Title: I Will Run to You (1/?)

Author: fais2688

Warnings: Spoilers for 1x10 and 1x11, as well as AU during and after the crash.

Summary: Shay and Dawson switch places in the ambulance crash of 1x10 and 1x11. This fic is an exploration of how Shay, Casey, and the rest of Firehouse 51 would react to Dawson being hospitalized.

Author's Note: For the most part, I've kept the scenes that were in the show nearly exactly the same (with the exception of switching out Shay with Dawson and Severide with Casey), but there are some changes. Most of the dialogue used in the scenes that were taken from the show is kept word for word, though I have taken some creative license at certain points. I hope no one minds. Please enjoy!

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Matthew Casey stared around at the drab, off-white room and tried not to think about her. He tried to ignore the memories that were tugging at his consciousness, pulling his mind in unproductive directions. There was one person and one person only he should be focusing on right now: his mother.

However, it seemed like any time he let his mind wander—even for the shortest moment—Dawson was there, waiting for him on that spiral staircase with shock and embarrassment flaring on her face on her face. With the hurt flashing through her eyes, hurt that caused her gaze to avert his for the rest of the uncomfortably strained night.

He could still remember how soft the skin of her cheek had felt against his lips.

"It's not a good time."

Casey ran a hand through his hair, digging his fingernails into his scalp and attempting to forget the haunting memories. He had thought at the time that kissing her on the cheek had been the best avenue—it wasn't a full-on kiss, not that much commitment, but it was enough to show her that he wanted her.

Wasn't it?

He had been so scatterbrained during that Christmas party, he wouldn't have believed his own preoccupation if it hadn't already been haunting him for days on end. He had known he should have been paying attention while he met Dawson's aunts and uncles, her grandparents, her cousins… Maybe one day they would be important members of his life, too. He should get to know them. But even when he was discussing his job with her ever-curious aunt, his mind kept drifting. To his mother. To the prison. To the guilt and fear that gripped him every time he thought about what would happen if he wasn't convincing enough at her parole hearing. Christie had the investigation to back her up: her mother was dangerous and should not be allowed back into ordinary society. What did he have? He loved his mother. That's all his defense was built on; all it could be built on.

He knew he should've been intent on Dawson when they entered that room alone, but he couldn't help that his mind was still whirring forward in time, worrying over what Christie would say and what he would have to say in return. Would his arguments ever win out over hers? And who did he really side with? He shut his eyes. He was doing it again. He couldn't be thinking about these things; they would drive him insane. …But what else did he have to think about?

"I mean… Are we just here as friends or… Is this a date?"

He knew now that he couldn't have handled that moment more terribly. All she had wanted was for him to kiss her—a completely acceptable expectation, considering the length of their friendship and the nature of the night—but he hadn't been able to do it. He couldn't stop thinking about his mother and her parole hearing and what he was going to do and had to do, regardless of the verdict… He knew he would regret it later if he started something with Dawson when he was so horribly preoccupied.

But would it really have been so hard for him to kiss her like she'd wanted him to?

It wasn't like he hadn't wanted to kiss her. He had—badly.

Ever since that moment they'd had together, alone, last week in her kitchen, he hadn't stopped thinking about how her. About how close her lips had been to his and how much he'd had to resist the urges he'd felt when looking at her. He had realized for the first time that night that he wanted her—and that what he wanted was to do more than kiss her. He wanted to do everything with her, he wanted to make up for the last few years of what he now knew must've been a strained friendship on her part. He wondered then, unattached as he was, how he had ever reallyseen her as just a friend. The way she was looking at him now made it clear that she had something more than friendship on her mind, and, meeting her eyes, he couldn't argue that he was thinking about something more, too.

He'd been both relieved and angry when Severide's text had came in, interrupting the silence, interrupting the tension and anticipation of that almost-kiss… Now all he felt was regret. For that moment and for what had happened in her cousin's library a week later. There had been so many missed opportunities between the two of them, and when he'd been handed a chance to rectify his past wrongs, he'd squandered his chances yet again.

That night at her cousin's had been a do-over. He'd even made sure of it—he'd specifically told her he wanted to go on a date with her. And then when she ended up expecting things from him that any woman would have expected on a date, he had backed out.

