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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.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later Matt’s still catching phantom wisps of Foggy’s scent when he turns his head. He’s almost positive they’re not really there, not after two weeks of showering, of changing clothes, of going out in his Daredevil suit and sweating out his anger. It’s psychosomatic, something triggered by his omega hindbrain rather than his olfactory sense. He’s already started suppressants, though, and he’s confident the phantom scents will vanish completely once the suppressants are working at full strength.

He catches one as he follows Karen through the glass doors of the building downtown into a lobby that echoes cavernously around them, all smooth shimmering surfaces for sound to bounce freely off of. “It looks like a place in a movie where you’d buy a clone,” she says, her voice simultaneously amused and impressed. “Or a robot baby. Or a clone of a robot baby.”

“Which is exactly why I started my own firm after law school,” Matt says. “No robot baby clones for me.”

She laughs and gives their names at the front desk. An assistant leads them into an elevator and up - Matt doesn’t catch the floor number, but from the pressure in his ears and the speed of the car it must be pretty high.

“Your meeting room is just down here, Mr. Murdock, Ms. Page,” the assistant says, leading them down the hall. Matt catches another whiff of Foggy and tries to exhale firmly but discreetly through his nose to clear it away. He doesn’t have time for this now.

The assistant opens the door to their meeting room. Matt takes a breath and his heart plunges to his knees. Not phantom smells, then. Not phantom at all.

“Mr. Murdock, this is Franklin Nelson and Marci Stahl,” the assistant says. “They’ll be representing Mr. Tully in this matter. Can I get you something to drink?”

Matt swallows hard. His mouth is certainly dry, but he’s not sure he can speak. That’s Foggy - it’s definitely Foggy standing on the other side of the conference table, all mild beta scent and familiar shampoo and a heartbeat that’s starting to race. He definitely recognizes Matt - aside from the heartbeat, Matt catches a hint of sweat beginning to form on his upper lip and his palms.

“Matt?” Karen asks, sounding concerned. How long has it been since the assistant asked Matt a question? Has he just been standing here gaping? He feels hot - is he blushing?

“I,” he says. It comes out rusty. “Sorry. Yes. Water would be lovely.”

What is Foggy doing here? He’s a surrogate, not a lawyer. Sure, a surrogate can be a part-time job - is, for most surrogates, since they can’t necessarily count on a sufficient amount of omegas needing alphas in any given month - but if Foggy’s a lawyer, and at a place like this no less, he should be making more than enough money to live on. Though he did say his family was having financial troubles…

Matt lets Karen lead him to a chair and gratefully accepts the glass of water the assistant hands him. “Sorry about that,” he says. There’s only the faintest quaver in his voice. “Just a little dust in my throat. Shall we begin?”

“Of course,” the female lawyer says, and there’s a scrape of chairs as everyone else sits. “Franklin, do you want to start…?”

“Oh! Right. Yes. Right. I’ll just…” There’s a rustle of papers. Foggy’s fumbling with them, jumpy and nervous. Is it just because he’s afraid Matt will reveal his side job to his coworkers, or is he as shaken by being in the same room as Matt as Matt is by being so close to him?

“Right. Your client, a Mrs. Elena Cardenas, claims that our client, Mr. Tully, is trying to force her out of her apartment. However, Mr. Tully offered Mrs. Cardenas a sizeable payout to vacate her apartment, far more than the monthly rent, and - ”

“And she turned it down,” Matt says, trying to wrest control of this situation back. “At which point Mr. Tully sent men who damaged her apartment, and others, in an attempt to drive her and her neighbors out of the building.”

“Those were workmen making requested repairs,” Foggy says - but his heart skips. Not quite enough of a jump for Matt to be sure it’s a lie, but a definite flutter. So Foggy doesn’t actually believe Tully’s bullshit. Interesting.

Matt forces down an idiotic moment of disappointment that the sweet, steady alpha he spent a heat with apparently has no professional ethics to speak of. He has no claim on Foggy, moral or otherwise.

“Repairs which were never completed,” Matt points out.

The female attorney jumps in with something about the workmen fearing for their safety, but the minute she starts talking again Matt stops listening, stuck on a memory. Marci, the assistant said her name was Marci, and hadn't Foggy said he had an alpha ex by that name? This woman’s an alpha, Matt can smell it. She must be the ex in question.

“Mr. Murdock?” she says, apparently noticing him spacing out, and he actually growls at her before he can stop himself. Shit.

“Matt!” Foggy says sharply, his tone all warning alpha. Matt bares his throat immediately, an apology, before fighting the instinct and forcing his chin down. Shit, shit, shit. Apparently the omega in him wants to submit to Foggy as badly as it wants to fight off any competitors, even alpha competitors.

Not that Foggy has the right to order him, not when they’re not bonded. He glares in Foggy’s direction, even as his hindbrain screams at him to be good, dammit, or he’ll never get those teeth in his neck.

Marci’s turning her head back and forth between them. “Do you...know each other?” she asks, and Matt’s stomach sinks as he realizes what they’ve just given away. Even setting aside the possessive behavior, opposing counsel who’d just met him wouldn’t be likely to call him by a nickname. Plus, Matt’s definitely bright red by now, and he’s pretty sure Foggy is, too.

“Uh,” Foggy says.

“Oh my God,” Marci says.

“Matt?” Karen’s hand lands on his forearm, gentle and too hot. “What’s going on?”

There’s too many alphas in this room. Matt can’t breathe. “I need...restroom,” he says. “Not feeling well.”

He lurches to his feet, barely remembering to use his cane as he makes for the door they came in by. “Second door on your right!” Marci calls after him, and then hisses in a whisper that Karen probably can’t hear, but Matt can even from out in the hall, “I can’t believe you fucked the opposing counsel, Foggy.”

