A black, seething thing was coiling in Frank’s gut, had gotten tighter and tighter every day. He was just a little too vicious, a little too irritable. Everything was going wrong, everyone was a fucking idiot, and every scummy asshole in the city was just out to put a thorn in his goddamn side.
His trigger finger would not stop twitching. He didn’t bother to try and make it still.
He skulked up the stairs to Matt’s apartment, to their apartment. The thought usually made Frank a little happier; right now he couldn’t give a shit. He just wanted a beer and a cigarette, and he wanted to sleep so that he didn’t feel the darkness, at least for a few hours.
Matt was on the couch when he made it through the door, fingers tracing over a braille page. “Hey, baby.” He offered Frank a smile; Frank didn’t bother to return it. Not like he’d know anyway.
“Can you pick up your stuff, hon?” Matt asked when Frank kicked off his boots and dropped his bag by the door, making a beeline for the fridge. Beer, cigarette, bed.
“Fuck off, Red,” Frank growled, before he gave himself the chance to think about it. Beer, cigarette, bed. If he just made it to that point, he could get some rest, and start the whole shitty process over again tomorrow.
“Hey,” Matt warned, something equally defensive and threatening in his voice. For fuck’s sake .
“ What? ” Frank tore off his coat and yanked the fridge door open, bottles of dressing and sauces rattling in the shelves. He knew it was unreasonable, picking a fight, but Matt was so damn calm, it was sickening. He shouldn’t ruin Matt’s good mood, but he felt bloodthirsty, needed one last scrap to exorcise this demon before he could rest.
Matt was in the kitchen with him before he could even get his hands on a bottle. His glare was met with an absolutely unimpressed gaze that didn’t quite connect. But something about the way Matt looked at him stopped Frank in his tracks. It was the way his mouth was set, the dead-eyed determination. Frank knew that look way too well.
Matt’s hand slid up to grip his jaw. A centimeter lower and his fingers would be wrapped around Frank’s throat. The black thing shivered in fear.
“Go put your things away. Properly. ”
Frank growled--his anger and pride wouldn’t let him go without a fight. Matt’s fingers slipped, squeezed , and a shiver ran through Frank. Electricity, zapping straight into his marrow. “Am I going to have to put up with your attitude tonight, Francis?”
His voice trailed off into a breathless whine, he felt his face redden. The way his name dripped off Matt’s tongue made him feel small, like he was some kid getting disciplined by a real grown-up.
He forced his shoulders to relax, unclenched his hands to indicate to Matt that he would shape up. Matt let go, his fingers trailing down Frank’s chest. “Meet me in the bedroom when you’re done. Don’t make me wait.”
Frank put his things away quickly, but he took enough time to make sure everything was stowed correctly. Every safety was on, his duffel emptied and rolled up in the closet where they kept their gear. Matt would know it if he cut corners, if he disobeyed. He hung his coat by the door, his boots sitting neatly underneath. The black thing was still tight in his gut when he made it to the bedroom door. He paused, considering. It was silent on the other side, a pregnant kind of silence.
He had barely touched the doorknob when Matt called to him from the other side. “You should know better by now.” He sounded disappointed, and as much as Frank fought the kneejerk impulse to call it quits, felt like storming out (he still had several holes around the city he could crash, if need be). But Matt was right--Frank knew the rules. Moreover, Frank trusted Matt, trusted him more than anyone. And he knew Matt knew what he needed, even if he would rather eat his own tongue than ever admit it.
So Frank grumbled and followed the rules Matt set out, for now; he took off everything he was wearing, even his skivvies and the bowie knife strapped to his leg. He folded it all carefully by the door, went inside without a word, and kneeled between Matt’s knees, head bowed in a bitter scowl. His face and ears felt hot. He could see his own shoulders had turned a bright pink with how hard he was blushing.
Matt was sitting on the bed, still fully clothed in his sweats and a shirt. Frank glanced up and around; he could see restraints tied to each of the bedposts, but Matt hadn’t pulled out any toys or tools yet. He was still assessing.
On queue, Matt reached out, ran his fingers through Frank’s hair. He gripped and pulled his head up enough that he could get a good read on the man’s face. “Francis. You’ve been bitching at everyone you see for an entire week now. You made me repeat myself, and you’ve been doing your damndest to try my patience. You’ve practically been begging me for this, and I think you know that. What’s your punishment tonight?”