He'd leaned away and turned away… He'd forced her away. Matt Casey shut his eyes, trying to forget. A weak kiss on the cheek had been a poor consolation prize for what could have been a truly enjoyable and exciting date. It could have been an amazing kiss, and he would probably never know what that might've felt like now. He exhaled deeply, trying to get his bearings. He didn't need to think about that right now, or think about her.

He was here for his mother, and that was whom he should be focusing on. Solely. His head snapped up when he heard a door open and identified the sound of multiple pairs of shoelace-less sneakers moving across the floor. They made quiet noises as they stepped across the linoleum. Matt scanned the small crowd dispersing around the room. Somewhere, he knew, was his mother, dressed in that sickeningly familiar beige jumpsuit and white undershirt.

The second he saw her, Christie's words floated up into his mind, her judgment and opinion haunting him like they always did whenever he visited Mom. She was forever making him second-guess himself. Part of him no longer knew if his intentions with mother were pure or not—did he want to defend her because he knew she deserved freedom, or simply because he wanted to prove his sister wrong, once and for all?

"Don't you miss Dad?"

He pushed the memory away so he wouldn't have to answer his sister's question. Even he didn't want to know what his honest answer would be.

His mother was heading towards him now. The smile on her mouth emphasized the lines on her face, which ended up making her appear more tired than happy to see him. But he did know that she was happy to see him. She always was, because she had no choice. He was the only visitor she ever got. She didn't have the luxury of acting bored or unimpressed upon seeing him.

She looked the same as always when she sat down—her pale face; her smart, calculating eyes; her small, quick smile; her short, red-brown hair cut just above her ears, curls going in all directions. Her hair seemed slightly wet today, and Casey wondered silently if she'd just gotten out of the shower, or maybe she had been exercising. Even before she'd ended up here, his mother had always been a fitness fanatic. He'd always assumed that was where he'd gotten it from, and that made him proud. Going to work every day, exercising those muscles and putting those daily workout to use—he was carrying a bit of her with him back to the real world, as much as he could manage. She was still in his work life, his daily life, if only in spirit.

He tried to smile wide when she sat down, but he couldn't manage more than a weak upturn of his lips. He had too much on his mind, but he'd known that since before he'd sat down. He supposed he should've done something about it, but what could he do? Memories of his failed date with Dawson had implanted themselves into his brain on what appeared to be a constant loop. He could never escape the assault of reminders of his own stupidity and cowardice.

"It's not a good time."

Would it ever be a good time? He bit back a sigh, forcing himself to focus and speak to his mother and forget about Dawson and what had happened—or truthfully, what hadn't happened—between them last night. It didn't matter right now. It couldn't matter.

"Hi, Mom." He smiled again, a bit fuller this time, and resigned himself to thirty minutes of meaningless chatter between himself and his only living parent. Memories of his sister and concerns over what might be happening at the firehouse flitted through his mind every few minutes, but the undercurrent of his thoughts was focused on something—someone—entirely different.

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Gabriela Dawson wished her partner would just drop it. The blonde had been hinting all day that she wanted details about what had happened last night between her and Casey, and even after Gabby had told her—more than once—to leave that night alone, she still hadn't.

Gabby knew if she broke down and yelled at her partner to shut up, she would, but she also knew she couldn't do that. Leslie was too good of a friend—Gabby didn't want to do that to her, and neither did Shay deserve it. So she stayed silent, continuing to put her friend off and replying again and again that she didn't want to talk about the date.

She held back a harsh snort of derision. It hadn't been a date; it had been a dump. Yes, he made that perfectly clear when he kissed me on the cheek.

Dawson was thankful when the topic veered to Shay's life, and though Gabriela felt bad that her friend had had some kind of serious fight with Kelly, she was also relieved. Maybe if she milked that situation for all it was worth, Shay would forget about her and Casey. Gabby knew it was a long shot, but she would take what she could get. She needed to stop thinking about Casey, and the best way to do that was to stop talking about him so much.

"I'll make my brother get the rest of your stuff tomorrow," Gabriela assured Shay, who had just admitted to moving out of the apartment she shared with the squad lieutenant. She pressed gauze to their patient's head as they squatted in the intersection, telling her partner, "And you're totally welcome to stay as long as you want."

