AT HOME

Dean and Heidi had gotten home from the hospital at around nine pm. The doctors had done scans and some blood tests and confirmed that Heidi had a serious but stable concussion. She would have some symptoms like nausea, headaches and dizziness for a while but they were likely to go away after a week or so. Until then she wasn't to do anything too strenuous or anything likely to cause her concussion to get worse. Basically if Dean couldn't persuade her to stay at home then she would be on light duties at work. X-rays had also confirmed that her arm was a radiating fracture and so the doctors had tightly bandaged it and given her a sling which she had said she definitely wouldn't be using. Her arm meant that she wouldn't be going out on rescues for about a month. The doctors had wanted Heidi to stay the night but she had been against the idea from the beginning. Dean had promised them that he would bring her back if she got worse and so they agreed that she could leave under the supervision of a competent adult. Heidi had found this part of the agreement very funny, mainly because of the fact that she was under the influence of powerful painkillers to keep her headaches under control.

Lachie had been discharged forty-five minutes after Heidi because he had to have a cast put on his leg which took a while. The doctors had confirmed he also had a concussion and had broken his femur. He would be in plaster for six to eight weeks. When he had heard that, he wasn't impressed as he knew that he would be out of commission for up to nearly four months because of the physiotherapy he would need on his leg after the cast came off. He hated sitting around and not doing anything, he was an action man. And so when Chase told him he could still come to work but he would be doing paperwork he had practically bribed the doctor to take the cast of sooner, and tell Vince that he would be fine to return to duty as soon as it came off. It didn't work and when Chase had brought him home Lachie had sulked the entire time. He was so busy thinking about how he was going to occupy himself for the next couple of months he didn't even notice that Chase hadn't said a word on the way home. When he had made sure Lachie was alright and didn't need anything he had gone straight to bed even though it was only ten o'clock. Lachie still didn't notice that something was wrong.

THE NEXT DAY

When Lachie woke up the first thing he noticed was how quiet it was. Usually when he woke up the television was on and sometimes the shower would be running. But today he heard nothing. He managed to get himself out of bed and reached for the crutches the hospital had given him. He hated them already but there was nothing he could do but grin and bear it. He made his way through to the living room and saw to his amazement how tidy it was. There were no coffee mugs on the center table, the cushions had all been plumped and straightened on the sofa and somebody had actually vacuumed the floor. Lachie stood there with a confused expression on his face and slowly made his way into the kitchen. What he saw made his jaw drop.

The kitchen had been spotlessly cleaned. There were no dirty dishes anywhere; they had all been cleaned and actually put away into the cupboards. The kitchen counters had been wiped down so well they virtually sparkled. There were no ring stains left by mugs that had spilled their contents anywhere in site. There were no dirty clothes lying across the chairs or the floor, and somebody had done a wash and then dried and ironed the clothes before separating them into two piles on the table; one was his pile and the other was Chase's.

Lachie's first thought was that he was part of a practical joke. Chase and the others were playing him and they were going to appear any minute laughing their heads off. His second thought was that he had no idea where Chase was. He tried calling his name a couple of times but got no answer. When he dared to move further into the kitchen in order to get himself a coffee and figure out what was going on he found a note on the fridge written by Chase. It said he had gone for a run and would be back whenever. After reading it he moved over to the coffee machine and switched it on, noticing that it had been thoroughly cleaned and there were no stains anywhere or loose coffee beans stuck in the filter. He then pulled a chair out from the table and sat down trying to make sense of everything. Chase never went for runs in the morning, at least not voluntarily. He glanced at the clock and saw it had only just gone six o'clock. He only ever went running when Lachie made him and even then it was never this early. In fact neither of them ever got up at this time. They were in bed until quarter past six, half six at the latest, then they went out running at about quarter to seven and were back home by about quarter past seven to get ready for work so they could leave about quarter to eight. When his coffee was ready he got up to get it and then sat back down again. He was still mulling things over and was still confused as to how their apartment had become so tidy. Chase was the cleaner one out of the two but he was never usually this clean.

