Title: Under Fire
Chapter 3 – Waiting to Exhale
Kelly! Casey's lungs try to call out as he watches Severide's body sag to the floor; his brain pushing past the searing pain from his shoulder; but his lungs unable to do anything but painfully gasp from the putrid air still trapped inside. He tries to pull free and get to his friend, not caring that with his wrists bound behind his back as he'd be useless but just wanting to see where the blood on his shoulder was coming from. Had he been hit earlier? Was he also shot? Kelly!
"Bring them both!" Levi growls as he wraps his arm around Casey's neck before he can make a move and kicks the door open. "Those damn cops can shoot through these two if they want to get to us!"
"Move!" Aaron growls as he and Nate roughly haul Severide to his feet, both of them with their guns drawn but their hold on him firm. With his head pounding and watery vision starting to blur, Severide offers a weak protest as he feels his arms being pulled roughly upward, his body following with a small protest.
"There's a van a few feet from…okay move now! Here come the damn cops!" Levi shouts as he tightens his hold around Casey's neck forcing him to try to keep his body upright for fear he'd actually pass out and lose his fighting chance to stay alive. The next few moments pass by with dizzying speed.
"Out back…chief…they took them out the back…" Capp manages as he is forced to duck back inside the smoky building just as Nate's bullet whizzes past.
"Sergeant…alleyway!" Boden calls out in haste.
"Chief they are using your men as shields...we hafta stand down and wait or else we..."
"Just get them out of there safely," Boden growls as he watches from a helpless distance.
Casey closes his eyes for a few seconds in response to a few bullets leaving the gun in Levi's grasp; the CPD officers a few yards away unable to fire back for fear of hitting the helpless fire fighter in the desperate gang members grasp. Levi manages to get Casey into the back of the van, dumping him on the metal floor and hurrying to hot wire their getaway vehicle.
"Move your asses!" Levi shouts as Aaron pulls Severide into the back of the van; Nate being caught in a firefight with the CPD officers as they advance from overhead and in front; Levi pulling away just as Nate is shot in the leg and taken down to the ground on his knees; his hands quickly dropping the gun as he surrenders just as a few shots ring past; the next ones not missing.
"Damn that dumbass!" Levi growls as he swerves sharply to the left, Aaron grabbing the side of the van to keep himself from rolling to the other side; Casey and Severide not afforded that luxury as Casey's already weary frame slams into the left side of the van, Severide almost landing on top of him.
"Matt…" Severide huffs as he pulls back and then reaches for the gag.
"Touch him and I'll kill you RIGHT NOW!" Aaron shouts at Severide as he cocks the trigger.
"He…needs fresh air," Severide gasps as his arms shoot out backward to brace himself for the next sharp turn; the cut from the blast dancing with the rough fabric and forcing shooting pains to trail to his fingertips. "At least…let me ungag him."
"Touch him again and you die first!" Aaron yells as he glares angrily at Severide.
"Matt…" Severide tries in an anxious tone as his fingers gently pat Casey's soot covered cheek. "He needs…"
"I said..." Aaron rushes up to Severide and gives his jacket a good tug backward, "leave him alone."
Severide offers an angry grumble as he cradles the arm that had been cut, his worried gazed fixed on Casey's placid expression. A few seconds later; Casey's body jerks with the movement of the van, his lips starting to cough, of course hindered by the cloth between them and not allowing the smoky air to exhale but instead, for the most part, being sucked back into his already weary lungs.
"Matt…look at me," Severide lightly begs as he looks at the crimson stain on his shoulder but now wondering since he had heard other shots if Casey was bleeding out in another areas. "Where else is he shot?"
"It'll be in the head soon if you don't shut up!" Levi shouts from the front. "Aaron get your ass up here!"
"You leave him as is or I'll shoot you without telling you again," Aaron warns Severide as he turns and hops into the front of the speeding van; letting Severide have a few moments with his captive friend.
"Matt…wake up," Severide gently taps his cheek again, feeling the strength of the pulse and uttering a sigh of concern as he feels it starting to slow down. "Matt…come on buddy…wake up…open your eyes. Please wake up," he begs as he lightly pats his cheek once more. "Matt…wake up."
Kelly…he's…alive…wake up! His brain commands; a few seconds later, Severide's desperate pleas are rewarded with a fluttering of Casey's eyelids and then slowly they open to reveal two watery blue orbs.
"Thank god…" Severide utters in a low tone as he leans in a bit closer.
"Mmm…" Casey's lips offer a muffled whisper through the smoke-filled gag.
