Chapter 1: I'm Not Gay
Beginnings are hard.
Particularly, beginning to figure out who you are as a person.
There was a lot pressure to find oneself, these days. Become someone.
Matt knew who he was. He knew he had blond hair and blue eyes. He knew that he liked his apples without his peels, his cookies without raisins. He knew that running the streets before the sun came out spoke to him in a way that people never had, and Matt also knew that he was defective. He wasn't normal, he somehow found himself in the reject pile off the cookie cutter press.
Matt poured himself a coffee, his fourth already and it wasn't even lunch time. He took a premature sip without caring that the roof of his mouth burned harshly and he slipped away to his office, if only to have a few spare minutes to himself. He was exhausted, more than usual thanks to the lack of sleep he'd managed to run into.
He didn't always have nightmares but when he did, he had them bad. He wasn't sure he'd actually slept since last shift, the days blurred enough so that he didn't really notice. The coffee kept him going for the most part, though the sheer amount was leaving him with shaking hands and a mind running twice as fast as normal.
Last night's nightmares were from the part of his mind, and the part of his life, that he was constantly trying to block out. He thought about it now as he leaned forward in his office chair, elbows on the desk and head in his hands, his mind drifting away to the past. The past he tried so hard to let go.
His childhood bedroom had been small, their family house had been small, the walls were thin and the drafts made Matt ill in the cold Chicago winters. He didn't invite many people home, but he had a few close friends, one in particular. A boy, one year his senior called Jamie, he had soft dark hair and a smile that always guaranteed to improve Matt's mood.
Jamie was gentle and kind, and the fact that he had the most perfect kissable lips was a definite plus. They'd been doing their homework together but being in such a small place proved to be far too distracting and very quickly Jamie was topless and Matt's pants were gone, along with his boxers. His youthful erection didn't last long, his boxers were soon a sticky mess.
Lying on his single bed they were kissing each other, grinding their bodies against one another as the door opened, slamming against the edge of the dresser, which had already seen better days.
"Matthew!? What on earth are you doing?" Nancy screeched at the sight that greeted her. "You, get out and don't come near my son again. Do you hear me?"
The boy scampered out of the room, not even bothering to put his shirt back on, just clutching it in his hands as he rushed away.
Matt had stood up and pulled his pants back on. "Mom…"
"You wait until your father gets home," she warned him, shaking her head.
"Not one word," she cautioned.
Matt was standing at the edge of the bed, visibly trembling.
"You're not to leave this room until he gets back from work," she told him. Matt shook his head numbly.
"This is your own fault, Matthew," she said before turning away and slamming the door so loud that a framed school certificate fell off the wall.
It was dark by the time Matt's father arrived home from work, the thin walls that the house was made up of meant that Matt could hear his mother having words with him before he heard heavy footsteps trudging up the staircase.
The brown leather belt was already in his father's hand as he entered the bedroom. Matt stood up immediately, straight backed with a solemn expression on his face in anticipation for what was about to come.
"This has being going on for far too long," his father began as his fingers ran along the smooth edge of the leather belt, the buckle end rattled as he did.
"Dad…" he pleaded, shaking his head.
"This has to stop. Pants down."
Knowing there was nothing that would stop the inevitable Matt unfastened his worn jeans, letting them fall down to his skinny ankles.
"Boxers too," his father continued.
He shook his head. "No…"
"I'm not waiting. You did this to yourself."
"Don't tell me it was all him. It was your fault, look at yourself," his father said, disgust on his face.
Matt pulled his boxers down and turned around without needing to be told. He bent over onto the dresser.
He bit his lip in anticipation of the first swipe. The belt landed with a loud thwack across his bare skin. Tears welled up in his eyes. The items on the top of the dresser rattled as Matt gripped onto the edge.
"Count it," his father ordered.
Blood had welled up on his bottom lip. "One…"
There was little reprieve before the leather came down again on his backside. This time he couldn't help but let out a whimper.
"Three…" he cried out.
His skin was burning and he was pretty sure he was about to pass out from the pain alone. He wished his dad would stop, he wished that he could be good enough not to need this.
Each hit brought him onto a new level of pain and suffering, each hit made him feel more guilty for what had happened.
Almost there, Matt told himself as the dresser continued to shake from the sheer force. A picture frame falling off the edge startled him, instantly putting more fear in his heart. It shattered instantly, sending glass everywhere. There was a slight pause, and for a split second Matt thought that maybe his father was done.
No, he quickly realized that his father had just been switching the belt around. Without warning he was struck again. He cried out in pain as he felt the buckle end make contact with his skin.
It always hurt more like this, with the hard steel making contact with his soft skin. It hurt more than the leather side and it hurt more than his father's open hand.
"Nine…" Matt choked out.
With no time to recover, Matt was inflicted with the worst hit of the day. This one started by whizzing across his rib cage, playing each bone like a xylophone, and ending by his tailbone. It came across his with such great force that Matt's footing faltered and he fell to his knees. He could feel the glass embedding into his skin, but he felt too weak to do anything about it. He bowed his head as his father just silently left, not saying a word as his heavy footsteps carried him away.
It was only after he heard him clamber down each of the thirteen steps of the staircase, that Matt finally let out a choked sob. His back was a heated, sticky mess, his knees were bleeding, and his hands shook. He let himself have a minute, just one minute to himself, before he started to pull himself together.
He took some deep breaths, wiped the tears from his eyes and steeled himself. He carefully pulled his pants up, wincing at how badly the skin on his backside stung. Then he carefully got up, stepped away from the glass, and sat down by his desk to work on his homework.
A little while later, Matt had snuck out of his room and was standing at the top of the staircase. He could hear his parents talking, and the noise of the television set in the background.
"We have to do something about the boy," his father was saying.
"Do you remember Paul from church? The Weisberger's son?" Nancy asked him.
"Well, they sent him to this camp apparently. The church gave them the details, I could speak to his mom, get all the information? Paul has a girlfriend now and he got into a good college," she said, smiling.
Without hiding the disappointment in his tone he spoke. "Matthew will never get into a good college."
"Christie will though, she's doing well," she responded.
"Yeah, and where's all that money going to come from?"
"She's looking for a part time job," Nancy told him proudly.
"We're still going to have to fund it all… community college might be a better idea, I'll speak to her," he said.
"So, I'll talk to Paul's mom?"
"Yeah, soon as possible, we can't have our son… behaving like he is, the belt isn't going to get it out of him apparently," he replied, annoyed at his son's actions.
"You used the belt…"
"We have to be firm with him," he said simply.
"Of course," she responded with a nod. "What did we do wrong with him?" she asked, letting out an audible sigh.
At the top of the staircase, Matt's heart sank and he felt tears come to his eyes. His father was right, he was too weak, he cried too much, and he kissed boys even when he knew it was wrong. Maybe this camp they were talking about would fix him. He hoped it would, but he would miss Jamie.
"We've been too soft on him, too lenient," he answered firmly.
When Matt heard movement he went back to his bedroom, wincing as his raw skin rubbed against his clothes. He shut the door quietly and grimaced as soon as he sat down on the edge of his small bed, gritting his teeth as pain erupted around his body.
His bedroom door opened, his parents never bothered to knock. He'd been stupid earlier, he shouldn't have started kissing Jamie, not with his mother in the house. It was his mom who walked in again now, holding a small plate with a single ham sandwich thrown together. She placed it on his nightstand as she sat down beside him. It was obvious he had been crying.
"Your father's gone to pick up Christie from her dance class," she told him. "But we've had a chat and I think we've come up with a solution to your problem."
"This phase you're going through," she reiterated.
"Jamie says it isn't a phase," he responded.
"Jamie's parents are too liberal and he will suffer for it when he gets into the real world," she told him. "And he won't be coming over again, you also can't talk to him at school…"
"Yes. It's for the best," she explained.
"But mom, I…"
"Your father and I are doing what's best for you, this is a valuable life lesson, your father is helping to build character, making you strong. Liking boys is a sin, you know that, yet you keep doing it," he continued.
"It just happened… I'm sorry I wasn't good enough to stop it…"
"It's ok, we're going to get you some help, everything's going to be fine, I promise."
Matt never spoke to Jamie again. A week after he had been caught with him his father dropped Matt off at St. Judes Camp for Deviants. His father left him there in the rain holding one duffel bag. The place was in the middle of nowhere, by a large lake that seemed to be infested with mosquitos. He didn't even know how long he would be there. He'd asked the priest who had shown him to a dormitory but he'd said nothing. In fact, nothing was said to him until the next morning and that was because he was still wearing his own clothes, he'd protested, exclaiming no one had told him he was supposed to change, that there hadn't even been any clothes for him to change into. He was then locked in a room for the rest of the morning, and looking back at it, that was the best part of his stay at the camp. Church Camp. That's what his parents had called it, he knew now what it really was; a gay conversion camp.
