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Matt absolutely doesn’t have to be able to see to know that Foggy and Karen are exchanging awkward glances with each other, and that he’s interrupting a conversation. He’s only been at the bar, but he hadn’t thought to listen in on them. He respects other people’s privacy, after all.

 

“What?” he asks, putting his new drink down on the table and sinking back into his seat.

 

They’re both silent for one more awkward moment before Foggy cracks under the pressure of Matt’s raised eyebrow.

 

“It’s about the wedding,” he starts.

 

The three of them are going to a wedding next weekend, just out of town, a few hours drive. All three of them, going stag. Because it’s fun. Matt waits, but Foggy is no longer being very forthcoming.

 

“Uh-huh?” Matt prompts, tapping his finger on the wood. For one wild moment he thinks they’re going to tell him they’re going together. As a couple. And Matt will be a third wheel. Great.

 

“Um, well-” Foggy sputters.

 

“I’m bringing Paul,” Karen says quietly. Paul. Paul is the delivery man who has started visiting the office an unnecessary amount, even when he doesn’t have anything for the firm. Paul, who Karen has met for coffee a few times. Paul is a nice guy. Genuinely.

 

“Okay-” Matt starts, wondering if the awkwardness is because of his and Karen’s unresolved romantic relationship from so, so long ago, and if she thinks he’s going to be upset that she’s dating, which is ridiculous. He’s about to try and delicately approach this line when Foggy pipes in.

 

“And I’m bringing Tracy,” he says quickly. “I swear, I didn’t know that Karen was bringing someone too.”

 

Tracy works for the police. They’ve met her a few times, and she’s always seemed drawn to Foggy. Matt is pleased, he really is, but he doesn’t know why a wedding out of town would be a good idea for a first date. He’s not annoyed that the two of them have relationships, tentative and new as they might be. He’s just annoyed that they’re bringing them to a wedding where he would inevitably be left looking like a fool sitting on his own. Being blind.

 

“Sorry, Matt-” Karen says softly.

 

“It’s fine,” Matt shrugs his shoulders, fishing his phone out of his pocket. “I guess I’ll bring a date, too.”

 

He likes the way Foggy and Karen glance at each other, hears the sudden increase in their pulses as they wonder who exactly he’s planning on calling. It isn’t as though he has a social life outside of them-

 

“Siri, call Frank.”

 

Again, he likes their reactions. The sharp intake of Foggy’s breath, the increased flutter in Karen’s heartbeat.

 

“Matt, Matt, no, come on-” Foggy protests, but Matt holds up a hand for silence as the phone rings.

 

“Red?”

 

Frank always answers his phone with such concern in his voice, as though he’s always ready to rush out and kill someone if he has to.

 

“Hey, Frank. Pleasure, not business,” Matt says gently. “Are you free at the weekend?”

 

“What plans do you suppose I have?” Frank asks, a humorous little note in his voice. Matt likes that. It’s developed over the last year, Frank easing up slightly, joking lightly, frowning less at everything.

 

“Do you want to be my date to a wedding?”

 

There’s only a momentary pause, but Matt can almost visualise the thoughtful expression on the other man’s face as he considers.

 

“Yeah, sure,” comes the reply. Simple and easy. No questions.

 

“Great. We’ll talk about the details later, yeah?”

 

“Sure,” Frank agrees, nonchalant. “Later, Red.”

 

“Bye, Frank,” Matt replies, before hanging up and tucking his phone away. “Well, that’s sorted.”

 

“You can’t bring Frank,” Foggy objects immediately. “Okay, okay, come on, we’ll all go stag, like we said we would.”

 

“No, we’re all taking dates now,” Matt says calmly, sipping his drink.

 

“Matt, you can’t just- you can’t just- just because-” Foggy stutters, looking to Karen for help.

 

“Because what? Because I’m jealous?” Matt asks. That’s a little unfair. Foggy would never say that. He’d never imply that. “I want you both to be happy,” he says with a shrug. “I’m not going to make you break off your dates.”

 

“And I want that for you, too. I want you happy,” Foggy replies. “And that doesn’t involve Frank. We can set you up with someone there. You’re eligible and, you know, painfully good looking. It’ll be fine. There’ll be bridesmaids. Karen will set you up.”

 

Karen stiffens and Matt’s eyebrows raise. That isn’t a good idea.

 

“Frank’s a gentleman, I’ll be okay,” Matt says, to save Karen having to reply to Foggy’s suggestion. “I’m sure I’ll come out with my innocence in tact.”

 

Foggy snorts into his drink. “I’m hardly worried about that,” he scoffs.

 

 

***

 

“You want me to drive?” Frank asks. He’s slouched on an armchair in his small house, a cup of coffee in one hand. He hadn’t long been up when Matt came over, so he’s dressed in sweats and nothing else. He smells of sleep, of the coffee he’s drinking, and the residual leather of his night clothes, his uniform. When he moves, even slightly, the chain around his neck clinks softly, dog tags and wedding ring bumping together gently. The remnants of Frank’s past life. A momento he’s taken up to remind himself of who he was. Soldier. Husband. A better man. Matt likes it. He likes the sound and he likes it’s meaning.

 

Matt sits opposite him with his own coffee. It’s lunch time, he’s dressed in his work suit. They couldn’t look more different, but they’re very comfortable around each other now. Matt can still see the warm patch on Frank’s ribs that had been an open wound about a week ago that Matt had patched up, now just bruising and healing skin. There aren’t many secrets between them anymore.

 

“I mean, it’s a long way-”

 

Frank shrugs his shoulders, sipping his coffee. “It’s not a problem. I’m not going to be drinking so- what’s the other option?”

 

“I suppose,” Matt replies, swirling the liquid around in his mug. He doesn’t want to say that Foggy and Karen have both booked hotel rooms, because Frank would hate that. He gets too anxious in places he’s unfamiliar with. He’d never sleep. It’s only an hour or so on the road, and Frank doesn’t drink, so there’s really no excuse. Not that it’s an excuse he’s looking for. “Do you have a suit?”

 

“Uh-” Frank mutters.

 

“One that wasn’t provided by the state,” Matt adds with a fond smile. Frank huffs.

 

“I’ll get one,” he says. “What colour you wearin’?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Suit. What colour?”

