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world on fire

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first.

he touches you and you light on fire. your wrist blazes where his fingers meet your skin. the burns don’t show, but it’s hard to breathe with ash in your lungs. it’s so hard to breathe. you’re suffocating daily.


For all of Matt’s staunch Catholicism, his whispered prayers sent to heaven in the form of smoke on a cold January morning, his cross burning a hole in his sternum, he feels as though he has been cast into a living hell. All he can see, for miles and miles, is fire, burning in front of his sightless eyes, and he becomes nothing if he does not force himself to feel the flames.

Foggy’s fingertips brushing against his skin are like lit matches, scalding him as they pass, digging circles into his white skin and leaving behind crisp skin and ash. Matt traces the path with his own fingertips, cold as ice after Foggy’s blazing touch, and he welcomes the cigarette burns like he welcomes the all-consuming inferno that Foggy has irrevocably become in his life.

Their hands touch, and Matt could swear he feels the Devil stir within him. Every graze is the burn of a sharp knife against his skin, blood drawn and fire soaring out of his veins. Each swallow of alcohol smoldering in his throat feels like Foggy’s palms against his skin. He feels as though he has doused himself in gasoline and fallen headfirst into a bonfire. He wants to be scorched by Foggy’s touch, he finds; he wants, more than he has ever wanted anything else, to feel the blisters that the burns leave behind.

Foggy exhales, too close, and Matt is instantly on his funeral pyre, the flames engulfing him, the smoke columns stretching to the moon. He can feel nothing else but burning heat throbbing under his skin and Foggy’s touch coursing through his veins, right below the surface of it all. Foggy touches their foreheads together, he whispers Matt’s name, and Matt knows that he is a sinner, because he would never leave Hell if it meant losing the fire.

Matt inhales and chokes, the flames and the ash filling his lungs, packing his mouth until he can no longer feel his tongue. His wrists are scalded messes, the insides of his elbows are burnt cinder that was once a forest. Foggy’s smile presses against Matt, and the burns simmer right under the skin, bubbling with heat, and Foggy must not see them or he would know that he is filled to the brim with hellfire.

Foggy must not see anything, because Matt opens his mouth and ash pours out, yet Foggy touches him still, speaks to him with breath rushing across Matt’s heated skin. Foggy must not know anything, because Matt breathes in fire and exhales smoke and all he can see, for miles and miles, is darkness and flame, and Foggy is the Devil under his skin. Foggy must not burn like Matt does.


second.

it hurts to watch him. he shines. he’s brighter than the sun, he’s too beautiful for your eyes. it’s hard to look at him. it’s even harder to look away from him. you’re going blind.


Foggy wishes, sometimes, that Matt could see, so that he could see himself. Foggy wishes that Matt knew what it felt like to go blind the way that Foggy went blind, because an accident took Matt’s vision, but Matt is taking Foggy’s. Looking at Matt is like looking directly into the sun, and it gives Foggy headaches, and it makes his throat ache and his eyes throb, and it makes his hands shake like he hasn’t slept in weeks. Matt cannot see Foggy seeing, and Foggy sometimes wishes he knew at the same time that he is glad that he doesn’t.

Foggy can spend time in his office, staring across the space, through the windows, at Matt, who types furiously, who tips his head back like he can look at the ceiling, who takes off his sunglasses only for Foggy, and who stares with sightless eyes that Foggy sometimes envied. He is slowly going blind, steadily losing his vision, one piece at a time, in exchange for one more glance at Matt, then one more, then another, one last look-

And he wishes it would just be over, all at once, as much as he wishes it would never end. Matt is brighter than anything on this planet, and beyond it still, beyond the sun and beyond the stars, to a blackness that shines so bright that no scientist can fathom it, that no man can dare to cast his eyes on it. Foggy knows that his eyes are nothing, nothing in the face of Matt’s brilliance, his luminous self, and Foggy can only hope that he can hold out long enough to permanently burn the sun-drenched imprint of Matt onto his brain. He wants Matt to be stitched onto the inside of his eyelids. He wants Matt to be the sunspots Foggy sees after he looks away. He wants Matt.

