Valentine's Day/Romantic Tropes headcanon
Altair Ibn La'ahad, Malik Al-Sayf, Ezio Auditore, Yusuf Tazim, Edward Kenway, James Kidd/Mary Read, Haytham Kenway, Shay Patrick Cormac, Connor Kenway, Arno Dorian, Elise de la Serre, Jacob Frye, Evie Frye, Shaun Hastings, Desmond Miles
Warnings - canon typical mentions of death and violence, cliché romance tropes, angst with a side of fluff, mentions of alcoholism, mentions of paranormal, some are happy endings and some are sad, implied mentions of intimacy
Word Count - 5550 words.
Description - A collective, detailed headcanon on which tropes fit the assassin's creed characters best.
Authors Note - What's this?? A surprise early valentine's day post?? Okay, so I realized directly after posting the assassin's and templar's love languages that it would've been the most perfect Valentine's post. Too little, too late I guess, so I decided to do something along the lines of romance - and the idea of what tropes the assassin's (and templars) would fit best? I tried to make it canon-based, so I picked solely on if it fits the characters in their original storyline. It made more sense in my head, to be honest with you, but I hope you enjoy this anyways. And have a happy (early) valentine's day, if you celebrate! (also if you've read all of these and there's a character you'd like to be talked about more, maybe you should shoot me an ask?)
Now listen okay, enemies to lovers seems like the obvious choice for Altair, right? I'm well aware of this, but you have to admit that the trope fits well for a reason. Especially canonically, you get your typical Altair arrogant attitude, and a redemption arc, and with fanfic, a love story? It's everything a person could need. So - with that being said, as we well know at the beginning of his story, Altair is a bit arrogant. And it seems like he always goes out of his way to be even more so when you're involved. You were supposed to go on the mission with him, Kadar, and Malik, but he'd made sure that you weren't there. Not out of concern, more so just because he could. The loss of Kadar is great, and you wished that Altair being knocked down a peg didn't cost someone else's life. It's so typical of his personality, at least to you - to act as though he'd done nothing wrong, that it makes you physically ill to look at him. Not much changes between the two of you for a while, not until Al Mualim is dead and Altair is at the base more frequently. Meanwhile, you continue to avoid him like the plague. You're not entirely unconvinced he's not the same person he was before. It's something of a slow process, and not even one either of you attempts to make, just something that inevitably happens. Maybe it's the way he genuinely speaks to you, not at you while giving a mission, or the way his eyes seem softer than they did before. Or is that he says something so dry and deadpan it makes you laugh before you can even consider if you should - and instead of a scolding look or reprimand, there's a hint of a smile on his lips. Before you can even process it, you're his first choice on a risky mission. Without a thought, you instinctively look towards him to see his reaction first. You can't recall when it happened, but it hits out of the blue, with him across the courtyard and your eyes glued to him. The person you dreaded seeing the most was suddenly the person you cared most for.
Malik is most definitely coworkers to lovers. Honestly, before he lost his arm and brother, you didn't know much about him. He was pretty high up there in terms of status in the Brotherhood, so you knew of him, just not him personally. Malik was always pretty stoic, at least in comparison with Kadar, who you did know somewhat. It was always a little unnerving, but now there was a certain feeling of sympathy attached to it. When you were placed on an assignment and had to report to his bureau you were less than enthusiastic, simply because you didn't know what to say. This was all well and good, as Malik was straight to the point and, for the most part, acted his normal self. You were stationed near there for the remainder of Altair's visits there, simply to avoid any conflict between the two with a mediator. For the most part, you commended Malik's resilience, you doubted you would have the restraint he did with the man who was partly responsible for Kadar's death. You told him so one night when you perhaps should've kept your mouth shut. Instead of a reprimand, you got a quiet nod, and not much else was said on the matter. From then on though, Malik spoke up more to you, discussed things that he thought were interesting around the city and you would check them out. You suggested once, that he come with you, and despite the Brotherhood having stationed him doing paperwork, he followed you. Luckily it was nothing major, but the trip was a fond memory. You talked, for the most part, about the city you had come to know as a home for the past few months. You knew you'd be leaving soon though, to go back to Masyaf soon. By the time you were back in the Assassin state, there was something unsaid between the two of you. Luckily, it wouldn't be long before he would find you again, unbeknownst to either of you at the time. It would be then that your feelings would be realized and acknowledged, and a real relationship would start around then.
Love at first sight? Absolutely. Ezio falls in love with people at first sight. I think especially when he was younger - his heart is something he gives freely when he feels something. For most people he's with, it's not even necessarily love that he feels, just infatuation or lust. When he first sees you, he's a younger man. He knows you're something, someone special. It's not something he can quite put a name on, it feels like it could be love someday, except your eyes never find him and you never have that special love at first sight moment. You play on his mind for weeks, but truly you were just passing through Florence, and Ezio slowly accepts that maybe it wasn't meant to be. The love at first sight moment happens after the fall of Monteriggioni after Ezio finds himself in Rome. The young boy who gave his heart to you without your knowledge, that knew you'd be important without knowing when finds himself again as he stares at you wide-eyed and in disbelief. That same feeling takes over him, though he's not sure he believes it fully yet. The loss of his Uncle, of his father and brothers, of a city he cared deeply for, changed him deeply. Ezio feels that overwhelming love, your importance to him in whatever form it may be - and knows that he can't, won't let you go. Not again, and as he moved against the crowds, he tries to catch your eye. It's there, that your eyes finally find his that he knows he's come to the when of it, that the feeling that didn't totally make sense now completely finally does. And within that few seconds, he becomes entranced, addicted to basking in your gaze after only a few moments. And you, the moment leaves you feeling like he's someone you knew maybe, or that you should've known. Ezio smiles at you, one that you easily return though you half wonder why, though there's an undeniable connection. It feels easy and familiar, like deja vu almost, and as he comes nearer to you, the feeling doesn't go away.