 

Frank talks to him like this a lot. As though he’s not blind. He asks Matt if he’s ‘seen’ something, he says ‘look’ when he’s trying to make a point, and he doesn’t apologise for his choice of words. It’s refreshing. Frank treats him like he’s normal and doesn’t stutter over potentially offending Matt with his use of the English language. But at the same time he’ll read things to Matt without hesitation, without needing to be asked. When they’re walking down the street he’ll keep up Matt’s front and guide him gently with a hand on his arm or Matt’s on his shoulder. He always offers to drive.

 

“I don’t know. Why? Are we matching? Are we going to be that couple?” Matt grins, his head tipped towards Frank, attention fixed steadily on him though his eyes are hidden.

 

“Complimentary,” Frank corrects. Matt can hear the grin in his voice. “It’s fine. I’ll get somethin’. I won’t show you up.”

 

“It’s not like I’ll know,” Matt offers.

 

Frank sips his coffee again. Matt can still hear his smile.

 

“Am I driving everyone?” he asks after a pause.

 

“Uh, no. No, the other two are staying in a hotel. They’ve- they’ve both got...actual dates.”

 

He can’t hear Frank’s thoughts. He can’t hear anything but the slow drum of Frank’s pulse. Steady and strong.

 

“Okay. I’ll make sure I have some good tapes in the car.”

 

***

 

A wave of clean scent washes over Matt as he opens the door. Frank. It’s Frank’s scent and of course it’s Frank standing there because they’re going to the wedding. And Frank is his date. Driving him. And-

 

“You look handsome,” Matt teases gently. He’s still buttoning his shirt up and hasn’t got his glasses on yet.

 

“Mhm,” Frank replies, stepping into the hallway and closing Matt’s front door. He rarely comes in via the front door. “I’m early. I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologise,” Matt says, finding his tie, deep grey in colour, and beginning to wind it on. “What colour did you go for in the end?”

 

“Dark green tie,” Frank replies from the dividing wall, against which he is leaning. “Thought it’d bring out your eyes.”

 

“No one will see my eyes,” Matt reminds him. “So only we’ll know.”

 

“Well, we’ll keep it between us,” Frank replies gently. He hasn’t moved from his spot by the wall. He isn’t one to make himself at home. He doesn’t sit down unless Matt tells him to. He seems almost uncomfortable with the homeliness of it, even if Matt’s room is practically sparse.

 

“Is this straight?” Matt asks of his tie.

 

“Yeah. You look good, Matt,” Frank replies softly.

 

Matt swallows. He hears the same steady beat in Frank’s chest as usual, but gentle words from him-

 

No, that’s not fair. Frank is his own brand of gentle. He doesn’t get a lot to give back, still sometimes flinches when Matt touches his arm, because no one else is ever gentle with Frank. Every other touch he receives is violent and rough. But Frank is still human. He knows how to care.

 

“Thank you,” Matt replies, pulling on his jacket and picking up his glasses. “Did you make some mix tapes for the journey?” he teases, walking to Frank’s side.

 

“Of course I did,” Frank responds, his hand finding it’s place on the small of Matt’s back. To guide him. The way he does when Matt is Matt and not Red.

 

He even opens the car door for him, which is surprisingly sweet. It gives Matt a little warm feeling. Frank is a gentleman. Matt has said that before.

 

He recognises the smell of the car. It’s not Frank’s work car, which is heavily modified for protection and storage, it’s the nice car he uses when they’re trying to be subtle. Frank brought the nice car! But it does smell it’s age, with the underlying scent of Frank and coffee and other things. Blood. Guns. Even the nice car gets messy.

 

Matt pulls on his seatbelt, feels the car dip gently as Frank gets in, and listens to the movements of the man beside him. His hand brushes Matt’s knee gently as he reaches for the glove box, pulling out a handful of cassettes. Matt puts the tingles that are now creeping up his leg down to a result of the surprise contact. Nothing else.

 

“You really were serious,” Matt asks, eyebrows raised as he clutches the tapes in his hands.

 

“I didn’t have any band in the braille printer,” Franks says. “So I just scratched the titles on the front. The tracklists’ll have to remain a mystery.”

 

Matt turns his head towards Frank. Frank, who got the braille printer so that he could label things in his house for Matt; the contents of his cupboards, primarily, but also various other things such as the taps, the toilet, the doors, table, chairs. It had tickled Frank every time Matt found a new label in a ridiculous place, and Matt had loved the sound of his laughter. Genuine laughter, not bitter, not cruel. Just light, amused. It was lovely.

 

So he isn’t going to tell Frank that his stupid, unnecessary labels are the reason he’s had to scratch on the cassette cases. Instead, Matt runs his fingers over one of them, finding the roughened lines etched into the plastic.

 

“Nineties Shit?” he asks as he reads. “Dirty Country. And… Drunk Matt?”

 

“I needed to prepare for the journey home,” Frank says simply, his voice soft and amused.

 

“I can’t believe you actually made mix tapes,” Matt continues. The mental image of Frank sitting down and making them is oddly charming. Frank choosing songs, not just at random, but in three specific categories at the very least. Charming. Matt isn’t sure what his expression is doing, but his cheeks feel warm.

 

“You think this piece of junk could cope with me installing a CD player? I pull anything out the whole thing’s fallin’ apart,” Frank explains, unphased, so obviously he hasn’t noticed anything wrong with Matt or his fluctuating temperature.

 

“That’s reassuring,” Matt teases, but he trusts Frank. With his life. Always. “I think Nineties Shit will set us up for the wedding.”

 

“Go for it,” Frank nods, rolling down his window because the car doesn’t have AC.

 

 

Matt settles back with his eyes closed against the warm sun and the light breeze coming in through his window. It’s peaceful. The hum of the car, the soft tapping of Frank’s fingers on the wheel, his heartbeat. Maybe it’s because Frank’s heart is always so steady, or because he spends so long listening for it around the city, but Matt always finds himself focussing in on it. The music is second to that, a background noise that is comfortably nostalgic. They’re of a similar age, they have similar memories of these songs, it shouldn’t be surprising that Frank’s choices are so good.

 

They don’t speak. They don’t need to speak. They’re comfortable in each other’s company. Silence can stretch between them for a long, long time, as it does now. The breeze is sweet with the smell of the air away from the Kitchen, Frank’s scent threading through it. A part of Matt doesn’t want to reach their destination. Doesn’t want to step out of this bubble. Maybe wants to tell Frank to keep on driving. No one will miss them if they don’t show up.