Foggy sometimes thinks that Karen notices, that she looks at Matt and sees at least half the shine that Foggy sees, but then she looks at him with those devastated eyes, and Foggy wonders what it is she sees when she sees Matt. He does not allow himself to wonder what it is she sees when she sees Foggy, because he fears that she sees what he sees, and he cannot stand to see that verification reflected in her eyes from his.

Foggy wishes he would go blind, because he cannot look away from Matt. He wishes some almighty power would take the decision out of his hands. He feels like he has never once taken his eyes off Matt, like the first time he caught sight of him was also the very last, and he has locked on and lost the key. He wishes he could look away. He wishes he could see something new, something separate from Matt and the shine that has burned in Foggy’s eyes for years. He wishes he could be free, sometimes, but then he admits to himself that he would rather have Matt’s scorching shine than the darkness that would surely come if Matt left.

Foggy is going blind. Not blind like Matt, because Matt can still see. Matt knows what dogs are like, what sunsets are like, what Central Park and rose petals and cigarette smoke are like. Foggy finds that, sometimes, he can’t even remember what the rest of the world looks like. Foggy is going blind, because all he can see is Matt, like how all Matt can see is nothing, and the brightness is like a blinding darkness on the inside of his eyelids.


third.

your ears are tuned to his voice. you could pick him out in a sea of thousands. his voice makes pretty singers who sing pretty songs sound dull. his voice makes everything else sound ugly.


If Matt knows anything, he knows Foggy. He can hear Foggy’s voice down entire city blocks. He can be sitting in his apartment, and he can hear Foggy whisper to Karen in their office, though he can never hear Karen’s reply. He can hear Foggy’s soft laugh, and the clink of his watch against the coffeepot when he stumbles, and the gentlest of moans when Foggy shuts the door of his office, folds himself against the door, and loses himself.

Matt knows the sound of Foggy’s voice at their graduation. He knows the brush of cloth against Foggy’s skin, and the shouting over the voices, and the determination in his steps as he heads towards Matt. He knows the sound of Foggy’s voice thirty stories up above him, and the angry tone he takes when he gets frustrated, and the slam of doors as he rips out of their old office like a typhoon, like a tornado, like an unstoppable force of nature that takes Matt by the hand and throws him out into the street, just like he wanted. Matt knows the sound of Foggy’s voice in his apartment, and the crack in the middle of his words that he just can’t suppress, and the silence that means he wants Matt to know he is being crushed underneath the weight of losing two senses, as well as losing Foggy.

Foggy’s silences speak as loud as his words, and the silence he leaves behind in Matt’s apartment screams after the slam of the door stops echoing. Matt presses his hands over his ears and breathes out. He can hear Foggy’s heartbeat. He can hear Foggy’s heartbeat, as important as his voice, thundering in his chest as he nearly jumps down the staircases in his haste to get out, get out of Matt’s apartment, get out of Matt’s building, get out of Matt’s life, and Matt can’t breathe, he can’t breathe in the silence-

Foggy’s voice as he talks to Marci on the phone is one of the worst sounds Matt has ever heard, and still he listens to every word, clings to each syllable, because Foggy is speaking and Matt always listens when Foggy speaks. His words are rough like music, his tone is harsh like a song, and instruments clatter at the ends of his sentences. Matt can’t stand to listen to the buzz of the billboard and the hum of the refrigerator and the howls of Hell’s Kitchen, because they all sound like the Devil’s cacophony after Foggy’s voice.

Matt never wants to stop listening to Foggy. Foggy stopped listening to Matt.


fourth.

the color of his eyes is blue enough to drown in. he is turning you into a clichéd love-wrecked being. you’re drowning, always sinking. down, down, down.


