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Damned If You Do

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Claire’s first thought when she opened the door to find Matt Murdock standing there without a visible injury was that she was definitely doomed. It was one thing to be firm about not getting involved when he was literally bleeding all over her. Any girl could see the probability of terrible pain outweighed the aesthetic perfection of his form when terrible pain was bloodily outlined right in front of her face. But now, when he was wearing stupid little reflective sunglasses instead of his stupid mask, and he was smiling at her like a totally normal person, now she knew that she was done for.

She’d made bad decisions about men before. She was a practical girl with a deep and true adoration of nice men, but she was also easily bored. Not just by the nice ones, either. She was also bored by the dangerous, mean kind. Anything predictable, really. Her weakness was not bad boys or good boys, but the unpredictable, the mysterious, the new. In that sense, Matt Murdock was like her kryptonite. He might come in through her window battered from saving the world, or he might show up at her door looking like a totally normal person. One minute sadistic masked man throwing people off of roofs, the next standing in her doorway regarding her with a crooked smile too sweet to appear on a grown man’s face.

Claire Temple was totally, decidedly, epically doomed here.

“Hope it’s okay I dropped by,” he said.

“Did you lose your phone?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant. Not that it mattered, since surely he could hear how her heart sped up when he came in. Maybe he would read it as worry. She probably should be worried. But she knew he wasn’t here to be patched up. For one thing, he would only come if his wounds were serious, too serious for him to be standing there smiling that way. For another, she didn’t think he went out and got in fights wearing those glasses.

“You said to call if I needed help,” he said, his smile fading a little. She wondered if he had any idea what he looked like, how his lips moved. It wasn’t like he could look in a mirror and see his own fiery face, was it? Mirrors didn’t work like that, didn’t reflect sound and movement, did they? “I didn’t need help. I… brought you beer, because I’m getting tired of just saying thank you. It’s been a quiet night, so I thought, if you were home…” He hoisted a paper bag that clanked lightly.

“You thought…?” Claire knew she was done for, but she didn’t have to make it easy on him.

His lips quirked. “I thought you might want to drink one with me. Or I can just leave them for you if you’re busy. Or you desperately want me gone.”

She wondered how much he knew about inanimate objects. He was pretty good at avoiding the corners of tables, sitting down on the couch when he was aiming for the couch, finding his glass. But could he tell that there was an empty bowl on the coffee table that used to have popcorn in it? Probably he could smell the popcorn, she remembered. Probably he could smell the faded stain on her tank top too. But he couldn’t see that she didn’t have any make-up on. That was a definite plus in a man with whom one might want to become intimate. No rushing to the bathroom to put on mascara. God, she could justify anything. If only he were bleeding more, she thought, but sighed and stepped back from the door.

“Come in,” she said. She thought she detected a look of relief on his face. How did he know to control what his face said? Maybe from other people’s reactions to him, which was not so different from how sighted people learned, except that they could see themselves in the mirror too, have their own reactions.

He carefully rounded the couch and sat down beside the impression her body had left when she rose to get the door. He put the bag on the table and pulled out a six-pack. “I’ll get a bottle opener,” Claire said. “Unless that is one of your super powers?”

“I don’t have super powers,” he protested, but lightly. He was in a good mood tonight, weirdly good.

“Not if you can’t open beer with your bare hands you don’t,” Claire scoffed, going into the kitchen. She paused a moment, hands in the open drawer, and thought, he came here for me. Not to be bandaged up. Just for me. It was a stupidly thrilling idea and she closed the drawer too hard to shut it in.

“You okay?” he called in.

“Stop eavesdropping,” she called back. “It’s creepy.” She sat back down on the couch and popped the caps on two of the beers, handing one to him. Their pinky fingers met against the bottle and she bit her lip against a sudden rush of desire.

“When you go to the grocery store, do you ask for help?” Claire asked, rolling her own beer bottle between her hands to feel the cool glass on every inch of her palms. “I mean, you have to pretend all the time, don’t you, to be normal?”

“I really am blind,” he reminded her. “I can’t tell which beer is which. If I try really hard, I can maybe tell if one is hoppier than another, or a wheat beer from a lager. But it’s harder with the caps on. Usually I ask someone for a recommendation.”

“Ha! So there are limits to your power.”