 

He can’t quite bring himself to say those words, though. Can’t quite imagine how Frank would react, though he’s almost certain that Frank would just keep driving if asked.

 

***

 

Matt inches into the pew beside Karen, and shuffles along to make room for Frank to sidle in, too. Frank leans forward to nod at Foggy, Karen, and their dates, then drapes his arm around the seat behind Matt. Matt isn’t sure if he’s just playing up to being Matt’s date (with the added bonus of irritating Foggy), or if this is just a more comfortable position for him, but Matt leans into him anyway. Because it really will annoy Foggy. And Karen.

 

Frank is looking at the order of service when Matt inches closer, and he turns his head slightly so that his mouth is near Matt’s ear. He begins without prompt to read the little pamphlet to him, his breath tickling Matt’s neck. The softly spoken words feel nice.

 

“I guess the speeches are coming at the dinner, there’s just readings in here. But I ‘spose this is a church, it’s probably for the best,” Frank rumbles.

 

“What kind of speeches do they make at weddings you go to?” Matt whispers back.

 

“Ones that aren’t appropriate in Catholic churches, obviously” Frank murmurs, his fingers gently tapping against Matt’s shoulder. It feels affectionate.

 

Matt snorts, immediately feeling eyes on them, hearing sighs and tuts. He bites his lip and places his hand on Frank’s knee, giving it a little pat before moving his hand back to his own lap.

 

He can feel Karen watching them, but his superpowers still don’t extend to mind reading, and everything about her is quiet and calm, aside from the weight of her gaze. It seems to highlight how close he and Frank are actually sitting, Frank’s arm around him, their sides pressed flush all the way down to their knees. Matt isn’t going to move away. He likes it. He likes the contact. He likes the contact with Frank.

 

***

The six of them are sat at a table together. Frank, Matt, Karen, Paul, Foggy, Tracy. Matt is mildly pleased that Frank and Foggy aren’t sat next to each other, but most of Frank’s attention is focused on him anyway. He makes soft small talk with Tracy (because Frank is a gentleman) and listens and nods with genuine interest that seems to please Tracy but irritates Foggy all the more, encouraging him to make loud conversation with Matt and Karen over the table.

 

Karen is leaning closer to Paul, or away from Matt, Matt can’t decide. All he knows is that Frank’s leg has come to rest against his beneath the table, solid and warm. Matt wants to tell Foggy that Frank is no threat to his budding relationship, that he’s just being polite and has no interest in Tracy, because out of sight - and absolutely unnecessarily - he is touching Matt.

 

But that seems like a bit of a steep assumption to make over what could be very innocent contact.

 

It doesn’t mean that Matt doesn’t preen softly when Frank pours his wine and presses the glass gently against Matt’s hand, or when he clears the area around Matt’s plate to make eating easier. Or when he guides Matt’s fingers to where the bread and butter are with a careful touch. Matt admires his dedication to the role of ‘partner of a blind man’, and the ease at which he goes about the simple tasks without ceremony. As though they do this every day.

 

“How long have you two been together?” Paul asks across the table after Frank has guided Matt’s hand to the flowers in the centrepiece, describing them in ridiculous detail for Matt’s amusement, like the superfluous labels all over his house. Almost like he enjoys making Matt laugh.

 

Frank snorts. “A long time,” he replies without missing a beat, his fingers closing around Matt’s hand for a moment.

 

Matt feels his glance, it feels warm, and he can’t hold back the smile as he turns his head towards his date. “I’m glad it means so much to you,” he teases.

 

“You can tell,” Tracy pipes in. “The way you are with each other. You can tell you’ve been together a while.”

 

They know each other well, that’s the thing. They trust each other, they look out for each other, they save each others lives. They’ve stopped each others bleeding and carried each other home. It’s intimate, they have an intimate relationship in their own way.

 

Matt can map the scars on Frank’s body. Frank knows the limits of Matt’s.

 

***

Matt has never really given much consideration to getting married, but he knows that Foggy and Karen are both thinking about it. They both want it. First dates at weddings seem so awkward for that exact reason, like guiding lights pointing towards the end goal before you’ve even gotten started. Especially at their age. He’s glad his date isn’t awkward. At least not for that reason. He doesn’t care for marriage, and he knows Frank has absolutely no intention of marrying again. On the flipside, though, he wonders if this hurts him. If the memories are painful. If the loss is heavier because Frank was here once, pledging to spend his life with someone who was taken from him. It isn’t the same as splitting up, getting closure. There’s no closure. His hand finds Frank’s leg under the table during the speeches, intending to offer a reassuring pat, but surprised when he feels Frank’s cover his own. No one can see, and anyone who can would hardly raise an eyebrow at a couple holding hands at a wedding, but Matt still feels an ache, or a thrill, when Frank’s fingers fit in between his, palm to the back of Matt’s hand.

 

No one can see. It’s just between them.

 

Frank’s other hand twitches gently against the collar of his shirt, perhaps seeking the shape of his wedding ring beneath his clothing.

 

Matt isn’t jealous, because that would be- that would be vile.

 

Frank is right about the speeches, though. They’re certainly a little racy, even in the presence of the happy couple’s parents. But by this time everyone - nearly everyone - has had plenty to drink. Frank smells of oranges, having been sipping juice the whole evening. Matt has had a few glasses of wine and feels warm. The rest of their table are giggling, drunk, finally comfortable on their dates.

 

The first dance is nice. The music is soft enough that it bounces easily around the room, and Matt can see the newlyweds holding each other on the dancefloor. He can see Frank clearly beside him, see his friends around the table, everything just on the cusp of comfortable clarity.

 

The music starts in earnest afterwards, though, and Matt grits his teeth. He knows it would be rude for him to walk out straight away. Karen and Paul hit the dancefloor immediately, and Foggy and Tracy have gone to get another round of drinks. Matt will put up with the amount of noise, he’ll try and focus on something else. Like that solid thumping heartbeat-

 

A hand touches Matt’s shoulder, slides to his neck in a gentle caress. It’s Frank’s hand, of course. Matt can’t make out an image of him, the noise is too much, the volume bouncing it off of the walls and ceiling and floor distorting everything. But he knows it’s Frank. The other man’s thumb strokes slowly up and down the tendon in his throat and Matt is soothed. His rock in a heavy current.

