It was a busy early summer day at firehouse 51. Ambulance 61 had been on numerous calls throughout their shift, none of them too serious but all of them physically draining. At only half an hour until the end of shift, Shay and Dawson were hiding in the locker room, hoping that they'd be spared being sent out one last time.
Shay leaned back against her locker while Dawson related all of the details of her latest date with her blonde beau lieutenant.
"I have a surprise for him," Gabby whispered conspiratorially. "In two weeks we get that 4 day weekend off, so I booked us a cabin in Kenosha."
"Isn't it suppost to be the man's job to book the surprise vacations?" Shay narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Are you sure you're not a lesbian? Because if you like to wear the pants in the relationship I know a girl…"
Dawson wacked her on the arm with a smirk. "You know if I did swing that way I'd only have eyes for you. But for real, you can't mention anything to Casey. This has to be our little secret."
The sound of a locker door creaking open right behind her head startled Shay so much that she jumped. Turning around, she found herself staring into a pair of bright blue eyes sparkling with a mischievous glint. She hadn't heard Kelly sneak up behind her. "I like secrets. Hey Casey! The girls have something that they want to share with us."
Gabby shot Shay a warning look as Matt rounded the corner to see what was going on. "Shay and I were just talking about how weird we thought it was for Chout and Rafferty to be paired up on an ambulance. Right?" Dawson gave her boyfriend her best innocent smile. Casey might have bought it if it weren't for the plainly guilty face looking at him from the other direction.
Shay just stood wide-eyed, like a deer in the headlights, trying to keep her lips sealed. Both of the guys grinned.
"Oh my god, you really are the worst secret keeper on the planet!" Dawson exclaimed giving her partner an indignant look. Shay immediately started to sputter an apology to her friend but the words just wouldn't come out.
Just then Otis happened to walk into the room. "Did I just hear someone reference Harry Potter?" he asked hopefully.
Shay jumped on the change of subject. "No Otis, Harry Potter is still in his hobbit hole on planet Vulcan. Did I get that right?" Shay gave him a devilish grin and batted her eyelashes.
Everyone burst into laughter at the look of abject horror on Otis' face, however, Severide was quick to catch on. "Quit distracting Shay, spill."
They were interrupted by the firehouse bells going off.
"Truck 81, Squad 3, Ambulance 61, Battalion 25, apartment fire, Freemont and Birch building 4." The announcement was made.
Everyone groaned at having to go out so close to shift change, but Shay couldn't help but smirk. She knew she had dodged a bullet on this one. "Well, duty calls gentlemen." She hooked arms with Dawson and began to drag the other paramedic out of the locker room.
"Everyone on your toes, that address is in Humble Park," Casey called out from behind them.
"I thought things had calmed down with the Insane Kings now that Flaco and Doc are gone?" Mills asked, joining the group from the kitchen.
It was true. Humble Park had miraculously not been a standard part of the daily police bulletin for several months. Since Doc had been taken down, the Kings were left without any real leadership and had therefore been laying low, which most of the people of Chicago were more than happy about.
"It could just be a routine call, but it never hurts to be prepared," Casey allowed as he put on his heavy fire resistant jacket and his helmet. He looked around to do a quick mental count to make sure that everyone was there and ready, then climbed into his spot in the truck. "Let's get this over with."
The two trucks and the ambulance roared down the road with their sirens blaring. When they arrived, they exited the vehicles to assess what they were dealing with.
Flames licked at the windows on one of the higher floors and smoke billowed out towards the sky. Most of the residents of the building appeared to be milling about on the sidewalk, staring at the wreckage above and probably praying that the fire wouldn't spread to their own suites.
Chief Boden arrived in the Battalion SUV and immediately began issuing orders. "Casey, take your men up to vent the roof and keep that fire contained. Severide, go with squad and make sure that everyone got out. Dawson and Shay stay out here to deal with any possible injuries."
Everyone nodded their assent and immediately began to perform their assigned duties. Shay and Dawson walked back to the ambo and began setting up supplies to create a small triage station in case they had to deal with multiple casualties at once.
"Sorry about earlier. You know I can't keep a secret," Shay apologized as she pulled on a pair of blue nitrile gloves.
Dawson rolled her eyes as she neatly set up some sterile gauze. "I should have known better.
The chief looked up at the two after having a conversation over the radio and called out, "Squad reports a few people still inside with only minor injuries."
"Copy," Dawson called back.
Over at the door, Clarke was already on his way out, carting a couple of kids with ash-smudged faces towards them. Dawson accepted the little girl he offered her and placed her onto the stretcher to check her over while Shay started looking at her older brother.
"The fire's still pretty tame in there. Somebody left their stove on but it hasn't spread much. We should be able to get out of here quickly." He told them, grabbing a quick drink.