There were times he was chained to his bed at night, to stop him from touching himself, to stop him from sinning with the other boys in the dormitory. It also left him exposed to everyone who wasn't locked up, the people who were supposed to be caring for him. In the first week alone he had electroshock therapy, even inducing a seizure, all in the hopes of altering his sexual preferences and memories, he'd been left restrained to the bed, a drooling mess after the seizure, he was one of the lucky ones; they didn't do that to him again. But they did continue with the shock therapy, it didn't work though. After three weeks in their care he was given drugs, nothing worked though, nothing worked because there wasn't anything wrong with him, he didn't need fixing, but everything that happened to him meant that he would need to be fixed in the future. He'd been touched, raped, starved, whipped, burnt, even drowned. He survived and he was taken home, his parents had been told that he was cured. And the proof of his being cured? A video showing him watching gay porn, his cock uninterested, uninterested because of the drugs they'd put him on. The drugs he'd then remained on for the next two years.
Because two years later his mom killed his dad. She shot him with his own gun right in front of Matt, suspecting him of having an affair. Matt then spent the next eighteen months in and out of foster homes, and most hadn't been kind to him, in fact, none had. He came into adulthood having experienced more tragedy and heartbreak than the average American kid.
"Hey, you all right?"
It took Matt a moment to realise that Kelly was standing in his office doorway, smiling.
"Huh?" he responded, not knowing what he had been saying, or if he'd been saying anything at all.
"You seemed far away," Kelly explained curiously. "Are you good?"
Kelly knew he had to accept Matt's answer despite how not fine he looked right now. "You look tired, if you're not up to going out tomorrow night then I'm happy staying in, we can catch up on the latest…"
"Yeah, I uh… I don't uh... I can't."
"You can't?" Kelly questioned, he'd already been worried that Matt would back out, he'd come up with more than one excuse to get out of their first date, because Kelly wanted more than just sex and an empty bed in the morning. Eight months ago Andy's death had brought them so much closer together, they'd needed each other so much after that day, and things started to progress from friendship, but Matt was already pushing Kelly away.
"I just… I don't want to… I don't want to go out with you, not to that club, not ever…"
"What? Did I do something?" Kelly was taken aback, but he tried not to show it.
"I'm not gay," Matt looked down resolutely, picking up his mug and taking another sip of his hot coffee.
"So you sucking me off the other night was just a friends thing, right?"
"I'm not gay," Matt insisted worriedly. "We didn't even get undressed," he stood up swiftly, his voice a hushed, desperate whisper.
"I get it, you're uncomfortable, that's fine… we can go slow," Kelly responded. The only reason they'd not gotten undressed in the heat of the moment was because when Kelly had tried, Matt had grabbed his arm so hard it left a faint bruise, shooting him a deadly look. His voice was low as he warned him not to unfasten his pants, so Kelly had undone his own zipper, letting Matt take over. Matt did take over, he took over like he owned the place, expertly licking Kelly from base to tip as if he'd done it a thousand times. He took Kelly's cock right to the back of his throat, almost burying his face against Kelly's pelvis. Kelly had groaned at the warm wetness around him, throwing his head back in pleasure. Matt took it as a sign that he was doing something right, and continued at the same pace. It was only when Kelly's hand threaded through soft blond hair, pulling lightly, that Matt yanked himself away. Kelly's eyes shot to Matt, the soft sexed up look in his eyes clearing up slightly as he raised his hands in surrender. Matt apprehensively moved back and continued what he had been doing before, this time cautiously keeping an eye on the whereabouts of Kelly's hands. When Kelly had finally came to the edge, Matt had swallowed him dry and wordlessly pulled away, eyes darkened from their usual brightness. Despite not having his own relief, Matt seemed to enjoy the rest of their evening and Kelly had thought things had gone well, even if Matt hadn't been there when he'd woken up the next day.
"I don't want it to go fast or slow. It's wrong." Matt shook his head, chest tight with anticipation.
"If it's wrong then why does it feel so right?" Kelly questioned, leaning in, his lips brushed Matt's before a hard slap him hit across the face.
"Get the fuck away from me!" Matt's voice was outwardly angry, but not loud, he knew how to keep the attention off himself.
Matt shrunk back and ran a hand over his face, trying to bury all the emotions that swirled around in his head. "I'm sorry, I just—"
"It's fine." Kelly sighed, rubbing his stinging cheek, "I can take a hint."
He was left alone in his office, regretting his actions but he didn't chase after Kelly, he just sat back down and closed his eyes with a heavy sigh, at least the bunk room had been empty so no one had seen or heard them.
Chapter 2: It's Not Normal
We've both really enjoyed all the lovely feedback on the previous chapter! As a thank you, we've expedited the completion of this next chapter! Enjoy! :)
Their shift was quiet, Matt could still hear the sound of his own hand hitting Kelly across the face. He shouldn’t have done that, especially not here at work. He approached Kelly later, as he was playing cards with his squad crew. “Have a minute?”
Kelly looked up at him and when he seen the expression on his face, he knew he should at least hear what Matt had to say. He got up silently and let Matt lead him outside the bay door. Matt kicked at the ground with his boot for a few moments before looking up to the sky.
“I’m sorry.” He said, quiet and precise.
“For?” Kelly said, looking at him.
“What do you mean for ?”
“Are you sorry for hitting me, or sorry for what you said?” Kelly clarified, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“For hitting you… I guess.”
“You guess?” He repeated.
“I’m sorry.” Matt rubbed a hand against his forehead, trying to ease some of the tension from it.
“Why’d you say it was wrong?”
“Because it is,” he responded simply.
“Okay, but why Matt?”
“Because… it just— it is.”
“Shay’s gay, I’m bi, do you think that whatever we do is wrong?” He asked him.
“No.” Matt replied without hesitancy.
“Then why is it bad for you to be whoever you are?”
“Because—“ Matt shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know... It’s not normal.”
“What even is normal?” Kelly smiled softly.
“Normal is what you’re supposed to be. It’s what I should be.”
“You want to know what normal is in my books?”
Matt looked at the other man curiously.
“Normal is some fake idea constructed by society. Normal doesn’t exist because it’s not possible for every single person to follow a strict set of guidelines. Normal is what people want you to be when they’re scared of you, when they’re worried you’re stronger than them. So don’t let normal, or people telling you what you need to be, make you feel like any part of you is wrong. You deserve to be happy and proud of who you are, no matter what anyone says.”
Matt’s eyes were undeniably wet when he spoke again, “But I want to be normal.”
“Then redefine normal.”
“Redefine it?” Matt asked curiously.
“Take the word normal and find a new meaning for it, make it something that you can find your peace in.”
He shook his head. “I just want to be normal normal, everyone’s normal.”
“You’re normal to me.” Kelly shrugged. “Maybe I don’t count.”
“You do count,” he responded softly. “But I think maybe it’s easier for you and Shay.”
“It just is,” Matt said insistently.
“You gotta have a reason for thinking that.”
“Do I?” Matt replied softly, refusing to meet Kelly’s eyes.
“You never need to explain yourself to me.”
“So then don’t make me.”
Just as Kelly was about to respond, the alarms went off inside and they both jogged off to their respective trucks, not exchanging another glance.
They both went to the following call and worked together as flawlessly as usual, but their usual in between banter was cut short. Matt had groaned inwardly when they’d arrived at the scene. He’d jumped out of the rig, he glanced over the the sight in front of him; a large decadent Catholic church. There had been a priest outside, strolling towards him.
“Is everyone out?” Matt asked the man.
“No, one of the kitchen volunteers is still in there,” the priest responded.
“The fire’s in the kitchen?”
“Yes. At the back of the church.”
Matt nodded in acknowledgement.
Kelly could sense something was up with him right away, the look on his face was very telling, but after the conversation they’d had before the alarms had rang out he wasn’t too surprised. Then again, Matt was usually very good at separating his personal life from their work life. He kept an eye on him throughout the call.
Inside the building, a priest emerged from the smoking kitchen, his robes flowing around him. He ran to Matt, clutching onto his arms and pleading to save him. How the tables had turned.
Matt dropped his halligan and stumbled backwards, his breath stuck in his lungs as the priest clung tighter.
“Here,” Kelly murmured, stepping closer and grabbing the priest off Matt and leading him out himself. Matt looked down at the halligan on the floor, the sound of the clank reverberating through his ears though it had happened a full minute ago. Kelly brought the man to an ambulance, quickly handing him off to the paramedics before rushing back in to help Matt.
Matt was still standing where Kelly had left him, slowly trying to pull himself together.
“You uh, you okay?” Kelly spoke gently, reaching down and picking up the tool Matt had dropped.
“Fine.” Matt steeled himself, quickly building up his walls again as Kelly handed him his halligan.
Kelly gave him a comforting squeeze on the shoulder just before Matt walked away, heading back towards the blaze. Kelly stood there for a moment, watching the blonde go. Yet another issue uncovered. As he went and followed Matt, he found himself hoping that maybe this was one he could actually fix.
The end of shift came to a close without any more demanding calls, as they each walked to their vehicles, Kelly took the chance to speak to Matt.
“Is the heating in your apartment fixed yet?”
Matt just shook his head.
“You should come over.” Kelly offered slowly.
“And do what?”
“We don’t have to do anything.” Kelly shook his head, “I have to go work at the boatyard for a while, so you can just hang out and warm up. I mean, unless you have other plans.”
“Uh,” Matt thought for a moment, he didn’t really want to go to his empty apartment, but he didn’t want to impose on Kelly either.
“I’m not expecting anything from you, like that, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“I’m not.” Matt shook his head.
“Then what’s stopping you?” Kelly asked after they’d gotten to Matt’s truck. Kelly’s car was parked further down the block, but he didn’t want to leave the conversation unfinished.