 

Frank sits down beside him, pulls his chair up close and leans in. He begins to speak quietly, but the words are pressed directly against Matt’s ear, and they give him something else to focus on. They calm things down slightly as Matt lets his brain bathe in Frank’s voice rather than the pulse of the music and its echoes. Frank is describing the people who are dancing. There’s nothing mean or derisive in his descriptions, just vivid details.

 

Matt likes the details as much as he likes the comfort the anchoring rumble brings. Frank describes colours and patterns and movements. He finds himself leaning in more, leaning in until Frank’s nose is pressed into his hair and his ear feels warm and damp from his breath.

 

“You should do audio descriptions,” he breathes out. “You could make a lot of blind people very happy.”

 

When Frank laughs, goosebumps explode over Matt’s skin, and heat curls in his stomach. He’s practically nuzzling Matt, but neither of them are moving back. Frank’s thumb continues to stroke slowly slowly up and down Matt’s neck, but Matt doesn’t dare touch him in return. He wonders what he’d do, and how Frank would react, but he doesn’t trust himself. He doesn’t think his self-control is strong enough.

 

“Do you want to go outside?” Frank asks after a little while. “You feel tense. It’ll be quieter out there.”

 

Matt can’t very well tell him he’s the reason that Matt is tense, but it would be good to go outside. It would be good to be able to orientate himself again.

 

***

 

It is better when they walk out into evening air. The music is still loud, the pulse of it vibrates the ground and makes Matt’s steps a little unsure, but Frank is guiding him. Out here things clear up slightly. The breeze is nice. He isn’t that drunk, but it cools his warm cheeks.

 

A few other guests are littered around, giggling and laughing, kissing. Frank moves them to a polite distance, his hand on the small of Matt’s back.

 

The music changes, slips into slow songs. Matt knows Karen and Foggy will be taking the opportunity to get their hands on their partners.

 

He’s thinking about that, thinking about his two friends, their romantic conquests, their normal lives. Matt has made his peace with his solitude, the undeniable fact that he can’t be with someone because his life is too complicated, it throws a shadow over whoever he stands near. His secret keeps him apart from other people, and he hates how much worry he causes the people who do know.

 

“Do you want to dance?” Frank asks, the gentle timbre of his voice luring Matt back.

 

He turns his head towards the other man, not sure he heard right. “What?”

 

Frank clears his throat. “You wanna dance?”

 

“With you?” Matt asks before his brain can stop the words escaping.

 

Frank feels as though he deflates a little beside him. There seems to be fractionally more space between them. “I was just asking, since we’re-”

 

“No. Yes. I mean yes. Yeah-” Matt swallows, his hand grabbing Frank’s as though he fears he might walk away. His own racing pulse is suddenly louder than anything else. He can cope with the little touches just fine. He and Frank touch all the time, after all. And they are on a date. A fake date, but- dancing?

 

He turns and presses his other hand to the solid muscles of Frank’s chest before releasing his frantic grip on his fingers and touching Frank’s neck, sliding his nails over his scalp at the back of his head. Frank clears his throat and his own hands move to Matt’s hips, gripping with some uncertainty, a nervous pressure that feels awkwardly good and sends tiny jolts tingling their way up Matt’s spine. He’s never danced with another man before. He doesn’t suppose it’s something Frank has a lot of experience with, either. But he steps closer, reducing the space between their bodies, close enough that their chests are touching, that Matt can feel the steady thump of Frank’s heart beneath his ribs, that he can feel Frank’s breath against his lips.

 

They don’t speak. They’re barely moving, just a gentle sway in time to the music.

 

I knew I loved you then; but you’d never know; ‘cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go-

 

Matt lets a pained little smile tug at his lips as he listens to the words they’re dancing to. But he doesn’t say anything. Neither of them do, either because things just pass unsaid between them, or simply because this is what it is. But for his part at least, Matt is enjoying the gentleness. He enjoys this side of Frank, this tiny fragment of the man who had been lost, the way he touches Matt with a kind of reverence, leans into him, trusts him. And this is all for Matt right now. Only for Matt.

 

He realises his thumb is stroking the side of Frank’s neck, brushing over the stubble on his throat. Frank’s hands are slightly tighter on his hips, one creeping around slightly, lingering in the space between Matt’s lower back and the top of his bottom.

 

Frank shifts his feet and Matt feels him inch closer with very careful, subtle movements. Matt lets him. Of course he does. He isn’t going to push Frank away. Their cheeks now rest against each other, and Frank smells so, so good. He never wears aftershave or any other fabricated smells. Matt doesn’t know if it’s just an army throwback, or if he does it for Matt. If it’s the latter, does Frank know just how well Matt can smell him? The scent of him; endorphins, adrenaline, pheromones.

 

You make me feel this way somehow; I’m so in love with you-

 

This close Matt can breathe in all of it. And it makes him feel good. Frank makes him feel good. The things that made them rub each other the wrong way in the beginning are all but smoothed out, leaving this- this comfort, consideration, a care for each other. Matt keeps Frank from getting lost in his own brain. Frank is Matt’s back up for everything, to give him something to cling to when the world has sped up too much.

 

Or dancing with him outside where the music is muffled so that it doesn’t hurt Matt’s ears.

 

Another song takes over from the one they’d begun dancing to. Still slow. Frank doesn’t pull away, his pulse doesn’t change, the distance between their bodies remains at a minimum. Matt sees no reason to move back, either. They simply stand in each other’s arms, movements slight, disregarding everyone else.

 

“Thank you,” Matt whispers eventually.

 

“Hm?” Frank asks, the noise rolling gently through him and Matt.

 

“For coming as my date. And for dancing with me out here.”

 

“It’s fine,” Frank replies simply. Matt’s skin prickles with goosebumps when Frank speaks so close to his ear.

 

He doesn’t know what else he expects Frank to say. If anything. Why should there be any more? He isn’t expecting professions or admissions. He doesn’t need to feel anything more.

 

 

They’re both sat down when Foggy finds them, leaning slightly towards each other, but nothing else to imply that they’ve done anything other than enjoy the night and the music from outside. Frank is drinking another pint of orange juice. Matt has a soda. Foggy is drunk.