Yusuf most definitely has a shared past with you. I feel like it could almost be considered right person wrong time, but it's more so that at the time you were together neither of you was the person you should've been together. It wasn't anything awful really, just that even though Yusuf is older than you, he was never meeting your emotional needs, always acting immature. That's how you always remembered him, though not with malice or anger, but with a fondness. Part of you now looking back wished he kept just a little bit of that childishness and wondered what he was doing now. It was one of those weird moments, there was always plenty of opportunities to run into each other, the city wasn't that big and yet - it wasn't until a couple of years later that you saw him again. A pleasant surprise for both of you, neither can help but want to catch up with each other. The hours you spend talking, filling the spaces of your lives that were separate from each other leave you wondering why you'd ever left each other to begin with. It stays mostly friendly between the two of you until Yusuf asks if you'd ever married. His eyes are too hopeful, warm brown eyes of the person you cared for the most when you were younger that still held a mischievous glint. No, you'd never married, for one reason or another - you don't miss the grin that takes over his face easily. You return the question, hopeful that he hadn't either. The grin softens, and he tells you that he hadn't. It surprises you that he hadn't teased you about it, or made a joke of some sort as he was apt to do. It shocks you, even more, when he says something along the lines of always having loved you, and not wanting that connection with another person - at least not the way yours was. Your cheeks heat up, but you don't deny him the reassurance that you felt the same.
With Edward, I feel like the trope that fits best would be learning to love again. His first marriage obviously dealt some damage, and post that fallout, he really doesn't do the romance part of relationships. When you come into his life, even though there is a physical relationship, there's not much outside of that. It takes months before an actual relationship begins to develop, although Edward convinces himself that it's a friendship before anything else. It's something of an eventuality, where it kind of hits him out of the blue that you're much more than a friend. Maybe you're side by side on the Jackdaw, or walking down the streets of Nassau. Maybe you're unaware of the moment or have been yearning for him to feel the same as you do, but he's looking at you like he's not quite there. More than anything it's startling for him - feeling something like the beginnings of love makes him nervous, the fear of getting hurt again and losing you completely is not something he's willing to do. So, he does what he does best and pulls away. Which is dumb, but he can't help himself. Edward's not the type to talk unless you make him, which is hard to do when he has an actual ship that he can leave on at any given moment. If you give him space, he'll take it with no hesitation. Out of sight out of mind is the creed he follows in this situation, but he can't deny that he misses you. Or that he looks for you perched on some crates in the ship, and that he misses your teasing tone directed at him. It isn't until something happens where your life is in danger, rumors of a life-threatening injury, possibly even death, make their way across the Caribbean to him that he realizes how stupid it was to just leave. There's a new fear, an ache deep in his gut that because of the physical distance he put between the two of you, there was no way he would ever see you again, that it was too late. When he storms the beaches of Nassau looking for you, or even some of your shared acquaintances, it's not the actions of a bloodthirsty lunatic looking to avenge you, it's a desperate man looking for another chance. It isn't until he sees you, in the pub you both used to frequent sipping an ale that he slows, though his heartbeat doesn't. When his fingers meet your wrist, tugging you close, he doesn't quite believe you're really here in front of him. He questions you momentarily, asking if you're alright - and you're quick to return the question because of the two of you, Edward's the one who looks like he's lost his mind. It matters little that you're surrounded by colleagues and friends, he's quick to tell you how much you matter to him, and there's something of a promise that leaving you is something he'd never do willingly again.
It was always forbidden, between you and Mary. Although that's not her trope, no, it's something more paranormal than anything. Even when you knew her as James Kidd, it was never something you could have. Was that what attracted you to it in the first place? Maybe, at the beginning at least. How it evolved, however, the two of you became so deeply entangled, it could be called love in another life. When she died, it felt like part of you died with her. For months you lived in your grief, knowing nothing else besides it. All-consuming as it was, what was worse was the what-ifs. What if you'd been bolder with your love, with your affection? What if you hadn't had to hide it? What if you'd asked her not to follow Rackham with Anne? What if, what if, what if? Memories of quiet mornings, her sharing secrets with you that she never shared with anyone else, passionate nights spent hidden away from prying eyes. Each remembrance started bleeding into your dreams, though it wasn't the memory exactly. They were new, fresh ones as if Mary were still living and breathing right beside you. You'd stayed in bed for weeks, not wanting to wake from the false reality you'd created for yourself - one where she was still there with you. There, her fingers were softer than they ever were here. If the two of you ever were drinking there, her face remained the same muted skin tone, not the warm flush of pink that donned her nose and cheeks. On nights you felt more aware of the fact that it wasn't quite real, but not necessarily a dream, you'd ask her who she was. It was a question you never quite got an answer to, just a smirk that felt misplaced from her, or a chuckle that was a note deeper than it should've been. Quick to brush it off though, and remiss to leave the world and your person behind, you cherished the moments that you'd never gotten to have with her there.
It's not necessarily shocking that Haytham is absolutely the forbidden trope. There's something about him where it fits too perfectly, I think. For most things, he's always been the type to earn what he wanted, to take it if need be. But there's something about the things he simply cannot have that makes him want it more. You were raised in Boston, working at the pub your family had owned for quite some time. Growing up you were unaware of the clientele that frequented, though you were quickly learning the types that came into the bar, and the groups they were a part of. Your family favored some over others, agreed with their belief systems, and liked the business they brought. When Haytham came over to America, establishing his presence there became in part, coming to your tavern. It wasn't the one he preferred to work at, but there were rumors of Assassin's frequenting it, so it was simply a point of intrigue. What was preferable, however, was you, behind the bar - a warm smile directed at him, thinly covering a layer of distrust. To be fair, there was a sneaking suspicion of him - you'd known most of the local Assassin's, and not one of them ever mentioned another that was supposed to be here. But the familiar insignia and gauntlet on his forearm confused you further, though you said little of it. When he spoke to you, there was a want to believe him - his tone light, yet authoritative that was quick to send shivers down your spine. To be near him was somewhat intoxicating, the type of infatuated that only drunks seemed to be, and in the pit of your stomach you knew you couldn't trust him. He's never been one to give up, and he's certainly got you in his sights.