"Thanks," Shay replied quickly, obviously not in the mood to discuss whatever had gone down between her and Severide. Gabby took the medical tape she offered and taped the gauze onto the man's head, but she didn't let Shay get off so easily: "You going to tell me what he did?"

"No," Shay replied at once. She tilted her head, eyeing Dawson. "You going to tell me how your date went?"

"Nope," Dawson replied immediately, avoiding her friend's eye and signaling to the waiting police officer that the man was ready to be taken away. "He's good."

The partners collected their gear, stood up, and headed back to ambulance sixty-one. It didn't take Shay more than five seconds to lay into Casey again. Dawson tried to ignore it, as she had been doing all day, but the afternoon was waning and she wasn't sure how much fight she had left in her for this sort of thing.

"Come on!" Shay groaned, impatient as ever. "Give me something!"

Dawson sighed, stripping off her latex gloves. "Okay," she surrendered finally, hoping it would help if she told someone. "Well, I was right about Casey—he's still into Hallie…" She sighed, balling up her gloves in a tight fist. "And I'm an idiot."

Dawson had thought it would feel better once she told someone—she hadn't told anyone what had happened last night—but putting the truth out there only made her feel worse. Telling Shay made the "date" real. It made his reluctance and then complete refusal to kiss her real. It made everything hurt more.

She barely felt Shay's comforting hand on her back as she climbed into the ambulance.

"Tomorrow night, you and me are going to have a few margaritas," her partner announced as she put away a few extra packages of gauze.

Dawson tried to laugh. It sounded sad and fake, even to her ears. She remembered laughing with Casey last night, and while she had been nervous and more than a little tense at the time, at least that laugh had been genuine. "A few pitchers, you mean," she corrected, zipping up their first-aid packs.

"Yeah, that was implied," Shay answered with a smile.

Dawson was going to say something, but her thoughts were drowned out by the blare of a nearly deafening horn. The sound was getting rapidly louder, and it sounded like it was getting closer—Dawson looked up from the medical supplies bags she was packing, and felt her whole entire body go rigid. She could hear Shay let out a gasp next to her, but she didn't even have a second to look over her shoulder to her friend. She saw the grill of some sort of large vehicle coming towards her for about a tenth of a second before a jarring force knocked her towards the opposite wall. Her head hit hard, and so did her side, and after that she didn't feel or see anything else.

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Leslie Shay came back to consciousness slowly and painfully. Her head hurt so bad it felt like her brain was swimming freely in fluid, not even attached to the rest of her body. She blinked, again and again, and though it hurt each time, her vision gradually improved until she could see clear enough to recognize her surroundings. She was in an ambulance. Her forehead creased, and though she felt pain at the action, she couldn't flinch. Why was she in an ambulance? She looked around. And she was lying in the floor, covered in packages of gauze and bandages. Why was this ambulance such a mess? Didn't these people know how to do their jobs properly? It looked like a mini-hurricane had swept through the back of the truck.

She struggled into a sitting position, still trying to piece it all together. She groaned in pain trying to move one leg and when she looked up, she realized it was trapped under their gurney. She frowned as she struggled to free her foot. Their? Why had she used that word? She blinked, finally having freed her foot. Their. Our. This is our ambulance.

"Dawson?" The word ripped from her mouth with a terrified ferocity she couldn't remember using in a very long time. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. She gripped the seat beside her, struggling to her feet. "Dawson?" She called again. She tried to look for that familiar dark hair, but all she could see was the mess—the strewn medical equipment, bandages, machinery… She tried to remember again what had happened, but her need to find Gabriela superseded that. She couldn't focus or think about anything else except finding her partner. "Dawson?" She called out a third time, finally making her way towards the back of the truck.

She nearly fell over upon seeing a body strewn across the floor like a rag doll. That wasn't Dawson. That couldn't be Dawson.

That couldn't be anyone. That person didn't even look like a person!

But Leslie Shay saw the mocha-brown skin of the woman's hand and wrist beneath her EMT jacket and she knew it was Dawson. It had to be. She could barely hear anything except her thumping heart and her worried voice, which grew increasingly terrified with each moment that passed.