“Oh, there are limits,” he said, sounding a little moody now, and that tiny, terrible part of Claire thrilled to hear the change. But then he smiled at her and said, “Colors, for example. I would really like to know the color of your… eyes.”

She sucked in a breath as his flirtation. “Brown,” she said as flatly as she could manage. “Hair, black. I’ve got all my teeth.”

“Thank god for that.”

“Look at you, taking the Lord’s name in vain,” she chided. He arched his brows at her and she said, “I grew up Catholic too, you know.”

That was enough to make him turn his face down, the man of constant sorrow. “So what do you feel guilty for?” he asked.

“Same as you, probably: people I didn’t save.” She thought about her sister, Rosa, who had cried on her shoulder all morning because her period came, again. She thought about her mom, working the night shift tonight. About Hector and the boy who got shot last week, who looked a little like him. She was startled when Matt’s hand brushed her knee, then warmed. She clasped his fingers in hers and decided to up the ante. “Plus the occasional wayward sexual fetish.”

That got a startled laugh from him. He had a good laugh, a good mouth in general. She wanted to see if the corners of his eyes crinkled. “May I?” she asked, reaching for his glasses.

Without them he looked younger. She thought he was probably younger than her by a few years, or maybe it was that he actually had a bit of a baby face when it wasn’t streaked with blood. “Well?” he said.

“Well what?”

“Obviously you want to tell me your sexual fetishes,” he said, “or you wouldn’t have brought them up.” He had turned his head a little towards her but didn’t face her directly as he spoke. How could he possibly know just what angle best showed his jaw and the slight pout of his lower lip?

“Maybe I was just hoping I’d be able to hear your heart beating faster,” she said. She hadn’t let go of his hand. Her thumb idly traced down one long finger, the knuckle ever-so-slightly swollen, and then another.

He took a long pull of his beer and then leaned forward to put it down on the table. When he sat back, his face did turn to her, right at her, though his eyes skittered a little instead of steadying on her face. “Can you?” he asked.

She took a deep breath and let it out through her nose. “No.”

His hand twisted, so that somehow now it was holding hers instead of the other way around. Her palm tingled at the loss of control. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t,” he said.

They were nearing the breaking point, both of them. She smiled and wondered if he could see that somehow. Did a smile look different than a grimace to him — a different stretching of flesh and baring of teeth? “Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot.”

“When you’re having sex, is it hard to hide all your extra senses?”

He spluttered a little at that, covered his face with his free hand for a moment, then finally shook his head, smiling a little reluctantly. “Not really. It’s probably easier than the rest of the time because when you’re so… close to someone, they expect you to do everything by touch. Blind people don’t have to be bad in bed, not like walking down the street.”

“So it’s a little like when you’re fighting: the only time you really get to be you?”

His fingers tightened a little around hers. “Not… the only time.”

She wondered if he could hear her heart beating faster right then.

“So sexy Matt is totally normal, then, huh?”

He chuckled, and man, sexy Matt did not begin to describe it. “Well it was kind of terrible the first time a girl tried to fake an orgasm and I… You sure you want to hear about this?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Well it’s kind of hard to trick me, uh, because I can tell physiologically—“

“Got that part.”

“Well, sometime in my early college years, I was kind of drunk and not performing, let’s say, up to my usual standards, and I think she must have just decided she was tired — she wasn’t not enjoying it, she just—“

“Oh God. No need to go further into detail there, friend,” Claire said hurriedly, laughing despite herself.

“Well, she wanted it over, I guess, because she started making these noises…” Matt looked at if he might be about to start demonstrating, but couldn’t get past a bubble of laughter in his throat. “Just — crazy noises — and I knew, I knew that it was not happening, but I didn’t know what to do, just go with it or—“

Claire lost it then, picturing the baffled teenage boy Matt had once been. He was laughing too, along with a little light ashamed moaning. When she could breath again, her head had somehow ended up on his shoulder. Doomed doomed doomed.

“What did you do?” she asked finally.

“I pretended I believed her. That was clearly what she wanted, for whatever reason. She could have just told me to stop.”

“She probably liked you,” Claire said. “She wanted to make you feel good.”

“How could I feel good because of something false? And why would she ever want to be with someone who wouldn’t make her feel good?” he wondered aloud.

“Probably because she didn’t know how to make herself feel good. She didn’t know she deserved that.” Oh, Claire, there you go, she thought. As if he could sense the shift in her mood — he probably could — he stiffened a little, and then turned toward her and cupped her face in his hand.