“I just… I don’t want to be in the way.”
“It’d be nice not to come home to an empty place.” Kelly looked down, unsure how Matt would feel about it, but it was the truth.
“Okay.” Matt agreed after a moment.
Kelly grinned, “You still have my spare key?”
Matt nodded, looking down at his keychain and subconsciously running a finger down the key with a K written on the head in permanent marker.
“I won’t be home for a while, but why don’t you go over now? There’s lots of food in the fridge. Make yourself at home.”
“Alright. See you later I guess.” Matt said softly, getting into his truck and starting the engine. Kelly stepped away to let him pull away, watching as he drove away.
Chapter 3: When I Was Fourteen
When Kelly finally got home from the boatyard, he was quite glad and admittedly surprised to see Matt sprawled on the couch. However, he wasn’t so thrilled about the open bottle of whiskey and empty tumbler in his hand.
“Hey.” Kelly set down his stuff on the floor, telling himself he’d put it away later.
“Hi…” Matt greeted with a slur, looking up at the other man.
Kelly could see the glazed look in his eyes, but could tell he wasn’t completely intoxicated.
“Want some?” Matt asked, about to get off the couch to fetch another glass.
“I’m good… you made yourself at home.”
“I thought that’s what you said to—I can go…”
“And you cracked open the alcohol,” Kelly commented with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah.” He started to get up, but Kelly stood in front of him, gently motioning for him to sit.
“I’m sorry… I can replace it,” Matt added as he slouched back down onto the couch.
“Nah, pretty sure you bought that bottle for me anyway.” Kelly sat down on the coffee table in front of the couch. “So erm… you don’t—you haven’t seemed okay since we had conversation yesterday.”
“Before that kitchen fire,” Kelly prompted.
“Oh, yeah that. I’m fine,” he said nonchalant.
“So, was it the kitchen fire then?”
“Kelly, what are you getting at?”
“Something’s off.” Kelly shrugged, dropping his gaze, hoping he hadn’t already made Matt feel too uncomfortable.
Matt rolled his eyes. “Right…”
“You can use my shower you know,” Kelly told him, deciding a subject change was needed.
“You still smell like smoke,” Kelly responded softly.
“Oh,” he responded. He’d not showered at the firehouse, he didn’t like to shower in public if he could get away with it. He felt uncomfortable enough when he was on his own, when he was the only one who could see the scars.
“Go shower, I’ll get you some fresh clothes,” Kelly told him, knowing Matt had a few items of clothes in the spare bedroom.
Matt knew better than to argue with Kelly. He knew that he could never win, not when it came to Matt’s wellbeing.
He gingerly stood up and ignored the slight spin in front of his eyes. He silently made his way to the bathroom, checking the lock three times before he took his shirt off. Matt spent a longer time in the shower than he’d ever intended, the water cascaded down his back and the heat filled the air around him. This was as close to a luxury as he got these days. His own small apartment had no hot water at all, so his showers were usually only a couple of minutes long, if that.
As Kelly poured a mug of coffee for Matt and put the bottle of whiskey away, he wondered what was taking him so long.
Twenty-five minutes after he’d gone, Kelly heard Matt call out to him. “You say something about clothes?”
“Oh yeah, sorry.” Kelly quickly headed to the spare room and rooted through the drawers, finding a set of clothes.
He knocked on the bathroom door a moment later, “Uh, hey.”
Matt paused, leaning against the counter, towel around his waist. He glanced at the mirror behind him, foggy as it was, he could still make out the marks. “Just leave them outside the door.” He murmured, sighing as he looked forwards again.
“Oh, sure.” Kelly agreed hesitantly.
Matt listened as Kelly’s footsteps gradually got further away, then he unlocked the door and opened it a crack. He peeked out into the hall to check that the coast was clear before carefully picking up the small pile. He got dressed slowly, his mind slowly becoming clearer as he went. He couldn’t stop himself from thinking about the call with the priest, the way that the gowned man had grabbed him, touched him.
He exited the bathroom, his dark navy Academy hoodie covering all the marks that now felt like fire.
Matt shoved his hands in the front pocket and eventually found Kelly in the kitchen, sipping on his coffee, eyes clouded with thought.
“Hey.” Kelly smiled, watching him approached, “Feel a little more human?”
Matt nodded, reaching out to take the mug that was being offered to him. “Yeah.”
“I never meant to upset you with everything I said yesterday… it’s all new to me, I guess,” Matt began apologetically.
Kelly nodded, even though that blowjob hadn’t felt like something Matt hadn’t done before.
“I don’t mean to be an idiot,” he continued.
“Matt, it’s fine, really, you’re not an idiot.”
He smiled. “You’re too nice.”
“You must have a very small circle of friends if you think I’m too nice,” Kelly responded.
Matt said nothing.
“Blackhawks and pizza?”
Kelly’s TV was in his bedroom, so they sat on his bed drinking beer and eating pizza a mere half hour later. Kelly was ecstatic to see Matt smile without any pain, be happy without trying to fake it. They cheered and joked even when the Blackhawks lost, and even when the game had been over for hours later. The pizza box was on the floor along with the empty bottles and Kelly’s shirt was there too, thanks to a large, cheer-fueled beer spill.
They eventually gravitated towards each other thanks to loosened inhibitions and three beers each. Kelly felt his heart pounding and scrambling when Matt positioned himself against Kelly, laying his head on his chest as the commercials gradually faded in and out.
“So, this is happening,” Kelly spoke, gently holding Matt against his bare chest, hs face was buried beneath his chin.
“Sorry…” he said, starting to move.
“It’s fine, don’t move… you’re just a little confusing at times… almost a little bit like Jekyll and Hyde…”
Kelly laughed softly.
“Yeah… I know.”
“You struggle with all this… and today at the church, you weren’t yourself, what was up with that?” Kelly asked him as casually as he could.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
“Ok, but when you want to talk to me you can, no judgement here,” Kelly said, keeping the tone light.
“I can’t… it’s… it’s kinda crazy,” he responded, smiling to stop his thoughts from coming to the front of his mind.
“Why you were acting strange at the church?”
Matt raised his head and looked at him blankly.
Kelly could see the worry in his eyes. “It’s okay. No one noticed,” he reassured Matt.
“Yeah, well, I’m special,” Kelly said, grinning.
Matt rolled away from Kelly and lay down on his side of the bed, flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling. “You are special,” he said, he didn’t speak for another few moments, gathering his thoughts. “So... when I was fourteen…”
Kelly was sitting up against the headboard now, looking down at Matt as he continued to lie there.
“I—... I was sent to... to this camp. It was to make me better,” Matt continued.
His brows knitted together in a frow. “Better?”
Matt nodded, letting his eyes close briefly. “Because I liked boys.”
“What... no..” Shocked Kelly couldn’t think of anything more meaningful to say.
“Yeah... parenting at its finest, right?” Matt chuckled nervously, a habit he had when he felt unsure of himself.
“It was uh... it was hell but I got through it, went home, I’d needed it though, and I’d wanted it, but it was hell,” Matt admitted.
“Your scars?” he questioned, he’d felt them in the darkness whilst making out, and he’d seen them on very rare occasions when Matt didn’t notice he was in the shower room, it had taken a lot of willpower not to mention them before.
“Yeah, some of them…”
“Does this place still exist?” he asked in disgust
“Authorities shut it down four years ago,” Matt responded.
“Only four years ago?”
“I actually wanted to be there, to start with,” Matt told him, talking much more freely now, it felt like a weight was lifting from his shoulders with every word he spoke.
“I was… broken, made wrong, going through a phase... “
“Matt, people can't change who you really are,” he responded, still trying to take in everything Matt was telling him.
“I wanted them to,” Matt said quietly.
“You’re perfect the way you are,” he told him.
“You can say that all you want, I won’t believe it… I was wrong, I let my parents down, they tried their best for me and I turned out like that… this…”
Kelly didn’t know what to say, there wasn’t anything he could say, nothing that would stop Matt from feeling so guilty.
“I am gay, and I hate myself for it. I… when I… I tried so hard when I got home, before… before mom shot dad and… I tried… I… I couldn’t even… I couldn’t even… I tried, with this girl, this gorgeous girl and I couldn’t even get hard, I tried… then I… I uh… I got hold of some pills, I failed at that too. And maybe you’d think things were better once my parents were out the picture… it wasn’t. I was… well, it doesn’t matter now but I was put on more than one psych hold… managed to get it all off my record ‘cause I was under eighteen, otherwise I’d never have got into the Academy, never would have met Andy and you… never would have got close to you, I like that I’m close to you… and I hate it.”
“I’m sorry,” Kelly said, really struggling for words now, he didn’t want to say the wrong thing, he didn’t want to make a mistake and cause Matt to close shut like a clam.
“Me too… now you know though, I’m a mess, you can forget about me now, I’m too much,” he responded, letting out a small sigh.
“You’re not too much, never too much,”
Matt just looked at him.
“Well, you do have some minor issues,” Kelly went on, grinning. “But you’re not too much and you’re definitely not a mess.”
For the next few days, Matt couldn’t help but kick himself internally. He’d divulged things that he’d promised to never tell a soul, he’d shared memories that would forever change the way Kelly saw him. He’d managed to ruin his entire reputation and bring back the past that he’d been trying so hard to overcome. Matt pushed Kelly away as much as possible, even avoiding him at times, just to create some distance, if nothing else. He couldn’t risk Kelly getting closer, and he couldn’t risk hurting him.
