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Light The Hearth Fire

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The fire is out, and Casey removes his helmet, scrubbing a hand through his sweat soaked hair. It had been an ugly call, with several people trapped in the burning building, but as always, they had persevered. Short of a few minor burns and a little smoke inhalation, the family will be fine.

A hand comes down on his shoulder, but Casey doesn’t flinch. He recognizes the weight of the hand and the prickle it sends down his spine, something he’s known for years.

Severide falls into step with him, his own head bare. “Good job.”

Casey nods, glancing at the other man. “You too. If you hadn’t found the kid on the top floor…” He trails off because it doesn’t need to be said. They’ve lost enough people over the years and Severide knows what he means.

They stop near the trucks and turn back to watch as the others more around, rolling hoses and gathering equipment. Now that the danger is over Casey feels himself relaxing, in no small part due to the man next to him. He and Severide have at times had a contentious relationship, but it’s never lasted long, and he knows that he can rely on the other man.

Finally, everything is stowed and they part with a nod, going to their respective trucks. Casey climbs into the truck and closes the door, only barely paying attention to what the others are saying. His mind is back on the call, mostly on the husband and wife. As he’d helped the wife out of the building, he had seen her soulmate mark, the splash of color on the back of her hand.

Her husband had been frantic to get to her, shoving Brett and Foster out of the way, despite their best attempts to keep him on the stretcher. He had helped her over to her husband, letting them hold hands as the paramedics had worked on them both.

It had been bittersweet, and Casey had turned away, not wanting to witness the reunion. He has nothing against soulmates but seeing them together had been like a knife in his chest. Seeing soulmates together always reminds him of how his own is just out of reach.

Not that he thinks soulmates are the answer, like others. He always rolls his eyes when he sees the romantic soulmate movies during the holidays, or when the newest romantic comedy blockbuster hits theaters. His parents had been soulmates and look how that had turned out.

His mother had never been able to give him a straight answer about why she had killed his father and even now, he can’t imagine doing anything to injure his soulmate. That single event, that terrible night had been enough to shadow his feelings on soulmates. Which is why he had married Hallie, had married Dawson.

Neither of them had been his soulmate, but he had loved them both, wanted to have a life with them. But it hadn’t been in the cards, and now he isn’t sure he has the energy, or the heart to try and make a life without someone who isn’t his soulmate.

It’s a thought he entertains at least once a month, but so far, he hasn’t managed to get up the strength to broach the subject. Unlike many people, he knows who his soulmate is, and has for years.

He climbs out of the truck and sheds his gear before heading for his office. As much as he wants a shower, he needs to get the incident report for the fire done while it’s fresh in his mind. He makes his way through the common room, where the others are already settling down, the TV already on.

The bunkroom is dark and quiet, and he slips into his office, drawing the blinds. Everyone already knows where he is, but usually if he has the blinds drawn, they’ll leave him alone unless there’s an emergency. Grabbing the form, he picks up his pen and starts on the form.

-----

There’s a knock on the door and Casey knows who it is. There is only one person who would dare knock on his door when it’s not an emergency. “Come in.”

Severide pokes his head in. “Hey, dinner is almost done.”

“Alright, thanks.” Casey sets the pen down and pushes the form aside. He’s almost done, and he can just as easily finish it after dinner. He stands and stretches; his body having knotted up while he was sitting. Severide steps back as he slips out of his office. “Any idea what’s for dinner?”

Severide falls into step with him, like they’ve been doing for years. “Nope. All I know is that Cruz cooked and there were a lot of bottles of spices at hand while he was cooking.”

“Oh, that means one of two things.” Casey can’t help but make a face. Cruz’s food either is delicious, or so experimental as to be almost inedible. “I hope he was feeling restrained after that call.”

“We can only hope.” Severide slants a look at Casey. “Did you finish your report?”

Pushing the door open to the common room Casey shrugs. “Almost. At least it was straightforward.”

The sounds of the others talking is getting louder, but Casey is more focused on the man at his side. There are times it seems like that’s where Severide has always been there, not usually quietly, but always supportive, even when he’s sure Casey is being an idiot.

Casey doesn’t know how he would have gotten this far without Severide and he’s more grateful for his presence than he can ever say.

“That couple today.”

Casey can hear the faint question and he turns to look at Severide. The other man is looking at him, face calm, but he can see what the other man wants to say, and he shakes his head. “Kelly, we’ve had this conversation.”

For a moment Kelly looks like he wants to argue but instead he sighs and seems to shake off whatever had gripped him earlier. “No, yeah I know. I’m not sure what came over me.”

Casey looks at the other man for a long moment, and it’s on the tip of his tongue to ask, because he would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought of it either. But now certainly isn’t the time or place, especially not when someone might come looking for them. They’ve been keeping this secret for years.

He reaches out, clapping the other man on the shoulder, making sure he doesn’t touch skin. He can’t remember the last time he touched Kelly without the benefit of clothing between them and he thinks it was shortly after the first time they shook hands, so long ago in the Academy, when they realized what they were. “Come on. Someone is bound to come looking for us.”

Severide nods and Casey drops his hand, the moment between them broken.

They enter the common room and Casey heads for the counter and grabs a plate from the stack. Whatever Cruz cooked smells good and he glances at Severide, sharing a surprised look with the other man. It seems their luck is holding today.

He fills his plate before heading to the table, where the seat at the end is empty. He takes a seat, smiling when Severide sits at his left hand. It feels like this is how it’s always been, with him sitting at the head of the table, presiding over everyone like he’s the father of a loud, arguing family. Boden usually eats in his office, leaving him and Severide to keep an eye on petty squabbles that inevitably crop up around the house, and especially when food is involved.

Right now, everything is calm, as everyone is more focused on their food then arguing. Casey knows it’s a calm that won’t last once the food is gone, but for now he can enjoy it.

Casey picks up his fork and stabs at a piece of meat in the sauce. He glances at him. “Well, here’s to hoping we aren’t all going to die.”

Severide grins and raises his fork. “Here we go.”

Casey takes a bite and he still isn’t sure what exactly he’s eating, but whatever it is, it is delicious. The balance of spices is perfect and there’s just enough heat to make it pleasant without having to run for water. He exchanges a look with Severide, who looks equally surprised.

Once they’re done eating Squad retreats out to the bay, no doubt to pick up whatever card game they left off when dinner was done. Severide surprisingly stays, leaning back in his chair as the others move over to watch the TV.

Casey glances over at him. “Not going to go beat them?”

Severide grins, and it’s easy and open, like he’s already forgotten their earlier conversation. “Nah. I have to leave them with some of their paychecks or I start hearing from their significant others.”

Casey can’t help but smile, because he remembers losing parts of his paychecks to Severide back in the day. “That’s mighty kind of you.”