Foggy comes back to him, because he will never not come back to Matt. Never, not if Matt dives into a black suit and a blacker night in order to feel right in his chest, not if Matt wraps his hands around Foggy’s throat and finishes the job he started the first time they met. Matt stares at Foggy, his eyes unfocused somewhere near Foggy’s ear, and Foggy wonders, not for the first time, exactly how much Matt can see. Can Matt see the ocean water in Foggy’s lungs? Can he see the sea-salt-sweat on Foggy’s clammy palms? Can Matt see him for what he really is?

Matt’s eyes are blue and they stand out stark from the whites of his eyes, from the shadows of his skin, like salvation in an endless, baking desert. Matt’s eyes are blue and Foggy could never explain the color to him, has only ever said, “blue, you know what blue looks like,” whenever Matt has asked him to remind him. Foggy cannot say the words out loud to Matt, because saying the words out loud is like admitting to a secret that he never really knew he had. Maybe he knew and never acknowledged it. Maybe Matt knew, too.

Foggy can’t say to Matt that he knows exactly what shade of blue Matt’s eyes are, and they are the blue of the last thing you see when you drown. They are the exact color of waves breaking above your face when you stop struggling for the surface, when light breaks between the sky and the sea, when sea salt foams white and you try to blink it away in your last seconds. He looks like that last watery gasp, the wavering blue that can only come of that particular blend of sky, sea, and certain death.

Foggy could never tell Matt that looking into his eyes is like swallowing an ocean. Matt’s sightless eyes staring through him remind him that he was once on a ship, but that he is so consumed now by the ocean and the tides that everything else is a distant memory. Matt is like drowning, Foggy decides. The opposite of burning alive, which is quick and sudden and too present to be ignored, drowning is slow and painful and stays in the back of his mind for years until his lungs can’t take it anymore. Loving Matt is like asking to be drowned.

Foggy feels like weights are tied to his ankles. He feels like meeting Matt tightened the knots, and falling in love with Matt was like binding bricks to the frayed rope ends and sending them all into the water together. For Foggy, loving Matt, and Matt’s ocean-cold touch, and Matt’s drowning-blue eyes, is like sinking down, down, down, and knowing that he will never be able to rise back up. Loving Matt is like filling his lungs with ocean water until he knows absolutely nothing else besides the pain of drowning.


fifth.

you know him. you love him. through a thousand lifetimes, across millions of stars, you’d find him, you’d never leave him. you love him, till death do you part.


Matt knows nothing like he knows Foggy. He knows that Foggy has been taken the second it happens. If Foggy is not with Matt, then something is wrong, normally sitting like a weight in Matt’s chest. A knife twists in the back of Matt’s skull when Foggy is taken; the weight in his chest rises into his throat. He is pulling himself into the suit before he can think, and he is hurtling out of the window before he can breathe.

He follows the sound of Foggy’s manic heartbeat for miles, hunting him like a predator tracks his prey, and he knows that Foggy is not speaking at all, though he is being spoken to. A spike of pride surges through Matt like a lightning bolt in the form of a migraine. It is followed by sickening nausea accompanied by the crunch of bone, and, for a moment, he feels as though he is the one holding Foggy’s puzzle pieces in his hands.

He knows Foggy, and so he follows him. He loves Foggy, and so he cannot help himself from making it as terrible as possible, for inflicting unspeakable torture on the members of the faction of Fisk’s army that have been seeking the Daredevil. He wants to make them sorry they found him. He leaves them alive, his one rule. God’s righteous anger flows through him, and he wields it like a knife, an avenging angel tearing apart Hell on Earth.

Matt finds Foggy alive, and he tries to pull the pieces back together. If he knows one thing, he knows Foggy. If he loves anything, he loves Foggy. He knows he is not so easily glued back together. He knows that he will never stop loving him. He knows, he knows, he knows, and he needs Foggy to know, too. Foggy, barely alive, eyes burning holes in Matt’s face, listens to him as Matt pushes bones into place with horrible cracks.