“I didn’t...that’s not exactly…” Matt slips into the bathroom, but he can still hear Foggy sigh and stand up. “I’m just going to make sure he found the bathroom okay. Jane, can you please get Ms. Page some fresh coffee?”

Matt braces himself against a sink and waits. The porcelain is cool and soothing under his hands. He’d be able to hear Foggy’s footsteps coming closer even with normal senses.

The door swings open. “Hi,” Foggy says.

Matt doesn’t turn. His embarrassment is turning to something hot and indignant under his skin, the kind of heat that sends him into the streets at night in a mask. “You never said you were a lawyer.”

“I didn’t see how it was relevant.” Foggy takes a step closer. “I kind of had other things on my mind.”

“Why would you be working as a surrogate when you’re making the kind of salary a place like this pays?” Matt asks, releasing his death grip on the sink to wave a hand at their surroundings. True, they’re in a bathroom, but it’s a pretty nice bathroom.

“Not sure why you think that’s your business,” Foggy says - steady, not a hint of anger in his tone. It just makes Matt want to needle him more.

“It’s less the occupation and more the firm,” Matt says, finally turning to face him. “I try to avoid sleeping with sharks.”

“What - ”

“You know perfectly well what Tully’s trying to do to Mrs. Cardenas. You can fuck me or you can fuck my clients, not both.”

Hey.” Most alphas would be in Matt’s space by now, looming over him - or trying to, Foggy’s almost exactly his height - and breathing their scent down on him, trying to get him to back off. Matt’s never been the kind of omega that works on. He kind of wishes Foggy would try it anyway.

But no, Foggy keeps his distance, though his voice is brittle and cold. “You hired me to perform a service and I did. You have a problem with my freelance job? Then don’t use that kind of agency again. You have a problem with this job? Then we’ll have it out in that conference room, where you will treat me and my colleague with respect. Anything else, and I’d be happy to find someone to show you and your assistant out.”

Matt takes a deep breath and unclenches his fists. Foggy’s not going to give him the kind of fight he wants - which is probably for the best, really. Matt doing something dumb to shake off his own embarrassment won’t help Mrs. Cardenas. “I apologize for insulting you,” he grits out. “And you’re right. Your financial matters are none of my business.”

“Thank you. Apology accepted.”

“But I am right about Tully.”

Foggy takes a step back. “I can’t have this conversation with you, Matt. Not here.”

“Come on.” Matt’s banking on the guilty flinch in Foggy’s heartbeat when he defended the workmen who tore up Mrs. Cardenas’s apartment, and the hope that Foggy’s heat-sweetness carries through to Franklin Nelson, Attorney-at-Law. “He’s strong-arming a little old lady out of her home to turn a profit, and you know it.”

Foggy’s silent for half a minute; then he sighs and leans against the wall. “I know,” he says. “She and my mom have a mutual friend. The Hell’s Kitchen coffee klatch, you know?” Matt nods - he does know, actually. Half of them go to his church and are forever trying to set him up with their alpha kids. “Anyway, my mom actually asked me if Mrs. Cardenas could come to me for some legal advice, but when I realized we represented the reason she needed the advice in the first place…”

He straightens up. “Look, you and I both know that Tully has a lot more weight to throw around than Mrs. Cardenas does. He can drag this case out indefinitely, and in the meantime she’s living in a trashed apartment. But...no one high up is looking all that closely at this case. I can at least make a lot of noise about Mrs. Cardenas possibly going to the media, and get those repairs made sooner while we work out the rest of the settlement.”

“You won’t get in trouble for that?” Matt asks, surprised.

Foggy shrugs. “Like I said, no one’s looking too closely at this case. And I can handle a little yelling, if it comes to that, and if it means a little old lady has running water and a working stove.”

His heart is steady, but Matt’s wary, after the unpleasant shock of finding Foggy here in the first place. “If this is...some kind of bribe or something, no deal. I’m not going to encourage Mrs. Cardenas to sell if she doesn’t want to, just because…”

“It’s not a bribe,” Foggy interrupts, sounding halfway between amused and annoyed. “I’m just trying to do the decent thing here. That happens sometimes, even with us sharks.”

Matt bites his lip. He wants to apologize. He wants to pick a fight. He wants to ask if Foggy thinks about the heat they shared as often as he does.

“...Thank you,” he says finally.

“I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for her,” Foggy says. “As far as I’m concerned, what happened between us...it doesn’t have anything to do with this, okay? It’s over. It has to be over now, or one of us is gonna have to recuse himself.”

Matt closes his eyes behind his glasses and remembers a gentle kiss on his forehead. You can definitely call me for your next heat. Not that Matt’s going to have another one, not on suppressants, but it felt good to know that someday, maybe…

But no, Foggy’s right. They can’t oppose each other in court and still keep the option open for…

For nothing, Matt reminds himself. Foggy was just doing his job.

“Don’t worry,” he says, not quite managing to keep the sarcasm out of his tone. “I’m not the clingy kind of omega.”

“Good, because I’m not the possessive kind of alpha,” Foggy replies, equally sarcastic, and Matt bites back his snarl that yes, Foggy’s proven that already. “So we’re good?”

Matt straightens up and taps his cane on the ground. “Somewhat. I’m still gonna make Armin Tully sorry he ever fucked with my client.”

Foggy’s laugh is a surprise - and an unpleasant one, because it brings a wave of stupid, useless wanting with it. “God, I hope you do. I hate that guy,” he says, and opens the bathroom door. “After you, Mr. Murdock.”