Shay smiled and gave a small thank you to his retreating back as he headed back into the fire. The two kids that had been brought out were fine, just tired and a little cranky. The paramedics wrapped them in blankets and handed them off to an aunt who had already left the building.
As they were cleaning up the area and getting ready for their next patient, a woman came streaking out of the adjacent building and running towards the chief.
"Sir you gotta help," She panted, "Our super told us we were suppost to leave incase the fire spread to our buildin' and when I was on my way out I saw this man and there was so much blood. I think he was dyin'."
Overhearing, Dawson and Shay moved towards them and began to question the woman. "Where was he?"
"I dunno. In the back of the buildin'? I just blew by so fast I wasn't really payin' much attention, " she said apologetically.
"Could you see what was causing the bleeding?" Dawson continued.
"Not sure. Alls I know is there was a great big pool of blood under him and he didn't look too good. I'm really sorry, I gotta go find my kids," She bit her lip and when they didn't immediately ask her another question, ran off into the crowd.
The paramedics looked askance at the chief and then waited. He looked hesitant, thumbing the mic on his radio, before nodding his approval. "Go, but be careful. Anything even the slightest bit suspicious happens and you radio in and leave immediately. Got it?"
The two paramedics nodded and headed back to the ambulance to grab everything they would need. Shay shouldered the jump bag while Dawson hoisted the chair and the pair began to trudge up the walk towards the other building. One of the residents was still on his way out and held the door open for them. They asked if he knew where the injured man was but unfortunately he had no idea what they were talking about.
Inside, they were met with long hallways heading in multiple directions. Each was lined with doors on both sides so close together that each suite had to be quite small. Dawson blew out a frustrated sigh, ruffling the loose hair framing her face. "Couldn't she have been even the slightest bit more specific? In the hallway, in a room, on the right, near the elevator… really, just adding a tiny bit of detail isn't that difficult."
Shay smirked and shifted the bag on her shoulder. "But that would be too easy." She started toward the closest hallway on the left. "We might as well start here."
Dawson rapped heavily on the first door they came to, "Paramedics, if there's anyone inside needing assistance call out!" They waited in silence for a minute, then knocked once more before moving on.
On about the eighth door, Shay was about to comment about how stupid this was and how there must be a more efficient way of going about their search when she heard a loud crack followed by a thud on the floor beside her. When she turned, she saw Dawson crumpled in a heap with her eyes closed. She was about to cry out when she felt a strong arm wrap around her body. A rough hand clasped tightly over her mouth. It smelled like weed and cigarettes and she almost gagged. Finally, she clued in to the feel of a cold metal cylinder grinding against the side of her skull.
"Your friend is fine. She'll stay that way if you come quietly, ya hear?" a young raspy voice said from behind her. Shay nodded slowly, not wanting to startle the kid into accidentally firing.
She was dragged backwards down the hallway, then down a perpendicular one that lead deeper into the building. When they stopped, she was in some sort of communal room with couches and a fireplace. Near the far wall lay a man. Shay counted three gun shot wounds in his chest and his eyes were open and unblinking. Dead.
The arm restraining her disappeared but the gun did not. The kid told her to turn around so she did, again as slowly as possible. The gun barrel stayed pressed into her forehead but she was still able to look her captor over.
He couldn't have been much older than 15, his face pitted with acne scars. He was tall and lanky, but somehow still managed to pull off an intimidating image in his oversized clothes and ball cap. It was probably the gun.
She heard a metallic click.
Yes, it was definitely the gun.
"What do you want?" Shay asked quietly, using her best calming voice. She held her hands out to her sides with her palms open, showing that she wasn't threatening.
"You're my ticket out of here," he replied, nodding towards the guy in the corner. "Ain't no way the police are going to shoot at me if I got a pretty blonde to use as a human shield."
"The police aren't here. We're with the CFD," Shay tried to reason. Her radio crackled as the chief's voice came through asking the girls for an update. He seemed irritated, like he had already asked several times. She hadn't even noticed.
The kid just shook his head, his eyes travelling down to her radio. She felt his hand begin to shake through the gun rattling against her head. "You're with the fucking cops," he spat, shoving her hard with his free hand. The jump bag fell from her shoulder and clattered to the floor. She continued with the momentum, backing toward the wall with her hands still raised.
"I'm not, okay. I'm a paramedic, I'm here to help," She tried to reason but she knew it was too late. The kid's eyes had changed, they now held a murderous glint. Shay bit her lip, summoning her courage, she knew she was only going to have one shot at getting out of this.
As the kid re-aimed at her, she launched herself at him. Her main goal was to get the gun away so she did everything she could, clawing at his wrist and prying his fingers back, trying to force him to let go.