This is entirely not shocking, but I believe Shay's trope would be a marriage of convenience. And it's not because he doesn't have a lot of love to give, he absolutely does, and it's also not for lack of trying, because have you seen that man? He could hold the door open one time with a smile and have you swooning for him. (also is this biased because I've kind of written something along the lines of Shay marrying for convenience? yes mind your business!!!) Okay, the way I see it, you're engaged to him before you've even met him. Let's say your parents are trying to climb their way up the Templar ranks, and his status and closeness with Haytham are desirable. Not only because they want to succeed, but they also want you to succeed. And you're nervous beyond anything because you know how Charles Lee is and the thought of marrying anyone in the least bit similar is reprehensible to you. There's not much you can do with your parent's strong will - and if you'd up and left the repercussions would be dangerous for them - and yourself as well. For the months in which he remains away, you can't sleep. Tossing and turning all night long becomes routine, and the bags under your eyes begin to peek through. Your parents notice, more so when the looming threat of him coming to meet you appears and the plans become solid - each day your anxieties get worse and worse. They swear to you to give him a chance, they knew him once before he'd left America to complete Templar business worldwide. And you do, but not for yourself as much as it is for them. When you first lay eyes on him the most shocking thing is that he's attractive. You'd been expecting a Lee type, but his eyes are warm and there's a constant smile dancing at the corners of his mouth. More than anything he seems happy to be here, though you're not sure if the promise of a younger fiancé is the cause. You are awkward at best, unsure of your place in things. Little moments in which he locks eyes with you and gives you a reassuring smile calm the anxieties that overwhelmed you completely. and though it's not a grand sweeping romance you may have dreamed of, it seems that there is more than enough room for love between the two of you.
I had a thought right, where Connor meets one of Haytham's accomplices during the missions where they work together, right? It's a very Romeo and Juliet situation. So, you're one of the Templars, and while you don't understand the Grand Master's thought process of working with Connor, you're not going to say anything about it. You simply do as told, and you find that you don't mind working with the Assassin all that much. Besides your extreme differences in beliefs, the two of you work well together. Sure, in the beginning, it's awkward, and there's a lot of distrust between the two of you. But eventually, the more you work together, the better the two of you function together. And there's a thought, a what-if, one night when he's tending to you with a small battle wound, that leaves you reeling for weeks, doubting everything you've ever known. But it's not something that's ever really expounded on, and certainly not something you'd bring up with the group you'd surrounded yourself with. And Haytham had trusted you, with the secret of his son, and with you being on the missions even alone sometimes - the thought of accidentally falling in love with his son left you feeling like you'd betrayed the order. And whether you're acting odd - skittish even - or seemingly distancing yourself from the Order, your Grand Master is quick to notice. But he notices even more on a mission he's joined you on, the way the two of you work in tandem, the way Connor freezes when you're knocked on the ground and only resumes when you're up again, and the way you smile at him, even though the threat of death lurked in the shadows. You know he knows, without even a word shared between the two of you, that you're in love with his son, and he with you, despite all odds. It's a mercy, that he gives you an option (perhaps the man has become sentimental in his old age) that you can fake your death, cutting all contact with Connor, or Haytham can kill you himself. You take the first option begrudgingly, and for months you live under the radar. It's not till the old man's death that you find him in a tavern next to Charles Lee, completely frozen in your spot, unable to breathe. When his eyes find you, his expression matches yours, and he's reluctant to touch you. There's an undeniable hurt laced in his tone as he utters your name. There's a lot of explaining to do on your end, but the fact that you're here, alive and in front of him? He'll be by your side regardless.
You're gonna tell me Arno Dorian isn't the King of a good, old-fashioned love triangle? To start with the basics, of him already loving Elise, and having loved her since childhood, he's not expecting to fall in love with anyone new anytime soon. Even when they're on opposite sides, he's still without a doubt in love with her. Especially when he's exiled, living in Versailles, which is where you meet him. His reputation precedes him there, but you recall the boy you vaguely knew many years ago. Something about his situation breaks your heart whenever you see him. It really takes a few simple acts of kindness to earn his trust, which is shocking to you. Perhaps because you knew him, though not well, before everything in his life turned upside down, but he clung to you once you proved your worth. In drunken stupors he would confess his love to you, forgetting everything he said come morning. And still, you found yourself caring for him anyway. The words he whispered when drunk, though not to be believed, held your heart in a chokehold. It hurt more than it helped, that you wished he would remember how he felt, that he would look at you and think of someone worthy of love. And while Arno does love you, in a sort of twisted way, he also loves Elise. He loved you when you read to him, your voice melodically reading the words as he nursed a hangover. He loved the way you looked at him, with hope in your eyes and bated breath. He loved to come from the pubs and kiss you because it felt right and eased the abonnement he'd felt better than booze. If it were a contest of who held Arno's heart more, it was clear you weren't the winner. Some days you were okay with the love you did receive, and others, not so much. When Elise finally made her way to collect him, there was no doubt she thought you enabled the behavior. If only she'd seen him at the beginning of his exile - you were slowly drawing him out of the hole she'd dug him in - or at least that's how you viewed it. It wasn't shocking when he'd followed her to Paris, though it hurt more than you cared to admit. Still, part of you hoped he'd make his way back to you someday.
Clearly, I'm a sucker for tragedy. And, true to form, Elise is no different settling entirely on the right person, no time. It was something undeniable from the moment you laid eyes on her. You didn't know how, or why, you just knew that you would love her for all of your days. It took a moment, for you to convince her that it was something along the lines of meant to be. In between the two of you, she is more of a realist, guiding you back to the ground with a gentle reminder. The beginning was all passion, every shared moment spent with the intent to have more tomorrow's. It was a breath of a fresh air, being with Elise. You couldn't deny that you'd follow her to the ends of the earth, so long as her eyes twinkled with the promise of adventure. There was something to be said of the way she could convince you to do anything without her even asking you to. But regardless of what you'd hoped for, the plans you'd whisper to each other over pillows and under sheets, your world would stop spinning not long after she took her last breath. It was something you'd only just begun to be aware of, her life's work involved with the Templars. To come out of the world the two of you painstakingly built for yourselves was beyond impossible - only to face the reality that your person that you'd loved so much was nothing more than a memory.