 

“Karen’s already gone,” he grins. “I’m- we’re- we’re going back to the hotel for an early night. Not as early as Karen’s,” he giggles, slapping Matt on the shoulder. “I guess you two are just going to a long drive home.” His hand rests heavily where it’s landed, and he leans in with the intention to  whisper, though he has barely lowered his voice. “This is why you shouldn’t have brought Frank with you. You could be sleeping with one of the lovely ladies inside right now- there’s still time! You can get in there and mingle!” Foggy’s face lights up again. “Frank, you can go home alone whilst Matt gets laid, right?”

 

“If that’s what Matt wants,” Frank replies, leaving Matt feeling a little betrayed.

 

“You can’t just leave your date at a wedding, Frank,” Matt interjects quickly, hoping that Frank understands that the very last thing he wants is to be abandoned to women. Women he doesn’t know. All of whom are probably drunk, too.

 

“It’s not a real date,” Foggy scoffs. “You’re so damn stubborn, Matty. We’ll get you someone real when we get back.”

 

Matt wants to remind Foggy that Frank is actually very real, but that would raise questions and Foggy is too drunk, he’d get confused. He’d also fail to acknowledge any hints Matt could drop for him, but Frank won’t. And Matt isn’t ready for that.

 

“Do you want to go home?” Matt asks once Foggy has swayed gracefully back inside to find Tracy.

 

“If you’re ready to leave,” Frank replies, no indication that he minds at all either way. Matt desperately wants a real answer to something, wants him to react to something .

 

“Yeah,” he says softly. “I want you to take me home.” He’s gratified by the tiny hitch in Frank’s breathing. That’ll do for now.

 

***

 

Matt closes his eyes again, settling back into the hum of the engine. He unwinds his window as he had on the drive in, letting the breeze play over his hair. The evening smells nicer than the morning. He likes the smell of night time.

 

Beside him, Frank is still and silent, his heart beating it’s usual steady rhythm. Matt lets his senses build up the image of the other man. It’s habit now. He has Frank memorised. Loves it when Frank’s heart beats faster when they’re working, because it lights him up. And when he speaks, the deep tone of his voice colours him.

 

And he smells good.

 

Matt opens the glove compartment by his knees and finds the cassettes, feeling around for ‘Drunk Matt’ for their drive home. He isn’t drunk, but Frank made it for this occasion. He slides a finger over the face to find side A, pushing it into the tape player.

 

He likes the gentle crackle of the blank part of the tape before the soft strains of guitar fill the car.

 

“You have good taste in music,” Matt says.

 

Frank glances over, and Matt hears a little smile on his lips.

 

“Thanks, Matty,” he huffs.

 

“And thank you for driving,” Matt adds. “I really-”

 

Frank’s hand comes to rest on Matt’s thigh gently. He squeezes, just once, then pulls away and puts it back on the wheel.

 

“Just listen to the music, Matty,” he says quietly.

 

Matt settles back again and falls silent to focus on the songs. Because Frank chose them. For him.

 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so the soothsayers all say-

 

Frank doesn’t say anything more. And maybe Matt hears his words in the music, and he shouldn’t. Or he should. He doesn’t know. But it seems a lot to worry about right now, when the breeze is so comfortable and the car is humming gently and the lyrics are soft. And Frank is here.

 

I can’t stand the days I wake alone.

 

***

 

They pull up just down the road from Matt's apartment, his usual parking spot. Matt turns off the tape and hesitates.

 

"Do you want to come up for a coffee?" he asks, staring straight ahead, though that doesn't mean he can't hear another flicker in Frank's pulse as the other man turns to look at him. The words come out a lot more strained than they should.

 

"Coffee?" Frank asks, as though he's never heard of the word before (which is ironic because Matt's coffee machine upstairs was a 'gift' from Frank, who uses it a lot more than Matt does).

 

"It's a hot drink. You might like it," Matt replies sardonically, and that’s a little unfair because he’s sure he knows what Frank thinks he might be offering. He knows because he thinks he possibly might be offering it.

 

"Sure," Frank says, albeit slowly, unclipping his seatbelt and climbing from the car.

 

Matt follows, Frank’s hand on the small of his back by the time he's closed the door.

 

They head into the building in silence, take the lift in silence, and walk into Matt’s apartment without a word. Frank’s pulse has picked up just a fraction, it would be barely noticeable if Matt didn’t spend so long listening to it.

 

He moves away once the door is closed, pulling off his jacket and tie, throwing them in the direction of his sofa. Frank follows slowly. Slowly. Matt drags his hands over the work surfaces as he makes his way to the coffee machine, setting about doing what he said he would. Actually making them coffee. The warmth of another body at his side comes faster than Matt anticipated. He thought he’d at least have the machine humming before Frank worked up to getting this far.

 

Frank's tie is missing too, he's undone his collar and the top two buttons. He doesn't wear shirts, ever, and Matt is impressed that he lasted so long.

 

"Good, you're making yourself at home," he says, reaching over to pat Frank's chest, maybe or maybe not aiming for the little triangle of bared skin-

 

He pauses, fingers pressing a little firmer against the space.

 

"You aren't wearing your chain," Matt says, a statement more than a question, but he's still curious. And surprised. It’d been a permanent fixture for a few months. And now it’s gone.

 

Frank says nothing for the moment, nor does he make any move to shrug off Matt's hand, the fingers of which are now purposefully brushing the warm skin beneath them, or to escape the gaze fixed on him as Matt's senses drink him in.

 

"I thought it would be inappropriate to wear it on a date," Frank murmurs finally, lifting his own hand to touch the back of Matt's, fingertips skimming the soft skin.

 

"Inappropriate-" Matt echoes the word as though in understanding. Of course Frank would feel guilty about putting on a show of a romance whilst a reminder of his own hung around his n-

 

"I thought it would be unfair on you," Frank interrupts with the exact opposite of what Matt is thinking.

 

"Me?"

 

"I know it wasn't a real date," Frank shrugs. "But-"

 

"But you treated it like one," Matt says.

 

Frank breathes in. His chest swells. Matt listens to his pulse, to the new slightly accelerated rhythm of it. For the third, fourth, fifth time today he wants to kiss Frank.

 

"It's been a long time, Matty," he says. "Since I dated. Did anything that wasn't- s'been a long time. Long time since I wanted to slow dance."

 

Matt can almost feel the weight that Frank carries in those words.

 

He made Matt a mix tape.

 

"I wanted to kiss you," Frank says.

 

"I think I'm in love with you," Matt replies without hesitation, his own weight lifting. Heaviness he didn't know was leaning down on him falling away.