Frank’s eyes rolled almost of their own volition. “Get off your high fucking horse and eat me. ” He couldn’t stop from snarling the words, fierce as they were.
Matt’s brows drew together--contemplating, pitying. His knuckles grazed Frank’s cheek, tender enough to make Frank regret his harsh words. “That bad, huh?”
Frank grit his teeth to stop from apologizing, to stop from saying something even worse. He didn’t want to hurt Matt, but he was so angry--
Matt’s gentle touch was a backhand in the flash of an eye, sending Frank to the ground. The hand was in his hair again before he could react, pulling him onto the bed. The stars in his vision wouldn’t clear, and the tugging on his scalp fucking hurt , he couldn’t do much but follow as Matt guided him up and pushed flat on his stomach, and he had both hands knotted to the headboard before he could properly gather his wits about him.
Matt spoke to him as he tied Frank’s ankles down. “Look at you. I got you down and tied with one hand. You’re slow, Frank, unbalanced. You need this, to be taken down a notch. To have someone show you how to behave.”
Frank watched with fire in his veins as Matt left him with a gentle caress to his calf, went to the closet and pondered the implements at his disposal. He picked a fiberglass cane, an inch and a half thick, twirled it expertly between his fingers. “Eat you, huh hotshot? Alright. Whatever you say. After your punishment is done.”
Frank’s mouth went dry, he was pretty sure his heart skipped a beat. He knew that one too well, it did more than smart when Matt put it to use.
Matt stood behind him, somewhere in his blind spot. For a long time nothing happened. He knew Matt was listening to his reactions, for any of the tells he had that said he might not want this.
“Can you count for me?”
Frank bit his cheek. He knew Matt was right, he knew it, but he couldn’t let go of the reigns, couldn’t let go of his pride. It needed to be wrenched away from him, he needed his choice taken from him or he was gonna fucking keel over.
A firm whap! Filled the room as the cane came down on his back. He grit his teeth, hissed, but didn’t say a word.
“Count for me, babe.”
Silence. Then another whap! , and a shooting pain up his back. He let out a pained grunt, couldn’t help it, but still stood firm. He couldn’t give in, couldn’t let go.
“Count for me or safeword out, Frank. I need to know beyond a doubt that you want this.”
“Two--” Frank spat, feeling ashamed and weak, only to be met with another strike.
“Do we start counting with ‘two’, Francis?”
Frank wanted to scream out his anger, wanted to thrash and fight and kill until he was back in control. But he couldn’t. It would get him nowhere. And he knew as well as Matt what he needed, even if he couldn’t say it.
Deep down, he could feel it. The black thing started to unravel, loosened just a hair.
He could hear the satisfaction in Matt’s voice, and he couldn’t deny the relief he felt. “That’s better. Now count.”
They made it to ten without pause. Matt struck his back, his thighs, his ass, over and over again. His skin was on fire, a burn that intensified with each blow. He didn’t feel human, he just felt like a living vessel for pain. He wasn’t sure when he’d started crying, he’d been counting but everything except the pain and punishment had been a blur. He only knew it now by the constriction in his throat, and the wetness on his cheeks. He’d been awful to Matt, the man who loved him, all because he was frustrated and bullheaded and too damn proud. He knew this was apt penance, that it would leave him with bruises for days , leave him sore and aching and redeemed. And he knew exactly how to stop it.
God, he was hard as a fucking rock.
Twenty-six strikes in, something in Frank snapped, released him with a soul-deep sob. “Fuck, Matt, please . I’m sorry, please, no more. No more. I’ll be good, please. ”
He flinched at the sensation on his back, but this time, it was only Matt’s hand, rubbing the welts, soothing the sting. His hands felt cool now, against the inflamed skin. Frank sobbed, open and broken, relishing the feeling of something soft, some relief. Matt tilted his chin up and kissed him, so sweet and kind and good and it was everything Frank needed.
He hushed Frank, hands all over him, warm and reassuring. “Oh, baby, shh. I know it, let it out. I know it, I know.”