I firmly believe Jacob needs a partner in crime. To be fair, you were in the London crime scene long before Jacob ever made his way to the city. He's an opportunist at best, and he couldn't deny he envied your power and authority. The first option was to take it from you and try as he did, you were not relinquishing it to some boy from the country. No, instead you took the opportunity to teach him, show him the ropes. Which was fairly generous of you considering where he started. It didn't take long for him to catch on, and he gained popularity with a group he began calling the blighters. You didn't mind, not really, he wasn't a threat to you. In fact, you didn't mind reminding him that you could take whatever power he had away whenever he got too cocky. As his own group grew, an alliance formed. It was working out fairly well for the two of you, and meetings between both of you turned into drinks at the pub turned into nights shared. From the first night spent together, your dynamic shifted. You tried to reason that it was a one-time occasion and avoided being alone with him as much as possible for weeks afterward. It was harder to deal with him than you usually would. When it happened again, there was no denying that there was something between you two, and while you figured the new relationship out, things were especially strained. Jacob had a difficult time learning that while you were together, it didn't earn him a right to go about demanding things of you. It wasn't fair to you, you had a lot more people to keep happy and alive than Jacob's ever-changing will. After a while, the learning process weaned and your groups flourished once more. There were rumors of the two of you being together intimately, which you didn't bother dignifying, though Jacob couldn't help but let onto it. Which was fine by you, for the most part, it didn't gain or lose respect amongst your group, and you cared little what Jacob's Blighters thought of it. Eventually, though, his group got used to it too.
Evie is the type to sort of ease into a relationship like it's definitely a friends-to-lovers scenario. It's not something she seeks out. No, it's sort of a surprise. Like one day, she'll look at you, her friend, and realize she doesn't want to spend another moment pretending she doesn't love you. I think she's sort of intense, the way she loves, and innocent too? Since it's so unexpected for her, she never thought of a romantic attraction the way she has with you. In becoming an Assassin, she figured it wasn't in the cards for her. Almost resigning herself to the fact that she would likely live alone for the rest of her life. When she met you, she was grateful for your friendship - already feeling less alone than she did previously. You became routine in the best way possible, in that seeing you was something she looked forward to every week, and then every other day, and then every day. It happened so gradually, you almost didn't see it either, though you felt it. You felt it in the way you wished she was there on an especially long trip away, you felt it when she'd told you the truth about her life and her work and her beliefs, you felt it in the way you'd find yourself standing close to her, arms brushing in a way that felt more than friendly though without a name. And while you might expect a big scene immediately (a proposal of feelings maybe?) that seems more Jacob's route. No, Evie doubts every interaction, wonders constantly if you feel the same as she does. Outwardly, some may never know the thoughts that ran rampant through her mind, acting normal as ever. You though, who has spent countless hours and time together can see clearly that something is off, though she's trying to deny it. It's subtle instead, flowers gifted between the pages in your book, all deliberately picked and placed - each flower with meaning she hopes you'll understand. Meanwhile, you're thinking how you're overthinking it, that, of course, she didn't pick a rose because she loves me, we're friends?? It's not until the two of you are alone, in private, that she kisses you, soft and gentle and romantically sweet, that you two finally and completely understand.
Shaun is absolutely a teacher at heart. So it's not far off that his trope would be learning to love. It's always been a passion of his, learning things and storing the knowledge up. Not many want to hear what he has to say, and that's alright only because he's used to it. Then you, a hopeful recruit come along. At first, you're nothing more than a nuisance. He's not used to the attention you're willing to give him, the way your eyes gleam at him when he mentions something about the history of the Brotherhood has him rolling his eyes before he can stop himself. At first, he doesn't want to stop himself, especially when he can't ignore you entirely. But you wear him down, after all, you're nothing if not persistent, and he's not going to ignore the fact that he likes when you ask a question he can answer easily. Rebecca is the first to notice - maybe even before either one of you does. That you linger for a moment, despite having asked all possible questions, and that the second your back is turned towards him, he's looking to where you were as if waiting for one more question. It becomes entirely too apparent when you're on a mission, captured by Abstergo long enough that they're not sure if they can get you back - and if they do, who you'll be after. The next time he sees you, you're a shell of the person you used to be. The light you had in your eyes was dim, almost nonexistent. For weeks, Shaun makes it his mission to come to you. Your positions reversed, it would've been sweet if it weren't so painful. Instead, he asks you questions, quiet ones, about your life before you became an assassin, and when you became more cognizant and more willing, he asks questions about what happened to you there. The day he feels true hope, is when you overhear a conversation between him and William Miles outside your room. He fully expects to begin asking you questions but you stop him before he sets foot in the door. Out of the blue, in a quiet voice he's still not used to, he hears your inflection and a question fall from your lips.
Desmond Miles is the first love trope. It's a relationship that you don't choose, it chooses you. You meet him in New York City, not long after he first moves there. There's something about the way he seems so unsure of himself, he's not even fresh out of high school and he seems so incredibly lost. More than anything it's endearing, and you find yourself drawn to him. The first day you met him, you skipped an entire day of classes just to show him around the city. Your heart breaks when you hear that he doesn't have a place to go - and you find yourself begging your parents before you can help yourself. They agree, though it's only a temporary solution, and they ask more questions than Desmond can take - he doesn't stay long there. To be fair, he doesn't tell you much either about his past, his childhood. It's not until he's older, twenty or so before he makes jokes about it, never serious enough for you to fully understand the depth of the situation. Still, you two stick by each other. He gets an apartment by himself and to your parent's dismay, your college choice is based on wherever Desmond was going to be. It's not even that they didn't like him, because they did, it's just the mysterious aura you found to be alluring was concerning to them. When Abstergo kidnapped him, you assumed he left in the dead of night. For too long, you waited for him to come back, though he never would. Your parents figured that this would happen, honestly more shocked it took him so long to. It would've been without a trace, his life in New York if it weren't for the baby.
