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How Your Heart Pounds Inside Me

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At first, Matt just thinks he hasn’t been getting enough sleep.

Well, no. He knows he hasn’t been getting enough sleep - between trying to keep his tiny law firm afloat and Hell’s Kitchen safe, both practically singlehandedly, there’s never enough time left for the full eight hours Claire keeps recommending. He chalks the exhaustion up to that, logically enough. And the achiness. And the distractibility.

The randomly tracking people’s scents as they pass by is harder to explain. But it’s not until he finds himself absently following a stranger down Eleventh Avenue, half a block behind and totally in the wrong direction from where he intended to go, that he realizes what the problem is.

The man he’s following is an alpha. Matt’s omega hindbrain kicked in without him even noticing and took over, trying to get closer, trying to get noticed. Which means Matt’s going into heat again.

It’s a cliche, but the realization really does feel like a gutpunch. He’s suddenly standing there winded in the street, dragging in a breath of air so harsh it hurts his ears. One hand creeps to his neck, where, hidden beneath his collar, is a long scarred-over bonding mark.

Elektra…

Someone jostles Matt and swears at him, and he startles out of his daze. He’s - shit. He’s gotta get off the street. It’s been so long, his physiology has probably changed, he has no idea how long he has before - shit.

He dictates a text to Karen as he speed-walks home, telling her that he’s not feeling well and won’t be coming back to the office after lunch after all. Even as he sends the text, he’s tempted to go to the office, where his alpha assistant smelled so bright and clean this morning and...no. No, trying to tempt a rut out of his employee and only friend seems like a very straightforward path to disaster.

Instead, he races to his apartment, where he locks himself in and scrambles for the burner, panic making his hands clumsy. Claire. Claire will know what to do.

“Wow, you’ve never called me during daylight hours before,” she says by way of greeting.

“I think I’m going into heat,” he replies.

There’s a long pause. “...Well, there goes any hope that this was a social call.”

“Sorry,” he says, even though she sounds more wry than hurt. “Sorry, sorry, I just...I haven’t. I haven’t done this in...a while.”

He doesn’t explain further. He doesn’t need to. She’s seen him with his shirt off enough times to have noticed the scar, and if he were bonded even a beta like Claire would’ve smelled it on him. She certainly would never have kissed him.

“Okay,” she says, and her voice is very calm, the way it is when she’s stitching him up - her nurse voice. “Are you somewhere secure?”

“Yeah, I’m home and everything’s locked.”

“Good. I’m going to need you to do two things for me. Do you have a thermometer?”

His first aid kit’s already out on the coffee table from patching himself up last night. “Yes. Putting it under my tongue now.”

“Good,” she says again. “Once that’s done, you’re going to drink a glass of water, because you’re probably already dehydrated.” He hums his agreement as he walks into the kitchen to pour his prescribed glass of water. “You’re going to be fine, Matt. We’ll figure out a plan.”

He’s grateful to be excused from saying anything in response with the thermometer under his tongue. A minute later it beeps, then reads out his temperature: “One hundred point three.”

“Right.” Claire makes a frustrated little noise she probably thinks he can’t hear. “This is the sort of thing that differs from omega to omega, but it’s probably going to hit you hard within an hour or so. Do you…” A brief pause. “Do you have anyone you can call?”

He can’t do this to Karen. Claire’s a beta. There’s no one else Matt trusts. “No.”

“All right. I’m going to give you the number of a surrogate service…”

No,” Matt says immediately. He’s not - he’s not hiring a stranger to rut him, that’s out of the question.

“Matt - ”

“Suppressants,” he says. “Aren’t there suppressants I can take, extra strong ones that could - ”

“Come on, did you fail high school health class? You know you can’t start suppressants in the middle of a heat. You need to be on them for weeks before they kick in.”

“Health class isn’t all that thorough when it’s taught by nuns.”

“Matt.”

Matt grits his teeth. He’s starting to sweat, and despite just downing a glass of water, he’s thirsty again. He’s vaguely achey all over, too, like the time he had the flu in college. “Then I’ll ride it out.”

“That’s not a good idea, Matt.”

“I’ve done it before.”

“When? As a teenager, with half-heats?” she asks. Matt’s silent, because she’s right. His heats started when he was sixteen but they were mild, easy to ride out when he was too young to mate properly. Most omegas didn’t reach full heats until they were about twenty, and by then Elektra had already walked into his life and burned it to ashes. “How long has it been since your last proper heat?”

“...Ten years.” Matt’s voice comes out rusty.

He can practically hear Claire doing the math. “So you’ve basically never had a full heat as an adult, plus your body’s had a decade to really build up some serious momentum.”

“I can - ”

Matt. I am telling you this as a medical professional. If you try to ride this out, you run a serious risk of hurting yourself,” she says. “In fact, if you try to ride this out, I will show up at your apartment to monitor you and check you into a hospital myself if I have to.” Her voice is absolutely steady. She’s serious. “Your call, Matt. Surrogate or hospital.”

A hospital would be noises, would be smells, would be invasive touches and multiple people seeing his scars - not the ones from bonding - and maybe putting two and two together. But a surrogate…

He rubs his fingers over his bonding mark. The idea of mating with anyone hurts like the mark is open and bleeding again. But an alpha, an alpha to pin him down and fill him up and make him feel satiated…

His dick twitches at the thought.

“Give me the number,” he says hoarsely, and searches for a pen to write it down, digging deep into the paper so he can feel the numbers later.

“They’re very good,” she says after she’s given it to him. “Organized, professional, totally up to date with all their medical licenses, everything. The doctors I know recommend them all the time.”

“Right.” It’s getting harder to concentrate on Claire’s words. “Thanks, Claire.”

“Promise me you’ll call them, Matt. I want to hear you say the words.”

Matt bites back a sigh. “I promise I’ll call them.”

“Good. I’ll stop by in a couple days, see how you’re feeling, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks.” Matt hangs up and runs his fingers over the number he wrote down. He doesn’t want to call. He doesn’t want any of this to be happening. But he promised, and his fingers are already starting to shake.