When Lachie had finished his coffee he made his way back toward the bathroom to have a shower, but being curious, stopped outside of Chase's room and pushed the door open. He went inside and what he saw made his jaw drop for a second time. The room was immaculate. The floor had been cleaned of any loose clothes, clean or dirty, and there were no cups or plates left anywhere. Everything had been put away and he noticed that the bed had been changed and the floor had been vacuumed, just like the living room. He was still stood in a shocked state when Chase got back.

Chase: 'Hey you're up.'

Lachie turned to look at him, his mouth still hanging open.

Chase: 'You alright? You look like you've seen a ghost.'

Lachie: 'I. . .You. . .Your room. . .The living room. . .Kitchen.'

That was all he managed to say.

Chase: 'Oh you noticed. Yeah I was up early, decided to make myself busy. I cleaned the bathroom as well. I would have done your room but I didn't want to disturb you. I can do it later if you want.'

Lachie just stood there, not able to say anything else.

Chase: 'Are you sure you're alright? Have you taken any pain killers yet, the doctor said you should if your leg's hurting.'

Lachie: 'Am I alright! What about you!'

Chase: 'What do you mean?'

Lachie: 'Chase you're cleaning! You never clean, at least not to this extent! I think the question you should be asking is if you yourself is alright. Did you get hurt yesterday as well?'

Chase: 'No, and I'm fine. I just thought that we should make more of an effort to keep the place clean. I mean Dean and Heidi's place is always clean whenever we go round.'

Lachie: 'Yes but Heidi is a woman. She probably obsesses over cleaning every week. Dean is not the type of guy to clean up, she probably tells him to.'

Chase: 'I wouldn't let Heidi hear you speak about her like that. She'll rip your head off.'

Lachie: 'Chase! Shut up! What is wrong with you? This isn't you. What's going on?'

Chase: 'Nothing I'm fine. If you're going in the shower can you hurry up, I need to have one too.'

At this Chase turned around and walked into the kitchen leaving an exasperated Lachie still stood in the hallway. He sighed and made his way into the bathroom, trying to come up with an answer as to why Chase was acting so weird.

THE SAME DAY - AT HQ

After Lachie and Chase had both showered, very slowly and with some difficulty on Lachie's part, they got themselves dressed (well Chase did, Lachie needed Chase's help) and got some breakfast before making their way to HQ. They were going in to fill out their reports from yesterday and find out what the police knew about the explosion. When they got there everybody else was already there, including Dean and Heidi. They went up the bullpen and got talking with them all. They were all waiting for Michelle to start their briefing about yesterday, but since she was on the phone to the police they had all just started talking amongst themselves. Michelle came out of her office several minutes after Lachie and Chase arrived.

Michelle: 'Right, now everybody's here we can start. As you've all probably guessed by now the explosion was no accident. The police and arson investigators aren't entirely sure what to make of it yet, but what they do know is that it looks like the two employees who died in the blast and who you found just before the accident (everybody knew what she meant), were involved in the explosion. Their names, Caitlyn Walker and Josie Adams, were found in no database that the police looked at and all their details on their employee files are fake. The police are now calling them both Jane Does' and are waiting to see if the coroner can get a match on their real identities from either fingerprints or dental records. They also want to see copies of all your reports, so I suggest you try and get them finished as quickly as possible. They aren't wasting time on this, the sooner they find out what happened the happier they will be and the happier the people in charge will be.'

When she finished speaking nobody messed about and so got on with their reports. They knew that in a major police investigation every detail was crucial, and if they were the ones to delay the truth from being found Michelle would be the one to get the heat. A couple of hours later and everybody had pretty much finished, with Chase being the first one. He had taken his report to Michelle and had then gone downstairs to clean the trucks, a task everybody hated and nobody wanted. Vince usually had to force them all downstairs and get them all to do them at the same time as it prevented arguments over who had done it last time and whose turn it was this time. So when Chase had volunteered everybody had been shocked.