A/N: This, if I’m not mistaken, is my first fic of the year. As weird as it sounds to say that, considering it’s been the longest I’ve ever gone without writing, I also know that uni has drained the life out of me the past few months, so I’m unsurprised. I’m hoping my stories will come more steadily after this, and I’m really hoping this makes up for the wait. <3
Also my first Chicago Fire fic. Set around season 2, I’d say, as Shay is still alive. Back when times were good. :,) Enjoy!
Summary: After Matt and Gabby become official, you start to feel as though you’re intruding in their relationship.
“Who ate the last of my cereal?” You lifted the empty box and waved it in the general direction of the few men sat eating breakfast. Immediately, a chorus of ‘nope’s and ‘don’t look at me’s echoed around the room, though Cruz seemed remarkably quiet bent over his bowl in the corner.
Rolling your eyes, you dropped the box in the recycling bin and stood on your tiptoes to shuffle through the cupboards. “Why is there nothing in this kitchen?”
“C’mon! There’s loads in the kitchen!” Hermann called out.
You slammed a cupboard door shut. “Nothing for breakfast. There isn’t even bread.”
“Groceries are getting delivered later this morning,” Mills assured you. “Right, Otis?”
Otis looked shocked. “Otis? Me? It’s second shift’s turn!”
And thus began another argument concerning food. The next candidate couldn’t come quick enough.
Only last week, mealtimes at Firehouse 51 had been plenty fulfilling. That was, of course, when Mills had been candidate and willing to let the others entice him into cooking their food. Now he’d made it onto squad, the men were without a designated chef, and their lack of cooperation in moments that weren’t strictly job-related meant that that would be up in the air for a few more shifts at least.
Cruz had tried making—burning—dinner a couple times, and Shay and Dawson had spent two hours on a recipe they’d been insistent would blow everyone’s minds. It hadn’t.
Mouch had had a go only the previous evening, and it’d been the best meal they’d all eaten in a while, though the Chief had spied the empty takeaway boxes stuffed inconspicuously into the bins not long after. Mouch still insisted it was a collaboration between him and the Japanese restaurant across the street.
You were pleasantly surprised they hadn’t stuck you in the kitchen with a recipe book and a few pots and pans yet. You weren’t a firefighter, but you hung around the station enough to be, getting your homework done in the common room during weekends your brother was on shift, and forcing everyone to watch Disney movies during quiet evenings. Hermann often joked that you’d have to start paying rent at some point, but he’d never dream of enforcing it. The men had known you for years, most of them since before your brother was a lieutenant, when you were still in you toddling stages and they were taking shifts to keep an eye on you. If anything, it was a welcome repose to see you, especially during the long days, though recently it seemed all days were long. The Chief had promised he’d look into getting you on an internship programme at 51 once you turned eighteen, but for now, you were a relieving smile in a job where that was needed.
“Hey, I think I left bread on the counter,” Mills spoke up once they’d established that it had indeed been Otis’s turn to order in groceries, and he had indeed forgotten. Your hungry stomach felt a moment of respite, but it was swiftly counteracted when Mouch cleared his throat, tentatively holding up a single crust.
“Sorry, kid,” he offered. He glanced at the crust before stretching it out towards you. “You want the rest?”
You sighed and dropped your elbows to the countertop, resting your face in the palms of your hands. The shift was almost over, but most of the men made use of the free breakfast before they left. When Mills was still cooking, there’d be a delicious buffet laid out for them all. When Mills was still cooking, he’d set aside a plate for you if you weren’t there at the same time as everyone else. Today, you’d fallen asleep on the bed in your brother’s office and had woken up ten minutes into the usual breakfast time. Today, it seemed you’d have to listen to the grumble of your stomach for a while longer.
Kelly wiped some crumbs off his legs and turned in his chair, extending a plate of half-eaten toast towards you. “Knock yourself out. I’m finished.”
Or perhaps not.
Cruz threw his arms up in protest. “You told me to get my own when I asked for one of your grapes earlier! A single grape! How’s that fair?”
“You stole her cornflakes, dude.” Kelly pointed a finger at Cruz as you took his plate and sat beside him.
You settled back against your chair and smirked in satisfaction as you took a bite of the toast while Cruz got up with his finished cereal bowl. He made sure to display it to you as he took it to the sink and received a well-experienced middle finger in return.
“Hey, where’s Dawson and the Lieutenant?” Hermann asked, licking his fingers, and Shay, who’d since been quietly sat at the end of the table, snorted.
“Do you really have to ask?” She clapped Mills on the back as she got up and passed him. “Help me with some forms? I have a feeling Dawson won’t be out of the showers before shift ends.”
The mention of your brother and his girlfriend relit a spark in your brain similar to the audible groans of displeasure around you, effectively quenching the brief grimace-worthy image of them in the showers, and you slowed your chewing as you glanced over at Kelly. He was texting someone—presumably Katie—and he had a flicker of a smile pulling at his lips.
You bit the inside of your cheek, momentarily forgetting about your toast, and chewed at it mindlessly. You needed to ask him before you had to leave but this foreign uneasiness was holding you back. It was all kinds of wrong. But you steeled yourself and hurriedly pushed the words from your mouth.
“Can I stay at yours tonight?”