He calls.

“Thank you for calling Manhattan Mates, this is Glori, how can I help you?”

“I, um. I’m going into heat.” If Matt wasn’t already flushed, he’s sure he’d be turning bright red with embarrassment. “It was unexpected, and, uh…”

“Would you like to hire a surrogate alpha?” she asks, calm and friendly, like she’s heard this a million times before.

“I. Yes. Yes please.”

“Not a problem, we have a number of service alphas on call. Where are you located, Mr...?”

“Murdock, Matt Murdock, and I’m in Hell’s Kitchen. 466 Tenth Avenue.”

“Do you have a preference for primary gender?”

“Uh, no. No preference.” Most people think male alphas are more, well, alpha, but Elektra…

No. He’s not going to think about her.

“All right, Mr. Murdock, is there anything else I should know before I match you?”

“Oh. Um. I’m blind,” he says. “I’m not sure if that makes a difference, but…”

“Not to our matching process, but I’ll make sure that your alpha brings paperwork in Braille for you. Anything else?”

It takes a moment for Matt to rally his thoughts; he’s too distracted by the phrase “your alpha.” He knows it’s just a careless pronoun, but his alpha, his alpha, someone to take him and mate him and make him feel whole…

“I.” His alpha. “It’s been a while. I need someone, um…” Strong. Big. Powerful. His alpha. “It might be intense.”

“I understand,” Glori says soothingly. “The alpha will arrive within a half an hour, does that work?”

He makes a choked noise in the affirmative. That’s too long. That’s too soon.

“Great. We’ve got your address and phone number on file, so we’ll send you the bill via mail. We advise that you drink a lot of water and try to take some deep breaths while you wait, and put on comfortable clothes if you haven’t already. Please feel free to call back at any time if you have any questions or think of something else I can help you with. Have a safe heat, Mr. Murdock!”

Matt barely remembers to mumble, “Thanks,” but she’s already hanging up.

Half an hour. His alpha - no, the alpha, the surrogate - will be here in half an hour. Matt scrambles to put away his first aid kit and the Daredevil suit that’s lying crumpled on his bedroom floor. He does another quick scan of his apartment; it’s bare and slightly untidy, but at least there’s nothing else incriminating lying out. There’s nothing he can do about his scars, but luckily last night’s injuries are just a few shallow scratches, so his body doesn’t look too alarming. He thinks.

Maybe the alpha won’t notice.

He drinks another glass of water, and then tries to pour a third, but his hand is shaking so badly he needs to put the glass down. He feels very definitely feverish now, hot and sweaty and jittery, too big in his skin. At least he’s got the deep breathing down - he realizes he’s taking huge pulls of air, trying to scent an alpha on the street outside.

Trying to scent Elektra.

She’s not coming, he tells himself firmly, even as his fingers find their way to his bonding scar again. She’s never coming back. You don’t want her to come back.

And he doesn’t - his rational mind knows that, has known it for years. But his body can’t understand why his alpha isn’t there to take care of him.

He tries to distract himself by focusing on the people walking past his building. An old man with a walker; a woman with a jogging stroller and a dog; two teenagers cutting school. A young woman who...he sniffs. No. She’s a beta. A young male beta; a female omega whose scent makes him bare his teeth instinctively, ready to fight her for any alpha who might…

Wait. The male beta is slowing, doubling back as if he’s reading the numbers on the buildings, and...yes, he’s coming up the front steps. He’s probably here to see someone else, though, because…

Matt’s buzzer rings.

He hits the talk button. “Who is it?”

“Is this Matt Murdock?”

Matt’s mouth is dry. “Yes?”

“I believe we have an appointment. Glori sent me…?”

Matt’s grateful the beta hasn’t said why he’s there or the name of his company, not out there on the street. But why is he there? He’s a beta, and Matt needs an alpha, needs one so bad he’s practically clawing at his own skin. “Oh. Uh. Yeah. Yeah, come on up.”

He hits the button to let the beta in, and hears the distant click of the front door unlatching. The beta walks in, pauses in the lobby - probably looking for the nonexistent elevator - and then heads for the stairs.

Matt focuses on him as he walks up the stairs. From his voice, the sound of his breathing, his heart rate and other, less tangible data, he’s pretty sure the beta’s about Matt’s age. A little heavyset and out of shape, judging by how quickly he gets out of breath, but energetic. He smells clean and healthy, at least, but he’s a beta, so why…

Matt tilts his head and takes another, deeper breath. Huh. Now that the man is exerting himself, working up a faint sheen of sweat, his pheromones are coming stronger, and...those are alpha hormones. Weak, pale, but definitely alpha.

Matt frowns. Okay, so he’s an alpha - but if his pheromones were so weak even Matt could barely pick them up, he can’t be much of an alpha. He thought he’d implied - he thought Glori understood that he needs, he needs…

He pushes back the panic that rises in him at the thought that this alpha can’t do it, can’t hold him down and make him feel full, can’t take him the way he needs to be taken. Claire recommended the service. The service wouldn’t have sent this guy if he wasn’t up to the job.

Still, Matt can’t quite bring himself to believe it.

The alpha reaches Matt’s door and knocks. Matt doesn’t have the patience right now to pretend he wasn’t waiting there; he opens it immediately and lets the alpha in.

“Hi,” the alpha says. His voice is light and friendly, but not commanding. Not dominant. Matt swallows and tries not to let his disappointment be too obvious. “I’m Foggy Nelson. Well, Franklin, really, but everyone calls me Foggy. Please tell me you’re Matt Murdock and not just his hot roommate.”

Matt’s glad he’s already too red for a blush to show. “Uh, no. I’m. I’m Matt.”

He steps back and lets the alpha - Franklin - Foggy - in. Foggy immediately turns around and locks all three locks on the door. Matt can’t tell if it’s an alpha’s instinctive territorialness or a New Yorker’s paranoia.

