“What? No!” Brett exclaimed, mortified. “Stella, Severride cannot know about this!”
“Please. He was seeing potential sparks between you and Casey back when Foster first got here.” Kidd scoffed.
“The night when you cooked spaghetti and brownies?” Foster grinned. “You know, I totally thought you two were secretly dating and I was just too new to be trusted yet with the truth.”
“Wait. Then why push me so hard towards Kyle?” Brett frowned.
“Because Casey was technically still married, and then he was “helping” that reporter chick.” Foster shrugged. “Which was a good thing. Kyle and the reporter may have inadvertently become rebound relationships, but it helped you and Casey heal from the scars left by the Dawson siblings.”
The blonde frowned again, not fully liking that analysis but unable to disagree in hindsight.
“Anyway,” Foster continued blithely. “You and Casey are both in much better headspaces, and the timing is right.”
“Exactly.” Kidd broke in. “Someone just has to nudge – possibly shove – Casey into a situation where he doesn’t have a reason to be quite so stubbornly noble. And that’s where Kelly comes in. Trust me on this. It’s a job for a brother, not a manipulative female friend.” She grinned at Foster, who widened her eyes innocently. “You’ve been a bit obvious lately, chica.”
Foster laughed. “I’ll try to tone it down.”
They looked at Brett expectantly. She wrinkled her nose. “You’re sure Kelly is willing to even help with this?” she said dubiously.
Stella snorted. “Absolutely.” A chance to make his brother happy, plus endless teasing when the two finally got together? Kelly would leap at the opportunity.
The blonde sighed, giving in. “Fine.”
It had been over a month since her conversation with Casey and subsequent pow wow with her girls, and Brett had since forgotten all about it, assuming that her friends had been too distracted with all of the craziness that had ensued since then. At the moment, she was too busy venting to her partner.
“– I hate living alone, but what else am I going to do? I’m certainly not staying with Cruz and Chloe!” Brett exclaimed, throwing her hands up and pivoting to continue pacing. She took two steps – and ran straight into a solid male chest.
“Careful!” Casey said, catching her by the arms and smiling down at her. “You okay?”
She blinked up at him, a bit dazed. Foster jumped in. “Sorry Casey – Brett was just talking about her living situation. You know, since Cruz and Chloe are engaged.”
He frowned, rubbing his hands soothingly down Brett’s arms before moving away. “He’s not kicking you out, is he?”
“Oh, no!” She replied hastily. “Of course not. It’s actually the opposite –originally, Cruz was going to move in with Chloe to her one bedroom and let me have the apartment, but I told them that was just silly. So now Chloe is going to move in with Cruz because they can afford it together, and Foster is going to take over Chloe’s lease with her one bedroom apartment since she’s having issues with her apartment manager.” She sighed unhappily as Foster nodded silent agreement. “But that leaves me on my own trying to find another place that I can afford.” She shook her head, offering a wan smile. “I’ll find something though. Just need to start actively looking.”
Casey grimaced in sympathy. “I know how you feel. Sometimes I honestly don’t know if my apartment burning down was the best or the worst thing to happen to me. And at least this way Cruz and Chloe can keep that apartment and the memories of Otis alive. It’s a great solution, even if it leaves you high and dry.”
She sent him a soft smile. “Thanks Casey.”
Foster watched them gaze at each other for a moment, amused, before deliberately clearing her throat. They both jumped and looked at her. “Brett, as I was saying, I can’t go apartment hunting with you this weekend, but maybe after next shift – “
Casey’s gaze flashed over to where he could see Severride and Kidd in the Lieutenant’s office, talking with their heads bent close together. “I could go with you, if you want.”
Both women stared at him in surprise.
“Kidd technically still lives at Herrmann’s, but it’s only a matter of time before she’s back permanently in the apartment, and it’s about time that I moved out anyway,” he said wryly. “And we have similar wants and needs-“ Foster’s brows shot up, and he narrowed his eyes at her. “– in an apartment, so if anything, we could end up being neighbors.” He finished, looking expectantly at Brett.
“You’d really do that?”