The boy was surprisingly strong for his build and easily forced her arms down to her sides. Still she struggled, putting every last ounce of energy and strength that she possessed into it. He tripped and the two of them crashed to the ground, momentarily stunning them both. Leslie tried to take advantage and roll out from under him, but he grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. She brought up her knee to hit him in the groin but he brought his other arm across to block her so that she only managed a graze.
That was when the gun went off.
Severide gently lowered the woman he had in a fireman carry down to the grass near the ambulance.
He walked to the truck to grab some water before he had to head back to the apartment complex to look for more survivors. On his way he stopped by Chief Bowden to ask where the paramedics had gone. He found it strange that they weren't anywhere in sight.
"Hey chief-" Just as he approached, two shots rang out from the building beside the fire.
Bowden immediately grabbed his radio and began shouting, "Police assistance required at apartment complex 5 at Freemont and Birch. Shots fired, I repeat shots fired. We have two paramedics in there."
"Shay and Dawson are in there?" Severide asked frantically. He began to strip off his protective gear, first discarding his helmet and then his jacket, getting ready to run into the building.
Chief Bowden grabbed his arm and gave him a disapproving look. "Severide you know I can't let you go in there. Wait for the police. I'm sure Shay and Dawson are fine."
Kelly roughly pulled his arm away. "I can't take that chance."
Without a second glance he sprinted to the apartment, trying the door, and then settling for breaking the glass when it wouldn't budge. Inside it was eerily quiet. He guessed the building had been evacuated in case the fire spread. He had no idea where to even begin looking for the two paramedics.
He turned down the first hallway he came to and began walking down swiftly, Calling the girls' names and checking each doorway. So far there was no answer.
His second hallway yielded better results. At the end he found Dawson slumped in a doorframe. He didn't see any obvious life threatening injuries, just a small cut slowly seeping blood on her forehead. Kneeling down he felt for a pulse, and gave a huge sigh of relief when he found the strong, steady thrumming under his fingertips.
Pulling his radio to his mouth from its spot on his collar Severide quickly gave the chief an update. "I found Dawson. She's unconscious but as far as I can tell she's okay. I think someone might have hit her over the head with something. Still looking for Shay."
"Copy that Lieutenant. I'm going to request once again that you leave the building. Police are en route. Let them clear the place before you get shot." Bowden sounded angry but Kelly ignored him.
"No way in hell chief." He let his radio fall back to his chest. Standing up, he turned in a slow circle, trying to find some clue as to where his best friend might be. Faintly he heard footsteps coming from somewhere at the end of a long hallway leading towards the back of the building. Sparring one last look at Dawson to reassure himself that she would live, he hurried down the hall, slowing down to be more cautious towards the end.
When he neared the room where the footsteps were coming from, he noticed the shadow of a man pacing back and forth across the room, the outline of what looked suspiciously like a gun in one hand.
When he got close enough to the door Kelly stopped, raising his hands in the air to make it obvious he wasn't armed. Standing slightly behind one side of the doorframe to give his body as much protection as possible, he yelled, "Put the gun down buddy."
The figure turned sharply, aiming the gun wildly instead of dropping it. Kelly relaxed a little when he got a better look at the guy. He was only a kid, probably got wrapped up in some sort of gang like Cruz's brother. The guy's hand shook as he pointed the gun at Kelly's chest. This kid wasn't looking to kill anyone. He just got tied up in a bad situation.
Slowly, Kelly began inching his way farther into the room. He didn't want to agitate the guy any more, but he had to get a better vantage point of what was going on in the room.
The first thing Kelly saw was a body lying next to one of the walls, a pistol lying discarded on the ground beside the man. Judging by the size of the red pool surrounding him, there was no chance of saving his life. Maybe he had misjudged the kid's intentions.
Near the opposite wall lay a much more familiar form. Luckily there was no rapidly spreading pool surrounding her, however her face was deathly pale, and her eyes half lidded as if they took too much effort to fully open.
Kelly began to edge his way over to her, trying to keep eye contact with the kid as he moved.
"Stay where you are!" the boy yelled, his hand shaking so hard the gun was actually rattling.
Severide ached to run to Shay's side and assess her condition, but years of squad training kicked in. First he needed to diffuse the situation. "Look bud, I just want to check on my friend. I know that you don't want to hurt anyone else. Just lower the gun slowly okay?"
The other man actually laughed. "You think I didn't want to hurt anyone? That guy over there, I shot him. I was going to use your friend over there as leverage to get outta here, but then the stupid bitch tackled me."
Severide froze and cursed in his mind. It was just like Shay to be way too brave for her own good.