He lingers for a while, half-watching whatever is on the TV, but mostly listening to the conversations going on around them. He loves quiet times like this, with people who are more family than his own blood family. Everyone seems to be feeling mellow tonight, as there are no signs of an impending argument, just soft conversation.

Duty finally impels him to move and Casey pushes back from the table, getting to his feet. Severide glances back at him when he moves and Casey smiles. “I’m going to go finish my incident report before anything else happens.”

Severide grins. “Now I know who to blame if we get another call.”

Severide’s grin is so open Casey almost raises his hand to reach out and fulfill what they’ve been denying each other for years. His heart clenches and he turn and heads back for his room. He really can’t and doesn’t want to upset the careful balance he and Severide have come to after all these years.

Casey enters his room and turns on the desk lamp. He drops into the chair, scrubbing a hand across his face. Now that he’s away from Severide’s overwhelming presence, he can think straight, not that it’s really doing him any good. Because now all he can think about is the flicker of longing in Severide’s eyes, how he had almost reached out to complete what they’ve been ignoring.

Shaking his head to clear the image from his head Casey pulls the incident report form close and picks up the pen. He finishes the incident report and sets it aside to file tomorrow morning, mostly because he doesn’t want to run the chance of running into Severide.

Shedding his jacket, he bends down to untie his boots. Toeing them off he moves to his bed and flops down, on top of the blanket. He stares up at the white ceiling and manages a wry smile, because at least one thing in his life is consistent, since the ceiling hasn’t changed in years.

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He wishes he knew what it was about this call that had made Kelly think about breaking their carefully established rules. This is hardly the first time they’ve responded to a call involving soulmates, and he can’t remember Severide ever being this worked up over one.

Yes, they usually share a quick, knowing glance when there are soulmates involved in the call, an affirmation that they’re both fine, even if they were exhausted and ready to collapse. But none of them had been bad enough to make Severide seek him out in private. Sighing Casey pinches the bridge of his nose.

He listens as the others slowly file into the bunk room, the quiet sounds as everyone settles down, all hoping there won’t be another call. He can’t be sure, but he swears Severide stops outside his room and his breath catches in his throat. If the other man knocks on the door Casey isn’t sure he’ll be able to say no.

The moment seems to drag on and then the feeling passes. Casey breaths out and he rubs at his eyes. It’s almost enough to make him wish soulmates weren’t a thing, or that he was one on those few, rare people who doesn’t have one. Which isn’t fair to Severide, because Casey would never want to do that to him.

Now that Severide has mentioned it, Casey can’t seem to shake the idea of finally having what he’s been denying themselves for so long. He closes his eyes, but it doesn’t help, because he can remember what had happened when he and Kelly had met so many years ago.

They had shaken hands and Casey had watched in surprise and a little terror as colors had bloomed down the length of Severide’s arm, blues and greens with spots of silver and gold. It had been mirrored on his own arm and Matt had felt his heart stutter to a stop. They had stared at each other, and it had only been an approaching person that had made him let go of Kelly’s hand.

The color had faded away and Casey’s heart had restarted, he had glanced at Kelly, who had looked a little hurt. Casey had felt bad, but he didn’t necessarily want a soulmate and he didn’t want to air his dirty history to a man he had just met.

From that day forward they had never touched without a layer between them, and for the longest time Andy had been the only person who had known. Until Shay, but Severide had asked Casey if he could tell her and he had given permission. It had made things interesting when he had been with Dawson, but Shay had kept her word.

Casey rolls onto his side to stare at the wall. Boden knows too, because he and Severide have never been able to keep a secret from the man and as battalion chief, he needs to know. Boden had just looked between them, nodded, and that had been the last of it.

Hallie had died never knowing the truth and he had never told Dawson, because he had been so convinced, he could be happy with them, soulmates or not.

Sleep is a long time in coming.

-----

The night had been blissfully quiet, except for the ambulance getting called out twice. Casey yawns and puts his boots on. He shrugs his jacket on, because the house always seems a little cool in the mornings and he hates it. Grabbing the incident form from the day before he makes his way through the bunk room, where everyone else is in varying states of wakefulness.

After giving his report a quick read through Casey slips it into the envelope that will have it sent to headquarters. From there he rounds back to the bathrooms before going into the common room. The TV is already on low, on some cooking channel.

He glances back to the kitchen where Severide is standing guard over the coffee machine, watching it like it contains the elixir of life. “Long night?”

Severide glances at him before shrugging. “Just had a hard time sleeping. Do you want one?”

Casey nods as he drops into one of the chairs around the table. If his night was any indication of Kelly’s, he can only wonder if the man was up late thinking about would happen, what it would be like if they finally completed their bond.

A few minutes later Severide is bringing his mug over, and from the color Casey can tell the other man doctored it the way he likes it. Part of him wants to accept the mug from Severide, risk the chance of their fingers touching, so he can watch the color bloom across Kelly’s arm, until it becomes a permanent mark on his skin.

But he doesn’t, because even as much as he wants it, he doesn’t.

Severide sits next to him, their legs touching under the table and it sends a bolt of warmth down his leg. Casey knows Severide is watching him as he stares at his coffee, waiting to see what his reaction will be to the touch. He shifts slightly, until his leg slides under Kelly’s, his leg pressing against the back of Severide’s, until they’re a tangled mess.

His shift makes Severide’s mouth curl in a slight smile and it makes the warmth already filling him threaten to overflow. He misses seeing that smile on Severide’s face and he smiles back. Luckily the table will hide them, because this place is worse than a high school when it comes to gossip.

Matt knows they shouldn’t be playing this game, teasing each other. What they’ve done for years has worked for them and there is really no point in giving into temptation.

Their quiet ends when the others start filing in and Casey reluctantly draws back, sitting up in his chair and taking a drink of his coffee.

He looks over at Severide and feels a pang when he sees the smile is gone from his face.

It makes something stick in his throat and Casey shoves back from the table, ostensibly to get more coffee.

He knows the truth though.

He’s running scared.

-----

The rest of shift passes without any massive problems and Casey is glad to go home. No matter what he does he can’t seem to get the feeling of Severide from under his skin, and while it didn’t bother him on any of the calls, he can’t seem to get his mind to settle. The moment he has a little down time thought of the other man fill his head and it’s driving him crazy.

Closing his locker door Casey isn’t really surprised to find Severide standing at the end of the aisle, his bag over his shoulder. “What’s up?”

Severide shrugs and shifts his weight but doesn’t move. “Was wondering if you wanted to get a drink tonight?”

It’s on the tip of his tongue to say yes but Casey knows how dangerous that would be. He’s already seconds away from giving into Severide. “Thanks, but not tonight. I’ve still got some work to do on my place to make it more comfortable.”

