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The Good Side of You

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day 1 > I can hear you, but I’m afraid to be near you

When Matt comes too, he’s in a car.

He stays completely still. Positive he’s been kidnapped until he gets a whiff of the air. Then he groans, more in annoyance than in pain from the stab wounds and lacerations he’s got scattering his middle right now.

“Jesus, I thought you were a goner for a second there.” Frank Castle mumbles from the front seat.

Matt ignores him. “Gonna suck getting this blood out of your upholstery.”

”Shut your smart mouth... After all I’ve done for you? Can you not fucking swim?”

For a second, Matt has no idea what he’s talking about. He reaches up, cringing at the stiffness of his body, to brush blood away from his eye, and then freezes, realizing he’s touching his face and not his mask.

Matt panics. Frank is still grumbling in the front seat. It almost sounds like he’s talking to someone else, someone other than Matt, someone named Max. All Matt can think about is the fact that Frank fucking Castle, the man he defended (or tried too,) in court, now knew his dirty little secret, and put him, bleeding out, in the back seat of a car.

He tries to figure out how he got here. Did he walk? How did Frank get a car? Matt supposes he probably stole it, but still? How did Matt get in the car? He’s not exactly light: did Frank carry him?

(He remembers being shoved, very rudely, into the water from the boat. He remembers the lick of an explosion as he fell into the icy blue. Doesn’t remember much after that, maybe the cold shocked him enough that he passed out, but he does remember taking a sharp inhale, pulling that sweet, sweet air into his lungs, remembers coughing water. He had realized his helmet was off, and that he was now on the boat dock, and that Frank Castle was leaning over him, his hands still folded, ready to push, over Matt’s chest.

At that, he passed out again.)

“Did you carry me?” Matt asks, not having listened to anything Frank had been saying for the last minute.

Frank shifts. “Yeah, I mean, you were pretty much dead.”

Matt understands why he thought that. He can feel the shifting of his skin, two sliced pieces rubbing together. A stab wound in his hip. Broken ribs from the CPR. His scalp is bleeding too, and he wonders why.

Frank continues a light chatter with himself, or Matt, or the imaginary third person in the car with them, and Matt decides his head hurts too much to deal with all of this.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he hopes he’s still underwater.

{+}

The next time he wakes up, he’s in a bathtub. Maybe today will just be a series of snapshots from the moments he’s conscious.

The water is only pooling at his hips and had already run red by the stench of it.

He’s naked, save for his boxers, and completely exposed. He almost wants to reach down and check if he still has both his kidneys.

Because that’s got to be what this is. Franks holding him hostage. How cute. He can already hear what Foggy’s gonna have to say about this.

But then, the door creams slightly, and thankfully his head has cleared enough that he can kind-of hear what’s going on around him. He hears Frank come in, set a heavy box on the counter, full of medical supplies — alcohol, fabric band-aids, ointment — and turn to leave again.

Instead, the sound of his heavy boots is replaced with a light scratching noise, a soft pitter-patter... Almost like a —

There is a dog leaning over the bathtub.

Matt flinches so hard he tears something in his side, totally blowing his “I’m still sleeping” cover.

“Hey! Oh, c’mon now,” Frank shouts, rubbing in after the dog. He yanks it away by the collar and drags it out of the bathroom. “I told you to stay out here, girl, okay? Stay out.”

Matt wonders how bad he really is. Obviously, lots of blood loss and a very open slash wound around his waist, but really, could he fight Frank Castle right now?

“Sorry.” The man in question rasps as he walks into the bathroom again. Matt remains curled as much as he can in the bath. The water is getting cold. He gets really close to Matt, kneeling down beside the tub. “Fuck, Murdock, I just stitched that.” He groans.

Frank saying his name, knowing what he knows, makes Matt shiver.

“Ok, stay put, I’ll do it again.”

The large slash and stab wound have not been tended too yet, but the smaller slashes around his hips have been. The one he ripped, of course, will have to be redone, but Frank has made quite the progress, which only freaks Matt out more. Why would he fix him up just to keep him hostage?

A big hand comes down beside Matt’s hip in the water. Frank cups up some bloody water and scoops it onto Matt’s ripped stitches. Matt only curls up more.

“Okay, you’re gonna have to relax. I haven’t even gotten to the bad one yet.” Matt doesn’t move. Frank scoffs. “Are you cold? Is that it?

Matt doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Or what the fuck is happening.

But he nods.

