There it was again, a slight buzzing noise that was just loud enough, just annoying enough to wake him up. Groaning in frustration, Matt reaches for his phone, he was intending on silencing it, but even just the side view of Sylvie’s smile on his screen wakes him all the way up. The picture is from a long time ago, her first year on the job, but the smile is the same.
Matt scrambles to swipe and answer, checking the time on his alarm clock, it’s almost 3 am. “Sylvie?”
Just his name and he knows, he knows, something is really wrong. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
Down the line he hears her breathing. “I’m fine, Matt.” Then she stops, sighs. “I’m sorry for calling, I just need a favour.”
They haven’t really talked in more than three weeks. It’s been hell; but, here she is calling him.
“I’ll do it.”
“Um, I don’t really know what to do, and I’m kind of freaking out.” There’s a noise behind her, it sounds almost like a cry, then she asks for minute and it’s quieter as she places the phone down. All of this makes Matt fear the worse, he gets out of bed, flips on the lights, paces the space in front of his bed.
“What is going on? Where are you?”
Sylvie sounds close to tears. “I’m in Rockford.”
“Is it Amelia?”
“Scott’s in the ICU, it’s not looking too good. Child Services called me, there’s no one else who can...” here Sylvie stops. She lets out a sniffle, one that Matt knows is a precursor to crying.
“Sylvie,” he struggles for words, “what can I do?”
“I want to come home.”
“I’ll come get you.”
She’s actually crying now. He’s made up his mind, he’s going to her. Matt pulls a pair of pants from his dresser, anxious to get to her.
“No, don’t. It’s okay. I don’t want to make this giant mess worse.” Matt doesn’t know if she means them, or what’s happening with Scott.
“It won’t, I want to help.”
“Matt, you can’t. You have shift in a few hours. I’m sorry, I should have called you, I just,” Sylvie stops, “I just wanted to hear your voice.”
That might be the best things she’s ever said to him.
“I’ll call in. I’m coming, please.” She makes a noise he is absolutely taking for agreement, “what do you need me to bring?”
“Just you.” Her voice sounds small.
Matt grabs a bag, throws extra shirts in, a old CFD sweater, on his way out he shamelessly takes a pair of Stella’s leggings from the drying rack. He snags energy bars from the kitchen, and tries to figure out what he’s thinking at the door. He has cash, and a pair of Sylvie’s mitts are in the glove box. Lastly he calls in to the district, requests coverage for him and Sylvie, just in case that slipped her mind.
Pulling on his coat, Matt grabs the bag, and says a little prayer, both for the road and for Sylvie.
He makes good time on the highway, it’s early and the traffic is light, even if the conditions are less than agreeable. Muscle memory kicks in once he is actually in Rockford, he takes the streets he remembers driving with Sylvie beside him. It’s the same brick front house, a dusting of snow in the yard, a light shining on the porch.
Not wanting to wake Amelia he sends Sylvie a text, waiting in the stoop with his bag at his feet. It doesn’t surprises him when she opens the door that his first thought is how good it feels to see her. Her face is wiped clean of make up, and she’s wearing a sweater he recognizes, and all Matt can think is how much she means to him.
Sylvie makes the decision for him, and steps onto the porch in her stocking feet, wraps her arms around his middle and just burrows in.
“Hey.” Matt whispers into her hairline, his lips resting there edging on a kiss. “It’ll be okay. We can do this.” He doesn’t really know what ‘this’ is, but he knows that Sylvie is capable of anything she puts her mind too. “Tell me what’s going on.”
It doesn’t matter that they both need sleep, and everything for the last 12 months has been a struggle. It doesn’t even matter that she asked for space, their friendship, their connection is stronger than anything that might derail them. Matt joins her at the kitchen table, takes her hand while she fills him in.
About two weeks ago, Scott started feeling sick, so he dropped of Amelia with his mom. They confirmed Covid. But then last week he was admitted to the ICU, and it looks grim, but his mom can’t look after Amelia. Here Sylvie cries a little, “Julie should be here.” Scott’s mom is in her early 70’s and can’t manage a baby.
“She’s not even a year old, Matt.”
This time when Matt pulls her in, he does kiss the top of her head.
“Scott’s mom called me right after last shift, so I came straight away, and now I don’t know what to do.”
“We go back home to Chicago. That’s where our support system is.”
“I knew no matter what, that I could still call you.”
Amelia starts crying, and Sylvie is up and out of her chair, down the hall to find her.
Matt starts making lists, they need to make plans and move things, but the one thing he know is that there is no way he’s not going to be right by her side as she figures this out.
“Do we pack the crib?”
Matt gives her a look.
Sylvie raises a shoulder, “it feels so invasive to pick apart her room. What do we do if Scott does get better?”
“We cross that bridge when we come to it. But, I think right now we need to be smart. To pack things that will make life easier, both for Amelia and us, and that means we need the crib.”