If Severide sees his words for what they are, a way to get out of being in close quarters with him, he doesn’t say anything. He smiles and reaches out to clap Casey on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. There’s always next time.”

Casey nods and watches as Severide makes his way out of the locker room. He’s almost regretting saying no to Severide, but at this point he would regret saying yes more.

The drive home is a blur and Casey sits in his truck out front for a few minutes before getting up the energy to go inside.

Entering his apartment Casey drops his keys in the bowl by the door. He kicks the door closed and locks the bottom lock before toeing his shoes off. With a yawn he drops his bag to the floor and shrugs his jacket off, hanging it in the closet. He nudges his bag out of the way and makes a note to pick it up later.

He loves the firehouse and everyone he works with and he’s closer to any of them than he is the remains of his biological family. But at the same time, he loves his quiet and peace, which is usually in short supply around the firehouse. Only a few people have been here, mostly Severide and Hermann, when he had bribed them into helping him move.

Normally Casey would cherish his time alone in his home, but not today. The quiet is giving him too much time to think about what had transpired yesterday. He runs his hand down his forearm as he makes his way into the kitchen.

He can almost trace the lines of the pattern on his arm, even with just the flicker of it he had seen on Severide’s arm all those years ago. It had been enough to burn the pattern into his memory and he kind of hates it. Shaking his head to clear the memory he picks up the screwdriver he left on the counter and pulls open a cupboard door.

He plans of replacing all the knobs in the kitchen and while it isn’t much, it’ll be enough to keep him from thinking about Severide.

Hopefully.

-----

By the time their next shift rolls around Casey feels like the whole soulmate thing is settled. Severide doesn’t seem to recall their last conversation and their relationship seems to have gone back to normal. Not that he doesn’t still think about it.

Now it feels like an itch under his skin and his thoughts seem to spiral to it more often. Not when lives are on the line, but anytime he has a moment to breathe all he can think about is Severide. It’s been driving him crazy, but he’s been coping.

At this point, he’s just glad things are mostly back to normal.

-----

Casey takes a drag on his cigar and holds the smoke in his lungs before letting it out. He and Severide are sitting outside the house, enjoying a cigar and the quiet.

He had been fully intending to ride out the argument inside that had involved everyone, but when he had seen Severide lurking at the door with two cigars in hand, the decision was easy to make. A cigar with Kelly will always trump listening to everyone fight like teenagers.

Stretching his legs out he glances at Severide who is staring out at the street. It’s been nearly three weeks since the incident with the soulmates that had precipitated the original conversation with Severide about their bond. Since then they’ve had several calls with soulmates, though none of them have made Severide say anything.

Which is why Casey is wondering why he’s thinking about bringing it up. It isn’t that he doesn’t think about it on a regular basis, but normally it hasn’t been this pressing before. He sighs and leans back in his seat. “Kelly.”

“Hm?” Severide rolls his head to the side, but Casey can’t see his eyes in the dark.

For a split-second Casey wants to stop but now that he’s started, he can’t. Even if he does, Severide will hound him until he gives in. “What made you bring up our bond? What was it about those soulmates? We’ve managed to ignore it for so long.”

He can’t really see Severide move, but he hears the chair shift and is aware of the movement of his body. Severide sighs and leans forward, elbows on his thighs.

“I haven’t ignored it, Matt. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about our bond, how much I would love to have it completed.” He turns his head to look at him. “At this point the only people I have any more are you, Boden, Benny and my mom. Is it so wrong to want to have my soulmate?”

His voice dropped, tugging at Casey. “It killed me, to watch you with Hallie and Dawson. Don’t get me wrong, I would never begrudge you being happy, but the fact it wasn’t me hurts.”

Casey feels his heart clench at the quiet pain in Kelly’s voice. It makes him hurt, because it had never been his intention to make Kelly feel like he wasn’t wanted. “I’m sorry. I never wanted to make you feel that way.”

Severide laughs, but there’s a raw edge to it. “I don’t blame you Matt. You made your position about us clear when we first met. That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt to watch you with them.”

“As for why I suddenly brought it up, I thought maybe enough time had passed that you had changed your mind. We aren’t getting any younger Matt.”

Casey swallows, glad for the darkness hiding his features from Kelly. Usually they only use their given names when they’re alone like this and it adds a level of intimacy to this situation, he almost wishes there wasn’t. He sighs before slanting a look at Kelly, who is still watching him, even in the dark. He’s never been able to lie to Kelly, and he isn’t going to start now. “I would be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been thinking about it.”

He hears the slight hitch in Kelly’s breathing, and it makes heat pool in his stomach. “That doesn’t mean I’m ready to make a decision. I just want you to know I’ve never ignored the fact you’re my soulmate. There are days I’m sure it’s the reason I never really clicked with Hallie or Dawson.”

He nearly jumps out of his skin when Kelly’s hand comes down on his arm, strong fingers pressing in. “Don’t Matt. I saw you with both, you loved them, it just didn’t work out. None of it was because we’re soulmates.”

Logically Casey knows that, but it doesn’t do anything to quiet the idea. He sighs and looks back out at the city. “I know, there are just days-” He trails off because now isn’t the time to air all his dirty laundry. Kelly has already supported him through so much that it isn’t fair to dump more on him.

Silence falls between them but Casey doesn’t say anything about the hand still on his arm and Severide doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to move.

-----

Squad and the ambulance get called out that night and Casey knows none of them sleep, waiting for the others to come back. When they do, Casey can tell something is wrong and he gets to his feet. Everyone is okay but it wasn’t a good call, if the way the others are moving are any indication. They’re shuffling like zombies, falling into their beds.

He waits for long minutes, but Severide doesn’t appear so he slips out of his room and heads for the common room. The area is mostly dark, but he can see Severide sitting on the couch, the depressed slope of his shoulders and the way his head is hanging. He rounds the couch and sits next to the other man.

Severide starts at his presence before all the energy seems to drain out of him. Casey doesn’t move, doesn’t question. He knows Severide will talk when he’s ready and he’s more than willing to wait him out.

Casey stares at the dark TV, hands resting on his thighs as he waits. His fingers itch with the need to touch but he doesn’t. He’ll wait for Severide.

There’s a harsh inhalation of breath and then Severide speaks. “It was bad Matt. A single car accident. The mother and father had gotten in a fight and she had taken their seven-year-old. She was crying and missed the turn. They rolled and smashed into a building. The little girl was dead when we arrived but the mother-”

He trails off and there’s a hitch in his breathing. Casey shifts over, pressing his thigh against Kelly’s, lending silent support.

A few seconds later Severide continues. “The mother just kept screaming for her kid as we worked to get her out. She didn’t care about her own injuries.” He sighs. “Brett and Foster aren’t sure the mother is going to make it either. Her injuries were life-threatening.”

