Max darted through the open door and ran up the stairs to the apartment Frank was currently staying in.
“Alright, boy, don’t worry, you’re gonna get warm soon,” he said when the dog started to scratch at the door, slightly whining. Frank followed his dog and took his keys to unlock the door. As soon as he did, the dog didn’t hesitate and barged inside, Frank following a little behind.
Max shook himself to remove any snow that had fallen on him. Frank rolled his eyes.
“Who’s going to mop that up?’ Frank asked to the dog. Max tilted his head to the right and wagged his tail. The man snorted and closed the door, trying to keep all the warmth inside. He put the groceries on the counter next to the small fridge and started to put all the groceries away when he heard Max sudden growl. He frowned and grabbed the gun he had holstered and turned around. From where he was, Frank could only see the arm of the couch and Max’s body hid whoever he was growling after. The dog seemed tense, rear legs coiled under him, as if he was ready to pounce on whoever had snuck in here. Frank walked silently to his dog, raising his gun in case the fucker thought it had been a good idea to enter the Punisher’s hideout.
When the couch came in full view, Frank swore and holstered back his weapon.
“Red?” he asked to the man lying on his stomach on the sofa, drenched to the bone, droplets of water steadily falling, alimenting the small puddle on the ground. The hero twitched slightly, his gloved fingers strongly shaking. Max whined and turned to Frank, waiting for his lead.
“Sit, Max,” Frank ordered before walking closer to Daredevil. He mustn’t have gotten in long before Frank, the couch wasn’t as soaked as he thought. Red didn’t remove his mask, and the only visible part of his face was too pale, and his lips had a worryingly blue tint. Now that he was closer, he could also see the slight tremors wracking Daredevil’s body.
Frank snuck his fingers between Red’s ridiculous costume and checked his pulse. It was slow, weak, and Frank swore again. Red sighed, mumbled something and tried to get away from Frank fingers. Clearly, the idiot probably did some martyr thing during one of his saintly escapades, like get thrown in a fucking frozen river instead of a little girl, knowing full well his costume wouldn’t protect him. He then decided that walking in the cold, completely soaked was a good idea.
He understood why Red wasn’t at the hospital (secret identity and all), but why did he come to Frank’s? He was pretty sure Red had friends. Karen would probably help him even if they hadn’t really smoothed everything over.
Well, he was here so Frank didn’t have a lot of choice. He might not appreciate Daredevil’s methods dealing with scum, but he wouldn’t let him die on his watch.
Now, Frank should probably get Red dry and he might more comfortable on his bed. So, he went to the bathroom and started to gather towels. He also looked for a thermometer to check the hero’s temp. With the cold that had hit New York, he needed at what point it became hyperthermia. Better be safe than sorry. When he came back in the living room, he grabbed his phone and shot a text to Curtis, asking him more information. If this was hyperthermia, he was going to need help.
He pocketed the phone and went back to the living room with the towels. Max had apparently jumped on the couch and snuggled against Red. Frank rolled his eyes and gestured to the dog to leave. Max lowered his ears and whined, hiding his snout under Red’s neck.
The superhero moved and sighed, mumbling about “Frank”, “dog” or maybe “God”.
“Max, down.” Frank slightly growled. Max let out of sniffle, stood, and jumped down. Frank scratched his head, murmuring, “Good boy.”
He got closer to Red and started to study the costume. He needed to get him out of this thing, which could only worsen his state. Before he could do anything, his phone vibrated in his pocket. He took it out and read Curtis’s message.
Curtis RECEIVED @ 8:25pm
SENT @ 8:25pm
When Curtis didn’t reply right away, Frank started to get to work. He decided to remove Red’s helmet first. That way he could also see if he had any other wounds. Frank grabbed the horned helmet and started to pull. Red raised his arm feebly and tried to swap Frank away. It reassured him slightly on the hero’s state. At least, he was still conscious. Red shifted and tried to roll on his back. Frank helped him finish the movement. He had now a better access to the helmet’s straps.
When Red’s face came into view, Frank’s heart skipped a beat. He knew who Red was, ever since that fight on the rooftop between Red, his girl and the ninjas. But it was something to figuratively know and another to actually see Matt Murdock’s face behind the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. He was putting the mask on the coffee table, when his phone vibrated again.