*

The world lurches beneath Matt’s feet. Everything tastes like river water and blood, and he can’t get his bearings. He knows he needs to get to Claire, or get home and call her, or the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is going to bleed out in the street, but he can’t even begin to guess which direction home is.

Looks like Fisk might have managed to kill him after all.

He staggers to the nearest wall and props himself up against it, trying to shake the foul Hudson water out of his nose and ears so that he can figure out where he is. But then there are no familiar scents, nothing to place him, nothing like home…

Wait.

There, threading warm and homey through the miasma of New York City’s night air. He knows that scent. He needs that scent. It’s safety and security and a roaring fire on a winter’s night. He’ll be okay once he reaches it. He just needs to get there.

He follows it through the streets, away from the water. By the time he’s fighting his way up the fire escape, he has a name for it: alpha. His alpha. Foggy.

Foggy lives on...Matt’s lost count. The fifth floor, or maybe the sixth, but he’s here. The window’s open a crack and Matt can slide his fingers under it and push it up, up, open. There’s a reason he shouldn’t be here, a reason his alpha can’t be his alpha, not really, but he can’t remember it right now, and anyway it doesn’t matter. He’s hurting. His alpha will make it better. That’s what alphas do.

He crawls through the open window, slips, falls to the floor with a thud. A heart starts to race in the next room.

“Hello?” Foggy. “Is someone there?”

Matt wants to tell him it’s okay, it’s just him, but his mouth won’t cooperate. He’s trying to push himself into a seated position when Foggy walks in, holding something - a baseball bat, maybe?

“Holy shit!” Foggy says, holding the bat at the ready. “Holy shit, you’re the - you - what the fuck are you doing in my apartment?”

“Foggy,” Matt manages.

Foggy’s heart gets even faster, somehow. “How do you know my name?

It doesn’t make any sense until Matt remembers his mask. “It...I’m…” he says, and tries to reach up to pluck at it, but the world is swimming and even the sound of his alpha’s heartbeat is fading and he can’t...quite…

*

Matt wakes in a bed that feels unfamiliar but smells like home. Everything hurts.

“Where…?” he manages to groan, trying to sit up. His stomach screams a warning and he freezes, reaches down to feel a large bandage taped to his skin. When he starts to peel it back the scent of blood fills the air.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a familiar voice says, walking into the bedroom.

It’s the alpha lawyer. Foggy Nelson.

Oh, fuck.

“What happened?” he croaks, and Foggy steps forward and feeds him - oh God, it’s another one of those little juice boxes. Matt would blush if he hadn’t lost so much blood.

“Hell if I know,” Foggy says. He's got that brittle tone in his voice again. “I was just trying to make ends meet, and this omega I serviced once turned out to be my opponent on a case at my day job, and then he also turned out to be the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Who else are you secretly, Matt? My dentist? The mayor? My second grade teacher?”

Matt pokes at his bandage again and winces. “You patched me up?”

Foggy shakes his head. “No. That was your nurse friend.”

“Claire?” That doesn't make any sense, how would Foggy even know Claire…

“You had me call her after you took a swing at me for trying to call 911.”

Matt’s stomach roils. He attacked his alpha - no. Not his alpha. Besides, it's bad enough that he apparently tried to hit an innocent civilian. Still, he can't deny that his dismay over that is mingled with the sickening wrongness of offering violence to someone who could have been his bonded mate.

But isn't, he reminds himself. Isn't.

“I'm sorry,” he manages.

“For which part?” Foggy asks. “Giving me a heart attack when you crawled in my window last night half dead? Implicating me in whatever criminal activity you've got going on? Or blowing up the city and sending me to the hospital?”

“What?” Matt breathes, punched-out.

“Yeah, asshole, I live in Hell’s Kitchen too, remember? Those bombs took out my parents’ kitchen window, they pulled three inches of glass out of my side at Metro-Gen.”

Matt's stomach rebels harder. It must show, because Foggy says, “Wait, whoa,” and grabs for something - a bucket, a bowl, Matt can't tell, but he's heaving into it, the juice he just drank and river water and bile until he's dry heaving and Foggy's rubbing the back of his neck and saying, “Shh, shh, you're okay.”

“I didn't...it wasn't me,” Matt says. His throat burns. “I would never.”

Foggy gives him water to rinse and spit with and then takes the bucket away. Matt's grateful; it smells foul and makes him want to heave again. “Sleep,” Foggy says, and though his voice is still angry, his hands, when they push Matt back down against the mattress, are gentle. “You can explain when you wake up. And don't you leave a damn thing out.”

*

Matt explains when he wakes up: about his senses, about Stick, about hearing sirens at night and knowing he could help. About the little girl.

Foggy listens. He mutters comments under his breath, too, appalled and sympathetic and sarcastic by turns, and sometimes he needs to get up and pace the bedroom in furious silence, but he listens. It’s a better gift than Matt deserves.

It’s only when Matt mentions the name of the man behind the curtain that Foggy stops him.

“No,” he says, holding his hands up. “Wilson Fisk is a client of Landman and Zack’s, I can’t be party to any speculation about...about conspiracies to - ”

“It’s not speculation!” Matt snaps. “Who do you think did this to me?”

Foggy’s pacing comes to a halt. “Fisk did this?” he asks, and Matt’s heard Foggy when he’s angry and Foggy when he’s commanding, but he’s never heard him dangerous before. He's not sure what it means.

He nods. “Him and a guy named Nobu. I think he’s...some kind of ninja.”

“A ninja.” Foggy lets out a puff of air too bitter to be a laugh and sits on the edge of the bed by Matt’s hip.