“Nice to meet you, Matt,” Foggy says. He’s got a leather satchel over his shoulder and he rummages in it, then pulls out a few papers. “Here, I brought a Braille copy of my surrogate license so that you can confirm that everything’s aboveboard. Got your contract and liability statement here, too. Unfortunately my photo ID won’t do you much good, but if you want we can...I don’t know, you could call the office and have Glori listen to my voice over speakerphone to prove I’m who I say I am? The office doesn’t really have a good way to do this, I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay, I believe you,” Matt says absently as Foggy hands him the papers and then steps back, several feet out of reach. The omega in Matt is offended and anxious. He’s a young, healthy omega approaching full heat; any unbonded alpha in range should be trying to get closer, not further away. Especially since Foggy just called him hot.

Matt makes himself focus on the papers he's holding instead of trying to lure this terrible alpha closer, skimming them with his free hand. They all seem to be what Foggy claimed they were, in clear but legally airtight language. “This all sounds fine.”

“Great.” Foggy takes off his bag and puts it on a chair, keeping the table between them. “So let’s go over some ground rules, and then you can ask me any questions you have, and then we can get started.” Matt nods. “All right. I’ll be here until your heat breaks, taking care of whatever you need, as many times as you need. Anal’s traditional, but not mandatory, so just let me know if there’s something else you’d prefer.”

Matt grips the back of the chair on his side of the table. Foggy’s not much of an alpha, but anything, anything filling him up, claiming him… “Uh, no. I mean. That’s. That’s fine.”

“Okay. I’m certified negative for all STIs but I’ll still be using a condom every round, that’s non-negotiable. No bonding, of course, and if at any time you need a break or want to stop, just say so and we stop immediately.” He spreads his hands. “Other than that, whatever you need. So, any questions?”

“Uh. I.” There’s only one question, and Matt’s not really sure how to phrase it, so he dances around it instead. “You...don’t seem like a...a typical alpha.”

Foggy actually laughs, big and cheerful and unoffended. “Yeah, I know. My scent, right? You’re not the first to notice.” He shrugs. “Oh - I just shrugged, sorry. But yeah, we all thought I was a beta until I was a freshman in college and living in the dorms. My neighbor went into heat, and bam! Rut. Believe me, I was surprised as anyone else.”

“Oh. That’s…I’ve never heard of that.” Surprise secondary gender presentations weren’t uncommon - everyone had expected Matt to be an alpha like his dad, for example - but they usually stopped being a surprise after puberty.

“Yeah, I’m apparently a medical miracle. I literally produce beta hormones until I’m in a rut and then...ah jeez, look at your face, you’re barely keeping it together. You don’t need to know my life story right now,” Foggy said, startling Matt, who hadn’t realized his need was broadcasting so clearly. “You can call the service if you want, see if they can send someone else, but I promise you I know what I’m doing.”

Matt wishes he could. Foggy seems pleasant enough, but Matt doesn’t need pleasant right now. But there’s no way in hell the omega in him is letting an alpha, any alpha, walk out that door. “No, you’re...I’m sure you’re fine. Or - great, I’m sure you’re great.”

Foggy laughs again. “That is the least convincing compliment I have ever received, I’m impressed. No, no, don’t worry about it, it’s fine,” he says quickly as Matt opens his mouth. “Give me ten minutes. I’m pretty sure you’ll change your mind.”

Something about the way he says it - not bragging or defensive, but cheerfully confident, like he’s assuring Matt that if he checks he’ll find that one and one do in fact make two - sends an unexpected frisson down Matt’s spine. Matt swallows hard and grips the chair tighter. “Okay.”

“Great. Why don’t you go wait for me in the bedroom?”

Matt frowns. “Uh. What do you need to do out here?”

Foggy’s voice is utterly pleasant when he answers: “The faster you go to the bedroom, the faster you’ll find out.”

Matt’s startled anew, but Foggy’s quiet confidence is difficult to argue with. He turns and heads for the bedroom, only to pause uncertainly when he gets there. He’s not sure if Foggy will want him on the bed, or undressed, or just standing there waiting patiently. Part of him wants to get things moving, to be facedown with three fingers in his ass by the time Foggy walks into the room. Part of him wants Foggy to be the one opening him up. Part of him still wants to ask Foggy to leave.

He settles for standing awkwardly next to the bed as he radar senses Foggy moving through the living room and the kitchen. Matt’s finding it hard to concentrate and even Foggy’s faint alpha scent is overwhelming everything else, so it’s hard to pick out exactly what he’s doing - putting something in the fridge and something else on the kitchen counter, checking the locks on the door and windows, tossing his jacket over the arm of the couch.

Matt fidgets and digs his nails into his palms. He can hear his own heart beating, feel his panic building. Foggy’s perfectly nice but he won’t be enough, it won’t be enough, what is Matt going to do…?

Foggy comes into the bedroom and Matt gulps at his scent involuntarily. Alpha. Alpha. His alpha.

“Okay, there’s juice and snacks in the kitchen for later and the apartment is secure,” Foggy says, moving in a wide arc past Matt to put something on the nightstand - lube, Matt thinks, and condoms. “And wow, do you look ready to get started. Are you? Ready, I mean?”

Matt’s been hard for forty minutes now. He’s pouring sweat and his ass has started clenching at nothing, desperate, craving. “Yeah.”

“Great. I’m going to scent you now, okay?” Foggy says, taking a couple steps closer.

Why does Foggy keep asking him questions? Elektra never asked, she just gave Matt what he needed. “Yeah. Do. Do whatever you need to.”

Foggy stops short, still yards away from Matt, and Matt bites back a sob. “Matt,” he says, and his voice is so firm it makes Matt stand up straighter before he realizes he’s doing it. “Let me make this very clear. I am here to service you. Not to hurt you, or have a nice hard rut for my own sake, but to give you what you need. So before I do anything, I’m going to ask if it’s okay with you, and if you don’t give me a clear affirmative, we don’t do it. Do you understand?”