“I saw the mark on her abdomen when we got her out. They already lost their child and they might lose each other.” He glances at Casey. “The entire ride back Matt, all I could think about was you. What I would do if something happened to you?”

He shakes his head and Casey can see his hands curl into fists. “It almost broke me when Shay died, and she wasn’t even my soulmate.”

Casey swallows hard, his voice failing him. He isn’t sure what to say, what there is to say. He reaches into the pocket of his pants, where he had jammed some gloves earlier in the day after helping Brett with a patient. Pulling one on he reaches out, fingers resting lightly on the nape of Kelly’s neck. He strokes the skin and it doesn’t take much before Kelly is leaning into him, head on his shoulder.

He has no idea what time it is, but he’ll sit here all night if he needs to, fingers gliding up and down the nape of Kelly’s neck.

-----

Sometime before dawn they manage to get back to the bunkroom, though they stop in front of Severide’s door. They haven’t spoken in hours, though they haven’t really needed to. Casey glances at Severide. Some of the anguish is gone from his face, but he knows this was the kind of call that’s going to haunt him for a long time and there’s nothing he can really do to make it better.

He reaches out with his still gloved hand and the purple is enough to make Kelly just a smile a little. They part with the lightest touch of fingers and once he’s in his room Casey sheds the glove and tosses it in the garbage with a disgusted sigh.

He collapses on the bed, not that he thinks he’s going to get any sleep before the others start stirring.

-----

There’s a shout from the common room and Casey rolls his eyes before looking at Severide. “Do you ever feel like we’re running a daycare?”

Severide grins. “Every damn day.”

Shaking his head Casey goes back to the form in front of him. He and Severide are holed up in his office working on their incident reports from the last call. He isn’t quite sure how it came down to this, them sharing space as they work on reports. It had started after a call a few weeks ago, when Severide had come in with his own form on a clipboard and plopped down on his bed without permission.

Casey had thought about saying something, but it hadn’t been worth it. He likes having Severide around and it makes doing forms a little less boring. He signs the bottom of his form and looks up to see Severide doing the same on his. Plus, it helps him feel like their relationship is back to normal, even when he can tell it has changed. Severide’s touch lingers a little longer now and their eyes meet more often, filling him with a warmth Casey feels like he hasn’t felt in years.

Just as Severide raises his head the yelling from the common room gets even louder. Casey makes a face and looks at Severide. “Do you want to go break up the fight before Boden gets involved or go put the forms in the box?”

Severide’s eyes dart to the paper in his hand and for a moment Casey is pretty sure he’s going to take the easy way out. Instead he reaches over to hand him his form. “I’ll go. People around here need to be reminded of my authority, rather than just thinking we just have a captain here.”

Casey smiles as he takes Severide’s form. “Oh, I doubt anyone is going to forget your authority any time soon, but please, do remind them of it.”

Standing Severide grins at Casey. “Oh, I will.”

Casey stands too and suddenly he’s aware of how small his room is. He and Severide are almost touching and he wants to reach out and touch, feel the prickle of Kelly’s good mood run through his skin. But he manages to resist, curling his fingers into a loose fist. He takes a half step back. “You better go before they manage to break something. You remember what happened the last time that happened.”

Severide makes a face and ducks out of the room. “Yeah, I remember. I’ll see you later?”

Casey holds up the forms. “Probably at lunch. I have to go over some stuff with Hermann.”

“Alright. I’ll see you then.”

Blowing out a breath Casey taps the forms on the desk to even out the edges, keenly aware of the fact he’s stalling in leaving the peace of his office. Lately it’s been harder to be in close confines with Severide and he has to suppress the urge to reach out and offer his hand.

He had thought the matter was settled, weeks ago. There hasn’t been a mention of soulmates from Severide and everything seems to be the careful balance they’ve lived with for years, but Casey doesn’t feel like it is. Now when he looks at the other man, he sees the mark on his arm, the way the vibrant colors stand out.

He wants to be able to seek Severide out for comfort, wants to feel the heat of his bare skin without a glove between them. By now he’s lost track of the number of times he’s wanted to complete the bond, to be able to sense the crackle of emotion between them, feel it run under his skin.

Casey shakes his head and leaves his room. He needs to focus on work, and not how much he wants to finally give in to what he and Severide have been fighting for years.

-----

Casey glances up as he sees two men coming towards the house. They’re both wearing worn jeans and leather jackets, but it isn’t enough to make him suspicious. The whole neighborhood knows about Boden’s open-door policy and this is hardly surprising. The men both nod at him, the older one smiling slightly before they enter the house.

He doesn’t give it a second thought and turns his attention back to the clipboard in his hands. By now he’s learned to have his paperwork in order well before the end of the month. One polite reaming from a grandmotherly lady at headquarters had been enough for him.

Just as he finishes the first page the door connecting the bay opens and the older of the two men comes out. It only takes Casey a moment to see the gun in his hand and he watches as everyone in the house follows the man into the bay. Boden is the last person into the bay and the second man is behind him, gun held tight in his hand.

Moving slowly Casey sets the clipboard on the truck’s tire and watches as the rest of the house moves to stand behind him. Severide catches his gaze and inclines his head, which Casey takes to mean the entire house is here, which doesn’t bode well for them. No one is going to know what’s going on until it’s too late.

The older man crosses to the controls for the bay doors and he hits the button, keeping his gun trained on them as they doors slowly crawl down. Once the doors are fully closed, he turns to look at the gathered house, smirking. “Now that I have your attention, this is how it’s going to go.”

His partner rounds to join him, his own gun leveled at them and the older man continues. “For now, all of you are our hostages. When the time is right, we’ll reach out to the police department to give them our demands.” He sneers. “Until then, I suggest you all get comfortable, because this is going to be a long day. And stay quiet. I don’t want to hear anything from you.”

Severide edges up next to Casey and leans in. “We had no clue what was going on. They wandered in and before any of us could do anything they had pulled guns and started rounding us all up.”

Casey slants a look at Severide and can tell the other man is upset about what happened. “It isn’t your fault. If you had tried to do something you might have gotten injured.” He bumps him. “And I saw them walk in. I should have been more suspicious, but they seemed fine to me.”

Behind them Casey can hear the others muttering and he half turns. Otis, Cruz and Hermann are standing in a small knot and from the set on their faces, Casey can tell they’re plotting something. “Hey.” The three men jump, all of them looking guilty. “No heroics from any of you. We’re not in control of the situation and none of you are doing anything stupid.”

They all subside with sullen looks and Hermann gives a halfhearted salute.

Shifting his weight Casey looks to where the two men are still standing by the doors, holding a quiet conversation. The younger man is standing facing them and Casey can see the indecision on his face, almost like he isn’t quite sure how they got into this situation.