“You make me feel good, Claire,” he said quietly. “I don’t know if I do that for you.”

“You do now,” she said as honestly as she could. “Right now, when you touch me like that. When you sit here on my couch making me laugh, that feels good to me.”

“But it won’t always be like this,” he said, and even though it made her want to roll her eyes she knew he said it to himself as much as to her.

“Honestly, if it was always like this, I probably wouldn’t always feel so good about it,” she said. A little line appeared on his forehead as he tried to understand that. She didn’t feel like explaining it now, how she wanted too many things all at once, how her sister said it was because their dad had been gone so much, and Claire was his favorite, and so she wanted to be loved but not too much, and how Claire fought back against that characterization, fought and fought but ultimately admitted the truth of the effect if not the cause. He’d learn all that, if he stuck around. If he didn’t die first. He’d figure out he wasn’t the only screwed up one. But not right now. Now they’d done enough talking. She told herself the part about him dying again, but with him hot and healthy and right there, it was hard to believe it.

She slid her hand from his cheek down over his shoulder, along the corded ridges of his back. “Matt?” she murmured.

“Mmm?”

“If I promise not to make crazy noises, will you show me your usual standards? Give me the ol’ Matt Murdock special?”

“Not if you call it that!” he protested, laughing. Before she could draw in a breath she was pressed flat onto her back, his hips grinding her down in the couch cushions. Heat rushed through her, and she wondered if he could see the flames leaping. “Anyway, I think I can do significantly better than standard.”

Oh she was damned for how much she loved the laughing arrogance in his voice, and the heat of his mouth on hers, and the weight of his fighter’s form bearing down on her. But damn did he feel good.

His mouth left hers, skating along her jaw and finding the spot just behind her ear that made her whole body writhe. “You cheat,” she gasped.

“I know,” he murmured smugly, tongue flicking against the spot again and again, until her hands clenched into his shirt and skin and her hips bucked up against his helplessly. He paused, blew a tiny gust of air against her damp skin and made her shudder, and then pulled far enough away for her to drag his shirt over his head. Before her eyes could find the scars she knew so well now he was pulling her sweatshirt up and she was caught in its fold — none of Matt Murdock’s easy grace here — and then his thumbs were tracing the skin of her collarbone, the edge of her bra.

“Isn’t lingerie kind of wasted on you?” she asked, catching her breath.

“Not the lacy kind.” His fingers traced the edge of her non-lacy, work-day bra, pink but he couldn’t see that.

“Too bad you didn’t call before you came over,” she teased.

He grinned wolfishly. “Next time.” He put his mouth to her breast, finding her nipple unerringly through the cloth. His teeth scraped across it and she drew in a sharp breath. He was pulling the straps down, exposing more skin. Her hands went in his hair, her hips opened as she rubbed one foot against his calf, leting him sink deeper into her. The cup of her bra bent back, revealing one breast and he oh-so-delicately put his mouth to her nipple. Her eyes closed and she let herself feel it in her whole body, his small, teasing licks, the heat of his breath on her, his hand catching her wrist to keep it from flailing. Oh! He flicked her other nipple with a quick finger, sending a sharp sweet shock through her. Her eyes flew open but he must have known how much she liked the surprise because he lifted his head and said, “Close them,” and she did. Sweet, soft kisses and licks followed, interrupted occasionally by the unexpected jolts of intensity, as if he knew, as if he really knew exactly what she needed. Perhaps he did. Claire couldn’t worry about what kind of control that gave him, not now, though she knew she would later, when she could think again.

Before Claire even consciously had the thought that her bra strap was digging in at a very uncomfortable angle, he moved, reaching around to unhook it and soothing the lines it had drug into her skin while Claire simply lay there and panted.

He knelt up a little, reached between them to the button of her jeans and waited there. She nodded, and then mentally kicked herself for forgetting to use her voice, and then realized it didn’t matter because he knew anyway. “That you would have had to remember not to do,” Claire said, as he popped the button open and urged the jeans over her hips.

“I’m not sure I would have,” he admitted, his voice husky. “I’m not thinking that straight right now.”

“Me neither.”

He ran a hand up her bare thigh, pausing just before he touched her panties. There was strain in his face, along with the anticipation. “What is it?” she asked.