RECEIVED @ 8:27pm
Keep the person in a dry, warm place. Remove any wet clothes, hats, gloves, scarf. Prepare warm blankets & favor torso, neck, armpits & groin. If not enough, own body heat can help. Check temp often. If conscious, warm drinks are good. Avoid caffeine & alcohol. If they stop shivering & are unconscious go to hospital.
All right, this helped a lot, Frank thought. He sent a text thanking Curtis and turned back to Red. The man had his eyes open and was panting lightly, body still shaking. It was innerving to see his eyes so still.
“Frank?” he asked, voice hoarse. He lifted his trembling hand in the air, searching for Frank.
“Yeah, I’m here,” he answered grabbing his hand. Murdock’s face sort of relaxed, as if he was relieved to be with Frank. The vigilante frowned, a small smile on his lips, confused by the dichotomy that is Matt Murdock.
“Gotta get you out of your pajamas, Red.”
Murdock sighed, but nodded. He tried to fend off Frank from undressing, but he realized quickly that he was too weak to even grab the edge of his suit.
Frank started with his gloves which fell with a splash on the ground. Then he looked at the top to see where he could unclasp it. There were two rivets which looked like snap fastener. When Frank realized that, he knew Red was wearing some kind of vest which blended so well with his suit, it didn’t look like a vest.
Gotta give it to him, Frank thought, his costume might be ridiculous, but it is protective gear, much like his own.
When he was done removing the vest, Frank had a much easier time to undress Red. He had a sort of jacket that he unzipped and finally just a black long-sleeved shirt, one of those athletic ones, which was also soaked.
Red’s shivering became much more apparent as goosebumps spread all over his chest. Frank went to grab a towel and patted softly Red’s chest with it. He then took his boots off and his pants. When he saw that even his boxer briefs were wet, Frank sighed and looked up at Red. The man was tilting his head towards him, paying attention.
“I gotta remove your underwear, Red, it’s soaked. You fine with it?”
Murdock visibly swallowed, clearly hesitant but nodded curtly after a beat.
Frank tried to make it as clinical as possible. Even in his state, Red didn’t seem comfortable being undressed by Frank. It was a rather intimate gesture, but the vigilante had been desensitized in army. Frank removed the boxer and put a towel on the groin. He helped Red remove most of the wetness on his body before wrapping him in a blanket. He helped him stand, but Red’s legs weren’t steady, and he almost fell on the coffee table.
“Hold on.” Frank said, tightening his grip on Red’s shoulders. Now that he was closer, his skin felt way too hot against his. He really should check his temp. Frank walked slowly to his bedroom, Red shuffling with difficulty beside him. It seemed the trip to the bedroom lasted hours because of the superhero’s slowness but Frank found he didn’t mind. Red didn’t him, and Frank’s instincts answered. Once near the bed, Frank half carried a dizzy Red and helped him climb in.
The other vigilante fell on the bed with a grunt, his eyes closing.
“Come on, Red, not yet.”
“Frank…” Daredevil sighed, opening slightly his eyes, not looking directly at Frank.
Frank got him to sit while he lifted the blanket and helped Red get under it. He took the towels back and put them on the heater of the living room.
He went to the kitchen and started to think what he should make for Red. Curtis had said that he had to avoid alcohol and coffee which was basically all that he had. He wasn’t sure that just warm water would taste good. He sighed, and texted Curtis again. The man could probably bring him what he needed. He didn’t like going himself if it meant leaving Red alone.
He went back to his bedroom where Red had completely burrowed himself under the covers.
The other groaned and pulled slightly the cover down to let an ear out. Frank couldn’t help but chuckle. Red would always do something that reminded him the was legally blind, super senses notwithstanding.
“You OK?” Frank asked.
“Cold. Hot. Dunno. ‘irsty.”
“I know buddy.”
Red was still shaking like a leaf, and while he could always go back to take the towels, Frank thought it might not be enough. He sighed. Since he didn’t know Red’s temp, Frank didn’t want to take any chances.
“Alright, here’s a deal, Red. You’re cold, I’m not. I can help you raise your temp so that you don’t die on me. But don’t punch me.”
“Wa-want snuggles?” The hero replied, slurring but a smile could be heard even from under the covers.