"Shhhh okay I can't take that out but I have a plan…not a good one but…" Severide looks at the fresh smattering of blood on Casey's forehead and then back down at his worried expression. "I'm gonna try to take control of the van."
"Mmmph!" What the hell? Casey wants to ask but can't; Severide's hands quickly pushing him back down to his side; Casey's eyes squeezing shut as his arm moves oddly and fresh pain throbs. Not caring about making himself dizzier, Casey shakes his head no. No…Kelly…don't do it…he silently begs.
"Listen…when this van stops…we're both dead and…"
"Maybe sooner hero!" Aaron shouts as he storms into the back and yanks Severide away from Casey's helpless form. Knowing his predication would be true, Severide rolls onto his side and kicks at Aaron's legs; forcing the other angry gangster to stumble toward the back. He quickly counters and then aims his gun at Severide and fires, the bullet whizzing past him and exiting the side of the metal van a few feet away from Severide's right side; Severide looking at him with a wide eyed expression.
"I told you…" Aaron glares at Severide.
"What the hell was that?" Levi shouts as he turns another sharp corner.
"This guy tried to be a hero!"
"We got trouble!"
"Lose the damn cops!"
"I'll try to lose them in the tunnel and then…" his voice trails off as Severide looks at Aaron who still has his gun trained on him.
"You wanna try me again hero? Just try it. See how fast you really are!" Aaron taunts.
Help him! Casey's mind yells at him; forcing him to bite down hard on the gag and bring his boots up, clipping Aaron in the back of his knees and forcing him to lose his footing and stumble forward. Severide takes advantage of the bump the van goes over to lunge at Aaron, his body slamming into his and forcing the two of them to slam into the wall a few feet from Casey's boots. The gun goes flying as Levi continues to drive wildly; glancing back with an angry glare as he sees Aaron now in a tangle with the two captive but desperate fire fighters.
Severide punches Aaron in the stomach as Casey's boots once again come down on his shoulder. But Aaron counters with a punch to Severide's injured side, forcing him to yell out in pain and Casey's eyes to narrow at Aaron. With his wrists still tied tightly behind his back, Casey can't do much more than kick at Aaron and try to slow his attack on his injured partner. He could hear the sirens behind them but as long as they were prisoners in the back of the speeding van they had to wait for it to stop and then if a shootout did ensue could he really believe they'd survive? Suddenly Severide's risky idea seemed like the only option.
With Aaron still attached to him, Severide rolls away from Casey's weary frame; hearing him trying to cough out the smoky air and cursing the fact that he isn't able to pause long enough to tug out the gag and let him at least cough and take in a few full breaths of air.
"Levi! Stop the…"
"Not until we get to Marcus…he'll take out the damn cops!" Levi shouts back as he twists his head to see Casey still on the right but Severide and Aaron wrestling in the middle.
"We don't have the st…"
"I don't care! We can leverage these two and then kill them!"
Severide feels his lungs gasping for air as Aaron's elbow lands firmly in his chest; his body wanting to shut down but his brain reminding him that he has to help get Casey free or he could slowly choke on the acrid smoke inside his body. Gotta..keep going or we're both…dead!
Severide eyes the gun and tries to pull away from Aaron's grasp; Aaron holding onto the back of his jacket and impeding his progress.
"We're almost there and when we are those two are gonna die!" Levi shouts into the back; Casey's eyes widening and then narrowing as he and Severide continue their fight to the death. He pushes out with his tired legs once more, landing them hard on Aaron's back and trying to push him toward the back exit doors.
Sensing what Casey was trying to do, Severide twists around in Aaron's grasp and despite the throbbing in his head, sends his head forward into Aaron's snapping Aaron's head back and his own to throb even harder. He pulls back and kicks Aaron in the gut with his large heavy boot; the same time Casey manages one last kick to Aaron's back before his lungs start to heave for a full mouthful of oxygen.
"Matt!" Severide shouts in a panic as he sees Casey's frame lightly convulsing.
"Kill him Aaron!" Levi shouts just as Severide manages to get to his knees and try to reach for the gun to give himself a better fighting chance. The van jerks hard to the left, forcing all of them to tumble to the right; Aaron's body slamming head first into the side of the van and lightly dazing him. But it was enough of a break to allow Severide to pull free.
"Matt!" Severide gasps as he crawls toward Casey and finally tugs the damp, smoky gag from his slightly cracked lips; Casey's lungs starting to cough.
"Just hold on," Severide tells him in a panic.
"Aaron!" Levi shouts as he tries to look behind him in the rearview mirror to see what was going on.