Matt gapes, then nods. Foggy might not smell that much like an alpha, but he certainly sounds like one all of a sudden.

“Let’s try this again: I’m going to scent you now, okay?”

Matt licks his lips. His voice is barely a whisper. “Please.”

Foggy concedes then, and comes closer. One hand reaches out to wrap around Matt’s wrist, and Matt gasps at the contact, even through the cotton of Matt’s sleeve. The other thumbs at Matt’s loosened collar, pulling it away from his neck; his hand doesn’t touch Matt’s skin, but Matt still jumps like he’s been electrocuted.

He knows his bonding scar’s visible now, knows Foggy must be doing the math and figuring out at least some of Matt’s deal, but Foggy doesn’t say anything, and his heart is calm. He just leans in and drags his nose from just behind Matt’s ear, down over his bonding gland to the hollow of his throat, breathing in deep as he goes. Matt moans the second Foggy’s nose touches his skin, and Foggy -

Foggy’s scent changes, grows richer and deeper and stronger and more alpha, thick and musky until no one could mistake him for a beta, enhanced senses or not. Matt can smell Foggy’s arousal suddenly, thickening in the air even as his grip on Matt’s wrist stays gentle.

“Yeah,” Foggy says, and Matt’s knees buckle beneath him for a second at the breathy desire in his voice. “I knew keeping my distance until we were ready was a good idea. Fuck, you’ve got a strong scent.”

“Foggy,” Matt says. He’s horrified to hear how plaintive his voice is, but he needs - he needs. “I...I can’t…”

“I know,” Foggy says, soothing. “I’m gonna take care of you.” The tremble in Matt’s limbs eases slightly. His alpha’s taking care of him. “I’m going to take off your clothes now, okay? You’ll feel better with them off.”

Matt nods, then remembers Foggy’s directions from before and says, “Yes. Please, Foggy, I want you to.”

Good boy,” Foggy says, and Matt practically melts as Foggy starts working on Matt’s tie. He tosses it into the corner, out of the way, and unbuttons Matt’s shirt. “Holy shit, is that a six pack?”

It takes Matt a minute to remember how to speak with Foggy’s fingers brushing his stomach, his shoulders as he yanks the shirt off. “I haven’t counted,” he says finally, a weak attempt at humor, but Foggy’s laugh is an immeasurable reward.

“Take it from me, buddy, you are ripped.” He tosses the shirt after the tie. “Jesus Christ, Matt, you’re gorgeous.”

Matt’s instinctive preening - Foggy likes him, his alpha likes him - is cut off by Foggy reaching for his belt. Even the slight shift of fabric over his dick as Foggy tugs on first the belt buckle and then the fly of Matt’s pants is intense right now, or maybe it’s just the alpha scent flooding Matt’s nostrils, Foggy’s warmth radiating so close to Matt. He tries to step in close before he can stop himself, to rub himself against Foggy’s sweet warmth, but Foggy halts him with a gentle hand at Matt’s throat.

“Hey,” he says, even as Matt bites back a soft whine at the feel of Foggy's hand. “I know you want to be touched. Let me get you all the way undressed, okay? Then you can have all the touching you need.”

Matt nods. “Oh. Okay.” He waits, trembling, as Foggy tugs his pants and boxers down in one go, as he whistles approvingly and helps Matt step out of them and kick them away.

There's one more thing to take off. “Do you want to leave your glasses on?” Foggy asks. “You can, I'm happy either way, but I don't want you to break them or hurt yourself if things get...rambunctious.” His voice sounds like a smile. “They're probably gonna get rambunctious.”

“You can take them off,” Matt says, fists tight as he holds himself back. Normally he'd remove them himself but something about Foggy's steady gentleness makes him want…

Sure enough, the careful way Foggy lifts Matt's glasses from the bridge of his nose - and the almost inaudible sigh he lets out when Matt's totally bare before him - makes Matt feel precious and desired and safe. Foggy folds up the glasses, places them on the bedside table, and opens his arms. “All right, bring it in.”

Matt didn't expect to be hugged by his alpha but he goes willingly, sinking into Foggy's embrace. Foggy is soft and solid, and his arms, as they fold around Matt, are strong, and his scent is dizzying. Matt buries his face in Foggy's neck with a gasp. He can't help rubbing himself against the erection he can feel even through Foggy's clothes. That, he needs that.

“Foggy,” he pleads, embarrassed but unable to stop himself. “Foggy, please.”

“Shhh, I got you,” Foggy says, running a hand down Matt’s spine, and it's only then that Matt realizes Foggy's shaking too. “I got you, I'm here. I'm gonna give you what you need.”

“Fuck me,” Matt says desperately, and is rewarded with an aborted twitch of Foggy's hips. Yes, yes, his alpha wants him -

- but then Foggy's pulling away with an obvious effort and Matt practically sobs, clutching at him desperately. “Jesus,” Foggy says again. “I can't - Matt, let go,” and that's an order from his alpha and Matt's hands unclench from Foggy's shirt even as his whole body shakes like it's trying to get closer with or without Matt's permission.

Foggy drags in a ragged breath. “Good boy. Can you get on the bed for me?”

Matt doesn't want to step back, but - the bed, Foggy wants him on the bed. He scrambles up, positions himself, ass high in the air and cheek pressed to the mattress so he can direct a heavy-lidded gaze in Foggy's general direction. “Like this?” he asks, even as he hears Foggy's heart rate increase. Good. He's not letting this alpha walk out the door. He’ll show Foggy how good he can be, how pretty and pliant.

“Holy shit, Matt, yes, just like that.” Foggy's voice is hoarse. Matt wants that voice to fill him up like blood in his veins. “I'm going to get undressed. Can you hold that exact pose for me?”

“Yes,” Matt says, and he’s almost past shame when a plea follows it out of his mouth. “Yes, I’ll be so good for you, Foggy, only please fuck me.”