Frank rolled his eyes at the other man’s antics. He was still trying to get a raiser out of Frank, although it felt much friendlier than his last barbs. He undressed to a boxer briefs and t-shirt and slipped under the covers. He hesitantly touched Red. The other man startled at first, then relaxed and snuggled against Frank. He put his head on Frank’s chest, nose up in the crook between neck and shoulder, buried his hands under his shirt, entangling their legs together. When he was finally settled, Red sighed and tightened his grip on Frank, his muscles tensing occasionally.
Frank had waited for the other man to relax and started to touch Red’s back, just a tentative brush. When the other man didn’t say or do anything, Frank moved more assuredly to help warm Red. He didn’t know how long they stayed like that. Frank forgot his phone in the kitchen and he didn’t have any clock in the bedroom.
He checked every once in a while that Red was still conscious. At one point, he went back to fetch the towels to wrap Red in it. He thought that the man would just abandon him as his teddy bear, but he didn’t. When Frank had wanted to leave, Red grabbed his wrist and asked him to stay. Actually asked him. So, Frank stayed.
Curtis arrived not long after that. He brought chicken soup and some infusion crap that Frank would’ve loved he never smelt. But Curtis said it would be good for “whoever you got stashed here with hypothermia”. Frank thanked him and showed him the door, not unkindly. Curtis didn’t reply. He just rolled his eyes and told Frank to call him if their situation worsened, and then he was gone.
Frank looked at the stuff Curtis brought; apart from the food, there was an electric blanket as well as some pain meds, probably for when Red was strong enough to swallow it. At the bottom of the bag, there was also a thermometer, still in its package.
Frank went back to the room to check on Red. The other man tilted his head when Frank was nearby, so he assumed he was more or less fine. So he went back to the kitchen and started to warm up the chicken soup. He took a spoon and the bowl with him. In the room, he walked to Red’s side and put the bowl on the table rest.
“Hey, buddy, are you hungry?”
The covers fell a little and showed the top of Matt’s head.
“Can’t smell well. Chicken soup?” he asked, scrunching his nose.
Red spoke easier, even though he was still shivering occasionally.
Red then nodded minutely, moving slowly to sit up. Frank helped him and adjusted the still warm towels around Matt’s shoulders. He then sat on the edge of the bed and took the bowl of soup.
“Come on, open up, Red.” Frank asked with a smirk as he filled the spoon with the soup. Red scrunched his nose and made a face. He didn’t know if it was because Red hated chicken or because it was Frank feeding him.
Red hummed but made no movement to indicate Frank he could start spoon feeding him.
“Come on. Open your pretty lips and eat.” Frank said, only realizing what he said when Red blushed, a rosy tint on his cheeks, almost too glaring on his sickly pale face.
“Not sure… ’m feeling bett’r, Frank, no need-” Red protested weakly.
“That’s not gonna work with me Red. I know you loved the snuggles and know you’re gonna love the soup.”
Matt made a face.
“Hey,” he said, falsely offended. “I had kids, Red. I wasn’t just some heartless monster before.”
It was a joke but it seemed that Red didn’t get it. His face closed off and pressed his lips into a thin line. He was going to say something but Frank stopped him. He didn’t really want to hear him preach about forgiveness or any of his other bullshit speeches.
“Red. Eat,” he said, more demanding than Red apparently appreciated. Amazingly, he said nothing and started to eat what Frank gave him.
Red only ate a few spoons of soup before he started to feel nauseous. Frank put back the soup on the table rest, took the thermometer and checked his temperature. His temp was still a bit too low, but it didn’t seem like Red was going to die of cold this time.
“Alright. Stay under the covers. If you’re hungry, the soup is on the bedside table. Call for me if you need anything else.”
Frank stood and was going to leave when he stopped, looking hesitantly toward the other man. Red seemed as uncomfortable as he was. For a hot minute, Frank just wanted to leave. Leave the apartment, leave Red, leave this… caring. It didn’t feel wrong. It was just too weird to do it for the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. But when he looked at Red’s pinched face, the way he hunched his shoulder inside the towels or how his hands gripped strongly the covers, Frank couldn’t in good conscience leave him here alone. And he was pretty sure Red wouldn’t ask him to stay.
Frank sighed silently and went to the living room. Max’s head sprung from his bed and looked at Frank with humid eyes. Frank swore.
“I forgot about you, hm.”
Max wagged his tail and walked to his master when he patted his thigh. Frank scratched Max’s head while the dog said hello enthusiastically as if Frank had left for days.
“Come on, buddy. Time to eat.”