He flashed a bone-melting smile and said, “You probably won’t like this, but…the smell of you is just… unbelievable.”

Claire felt her whole body flush and he chuckled, swooping down unerringly to kiss her again. His hand slipped into her underwear and traced the outlines of her labia, almost like when he first touched her face. He found her clit and made her jump even as his mouth continued to claim hers, his tongue stroking deeper into her as his fingers explored. She pushed back, wrapping her arms around his neck and claiming his mouth in turn, pressing her hips up to meet his hand. When his fingers left her she sighed but he brought them up, licking her juices from his pointer finger before feeding his other fingers into her mouth. “See how good you taste?” he whispered and Claire bit him, lest he think he was entirely in control here.

He reacted quickly, hauling her wrists up over her head and holding them in an iron grip. She turned her face to meet his and remembered too late that he couldn’t meet her eyes at a moment like this, they couldn’t share a look that said, I know what you’re doing. The disappointment lasted only a second, and she wondered if he could feel that too, but he was already moving, burying his face between her legs to lick and suck and drive everything out of her but pure animal pleasure. As expertly as he had played every other part of her body he played her right up the edge of orgasm, paused long enough for her to curse him in two languages, and then sent her over the edge, gasping and clutching at his hair and the couch cushions and her heart must be like a giant drum now, splitting his skull open with how fast it raced.

As she came down he put his head against her thigh and she thought maybe breathed her in. The thought was sort of terrifying and wonderful at the same time. She found herself petting his hair, as if to make up for trying to pull it out a moment before. “Come here,” she said softly, hoarsely. He came up the couch, twisting their bodies so he lay beside her instead of on top of her. She took the opportunity to touch him, to run her hands down his muscled arms and over his chest. So beautiful, his body, and so horribly functional. What had it physically cost him to turn himself into a weapon? She had a beginning of a guess at the emotional toll, and she certainly understood the wounds he’d taken. But before all that, how long had he trained, all alone, trying to shape this arm and these perfect washboard abs? Her hand met his longest scar, the one she had stitched when he was so close to death he couldn’t even remember that she had been there the next day.

“What are you thinking?” he asked in a whisper.

“I’m thinking that you must have some ‘splaining to do about these scars,” Claire said, “to girls who aren’t me, I mean.”

He took her hand and moved it off the scar, to settle on his face. They were forehead to forehead and eye to eye but it didn’t mean anything, because wherever he was, it wasn’t in his eyes, which flickered here and there, never facing her straight on.

“I wouldn’t know,” he said. “I haven’t been with anyone since the first time you stitched me up.”

Her eyes roamed his face, looking for the telltale signs of sincerity or its lack that she would normally have found in the eyes of a lover. If the eyes were windows to the soul, how would she ever see into Matt’s? Did she even want that? His face was still, open, but it was so hard to tell what that meant. She stroked his cheek and wished she could hear the telltale beat of his heart.

Still, she believed him. She knew it probably had more to do with his busy vigilante lifestyle than it did with pining for her, but she still believed him. She ran her fingers over his lips and said, “Then what are we doing waiting around here?” He smiled beneath her fingers, and she knew then what it must feel like to him, how one could tell the difference between a smile and a grimace. His felt sweet and a little silly, like a little boy on Christmas morning. “How about the bed?” she suggested. “I already have enough bodily fluids on this couch.”

He was upright in a hot second, picking her up with him in an impressive display of all those muscles. She wrapped her arms around his neck and let him carry her into her room, even though it was kind of ridiculous. Once she was on the bed, he dropped his jeans and boxers, revealing an erection that did not look nearly as patient as he had been acting.

“Here.” Claire reached into her bedside table and tossed him a condom, which he easily caught. “Another thing you shouldn’t do with anyone else,” she noted.

“Who says I want to do this with anyone else?” he asked. He rolled it on himself and came onto the bed with her. She took a moment to admire his legs, which she had far fewer opportunities to observe than his torso, and then he was kissing her again, deep, drugging, hot kisses that made her forget everything but how much she wanted him to fuck her.