Chapter 4: Punish Me
It had been another rough shift that Matt had spent trying to get along with Kelly, despite the reservations he had. He was in two minds about it all, he loved spending time with him, he loved making out with him, but afterwards he hated himself. Their relationship wasn’t normal, he wasn’t normal, he had never been fixed or cured even after everything that had happened to him. It was tearing him up inside.
His truck was at the shop so he’d taken a cab home, despite Kelly offering him a ride. However, now he was wishing he hadn’t declined. As soon as he paid his fare, got out, and shut the door behind him, his ears heard something that made every hair on his body raise.
He quickly shot his gaze to his apartment building and laid his eyes upon the maintenance crew that were working on the power lines that fed into the building. Seeing the sparks dropping from the live wire was all it took for the memories to come flying back to him, hitting him like a train at full speed.
He quickly pulled out his phone with shaky hands, accidentally dropping it onto the sidewalk below. His breath came in wheezes as he reached down to pick it up again. He tried to type out a message, but his hands were trembling too much.
Matt scrolled through his contacts and picked out Kelly’s name, clicking the call button.
It rang multiple times and Matt was beginning to think he wouldn’t answer. Matt wouldn’t blame him, not with the way he’d been treating Kelly the last few days.
“Hello?” Kelly spoke, phone tucked between his shoulder and head as he carried his groceries up from his car. He wasn’t planning to answer it, but once he saw the caller ID, he knew he should. Matt wouldn’t usually call him unless it was important. “Hello?” He asked again as he got through his apartment door and the silence continued.
He set down the groceries and pulled his phone away to check that the call was still going. It was.
“Matt? You there?”
“Oh, thought maybe you pocket dialed.” Kelly smiled, starting to put away the few things he’d picked up from the store.
“Yeah.” Matt’s gaze was still lost in the sparks erupting from the wires.
“What’s going on?” Kelly asked, frowning as he closed his refrigerator and leaned against the counter, spending his full concentration on trying to feel out Matt’s voice. He seemed distant and too quiet. “You okay? You make it home yet?”
“Home?” Matt murmured slowly. “I get to go home now?”
“Yeah, our shift is over, I thought you’d be gone by now? Or did the cab not come?”
“The cab..?” Matt mumbled.
Kelly was grabbing his keys and heading out the door, concern growing by the second. “Matt, where are you?”
“I promise I don’t need it. I don’t need it. I’m normal now. I promise.”
“What don’t you need?” Kelly got into his car and started it. “Where are you?” he asked.
Suddenly Matt’s voice switched from soft and despondent, to panicked and shaky. “Kel, come get me? Please?”
“Yeah.” Kelly nodded. “Just tell me where you are.”
“Home,” Matt replied without hesitation. “I’m home. Home. You coming?”
“Yeah. I’m leaving now, sit tight.”
“Okay.” Matt said nervously, eyes locked back onto the wire again. “Sorry about this, by the way.”
“Don’t be sorry.” Kelly smiled sadly. “Just do me a favour and don’t run away before I get there, alright?”
Matt nodded, though Kelly couldn’t see it. “I’ll be here.”
“You inside or?” he asked.
“Outside. Outside.” Matt replied. “I can’t—”
“Oh.” Kelly responded softly making a turn. “Did you lose your key?”
“No. I just—” Matt trailed off. “You almost here?”
He sped up a little. “Almost. You going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“No.” Matt’s voice was becoming a little calmer. “That going to be okay?”
Kelly pulled up to Matt’s building a long five minutes later. It was hard to miss the relieved expression on Matt’s face as he entered the car. “Drive.”
Kelly spared a quick look out to the building before he did so, noticing the crew working on the powerlines. He was still trying to piece together what the hell was going, wishing he could put the puzzle together. “Did any of those guys bother you?” He asked not thirty seconds into the drive. “Because if they did—”
“Something happened,” Kelly continued. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I kinda did.” He shrugged, slouching into the seat and turning his head towards the window.
There was silence for the remainder of the short journey to Kelly’s place, a much nicer apartment block in a much better part of the city. Matt followed him inside and happily accepted a warm mug of coffee. His skin was still pale.
“Do you want breakfast?”
“Fine with just the coffee,” Matt answered, his hands had finally stopped trembling.
Kelly nodded and sat down on the couch with him. “So I read up on gay conversion camps,” he began tentatively.
“You did?” Matt asked, trying to hide the worry from his tone.
“Yeah, kinda wish I hadn’t…”
“Sorry,” he muttered, looking away.
“Don’t be. Matt, what happened to you?”
“Just… just stuff,” he responded, shrugging.
Kelly ploughed on. “What stuff?”
“I don’t remember some of it.”
“Because of the electroshock therapy?” Kelly went on.
Matt’s eyes widened. “How d’you..?”
“The lines were sparking by your apartment building. And sometimes… sometimes you freeze at scenes when there’s that same noise…”
He shook his head insistently. “No, I don’t.”
“It doesn’t stop you from doing your job, not when you’re in the zone, but I notice,” Kelly told him.
“I didn’t have electric shock therapy. It was just a church camp,” he said simply.
“Ok, but you can talk to me.”
“No, we need to stop this, I shouldn’t have called you… you think I’m gay, I’m not, I shouldn’t even be hanging around with you, or with Shay or…”
“You’re not homophobic,” Kelly interrupted him. “You’re just being defensive…”
“Maybe you should go to one of those camps, maybe that’s why you were looking at them, you know you need it. I shouldn’t have called you. I want you to stay away from me.” He was standing up now.
“You’re only saying that because I’m getting too close,” Kelly told him, he understood Matt more than he thought.
“C’mon, Matt, this isn’t you, you’re not spiteful or mean,” Kelly said as he stood up from the couch, wanting to be at the same level.
“Well, maybe I’m fed up of you trying to push yourself on me,” he spat out.
“Push myself on you? When have I done that?”
“I would never touch you without your consent, I never have and I never will… what happened to you?”
Matt broke down then, but he turned so Kelly couldn't see him. He covered his face with both hands and hid himself from Kelly.
Without thinking Kelly tried to pull Matt’s hands away, tried to get him to look at him, all he wanted to do was help him calm down. But his actions only earned him another bruised cheekbone as Matt’s fist slammed into it. They both went down, throwing punches and kicks, scrambling around on the floor, knocking over a lamp and creating a crack in the plasterboard. Then it was all over, and Matt’s bloody lips had found Kelly’s. Pants were pulled down, Kelly could feel the raised scars on Matts bare ass as their hips ground against each other. Neither of them were thinking about the scars though.
Matt woke up later on wrapped in Kelly’s arms, he was naked, naked and hard, he untangled himself from Kelly’s limbs as fast as he could, not worried if he disturbed him, he wanted out of there.
Kelly opened his eyes to find the bed empty, not a surprise, but he knew Matt hadn’t left. He could hear him tearing up the bathroom. Kelly instantly shot out of bed, because whatever the hell was going on, couldn’t be good. He quickly ran over to the bathroom and tried knocking, hoping he’d be able to get through to the other man.
“Matt?” Kelly called gently.
There was an almost animalistic sound and a thud. He heard laboured breathing and maybe crying.
Kelly broke down the door in one swift movement. There were specks of blood on the white tiles. Matt was still naked, curled up on the floor. His bloodied hands clutching at his own head as he tried to pull his hair out.
Kelly knelt down on the tiled floor in front of him, he didn’t touch him, not like the previous day. “I’m here, Matt,” he said, it took all the willpower he had not to stop Matt from pulling at his own hair. “I’m here,” he repeated softly.
Matt’s body was trembling as he sobbed, his face tucked into his knees as his tears fell.
“Something bad happened to you, you don’t ever have to tell me, but I want you to know… need you to know that I think you’re a good person, no matter what happened to you, whatever thoughts go through your head…”
“I… I have to do this…”
At first Kelly wasn’t sure he’d even heard Matt his voice was so quiet and strained. “You have to do this? Do what?”
Matt untucked his head, letting go of his hair, there were blond clumps in his hands. His face was streaked with tears. “This.”
“You’ve hurt yourself… you have to hurt yourself? Did someone tell you that?”
“Oh God…” Kelly muttered.
“You have to punish me.”
Kelly gazed at his tear filled eyes for the longest moment.
“You have to punish me,” Matt repeated.
“What the hell…”
“Please… It’s the only way I can be fixed,” Matt pleaded with him.
Kelly sat back, still gazing at him. What had he got himself into? He liked Matt, really liked Matt, after Andy’s death they had grown so much closer, in his mind they became much more than just friends but all this was starting to get to him. Matt had issues, he had known that since he’d first met him at the CFD Academy, but everything seemed to be overwhelming now, it was almost like he was breaking him all over, he loved Matt, he loved him so should he let him go? Because he could see how much their developing relationship was hurting him, emotionally and physically. Kelly wasn’t sure he could do this, he wasn’t prepared for this, what if he hurt Matt even more?
“You don’t need it,” Kelly told him firmly. “I know exactly what you need, and it’s not that.”
Matt looked up at him questioningly, tear streaks on his cheeks, eyes red rimmed and weary.