Frank poured in Max’s food in the bowl and the dog hurried to his bowl to eat. Frank prepared a little something for himself as well. He yawned despite himself and thought he could sleep a little if Red was well enough. Frank ate the sandwich he made, patted Max’s head once more and went back to his room. When he saw the room empty and the covers on the bed pulled up, Frank’s heart started to beat wildly. Where did he go? Frank hoped that idiot didn’t leave alone. If he did, Frank’s gonna--
He heard the flush of the toilets and relaxed instantly. Ok, so, Red only went to the toilets. It was fine. Why was he worried, huh? Why would he be worried for the other man anyway? Damnit, Frank shouldn’t worry about the Devil in pajamas.
The door from the bathroom opened and Red stepped out. He froze, his hands tightening on the sheet he wrapped around himself like a toga.
“Frank?” Red said, tilting slightly his head which strangely reminded Frank of Max.
“Yeah, sorry didn’t tell you where the bathroom was.”
Red’s face looked confused and… embarrassed? Frank raised an interrogating eyebrow, knowing Red couldn’t see him. Red shuffled back to the bed and sat down.
“How are you feeling?” Frank asked when the other man stayed silent.
“OK. Still cold.”
Frank nodded and rearranged the blanket to cover Red completely.
“Yeah,” the other man answered, curtly.
“You finish the soup or want something else? I can prepare it.” Frank said.
Red turned his head toward his general area, looking pensive.
“The soup is fine. I’m not sure I could eat anything else.”
He sounded a lot better, Frank thought.
“Alright. You want some meds?”
“No,” Red replied, then added after a beat, “Thank you.”
Frank nodded and went to the kitchen to reheat the soup. When he came back, Matt hadn’t moved from his position.
“You can feed yourself, or do you need me to spoon-feed you?” Frank asked cheekily.
“If I can go to the toilets, I can eat.”
Frank gave him the bowl and the spoon carefully and waited to let go when Red had a good grip on it.
“If you’re OK, I’m gonna take a nap. I’ll be on the couch.”
Frank turned, when Matt asked him to wait.
“You could… you could always sleep here?” He asked hesitantly.
Frank couldn’t help but stare at the other man, observing him curiously. Matt shrugged to hide his embarrassment.
“I will just finish the soup and probably go to sleep too.”
When Frank stayed silent, Matt added, “I won’t bother you…”
This was… unusual. Frank had never pegged Red as… needy. He was a stubborn man who didn’t want you to see his weaknesses.
Apparently, Frank’s silence only exacerbated his embarrassment.
“You know what it’s fine. Go to sleep. You’ve done enough for me anyway.”
Red started to eat, not “looking” at Frank anymore. The other man knew intimately that Red would make his way out if the chance presented itself. Somehow, Frank didn’t want him to leave just yet.
“You’re right,” Frank began, making Red look up to him, “I’ve done a lot for you.”
Red’s face was blank.
“And I don’t want to see all my hard work go to waste when you go gallivanting off in the streets.” He finished, going to lay down on the bed. Frank grunted as his body hit the mattress. Now that was good.
He heard a snort. He looked at Matt, and even though the lights were dim, he was pretty sure Red flashed a grin before sipping another spoon of soup. Frank huffed, and settled on his back, hands on his stomach.
Tiredness took him by surprise, now that the crisis was over. His mind and body could relax. His eyelids felt heavy.
Tonight, he didn’t want to fight against sleep.
He was too warm, Frank thought. He opened his eyes. The room was completely dark, but he wasn’t alone. He blinked away the tiredness and looked at his neighbors in the bed. Matt was sleeping on his side, face under the cover, almost curled up against Frank. Max had joined them since and had wedged himself between both their legs. Max looked up at Frank when the vigilante moved.
“You know you can’t be on the bed,” Frank murmured at the dog, patting him. Max wagged his tail, and Frank sighed.
“You can stay, but only for tonight. When Red’s gone, don’t expect to sleep on the bed again.”
As if he understood Frank, Max lowered his head on Red, still looking at Frank.
He rolled his eyes. What did he do to have this dog?
After a short trip to the kitchen and the bathroom, he joined Matt under the covers. Red took it as a cue to smush his face against his chest, putting an arm on his stomach.
Weirdly enough, Frank felt comfortable. It had been a long time since he slept with someone.
He went back to sleep with a small smile on his lips.