear about this one.
“Oh crap…” he heard someone mumble from behind the fire truck. The accident damaged another car that was parked on the side of the road. It wasn’t much – there was a slight dent in the door and the wing mirror would need replacing, but the car was in no way a write-off.
Matt started to walk towards the figure to explain what happened and give them any details they needed. The more he walked, however, the more things started to click in his brain. He knew that mumbling voice. The figure finally came into his line of view, and although her back was to him – he knew exactly who it was. He could never forget those blonde curls.
His heart started to beat a little it faster. She was here, she was actually here – in Chicago – at his accident scene. He heard a few of his crew ask some questions, but he was in no mind to respond. His entire focus was on her and her alone.
He walked slowly behind her, thinking about what to say. The last time this happened, it was just an off-handed comment that he hadn’t expected much of a response to, but now – now the stakes somehow felt higher. This wasn’t a comment he was going to get back again.
He paused behind her. Short and simple Casey. You got this man. His internal monologue told him as he opened his mouth to speak.
“What’s crap?” he asked – much like he had asked ‘who’s a weasel?’ to her mumbling six months ago.
She jumped slightly before she stood up a little straighter and froze with her back to him. After a momentary silence she slowly turned around and as she realised her suspicions were correct, her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
She folded her arms across her chest and quirked an eyebrow, “Do you make a habit of scaring the crap out of strangers you meet in the middle of the street?” she teased, also using her words from their previous moment together. She felt a flutter in her chest as the memories of that night six months ago came flooding back. Somehow, the crappiness of that evening somehow was made insignificant compared to the brief memories she made with him.
Matt smirked back, his nervousness immediately disappearing, “Only the ones who are mumbling to themselves… besides – you’re the best damn stranger I’ve ever met.”
“It is so good to see you Matt Casey” she said as she finally dropped their little game.
“Of all the accident scenes in all the towns in all the world, I can’t quite believe that Sylvie Brett would walk into mine...” He joked as the other members of 51 finally became aware of Matt’s interaction with what looked like a friend. A very good friend.
“Well I’ll not hug you and embarrass you in front of your crew lieutenant, but you can expect one at a later date.” She told him sincerely. She didn’t think it was possible to miss the touch of someone she knew for around 8 hours – but it was. She missed him deeply and from the way he was looking at her right now, it was clear he had too.
“A later date, huh?” he asked, wondering if that meant he would be seeing her again soon.
"Well it didn’t take much to convince a judge that I need to divorce Harrison’s ass.” She began as Matt nodded supportively. He didn’t think that would be difficult for her and he was glad she was right. “And when that was done, I remembered that I met this guy in Australia who had a real love for Chicago…” she began as Matt couldn’t help but grin. “And he also said that it was a great place to make a change so – here I am.”
Sylvie beamed, “I’m staying. For now, anyway. I’m going to see what this place has to offer.”
“Trust me – it has a lot to offer.” He assured her as their eyes met with the same intensity they had met in Australia. It was then that Sylvie realised they were standing dangerously close – and that they also had an audience. The entirety of truck and squad were standing staring at this interaction completely confused.
Sylvie awkwardly cleared her throat and stepped back slightly before giving them a slight wave. “Hi…” she greeted as they all cautiously waved back in confusion – everyone except Gabby of course. In all honesty, she looked a little cross by what was going on here. Her pride wasn’t up for seeing Matt flirting so openly with someone else. “Any chance you know a good mechanic who can fix this for me?” she asked, turning her attention back to her damaged car.
“Yeah, you got a pen?” He asked as she rummaged through her bag and handed Matt a pen and a notebook. He wrote down all the necessary details for insurance and a mechanic. “Mike is the best, tell him I sent you and he’ll give you a great deal. I’ll get any insurance details from the other driver later, so don’t worry about that.” Matt told her.
“Boy am I lucky to have run into you… yet again.” She teased as she took the items back from him. “I’ll let you guys get back to it” she said as she smiled at the others who couldn’t help but smile back. They had no idea who this woman was – but they were already charmed by her. She seemed really sweet from her smile alone. “I will see you soon.” She said as she backed away to her car.
“Wait” Matt called as he stepped toward just as she opened her car door. “Are you ever going to give me your number?” he asked hopefully.
“I don’t know… I kind of like leaving these meetings open to chance.” She replied. As special as chance was, Matt was sure he could rely on it for much longer. “Something tells me I’ll be seeing you very soon…” she said cryptically before getting in her car and speeding away.
Matt watched after the car for a moment before turning back to 51. They were all staring intensely at Matt, hoping he would explain what just happened. He was openly, and comfortably, flirting with a beautiful stranger – that didn’t really seem like the lieutenant they knew.
“Who was that?” Gabby asked, sounding a little more bitter than she intended to.
Matt shrugged nonchalantly, “Just someone I know.” He said vaguely. Who Sylvie was really wasn’t anybody’s business but his. He kind of liked that she was only his to know about among 51. “I think we’re done here, let’s head back to the firehouse.” He instructed as everyone realised they weren’t getting anything more out of Casey and jumped into the truck.
Severide, however, couldn’t help but make one last comment to Matt. “Now I understand why you’ve been on cloud 9… I would be too if I’d met her in Australia.” He teased as Matt punched his arm while his friend laughed.
