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His mouth tastes like blood and his blood tastes like the street—foul grit under someone's boots—watery oil cast across pavement. He wants something to drink, something that burns clean. There's beer in his icebox, but that won't do the trick. His left eye is swelling shut. Every joint draws its own razors. Maybe last month, he would've stumbled home, scrubbed his tongue with toothpaste, and listened to the headboard cracking into plaster two floors down as a lullaby. It's not last month. It's an early spring in Hell's Kitchen and the rain is soaking into his bones, gluing him together. It's cold and he wants whiskey and Foggy's place is seven city blocks away as the crow flies.

If Matt were smart, he'd go home. But everyone's made a career out of telling Matt to become different kinds of smart, and tonight he decides fuck them. Fuck them all. His face hurts. His head hurts. He wants a drink.

He can do that kind of thing, now. Go see his—go see Foggy. Absorb all of Foggy's outrage and worry, let it feel good on his skin, like the buzz of electricity inside a telephone pole—like someone humming into Matt's palm. Yes, like that. It makes his toes curl sometimes. It makes his chest feel tight.

If he thinks about it too much, he remembers the night after Wilson Fisk beat his spine into the concrete, how Foggy so easily dug through his ribcage and found Matt's angry, sickly heart—how he wrung the rot out of it, and nothing had ever hurt like that, not all the beatings, not all the knives. Foggy is a good lawyer because he illuminates the ugly truths for what they are, and Matt is—illuminated—made to account for his sins. He carries that scar with him. He carries it, remembering, and feels better for having Foggy's kindness back. Forgiveness is close to divinity. He's going to work hard to earn it.

Tonight, the scar aches more than usual, but he doesn't think anything's wrong. Not until he's jacking up the window to Foggy's apartment, breathing in the scent of four-day-old Chinese leftovers and an overworked iron, taking a big inhale, holding it inside of him. Then he realizes his hands are shaking, his stomach's awash in bile. He's going to throw up. Concussion? No, but there's a wanting in him, an awful maw that's blurring all of his boundaries and sending him desperately to safety. Blackness layered over blackness, new ways to get lost. Matt slams the sash behind him and listens to himself drip on the linoleum. Every droplet threatens to drag him beneath the undertow.

Sometimes he's just so sick of seeing nothing but fire—of feeling nothing but pain.

Matt drags the mask off of his face and drops it in a sodden heap. He listens for the slight vibration of glass in the cupboards—a fat bottle clinking against another full of syrup, there, the whiskey, half-empty but promising—and he's prying it free when Foggy stumbles into the kitchen. Foggy must be wearing pajama pants, because the hems drag on the floor. His lotion is almost odorless—the one Matt bought him for Christmas.

"Hey," Foggy says, baffled. "Okay. Hey."

Matt sucks down a mouthful of alcohol and it's good, sharp like a cut, puncturing the taste of alleyway swill so neatly he could cry. "Hey," he agrees, but it comes out all wrong, in pieces.

He wipes his cheek.

Foggy is probably about to say something—but his heartbeat stutters—a sign Matt recognizes well—and like a flare gun, it wakes up something in Matt that knows that stutter, that knows how to respond to it. He takes another swig from the bottle and heaves himself over. He never touches Foggy when he's been wearing the mask, afraid of things transferable, of what would carry over. So it's a shock to the system to have warm, living skin beneath his hand. Foggy is solid, big. He smells like his home.


He smells so fucking good sometimes. Like a real person. Like a good person. Matt shudders and slides his hands down a stomach that's kind of soft—there's hair winding down, coarser, flat curls—the waistband of his pajama pants, the slightly inflamed ridge where the cord digs in too tight. Foggy is saying something, but the world is narrowed and small and quiet. Relief waters down the rage in him, silences the itchiness of healing knuckles and the ghosts that move them to bleed.

Matt leans forward until his forehead bumps into a nose. Foggy's still talking to him. If he tilts his head—yes. Yes.

He doesn't kiss him. He just presses his mouth against Foggy's mouth and breathes him in, like it hurts. It does hurt.

It's enough to just taste him: banana Laffy Taffy, a crown that's starting to decay. But Matt must make a noise, he must crumple a little, because Foggy frames his face with his hands and tells him it's okay. "Hey," he says, "hey hey hey. You're okay. We're okay. Whatever it is, we can fix it."

"I want," strangles Matt, and can't finish.