"Looks like she's going to be pretty useless as a hostage now. But it's my lucky day ain't it? Fresh meat just walked right through the door for me. You might be a little bit harder to subdue though."
Kelly managed to lunge far enough to hide most of his body behind a nearby couch just as the gun went off. He felt a hot white-hot streak sear past his outer arm and had to clench his teeth to bite back a hiss of pain. From his hiding spot he heard the kid curse as he checked the damage. It was just a graze, cutting a neat line across his deltoid. There was hardly even any blood. It was almost more of a burn than anything. "Severide report!" He heard the chief yell into the radio. He ignored it.
"Maybe I ain't such a great shot at a moving target. But you know what? Your friend ain't moving too fast now is she? I suggest you get your ass out here and start cooperating or else I'll have to finish her off."
"Please don't do that. Look kid, I'm a fireman not a cop. Maybe there's a way that I can still help you out of this. Just put the damn gun down." Unfortunately, from Severide's current hiding spot, he couldn't see his attacker, which made it really hard to judge his next actions.
"No way. I'm giving you three seconds to get out from behind that couch man, or the bitch gets it."
Severide bit his lip, weighing his options.
The gun cocked.
Before the kid could get to three, Kelly dove out from the other side of the couch and grabbed wildly for the pistol he had seen earlier. Without even aiming, he fired in the direction that the kid had been standing in before. He heard the hard thud of a body hitting the ground.
He could hear the chief yelling into the radio once again, begging him for a report, but all he could do was just lie there and stare at the space where a young man had just stood. A young man that he had just shot and likely killed. After a moment he was able to collect himself enough to drop the gun back to its spot on the floor.
Standing up, he quickly ran over to disarm the kid just in case, then went to Leslie's side.
He now noticed that she had a hand pressed to her right hip. Dark red seeped through her fingers, but she was doing her best to keep pressure on the wound.
He knelt beside her and stroked her face tenderly, trying to get her to look at him. Her skin felt clammy under his touch and for the first time that night, he felt a real jolt of fear race down his spine. "Shay?" He asked cautiously, hoping that she could hear him.
"Kel-?" Her voice was barely above a whisper. Shay's eyes were glazed and remained unfocused, as if she couldn't see him sitting there in front of her.
"Yeah, it's me sweetheart. Do me a favor and stay with me. I'm just going to check out how badly you're hurt, okay?" Leslie moved her head slightly in what could barely pass as a nod. Kelly bit his lip, truly worried that he might be too late.
"Is it just your hip Leslie?" Again with the tiny head nod.
Hesitantly, he reached for her hand, not really sure that he wanted to see what was hidden underneath. As her hand fell away Kelly sucked in a deep breath. Shay had a gun shot wound just inside her hip bone. A steady stream of blood leaked out of it, but it was the lack of a pool of blood beneath her that worried him. She had to be bleeding internally.
Hurriedly he grabbed the jump bag that had fallen to the ground beside her. He tore into any kind of gauze he found and as soon as he started to apply more pressure to the wound, he used his other hand to grab his radio.
"Chief I need a medic in here now! Send in Mills. We're in a room at the back of the first floor. Shay's in really bad shape." Kelly's voice cracked at the end.
The radio crackled, "Copy that, Severide. What's the status on the shooter?"
"Subdued." Severide let the radio fall back to his chest and shook his head trying to clear it. He listened to Bowden continue to give orders over the radio while simultaneously keeping a close watch on Shay, hoping that she wouldn't lose consciousness.
Finally the chief focused his chatter back on what was going on in the second apartment complex. "Severide, sit rep."
Kelly, hit the button on his radio once again. "We're going to need 3 additional ambos, at least one is for a DOA. All victims have gunshot wounds except for Dawson. Shay is still conscious but she's fading fast."
"Mills is on his way," Bowden replied.
As his voice faded out, Shay's eyes shut all the way and Severide felt the rest of her body start to go limp.
"No! No, no, no Shay don't you dare give up on me." Shay's body gave a small jolt and her eyes fluttered back to being partially open.
Kelly maneuvered her awkwardly so that he could cradle her upper body into his chest, while still applying pressure to her hip. "I love you Shay, you've got to stay with me." He stroked her hair tenderly while holding her cool cheek to his.
"So… tired…" Shay murmured.
"I know. But you can't give in to it. Don't make them put your badge up on that wall. I can't handle having to visit both you and Andy there." Severide was openly crying now. He was clutching her so tightly as if, if he could just hold onto her, she could hold onto life.
"I… l-lo…" as he watched, her eyes rolled back in her head and her jaw fell slack. Kelly tried desperately to shake her back awake, but it was no use.
"Mills!" he screamed into his radio, wishing the impromptu medic would hurry his ass up.