“I went by Elena Cardenas’s apartment when the repairmen were scheduled to work on her apartment. She was jumpy after what happened last time. I didn’t want her to be alone,” Matt explains. “When the doorbell rang, she opened the door to let the workmen in, but it wasn’t them - it was a junkie with a knife. I managed to disarm him by pretending to stumble into him, but by the time I got Mrs. Cardenas to safety, he was gone.”

Matt shifts, trying to find a position to lie in that doesn’t hurt. He’s not sure there is one. “I changed into…” He nods at the chair where the bloody scraps of his working clothes are piled. “...and tracked him down. Found out he was hired to kill Mrs. Cardenas, all because she refused to move.”

“Fuck,” Foggy breathes.

“I got a lead on where Fisk would be, but it was a trap. Nobu was...I wasn’t expecting someone so strong. So fast. And then…” His aching bones throb. His memories throb. He still can’t believe he’s not dead. “Fisk showed up. He’s...I was already injured, and…” He waves a helpless hand in the air, even though it hurts to. “I jumped out the window. We were right on the water, but when I got back to land I was disoriented, and you...you smelled familiar, and I guess I just…”

Foggy’s close enough that Matt can sense his hands twitching. He’s quiet for a long time, and then he says, “The scars. Fuck, I should have guessed. Or at least questioned it.”

“What?”

“Your scars.” Foggy shakes his head. “I saw them, but I was so rut-stupid I didn’t think to wonder where they came from.” Matt only has a second for a burst of inappropriate triumph - his heat left Foggy too addled with lust to think - before Foggy’s talking again. “And Mrs. Cardenas is safe?”

“I brought her to a police officer I know is clean and trustworthy. Brett Mahoney.”

Foggy makes another one of those not-laugh sounds. “Yeah. I grew up with Brett. He’s good people.” He tilts his head. “Hell’s Kitchen boys, both lawyers...how did we not know each other, Matt?”

Matt’s not sure what to say in response. He suddenly desperately wishes he’d known Foggy for years, had the right to impose on him the way he can’t seem to stop doing now.

“I never meant to get you involved in any of this,” he says instead.

Foggy stands up. “Get some more rest,” he says. “I...I need to think about this.”

Matt misses his warmth immediately, but all he does is nod. “I really am sorry,” he says again. “I should never have come here.”

Foggy pauses in the doorway. “Yeah, well, if you didn’t, you’d probably be dead by now, so I’m glad you did.”

He steps out of the room before Matt can figure out how to parse that.

*

A few hours later Foggy helps him to the bathroom - Matt’s too exhausted to be ashamed - tucks him back into bed, and feeds him juice and crackers with peanut butter. Foggy sits back down on the edge of the bed and just breathes for a few minutes. It's...nice. Steadying.

“You're gonna get yourself killed,” he says finally. “You know that, right?”

“I’m being careful.”

“You crawled in a near-stranger’s window after pouring half your blood into the Hudson, Matt. That doesn’t sound like careful to me.”

Matt suspects his expression is mulish, but he can’t help it. “Fisk needs to be stopped. I can’t let him keep hurting people like this. I can’t let him keep hurting my home. If it means my life...well, I’ve made my peace with that.”

Foggy makes a noise, a sharp hiss of air through his teeth like he’s stubbed his toe or cut himself shaving. But he doesn’t say anything, until...

“So how do we stop him? Preferably without you dying in the process.”

Matt drops his cracker. “We?”

“You’ve slept for like twenty hours combined. I’ve had a lot of time to think,” Foggy says. “I've only been at Landman and Zack a little over a year, but there's already been all sorts of things that didn't smell right. I let it go because it was a good job, with a good salary, but…” He sighs. “If I make it out of this alive I’ll probably get disbarred for it, but Hell’s Kitchen is my home too.”

Matt swallows. His throat feels raw. “What if I’m lying?” he asks. “What if I set those bombs? What if I killed those cops?”

“Then I’ve just made a very serious mistake,” Foggy says. He reaches up and brushes a lock of hair off of Matt’s forehead. Matt’s breath catches. “But I don’t think I have.”

Matt snatches at Foggy’s hand as he starts to withdraw it, holds it close to his chest even though curling his fingers hurts. “You said if you make it out of this alive. I won’t let you get hurt again because of this, Foggy, I promise. I’ll keep you safe.”

He feels Foggy’s thumb stroke his swollen knuckles. “I believe you,” he says. And his heart beats true.

*

Matt tries to give Foggy his bed back after that but Foggy insists on sleeping on the couch for another night despite Matt’s best and most logical arguments. Early the next morning, before the sun’s quite up, he lends Matt a too-big hoodie and pajama pants and Matt makes his careful, achey way home, with his own clothing bundled inside of a shopping bag and a promise to wash Foggy’s and return it.

(The clothing smells like Foggy, even clean, and Matt already knows he’ll put off washing that smell off of it for as long as possible.)

He lies low for a few days, takes it easy. Karen visits and fusses over him. He knows she doesn’t believe his thin cover story about being hit by a car, but she doesn’t press him - much - and he’s grateful.

He’ll tell her everything. Someday.

A few days after he’s well enough to go back to work, Foggy comes over in the evening, with a briefcase full of files he’s smuggled out of Landman and Zack. Matt feels a hot flush crawling up the back of his neck as he opens the door to let Foggy in, remembering the last time Foggy walked over that threshold, and from the way Foggy’s heart speeds up he thinks Foggy might be remembering it too.

That, or he’s thinking about how dangerous what they’re doing is. It’s possible the heat they spent together is barely worth remembering, to Foggy. Matt has no idea how frequently Foggy gets calls from his side gig. He could have been with half a dozen other omegas since Matt.

The thought makes Matt grind his teeth, but he smiles instead, and offers Foggy a beer.