 

Frank's physical weight replaces it as he turns and presses Matt against the counter. That's it for a moment, just Frank there, hands on Matt's hips, holding him firmly.

 

Matt can hear Frank's heart thumping quicker, still solid but fractionally faster still. Frank smells so good, constantly, always, but now it's softened by the scent of the other man's arousal. It's- it's just so good . Matt takes a deep breath and feels the pulse between his legs. Frank must feel it too, because he makes a soft noise and exhales against Matt's lips.

 

God, Matt wants to kiss him. Right now. He wants to take Frank's face in his hands and kiss him until they're breathless. He wants to know what Frank tastes like, what he sounds like and feels like. He wants to know everything, he wants to fill his every sense with this man. But Frank needs patience.

 

It wasn't that long ago he'd told Matt he never planned to love again, to be with anyone else. That Maria was the beginning and the end for him.

 

So Matt waits, his hands on Frank's biceps, very still.

 

It may turn out to be nothing, maybe Frank will change his mind, but Matt can almost hear Frank’s brain working, warring with itself. He doesn’t mind whatever justifications Frank makes. He doesn’t mind that Frank is making them at all-

 

The gentle tip of the other man’s head reminds Matt to breathe, gasping in a lungful of air just before their lips brush together. He feels it all through his body, feels it like electricity. Frank is hesitant, inching closer slowly, their lips barely grazing. It’s a tease, but God it’s as good as any other first kiss Matt has ever had. He whimpers softly, something needy in his tone that Frank responds to, because the next moment they’re kissing properly, Frank is leaning into him, their mouths pressed together.

 

 

Still, Matt lets Frank lead, lets him set the pace, lets him move his hands up from Matt’s hips to his ribs, around to his chest, down to his stomach. Matt grips harder at his biceps, humming, almost trembling with the effort it’s taking him to not coax Frank on with any means necessary.

 

Their tongues touch. Something in Matt’s stomach swoops. Frank’s heart flutters. It’s a beautiful sound.

 

Frank pulls back, but not far. He’s close enough for their noses to touch. His hands have returned to Matt’s hips, gripping gently, twitching Matt’s lower body forward so that he can feel the harder, steadier pulse between Frank’s legs.

 

“Oh,” Matt breathes. His self resolve breaks instantly. His fingers jump from Frank’s bicep to his hair, cradling his head, pulling him closer so that their lips meet again, harder, rougher. Part of him expects Frank to resist. He doesn’t. He opens his mouth and kisses back, slips his tongue against Matt’s, a soft noise in the back of his throat.

 

Matt’s fingers move through Frank’s hair. It’s longer than it used to be, Matt can really grip it, but he wants to be gentle. Frank’s whole life has been a blizzard of pain, and Matt wants this to be good.

 

This would be enough, kissing, pressed up against the kitchen counter, feeling the other man reacting to him. Frank’s kisses are growing steadily more passionate, though. His lips move confidently over Matt’s, his tongue caressing. It would be enough.

 

But Frank’s fingers begin to work on the buttons of Matt’s shirt and suddenly it isn’t anymore. Sudden all Matt wants is to be naked, he wants to see Frank naked and aroused. He knows what Frank looks like without clothes on, but not hard, not turned on.

 

“Can I take you to bed?” Frank asks, so sweet and polite.

 

“Frank, God,” Matt has to bite his tongue to hold back the expletive declaration of how much he wants that. “Yes, please. Please.”

 

Franks knows where his bedroom is. Frank has slept in Matt’s bed, both with and without his permission and left the sheets soaked in his scent, which is harder to wash out than blood.

 

He steps back, and Matt feels cold without him, but Frank is nervous and uncertain, and he needs Matt to lead him.

 

Matt can do that.

 

He reaches for Frank’s hand, lacing their fingers together and walking them slowly across the apartment to his room. Slow, so that Frank can change his mind if he wants to.

 

Matt shrugs out of his shirt and kicks off his shoes in quick, practised succession. Perhaps he should be a little bit embarrassed by his own enthusiasm, especially since Frank is still standing quietly, nervously, a few paces from the door.

 

Matt turns and moves back towards him, his fingers reaching out for the buttons he didn’t undo in the kitchen

 

“We don’t have to do anything, Frank,” Matt says softly, holding back from ripping Frank’s shirt off of his body. He can smell the warm tang of Frank’s arousal, which is driving him crazy in a way he couldn’t have anticipated. “We can stop whenever you want.” He doesn’t really care what it implies about him that he’s very willing and also very prepared for them to have sex.

 

“I’m not a virgin, Matty,” Frank replies, very gentle humour in his voice.

 

“I know,” Matt smiles, opening one button on Frank’s shirt. Then another. Wondering if he’s going to be stopped.

 

He isn’t. Frank’s breathing is heavier, hitching, and Matt realises how lovely it is to be able to touch him when he’s not patching him up. He draws in another breath and runs his fingers gently down Frank’s chest, feeling the dips and bumps of muscles and long-healed scars. And goosebumps.

 

“You always this careful?” Frank rasps, his voice rough in a way that makes Matt shiver.

 

“Just want to take my time,” Matt murmurs, smiling as he feels the tremble in the muscles of Frank’s belly.

 

“You think you won’t get another chance?” Frank asks, lifting his hand to stroke Matt’s cheek. It’s surprising. But it’s certainly not unwelcome. And neither are the words that precede it.

 

“Just in case,” Matt murmurs, leaning into the touch, nearly whimpering with disappointment when the hand moves away again.

 

He’s about to complain when Frank’s hands move instead to the back of Matt’s legs, scooping him up and carrying him over to the bed, dropping him carefully onto the sheets. He peels his shirt from his body and drops it on Matt’s floor, releasing a warm cloud of his scent into the air, which Matt almost greedily breathes in.

 

“Say something,” he says desperately, because it’s too quiet and he wants to see Frank.

 

“You want me to tell you how good you look?” Frank asks, though he knows that Matt just needs sound, needs Frank’s voice to rumble around them to give him shape so that Matt can form a picture of him. His belt clunks as he undoes it, and Matt bites his lip. “Reckon I could talk you to orgasm?” he questions, dragging his zip down slowly.

 

“I’d rather you didn’t,” Matt replies, undoing his own trousers, lifting his hips to pull them down. He hears the skip in Frank’s pulse, followed by the sound of his trousers hitting the floor.