After he convinced her to take a nap this morning, Sylvie had changed into the leggings he had stolen from Kidd, and one of his CFD shirts. It’s distracting, seeing her walk around in a pair of chunky socks, but especially with a shirt with his name on the back. Sylvie is currently on the floor of Amelia’s bedroom, sorting clothes into Rubbermaid tubs Matt found in the garage.
Amelia is strapped to his chest, not wanting to be put down. Not that Matt is go in to complain, she’s adorable.
Together they decided to call Boden, and ask for help, or at least guidance. Boden had Cindy call them back in minutes with names of CFD wife’s who were able to take in CFD kids for child care. Picking a paramedic who had left the CFD to raise her own kids was Sylvie’s choice, she had called Maddie and arranged childcare for next shift. Maddie had a baby not much older than Amelia.
Making a plan has helped settle some of Sylvie’s nerves, Matt can already tell.
“We need to order diapers for drop off, should I go with the Honest Company or Hello Bello?” Sylvie adds a line to her list, “oh, and formula! Someone must have a subscription service?”
Amused Matt watches her, Sylvie has been juggling three or more things all day; there’s a list on a notebook that keep growing, she is packing clothing, and confirming details with Matt. He loves it. He’s wanted this his whole life. This particular brand of familial chaos.
“Violet could do some childcare. She is at U of C but living at home, and doing online classes.”
Sylvie looks around and up at him, “your niece?”
“Yeah. She’s great. You’d love her.”
“If she’s anything like you, I will.”
Matt holds her gaze. From her spot on his chest, Amelia babbles, and it breaks the spell. “Hey, Amy-girl,” Matt bounces her, “how are you doing?” The little girl reaches out to touch his chin, happy and content as long as she is being held.
From his vantage point above Sylvie he sees her flipping through moving companies on her cell phone.
“It’ll fit in my truck.”
Sylvie slants her head, “Matt, I won’t be ready to head back to Chicago until at least tomorrow.”
“Okay, so I’ll stay tonight, and we’ll call Severide and Kidd to come down tomorrow and help us load up.”
“That’s too much. I can’t ask you to do that.”
Matt reaches out and touches her shoulder, “Sylvie I want to do it. I want to show you that I’m here for you, that I’m putting you first.”
Her eyes slide from his down to look at the curly blonde top of Amelia’s head, he knows she’s nervous, knows that she is out of her comfort zone, but looking for a sign. “Please let me help you.”
It’s simple, which after everything makes it feel better. She is going to let him help. Sylvie is willing to let him in, that means more to him than she will ever know.
Smiling, Matt ask, “now what are going to do for lunch?”
By the time noon the next day rolls around, Sylvie has worked nonstop to get things ready. Matt helped, but she was on a roll. Sylvie emptied, and scrubbed, the fridge of all perishables, called Scott’s mom with updates, packed play pens and stuffed toys. She filled Rubbermaid totes with clothes, small pink jackets and dresses, hair bows and leggings. Matt lined the hall to the front door with the to go things.
“Do you think we can fit the crib, the change table, the dresser and the rocking chair?”
Measuring them with a critical eye Matt nodded. “Yes, that will fit in the truck. Plus we have your car, and Stella’s SUV.”
“I’m going to go check the garage for some tarps, and a cooler.” Sylvie leans in, kisses Amelia, who is napping bundled up on Matt’s chest. His heart skips a beat, for a moment, he thought she was going to kiss him, but then she’s turning away, her blonde hair tickling his arm.
Sylvie is still in the garage a few moments later when the doorbell rings, Matt opens it up to find Kidd and Severide. Mercifully they have coffee and doughnuts.
“Those genes are strong.” Severide reached a hand out and stroked the top of Amelia’s head.
“Don’t I know it,” Matt agreed, “wait until she’s awake and wants something from you.”
They follow him into the house, eyeing the pile of things, he tells Kidd where and what Sylvie is doing, and she excuses herself. That’s when Matt becomes aware of the way Severide is looking at him.
“What are you doing, Case?” Severide puts the doughnuts on the table, sinking down into a chair. When Matt joins him, making a questioning noise, Kelly shakes his head. “I thought you were giving her space?”
“She called. What was I supposed to do, not answer?”
Kelly grabs a powdered doughnut, shaking his head, “I don’t know man, seems like you guys should have a conversation before you marry her in turn out gear, and try to adopt her sister.”
“This is not anything like that.” Matt feels a burning kind of indignation in his chest, a desire to explain himself. “Looking back, I can see how messed up that situation was. I loved Louie, and I loved Gabby, but that... that was a whole mess. I had no control, no say, and I regret a lot of what happened.”
“If you don’t talk with Brett, you’re going to have more regrets.”
“I’m not adding to her troubles.”
Kelly smirks, “maybe your talking to her about your feelings would take away some of those troubles.”