The question shouldn’t have been said as diffidently as it was, and on any other day it would have been the opposite. You had spent countless nights at Kelly’s, whether it was because Matt had to go away or because the two of you were due a movie night; he’d raised you as much as your brother had, stepping in as Matt’s second when he’d petitioned for guardianship after his mother’s imprisonment, and later legal custody. He’d been nineteen, still reeling from the loss of his father and the shock of what his mother had done, still working his ass off at the Fire Academy while keeping himself afloat, but he’d have given it all up if it meant you didn’t have to go into foster care. Christie had drifted after your father’s death and you had had no one else, so with a lot of determination and love, as well as a great deal of support from Firehouse 51, Matt had raised you beautifully.
This time, however, asking Kelly if you could stay with him that evening was edging towards being intimidating. As though it would ground you, you took another bite, waiting for him to lift his head, which he did after he’d sent his text. His mouth was open slightly, brows lifted as he processed your question, but they furrowed after that was done.
Having been expectant of his reaction, you put your toast on the plate and shook your head, picking up a crumb between your fingers. “It’s okay, don’t worry. I can always ask Christie or—”
Kelly shook his head and dragged his chair forward, resting his elbows on the table and clasping his hands together. “Hey, slow down,” he told you, “‘course you can. Just…” He shrugged lightly. “This is the third night in a week you’ve asked to stay at mine, Y/N. Everything alright with you and Matt?”
Disagreements with Matt were as often as was normal between a brother and sister, though they tended to veer more towards those more likely to occur between a parental figure and his ward than between siblings. Every day you navigated unchartered waters, but for as much as those waters were mainly still, they frequently had waves. Kelly was sure if anything had happened between you, he’d have sensed it during the seventeen or so hours you had been at the station this shift, but he was unsure of any other reason you would ask if you could stay with him in a voice that sounded like you were treading on thin ice. The fact that it was the third night in a week truthfully didn’t bother him as much as the knowledge that you’d asked with the exact same hesitance each time.
You frowned and straightened in your chair. “What? Yeah, we’re fine.” You were avoiding his eyes. “He and Gabby are having a date night, so I just thought I’d get out of their hair, you know?” You just about managed to look up at him with a forced smile before standing with your plate to take it to the sink to wash.
Kelly turned slightly in his chair to watch you, his mind beginning to stir. You could be a secretive girl. You’d grown up without a mother and a father, raised by a bunch of men who just about knew what they were doing, and he figured it was only Shay and Dawson’s presence in your pre-teens that had been most beneficial to your life now. Still, you kept to yourself a lot of the time, bottling up emotions and concerns. Shay had told him once over a bottle of wine that it was likely because you were surrounded by so much toughness and resilience that you felt you had to mirror. That certainly didn’t make anyone’s lives easier, though he doubted you knew you were doing it.
He watched you now as Cruz came up beside you, saying something he couldn’t hear. You shoved his chest with a grin, and he laughed. Probably something about the cornflakes. After letting the room know you had none left, he knew there’d be five or so boxes sat on the countertop next shift for you.
After Cruz walked out the room with a loud goodbye, you seemed to hesitate a bit before you walked back to Kelly. He tipped his head back when you reached him. “I’ll pick you up around six?” he asked, effectively sidestepping the questioning he knew would eventually upset you. “Movie marathon and Chinese food? Or pizza? We could try that new place.”
Your muscles visibly slacked in what could only be relief, and you gave him a genuine smile. “Pizza.”
“Cool.” He stood to his feet and turned towards you, gently grasping the back of your head. He pulled you into his chest and pressed a kiss to your hair, as though he was ridding you both of any residual awkwardness, then took your face between his hands. His eyes scanned yours as he tilted your head to look up at him. “You’d tell me if something was wrong, wouldn’t you?”
You nodded. “Yeah.”
Kelly caught the slight wobble of your voice. “Yeah?”
You nodded again, faster this time, and slipped your head from his hands, ducking away before he had the chance to stop you. “I’ll bring snacks tonight!” you called over your shoulder as you disappeared around the corner.
Kelly pulled his shirt on before shutting the door of his locker. It was the end of shift, and most of the men had left the firehouse. Matt was tugging his own clothes on, ready to head home for the next forty-eight hours, as you walked in, drying your hair with a towel after your impromptu shower.
Kelly spent a minute or so glancing between you and himself in the mirror. He wanted to grab Matt for a moment, his big brother psyche settling in once more as he thought over your hesitance earlier in asking if you could stay at his. They’d spoken to each other about you too many times to count, but he didn’t want to make it obvious that he wanted you out. Thankfully Matt did his work for him before he was given the chance.
“Oh, Y/N,” Matt said, “Hermann said something about finding a box of cornflakes in the back of a cupboard somewhere. He left it on the counter.”
Your hands immediately paused in their towel-drying. “Really? Where can I hide it?”
Matt snorted. “You might wanna keep it attached to you if you don’t want Cruz to eat any.”
You twisted your face in thought. “Can I put it in your office?”
“I locked it.”
There was a sudden ringing as you grabbed your brother’s keys from the bench and shoved your towel in his opened duffel bag. “I’m putting it in your office,” you stated before disappearing around the corner, ignoring Matt’s grumbling as he separated his newly laundered clothes from the wet towel.
Kelly turned from the mirror and leant against the lockers, crossing his arms over his chest. “You know she’s staying with me tonight?”
There was a beat of silence. “Y/N? Is she?” For a moment, Matt didn’t seem to find concern in that, an innocent question being the only words to spill from his lips as he turned to shut his locker door. But his forehead furrowed further with each passing second, changing drastically only after he’d zipped his bag shut. At that moment he scrunched his face up, a taken-aback motion if you will, and his brows drew together in a deep frown. He stared hard at Kelly, almost accusingly, though it was anything but. “Again?”
Kelly clapped his hands in the validation he’d been reluctantly hoping for, pushing himself away from the lockers. “That’s what I said! Look, you know I love that kid more than anything, and I really don’t care how often she stays over. But every time she’s asked this week, she sounds like she’s…I don’t know. Walking on eggshells around me. It’s weird, man.”
Matt’s frown deepened. “Huh,” he said airily, “weird.”