The files are a nightmare, secret after secret buried in offshore account after hostile takeover after dummy corporation. After the first night Matt gives up and loops Karen in. He’s doing the best he can with the internet and his screen reader, but they need more than one working pair of eyes, and he knows she’s been digging into the case when she thinks he’s not paying attention. He doesn’t tell her about his work in the mask, but the hope of taking down Fisk is enough to pique her interest.

When she gets to Matt’s apartment to find Foggy there she goes stiff, hand drifting towards the purse where Matt can smell pepper spray. “Matt, isn’t this Fisk’s lawyer?” she asks, her voice wary.

“Not once he finds out I’m helping you with this,” Foggy says cheerfully.

“Foggy’s where I’ve been getting a lot of my information from,” Matt explains. “We can trust him, Karen.”

She clearly doesn’t, and it’s just as clear that that bothers Foggy, because he spends the rest of the evening working on charming her - poking fun at himself, complimenting her detective work, and generally lightening the tension in the room like he’s hauling it upwards with both hands. It works. A couple hours in and Karen’s giggling behind her hand, her posture relaxing as she sinks into the couch, closer to Foggy. It reminds Matt a bit of the day he and Foggy met, the way Foggy managed to keep the intensity of the heat easy and playful when Matt was so clearly in distress. But of course, Karen’s an alpha, so it’s not the same.

Then Matt remembers that Foggy’s dated alphas before, and has to stop himself from getting up and unsubtly sitting between them on the couch.

He has to rein himself in. Just because he and Foggy shared a heat together - just because Foggy is turning out to have brains and integrity as well as a sense of humor and a nice dick - is no reason to let his biology run away with him like some stereotype of a nesting omega. He doesn’t want a mate - any mate. He’s been bonded before. He knows how badly it can end.

Still, he knows he smiles at Foggy too easily, and he listens too hard for any change in Foggy’s heartbeat when he does.

One night, when Karen’s off with the reporter, Urich, and it’s just him and Foggy, Foggy puts down his laptop with a groan and stretches. Matt bites the inside of his cheek.

“It would look suspicious if I updated my LinkedIn profile, right?” Foggy asks.

“Huh?” Matt asks intelligently.

“Well, I’m probably gonna be out of a job pretty soon,” Foggy says. “Either I’ll get caught and fired, or we’ll win, in which case I’m going to want ‘shady firm that represented murderous crime boss’ off my resume as quickly as possible.”

Right. Matt had been so busy thinking of all the ways Foggy could wind up getting hurt physically that he hadn’t stopped to consider Foggy getting hurt professionally. “God, I’m sorry. I should never have pulled you into this.”

Foggy waves a hand. “Water under the bridge, Murdock. I just wish there was a way I could put out feelers without making the partners look at me sideways. You’re not hiring at your firm, are you?”

He chuckles a little - it’s clearly a joke - but Matt sits up a bit straighter. “We...could be,” he says slowly. Carefully. “If you were interested.”

“What, really?” Foggy asks.

Matt spreads his hands. “Karen’s amazing, but she doesn’t have a degree, and it’s tough carrying a case in court solo. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have clients beating down the door. And we don’t pay nearly as well as L&Z. Like. At all.” He shakes his head. “Never mind. It was a stupid idea.”

“Not that stupid,” Foggy says. Matt still can’t tell if he’s taking this seriously or not. “At least if I was your minion I wouldn’t feel like I was selling another piece of my soul with every case.”

“Minion nothing. We’d be partners,” Matt says, trying a smile.

Foggy’s heart gives a little flutter. “Murdock and Nelson, huh?”

“Nelson and Murdock,” Matt corrects him. “It sounds better.”

“Yeah?” Foggy asks, and his voice is so soft that Matt can’t stop himself from beaming helplessly at him.

“Yeah,” he insists. “I can’t see worth shit, but my hearing’s spectacular.”

He nudges Foggy’s knee with his own. Foggy’s heart races and for a moment Matt thinks maybe - maybe -

“Well,” Foggy says, “I’ll think about it.”

*

It’s Karen who finds it - the tiny line on the financial report that shows where Owlsley’s hidden Fisk’s pet cop, the one weak link in Fisk’s armor. Matt brings Hoffman in, and suddenly, after months of scrabbling for answers, dominoes start falling into place. Arrests are happening left and right, the Bulletin is trumpeting Fisk’s downfall in every headline, and even Karen has stopped moving like she’s so brittle she might break if she trips. Everything is going right.

And then Fisk escapes.

They put Karen in a cab, and then it’s just Matt and Foggy standing in the street, and Matt can barely hear the sirens everywhere over the sound of Foggy’s heart pounding.

“You’re gonna go find him,” Foggy says, and Matt nods. “Matt, no. You heard what’s going on out there! You can’t go up against that in your black pajamas.”

“I won’t be.” Matt hasn’t picked up his new outfit, hasn’t even had time to tell Foggy about it, but he has faith in Melvin. “I know what I’m doing, Foggy.”

There’s the catch in Foggy’s breath, the one Matt has learned means he’s about to say something. But instead he steps forward, right into Matt’s space, and curves his hand over Matt’s bonding scar.

Matt’s heart leaps to meet it. Even through three layers of fabric, Foggy’s touch burns.

“All right,” Foggy says. “Go be a hero. Just don’t get yourself killed doing it, okay?” There’s the wet sound of him licking his lips, and Matt wonders for a dizzy instant if Foggy’s going to kiss him. “Come back to me.”

“I will,” Matt says. “I swear.”

Foggy lets him go and holds out a hand, and a cab pulls up with a squeal of tires. Even once Matt’s in it and driving away, he can still feel Foggy’s hand on his throat.

His heart is racing, but it’s not with fear. There’s nothing to be afraid of. He’s going to win. He knows it.

