61 eventually returned to the house that evening. Casey was doing some maintenance checks on 81 when they pulled up and the girls jumped out, their faces lined with exhaustion.
“How many calls is that tonight?” He called with a frown.
“I lost count,” Brett replied wearily as they trudged towards him.
“Mercury is in retrograde,” Foster added grimly as she passed. Seeing his confused frown, she explained, “It’s a thing,” as she turned to look at Brett. “I’m gonna go collapse, hopefully before the bells go off again.”
The blonde nodded sympathetically, watching her stride off before turning to Casey with a wan smile.
“You’ve been running around all day, but I wanted to give you an update,” he said, wanting to hide her in his quarters for a few hours so she could sleep in peace. “I went ahead and gave Halstead the info on your birth mom, and he’s running her now. CPD has been as swamped as you have been tonight.”
She nodded, not having the energy for much more than that as they walked slowly towards the doors.
Cruz, Capp, and Tony came out, each carrying a loaded plate of food. “Chow’s up,” Cruz informed them as he headed for the Squad table.
“Oh thank God,” Brett sighed, quickening her step. “We dined at the Med vending machines for lunch today.”
Casey grimaced in sympathy; after a breakfast of donuts, more sugar or whatever junk they had gotten at the hospital wasn’t much help in boosting energy. Before they had taken another two steps the bells blared again for Ambo. Brett about faced and headed back to the rig with a resigned sigh.
“Mercury sucks,” Foster grumbled as she passed him, making him grin sympathetically.
“I’ll put something aside for you,” he called after them.
Brett managed a tired smile as she opened the heavy door to the rig. “Thanks.”
He watched them pull out, sirens blaring, before heading inside and asking Gallo to set aside two plates for the girls before he stored the rest of the food in spare containers for later. That done, he retreated to his office, both to finally alleviate some paperwork and because he couldn’t hide the underlying worry about the unusual number of calls for Ambo. He lasted maybe ten minutes before cursing.
“You feel it too, don’t you?”
He looked up to meet Severride’s knowing gaze. He cursed again, more vividly this time, and they took off for the Tower.
Chief Boden was already there with Herrmann and Mouch, flipping through the call log as his other two officers joined him. Casey tensed; if all three old hands were feeling that same dread and premonition, then something really was brewing.
“No patterns or anything that stands out,” he informed them without preamble. “This is something more than summer accidents and bar fights though.”
As if on cue, the main radio crackled to life, Brett’s calm voice sounding loud and clear. “61 to main, requesting two additional ambulances and a rescue squad for forced entry and possible spinal injury.”
Severride didn’t wait for the alarms to finish blaring before he was gone, ordering the rest of Squad to load up. Alone, the four men exchanged a grim look and settled in to wait where they were.
Squad and Ambo returned a couple of hours later, bringing with them a grim story of three drug overdoses – and Sean Roman, former cop for the 21st District. Roman was on a search for his sister, who had gone missing the week before and who had been close friends with at least one of the OD victims.
Casey sat in on the meeting, but he was admittedly more concerned with making sure that Brett and Foster ate something and got a chance to rest. Severride was on the case though, so he was confident that his friend would do everything he could to help Roman find his sister. A quiet word with the Chief after the meeting had him agreeing to take 61 out of service for an hour, and gentle prodding reminded the girls of the food waiting for them. He retreated again after that so he wouldn’t be called out for hovering by his too observant friends.
It was good timing too; Halstead did manage to get back to him about thirty minutes into his stack of paperwork with an update on Julie: she was clean and legit, since follow up with the hospital in Indiana where Sylvie was born had confirmed the story.
“I don’t know why she has contacted Sylvie after all this time, but she is definitely the biological mother,” Halstead told him, his voice ripe with exhaustion. “I went ahead and checked out the husband too. Scott Winters. Not much on him either; not even a speeding ticket. House is decent looking, in a good neighborhood – you can check it out on Google maps before you two go, make sure you’re going to the right place.” Tired humor filled his tone. “Don’t go spreading that around; that’s a super-secret cop technique right there. You know, in case you change your mind.”
