Prologue

Tricia took a deep breath trying to mentally prepare her-self before answering the door. She knew exactly what waited for her on the other side. It was the one thing she had tried to put off for as long as she could since coming home. But now it was here—he was here, on her doorstep and she had to face him.

"Kelly," She said barely above a whisper with a tight smile and trying her best to reign in her emotions as she opened the door slightly and stood in the door way blocking him from looking into the house. She didn't want him to see the range of feelings that attacked her at seeing him again; especially after so long.

"You don't look surprised to see me," he said looking down at her and studying her face. She had changed so much in the past five years; she looked older, her face thinner and more angular, her cheek bones more prominent, her brown locks longer falling almost to the middle of her back is soft waves, and her ruby lips fuller.

What really drew him in were her chocolate brown eyes. He loved those eyes; he spent many a night dreaming about them since she left. He used to see his future in those eyes; they were the window to her soul and many times he believed they were the window to his soul as well.

"Took you long enough," she said with a half-smile looking past him and into the night in order to avoid looking directly at him. She was trying to protect herself from the emotions she spent the past five years running away from. "Matt said he told you to stay away—almost thought you started listening to him," she told him dropping her eyes to the ground, her voice breaking at the end. When she finished she had to swallow the lump in her throat and try once again to reign in her reaction to him being at her door.

"Ahh come on, you know me better than that," he replied cockily crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the side of the house. "I've never listened to him before, not about to start now."

Tricia nodded her head and let out a sigh before looking up at him again. "You should've," she told him this time blinking back tears. She refused to let him see her cry, but it was becoming a difficult feat for her to accomplish.

She saw hurt and anger flash across Kelly's face before it turned to something else but before she could decipher it or allow him to speak she stepped further into her home and kept a firm hand on the door. She looked over her shoulder and into the house for a minute before turning back to Kelly who was looking over her head trying to see what captured her attention. Tricia pulled the door even closer to her effectively cutting off Kelly's view of her home.

"You shouldn't have come here," she told him her voice now laced with anger, "you need to go."

Confused by the sudden shift in her mood, Kelly searched her face trying to find out where all of her abrupt hostility was coming from. If anyone had the right to be angry it was him.

"I'm not the one who left," He told her gaining her attention once again. "That's on you. You wanted to go to some fancy school on the east coast; U of C wasn't good enough for you. You didn't call or write… you left not me."

Tricia scoffed as she looked up at him, fire in her eyes. "Funny thing about phones Severide—they work both ways, and I don't seem to recall mine ringing very often."

She didn't miss the way he flinched when she addressed him as Severide. She knew that would get under his skin. It was a large part of the reason as to why she did it. More times than not, people addressed him by his surname rather than his first. Not her though—never her. She always called him Kelly.

She used to tell him it was weird calling him by his last name when they knew each other so well. Once he overheard her tell a friend how it annoyed her when fire flies who would hang around hoping for a chance to spend the night in his bed, addressing him by his last name as if they knew him. She never wanted to be like one of them. They didn't care about his tortured child hood or the physical illness he felt just by looking at a bottle of vodka ever since a bad drinking experience with it. They didn't know that he was fiercely protective of the people he love or that he longed to have a family and be a father. They didn't have a clue about the sleepless nights he spent trying to figure out how to support said family on a fireman's salary. They might have caught glimpses of Severide—the strong, rash, and brazen firefighter. They were attracted to his strong jaw line and perfectly sculpted abs. Or the heroic aspects of his career but they didn't know Kelly.

He usually hated when people called him by his first name, but when she did it was like they were in their own world. He didn't have to be the big strong protector he had become known as, he could just be himself. He knew she hated his job. That she worried about him every time he left for work. He knew she was terrified every time and the phone would ring or the story of a fire would flash up on the TV when he was on shift. He also knew she only tolerated it because it was what he loved and she loved him. It was one of the things he loved about her the most—he didn't have to hide his flaws or emotions, she accepted and loved him in spite of them all. No one ever understood him or owned his heart the way she did. When she left he was completely heart broken.

"You're right—I left, that's on me," she said her voice filled with the emotion she had been trying to avoid showing him. "But you were supposed to come with me and you didn't—that's on you."

Kelly looked at her his eyes brimming with tears, her words cut him like a knife. The moment paralyzed him as he stood there not knowing how to respond to her.

As soon as the words left her mouth, she regretted them. She knew how much they would hurt him. That had been her intention when she let them slip through her lips. But after seeing his reaction, she knew it was the wrong thing to do. They were both angry and hurt and she wasn't going to gain anything by reminding him of the mistakes they made in the past. And she knew they were both at fault.

"I'm sorry," she whispered before looking up at him. "I can't do this…this back and forth trying to hurt each other….I can't do it. Look, Chicago's a big city, I remember all the old hang outs—I'll stay away."

Kelly lifted her chin with his finger forcing her to look him in the eyes. His eyes were saying what he couldn't, they were pleading with her not to do this. Begging her to take him back and fall right back into the way they used to be. But Tricia knew that couldn't happen, they weren't the same people they were five years ago.

Tricia brushed off his hand and shook her head, on the verge of tears for the untempt time that evening. "Don't come here again," she half said half pleaded.

Tricia took one more look at him before stepping all the way inside her home and shutting the door. Once inside she leaned up against the door allowing her head to fall back against it. She brought a hand to her mouth as she let out a small sob, seconds away from completely losing her composure.

"Mommy," she heard a small voice call from the next room making her pull herself together quickly as she heard two small feet come down the hall.

"Yeah baby," she answered with a smile.

"Who at the door?" Asked a little girl with a head full of chocolate brown curls.

"No one," she answered picking up the child and heading for the playroom, hoping to distract her little girl with a room full of toys.