"Dawson? Dawson?" She scrambled as quickly towards her friend as she could mange with her bad leg, panic making her limbs and thoughts go haywire. "Gabby, honey…" She reached for her friends arm, checking for a pulse. Thank god. It was slow, weak, but it was there. That was all that mattered. Carefully, she reached down, straightening her friend's bloody and bruised face that had been lying to the side—no doubt smashed against the metal cabinet it now rested next to—so she could look into the woman's eyes. "Oh, honey…" Shay pulled open Gabby's eyes, momentarily panicking upon finding them unresponsive, but when she took a moment to cover the left one quickly, she was relieved to watch the pupil go from wide to narrow as she removed her hand. "You're gonna be okay, Gab," she whispered, swallowing her fears and holding onto the tiny fact that at least her pupils responded to light. That was something. She repeated the words again and again like a mantra, more to comfort herself than the unresponsive Dawson. As much as she hated to admit it, she knew her partner couldn't hear her.

Sirens suddenly filled her ears, and Shay became suddenly and acutely aware—as her ears began recognizing other ambient noises as well—that those sirens had been screaming for at least as long as she'd been conscious. She reached up, feeling rivulets of sweat on her brow, and quickly swiped away at her forehead. The back of her hand came away discolored with a bright scarlet liquid.

Blood.

She looked back down at Dawson. The woman was covered in scarlet, and Shay knew it hadn't been from her own dripping forehead. The right half of Dawson's face looked like it'd been splashed with red paint, which Shay could see was stemming from what looked like a jagged wound by her temple. She prayed there wasn't any brain damage. The other half of her face already sported dark purple bruises around her eyes and cheek.

Shay felt her breathing shorten. She could tell just by looking at her partner that the woman was seriously injured. Dawson, Dawson, Dawson…

She didn't even realize she was whispering her partner's name aloud until a man appeared at her side, asking if she had a first name that went along with it.

"Gabriela," Shay choked out at once. She felt her chest constrict, and she knew it had nothing to do with her own injuries. Her leg must be in bad shape after being trapped, but she barely felt it. She couldn't keep her eyes off of her partner as the other EMTs strapped her in braces and bandages and loaded her onto a stretcher.

She ran along beside them—limped, really—and managed to squeeze her way into the ambulance. She could hear the medical professionals around her reciting blood pressure and heart rates to each other, but it all sounded like white noise to her. Nothing would matter until Gabriela Dawson opened her eyes and spoke. Only then would Shay know that she was really okay.

Shay reached out, grabbing her friend's hand and clutching it tight in her own. Now that the shock was beginning to wear off, she could feel the tears pricking her eyes. "Gabby," she managed, her voice hoarse and full of tears. "Gabby, please." She adjusted her grip, tightening it and hoping she wasn't hurting the woman's unmoving fingers. She hated that all she could do to help right now was hold her friend's hand—what help was that? "Just hang on until we get to Lakeshore, okay, honey? Just a few minutes. You'll be okay. You'll be all better." She could feel tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, and over her lips. She ducked her head, pressing a kiss to the Latina's still hand. One tear dribbled down her nose and onto her friend's hand. She wiped it away like it would produce a black stain on Gabriela's record. "I promise you'll be all right, sweetie."

Shay didn't say anything else after that. She didn't say that Dawson had to be didn't say that she felt like she would be dying alongside her if the worst were to happen. No, instead, she kept all those terrible fears locked up inside her because she knew if she voiced them—is she even spoke of the possibility of anything except a full recovery—that she would be plagued by the worst until the worst, inevitably, happened.

Leslie Shay would not let the worst happen. Dawson was her trusted partner, her best friend… She was not going to die.

Shay wouldn't let her.

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Author's Note: Well, I hope you all liked that! It was chapter one of what is going to become a multi-chapter fic. :) I would greatly appreciate reviews below, if you would be so kind as to leave me one. Thank you so much for reading! :)

For FFN readers... I am not sure if I'm going to continue posting on FFN. I've had a rather unhappy relationship with this site and readers, but so far, in the CF fandom, things have been going well. I'll let you all know if I'm going to stop posting on here. You can always find my stories on my LiveJournal, though, and I welcome all friend requests. Thank you.