“I love you,” Matt says, and Matt knows that Foggy can hear the years behind his words. “I love you,” he says again, and Matt knows that Foggy believes him. “I love you,” he whispers, and Matt knows that Foggy’s silence speaks more than a reply. Foggy is unconscious again, Matt realizes in the next second, and Matt has to fix him to his back and streak through the city like a bat out of Hell in his rush to get back to his apartment.

Matt is nothing if he is not the unholiest man of God the Earth has ever been graced with, and it is a miracle that he is still alive. Foggy’s lips are bloody, his skin is torn, his body in tatters around the marks of blades, and Matt prays like he has never prayed before. Matt’s holiest prayer is for the man who saved the Devil’s life.

Matt could be blind, could be deaf, could be numb or empty or nothing at all, and still he would know Foggy. He would know, through a million reincarnations, how it feels to pull thread through Foggy’s smooth, swollen skin. He would know, in a thousand different lifetimes, the burn of Foggy’s stare in Matt’s direction. Matt sees only Foggy in the endless nothing, sees the story of their life, and knows that, if there is a God, Foggy is the only reason for everything He has created, and the rest is just for show.

Foggy is a mess under his hands, feeling like lines of thread and broken skin and splintered bone. Matt pulls together the pieces to the best of his ability, and he presses himself into Foggy’s skin, and he whispers prayers against Foggy’s wounds like they were rosary beads. Foggy’s hands tear at Matt’s armor, knot in Matt’s hair, rip away at his skin, and Matt takes him in. They tangle in each other, Matt’s tears falling into Foggy’s blood-stiff hair, Foggy’s fast breaths disappearing into Matt’s flesh.

Matt wishes he could have him forever. Matt wishes he could have him for a day. Matt will never leave him, and he will never leave Matt, and Matt wishes he could have him like he has never wished for anything else. Matt prays to God like he never has before, and he will never doubt the Lord again. Foggy’s mouth is a blessing. His touch is a benediction. His words are an absolution. He is a divine sanction. Matt could not love him more.


(sixth.

he loves you, too.)


Foggy can breathe again, for the first time since Matt first walked into his life with fire in his eyes and oceans in his mouth and destruction in the lines of his palms. Foggy hears Matt’s words and knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is no lie in the words there. He may not trust Matt yet, but he can trust the way Matt’s lips shape his name, and he can trust the way Matt grinds against his hips, and he can trust the way Matt whispers his sins to him like their love is a confessional.

Matt drops a revelation between them and trips backwards, then falls forwards, head-first into sin and salvation. Foggy feels like he is living through an everlasting baptism, where his entire world is being cleansed and someone has started watching over him. He can feel Matt’s presence at all times, greater than any God Matt might whisper to at night, and it feels like church. More than that, it feels like home. It feels like leaking faucets and creaky floorboards and blazing billboards. It feels like mingled socks and silk sheets and bruises on hipbones. It feels like loving the Devil with the Lord’s blessing.

Matt murmurs prayers into Foggy’s skin, and there is, abruptly, no water in Foggy’s lungs, no fire at his wrists, no shine behind his eyes, no heartbeat in his ears. There is nothing but Matt and their shared worship. Foggy could write a gospel about Matt. Matt kisses him like the breath in his lungs belongs to him. Foggy takes Matt like they do not have two separate bodies. Matt loves like he fights, and Foggy loves like he breathes. They share themselves.

Foggy presses love into Matt, and Matt forces his own love back. He loves him like he has never loved anything else in this world. He loves him like he once loved dawn, like he once loved warm water, like he once loved bicycle bells and grass stains and hot sunlight. He feels Matt in the dawn and in the warm water; he hears him in the bicycle bells; he sees him in the grass stains and in the hot sunlight. He tastes him in the air. He loves Matt like God loves his fallen angel, and Matt loves him right back.