 

“You look so good, Matty,” Frank hums, the sound lighting him up for Matt’s eyes, the expanse of his body, his torso, stomach, thighs- and between his legs. Matt can see the heat between his legs, see the outline of his cock. He’s hard. And he’s ridiculously sexy.

 

“What do I look like?” Frank asks quietly, the bed dipping as he climbs on. “Right now.” His fingers stroke gently over Matt’s thighs, barely brushing the skin. Goosebumps break out all over Matt’s body, and he sucks in a sharp breath before he can even think of answering.

 

“Right now I can- right now you’re turned on, and- and it smells so good,” he admits, swallowing. “I can see- I can see the heat between your legs,” Matt murmurs, feeling himself flush.

 

“Do you like it?” Frank asks, a note of apprehension in his voice, his hands coming to a stop on Matt’s knees.

 

“God, you’re gorgeous,” Matt sighs. “I don’t know how much that means coming from me-”

 

Frank’s lips ghost over his own, soft and warm, and cut him off, and Matt whines a little, wanting more contact.

 

“Been a while, has it?” Frank teases. He straddles Matt’s hips, his rough fingers moving gently over the expanse of skin beneath them.

 

“Not just that,” Matt murmurs, reaching out to press his fingers against Frank’s bare chest. His skin is hot.

 

“With a man?” Frank asks calmly, dragging blunt nails down Matt’s torso, making him arch up into the touch.

 

“Yeah, longer,” Matt replies. “You?”

 

“While,” Frank says, leaning forward and pressing soft, warm kisses to Matt’s chest.

 

Matt really wants this rough and hard, because he knows Frank is more than capable of throwing him around, but right now he’s being so frustratingly gentle, and Matt doesn’t want to rush him.

 

“You want something, Matty?” Frank purrs, as though he can hear Matt’s desperate thoughts. Matt can feel a smirk curled on the lips that are pressed to his skin.

 

“Well, yeah,” Matt huffs. “But you take your time, won’t you?”

 

To his annoyance Frank pulls back, and is obviously gazing down at him. Matt tries to focus, though he’s certainly distracted by the weight of the other man on top of him.

 

“Tell me what you want,” Frank says.

 

“Frank,” Matt groans. “C’mon, it’s pretty obvious. But I only want what you want, and I’m not going to-”

 

“Well, I wanna fuck you,” Frank interrupts, his hand sliding slowly up the middle of Matt’s chest, letting out a little laugh as Matt’s cock twitches. “You like the sound of that?”

 

“Who says you get to be on top?” Matt growls, bracing his legs beneath Frank, one hand on his shoulder, flipping him onto his back a little too easily. He lays between Frank’s parted legs, their erections pressed together. Matt rolls his hips and Frank whimpers so sweetly Matt is lucky he’s regained some of his self-control, otherwise he’d be coming in his boxers.

 

“Oh,” he beams. “Maybe you like being on the bottom. Maybe give up a little control for once?”

 

Frank’s heart is beating quickly, and the scent of his arousal is making Matt dizzy. He leans forward and touches their lips together, a kiss a lot chaster than the grinding of their bodies and Matt’s very deep desire should allow. Fingers trembling slightly, Matt reaches for his glasses, pulling them off and putting them carefully on the bedside table. He listens to the catch in the other man’s breathing, though it’s not the first time Frank has seen his eyes, not by a long shot. But it increases the intimacy of the moment. Everything stripped away.

 

Frank’s hands stroke slowly up and down Matt’s sides in a warm caress as they kiss and rock slowly against each other.

 

“Compromise,” Frank whispers. “Ride me.”

 

Matt makes an embarrassing sound, his cock twitching between them. Perhaps it’s because it sounds like a direct command, but it’s possibly one of the sexiest thing he’s ever heard. Their lips meet again, rough and dirty, one of Frank’s hands gripping the back of Matt’s neck whilst Matt’s cup his face.

 

Frank’s free hand then finds its way down to Matt’s arse, groping, pulling him forward so that they grind together again, fingers sliding into the back of his underwear and grabbing one of Matt’s cheeks.

 

“Oh God,” Matt groans, arching into the touch. “Okay.” He kneels up and then lowers his boxers with a little hum of relief as his cock is exposed to the air. Frank draws in a breath as well, and Matt is more than flattered by that noise. He leans forward slightly and reaches into his bedside table, finding a half used tube of lubricant, and uses the change of angle to simultaneously rid himself of his underwear. He’s never had any complaints about his body or any… attributes, so he’s hardly nervous about being naked in front of Frank. He can hear a rumble in the other man’s chest, the sound like a moan, so he’s pleased.

 

Frank lifts his hips to lower his boxers too, taking his cock in his hand. He’s a good size, if the heat coming off of him is any indication. He isn’t huge, he’s comfortable, pleasantly thick. Matt’s whole attention is focused between Frank’s legs, and he may as well be staring.

 

“You leer a lot for a blind guy,” Frank purrs, stroking his length slowly.

 

“Well, you’re giving me plenty to leer at,” Matt says.

 

“Flattery will get you real far,” Frank replies. “You need a hand or can you do that yourself?”

 

“You ever fingered a guy before, Frank?” Matt asks, squeezing lube onto his fingers, slinging his legs over Frank’s so that he’s straddling his hips. Frank is wide, so his legs are spread nicely, enough that he can work one finger into himself easily.

 

“I’m experienced,” Frank mutters. Matt can feel his attention focussed on where Matt is touching. His big hands come to rest on Matt’s thighs, gripping firmly. “Didn’t realise you were.”

 

Matt shifts and hums as he pushes in another finger, closing his eyes at the slight burn, as though that will help. Frank is a lot thicker than two fingers

 

“It’s never really come up in conversation,” Matt huffs, rocking slowly onto himself.

 

Frank doesn’t reply, watching with rapt attention as Matt stretches himself open. His fingers twitch on Matt’s thigh, clearly wanting to touch him more elsewhere.

 

Matt has never really allowed himself to think about what sex with Frank would be like, it never seemed like a possibility, but now that it’s happening it’s all he wants. Now that it’s happening, all Matt can think of is doing it again, and again.

 

He pushes another finger into his body, and Matt bites down on his lip, his free hand stroking up and down Frank’s chest as a distraction. It’s uncomfortable, but he’s not going to be able to fit another in, the angle is wrong.