“Can I hold you?” Kelly asked him.
When Matt didn’t respond he moved next to him, putting an arm around his bare shoulders, allowing him to gently lean into his strong embrace?
After some time Matt spoke up. “Fucked up, isn't it?”
“My head, the way I think…”
“Well, I don’t know if fucked up is the best way to put it.”
“Ever since—“ Matt pause., “If I was…”
Kelly waited for Matt to say more, but quite a few minutes lapsed and the silence hung in the air heavily. “Who told you that you had to be punished?” Kelly asked in a whisper, his hand coming up to run through Matt’s blood-matted hair. “Is that what they taught you at that camp?”
Matt nodded. “The way they said things… It keeps sticking with me, every now and then I just revert to it and I know it’s ridiculous but I can’t fucking stop. Kelly, I’m so tired. I’m tired of this.” He was close to tears again, his voice cracking with emotion as he spoke.
“What would help? What can I do to make it better?”
“I don’t know how to fix it. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s happening,” he responded. “I’m messed up. Can’t even have sex with a woman, and when I think about men, even just think about it… this happens.” He had tried on more than one occasion to be straight, but he just couldn’t get it up, fortunately he was pretty good looking and the women he’d tried to have sex with had at least not laughed right away. They’d tried rubbing him, sucking him off but his cock remained unaffected. It didn’t matter how much he wanted to have sex, didn’t matter how much stimulation he received, he couldn't do it. Matt shook his head at the memory, they’d wanted to get him to have ‘normal’ sexual relations at the camp, but they’d made sure he’d never had have sex with a woman after they’d forced a prostitute onto him, he’d never find pleasure with a woman again after that.
“You tried sex with women?” Kelly was slightly surprised now he was getting a fuller picture of what had happened to him. He had to smile inwardly at the thought of Gabby’s constant pining, now Kelly was sure he would always turn her down.
“They gave me erm… they gave me Viagra when I was fourteen, to try and teach me.” He went on to explain, ashamed. “They had me on all sorts of pills until I ended up in foster care, and then… well, you don't want to hear about that…”
“I do if you want to talk about it,” Kelly reassured him.
“Foster homes were nothing,” he said, shaking his head a little, the blood in his hair concerned Kelly.
“Compared to the camp?”
Matt let out a breath and looked to Kelly. “Do you want this?”
“In all honesty, I don’t know. But I think you need to tell me, I think that would help you,” he told him with a nod.
“All the drugs were supposed to help me. They didn’t,” Matt continued.
“Wasn’t just pills,” Matt sighed, pulling away from Kelly. “Can we put some clothes on at least?”
Kelly nodded, watching as Matt got up. He followed him into the bedroom a moment later.
While they were up, Kelly grabbed the first aid kit, hoping to bandage Matt’s bloody hands and clean him up some. When he reached the bedroom, Matt had on his sweatpants and didn’t seem like he was planning to put more on. As Kelly pulled on his own sweatpants and sat on the edge of the bed, he watched as Matt ran a gentle hand over the top of Kelly’s dresser.
“I used to have a dresser almost exactly this size.” Matt murmured softly.
From this angle, Kelly could see all kinds of marks littering Matt’s back, and he knew there was just as many on his cheeks and thighs.
Matt put a hand on each of the two front corners of the dresser, bracing himself as he leaned forward against the piece of furniture.
Kelly watched the muscles in Matt’s back ripple softly as he ducked his head.
“This is your last out, Kelly. You won’t be able to un-hear the stuff I’m about to stay.”
“I’m ready.” Kelly spoke clearly, leaning over to rest his elbows on his knees, hands clasped tightly.
“My dad had his own ways of dealing with me. The sexual deviant that I was—am.” Matt chuckled darkly, shaking his head.
“He…?” Kelly spoke. “What’d he do?”
“Let’s just say he had a belt and he found more uses for it than the average guy.”
“Oh.” Kelly replied quietly, his gaze faltering for a few moments before looking back up at Matt’s back. “Is that what the scars are from?”
“Not all of ‘em.” Matt said after a small pause. “Got a lot from camp.”
“I thought it was run by priests?” Kelly’s voice was full of confusion.
“You think priests are saints?” Matt turned around then, facing Kelly, leaning back against the dressing and crossing his arms in front of him. “I can assure you that they’re not.” Matt looked bitter as he shook his head again.
“I—“ Kelly wasn’t sure what to say, but he wanted to know more.
“I’m half convinced that a bunch of them were gay. Or just into kids maybe.” Matt shrugged. “They made us do things there, Kel. Things that fourteen year olds should never have to do.”
“Like?” Kelly was scared to ask and maybe more scared for the answer, but he needed to know.
“They’d fuck our mouths,” Matt’s voice was getting shaky again as he wiped at an eye roughly. He’d never said any of this out loud before and he didn’t like how it felt coming out of his throat, but there was some kind of relief at the same time. “Hell they’d fuck every hole, tie us down, some real scary shit for a kid. Suppose that was the idea, to scare us into not liking it.” Matt laughed quietly. It was the only thing he could do. He laughed and he pulled his arms more tightly into himself.
“Why are you laughing?” Kelly tilted his head a little, watching Matt curiously.
“Cause what else am I supposed to do?.” Matt replied with a sigh, covering his eyes with his hand as he slid down the front of the dresser. Once on the floor, he pulled his knees as close to his chest as he could.
“Talk to someone?” Kelly suggested. “There’s people for this, better people than me.”
“You think if I can barely tell you, I’m ever going to tell a stranger?” he asked.
“What about the cops?”
“It was fifteen years ago, you think they’ll care know? The didn’t care then.”
“You contacted the police back then? How very un-Matt of you.”
“I did. But apparently a kid making accusations against a well known priest doesn’t get taken well,” Matt said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.
“You were assaulted.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Until everyone started telling me I wasn’t. Or that I was imagining things or lying or whatever.”
“You never spoke to anyone after that?”
“My own parents sent me there, who else was I supposed to talk to?” he questioned, a little too harshly but Kelly took offence.
“You don’t have any other family?”
Matt shook his head. “It was just us. Dad… dad wasn’t in contact with his family… I don’t know anything about them, dead for all I know. Mom’s family was gone, dead, never met my grandparents, she married my dad as soon as they finished high school, that’s all I know really…”
“Your teachers?” Kelly went on.
“Look, maybe I should have tried harder to tell someone, but you don’t know what it was like…”
“No, I don’t, sorry… it’s just… all this, it made you OD?”
“Maybe... it was certainly a contributing factor,” Matt responded, really hoping he wasn’t going to regret this conversation because he’d never spoken to anybody about before, especially not in such detail, and here he was talking to Kelly, a man he admired, liked and worked with.
“Didn’t anyone ask why? At the hospital? Didn’t someone talk to you?”
“My parents did the talking for me, then my parents were gone… there was so much blood,” He added quietly.
“You were there?” Kelly asked him, he knew that Matt’s mom was locked away for shooting his dad, word had got out about all of that horrible business during their time at the Academy. He had never realised Matt had seen it all take place.
He nodded. “I was at the police station after, they wouldn’t let me change, I was covered in his blood, I just wanted to go home, I knew they wouldn’t believe anything I said, not after… see? See what you’re getting into with me?”
“I don’t know how you’ve coped keeping all this inside of you,” Kelly responded.
“I erm… sometimes I still think about swallowing a load of pills again, but I’d probably fail, like with most things,” he replied, shrugging as if he wasn’t talking about ending his own life.
“Not most things. You’re a decorated CFD lieutenant, you’re so respected and well liked by everyone at 51, you’re an amazing contractor.” Kelly shook his head. “You didn’t deserve this. Not any of it.”
“Apparently someone thought I did.” Matt shrugged, still oozing blood from his raw knuckles.
Kelly linked his hands together, resting his chin atop them. “There’s gotta be a way to fix this. How do we stop this stuff from coming back?”
“I’ve tried. Kel, the demons they—they won’t go.”
“Well, I’ll make them.”
Matt smiled softly. “You’re really still in this.” He shook his head incredulously. “After all I’ve said?”
“Yeah.” Kelly nodded. “Of course.”
“There’s still more,” he replied slowly, “Stuff I didn’t tell you about.”
“You want to keep talking?”
“Not right now,” Matt spoke with a soft shake of his head.
“That’s okay.” Kelly nodded and flashed Matt a smile. “You tired yet?”
“No,” Matt shook his head. “Not really.”
“You want to watch a movie or something?”
“Nah.” Matt replied after a minute. “I should probably head home.”
“You don’t have to go home,” Kelly said quickly. “I mean, the spare bed is made and you could stay.”
Matt looked up at him, studying his flustered expression.
“Or do you have a construction thing?” Kelly continued.
“No. Haven’t had any extra work for a while.”
“Well I mean, your truck is still in the shop and stuff,” Kelly murmured after a few seconds, “And if you don’t have anywhere to go…” He trailed off with a soft smile. “Plus were not on shift.”
“You really want me to stay?” Matt chuckled quietly.
Kelly, a man who didn’t often express the words that sat close to his heart, gave Matt a grin. “I really do. C’mon, let’s watch something. Your pick.”
“Fine.” Matt mumbled, a blush creeping up his neck and onto his cheeks.
“Can I come over there?” Kelly asked gingerly, almost hesitantly. Matt was still sitting on the floor, his back against the dresser.