He feels a brief surge of triumph when Foggy takes a step towards the bed, swears, and backs off. “Soon, Matt, I...just give me…” He hears Foggy struggle with his clothes, yank his shirt off and throw it on the floor, out of the way. “Oh, shit, sorry, I - I’m behind you, Matt, I just took off my shirt.”

Matt can tell, of course, but Foggy doesn’t know that, and Matt’s pleasantly surprised that his alpha’s thought to narrate. He pushes back towards his heels, stretching his spine like a cat and opening up further for Foggy, a little presentation to show how pleased and eager he is. Foggy makes a choked noise and fumbles with his fly.

“All right, shoes are off, pants are off, everything’s off,” Foggy says hastily, kicking his clothes out of the way. “I put everything in the corner of the room by the window, so you won’t trip over it. Not that I plan on letting you out of that bed for a good long while.”

Matt can’t help the little whine he lets out at that. He doesn’t want to get out of bed, he doesn’t want to go anywhere, not when Foggy’s right there.

Foggy snatches the lube and a condom off the nightstand and scrambles up on the bed behind Matt. Matt’s fingers tighten in the sheets. He’s so close, so close to getting what he needs. “Foggy…”

“I’m here. I’m here. You were so good, Matt.” Foggy’s hands skim up the backs of Matt’s thighs and over the curve of his ass. “So good. God, you’ve got an amazing ass.”

Please.” Matt clenches against nothing, pushes back into Foggy’s touch. He whines at the sound of the lube, and again at the feeling of Foggy’s finger pushing into him - good, but not enough, not nearly. “Just do it, I’m fine, I’m ready, just go!”

“Don’t be stupid,” Foggy says, even though his hands are shaking. “Omegas can take a lot but you are actually mortal, Matt. At least as far as I know. We just met so you could be like a demigod or a demon or a superhero or something, who knows?”

Matt lets out a shaky laugh and presses his face into the sheets. Foggy’s finger is stroking steadily inside him and the gentle tease is almost worse than nothing at all. “Who...who indeed?” He tries to push back against Foggy’s finger, to get him to move faster, and Foggy puts a firm hand on the small of his back to hold him in place. “I’m not delicate just because I’m blind.”

“Oh, I can tell,” Foggy says. “I can see all those rippling back muscles right now, buddy, I’m pretty sure you could bench press me if you wanted. I know you can take anything I want to give you.” He adds more lube and a second finger. “We’re taking it slow anyway.”

Matt keens and arches. He needs it, he needs more, he can smell Foggy’s cock and he wants it. He tries to push back on Foggy’s fingers, hard and fast, but Foggy immediately withdraws them. “Foggy. Foggy, no, please, I’m sorry, I’ll be good.”

Foggy gets an arm around Matt’s middle, hauls him up until his back is pressed against Foggy’s front. He can feel Foggy’s softness, the strength in his arms, the hot breath on his neck - and Foggy’s dick sliding against his tailbone, burning like a brand. He’s big. Of course he is. He’s an alpha.

God, Matt wants that dick inside him.

“Matt,” Foggy says, “listen to me,” and Matt tips his head back against Foggy’s shoulder, bares his neck and pants and tries, he really does. “I said I would take care of you, remember?” Matt nods frantically. Foggy’s breath is coming hot over his bonding scar and it makes it hard to string thoughts together. “That means I don’t let anyone - anyone hurt my omega. Not you, and not me. Do you understand?”

His omega, Foggy’s omega. Matt wants to melt, he wants to catch fire and blaze with the heat of Foggy’s words. He wants to be Foggy’s. “Yes,” he pants, “yes, Foggy, I’m yours, I’ll be so good for you, please Foggy.”

“I know you will,” Foggy says against Matt’s neck and Matt can’t help it, he twitches and pushes back, needing, aching. Foggy’s arm is firm around him; the other hand, sticky with lube, strokes Matt’s inner thigh and makes it tremble. “I can tell. You want to be a good boy for me, don’t you?”

Matt can’t answer, not with words, not even though Foggy said he had to. He’s moaning, helpless, nails digging into his palms so hard it hurts. Foggy kisses his neck - the back of it, the knob of one of his vertebrae, not his scar, which is good because Matt’s not quite sure what he would do if Foggy’s mouth actually touched him there - and then gently guides him back down to the mattress. Matt splays out, trying to catch his breath, spine curved towards Foggy, towards everything he needs.

Look at you,” Foggy says, and then Matt hears the lube again, and then there’s three fingers inside him and it’s almost, almost enough and he’s dripping tears onto the sheets.

“Shhh, almost there,” Foggy says, stroking Matt’s spine with his free hand, twisting and pumping his fingers inside Matt. He’s shaking and radiating heat like a furnace and his rut must be nearly as bad as Matt’s heat, but he’s thorough, careful, for Matt. For his omega. “We’re almost there. You’re doing so well.”

“Please,” Matt sobs. “Foggy, Foggy, I need it.”

“I know, buddy. I’m gonna give it to you, I promise. I promise you, Matt. You just have to be a little more patient. Just a little longer.”

Matt lets out a choked noise but stays, waiting. His alpha promised him; his alpha wouldn’t lie to him.

Finally - finally - Foggy pulls his fingers out, and it’s wonderful because that means his cock is next, but terrible because Matt’s left empty and aching. He arches his spine, pushes back even as Foggy’s shaking hands fumble with the condom. “I’m. I’m putting the condom on,” Foggy says for Matt’s benefit, and Matt’s body sings with triumph at the stammer because Foggy wants him, his alpha wants him so bad he can barely speak.

There’s the faint smell of latex under the overwhelming scent of alpha and Matt wrinkles his nose because he doesn’t want that, he just wants Foggy, but he’s not going to complain. He’s going to be good. He waits, and he waits, and he waits until it feels like forever’s gone by but it’s probably been less than a minute - and then the scent of more lube, and a catch in Foggy’s breath, and Foggy’s hand on his hip, and: “Don’t move.”

Matt doesn’t move, but he talks - begs, really, as Foggy slowly, slowly fills him. “Please, please, more, Foggy, I need you, I need all of you, please fuck me, I need your cock, Foggy, Foggy, I’m so empty, please.”