 

“Matty-” Frank groans. His hand leaves Matt’s thigh, and Matt listens to him picking up the lube and slicking his dick with it.

 

Matt has never wanted anything more than he wants Frank. He pulls his fingers out quickly and crawls forward, lining himself up with Frank’s cock, his head catching at Matt’s entrance as he rubs himself back.

 

Beneath him, Frank glows. It’s heat and the cloud of arousal and the rapid thumping of his pulse.

 

“Matty?” Frank whispers, his hips twitching, slick cock sliding between Matt’s cheeks.

 

“Frank?” Matt asks.

 

“You in love with me?” Frank questions, his voice timid in a way Matt has never heard before.

 

Matt had said those words in the kitchen without needing to consider them, as though it were inevitable, as though the feeling had been sitting there, waiting to be acknowledged for a while. He holds himself very still, because he thinks this answer is important to Frank and he doesn’t want to distract them both.

 

“Yeah,” Matt admits quietly. “Yeah, I am.”

 

Frank nods his head, heart drumming rapidly beneath Matt’s hand. He understands. Matt understands. He rocks his body back slowly, the tip of Frank’s cock catching again, slipping over Matt’s entrance before Matt reaches back and holds the other man steady so that he can lower himself down, groaning at the stretch, the sharp bursts of pleasure that accompany it.

 

Frank is holding his breath, body tense, both hands back on Matt’s thighs. He isn’t thrusting up, he’s being as patient as he possibly can be, even as he trembles with his restraint.

 

Matt lowers down slowly, lowers down and then lifts up, easing himself gradually down Frank’s dick, letting his muscles stretch around him. God, it feels good. It’s so good. He bites his lip and sinks the last few inches without hesitation, both of them moaning as he comes to rest against Frank’s abdomen.

 

He thinks they’re going to go slow, but it’s far from that. As soon as he lifts up and lets himself slide down again, as soon as Frank whimpers beneath him Matt knows he needs more. He doesn’t pause, bracing against Frank’s chest for leverage, rising up and grinding down hard. It’s been a long time since he’s been filled up, and he loves the feeling. Frank purrs, hips twitching gently, his head thrown back. Matt leans forward to change the angle, pressing his mouth to Frank’s throat. Frank’s cock slides deep into him, and Matt gasps at the sudden, blinding pleasure as his prostate is rubbed so, so sweetly.

 

“Nngh, Jesus,” Frank rasps, his dick being gripped by Matt’s fluttering muscles. His hands are suddenly hard and rough on Matt’s hips, guiding him back down, up, down until Matt is a moaning wreck. Frank is strong, and he’s pushing himself up to meet Matt’s body, reaching that same spot each time until Matt can hardly focus on anything more through the singing in his veins.

 

“Please, please, please-” Matt doesn’t realise he’s begging at first, doesn’t know what he’s saying until Frank is rumbling softly against his lips. There’s a pause in the rough riding when Frank rolls them over, hands careful and guiding as he pushes Matt into the mattress beneath him. Matt draws his knees up, keeps himself open, and wraps his arms around Frank. Frank thrusts forward, hard, shallow movements that keep him buried deep inside Matt. And Matt is relishing the power and the weight of the other man on top of him.

 

Frank nuzzles at his neck, pressing open mouthed kisses to Matt’s already hot skin. One arm is braced beside Matt’s head, the hand of his other running hungrily up and down Matt’s thigh before sliding between their bodies and wrapping around his cock.

 

“Oh God, Frank,” Matt whines, digging his fingers into Frank’s hair, tipping his head to offer more of his neck to his lover’s mouth. He’s flushed and so on edge, and for all his comments earlier it’s absolutely blissful giving up control to this man. As his muscles tense and clench, Frank’s movements become more stilted, his groans rumbling heavily as he fucks into the increasing tightness. The movements of his hand on Matt are becoming erratic, the scent of his arousal, of his body is heavier.

 

“I’m c-oming,” Matt gasps, crying out loud as his orgasm hits him hard, knocking the breath from him. He feels the heat of it paint his skin, wave after wave washing through him as Frank strokes and continues to bump into his prostate. “Oh God. Oh God, Frank. Frank. I love you. Fuck-” he babbles, close to sobbing as the pleasure doesn’t stop.

 

Frank trembles and lets out a soft gasp against Matt’s neck. His hips buck forward, burying himself deep inside the man beneath him as he lets go. His fingers touch Matt’s hair gently, tiny whimpers still escaping his lips as he rides out his own orgasm, lips fluttering over every bit of skin he can reach.

 

They still, their ragged breathing and rapid pulses the only sound in the room. Matt runs his fingers soothingly up and down Frank’s back, worried that he’s made this too much way too soon. Frank’s body has sunk down on his own, the mess of Matt’s orgasm lost between them. But he likes the closeness. And Frank seems to, too. He’s begun to nuzzle gently at Matt’s jaw, tipping his head so that their lips meet, slow and lazy.

 

Even when they’ve cleaned up and returned to bed (to Matt’s great relief) they cuddle close together. Cuddle . Matt wouldn’t have put Frank down as a cuddler, but then when had he ever thought of Frank post coital? Frank seems to crave physical contact, though, and Matt isn’t really surprised. He understands, and he gives all he can.

 

“Are you going to tell Foggy?” Frank asks softly. “And Karen?”

 

Matt frowns. “I won’t if you don’t want me to,” he says quietly.

 

“Hm,” Frank murmurs. His index finger is gently, lovingly caressing the line of the scar that runs across Matt’s pec.

 

“Unless you’d like me to have something more substantial to tell them?” Matt adds.

 

Frank’s head tips slightly. Matt is sure he’s looking into his eyes.

 

“You wanna go for breakfast in the morning? And maybe dinner, sometime? In a slightly more official capacity-”

 

“You askin’ me on another date?” Frank murmurs. His cheek is resting against Matt’s shoulder, so Matt can feel the little smile.

 

“I am,” Matt replies with earnest. “I’ll even let you be there when I tell them,” he continues, smirking.

 

“Oh, well in that case,” Frank chuckles.

 

“But… but not immediately. I don’t want you, or them, to think this is just some petty… scheme, to get back at them.. It’s not, Frank.”

 

“I know,” Frank replies, his hand moving up to cup Matt’s neck, ghosting their lips together.

“We’ll just keep it between us for a while,” Matt murmurs, leaning into the kiss.