Vince: 'Deano, did you brother actually just offer to clean the trucks? By himself?'

Dean: 'Yes, I think he did.'

Lachie: 'Don't be too surprised. I woke up this morning and he had cleaned the living room, kitchen, bathroom and his bedroom. He had done the laundry and everything. He even offered to clean my room.'

Dean: 'He what?!'

Lachie: 'That was my response. I asked him if he was alright and he said he was fine, but I have no idea what's gotten into him.'

Vince: 'Well, it saves me from telling him to do it. I was going to have him clean the trucks by himself for a month anyway, after jinxing us yesterday.'

At Vince's words Heidi quickly turned to look at him, and then it dawned on her. She understood why Chase was acting so weird and why he was cleaning. She finished her report and after having given it to Michelle, told the others that she would go and talk to Chase.

Lachie: 'You think he'll talk to you? I didn't get anything out of him this morning.'

Heidi: 'He'll talk to me. He'll have no choice once I tell him my theory.'

Vince: 'Your theory about what?'

Heidi: 'About why he's cleaning.'

Dean: 'Don't even think about helping him either. The doctor said light duties only.'

Heidi: 'I don't think cleaning a truck classes as strenuous activity, but I wasn't planning on doing it anyway.'

Dean laughed at her snarky response and she smiled at him before turning and walking downstairs, kicking herself for not realising sooner and for not remembering what Chase had said yesterday about Vince having him cleaning the trucks.

DOWNSTAIRS - HEIDI AND CHASE

Heidi watched Chase for a while, waiting at the bottom of the stairs before going to talk to him. She watched as he cleaned the truck, stopping every so often and standing there lost in thought. Then he would start again. Heidi saw the same expression on his face that he wore a year ago when he found out about Jordan. Guilt. Back then he felt guilty for not realising the pain that Jordan was putting Heidi through, and felt that there should have been something he could have done to stop it. Dean and Heidi had both been able to convince him otherwise. However this time Heidi wanted to do it alone.

She knew he felt guilty about her and Lachie getting hurt, not because he felt like he could have prevented the floor from collapsing, but because he felt he could have prevented the whole thing happening, the explosion. When Vince had said he was going to have Chase cleaning the trucks for a month because he jinxed them, Heidi realised that Chase felt guilty for saying the 'Q' word. He thought he jinxed them and so put all the blame over what had happened to her and Lachie on his shoulders. It made Heidi upset that Chase felt that way, and so she knew that it would be better for her to speak to him than anybody else. Heidi and Chase were best friends and so very close to each other, and Heidi didn't want to lose that over a silly accident.

Heidi: 'Hey.'

Chase: 'Hey, you finished your report?'

Heidi: 'Yeah. Thought I'd come and talk to you.'

Chase: 'Keeping me company, you don't have to. And don't think of helping me, this is my job. I don't want you to hurt yourself by doing my job for me.'

Heidi: 'I'm not here to help you, or keep you company. I want you to stop cleaning that truck and come with me.'

Chase: 'Heidi, I can't. If I don't clean these trucks Vince will kill me.'

Heidi: 'No he won't, he never asked you to clean them in the first place.'

Chase: 'That doesn't matter. I offered to do it, and so if I don't -'

Heidi: 'Chase stop it. Put the sponge down right now.'

At her words and the tone of her voice Chase complied, knowing he wasn't going to win this argument. Heidi took him by the arm and led him outside, where he followed her to a secluded spot around the corner from HQ where there was enough privacy for them to talk and not be overheard. There was a small bench where Heidi sat and motioned for him to do the same. When he sat down she took hold of his hand in hers and turned to look straight at him.

Heidi: 'Talk to me Chase.'

Chase: 'I don't know what -'

Heidi: 'Don't tell me you don't know what I mean. You feel guilty. You blame yourself for me and Lachie getting hurt and for the whole explosion.'