He planted his back against her headboard and pulled her up to straddle him, holding her hips so that she hovered just over his straining cock. She gripped his shoulders and lowered herself down, taking him inside inch by rigid inch. Her head tilted back, her neck unable to sustain its weight as everything coalesced on the feeling of him inside her. “Goddamn,” she breathed as she settled fully onto him. His hand in her hair pulled her head back up and she caught a glimpse of his fierce expression before his kissed her again and thrust his hips up, driving the blunt head of his dick just that little bit deeper. She bit his lip and began to roll her hips, rising up and then jamming back down on him, over and over. On every downthrust he rose to meet her, and she felt him hit something wondrous and terrible inside her, and a little part of her knew she was making crazy noises after all but she couldn’t help it.

“Say it again,” he said, biting her ear.

“Goddamn.”

“Again.”

Goddamn! Oh fuck, Matt, oh fuck, oh my god, god.” She lost even the ability to curse when she came, locking down onto him, arms and legs and teeth and cunt pulsing as he rocked inside of her. Goddamn, goddamn. Oh, Matt. She loosened her hold a little, licked the skin where her teeth had left a mark.

He pushed her hair out of her face and kissed her. She could feel him still pulsing inside of her, his whole body pulsing with need even as he kissed her so sweetly.

“How do you want to fuck me?” she asked him.

“Any way is pretty great,” he said with that shit-eating grin but she shook her head, forgetting to think about whether or not he could see.

“How do you want to fuck me?” she asked again. “It’s okay, Matt. You’ve made me feel good. Really fucking good. I want you to feel that way too.”

“I do,” he said, but there was a thread in his voice that even she, with her normal human hearing, could pull out.

“Do you want to take me from behind?” she whispered into his ear. “Or tie me to the bed and have your way with me? Do you want to hurt me?” She could feel his cock swelling inside of her though his face was anguished and she wished she didn’t have to do this to him. “It’s okay. Remember my wayward sexual fetishes? One of them is, I like to be hurt, a little. Come on, Matt, make me feel good.”

He broke at that, flipping her onto her back and pulling out of her only to pound back in so hard she slid across the sheets. She gasped, feeling him all the way up into her throat. He pulled her legs up over his shoulders and continued pounding her into the mattress, each thrust ripping into her but so good, so deep. His right hand found her nipple and twisted it, sharply, making her cry out and his other hand covered her mouth but he did not pause, relentlessly driving into her as she came again, sobbing, and felt her head drop right off the side of the bed. He hauled her back and threw her onto her stomach and came back inside of her, his hand torturing her clit as he hit new depths at this angle and she slumped forward, trembling with each thrust, clawing at the bed. His open palm hit her ass and she jumped, and then he did it again, pulled her hips back to meet him until he was so far inside of her she thought he might have broken something and she heard him cry her name, as if in pain, and then felt him shudder and thrust, once, twice more before he let them both slump forward to the mattress.

His ability to think seemed to return before hers, because by the time she was once again aware of her body he had turned them both to a sort of boneless spooning position. She laughed, not quite sure why, perhaps simply impressed with them both.

Not my usual standard,” he murmured, half apologetic, half proud.

She twisted on her back so she could look at him, even though she didn’t know if that mattered to him, to have her face turned his direction. “I demand the extraordinary,” she said. She ran a hand down his side, over his thigh. “Which this is, at least from my perspective.”

She thought he wanted to ask her again, just for confirmation, but of course he didn’t need to. He knew she was telling the truth, that she’d asked for what she wanted and was glad she’d gotten it. But had she guessed right about what he wanted? She took a deep breath and braced herself just to ask, but he hushed her.

“You deserve someone who is better at this stuff. Not the sex — the super senses help with that, I think, but — everything else. The truth is I’ve never really been able to be myself with anyone before. I mean, all sides of myself. I don’t know how to do that.” And this, this was why she was a goner, she thought, though she was too glowy from the aftermath of multiple orgasms for it actually to bother her. A man who could fuck her into the mattress and then talk about his feelings. A man who had all the sides, and needed someone to show them to. A man who, because of all those sides, was almost certainly going to hurt her down the road. Yep, she was done for.

“So you did like that?” Claire asked, just to be sure.

He smiled. “Yes, I definitely liked that. I think you did too?”

“Authentic crazy noises,” Claire confirmed. She turned back on her side and snuggled back into him. He was still hot against her back. She liked the hard planes of him, the way his tenseness had finally melted away. She pulled his left arm underneath her neck and threaded his beautiful, beat-up fingers through hers. If she was already a goner, she at least intended to enjoy her hell.