It gives Casey an idea and he can only hope it isn’t going to backfire on him, or anyone else. The two men separate, the younger one staying near the door while the older one wanders towards them, gun held loosely by his side.

Casey is aware of the press of the others behind him, but he still raises his hands. They need to gain some control out of this situation, and this is the only thing he can think of. He glances at Severide and the other man nods, getting where his thoughts are going, and he only hopes Boden and the other will go with the plan without too many questions. “Hey.”

The closest man turns to look at him, a frown pulling at his mouth. “I thought I told you to stay quiet.”

Casey nods but doesn’t move any further. The man in on edge and there’s no reason to make him any twitchier. “You did, but I have a proposition for you.”

The man looks at him for a second before motioning for the other man to come closer. The second man gives a jerky nod. “It better be good.”

Nothing about this situation is good but Casey can only hope they can manage to salvage some of this so maybe it ends less tragically. The press of Severide’s shoulder against him is steadying and he takes a deep breath. “It is. Let the others go. None of them are worth as much as Severide and I.” He hopes the others can see what he’s doing. He values every one of them more than himself, but to keep them safe he must make sure their captors see them as worthless.

Casey risks a quick look over his shoulder to where Boden is standing, scowling. He gives a smile he hopes the chief can follow, because he has Donna and Terrence to go home to and that is a visit Casey never wants to have to make. At this point though, all he and Severide have is each other and Casey knows Severide is with him.

He looks back at the two men. “Think about it. A Captain and Lieutenant from the CFD. You better believe they’ll give you whatever you want.”

The two men exchange a look before moving away a few feet. They have a quiet, intense conversation before the older one comes back over. “How do I know you two aren’t planning anything once everyone is out of the way?”

This isn’t how Casey wanted anyone to find out, but he’s glad he and Severide are both wearing short sleeves today. He slowly lowers his arm and reaches for Severide’s hand. Their fingers touch and Severide catches his hand and Casey sighs because he’s never been so glad before he and Kelly seem to think on the same wavelength.

He risks a quick look at Severide, and the other man’s face is a mask, save the quiet anger tightening the skin around his eyes. This isn’t how he wanted to reveal the fact they’re soulmates, doesn’t like using their bond like this, but it’s the only thing he can think of, to manipulate the men into going with what he wants them to do.

They raise their arms, the colors of their soul bond blooming across their arms and he feels the prickle of Kelly’s anger, underline with worry. “Because we’re soulmates and aren’t going to do anything to endanger each other.”

Quiet mutters break out behind them and Casey isn’t looking forward to the fallout of their revelation when this is all cleared up. He’s sure there will be some hurt feelings, that he and Severide have been keeping something like this from the house, but he doesn’t care. His personal relationship with Kelly isn’t for people to gossip about and he would have been happy never having them know the truth.

But the lives of his family outweigh his and Kelly’s privacy right now and if revealing the fact, he and Severide are soulmates will save the house, it’s worth it.

He gently pulls his hand away from Kelly and the colors fade from his arm. “I swear, once the others are safe, we’ll be the perfect hostages.”

The man who seems to be in charge spends a second considering before giving a sharp nod. “Fine. It’ll be easier with just two anyway.”

He grabs Casey’s arm and pulls him aside, Severide following. Once their backs are to the truck the man gestures for his companion, who rounds behind the others. “Get moving.”

As one the others being to start moving, Boden sliding between Hermann and the man in the back, herding them forward like ducklings. There are a lot of backward glances and Casey wishes he could yell, tell them to move faster. The sooner they’re out of danger, the better he’ll feel.

Boden is the last one out of the house and he turns back to look at them, face flickering between worry and anger.

Severide manages a tight laugh as he glances at Casey. “Boden is going to pissed when this is all over.”

“What do you mean going to be? He’s probably already decided how long he’s going to suspend us for.” Casey glances around the bay, a hollow feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. He’s glad the others are safe, but the enormity of what he did is settling over him.

He and Severide are alone inside the firehouse with two armed men, who likely won’t have a problem shooting them if their plans get upset in any way. Swallowing hard he glances at Severide who is looking at the two men standing near the doors with a frown. “I hope the cops are going to be here soon. I don’t think these two are going to wait long for their plans to be followed through with.”

Severide frowns, his eyes following Casey’s gaze. “Neither of them seems like they know what they’re doing. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t think this through.” He slants a look at the other man. “That was smart, getting the others out of here.”

Smart isn’t the word Casey would use right now, but he had wanted the others safe and away from anything that might happen to them. He glances at Severide. “I was just thinking it was better to give them less targets.” He swallows hard. “Thanks for going with my plan.”

Shrugging Severide turns his attention to Casey. “There was no way I wasn’t going to.” He nudges the other man. “I wasn’t going to leave you alone with them, even if you weren’t my soulmate. I’ll always have your back.”

Their captors suddenly seem to remember them, and they turn as one to look at Casey and Severide, both frowning.

The older man waves his gun in the direction of the wall near the common room. “Go sit over there.” A dark look crosses his face. “And don’t think about planning anything. I ain’t got a problem taking away your soulmate.”

Casey and Severide exchange a look before moving to the wall. Setting his back to the stone Casey slides to the floor. Severide mimics him, their thighs pressing together, and Casey can’t help but shift, leaning against the other man. He has no idea how this situation is going to turn out, but at least right now he has Kelly and the rest of the house is safe.

Severide moves, shifting so Casey is a little more comfortable against him. “It would be nice to have one week where nothing out of the ordinary happens. Normal, boring calls.”

Laughing Casey rests his head back against the wall. “That’ll be the day. I think if that day ever comes, it’ll be time for us to think about retiring.”

“We’ll talk about that later, when the situation is a little better.”

-----

Casey can’t be sure how long they’ve been sitting here. He can’t see the clock above the door, and it feels like it’s been hours. His ass is numb from the concrete and he wants to get up, but he doesn’t think their captors would appreciate any movement they haven’t allowed. He settles for rolling his shoulders and a quick glance at Kelly.

Kelly has his head tipped back against the wall and his eyes are closed. He looks relaxed despite what is going on and Casey can’t help but feel a little jealous.

“I can feel you staring.”

Heat spreads across his face and Casey is glad the other man has his eyes closed. “There really isn’t much to look at and I might as well look at something I enjoy.”

That hadn’t quite been what he had meant to say but it was in the air between them. Severide looks at him, a warm smile pulling at his lips and Casey has seen this look before, the few times when they were alone and Severide had given into the urge to flirt with him. “All you had to do was ask.”

For a moment Casey considers pulling away, putting some distance between them, but he realizes with a jolt, that’s the last thing he wants. He wants Severide in his life, in every aspect of it, from work to waking up next to him every morning. He wants to drink too many beers while they watch the Blackhawks and yell at the TV.