At this Chase turned away. However he didn't deny what she said.

Chase: 'How could you know that?'

Heidi: 'Because I know you. Your cleaning has nothing to do with being tidy and wanting to change things around your place a little. You're over-compensating. You think that if you clean your apartment and offer to clean Lachie's room he'll forgive you for what happened, just like you want Vince to forgive you by offering to clean the trucks. But what you don't understand Chase, is there is nothing to forgive, because you did nothing to cause this.'

Chase: 'Yes I did. I jinxed us, all of us. I said that stupid word and then those two women blew up a building. We got called to the site and it ended with you and Lachie being seriously hurt. You could have died and that would have been on me as well. So yes, Lachie has a lot to forgive. And so do you and Vince and the rest of the team.'

Heidi: 'Listen to me. Firstly me and Lachie are not seriously hurt. A fractured arm and broken leg are nothing serious. Somebody breaks a bone in their body everyday. Secondly this was not your fault! We were called to that explosion because we are rescue and that is our job. Even if you hadn't said that word those two women would still have decided to blow that building up. You couldn't have stopped that, nobody could. That word, quiet, doesn't mean anything. In our line of work everyone says that it is a jinx. But it isn't. My friend Ava, the one who works in ICU, she told me that everyday before shift she says to herself and her friends that it will be quiet day at work today. That way if a major accident happens and people are brought to the ICU then it wasn't their fault for jinxing anything. Everyday they say it. In the last three months they have had only two major accidents. Think about how many times they said that it will be a quiet day in those three months, and it wasn't a quiet day on only two occasions. People die in the ICU everyday but the people who work there don't say it is their fault because they jinxed it. Have I said that yesterday was your fault? Has Lachie? We haven't said it because it isn't true. We know that. I need you to know it too Chase.'

Heidi said those last words with a pleading tone to her voice, and when she stopped talking Chase thought about what Heidi said. The more he thought about it the more he came to realise that part of what she said was true. People do die everyday in hospitals and doctors say all the time that there are quiet days. People also get hurt everyday after saying that they have had a quiet day but don't think that they have jinxed themselves. He turned to look at Heidi and watched as she brushed a tear away that she thought he hadn't seen.

Chase: 'Heidi, hey are you alright? Are you in pain?'

Heidi: 'No I'm not in pain. It upsets me that you think that any of this is your fault. It really does. How can you be my best friend, my brother, when you are blaming yourself for everything. I know how you feel. I felt that way for a while after Jordan left. I felt that everybody blamed me for him having to leave.'

Chase: 'But Heidi, that wasn't your fault. He brought that on himself.'

Heidi: 'I know that now. But Dean had to try really hard to convince me and to make me realise that it wasn't my fault.'

Chase: 'Just like you are doing with me.'

Heidi: 'Yes. Blaming yourself helps nothing Chase, especially when there is no real reason to put all of that blame on yourself in the first place.'

Chase didn't say anything for a while, just sat there thinking silently to himself. The next time he spoke Heidi felt like she could finally breathe again.

Chase: 'I said the word quiet, but it didn't cause the explosion.'

Heidi: 'No.'

Chase: 'I said the word quiet but it didn't cause the floor to collapse.'

Heidi: 'No.'

Chase: 'I wasn't responsible for you or Lachie getting hurt.'

Heidi: 'No.'

At this realisation and acceptance that what happened wasn't his fault Chase started to cry. But his tears were of happiness and relief. Heidi put her arms round him and he did the same to her, embracing her into a hug that he never wanted to end. As Chase cried into her shoulder, Heidi felt tears falling down her own face as well, and was relieved that she had gotten through to him at last. The last thing she wanted was for their relationship to be changed because of this, and his relationship with Lachie. They were too important. Families stick together and don't blame each other for things that happen out of their control. There was one more thing Heidi needed to do with Chase that would ease his conscience once and for all, but right now that could wait. Right now she was perfectly happy to stay in his arms and be his rock, just like he had been hers plenty of times before.