“I want to hug you.” Kelly said with a hesitant tone to his voice. “If you’re cool with that.”
“I’m cool with that, Kelly Severide.”
Kelly walked over with a spring in his step despite his perpetual worry when it came to Matt, despite everything he’d just heard and would probably hear in the future.
He reached his hands down to Matt, smiling when he grasped them with his own. He hauled Matt up and his smile only grew when Matt immediately embraced him. Their bare chests, skin warm and inviting, connected with soft brushes. Matt’s arms around him were a solid constant, a feeling of happiness that Kelly hadn’t known before. Kelly was holding him just as tight, lips pressing a chaste kiss into Matt’s matted hair.
It was only when he finally pulled away that he realized how bloody Matt still was. “You think you’d let me clean you up?”
Matt raised an eyebrow. “Clean me up?”
“You’re a bit bloody.”
“Oh.” Matt replied, looking down at his hands, bloody and swollen. He looked at the flecks of blood that had jumped onto his forearms and he was sure his face was a whole ‘nother thing. “I uh—“ It’s not that he didn’t want to let Kelly help, but he still wasn’t feeling great about his body being all out in the open and vulnerable.
“You don’t have to say yes.”
Maybe it was because the sentence was a reminder that he wasn’t being forced, but those few words made a big difference to Matt. “I guess.” He ducked his head.
Come to the bathroom? I’ll just wipe the blood away.” Kelly explained carefully, holding an hand out in invitation.
Matt took his hand hesitantly, giving him a silent nod.
The bathroom was quite a sight. The white walls and floor had blood smeared everywhere. It didn’t seem like anything nothing had broken, except for maybe Matt’s hands, but the bathroom was okay. A minute of cleaning later and the boys had the room sparkling once again. Matt was still a mess, but Kelly planned to remedy that in a moment.
“Sorry again for going haywire earlier.” Matt murmured. “You must think I’m a psycho.”
Kelly shook his head, “I don’t think I could ever think that about you.”
“Because you’re too perfect.”
Matt sighed, shaking his head with a smirk on his lips. “I thought we’ve been over this.”
“We have.” Kelly grinned, wetting a washcloth under the sink’s faucet and wringing it out before bringing it to Matt’s face. “You’re just so perfect that I had to say it again.”
“I’m not perfect.” Matt murmured, closing his eyes as Kelly wiped blood from his temple. “I’m a mess, remember?”
“How could I forget,” Kelly teased, bringing the cloth down to Matt’s neck and chest.
“You are getting pretty old there, Sev.”
“Oh shut up.” Kelly chuckled, rinsing out the cloth and watching the translucent pink water flow down the drain.
He cleaned up Matt’s arms and hands next, making quick work of every speck of red. Kelly managed to convince Matt to let him wrap up his hands next. He’d been punching tile and must’ve caught a sharp edge, because that’s where all the blood had come from. His raw, knuckles.
Kelly patched him up as well as he could and then looked curiously at his hair. There were matted sections that were dusted with dry blood, and Kelly wasn’t quite sure how to get it out.
“If I just put my head under the tap can you—?” Matt asked after a moment of looking himself in the mirror.
“Yeah.” Kelly nodded and looked at the sink. It was much to shallow for Matt to be able to fit his head under. “Might have to lean over the side of the bathtub and I can just hose you—“
“No.” Matt interjected quickly, as soon as he knew where Kelly was going with that. “No hosing me off.”
“It sounds worse than it’d be.” Kelly explained, “Can you just—you think you could trust me on this? It’s a big ask, I know—“
“Alright.” Because what the hell could possibly go wrong?
Turned out, Kelly’s vision was this: He had Matt sit down with his back facing the tub, and lay his head back. Kelly gently cradled his head in one arm while operating the dismountable shower head with his free hand, carefully rinsing Matt’s hair with perfectly warm water. He didn’t get any water in Matt’s eyes or nose, as the blonde had feared, instead managing to completely clean Matt’s hair while turning it into a surprisingly pleasant experience.
Matt crawled under the sheets of the spare bed a while later, feeling almost relaxed from the nice things Kelly had done for him. With his mind still reeling from his conversation with Kelly, thoughts about his horrible past swimming in all his open wounds, he knew that sleep would be a hard thing to come by. Eventually it took him, guiding him into the darkness of his subconscious and along the very cliffs of pain itself, and as restless of a state it was, he took it nonetheless.
Matt was lost in his memories, trapped in his mind, in a situation no fourteen year old should ever go through. He's sitting on a wooden chair. There's electrodes attached to his body. He was just thankful there was nothing on his head this time, he couldn't remember much the time that had happened, only a couple of days into his stay at the camp. There was a priest with him, and someone dressed in a nurses uniform, who was definitely not a nurse. They cranked the electric up, shocking him every few minutes as he was forced to watch gay porn. Being told over and over again by the two people that stood by him, that he was a disappointment to his parents, that he made everyone around him unhappy, and if he didn't change he would die of AIDS. The shocks felt like a thousand needles stabbing at his body. The scene changed around him, the porn was still playing in the darkened room, he was still strapped to the chair, only this time the electrodes were attached to his genitals. Every time there was the slightest movement, the slightest sign of pleasure from the images he was watching the machine was flicked on.
A jolt of electricity ran through him, his bladder released itself, warm liquid pooled in the chair, soaking his pale pyjamas.
Matt woke up, breaths strained and heavy from the nightmare he'd had, a result of talking too much, reliving his memories. His hair was stuck to his forehead and the sheets stuck to his skin, it took him a few moments to realise he was in Kelly's spare room. At least he'd not slept with him again tonight. Although he would have liked to, he almost pinched himself at that thought. As his breathing calmed he came to a terrible realisation. He'd wet himself. It wasn't sweat that was causing the sheets to stick to his legs. Talking about the priests, recalling their attempts to reinforce a heterosexual preference had done this to him, when the electrotherapy hadn't work they'd moved onto other methods, methods he didn't want in his head right now, memories he needed to keep a safe distance from. He almost broke down then and there, but he had to hold himself together, he wasn't in his own apartment right now.
Quickly he got up, slipped off his damp boxers and dressed. He quickly pulled the sheets off the bed in a panic, grabbing them all, his heart was still racing as he headed to the apartment door with every intention to get the soiled bedding down to the laundry room, and washed before Kelly noticed anything was amiss.
"Matt?" Kelly was standing in the path of the light coming from the bedroom door.
Like a deer caught in headlights he was stunned. "Uh…"
"Are you alright?" Kelly asked him. It was obvious what Matt was trying to cover up, part of him wished he'd remained in his room and let Matt keep this to himself, Kelly wasn't judging him, he knew how Matt was feeling right now.
"I... I had an accident," he responded, his tone childlike.
"Ok, no worries, I've got some fresh sheets, just leave them there, we can sort it out in the morning," Kelly said, not wanting to make a big deal out of it.
"It's fine, Matt. Did you have a nightmare?" Kelly asked him, slowly approaching him, wanting to take the sheets from his grasp.
"No," he said immediately.
"It'd be understandable if you did… why don't you sleep with me? Might sleep easier with company?" Kelly suggested, finally close enough to him now, he looked like he was in two minds right now; bolting out the door or breaking down.
"I can't," he responded quietly, shaking his head a little.
Kelly managed to take the soiled sheets from him. "Need a better explanation."
Matt shrugged and chuckled. "Don't want to piss on you."
"I don't imagine wetting the bed is a regular occurrence…" Kelly was saying as he put the dirty sheets over by the door. "It is?" he asked, looking back at the expression on Matt's face.
"It is," Matt admitted. It wasn't too regular now but when he'd returned home cured from the camp it had happened almost every single night, and of course his father discovered his accidents, he'd not been able to sit down for almost a week then. It had raised questions when he didn't turn up to school, he'd skipped, not wanting to face questions, there was already enough talk amongst the students and staff about where he'd been whilst he was at the camp. Inevitably his father had found he'd skipped school, the consequences of that had been even worse than the buckle end of the belt, but one thing the camp had taught Matt was how to completely zone out from what was happening to him, like his mind was separate to his body, sometimes he'd wished he was in that state forever.
Kelly tried to kick his brain into gear, he didn't want Matt to mistake his silence for something that it wasn't. "It's not your fault," he told Matt.
"Doesn't mean it's any less embarrassing," Matt responded, his shoulders slumped, barely able to look at Kelly.
"Everyone has nightmares," he tried to reassure him, although he didn't feel like he was doing a very good job at it.
"Everyone piss themselves too? Did everyone else have electrodes attached to their cock when they were a teenager?" Matt questioned without thinking, the images still in his head.
Kelly's mouth opened before he could get any words out. "Electroshock therapy? The power lines?" he said as his brain kicked into gear, voice tinged with a mixture of sadness and hurt, because he couldn't believe that anyone would want to hurt Matt like they had, and he couldn't believe how well he had adjusted, despite the obvious issues, Matt was good at hiding himself, good at appearing like he had it all together.
"I'm sorry that happened to you, at least things moved on, I guess..."
"Yeah, maybe," Matt said, shrugging, really not wanting another conversation right now. "That place only closed down four years ago, i wonder if I… I just think, how many other boys ended up there after me, it's best to just not think about it… and when I do think about it… this happens…" he spoke, struggling, motioning the bed sheets. "I'm glad it didn't happen to you."