Matthew Casey liked to think he was a good guardian. His mother had said so once, and though that should have meant nothing from the woman who was on the exact opposite of the ‘good guardian’ spectrum, it had warmed something inside him. Confirmation, probably, that he really wasn’t the worst brother and stand-in parent a teenage girl could ask for.
When kids your age were out into the early morning, you were hanging around the fire station with men twice your age. When they were downing bottles of alcohol and smoking packs of cigarettes, you were slurping juice through a straw, sprawled out across the couch—usually over Otis and Mouch—as they watched their sport channels. As they grew more daring in talking back to their parents and rebelling, the only thing you grew in was your own self-confidence. He had never missed a daddy-daughter date, never been late to a parent-teacher conference, always first to sign the return slip for career day. He’d dealt with each toddler tantrum and side-effect of growing up parent-less with every ounce of resilience and perseverance he possessed. So, yes, he’d done well, and though he rarely spared time being proud of himself, deep down he most definitely was. Though, as it was with any adult who had care over a child, there were still things he had to learn, and still moments where he wondered if your real parents—your mother included—could handle things different. Better.
It was for those reasons he was beyond thankful for Kelly and the crew of Firehouse 51. Whether that was Hermann’s ability to get a smile out of you on your temperamental days, or Boden’s appointed title of ‘best hug giver on this earth’, each of them knew you in a different way. Here and now, Kelly had picked up on your questionable mood when others wouldn’t have, and Matt now knew enough about it to act on it.
“And you’ve no idea why?” he asked.
Kelly shrugged. “She said you’ve got a date night with Dawson and she doesn’t wanna be a bother.”
“It’s just takeaway and a movie. We’ve said she can join us.” He looked as though he was ready to say something else, but you walked in at that moment, a triumphant gleam in your eyes.
“I hid it under your bed,” you stated proudly, handing him the keys to his locker.
Matt and Kelly glanced at each other over your head. It was an action they’d performed numerous times over their years of parental responsibilities, the glance meaning some semblance of understanding only they would ever know.
“Hey, Y/N,” Matt said slowly, approaching his following question with no small amount of trepidation, “you didn’t tell me you were staying at Kelly’s tonight.”
Every ounce of triumph and light seemed to seep from your stature and into the concrete below. Your shoulders slacked, arms hanging loosely by your side as you turned your dejected gaze from your brother to Kelly. You were obviously unhappy he’d told Matt, though Kelly wasn’t sure why. He frowned but remained where he was. Though he’d been roped into this somehow, he had an inclination that he didn’t have much to do with it just yet.
With no satisfactory response from one lieutenant, you looked back to the other. He rose an eyebrow and you audibly sighed, moving to sit on the bench by his bag. “Is it a big deal?” you asked no one in particular, leaning forward to rest your elbows on your knees and your chin in your hands. You stared across, out the door and into the hallway.
“Is it a big deal that you’re staying over?” Matt asked. “No, it never is.” He rounded the bench then, standing over you for a moment before sharing another look with Kelly and sitting beside you. He clasped his hands in his lap and looked at you, though you didn’t meet his eyes. “But you still need to tell me these things,” he said. “Were you gonna just disappear on me or something?” It was an attempt at light humour, Matt coating his words with a teasing lilt, but it garnered no response. His brows furrowed once more and he put a hand on your knee. “There a reason you didn’t?” He made his words as unauthoritative as he could. Though he was well-versed in the opposite—you could attest for that—he could tell your reluctance to speak was based on nothing besides genuine anxiety.
You looked up at Kelly again, this time your eyes piercing his. You were suddenly less dejected and certainly more confident in your accusatory glances. “I told you I didn’t want to impose on their date.”
Kelly shrugged from his place by the lockers. He crossed his arms over his chest and steadily returned your gaze with his own. “Matt says it’s not much of a date,” he said simply.
Matt tapped your thigh, encouraging you to turn your attention back to him. “It’s not. Hey, I told you you could join us, sweetheart. You know we’d love it.”
A tired groan left your lips as you tilted your head enough for your face to be hidden in you palms. “Would you, though?” You words were distorted but both men heard them clear enough. “Do you really want your teenage sister hanging around your romantic evenings?”
“I told you it’s not a…wait.” Matt’s frown deepened and he lowered his head as though he’d be able to catch sight of your face. “Is that what this is about?” He flicked his eyes up, catching Kelly’s in time for the two of them to notice the identical concern painted on each other’s face.
You stayed in the same position for a further few seconds before you sat up properly, staring forlornly down at your hands as you fidgeted with your fingers. “I just think,” you started hesitantly, “after sixteen years, you might want a break from me.” You turned to look at your brother. “You know, time to be a normal thirty-something-year-old guy with a girlfriend. I figure…if I’m somewhere else, you have a few nights to yourself.” You bit the inside of your cheek and turned away again. “Can we go home now?”
Matt shook his head. “That’s what’s going on in your brain, huh? For how long? What about when I was with Hallie?”
“Hallie was…I grew up with her in my life. I didn’t know any better. With Gabby, it’s—it’s just—” You were getting frustrated, and Matt could see why. In the sixteen years the two of you had lived the way you had, there hadn’t been many instances in which you’d sat down and discussed how the differences in your lives compared to other siblings’. You’d known that your situation was unique. Matt had clocked every odd look sent his way at the sight of a baby with a guy barely out of childhood himself, and you remembered every time a schoolfriend had asked if you had a mommy or a daddy. It wasn’t that these moments hadn’t affected you—of course they had—but you’d lived around them. The way you lived was your normal. But it seemed that as you got older, the differences became harder to ignore.
Tears welled in your eyes as you struggled to voice what was so clearly rampaging through your head. Matt put an encouraging hand on your back. “With Gabby,” you tried again, taking in a deep breath, “it’s different. She’s not used to her boyfriends having kids. She’s not…it’s just different.”
“Gabby knew the relationship she was getting into, Y/N,” Matt said gently. “Nobody gets me without you. She knew that.”
You closed your eyes against the tears. “You never signed up for me, Matty.”