He promised his alpha.

*

Matt’s still blocks from his apartment when he senses Foggy waiting for him. He’s not surprised. He told Foggy weeks ago about the roof entrance, how he never keeps it locked because he can’t exactly carry keys around in his night clothes.

Foggy’s sitting on the couch, but he stands up when Matt opens the door, and comes to stand at the foot of the stairs. He doesn’t say a word, and neither does Matt as he walks down the stairs, one by one by one. He’d raced across the roofs to get home once he sensed Foggy, but now every move he makes feels slow, deliberate.

Finally he’s standing at the base of the stairs, facing Foggy. He can’t tell whose heart is racing.

“I did it,” he says. “I took him down. It’s over.”

“Good boy,” Foggy says.

Matt’s blood ignites. He doesn’t remember moving, but suddenly he’s got Foggy up against the wall and his tongue is in Foggy’s mouth. Foggy gasps and kisses him back, wet and with a flash of teeth. It stings Matt’s split lip, but he doesn’t care.

“Matt,” Foggy groans when Matt lets him breathe. “Matt, Matt, Matty…”

Matt shudders and presses closer. Foggy’s body is hot and pliant between him and the wall, soft in every place but one. He smells like Matt’s couch and his mouth tastes like the beer in Matt’s fridge. Mine, Matt thinks dizzily, greedily, biting at Foggy’s plush lower lip. Mine.

When Foggy tries to touch him he pins Foggy’s wrists to the wall, holding him in place. Foggy’s scent has grown more alpha with his arousal, but he doesn’t fight it - no, he sinks back against the wall and bares his throat to Matt. “What do you want, Matty?”

Anything. Everything. He wants to devour Foggy whole. He wants Foggy’s touch to consume every inch of him, rage through him like a forest fire.

He drops to his knees, yanks off the helmet, and presses his face to the bulge in Foggy’s pants, breathes in deep. Foggy’s intoxicating, his usual scent of coffee and nutmeg and ink mingling with desire, musk and salt and those elusive alpha notes that drive Matt crazy, that he’s been craving since his heat. “This,” he says. “You.”

“Then take me,” Foggy says.

Matt groans, rubbing his cheek, catlike, against Foggy’s erection. He practically pops the button off Foggy’s jeans yanking it open, drags the zipper down and pushes Foggy’s pants and boxers to his ankles. His mouth waters.

Someday soon, he’ll take his time. Someday soon, he’ll spread Foggy out on his bed and kiss every inch of him, taste the subtle differences from neck to navel to knee. Someday he’ll tease Foggy for so long that Foggy will be the one begging, Matt’s name echoing on his tongue like a favorite song.

This is not that day.

Matt dives down on Foggy’s cock like a starving man at a banquet. He’s been dreaming about this, twisted up in his sheets night after night, and he can’t wait any longer. Foggy fills his mouth perfectly - too much, too big. Matt knows his jaw will be aching soon and that’s good, that’s so good.

“Matt…!” Foggy chokes out, hitching forward before he presses himself flat against the wall, hands locked where Matt left them. Something possessive and glad rumbles deep in Matt’s chest. He might be the one on his knees, but Foggy’s letting him set the pace. Most alphas wouldn’t - wouldn’t stay put when an omega said, wouldn’t offer themselves up for the taking - and most omegas wouldn’t ask for it. But Matt’s never been a typical omega, and Foggy’s so much more than a typical alpha.

He works Foggy’s dick greedily, taking him as deep as he can, fingers digging into Foggy’s thighs to hold him in place. But Foggy’s not going anywhere; he’s trembling with his head tipped back against the wall, panting out praise. “Matt...fuck, Matty, so good...Jesus, Matt, your mouth…”

Matt groans wetly and sucks harder. He knows, distantly, that he’s a mess of bruises and bloody scrapes, that he’ll be feeling the aftereffects of his battle with Fisk for days. But right now he’s flooded with endorphins and nothing hurts. All he can taste and smell and feel is Foggy. It’s everything he wants.

Soon, too soon and not quickly enough, he can smell Foggy’s arousal sharpening as he twitches on Matt’s tongue. Maybe Foggy’s been wanting this as long as Matt has; maybe he’s been thinking about this since he touched Matt’s throat. Either way, he’s not going to last much longer.

“Matty,” he warns, and oh, Matt loves his new nickname, wants to hear it every morning. “Matt, Matty, please…”

Matt hums, and digs his fingers in hard enough to bruise, and Foggy comes down his throat with a hoarse cry.

When Foggy whimpers - but doesn’t move, doesn’t push Matt away - Matt lets go of his softening cock and sits back, dragging a hand across his swollen mouth. He keeps his other hand on Foggy’s hip, holding him in place, and Foggy finally lets go of the wall to curl his fingers around Matt’s like he’s grateful for the support. Matt smiles up at him, feeling drunk and pretty sure he looks it, and listens to the way Foggy’s heart trips.

“Can I help you with something?” Foggy asks, and Matt grins wider. Foggy coming doesn’t settle something in him the way it does during a heat, but it’s a hell of a dopamine shot regardless.

“I want you in my bed,” he says, his voice scraping out of his throat.

“God, yes,” Foggy says.

He kicks off his shoes and pants, then holds out his hands to help Matt up off his knees and lets Matt lead the way to the bedroom. “Get on the bed,” Matt says, and Foggy obeys, scooching back across the mattress so that he can watch Matt undress. It’s a bit of a production - the suit’s designed so that Matt can get in and out of it on his own, but he’s never actually taken it off before.

“Need a hand?” Foggy asks with a grin in his voice as Matt struggles with the top half. His gloves are already off, tossed into a corner of the room, his boots shoved under the dresser.