And then - then Foggy’s finally seated, flush against him and it’s like Matt’s been smothered and can finally breathe again, like a vise has been taken off of his lungs. He’s full, he’s taken, he’s not going to be alone through this heat. His alpha is here.

Foggy shudders and leans forward to press his forehead between Matt’s shoulder blades. He feels good like that, blanketing Matt, heavy and warm. “God,” he says. “God.”

Matt shifts experimentally and feels Foggy jerk against him. He’s tense, every muscle held taut with the effort of holding back, for Matt. To be good to Matt. Matt knows it’s mostly the flood of chemicals to his brain but he adores Foggy for it.

Please,” Matt says again. It’s all he can manage.

And Foggy keeps his promise.

He braces his hands on Matt’s hips, drags in a breath, and fucks him. Hard and deep and steady, just like Matt’s been needing, just like Matt’s been aching for for hours now. Years, now. Matt pants open-mouthed against the sheets, letting out little ah ah ahs as Foggy fucks into him, and Foggy’s hands are strong and his cock is huge inside of Matt and if his mouth is nowhere near Matt’s throat, Matt almost doesn’t care.

“Yeah,” Foggy gasps. “You're so good, Matt, you're doing such a good job, so sweet for me.”

Matt's anything but sweet but if his alpha wants to call him that he won't argue. In fact, it makes him feel filled with sunshine, the way he remembers it looking, bright and clear and warm. Foggy called him sweet and he wants to be, he wants to be for Foggy.

It doesn't last long, for all Matt's anticipation. Matt comes first, untouched, shuddering under Foggy, and Foggy lets out a surprised little groan. It does very little to bank the fire inside of Matt; the omega in him is here not to come but to mate, and that urge won't be satisfied until…

“Matt, fuck, Matt,” Foggy stammers a minute later, and Matt feels Foggy's hands clench on his hips and the condom start to fill. Foggy comes and comes, dick twitching inside Matt in a futile effort to breed him, and each jerk of his cock sends another little wave of satisfaction through Matt, spreading through him until he feels heavy and pliant and good, all the way to his fingertips. He breathes in deep and fills his lungs with sated alpha. Finally.

Foggy stays there for a few minutes after he comes, which is fine. Normally Matt would be stiff and uncomfortable after so long in this position, but he's high on endorphins and feeling no pain. Foggy can stay inside him as long as he wants.

But eventually, of course, Foggy pulls out with a quiet groan. He ties off the condom, tosses it into the wastebasket, and then tugs Matt down to spoon up against him, rolling them out of the way of the wet spot. His arms wrap around Matt, stroking Matt's biceps and chest. “How’re you feeling?” he asks, a little hoarse.

“Good,” Matt answers honestly. The yawning hunger inside him is far from satiated, but the edge has been taken off for the moment. It helps that he can feel that Foggy's still hard where he's pressed up against Matt, and knows he'll stay that way until Matt's heat is over. When Matt needs him again, Foggy will be ready.

“Great,” Foggy says, and it should be a platitude but Matt can hear his earnestness. “You did so well for me, Matt.” He lets out a shaky breath that ruffles the short hairs at the back of Matt's neck. “Fuck, that was intense.”

Matt wants to ask if it was more intense than other ruts Foggy’s had, if Matt was better, the best. He wants to roll over and kiss Foggy. He wants to bare his throat to Foggy's teeth.

But he knows it's just hormones, so he settles for snuggling - there's no other word for it, really - back up against Foggy, smiling when Foggy gasps at the press of Matt's ass against his dick. “Seems like you like intense.”

Foggy touches his mouth to the back of Matt’s neck, not quite a kiss, and Matt can feel his smile. “Seems like I do.” He strokes a hand down Matt’s arm. “So I have a question.”

Matt tenses. The scars? One particular scar? “Yeah?”

“Are these sheets silk? Because they feel amazing.”

“Oh.” Matt hopes his relief isn’t too obvious. “Uh, yeah. I, um, I have sensitive skin? Cotton tends to...to itch.”

“Sensitive skin, hmm?” Foggy says, and even though his mouth isn’t touching Matt, Matt can tell he’s still smiling. “So I should be gentle with you next time, is what you’re saying.”

“Don’t you dare,” Matt says, and grins when Foggy laughs. He grinds back, and grins harder at drawing another gasp from Foggy, another twitch of Foggy’s cock against him. He’s starting to feel it again, the neediness, the urgency. He’d forgotten how short the respite periods were in the beginning of a heat.

“What do you mean? You couldn’t possibly be saying you want it rough,” Foggy teases. “That you want me to hold you down and make you take it. I wasn’t getting that impression at all.”

Matt shifts against him again. That’s...yeah, he likes that idea. “And here I thought I was expressing myself so well.”

“That depends,” Foggy says. “What's the exact translation of…” He makes a noise like an amorous cow with a headcold, and Matt starts laughing.

“It's hard to translate the exact idioms,” he says, “but it's something like: if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, sir, please pin me to the mattress with that big alpha dick.”

Foggy cracks up and Matt beams, triumphant. He made his alpha laugh. “How polite.”

“Well, we just met.” Matt shifts again. The ache’s getting worse.

Foggy noses along the side of his throat. It's the opposite side from his bonding gland but it still makes Matt shiver. “Seems like you might be ready to get to know each other a little better.”

Matt swallows and nods. He'd forgotten what it was like, to have other people be able to read his scent as well as he can usually read theirs. Anyone can tell an alpha from a beta from an omega, can sniff out a heat or a rut, but usually only Matt can pick out other things: adrenaline, fear, non-heat-triggered arousal. But during his heats, Elektra always knew -

No. He doesn't want to think about Elektra right now.

Instead, he lets Foggy roll him onto his back. “Is this okay?” Foggy asks, settling between his knees. “It's just, it seems like a shame not to look at someone as hot as you. Though the back view is nice too, don't get me wrong.”