"I've had it easier than you, and others, but you're free to be who you really are without worrying about the consequence," he replied.
"Not with my history," Matt responded, swallowing.
"I'll help you," he said, stepping forwards.
Instinctively Matt stepped back. "Not sure anyone can."
"You're not broken beyond repair," Severide told him firmly.
"But I am broken."
"Not to me." Kelly stepped closer to him again, this time touching his forearm for a brief moment before it was pulled away.
"I'm just gonna go to bed then, if you don't want me to leave," Matt commented, already moving away.
"Of course I don't want you to leave, and come to my bed…"
"No," Matt spoke firmly, standing still.
"Ok… you're not going to hurt yourself, are you?" He had to ask.
Kelly wasn't sure if he believed Matt, but he was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, besides, if it was anything like what happened before, he would hear Matt and be able to stop him. "Just hang on, I'll get you some fresh sheets…"
Matt remained standing still as Kelly disappeared into his bedroom, letting out a breath, eyeing the soiled sheets, gritting his teeth as he tried to imagine that Kelly had just discovered that he wet the bed. Because this was Kelly, and he liked him, really liked him, which he was torn up about inside, but it still didn't stop him from wanting to be liked back, and how could anyone like a grown man who still wet the bed when he had a nightmare?
"Earth to Matt…"
"Sorry," he muttered, realising that Kelly was standing in front of him now. He took the folded sheets from Kelly but remained still.
"Matt, what happened to you, it wasn't therapy. You weren't mentally ill," Kelly added before walking away to his own room.
He didn't respond. He carefully set the clean sheets down on the counter and wordlessly followed Kelly.
He tried not to seem surprised as Matt trailed after him into his bedroom. He paused and turned, Matt was right in front of him, he could feel his warm breath on his skin. There was a long silence as they sized each other up. Matt leaned in and gave Kelly a gentle kiss on his lips, moving back and smiling nervously. "Thanks."
"Thanks?" Kelly repeated
"Can I hug you now?"
"You don't ever have to ask."
Matt cautiously leaned in and wrapped his arms around Kelly. He underestimated the grounding effect that the hug would have on him as he began to feel the cinch around his chest loosen.
"Thanks," Matt said again.
There was just a slightly bemused expression on Kelly's face now. "I think you'll sleep better with company, I really wouldn't mind if you joined me in my bed."
"I should shower," Matt said, he was wearing dry clothes now but he could smell the urine on his skin, he could still feel it.
"Oh, yeah, course," Kelly nodded, "I'll make up the guest bed, then after you shower you can just sleep wherever you feel most comfortable."
Kelly watched Matt nod and walk away. He waited until he heard the bathroom door close before he made his way to the kitchen to get the sheets. He let out a shaky sigh as he leaned against the counter for a moment, wishing he would have handled that better, if he even could have. He made the spare bed quickly and then slipped back under his own bed covers, still slightly warm from when he'd woken. His thoughts remained on Matt as he heard the shower. He really hoped he was doing the right thing here, maybe it would be better if he managed to get Matt to talk to a professional, he didn't want to mess the situation up more than it already was, but was that even possible? His heart broke at the thought of Matt at that conversion camp, having electricity forced through his body in an attempt to change how he felt about boys. He dreaded to think what else he'd experienced there, in a way he wished he hadn't looked it all up on the internet, it was sending his imagination into overdrive as he lay in the bed listening to the shower stream.
He smiled to himself when he heard Matt enter his bedroom, but kept his eyes closed as he carefully joined him under the sheets, not wanting to make a big deal about Matt choosing to sleep with him.
In the morning, Kelly woke with a mop of blond hair tucked up against his side. He needed to go to the bathroom but Matt looked far too comfortable, he didn't want to disturb him. They way that Matt was laying gave Kelly the opportunity to study the scars on Matt's back. He gently traced them as he looked, exploring all the ridges and contrasting textures of each old wound.
"Kelly?" Matt murmured a while later, not moving.
Kelly's fingers froze on Matt's back. "Yeah?"
"What are you doing?" Matt mumbled softly.
"Uh, I don't know?"
"Seems a lot like you're tracing my scars," Matt replied after a minute.
"Sorry," he said, pulling his hand away from Matt.
Matt shook his head. "Feels good."
Kelly waited for a moment, wanting to see how Matt's mind was doing as he slowly replaced his hand.
"Not a lot of people who've touched me did it without the intention of inflicting pain. It's a—nice change."
Kelly inched closer to Matt, as if he could protect him after all these years. He knew that what happened to Matt couldn't be reversed, but he hoped that things would only change for the better from here on out. "If you want me to stop, just say."
"I will," Matt whispered, tangling an arm around Kelly's bare waist.
Since, as Kelly pointed out, Matt's truck was still in the shop and they had shift in the morning, he insisted that Matt should stay the day. Maybe it was selfish on Kelly's part, but he knew that the blond didn't really have much to go home to anyways. Plus, he'd feel a lot better if he could keep an eye on Matt, especially since he'd had a hand in dragging up Matt's murky past.
So they spent another day together inside Kelly's apartment. But this day was a lot different than the past one, Kelly was focused on giving Matt a day of rest. He wanted to distract him from everything else, from all the demons that lurked beneath his surface. He didn't want to burden him with the pressure of expectations or any kind of decisions. No, today, Kelly wanted to make Matt smile, feel better, help him recover even if it was only in tiny ways. Kelly just wanted to help Matt.
Chapter 6: I Didn't Want to be Scared
Over the next couple of weeks Matt and Kelly almost returned to their normal routine, almost because the discoveries Kelly had made about Matt’s past were still at the forefront of his mind, but for Matt’s sake he wasn’t going to dwell on it. Really there'd only been one small incident; they’d slept together and Matt was gone in the morning. Kelly had worried about what he was doing, worried he’d be hurting himself having had sex with him for the second time, so he’d gone over to his apartment and found him sobbing hysterically on the floor in the kitchen.
He had tried to comfort Matt, tried to tell him that everything he was feeling was valid, that there was nothing wrong with what they had done last night, after all how could something that felt so right be so wrong? But Matt almost made every effort to push him away, literally and figuratively, he was harsh with his words and his fists, but in the end he’d broken down and cried in Kelly’s embrace.
Kelly was at a loss though, Matt’s moods were taking a toll on the both of them, it wasn’t his fault, he knew that, and insisted it, but it was emotionally draining. Matt was almost right when he said he was too much, but Kelly knew he could take it. He wasn’t going to let Matt slip away from him.
Matt was deep in thought about it when Dawson approached him during one of the following shifts. Kelly was the only other one with Matt at the common room table, so she pulled up a chair next to him and sat only inches from him.
“Matt.” She murmured, biting her lip for a moment as a smile crossed her face.
“Hmm?” He looked over to her, tiredness crossing his face not for the first time that day.
“I was just uh— hoping that maybe…” She trailed off, pausing for only a few quiet moments. “My grandparents are having a get together next week, I was hoping you could come.”
“Your grandparents?” Matt raised an eyebrow.
Kelly looked at the interaction curiously, trying to hide the knowing smile that desperately wanted to creep onto his lips.
“Yeah. My grandmother really wants to meet you.” She said brightly.
“Do I know her?” Matt looked so confused and Kelly almost lost it laughing right then and there.
Gabby shook her head. “Well no, I’ve just told her a lot about you.”
Matt quickly glanced to Kelly, who had his big grin buried in a magazine, and back to Gabby. “Why?”
“You’re really special to me,” Gabby said with a warm smile. “We really could be something Matt.”
“I don’t think—“ Matt thought for a moment. “I don’t think we could be, Dawson.”
Gabby froze, her mouth open and her hand halfway to Matt’s. “What do you mean?”
Just then, the alarms went off above, giving Matt the reprieve he desperately needed. Matt jogged out, Kelly trailing behind him and catching Shay’s arm as he went.
“You really gotta tell Dawson to tone it down.” Kelly chuckled, shaking his head.
Shay raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
“He won’t go out with her.” Kelly replied with a smirk as he turned off to go to his rig.
At the factory fire Kelly and Matt had done the final sweep, they were the only two left in the building. They radiod to Boden that they were heading out the building, there were no more victims. There was a sudden loud groaning noise stopping the two of them in their tracks The flames had reached one of the tanks. Kelly swore as he leapt out of the way, too far from Matt to shield him. The force of the explosion flung Matt’s body across the room. He hit the wall with a heavy grunt, passed out and crumpled onto the floor.
When it was safe to do so without getting himself fried, Kelly rushed over to Matt’s fallen body. He was at least moving now. He was moving and groaning.
“Hey, hey… don’t move, you hit the deck pretty hard,” Kelly explained, noting the blood on the inside of Matt’s mask.
“Huh?” he responded, clearly dazed.
“You all right?” Kelly asked him, hand on his shoulder.
Matt only responded with an unintelligible noise before his eyes rolled to the back his head, body slumping forwards onto Kelly.
“Woah…” Kelly held onto him as he grabbed his radio. “Casey’s down, I’m bringing him out, need medics,” he called, hoping there was still an ambulance on the scene.
He hauled Matt up onto his shoulders and carried him out of the building, he couldn’t wait for him to become more lucid, he had to get him out now.. Shay and Dawson were ready and waiting, still on scene having sent the final victim off with another crew, wanting to be there for Casey.