"We're okay," Foggy repeats, clumsy and earnest. "God, is this why you can't keep any of your pretty girls?" He strokes Matt's cheeks with his thumbs, pulls him in close. "You gotta calm down. This can't be good for your heart, man."

It hurts, but Foggy kisses him, drinks him all in, and that's—good. That's better. Usually Matt likes to take it easy, likes to drag his lips across a woman's, likes to lift the imprint of her gloss and learn her teeth. This isn't slow-going, but it is slow, Foggy licking him open and sinking in, hungry, sweet. He kisses all the air out of Matt and asks for more. It's not right, Matt thinks in distraction, that Foggy never gets the girl, that everyone passes right over him, because he's got technique and he means it, nothing's for show.

It goes straight to Matt's cock.

He's always gotten hard quickly, but never like this. Matt burns where Foggy's fingers press in, as if he's been branded and made pliable. Arousal creeps hot and low in his belly, and he wants to be touched more. He wants hands on his hips and under his thighs and pressing down on his sternum and light against his ankles oh Jesus oh God. He wants weight keeping him down, pocketing him against the sheets. He wants out of these clothes and out of his skin.

Foggy must know. He must, because he sucks in a word and holds it until he can't seem to bear the taste. Then he wheels Matt into the kitchen wall, lodges him against the splatter of plaster bumps, a flurry of words that mean nothing without someone to put them in order. The impact rings in Matt's skeleton like he's a tuning fork. Someone next door is watching the television on mute, because the power is on but the unit's making no noise. That's how Matt feels, too.

"Matt," rasps Foggy, his name a scratch of sandpaper against his jaw. He kisses Matt again and squeezes his sides—presses in like he can compact him—fingernails scraping the bare skin above Matt's hip.

The scratch is like an electric current up Matt's spine. He pants and digs his heels in. Rubs against Foggy like a teenager, his zipper digging in uncomfortably. But even that feels good, that little pinch. His heartbeat is in staccato. It fills his ears with the noisiness of his own blood, makes him roll his hips, scares the shit out of him.

He doesn't know how to do this—not with someone who knows how to break him open and peek inside. Not even when that someone is as gentle as Foggy.

"Easy," Foggy says, just between them, "easy." He presses damp, soft kisses against Matt's stubble, hiding them in his throat. He keeps stroking Matt's groin through his jeans, thumb tracing the seam, and it's not enough but at the same time it's entirely too much. "C'mon, buddy, you gotta relax."

"No," says Matt. He scrambles for the cord at Foggy's waist, pausing only when he feels the swelling beneath cotton—hot, and he hadn't expected it somehow—that Foggy would be hard, too, that they'd both be prickly and wanting.

Foggy laughs. "The look on your face."

"You smell like sex," says Matt, feeling stupid as soon as he says it.

"I don't think that's my fault," Foggy says. He pops the button to Matt's jeans; the experience of someone else tugging the denim there fucks with Matt's head in all the best ways. He shudders and impresses back into the wall as Foggy unzips him. "Although if you don't like it, that's cool. We can stop?"

"Foggy," he says, and the syllables resound in everything. They drown out the alley cats—they dampen the soft wet breathing of children to nothing.

"Gotta open your legs some," murmurs Foggy. "C'mon, let me, Matt."

His hand presses in between Matt's thighs, groping, searching. The pressure—small as it may be—wrecks Matt.

"Fuck," he gasps, grinding down against Foggy's palm. "Oh god—oh no, no."

"No?" Foggy asks, worried, but it doesn't matter. The world is already careening and Matt comes clutching a fistful of pajama pants and Foggy's wrist, holding him in place. He's not even touching Matt's cock, not really. Matt hasn't even—he's still wearing his jeans, and it's humiliating, and it's amazing, and—

"Oh. Oh wow," says Foggy. "Really?"

His heartbeat, fluttering beneath Matt's fingertips, says something else.

For a long minute, Matt can't do anything except try to catch his breath. He's sticky and his face hurts again, but not like before. He doesn't realize he's still clutching Foggy's hand until Foggy shifts and grazes his thigh. When he does realize, he swallows.

"I should—" he starts to say, and stops. Then, "I'd like to. I'd like."

"Oh," Foggy says, in a different tone. "Really?"

(When Matt gets on his knees, he can feel the tiles quiver in time with the southbound train. He mouth tastes like blood and his blood tastes like something newly born, iron-rich, like their shared saliva. He presses a kiss into Foggy's hip in personal blessing—a benediction—the free and full forgiveness of school boys over spilt wine.)