As they drove back to the firehouse, Matt’s mind was solely on Sylvie. He already couldn’t wait for their next meeting.
When everyone got back to 51, Matt immediately went to his quarters to catch up on some paperwork. While it needed done, he also wanted to avoid the questions of his colleagues. As much as he loved his 51 family, they could be overly nosey when they wanted to be.
He’d managed to be left in peace until just before dinner, but the interruption was better than he could have expected. There was a soft knock on the door and his head shot up to see Sylvie Brett standing behind the glass. He smiled and nodded for her to come in as he turned and leaned back in his chair.
“Now this meeting couldn’t be a coincidence… right?” He asked. She’d joked about meeting by chance, but there was no way she just stumbled across his quarters at the back of a firehouse.
“In a weird way… I think it is a coincidence.” She said cryptically as she closed the door behind her and leaned against it. “It seems fitting in all honesty.”
Matt looked at her, the confusion written all over his face. “What does?”
“I went to the CFD headquarters today to finish up some paperwork to start as a paramedic and they told me that a spot has just opened up at a firehouse downtown.” She began explaining. “They told me that the house as a reputation of being a problem house… two brash and cocky officers were apparently the big issue…” she teased as things started to click together in Matt’s head. “But alongside being a problem house – they also said that it’s the best damn firehouse in the CFD and if the officers are going to be brash and cocky, they need a good paramedic to stitch them back up again.” She said as she smiled widely.
“… you’re joining 51.” He stated quietly as he took the news in. His heart was thumping against his chest at the thought of being around her so regularly. He was also thrown by how big an impact she was having on his life already. He barely knew her, but he also knew that she was someone he would be honoured to know.
Sylvie shrugged lightly, “Seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Matt nodded, “It would be. And Severide and I are not brash and cocky. We’re confident in taking calculated risks.” He immediately defended.
Sylvie chuckled lightly, “Well I can’t wait to see those calculated risks in action. If you’re willing to make sure a mumbling stranger on the beach is ok, I can only imagine what you’d be willing to do for someone in a burning building.”
“I guess you’ll find out soon.” He said as they remained in a momentary silence, before Matt had the confidence to speak again. “I’m really excited to have you around here.” He confessed as Sylvie gave him the softest look. “It’ll be nice not having to wonder when our next fateful meeting will be.” He joked.
Sylvie smiled, “Me too. Moving to Chicago is a pretty big step for me, but it’s nice knowing I’m working with someone I trust and I know will have my back. I know that night in Australia was a fleeting moment of time but – I can’t quite begin to explain the impact it had on me. I can’t quite begin to explain the impact you had on me. I found a new lease of life and a renewed confidence that I wasn’t convinced I would ever have again.” She confessed sweetly. It was so rare to find someone that she felt so comfortable sharing things with, so she was determined to take advantage of it. She was determined to trust her gut telling her that he was someone worth sharing with.
“Any confidence you have is all yours and yours alone Sylvie. I’m not the one who threw my wedding rings in the sea after all…” He joked. He wasn’t about to take any kind of credit for the inner strength Sylvie didn’t realise she had until that night. “I’m just glad I could be there to encourage it and to see it. It had a pretty big impact on me too.”
“You are too good for this world Matt Casey.” Sylvie said quietly. She’d never known a man to be so cautious and humble and caring. It was truly a breath of fresh air.
“Back at you Sylvie Brett.” He repeated with just as much sincerity in his voice.
Sylvie took a step forward, “Does this mean you’re my boss now?” she asked. She knew the answer was no, not really, but she wanted to hear his thoughts on the matter.
“Not really, no.” he said with a shake of his head. “The only person you really need to answer to is Dawson and the chief.”
Sylvie slowly nodded her head as she took another step forward, “Right… that’s good then.”
Matt raised a brow, “How so?”
Sylvie slowly leaned forward and held his cheeks in her hands, her thumbs instinctively running across his cheek bones.
“Because I don’t think it would be appropriate to do this with your boss.” She said quietly as she slowly leaned down and gave him the softest kiss.
As soft as it was, it seared through Matt. It felt like the kiss, the right kiss. It felt like all the pieces of his world were finally falling into place. She pulled back, their eyes staying closed for a lingering second, not wanting the moment to be over.
Matt heard Sylvie let out a momentary breathy laugh and he finally opened his eyes to see her smiling at him, “I’ve never had the confidence to kiss someone like that.” She told him quietly as he stood up, towering over her slightly.
“Must have been a pretty great guy for you to do that then.” He teased as Sylvie playfully rolled his eyes.
“I’m glad he realises that.” She replied. “I should go… I have a lot of unpacking to do.”
“Right…” he said reluctantly. He wished they could stay like this for a moment longer, but he also knew that he would be seeing her again very soon. “I guess I’ll see you next shift Brett.”
Sylvie nodded, “Yeah, I guess you will. See you later Lieutenant Casey” she said as she backed away to the door before slipping out of it.
6 months. 6 months of uncertainty over when he would see her again. While those 6 months felt like the dragged, seeing her now felt like they had never been apart. He knew this was only the beginning for them and he couldn’t wait to see what the future would bring.
He had a feeling that it would be nothing but good.