“Still good where I am, thanks.” Casey chuckled. “Severride said you guys have a lead on Roman’s sister. How’s he doing?”
“Oh well, you know us coppers. He’s taking it about as expected.”
“Leaning on everyone and sharing his grief then.”
“Exactly. Oh, and letting Intelligence work the case without him, since he’s such a relaxed and trusting type of guy.” The resigned sarcasm over the phone line was thick enough to choke on.
“Sounds about right.” Casey shook his head. “Anything else you need, you have only to ask. Got it?”
“Yeah, man.” Halstead confirmed. “Sorry I don’t have anything else for you about this Julie person. It was a nice distraction from the clusterfuck of a night in general.”
“Hey, we still know more than we did before. Better than going in based on a name and address on a page.” Casey replied. “I’ll text you with how the actual meet goes.”
“Appreciate it. Later.”
They hung up again and Casey took a breath, mentally rearranging his schedule so that he had the next couple of days free. He knew Sylvie; once her mind was made up, she was determined to see it through, and now that she knew where her birth mom lived, he knew that she wouldn’t be able to resist going to meet her in person.
Armed with the new information he went to find her, assuming that she was still in the common room with the others since she wasn’t in the bunk room. A flash of silvery blonde hair caught his eye before he had taken three steps, and he changed course to head to the locker room instead.
She was sitting on the bench, staring sightlessly at her locker, her pretty face in profile to him. His heart clenched at the absolute misery and loss on her face as he silently stepped into the room.
She closed her eyes to stem the onslaught of tears that burned in her throat, and felt him move closer.
“Hey.” He waited until her eyes opened to look at him. “You saved two lives tonight. Try to focus on that,” he reminded her gently.
She closed her eyes again, taking a deep breath and holding it for a moment before letting it go, figuratively and literally. When she opened them again they were clear and dry, though still exhausted.
“I won’t keep you long – you and Foster only have another 45 minutes before Chief puts 61 back in service,” he began. “But Halstead got back to me early about Julie. She’s all clear; background checked out.” He shifted, slightly uncomfortable. “So if you’re thinking about still meeting her in person, I’d be happy to drive you to Rockford. I know you can handle it solo,” he hastened to add before she could respond. “Just thought it might help to have a buddy.”
The sleepy look had vanished with every word as she focused on him. Now a genuine smile lit up her face and eyes as she nodded. “That would be…amazing. Thank you, Casey.” She watched him relax slightly, the tension bleeding out of him as he nodded and left. She frowned after him, wondering why he had been so hesitant to offer his help and companionship when she had already shown that his opinion and support were important to her.
Dawson, she realized slowly. The headstrong Latina had been fiercely proud and protective of her independence, bending over backwards in an effort to not depend on anyone else – even and especially her husband, despite admiring, encouraging, and praising his protective tendencies for everyone else. Brett could still remember some of the blow up arguments, mostly hearing about the aftermath from Dawson’s vents and rants in the ambo.
Well, Brett was not her former friend and partner, and had no desire to be – her inadvertent forays into danger and mayhem as the result of her various partners not calling for backup had been more than enough to last her a lifetime, so she was relieved and grateful for Casey’s offer.
He was quickly becoming and an anchor point in her life, keeping her grounded and quietly offering support whenever and however he could. This whole thing with her birth mom – Julie – was just one more example. But as much as she appreciated and was coming to depend on him, Brett still wasn’t completely sure about his motives, or if he was really just that good of a person and was just being a friend. A ‘buddy’. She wrinkled her nose as she gathered her shower supplies.
If that was the case, then she was right back to where she had started the night she and the girls had had their semi emergency meeting about what she should do about Casey; how to get him to shift from seeing her as a coworker and friend to an actual woman and someone he might be interested in romantically.
“Let’s not go looking for trouble before we’re ready,” she mumbled, her voice bouncing off of the lockers as she resolutely stood.