He wants all the things he has been denying himself and Kelly for years and he is tired of wanting, of trying to find excuses. His entire life he has taken what he wanted, in the academy, has climbed through the ranks, married the woman he had loved. Severide has been the only thing in his life he has shied away from and Casey feels like a fool for doing so.

Taking a deep breath Casey rests his arm on Severide’s thigh, forearm up, hand open, a silent invitation. Severide looks at him, brows drawn together as he frowns.

His eyes dart to Casey’s hand before returning to his face. He leans in, his voice pitched low so their captors can’t hear. “Matt, please tell me this isn’t because you don’t think we’re going to make it out.”

Casey shakes his head. “It’s not.” He looks at Kelly. “This is because I’ve been thinking about it since that call with the soulmates, when you mentioned completing our bond.”

He can’t help but laugh at the look of surprise on Severide’s face. “I must have been better at hiding it than I thought. I’ve never stopped thinking about the bond Kelly, not since we realized it all those years ago. But when you mentioned it, after that call, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, wondering what it would be like every moment we weren’t on a call.”

He sighs. “I realized how selfish I was being about the whole thing. I didn’t want to complete the bond because I was afraid of what it would mean, if I lost you. But I never thought about what it would mean to you, that I didn’t care, that I was better than you.”

Casey raises his hand to stop Severide from speaking. “I never thought I was better than you, but that you deserved someone better. My family is a mess. But then you mentioned the bond again and I realized we had changed, that I wasn’t my parents, that we weren’t going to end up like them. I knew I had to stop being selfish, stop being the scared little boy.”

He curls his fingers in invitation, a slight smile pulling at his lips. “I want this because of who you are.” Waving with his free hand he shrugs. “I just wish the circumstances were better.”

Kelly looks at him for a long moment before smiling slightly. “This is us Matt. I doubt we would ever manage better circumstances.”

He rests his hand against Matt’s, fingers lacing together. Squeezing he ducks his head and looks up at Matt from through his lashes, a bit of a warm smile pulling at his lips. “I just hope we don’t have to spend our first night as soulmates in here.”

The low roll of his voice is enough to start a flicker of arousal in him and Matt shakes his head, elbowing Kelly as hard as their current position will allow. “This really isn’t the time for that kind of shit.”

Kelly laughs, raising this joined hands so he can watch as the colors spread across their arms, blues and greens swirling together, the few spots of gold and silver almost too bright under the florescent lights of the bay.

Matt stares as the colors flicker across his skin and he can pinpoint the moment they become permanent. It feels almost like a click and he can feel Kelly next to him, in a way that has nothing to do with the fact they’re sitting so close. There’s something else, like a current running between them and he sighs. “I never should have shied away from this.”

Squeezing Matt’s hand Kelly nudges him. “Don’t. You had your reasons for what you did, and they don’t matter now.” He laughs. “Now you’re stuck with me though.”

Smiling Matt briefly lets his head drop to Kelly’s shoulder. He can feel Kelly’s happiness throbbing between them, and he shares his own feelings. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Now for the first time in longer than he cares to think about Matt feels complete. It feels like a weight he wasn’t quite aware of is gone and this is the first time he can say he’s been truly happy, even with the lingering threat of the way this situation might end.

-----

The piercing wail of sirens fills the air outside the house and Matt glances at Kelly. “I guess we’ll find out how this is going to turn out soon.”

Kelly squeezes Matt’s hand. “I hope it doesn’t take too long. I’m getting kind of hungry.”

“You have the worst timing sometimes.” Matt cranes his head. “Can you see where they got off to?”

Shifting but not releasing Matt’s hand Kelly manages to look around the end of the squad truck. “Yeah. They’re both standing by the bay doors and arguing about something, but I can’t hear what is being said.”

Before Matt can speak the younger man comes hurrying back towards them, gun held loosely in his hand. He waves impatiently at them. “Up, both of you and to the doors. Don’t try anything fucking funny.”

Matt reluctantly releases Kelly’s hand and gets to his feet, the other man behind him. Together they walk to the front of the bay where the other man is standing. Outside they can see at least half a dozen cop cars parked across the end of the driveway, lights going. Beyond them is a SWAT truck as well as an ambulance.

Boden and Voight are just barely visible by the SWAT truck and Matt glances at Kelly. “Well, they certainly aren’t fucking around.”

Kelly snorts and slants a look to where their captors are having a hushed conversation. “Did you really think Boden was going to let anything else happen?” He jerks his head in the direction of the two men and Matt follows, surreptitiously looking at the two men.

Their quiet conversation seems to be getting more and more heated. The younger one’s gaze keeps darting to the assembled law enforcement outside and his face is damp with sweat. To Matt it looks like he’s just starting to realize how much trouble they’re going to be in. Both men have thrust their guns into the waistband of their pants, which has never seemed like a good idea to Matt.

He glances at Kelly and can see he’s thinking the same thing. If they’re going to do anything to save themselves, now is the time. The two men are distracted, and this is the closest they’re going to get to being unarmed. Moving slowly, they edge closer to the men and on a silent count grab them hard.

Matt manages to get the younger man on the wrist, and he steps in, trying to minimize the distance between them. His only real thought is to make it as hard as possible for the man to get to the gun at his waist.

Digging his fingers into the other man’s arm Matt forces his arm out and away, hoping the pressure is going to be enough to make his arm go numb. He punches the other man in the side of the head, dazing him and he hits him again until he goes limp in his grip, head falling forward.

Kelly is struggling with the older man and it’s obvious he’s got weight and strength over the other man as he bears him back towards the side of the squad truck. He grunts when the man manages to get a glancing blow into his side. Shifting slightly Kelly gets a few quick jabs in against the man’s ribs.

Matt lowers his opponent to the ground before grabbing the gun from his waistband and throwing it aside, watching as it slides under one of the trucks. He puts his fingers to the man’s neck, finding his steady pulse. The sound of a gun firing startles Matt and he jerks around to see Kelly and the other man struggling for the gun.

Fear curls, hot and uncomfortable in his stomach and Matt scrambles to his feet, rushing to Kelly’s aid. If Kelly is seriously injured because of him, he’s never going to forgive himself. It’s his fault Kelly is even in this situation and he can’t imagine losing him so soon after finally completing their bond.

Kelly kicks the man’s knee out before managing to land a single, hard punch to his temple and the man drops to the cement, gun clattering down next to him.

Matt stops in front of Kelly, the man on the floor between them, eyes sweeping over Kelly as he searches for any sign of a wound. Nothing is readily visible, and he feels some of his tension drain away. “I heard the gun go off and-” He trails off, not wanting, or able to say what he’s thinking.