"Matt!" Severide shouts as Matt's frame finally collapses from the coughing spell. "Okay I gotta do this…if you can hear me…hold on," Severide tells Casey as he pushes him toward the wall and finds a railing for his bound hands to hold onto. But when he gets no visual response from his fellow 51 Lieutenant he knows he has to act fast. Pushing past painful fatigue, Severide tries to stand upright and get to the front and slow Levi down.
Levi fires off a shot just as Severide nears, taking out the side passenger window and forcing a fresh gust of air to swoosh into the cabin of the van. Severide takes advantage of the distraction and tries to grab the wheel, forcing the van to jerk to the right and Casey's body to break free of the rail and start to roll toward the left. At that moment, Casey's eyes open and he manages to put his legs up to brace him, but Severide continues to grapple with Levi and suddenly the van jerks to the left, forcing Casey's body to roll backward and slam into the right side of the van; temporarily winding him.
"Stop…the van!" Severide grunts as he finally looks up to see a police barricade in the distance; wondering if there would be a spike strip to puncture the tires and stop the chase before it could go any further. Aaron manages to get himself back into the game and narrows his gaze as he sees Severide wrestling with Levi.
"Kel…ly," Casey coughs; his warning coming a few seconds to late as Aaron pounces on Severide. But not knowing that Severide's grasp is still on the steering wheel Aaron's actions force the van to careen out of control as the two men's frame start to impede Levi's ability to keep the van on a straight and steady course.
"Let go!" Levi shouts as Aaron tries to pry Severide off the steering wheel; Casey's frame still on the floor in the back, his brain now concentrating on keeping his lungs from severely gasping for air and keeping himself conscious.
"Matt look out!" Severide shouts as he tries to pull back just as the last pulling action jerks the steering wheel a bit too far to the right, forcing the van to deviate from the police barricade and race toward a cement barrier. Severide sees the impending doom and tries to dive into the back; his foot being caught between the seat and Aaron's frame.
The van slams into the cement beam with full force; the older model van not having airbags; and Levi the driver being ejected immediately without his seatbelt. At the last second Severide had managed to pull himself free of his left boot and twist places with Aaron; Aaron's body slamming into the bulkhead while his slammed into Aarons and then fell into the back cabin where Casey's body had slammed into the side and then ended up by the back doors, his bound wrists unable to help him find anything to hold onto.
"Ahhhh…" Severide utters a low grunt as his ear drums start to pound, the sounds of sirens and shouting sounding more like whispers in the distance. "Matt…" he tries, twisting his head to the right to see Casey's silent form crumpled into an unmoving heap a few feet from the back doors. "Matt…can you…hear me…" Severide coughs as his eyes squeeze shut, his body trapped beneath Aaron's unconscious frame and the mangled passenger seat; his head pounding and ear drums about to burst from the sound of his own rapidly beating heart. "Matt!" He tries once more as he coughs violently. "Can you…hear me…" Severide gasps as he tries to pull his wounded arm out of the wreckage.
He can't be dead…oh god he can't be…Severide's mind races as he tries once more to get himself free; the sirens nearing them. He finally manages to bite back the pain and pull himself free, yelling out as he clears Aaron's unmoving frame and slowly crawl toward Casey's motionless body.
"Matt…buddy…talk to me…" Severide begs as he nears him on all fours; his ears hearing the sirens come to a screeching halt a few feet outside the closed doors of the smoking vehicle wreckage. "Matt!" Severide shouts just as he reaches Casey and gently rolls him onto his back, not caring about his bound wrists but desperate to try to find a pulse. Just as his fingers push past the upturned folds of his thick jacket, the back doors are pulled open and Severide's weary frame slumps down.
"They're both…down," Severide tells the first uniformed officer.
"We got you boys," one of the CPD officers offers in haste as he carefully climbs into the back; cutting Casey's wrists free and then turning to Severide. "Are you…"
"We got you both," the officer tries to assure Severide as he tries to push the hands away to see Matt's prognosis. "Where are you hit?"
"I'm okay. How's Matt? Is he…breathing?" Severide demands with a small cough.
"We have a pulse."
"He took in a lot…of smoke."
"Get the mask on. He's going to be fine. Okay…let's get them outta here. On two…"
With a heavy sigh of relief Severide finally allows his battered frame to collapse into the arms of the nearest CPD officer as he watches an oxygen mask being fitted over Casey's mouth and nose; Casey's eyes still closed and his chest barely moving.
"You'll see your partner at the hospital, you guys took quite the tumble."