Matt released the knots around Frank’s limbs, laid down and let his man curl up around him. He pressed kisses to Frank’s face, his neck, rubbed up and down his sides to soothe him. “You’re so good for me, baby, so good. Perfect for me, no matter how bad you feel. I love you so much, sweetheart. You’re the only thing that matters, I’ll never hurt you. Never.”
Matt totally filled Frank’s senses, became his whole world. Matt was taking care of him, Matt’s arms were around him, and he didn’t need to hurt anymore. He didn’t need control, he didn’t need pride. He just needed to be good for the man who loved him, the man who would take care of him, the man he trusted with his life, his heart.
The darkness was gone, washed away somehow, and Frank didn’t need to prove anything. He just laid there and let his man, his beautiful, loving Matt, hold him, and take care of him.
Frank lost track of time as they lay there, being soothed and touched and cooed at. It was everything he needed, but he and Matt both knew it wasn’t everything he wanted.
When his tears had subsided, and his crying had devolved into the occasional hiccup, Frank felt Matt’s hand trail up his thigh, where his cock had gone mostly soft when the emotion broke through. “D’you still want it, sweetheart?” Matt murmured, lips brushing the spot between Frank’s neck and shoulder. God, Frank felt so small and so loved, and if having Matt wrapped around him, warm in bed, his punishment over and nothing but pleasure in sight didn’t bring him right back to life, nothing could rouse Frank ever again.
He rubbed against Matt’s hip, feeling himself get hard again. He buried his face in Matt’s hair, held on for dear life. “Please, Matt. Baby. Need….”
Matt chuckled. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you what you need. Lie on your stomach again. Relax.”
Frank whimpered when Matt squirmed away from him, but obeyed nonetheless. He slid down to sit between Frank’s legs, planting kisses along the way. He didn’t tease the way he normally did, didn’t make Frank beg for it. He wanted to make Frank feel good, didn’t want to make him suffer any more than he already had tonight. Even so, he couldn’t help his grin when he kissed a particularly sore spot on one of Frank’s cheeks and heard the strangled sound his man made.
Matt laved over Frank’s hole like a starving man, like it was the only thing he ever needed. That mouth--it could taste motes on the air, it could astound courtrooms with morals and logic and truth. That all paled in comparison to what it could do when Frank spread his legs and presented like the good boy that he was. The way his tongue made wide swipes over Frank’s rim and prodded inside, wet and warm and so good. It guaranteed a quick end to their night. Frank, the state his head was in, could do little more than clutch the pillow beneath him and hold on for dear life, howling his pleasure and pushing his hips back to get more, more, more of that miraculous mouth, begging Matt to let him come.
His orgasm was coaxed from him like he didn’t have a choice. He really didn’t, not when Matt reached under Frank and took him in his warm hand and stroked him with only Frank’s own precum as lube. Frank blacked out when he spilled over Matt’s hand, and his own stomach, and the sheets. He lost all sense of time and being, floating in that space where the only things he knew were comfort and the smell of Matt all around him.
He blinked back into existence, already wiped clean, his entire backside throbbing and hot. He could barely feel it with the euphoria coursing through his veins. The black thing was gone, just like it had never existed in the first place. Frank felt sated and relaxed and right . Matt was straddling his thighs, rubbing a cool, eucalyptus-scented salve on Frank’s injuries. The bed was sticky underneath him, and under the eucalyptus the room stunk of sex and sweat, but Frank was too lax and boneless to care.
“How are you feeling, baby?” Matt asked, leaning in to press a kiss to the back of Frank’s neck. Frank couldn’t quite form words yet, but he managed to mumble something that almost passed for human. He could feel Matt’s smile in response. “You were so good for me, Frank. You always are. I’m so proud of you.”
Frank smiled weakly, melting like butter in a pan at Matt’s words murmured into his skin. Matt knew just how he was feeling, and planted another kiss before lying down and pulling the covers up over both of them. Frank shifted so an arm and a leg were sprawled over Matt, head resting on his chest. He wanted to tell Matt how grateful he was, how much he needed what Matt had given him and how he loved Matt more than he loved his own life. But Matt already knew, he’d said it all before, and if he forgot, he’d sure as Hell be able to read it in Frank’s heartbeat, and smell it in the endorphins he probably released just getting to be so close to his beautiful, perfect husband.
Instead, he just pressed a sleepy kiss to Matt’s skin and drifted off with him, tranquil and truly, honestly happy.