“I got it.” Matt finds the catch and undoes it triumphantly.

Foggy still sounds amused. “I gotta tell you, Matty, when you decide on an aesthetic, you really commit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you look good, but the little horns are definitely a choice.”

“The whole thing’s reinforced,” Matt grunts, voice muffled as he wiggles out of the top. He winces as he goes - yeah, he’s going to be sore tomorrow. “If I hadn’t been wearing it, I’d probably be dead.”

Foggy goes silent but his heart gets faster. Matt can't figure out why until he realizes that Foggy's upset - that someone actually cares that he might have died. That this might be the beginning of belonging to someone again.

“Then I love it,” Foggy says, all hint of joking gone from his voice, and Matt drops the shirt on the floor and climbs onto the bed, cupping Foggy’s face in his hands.

“Hey. Hey. I’m here. I’m okay.”

Foggy’s fingers skim over his swollen mouth, the cut over the bridge of his nose; they trace the edges of bruises on his shoulders and down his chest. “Show me,” he whispers.

Matt kisses him, hands sliding up under Foggy's shirt to palm at his sides, his beautiful soft stomach. Foggy lets Matt tug his shirt off and bear him back against the mattress, pausing just to kick his own pants and boxers off and away. He's been naked in this bed with Foggy before, but the urgency is different. Last time, he needed an alpha, any alpha. Now he just wants Foggy.

He pins Foggy to the mattress, nips possessively at his jaw and growls a little, low in his throat. “See?” he says. “Still here.”

Foggy slides a hand down to grab his ass, and Matt thrusts against his hip. “Yeah, I'm feeling something to that effect,” he says, amused and clearly still turned on even though he’s spent. Matt presses a smile against his throat, pleased. “You gonna do something about it?”

Matt bites him again, a little lower this time, closer to his bonding gland, where Matt would sink his teeth in if Foggy were an omega in heat. Foggy stiffens for split second and Matt freezes, afraid that he’s gone too far - that it’s too intimate too soon, or that the alpha in Foggy will finally resist all of Matt’s manhandling.

Then Foggy shudders and says, “Yeah, Matty,” and Matt buries his groan in Foggy’s neck and rocks against his hip.

“Wanna fuck you,” he says, muffled against Foggy’s skin. “Will you let me?”

“Fuck, yes, do it,” Foggy pants, so eager, and Matt knows he won’t last long enough for it, not tonight.

“I.” He thrusts into the soft curve of Foggy’s pelvis, hips stuttering forward on their own, over and over. There’s no finesse to it, but their skin is slick with sweat and Matt’s precome and right now having Foggy pressed beneath him is enough. “Later. Tomorrow? I just...right now I just need…”

“Yeah, yes, tomorrow, any time, you can do it in court if you want,” Foggy says, trying to haul him even closer, kissing his hair.

Matt groans again and breathes in. All he can smell is Foggy, all he can feel is Foggy, warm skin and strong arms and clever hands touching him everywhere. He drags himself against Foggy’s hip, knows he’s marking Foggy with his scent and that Foggy is letting him, and it’s so good, it’s so sweet.

And then Foggy starts talking.

“Matt,” fuck, his voice sounds wrecked, “yeah, Matt, do it, come on, baby, you feel so fucking good.” A kiss pressed to his sweaty temple. “So proud of you, you’re so brave, you did it, my beautiful Matty, you saved us and you came back to me just like I asked you to, so good for me.”

Foggy.” Matt thinks he’s shaking. He can’t pull Foggy’s scent into his lungs fast enough.

“Come on, sweetheart, do it.” Foggy’s hands are hot and strong, holding him fast when his words make Matt feel like he’s floating. “You earned it. Come for me. I wanna feel it, Matty.”

Matt’s teeth graze Foggy’s bonding gland. He can’t help it. “Mine.”

“Yeah, Matty, I’m yours. I’m all yours,” Foggy swears, his heart steady, and Matt comes with a breathless sob.

“Beautiful,” Foggy whispers as Matt comes down from it. “My beautiful omega.”

“Foggy,” Matt says again, helplessly.

Foggy rolls him onto his back and reaches for something - tissues, Matt thinks. “Shhh, Matty. I’m gonna take care of you.”

Matt sinks back against the mattress as Foggy wipes him clean. As Foggy starts to move away again Matt reaches out - gingerly, because with the adrenalin rush over everything’s starting to ache - and hooks his fingers around Foggy’s wrist.

“Stay?” he asks.

“Of course.” Foggy pulls away enough to throw the tissues out, then lies back down, pulling Matt close. “As long as you want.”

Matt shifts so that his head is pillowed on Foggy’s shoulder. “Good,” he says, and knows he’s going to want for a very long time.

*

Matt wakes up sore everywhere and stiff down to his toes. It takes him nearly five minutes to ease himself into a seated position, and he can’t imagine how he’s going to bring himself to get up and make coffee.

Then he smells coffee brewing in the kitchen, and hears Foggy whistling, and suddenly he can’t stop smiling.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Foggy says as he walks in juggling two cups of coffee and something that rattles. “FYI, you’re somehow managing to look both unfairly hot and like you got run over by a truck last night at the same time, just so you know. How do you feel?”

“Good,” Matt sighs, beaming.

“Oh my God, stop. Stop with the face. Here.” Foggy hands him a mug, puts his own down on the bedside table, and opens up the rattling thing, which turns out to be aspirin. “I’m guessing you need these.”

Matt swallows the pills obediently and pats the bed next to him. “Thanks.”