Frank also nods, tight and singular, and reaches down between Matt’s ankles to pull the plug. He lets the water drain while also running the tap, keeping a supply of fresh, warm water for Matt’s comfort.

He gets back to business, pulling slightly at Matt’s hip when he doesn’t uncurl from
his fearful ball all the way. Frank is really getting a show here, getting to see the stark differences between Matt Murdock and Daredevil.

Matt hitches at the sting of the needle, swooping in and out of his skin to pull it back together. He’s gonna have some impressive scars after this one.

As quick as he started, Frank’s setting the needle aside and grabbing the alcohol. Matt can smell the sting of it in the air.

“Don’t bite your tongue, now,” Frank warns, before pouring the sterilizer over the gash in Matt’s side. Matt arches.

Castle is torturing him. If he was so included to patch Matt up, he could have done this wound while he was unconscious. Like a nice guy would.

Frank holds him down, “I know, I know.” He hushes. Matt wants to cry.

“I had to wait until you were awake to do this one, cuz’ you’ll tell me if I nick a nerve.” He explains, like he can read Matt’s mind.

How kind of him. So thoughtful.

Matt is quite until he’s done. If he lets a few tears fall, Frank doesn’t mention it.

“Okay.” He says once Matt’s laced up tight. “One more and you’re good.”

“Where am I?”

Frank digs in his kit. “Outside of Bedford. Gotta’ place. It’s a friend’s.”

Clearly, Matt almost hisses. Like he’d bring him to his actual house. Frank sets to work on the stab wound.

“What about... What about the Blacksmith? What...” Matt cuts off with a hiss. Frank apologizes softly, smoothing a hand down his flank, like he’s trying to comfort him.

With the water moving and the slash stitched, the water feels less bloody. Maybe, by the end of this, he’ll actually feel clean.

Frank never does answer him, as he cleans out the rest of his wounds. “You’ll have to dry off so we can wrap these. Anywhere else?”

Matt tries to stare in his general direction, hoping to convey how confusing this whole thing is. He reaches up and taps his hairline, where it had been bleeding before.

The trail that lead to his eyebrow has dried, and so has the original cut, but Frank sets to work in cleaning it out. He uses a plastic cup to pour fresh water over Matt’s forehead, and Matt almost likes how it feels dripping down his nose.

Frank wipes away the stain from his forehead and then digs his thumb into the cut on Matt’s forehead. Matt holds back a groan.

After a couple more cups of water, Frank sight. “You know what...” he starts, and then leaves Matt’s side, digging around under the sink for something Matt can’t place. He’s getting sleepier by the second, his head fuzzy.

Frank slides a hand under Matt’s head and pours another cup of water over the crown of his head. Then, he pumps a soft smelling soap into his hands (hand-soap?) and scrubs it into Matt’s hair.

He can almost hear Foggy’s laugh after he tells him that Frank Castle —very gently, softly, kindly?— washed his hair for him while Matt slowly regenerated blood cells in a half-empty bathtub.

It really does feel nice, but that’s not weird to Matt. Frank is a father, he probably washed his kid's hair all the time. What’s strange is how Frank is reacting to it. Like he’s also enjoying it. Like maybe he enjoys having someone to look after, to care for, to wash their hair.

Pouring water from the cup to remove the soap takes very careful concentration on Frank’s part, who gently tilts Matt’s heavy head back to rinse his hair.

Matt can almost separate the context from the situation and imagine he’s been bathed lovingly by a partner, someone who cares so much about him to hold up his head for him when he’s tired. He selfishly and greedily soaks in the feeling.

{+}

After his bath, Matt changes, rather slowly, out of his wet boxers and into sweats that Frank had provided. Then Matt helps Frank dress his wounds, and clean the few Frank collected himself. Frank slipped a hoodie over his head, muttering something about the heating in this place, and then they head out of the bathroom. They haven’t spoken a word since Matt brought up the Blacksmith.

“I know Baby, I know,” Frank coos as he sets Matt down on the couch. Matt almost thinks he’s talking to him until he turns his attention quickly to the dog. “You’ve been so patient, my girl, you’re so good.”

Matt coughs. “You went back for her.” He states.

Frank shrugs. “I couldn’t leave her. Didn’t know how long I’d be gone for.” He turns his attention back to her. “And where would I be without my Maxxy?”

As Matt finally falls asleep, the bitter smell of dog food in the air, he realizes Frank was talking to her in her car, filling her in on all the details. Matt smiles a little, feeling almost safe, and lets sleep overtake him.