“Of course.” He answered, as if it were obvious. “You went the extra mile when I just hinted at the idea of finding a new place, so I trust your judgement in narrowing down some good possibilities.”
“Okay then,” she said, touched by his open show of faith. “Umm, I’ll text the details for sure, but Saturday at 11am? The first open house is a block away from Severride’s apartment building.”
Casey grinned, his entire face lighting up. “Perfect. In fact, make it 10:00 and I’ll buy you breakfast at Mama Lorraine’s.”
“Make it coffee at Chocolatte and you’re on.” She countered.
“It’s a date.” He replied immediately, as the bells went off for Truck. “Thanks, Brett! You’re a lifesaver!”
Alone in the bunk room, Brett narrowed her eyes at Foster as the other woman smirked knowingly at her. “What?” she demanded.
Her partner widened her eyes innocently. “I didn’t say a word.”
“We’re going as friends. That’s it. Just friends. Remember?”
“Yup. Got it,” she replied, holding her hands up. “Just friends, going apartment hunting together.”
They looked up at Severride in surprise.
“Oh, hey Lt.” Foster said, ignoring Brett’s glare. “We were talking about how Brett has to go apartment hunting since Cruz is moving in with Chloe, and Casey mentioned that he wanted to get out and give you two lovebirds some space too, so he and Brett are going looking this weekend.”
“Aren’t you just in a sharing mood today?” The blonde grumbled under her breath.
He raised his brows at her, and she began to ramble. “As friends! As friends, looking for two separate apartments, nothing more. You know, two birds, one stone.”
He nodded slowly, gaze flickering between her and Foster. “Okay. Well, good luck. One bedrooms are at a premium right now,” he said slowly, continuing his trek through the bunkroom to the common room and making sure to close the door firmly behind him.
“Hey, what’s going on between Brett and Casey?”
Kidd poked her head out of the bathroom, toothbrush in hand. “What?”
Severride lounged back on her bed, deliberately casual. “Brett and Casey. What’s the deal?”
She narrowed her eyes, not buying the innocent act. “Depends. Tell me what you know, or think you know, first.”
“I don’t know anything yet, which is why I’m asking you.”
She huffed, coming over to sit on the bed next to him. “They had a few moments last year, before the chaplain proposed. Now Brett’s back, and whatever happened is gone, at least on his part.”
Severride shook his head slowly, his mind racing. “Not necessarily,” he murmured, distracted. “She still interested?”
“Oh yeah.” Kidd snorted, thinking of Brett’s original plan. She still thought it was absolutely fabulous, and was planning to sit back and enjoy the show as things progressed, but it would be easier (and faster) if Severride was on their side as well. “Why? What are you thinking?”
“That they could be exactly what the other person needs right now, except that they’re both too stubborn and noble to make a move.” He said bluntly.
She searched his face, and a slow smirk appeared. “Funny you should say that…”
“Hey Brett!” She turned to see Casey jogging towards her and paused, waiting for him to catch up.
“Hey, are we still on to go apartment hunting tomorrow?”
She nodded, pushing down the sudden butterflies that sprang up at the reminder. “Yeah. Pick you up at your place at 10, and we can grab coffee at Chocolatte? First open house is at noon a couple of blocks away from Severride’s building.”
He grinned, bumping her shoulder companionably. “It’s a date. And Brett, thanks again for this. I’m good where I am,” he rolled his eyes good naturedly, leaning against her car. “At least according to Severride, but Kidd might have a different opinion. Apparently Herrmann is having plumbing issues again.” He gave an exaggerated mock shudder. “Having been in that shower when the hot water goes out, let me tell you, it’s like being involuntarily volunteered for the Polar Plunge – by someone just picking you up and dunking you in the middle of Lake Michigan in the middle of February.”
Brett laughed. “Severride is just looking out for you. You tend to get into trouble when you’re on your own, Casey,” she teased. “I get where he’s coming from though; I have a younger brother too.”
“He’s older by six months!”
“Doesn’t matter. He still has seniority forever,” she sing-songed, lightly pushing him away. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”