"I'm…fine," Severide huffs as he slumps back down onto the stretcher and allows himself to be given some fresh oxygen for the trip to the hospital. He hears the sirens outside for Matt's ambulance as it pulls away and can only hope the amount of smoke he took in could be corrected with proper care.
"What happened…" Severide gently removes his mask and looks up at the medic. "With the other two guys?"
"Looks like the driver was killed when he was ejected and the other guy…not sure sorry. You'll hafta check later. Just rest now."
Severide lays back down and reaffixes the mask, closing his eyes but offering a small wince to the medic as he gently attends to the cut on his shoulder from the extinguisher blast. They reach the hospital and he can only give Shay a small thumbs up before he's wheeled into the nearest examining room.
Building on fire…can't breathe…gagged…shot…kidnapped…Kelly…crash…DEAD! Casey's mind swirls with distorted thoughts and images as he remains in the oxygen chamber; his body taking in as much fresh oxygen as possible. A few hours later he's transferred to a small room with a clear fluid bag attached and the oxygen tubing in his nose to keep him hydrated and his system flushed with lifesaving fluids.
"Welcome back," Severide's voice pulls Casey from his drowsy thoughts as he slowly enters the small recovery room with a small limp, later that night.
"Hey," Casey replies with a small smile as he tries to sit up in the bed a bit better.
"Hey no need to get up. You okay?"
"I am thanks to you," Casey slightly coughs as he looks at the cut on Severide's forehead and telltale bruise on his cheek.
"Where were you shot?" Severide asks as he studies Matt's upper half covered with the gown and lower half with the blanket.
"Shoulder, but it was a through and through and missed the bone. A few days at most and I'll be back in business. You?"
"Wasn't shot but it was close," Severide huffs as he slumps down into a nearby chair. "You took in a lot of smoke."
"Hurts to laugh."
"So I guess a comedy is out?"
"Dumb and dumber?"
"Speaking of which…both of those guys bought it," Severide replies with a heavy frown.
"I wasn't sure any of us were gonna make it. Your plan in the van was…"
"I couldn't let that van stop. If it did…I knew we'd both be dead."
"Sounds like you've had dealings with these kind before."
"Well you're not the only one with a lily white past," Severide offers in slight sarcasm.
"Just glad you didn't give up back there."
"Never an option. I know you would have kept going for me…hell you kept fighting even though you had your own issues to deal with."
"Guess I felt the same sense of impending doom as you. They ever say what started the fire?"
"Yeah some old lady had a candle and her cat jumped up…you know the story."
"Thought it was a cigarette…"
"Woulda been my second guess. Those guys…they hang with Cruz's brother Leon."
"The one named Levi mentioned that. So they lost their drugs and their lives, what a waste," Casey grumbles as he tries once more to sit forward, slumping back with a heavy wince and a ragged cough.
"When I heard the shot…" Severide pipes up after a few moments of silence, drawing Casey's gaze back to him. "I was worried it was all over."
"Trust me when you went back into that burning room and he started firing….what happened with those guys?"
"Both arrested," Severide replies as he looks at Matt's soot stained face and frowns heavily. "Was too close a call this time."
"I know and I shoulda waited…" Casey's voice trails off as he looks away. "Was Boden mad?"
"At who? I didn't listen either," Severide smirks as Casey looks back in wonder and he shrugs. "Guess we both have that stubborn quality Boden loves and admires so much," Severide replies with a dry voice and Casey smirks before he starts to cough. "Okay stop coughing."
"Stop making me laugh," Casey retorts as he reaches for a glass of water and takes a hearty gulp.
"How long you in here for?"
"Until this bag…" Casey gestures to the half drained fluid bag, "is gone."
"Well since you are here…"
"You can't possibly expect…"
"Actually I wanted to pick your brain about mechanics."
"Mech…ah Hermann's limo."
"What did I get myself into?"
"You try telling him no?"
"I feel like I'd have to sell my first born before I could say no to his lost puppy dog face," Severide smirks as he leans back in his chair and looks at Casey in concern as he coughs once more.
"If you feel dizzy…"
"I'll be okay," Casey replies with a friendly smile. "Now mechanics?"
"Yeah okay so I pulled out…" Severide's voice trails off as he starts into the parts of the limo that he had pulled that need repairing and what he thinks he can fix and what he'll have to get Hermann to pay professional help to fix. For the next few hours the two of them remain in the small room, lightly talking, resting and further cementing the bonds of friendship and brotherhood; both seeing how easily it all could be taken away by one careless act.
A/N: And we have reached the end of our little action/peril ficlet. I really hope you liked this ending for our boys and please do review before you go and let me know if you liked this ending/story and if you'd more. thanks so much everyone!