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We Need to Relax

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His heartbeat roared like thunder in his ears. The clattering of metal cut through the din like lightning strikes as deft hands flew over firearms.

Frank had the nasty habit of feverishly tending to his rather impressive collection of weaponry whenever he was stressed. Or when his trigger finger was itching and his boyfriend would not let him off his leash. Matt only did it because he was tired of cleaning up Frank’s messes, and the mutual feeling meant that Matt donned the red suit less too. But while case files and scheduled meetings help keep the lawyer from going stir crazy, the same could not be said for the infamous Punisher.

“Frank, that’s your fourth time going through your arsenal today.”

Matt gave nothing but a tiny shrug to the other’s threatening glare – Foggy told Matt that only a blind person was not literally killed “on sight” by Frank Castle’s ‘Death Glare’, but Matt liked to think he got away with it just because he was himself.

“That means,” Matt reached out and grasped the semi-automatic rifle that was in Frank’s hands, “it’s time to stop, dear.” That earned him a vice-like grip on his wrist, but he did not relent.

“Then what do you suggest?” Frank challenged, slackening his grip but not yet releasing the other.

Matt let a weighted silence settle between them, grinning ever so slightly as he felt Frank’s eyes start to scan his partner’s face for any indication.

“You need to relax.” Matt said finally, plucking the gun from Frank and walking over to the closet where the others – and his own ‘personal effects’ – resided. “We need to relax.” Matt added as he shut the doors and latched the lock – a new addition since Frank had decided to become more of a permanent resident in the Murdock household.

Matt could hear the rushing of Frank’s blood as he knew he had caught the other man’s attention.

“Let’s go to bed, Frank.”

That had the soldier off the couch and on his feet in an instant.

“I sure hope you’re not planning on going to sleep on me, Red.” His voice had a playful growl to it, one that Matt knew very… intimately.

“Oh no, I can assure you, I don’t.”

Frank approached Matt with a renewed vigor – a much different man then he had been moments before. Matt laced their fingers together as he led his partner to their bedroom, an easy smile graced his lips. He left Frank to settle on his side of the bed while he went to rummage through the drawer on his own side.

“Shirt. Off.”

That got Frank going. Matt chuckled to himself as the room was quickly filled with soft grunts and the creaking of the bed.

While he was focused on following the path of the other’s shirt hitting the floor, Frank’s strong hands settled on Matt’s hips, gripping them possessively before sliding them up to relieve him of his shirt too. Now on an even playing field, Matt turned to face Frank and moved to join him, lying down with a relaxed expression as Frank’s hands continued to explore his exposed flesh hungrily.

Matt clicked open the lid on the bottle he had retrieved from the drawer. Frank breathed in deeply after catching a whiff of something that got his attention strongly enough to make him pause where he had been mouthing Matt’s neck.

“Is that Bed & Bath shit?” His voice carried all of his confusion.

“Bath & Body Works lotion, yes.” he replied with a soft grin of amusement.

Frank pulled back further to look at Matt with a crease in his brow as the other gently took his wrists in hand and drug them away from what they had previously sought.

“How about you sit up for me?” Matt said endearingly as he reached up to stroke along Frank’s cheekbone encouragingly.

The two men shuffled around in the bed until Matt settled with his back pressed against the headboard and positioned Frank in front of him with his back exposed. Frank could not manage to keep his hands to himself, so Matt allowed him to rest them on his jutting knees from where they were crossed behind Frank.

Matt focused on the other’s breathing as he emptied some of the bottle’s contents into his hands, his lips twitching at the hitched breath that escaped Frank as the cool lotion made contact with his stiffened shoulders. His thumbs rubbed soothing circles deep into the tight muscles as he waited for his partner to adjust to the gentle touch – a far cry from their usual exchanges in this very same bed.

He drew his hands down to the small of his back, putting pressure on every muscle he passed over. “Relax, Frank.” he whispered as he leaned into the ear of the other, and pressing a soft, lingering kiss over his pounding pulse point.

Frank’s shoulders sagged some as Matt pulled away and a shuddering breath left his partially parted lips. Frank was not used to this tender of treatment, and even he was unnerved by Matt’s touches. He had not been touched like this since—.

Matt gave his shoulder blade a particularly sharp knead to bring him back to reality before he was too far gone. He honestly welcomed the distraction.

The steady hands left his back for a moment to refill with the pungent smelling lotion. Matt must have heard him take a sharp whiff of it, because he softly said: “I like the orange oil because it’s strong. Sometimes I just need to overwhelm my senses at the end of a long day at the office.”

“Or a long night on the rooftops.” Frank chuckled back lowly, getting a light, playful punch from the other.

A comfortable, warm silence settled between them as Matt’s massages slowly reduced the marine to a putty beneath his strong, practiced hands. Frank sank deeper into relaxation as he allowed his mind to focus on the slow, steady breaths that left Matt’s nose – he knew the other was doing it on purpose solely to evoke that response. Even while Matt’s hands were hard at work, Frank could tell that the hyper-vigilant man was genuinely made lax with the activity.

As palms would pass over raised mounds of flesh and fingers would not-so-unconsciously follow the jagged lines of scars, Frank found that light flashes of each one’s memories came back to him. But Matt’s peaceful presence ensured that they did not stay long, and that served to deepen Frank Castle’s newfound calm.

Eventually Frank began to feel less strength behind his lover’s touches, and turned his head at the neck to catch heavy eyelids drooping over his content stare. Frank gave Matt’s knee a light squeeze and rubbed the tender skin along the joint as Matt took the hint and stopped his movements.

After some clumsy shifting with hushed huffs of air being passed between them, Matt had maneuvered to lay on his back and prop his neck and shoulders on their pillows with Frank choosing to settle on his right side. Labor-hardened fingers slowly approached Matt’s placid face, sure to make their movements at a pace that the blind man could thoroughly sense their intent – and that they had a slight tremor in them.

His voice was a whisper with the slightest hint of hesitation.

“Maria loved the lavender kind.”

Fingertips brushed ever so lightly over Matt’s dark, feathery eyelashes before coming up to swipe his thumbs through his eyebrows, down his cheekbones, and traced his jaw.

Matt wanted to find words for his partner, but the way Frank was breathing stopped him. He did not need words in this moment. He just needed this.

Frank lowered himself to settle his head against Matt’s chest, nose letting out a long, exhausted stream of air as he did so. His creased brow eased as he felt the growing vibrations from where Matt began to hum one of the many songs he caught Frank singing as he made breakfast.