Kicking the gun away from the downed man Kelly clamps a hand to his bicep. He glances at Matt with a wry smile as though he can sense the roil of emotions he’s feeling. “It’s just a graze.”

Stepping over the downed man Matt carefully pulls Kelly’s fingers away. He pushes up the sleeve, drawing a hissed breath from the other man. “Sorry.” The graze doesn’t look deep but it’s bleeding and it’s going to need to be rinsed to get any debris out. “If you’re lucky you won’t have to go to the hospital.”

“I’ll sign a consent for non-transport.” Kelly smiles. “After this we aren’t spending the rest of the night at the ER. We’re giving statements and going home.”

The door bursts open and they both spin to look, raising their hands as SWAT pours into the building. Matt is glad they’re both wearing their CFD polos, because it would be just their luck for law enforcement to arrest them until things were cleared up.

Nearly a dozen men surround them in a semicircle, until the man in the middle slowly lowers his rifle. He looks at Matt and Kelly before his gaze drops to the two men on the ground. “Your chief said you two would probably manage to rescue yourselves, but when he heard the gunshot, we couldn’t wait any longer.”

Matt lowers his arms and Kelly does the same. “We saw the opportunity and took it. The two men were so caught up in what was going on outside it seemed like the best time.”

The captain nods. “Did they say what they wanted?”

Kelly shakes his head. “No. I don’t think they really knew what they wanted. At least, they never said anything we heard. I don’t think a lot of planning when into this.”

“Maybe we’ll have some idea when we find out who they are.” The Swat officer looks between them. “You two did a good job.”

Blood is running down Kelly’s arm, dripping to the floor and Matt presses his hand against the shallow furrow on his arm, feeling blood leak between his fingers as he watches the SWAT members handcuff the two men. He looks at the officer. “Can we go out? He got grazed and needs a paramedic.”

The man nods and gestures to the door. “There’s an ambulance out there.”

Matt tugs Kelly in the direction of the door, hand still over his wound. “Come on.”

Kelly follows and they nod at Voight.

The man stops and looks them both over with a tight smile. “You did good. I’ll let a report slide tonight, but I expect to see you in my office early Monday. Understood?”

Matt nods, hand never moving from Kelly’s wound. “We’ll be there.”

They make it to the ambulance without being accosted by anyone from the house, for which Matt is grateful. He isn’t in any kind of mood to answer questions and right now all he wants is for Kelly to get patched up so they can get the hell out of here.

The paramedics are two men he doesn’t recognize which is another blessing. Even better, the two are efficient and quiet, only asking the bare questions and handing over the non-transport form without hesitation. Kelly quickly signs it and hands it to one of the men as the other finishes bandaging his arm.

“Keep it clean and dry for two days and go to the hospital if there is any redness, pain, swelling, fever or any discharge.”

Kelly nods. “Can do.”

Grabbing their bags, the two men head toward the house where SWAT is still inside, with the hostage takers and Voight.

Matt drops down next to Kelly and he shifts, until they’re leaning against each other. Boden strides up and plants his fists on his hips as he looks between them, frowning. “I don’t want to see either of you until Monday.”

Severide shifts. “We have shift tomorrow.”

Boden pins him with a look. “You are both suspended with pay until Monday. We’ll revisit the issue after Monday.”

The stern look fades from his face and he gives them an approving nod before striding off to the firehouse.

Casey shakes his head, glancing at Severide. “I told you he would already have it figured out.”

Kelly laughs and rests his hand on Matt’s thigh, squeezing. “Well, the paramedics have cleared us, Boden has suspended us, and we’ve talked to Voight. Are you ready to start our unexpected vacation?”

Matt smiles and gets to his feet, mourning the loss of Kelly’s warmth down his side. Now that he’s allowed to touch Kelly all he wants to keep a hand on him, but that isn’t feasible. There are too many people around and despite the fact their marks are so visible he doesn’t want to share this part of their lives with everyone. He wants their first night as soulmates to be just the two of them, alone and away from prying eyes.

He turns to look at Kelly. “Your place or mine?”

Rolling his shoulders Kelly nudges, him in the direction of the street, where their cars are parked. “Yours. Mine has too many stairs and I don’t really feel like climbing them. I have plenty of clothing in my bag.”

Matt makes a face. “Which we need to go get out of the house.”

“Shit.” Kelly looks back at the house, which is brightly lit since most of the interviews with the others are still going on inside. “Maybe we can sneak in and out without them noticing us?”

The thought is a good one, but at the same time Matt would almost just buy Kelly everything new rather than going back into the house. Which is unreasonable so with a sigh he turns in the direction of the building. “Maybe if we glare enough, they’ll leave us alone.”

Kelly raises his arm so Matt can see the cascade of color down his forearm. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re never going to hear the end of it from them.”

“I know.” Matt leads the way and they enter through the actual front of the house rather than through the bay. The common room, bunk room and locker room are dark, which Matt is grateful for. They quickly open their respective lockers and grab their bags before sneaking back outside.

Kelly is parked behind him and Matt stands by his truck. Despite the fact they’re going the same place he doesn’t want to separate, not wanting to be apart. Now that they’re safe he feels fragile and a little strung out, like Kelly’s presence is the only thing keeping him together.

Stepping in Kelly runs his hand down Matt’s arm, curling his fingers over the soulmate mark on his arm. “Hey. Ten minutes and we’ll be some place quiet and alone. Meet you there.”

Matt can feel the quiet thread of warmth from the bond flood him and he smiles, pulling his truck keys from the pocket on his bag. “Think about what you want to order for dinner.”

Kelly nods as he steps back. “Something quick. I’m starving but I don’t want to have to wait all night.”

Heat spreads across his cheek and Matt is glad his truck is in a pool of shadow. He doesn’t need Kelly to know how much he wants him close. Getting into the truck he starts it and turns in the direction of home.

-----

Matt pulls in front of his house, pulling up so Kelly can park behind him. Grabbing his bag from the seat he slides out of the truck and locks it. He’s halfway up the stairs when Kelly arrives, and he waits at the top for the other man.

Grinning Kelly reaches the top of the stairs and crowds Matt back against the wall next to the door. “What are your neighbors going to say?”

With a soft smile Matt rests his hand on Kelly’s chest. “Probably be gratefully I’m not coming home alone again. For some reason they worry about me.”

Kelly laughs. “You’ve probably ingratiated yourself to every little old lady on the street.” Catching Matt’s shoulder, he turns him towards the door. “Let’s go in. I don’t want to share you with anyone right now.”

Matt unlocks the door and steps in, moving aside so Kelly can follow him in. Once the other man is in, he turns and locks the door before dropping his bag. He hears Kelly’s bag hit the floor and then Kelly is behind him, arms sliding around his waist, chest against his back.