Matt blushes and nods and then remembers Foggy's rule from before. “This is…you can. I don't mind.” He's afraid that sounds wishy-washy so he hooks an ankle around Foggy's thigh to keep him there. “I like it like this.”

Foggy’s scent gets a little richer. Matt tries not to gulp it down too obviously. “Good,” Foggy says. “I like it too.”

He uses his fingers again first, but it hasn’t been long, and three slide in easily, making Matt gasp and arch. Foggy’s dick follows after a bit more lube and a fresh condom, and Matt crosses his ankles at the small of Foggy’s back and urges him on.

It’s a little less frantic than the first time, but only a little. Matt still begs and pleads, coaxing Foggy like he’s afraid Foggy will pull out and walk away halfway through. Not that Foggy gives any indication that that’s his plan - he pets Matt’s hips and thighs as he fucks him, tells him how good he is and how well he’s doing, and something bright and satisfied blooms in Matt’s chest with every word of praise.

He knows it’s the hormones making it mean so much to him. But still.

When they’ve both come for the second time, Foggy cleans them up and fetches part of the snack he stashed in the kitchen. Matt’s mildly concerned that it’ll be the awful chemical-tasting nutritional supplement bars marketed specifically for heats, but it’s just juice and almonds and round little cheeses. He feels a little silly, drinking a tiny cardboard box of apple juice in bed, but it’s cold and refreshing, and he does need to keep his blood sugar up.

They fuck again, after, and Matt dozes on Foggy’s chest until the need to be filled again wakes him. He loses track after that, as the heat of the sun tracks across the sky and the chill of night fills in the spaces that aren’t warmed by Foggy’s body - eating, napping, sprawled on his stomach or with his legs spread and begging for it every time.

Foggy’s always there, a firm and steady presence. Matt remembers his younger heats as frenzied and just this side of violent, like sparring but less controlled. Elektra was always wild, but in rut she was a force of nature, meeting Matt’s hunger with an answering hunger of her own. Even when the alpha in Foggy’s pheromones coats Matt’s tongue and soaks into his pores, even when he’s inside Matt and close, there’s something grounding about him, something unshakeable, like he’s set himself the task of taking care of Matt, and he’s not going to let something as flimsy as biological urges stand in the way of that.

Elektra was always caught up in the hurricane with Matt, another gale-force wind ripping the landscape apart. Foggy is the eye of the storm.

As Matt’s heat wears on the respite periods grow longer, and he and Foggy talk - about books, about politics, about the way Hell’s Kitchen’s been changing in recent years. Matt props himself halfway up on the pillows to eat one of those little cheeses and taps his foot against Foggy’s calf, where Foggy’s sitting cross-legged across from him. “So how does one get into the surrogate business?” he asks.

Foggy gives an amused little snort. “You interested?”

Matt laughs and doesn’t bother to deny it, since he knows Foggy’s not seriously asking. Being a surrogate alpha might not be something to chat about over Sunday dinner with the family, but it’s a reasonably respectable occupation. After all, omegas are going to have heats, and not every omega has an alpha they trust to step in and take care of them. But since ruts are only triggered by proximity to heats - or illegal drugs - “surrogate omega” is more of a euphemistic term for a prostitute than anything else. There’s an occasional need for an omega to step in if a rut’s been accidentally triggered, but it’s so rare that most surrogate agencies don’t have any omegas on call.

Foggy shrugs, and Matt hears the shuff of his hair against his shoulders. Foggy has long hair for a man, long enough that the tips tickle Matt’s skin when Foggy’s leaning in close to fuck him. Matt likes it. “Oh, sorry, I just shrugged. Anyway, I dunno, I just kind of fell into it? My family’s been having some financial issues. My dad used to own - you know Nelson’s Hardware, that used to be on 51st?” Matt nods. “Right, so...my dad was thinking about retiring in a few years, but then he got cancer.”

“Oh no. Foggy, I’m so sorry.”

“No, no, it’s okay - I mean, no, obviously it’s not okay, but he’s in remission now and it’s...things are looking up,” Foggy says, with only the tiniest waver in his voice, one maybe no one but Matt could hear. “But he wound up having to retire earlier than he’d planned, so that he could concentrate on his treatment, and the store didn’t sell as well as we’d hoped, and his dumb old son - I’m indicating myself with my thumb, by the way - managed to load the whole family down with seven years of student loan debt…”

He shrugs again and pushes his tone into breezy. “Anyway, a couple years ago, when it was really bad, I ran into an old...well, I guess you could say ex. We never really dated, back in college, but he was an omega, the kind that doesn’t believe in suppressants, you know? He always said he didn’t want to introduce those kinds of chemicals to his body, which was pretty rich for someone who was stoned one hundred percent of the time. I helped him out a few times during his heats when he wasn’t seeing anyone seriously.”

Matt nods, and bites back the urge to curl his lip at this story of a rival omega. It’s not like Foggy’s his.

“And hey, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it. I mean, God bless the male heat, right? It’s like the male nipple: no reproductive purpose whatsoever, but lots of fun if you know what to do with it.” Foggy tosses a handful of almonds into his mouth as Matt laughs. “So this guy and I, we got to talking about my family’s money situation - I don’t know, we were drinking and it got deep, and he suggested I try being a surrogate for a little while. Said I was good at, you know, just doing what needed to be done and moving on. Not getting possessive and weird.”

“Probably a necessary skill in your line of work,” says Matt, knowing full well how possessive and weird he himself is. Especially since the idea of Foggy forgetting all about him once he’s out of rut makes him want to punch something.

“I guess,” Foggy says. “I mean, yes, it is. But sometimes I wonder...I mean, I’ve never had a rut with anyone I was actually involved with. All the omegas I’ve actually dated have been on suppressants, and my most serious relationship was with another alpha, which...well, Marci’s another story entirely. But. I don’t know.” Another shrug. “It’d be nice to know what it’s like. Although, whoops, shit…” And now he sounds embarrassed. “Now I’m the one making it weird, sorry.”