Matt scoffed, a slight smile pulling at his lips. He glanced up to see Kelly, silence thus far, mirroring his face. Matt squeezed the back of your neck in a comforting gesture and ducked his head even more to try and catch a glimpse of you He pushed wet hair from your face and looked at your shut eyes, black lashes settled against your flushed skin.
“‘Course I did,” he said. “I literally had to sign a court document. They were ready to put you into the system.”
You opened your eyes and wiped at them. “That’s just your hero complex talking,” you muttered, and both men laughed. You were taking a crack at light humour, so you were at least partly soothed by your brother’s words.
Kelly uncrossed his arms and took the few steps towards the bench, sitting on the other side of you. He bumped your shoulder slightly. “I think that’s the big bro complex. It kinda sticks with you.”
You offered a half-hearted smile in his direction as Matt shuffled along the bench just enough to extend the hand at your neck around you. He pulled you into his side and rested his cheek against the top of your head. “You know Gabby adores you, don’t you?” he asked quietly, less for the assurance he knew was inevitable and more for gentle confirmation. “You know we never ask you to hang with us because we have to? You know we love having you around?” You didn’t nod, but your quiet sniffles and otherwise silence was all the answer he needed. “And you better know you’re my girl always, and I’d sooner spend every evening with you than have you gone. You’re allowed to leave at eighteen and no earlier, though you can bet your pretty little head I’ll have some choice words to say even about that. Hey?”
You let out a breathy laugh and Matt considered that victory enough. You tucked some hair behind your ear and sat up properly. “I know,” you said. “I just feel guilty sometimes.”
“Don’t feel guilty for what we couldn’t have prevented, Y/N,” Matt told you. “It was a crap situation for us both to be put in, but we made it work, right? Raising you will always be the highlight of my life. I loved every damn second and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.”
Kelly nodded. “Yeah, so would I. Pretty sure I’ve learnt more from you than I have anyone else. I mean, who else would’ve taught me that cutting toast into anything other than the shape of a butterfly is unacceptable? Huh? Oh, and sunscreen is the literal work of the devil.”
Matt sat up straight, his brows suddenly raised as he pointed a finger across at Kelly. “Don’t forget that going solo to the toilet is a no go. Each member of the house requires a spectator.”
Kelly laughed, slapping his thigh. “Oho, man. The times I had to distract you with food just so I could pee in peace.”
“Didn’t she follow Chief once?”
You slammed your face into your hands once more, shaking your head. “Stop it,” you pleaded, though amusement coated your words.
Kelly ignored you, a wide grin stretching across his face. “He locked the door, turned around, and there you were. Casey Jr. to attention. Poor guy didn’t know what to think, just carried you into the common room and dumped you in Hermann’s arms.” He grasped your forearm and tried to pull it from your face. “You were a little madcap, you know?” When you resisted against his attempt, he swiftly stuck his hand under your arm and tickled. You squawked and fell against him, trapping his hand between your arm and your ribs.
“Were,” you ground out, reaching for his hand with your free one in your own solid attempt to pry it away from you. Kelly let you, slinging his arm around your shoulders and tugging you to him. He kissed the top of your head before you managed to pull away, a smile on your face despite the fake annoyance.
“You still are,” he said.
“Not hard considering the influences,” you shot back.
Matt chuckled. “We’ll give you that. But hey, seriously—” He waited for you to look back at him. “Don’t ever think Gabby and I want time away from you, alright? We have plenty of opportunities for moments alone. At the end of the day, we’re more than happy, and I’m not sure it’d be the same kinda happiness if you weren’t part of it.”
“And you gotta talk about this stuff, not bottle it up,” Kelly added. “If you don’t wanna talk to Matt, talk to me. If you don’t wanna talk to me, go to anyone else in this firehouse, ‘cause you know they’d all do anything for you.”
You did know it. More than anything, you did. Though you may not have a mother and father like everyone else, you had more parents than anyone could ask for, and in that you considered yourself luckier than most.
“So, we good?” Matt asked, raising a brow.
You gave him a genuine smile. “Yeah.”
Matt mirrored it in an instant. “Alright then,” he said, patting your thigh, “change of plans. Y/N, you’re staying home tonight, and Kelly, you and Shay are more than welcome to join us three for movies and takeaway. Alright? No one’s gonna get in anyone’s hair, and no one’s gonna feel unwanted. We’re gonna have a good time, good food, good beer. Together. As a family.”
“What’s this about good beer?” Gabby asked as she walked into the locker room. She had her coat on and her bag was slung over her shoulder, so she’d obviously been ready to leave for some time now.
Matt stood to his feet. “Y/N and Kelly’re gonna join us tonight. That alright?”
Gabby’s entire body seemed to sigh in relief as she moved over to the bench and behind you, wrapping her arms around your neck and resting her chin on the top of your head. It was as though she had known it was needed, perhaps also why she hadn’t come searching for you and Matt in the past ten minutes. You grasped her arms and leant back, all too ready for any comfort you could get.
“Oh, thank God,” Gabby breathed out. “You kidding me? He wants to watch that old horror with the killer clown, and I need emotional support.”
Kelly scoffed and pulled on his jacket. “Can’t say I’ll be good at that,” he admitted as he picked up his bag.
“All I need is an arm to hang onto,” she said, reaching across to pat his back.
Matt looked offended. “What about my arm?”
Gabby’s eyes grew widely serious. “You don’t think I’ll need two? Damn, you guys are in for a ride. You’ll see horror movies do not work with me.” You laughed, already feeling lighter. “You guys ready to leave?”
Matt looked at you, silently asking you the same question. You smiled in what could only be confirmation, and he sent you a wink. Undoubtedly the subject would come up again at some point in your lives, but for now it was settled neatly somewhere else. “Ready.”
“Well, I’ll see you later, then,” Kelly said. He ruffled your hair, dodging your arm as it shot out to punch his shoulder. “Love you, madcap. I’ll bring the snacks.”
Yeah. You were pretty lucky.