Lips touch the back of his neck and Kelly sighs. “Boden is going to read us the riot act on Monday. I swear if you ever do something like that again.”

Resting his hands on Kelly’s arms Matt closes his eyes. “We both know I will and that you’ll likely do something just as stupid sometime.”

“Oh, I know but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be a little upset about tonight.” Kelly kisses the back of his neck before releasing him. “I don’t know about you, but even with as hungry as I am, I could really use a shower.”

Matt nods and gestures towards the stairs. “I guess you’re in luck, since the master bathroom was the first thing I fixed when I moved it.”

“Excellent. Lead on.” Matt heads up the stairs, Kelly right behind him. This isn’t the first time Kelly has been here, since he helped him move, but this is entirely different. There’s an undercurrent of emotion between them that has always been there, but they’ve spent the last decade and some trying to ignore. Now though it prickles over his skin and warmth pools in the pit of his stomach.

They enter the master bedroom and pass through into the bathroom and Matt is glad he put so much effort into this bathroom. A big walk-in shower dominates one corner, with burnished fixtures and off-white tiles.

Matt turns the lights on, keeping them low. Crossing to the shower he turns it on, setting the water warm before he starts stripping, Kelly following his lead. Despite the change in their circumstances there’s no awkwardness as they strip, and Matt enjoys getting to look at Kelly without having to hide.

Steam is beginning to fill the bathroom and Matt glances at the bandage on Kelly’s right arm. “I thought they said you weren’t supposed to get the bandage wet.”

Kelly glances at it. “I doubt it’ll get that wet.” He grins at Matt as he backs him into the shower and toward the tiles. “I don’t think we will be in the shower for long.”

Matt lets Kelly back him against the wall and he grins as the other man steps into him. “Hi.”
Kelly smiles, resting his hand on Matt’s side, fingers spread wide. “Hey.” He leans into kiss Matt, a brief brush of lips before kissing him properly.

It doesn’t take long for Matt to not care about anything, but the way Kelly is pressing against him and the slow, drugging kisses. He had expected this to be quick, with the way they’ve been dancing around each for so long, but Kelly seems to have other ideas, not that he’s going to complain.

Matt rests his hands on Kelly, one hand on his hip, the other stroking up his back. At this point he’s thrilled he just gets to touch and arousal coils in the pit of his stomach and he can feel his cock stir, pleasure skittering through his body as Kelly’s hands trail across his skin. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he can feel Kelly too, a hardness against his hip.

He gasps into Kelly’s mouth as a strong hand curls around him, thumb teasing the head. “Fuck.”

Kelly drags his lips along the line of Matt’s jaw to his ear. “I’ve been thinking about this for years. What it would feel like to have you like this, hard and wanting. The moment we met, before we even knew we were soulmates.” He kisses the skin below his ear. “But when I found out you were my soulmate, I felt like the luckiest person alive.”

His grip on Matt’s cock tightens and he strokes, sending a jolt of pleasure down his spine. Matt knows this is going to be quick. Between what happened earlier today, the buzz of emotion through their bond, the knowledge there is nothing that can break them apart and how long he’s wanted this.

Kelly must be able to feel it because he presses closer to him, hand moving, thumb teasing the slit. “You’re all I ever wanted Matt.”

Words feel beyond his reach as Kelly continues to stroke him, pressure perfect, thumb sweeping over the head and Matt curls his fingers into the muscle of Kelly’s shoulders, anchoring himself in the other man’s strength. He feels like he’s going to fly apart, the only thing holding him together the broad body pinning him against the tile.

He comes, fingers biting into Kelly and he blindly kisses him, stubble rough against his lips.

Zephyrs of pleasure are still running through him and Matt shakes his head, reaching out. Kelly bats his hand aside and kisses him hard. “Next time. This isn’t going to take long.”

Matt can only nod and he strokes his hands along Kelly’s shoulders, feeling the play of muscle as Kelly works to get himself off. He wants to look, to see what Kelly likes but he can’t look away from Kelly’s face, the way he’s biting his lower lip, eyes half closed.

Pressing his face against Matt’s neck he comes with a gasp, his free hand curling into a fist against the tile next to Matt.

Shifting he presses a kiss to Matt’s neck before trailing his lips up and along his jawline to his ear. He smiles against his skin. “Next time this will be better. In a bed would be good.”

With a laugh Matt turns his head so he can kiss Kelly. “There’s always tomorrow. We have been suspended, with pay.”

Kelly runs his hands down Matt’s sides. “An excellent point. And I can’t think of a better way to spend it.”

The water starts running cold, prompting them to grab the body wash and quickly clean up. Matt reaches to turn off the water, yelping when icy water splashes down his arm. Shaking it off he steps out of the shower, accepting the towel Kelly is holding out for him. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever run out of hot water.”

Kelly grins as he wipes the water from his chest. “I would say the experience was well worth it.”

Heat sweeps through Matt despite the fact he just came, and he shakes his head, smiling softly. “It was.”

Once he is dry and has scrubbed most of the water out of his hair Matt gets his hand on Kelly’s bandage. The gauze is just a little damp and he gently pushes him back. “I doubt the gauze underneath is wet.”

Kelly leans in, stealing a kiss. “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Matt finishes drying off before pulling on a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. “What do you want for dinner?”

Pulling his shirt down Kelly shrugs. “As long as it’s hot and I didn’t have to cook it, I’m good.”

Matt shoves him in the direction of the stairs. “There’s beer in the fridge. Grab one and get comfortable while I order something.”

Matt finishes ordering food and wanders into the living room where Kelly is slumped on the couch, hand curled loosely around his beer bottle. He drops onto the couch and leans into the man, picking his arm up. Skating his fingers along the colors swirling down Kelly’s arm he leans back, warmth filling him. This could have been his years ago, if he hadn’t denied himself and sitting in the quiet here, he regrets every moment leading up to this.

Not his marriage to Hallie or his relationship with Dawson, but the way he had denied himself this relationship with Kelly. He could have had this for years, if he had just taken what he wanted, rather than hiding from it.

“I can hear the gears grinding from here.”

Matt shakes his head, smiling wryly. “Just thinking, about what could have been if I hadn’t run scared all those years ago."

“Hey.” Kelly sets his beer aside and turns. “None of that. We’re not going to dwell on what could have been. All that matters is now, from this point on.” He kisses the corner of Matt’s mouth, one hand coming up to rest on the back of his neck, fingers scratching at his hairline.

“How long until the food gets here?”

Matt glances at the clock on the wall. “They said half an hour to an hour.”

Kelly tugs gently pulling until Matt is kneeling between his legs. “We have plenty of time then.”

Laughing Matt lets Kelly pull him down, because this is all he’s ever wanted.