The mattress dips as Foggy crawls back in under the covers and sits next to Matt, close enough that their thighs and shoulders touch. They sip their coffee in companionable silence for a few minutes before Foggy’s heart speeds up and he says: “So I should probably tell you I called my boss and quit Landman and Zack while you were out finding Hoffman.”

Matt nearly spills his coffee. “What? That was - that was nearly a week ago, you never said anything! What if we’d lost? What if I couldn’t bring Hoffman in?”

He feels Foggy shrug. “I didn’t like being a shark, I guess,” Foggy says. “And I had faith in you.”

Matt concentrates very hard on his coffee cup, but he can feel himself blushing. “Well,” he says, clearing his throat, “the offer to join my firm is still on the table. I still think Nelson and Murdock has a nice ring to it.”

“So do I,” Foggy says, warmly, and Matt hunches further over his coffee cup. Foggy elbows him.

“It doesn’t pay as well. Like I said,” Matt says, because it’s only fair that Foggy know everything before he commits to - to the firm. “I get paid in casseroles a lot. You might need to bank on, uh...” He has to force this next part out. “...a lot of omegas needing surrogates over the next few months.”

“Oh. I.” Foggy’s heart gets even faster. “I quit that job, too.”

Matt feels suddenly breathless. “You did? When?”

There’s a long pause, and then, “The day after you crawled through my window.”

Matt turns to him, open-mouthed. “Foggy.”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you, after we - after we met,” Foggy says. “Heats are always emotional, but I’m pretty good at moving on, afterwards. I wasn’t good at it this time. And then you came to Landman and Zack…”

“I was awful to you,” Matt says. “I insulted you.”

“You were extremely obnoxious,” Foggy agrees easily. “You also made me realize how unhappy I’d been there. How unhappy I was with myself. I felt like I’d disappointed you, and it didn’t make sense that that upset me so much when I barely even knew you, but…” He shrugs. “There it was.”

“And then I crawled through your window,” Matt says.

Foggy nods. “And then you crawled through my window. And Matt, I really thought you were gonna die that night. I’d never seen so much blood, and you were so pale…”

“I’m sorry,” Matt says, face tipped down. The fact that Foggy is even still speaking to him after that night is a miracle.

“I was so angry. I’ve never been so angry in my life. I don’t get angry like that,” Foggy says. “I thought I was angry at you for bringing me into this, for doing all this illegal shit that was maybe just escalating the violence, and now here I was right in the middle of it - and don’t get me wrong, I was angry at you for that. But.” Foggy tilts his face down too, like he’s speaking very intently to his coffee cup. “Then you said that Fisk had hurt you like that, and I just…” He shakes his head. “I wanted to kill him, for a minute there. I wanted...I’ve never felt that before. That violence. I didn’t like it. But...but he hurt you, and you were mine.”

Matt’s head snaps up.

“I’m not much of an alpha,” Foggy says. “I never really got that possessive urge. It’s what made me such a good surrogate. But you...someone touched you and I saw red. And I realized that as mad as I was that you’d involved me, that you were breaking the law...I was madder because you were putting yourself in danger. Because you were gonna get yourself killed, and you hadn’t even given me a chance to lo...to know you yet.”

“I’m not going to stop,” Matt says, because it feels dishonest not to, even though all he wants is to throw himself into Foggy’s arms and think about the word Foggy didn’t let himself say. “It wasn’t about Fisk. It’s about helping people who need it. That’s not going to change.”

“I know,” Foggy says. “I wish you didn’t have to, but...I get it, a little. I do. I just want to be the one you come back to when you’re done.”

Matt’s breath catches. He wonders, a little, what his face is doing, but mostly he’s concentrating on Foggy’s voice.

“I know that’s a lot, so soon,” Foggy says quickly. “You don’t have to...I don’t expect anything. I just couldn’t go back to being a surrogate when I knew what it felt like to...to want someone to be my omega, instead of just an omega.”

Matt leans over and puts his coffee on the bedside table, then turns to Foggy. “I’m going to kiss you for a really long time now,” he says. “Is that okay?”

Foggy’s laugh sounds relieved. He puts his own coffee down and opens his arms. “Bring it in,” he says, just like he did during Matt’s heat, when he knew exactly what Matt needed. About a thousand body parts twinge as Matt scrambles into Foggy’s lap, but he doesn’t care. Foggy is warm and sweet and he kisses Matt like he’s something precious, hands gentle over Matt’s bruises.

“I never thought I’d want an alpha again,” Matt confesses, resting his forehead against Foggy’s.

“Well, if it helps, I’m a pretty lousy one,” Foggy says.

Matt growls playfully. “You’re the best alpha. I’d fight any omega for you.”

“You’d fight anyone for anything, Devil of Hell’s Kitchen,” Foggy says, poking Matt gently in the side.

“...No comment.”

Foggy cups his cheek, then lets his hand drop so that his thumb can rub over Matt’s bonding mark. Matt shivers. “I know it can’t be easy, trying again.”

Matt closes his eyes. Foggy’s nothing like Elektra. There was a time he thought that meant Foggy had nothing Matt wanted, but now he knows better. “You make it pretty easy, actually.”

“Hey, way to go, me.” Foggy kisses Matt’s eyelids softly, one by one, and then his nose. Matt laughs. “Here’s to trying again, then.”

Matt opens his eyes and beams at Foggy. It really is too early to talk about him going off suppressants, or bonding, or if he even wants to risk starting a heat while crimefighting. There’s a million logistics to consider first about adding Foggy to the firm, about working together while dating, about how to keep Foggy protected from anyone targeting the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. And they’re still getting to know each other.

But Matt feels hopeful about something, for the first time in a long time.

He breathes in and fills his lungs with Foggy. It’s quickly becoming his favorite scent.

“Here’s to us,” he says.