“No, it’s…I get it. You’re fine,” Matt assures him, even as his omega hindbrain crows in triumph that this alpha is still unbonded, that Matt can win him if he’s just good and eager and sweet enough. He’s not looking for a bond, and for good reason. “I’ve only...you’re only the second alpha I’ve been with.” He stuck to betas and other omegas, after Elektra. “And we bonded during the first heat I had after we met. So I don’t know if the differences are just differences between you and her, or differences between someone you’re bonded with and someone you don’t...who you only just…”

Foggy laughs. “It’s okay. I’m not offended by you pointing out that we just met a few hours ago.” His voice gets softer. “And, uh. You don’t have to talk about her if you don’t want to.”

“No,” Matt says. “No, it’s fine. She was...we were…” He swallows. “It was intense. I loved her, and I know she loved me, but...what we wanted, what we believed…we weren’t on the same page. At all. And...” He rubs his thumb against his fingertips, a nervous tic. “Love isn’t enough, for a bond. You have to be ready to spend the rest of your life with someone, because if you’re not...if you break that bond, it’s…” It was like chemical withdrawal, night sweats and panic attacks, the ache like a physical hand around his throat. “And I don’t know how I could go through a heat with someone I loved and not bond. It’s too tempting, even when…”

Even when they’d just met a few hours ago.

“I think you’ll find someone,” he finishes, and tries to look towards Foggy. “I do. But it’s worth waiting to be sure. And in the meantime…” He shrugs one shoulder. “Selfishly, I’m really glad you’re here with me right now.”

Foggy’s hand wraps around Matt’s bare foot and squeezes. “Selfishly, I’m really glad I’m here with you too,” he says, voice soft. And when Matt reaches down for the hand that’s touching him and pulls Foggy close, Foggy comes easily.

They don’t kiss. Matt’s just smart enough not to let himself fall into that trap.

By late morning on the second day, Matt’s respite periods are a few hours apart, long enough to let them catnap properly in between, for Foggy to brew a pot of coffee that they sip quietly, side by side in bed. He coaxes Matt into the shower and fucks him lazily against the wall, the patter of water on their skin an entrancing song to Matt’s scattered, tired senses. Then he bundles Matt up in soft towels and puts him on the couch to wait while he swaps out the sheets on the bed for clean ones.

“I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but if my nose can be trusted, I think that round in the shower might’ve been the last one,” Foggy says as Matt sinks down into the gloriously fresh sheets. Matt yawns in response, and Foggy chuckles and scratches a hand through Matt’s hair. It feels incredible. “You do make that bed look tempting. We’ll give it an hour and see if your hormones drop, okay?”

Matt just pushes the sheets down on Foggy’s side of the bed and pats the mattress. Foggy laughs again and climbs in behind him, draping an arm over Matt’s side. “Okay, Mr. Sleepy Omega, I get the picture. More sleep, less talk. I’m on board.”

Matt snuggles back against him. Foggy’s warm, and now that his scent has been wrapped around every part of Matt it’s comfortingly familiar, even though the alpha pheromones are starting to fade back to his beta mask. “More than an hour,” he mumbles. “We’ve earned a nap.”

“Yeah, we have.” Foggy nuzzles the back of Matt’s neck. It’s not quite the kiss Matt wants. “But I’m just here for the heat, remember? Just to make sure you’re okay.”

Matt nods, but he’s already more than half asleep, and he’s not really listening. Foggy’s here. That’s all that matters.

He’s not sure how much later it is that Foggy wakes him by brushing his hair off his forehead. “Matt. Hey, Matt.” His voice is very soft. Matt smiles up at it. “Goddamn are you cute. Anyway, Matt, listen, your heat’s over so I’m gonna head out, okay? I left the rest of the snacks in the fridge and there’s water on the nightstand, but you should have a real dinner. I want you to get some more sleep and then order something really filling for dinner, can you do that for me?” Matt gives him a sleepy nod. “Good boy.”

He starts to draw away, and Matt reaches out and catches his wrist. “Stay,” he mumbles.

“Ah, jeez, Matt, I want to, I really do,” Foggy says. “But I can’t. You’re all taken care of, so my job is done.”

Matt frowns. He’s not taken care of, not at all. An alpha’s not just supposed to be there for the heat; they’re supposed to stay with their omega forever, to build them a home and keep them warm and safe. Matt’s already had one alpha leave him. He doesn’t want to listen to another one walk out the door.

“Hey,” Foggy says, and bends down to kiss Matt’s temple. Matt’s frown eases. “Trust me, tomorrow morning you’ll be glad I’m not hanging around like a kid with a crush. And if you decide not to go on suppressants after this, you can definitely call me for your next heat.” His hand scrubs through Matt’s hair again, and Matt closes his eyes. “Get some rest, Matt.”

Matt wants to argue, but his body’s exhausted, and Foggy’s hand in his hair feels so good. He’s asleep again before Foggy makes it out of the bedroom.

When he wakes up again, it’s mid-afternoon, and he can tell immediately that Foggy’s gone. He’s sore but in a brisk, satisfied way, and as he makes his creaky way around the apartment it’s clear that Foggy cleaned up before he left - threw the dirty sheets in the hamper, straightened up the living room and bedroom. He even took out the trash, which is good because it was mostly condoms and the scent probably would’ve done a number on Matt.

Matt pulls on a pair of sweats and sits on the couch finishing up the last of the juice and cheeses. He feels...better than he would have expected. Clean, like sweating out a fever. Foggy was nothing like he expected, but he turned out to be exactly what Matt needed all the same. Even thinking of Elektra, and her absence, doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

Part of him, he has to admit, wishes Foggy was still here. It was...nice, to be around another person like that, to be intimate in a way he hasn’t been even with his occasional sexual partners.

But he has work to do, and the city won’t keep. He doesn’t have time for an alpha. Besides, he and Foggy will likely never see each other again. Best to let it go.

It takes a long time for him to stop smelling Foggy on his skin, though.