“He’s hit his head,” Kelly said as he laid him down on the gurney, the others had gathered around, taking off his SCBA gear, wanting to assists Shay and Dawson as much as they could because this was their lieutenant. “He was thrown back a good few feet…” Kelly went on as Matt was assessed, he groaned as Shay tried to rouse him.
“Let’s get him in the rig… Kelly, you comng?” Shay looked at him questioningly.
Kelly pulled his eyes away from the all the equipment that was now surrounding Matt. He wanted to jump right in there with them but he had to look to Boden first.
Boden gave him the go ahead and he hopped into the ambulance, sitting down beside Matt. He could see his eyes opening a little as Shay taped some gauze to the head wound that was still trickling, turning his soot covered blond hair red.
“Kel…” he muttered, squinting up at Shay.
“He’s right here, Matt,” Shay informed him.
“I’m here… buddy, I’m right here…”
“Eugh… what happened?” he groaned.
“Gas tank exploded, we’re lucky we didn’t fry,” Kelly responded, although he didn’t feel very lucky seeing the state Matt was in. Pale and bleeding was not a look that he particularly liked on Matt.
“It’s ok, Matt, don’t worry, you’re gonna be alright,” Shay spoke up when Kelly remained silent, concern overwhelming him.
“No…” Matt muttered suddenly, eyes rolling back.. “I’m fixed, promise… don’t…”
Shay and Kelly shared a look of concern.
“You’re in the back of the ambo, Matt,” Shay told him, but it did little to stop his confusion.
Matt was wheeled away as soon as they entered the ER, Kelly had tried to follow but he was banned from going any further than the waiting room. Frustrated, he threw his gloves own onto the floor. His heart was pounding in his chest, he felt like hitting something because of the unfairness. He knew Matt would feel better if he wasn’t alone.
Shay came up to him, touching his arm. “He’s gonna be alright, he was awake and talking to you…”
“He was so confused,” he responded, recalling the lost look in Matt’s eyes.
“Being the back of an ambulance is confusing, especially with a concussion,” she responded.
It felt like an age before one of the ER staff came over to them. “Matt Casey’s family?”
Kelly’s heart sank at the thought of his family. “It’s just us,” he responded, hoping their first responder status would finally give them access to Matt.
“He has concussion, there’s a small bleed so we need to keep him monitored, he’s bruised and sore but nothing’s broken, they’ll be taking him up the neurology ward soon…”
“Can I see him? Is he awake?” Kelly asked in quick succession.
“He’s in and out, he has been asking for a Kelly?”
“That’s me,” Kelly said, ready to stroll right over to wherever Matt was right now.
“All right, you can see him briefly before he’s moved, follow me…”
It wasn’t until a little later, when Matt had been moved up to the neurology ward for observation, that he woke properly for the first time. Kelly, of course, had been by his bedside ever since he’d been taken to see him in the ER, once he was with Matt the staff had no chance of getting rid of him.
“Hey, hey… you’re alright…” Kelly spoke as Matt slowly regained consciousness with a pained expression on his face.
Matt opened his eyes to find Kelly looking down at him. “Wha…”
“You’re in the hospital. You managed to get yourself a concussion,” Kelly told him simply.
“That explains the pain…” he muttered.
“You’re in pain? I’ll get the doctor,” Kelly said, standing up.
“I’m getting the doctor, she probably needs to talk to you anyway, you’ve been admitted,”
“No…” Matt was shaking his head, wincing at the pain that reverberated around his skull. “Can’t stay…”
Kelly could see him panic, and it registered on the heart monitor.
It all happened so fast that Kelly barely had time to register how Matt had pulled out one of the IV cannulas, the back of his hand now trickling with blood. He managed to grab Matt before he could remove the other one, he was surprisingly strong for someone who had a severe concussion. The ward staff were quickly by his side though, trying to calm him down, when all their attention and the threat of sedation was making things ten times worse.
It took half an hour for Matt to calm down, and Kelly was sure that was because he’d completely and utterly exhausted himself.
“It’s all right, Matt… it’s all right… you’re ok…” Kelly continued his mantra even after Matt’s eyes had slipped shut and the staff had left, the IV cannula had been replaced further up his arm and a band covered the spot where it had been, the back of his hand was already bruising, but not as much as the left hand side of his face.
“Sorry…” Matt muttered after a while.
Kelly thought he’d been sleeping.
“It’s fine, hospital’s aren’t nice places when you’re confused,” he said, excusing his behaviour
“Don't want them to give me anything… you’ll tell them not to…”
“Give you anything?”
“Sorry, Matt, you need painkillers and they’re giving the steroids and anti…”
“I promise they won’t give you anything bad… they’re not going to… erm… give you anything like at that camp…”.
“Please, please don’t let them give me anything… please,” Matt pleaded.
“Matt, look at me, you’re ok, just look at me, they’re not gonna give you anything like that, yeah?”
After a short while he responded. “Yeah…”
“Good, all right then, how about you just lie back on the bed, just try and relax, I know it’s hard, hospitals are…” he trailed off, his thoughts suddenly coming together in realisation. He knew exactly what hospitals, and more specifically the IV cannula reminded Matt of, so he opted to distract him from it all. “It’s just one night, and I’m gonna stay with you,” Kelly told him.
“You’re staying?” His body had already relaxed at the idea, he moved onto his left side, facing Kelly.
“I’m staying. No one is going to give you any drugs, all right?”
“All right… but what if…”
“No what ifs… why did you become a firefighter?” Kelly asked him suddenly.
“What was your reason? Mine’s pretty obvious; following in my dad's footsteps. Why did you decide to go the academy?”
“Erm… I erm…”
“I know it’s not that bullshit story you tell everyone,” Kelly commented.
“Could have happened,” he responded, shrugging a little.
Kelly nodded, a small smile lacing his features. “Firefighters came to your school, it’s a nice story, but it’s just a story.”
“Yeah, it’s just a story.”
“So, what made Matt Casey become a firefighter?” Kelly urged.
“The story isn’t too far from the truth,” Matt began. “My third foster home, top floor apartment, there was a fire a few floors below, erm… the firefighters… they were amazing, they weren’t scared of anything… I didn’t want to be scared of anything so… yeah, that’s the real story.”
“When did you realise that we’re all scared?” Kelly asked him.
“Didn’t take long… my lieutenant at my first house, he said he was always scared, that if he wasn’t he’d quit, that stuck with me…” he continued, struggling to keep his eyes open now.
Kelly smiled down at him, pleased with the steady rhythm the heart monitor was now producing.
“Was it just your dad?” Matt asked him tiredly.
“Wasn’t great at school didn’t wanna work in an office, seemed like the right choice,” he responded.
“It was… I’m glad I met you,” Matt said, barely able to smile now he was so exhausted.
“Get some sleep, Matt, don’t stay awake on behalf.”
“Still staying?” he asked Kelly quietly. “Always.”
Matt was discharged the next day. He was pushed to the hospital exit in a wheelchair that he’d protested to for almost ten minutes before Kelly promised he’d never tell a soul. Kelly drove him to his own apartment, despite wanting him to stay at his own place, but he understood Matt wanting his own bed and his own things after his short hospital stay. Not that Matt owned very many things, he didn’t have much more than a bed in his small apartment, but it was his own, something he had worked hard for when he had left the system.
“You’ll call me if you need anything?” Kelly said as he stood in the doorway.. “If you start to feel unwell or anything…”
“I’ll call 911, don’t worry,” he responded, leaning on the door.
“I’m not convinced you would,” Kelly said, chuckling a little at the thought of Matt’s stubbornness.
“Erm… you could stay, if you wanted… I can sleep on the couch,” he suggested hesitantly.
Kelly stepped into the apartment. “I’ll sleep on the couch.”
They ended up sleeping in Matt’s bed together, arms and legs wrapped around each other as they dozed. He felt safe in Kelly’s embrace, his thoughts didn’t plague him, they were so far from the front of his mind that even hours after they’d slept together Matt wasn’t at all conflicted.
Chapter 7: I Just Want Everything
Once inside the apartment, Kelly pushed Matt into the nearest wall, knocking the breath out of them both. It had been a few weeks since his short hospital stay, he’d been cleared for work less than a week after he’d been discharged. Matt was constantly finding new ways to cope and overcome his demons, Kelly was now a vital part in the large closet of Matt’s coping techniques. He wasn’t quite so plagued anymore, Kelly could see the haunted look in his eyes had lessened, even others had commented on Matt’s recent good mood.
“You sure—” Kelly murmured in between kisses, “—you wanna do this?”
Matt nodded, both hands coming up to hold Kelly’s head to prevent him from pulling apart to talk again. He gasped and chuckled quietly when Kelly threw him into a fireman’s carry like he was nothing more than a feather and walked him over to the bedroom. He tossed Matt onto the soft bed with about as much finesse as a drunk ballerina, the shift to his weight distribution caused him to tip over, falling right on top of the man below him. Kelly put his hands out on either side of Matt’s head, stopping himself just in time.
Matt yanked Kelly down to him, kissing his perfect lips with urging passion, biting and nipping the tender skin along his jaw and just behind his ear. It wasn’t hard to tell it was a sensitive spot for Kelly, not with the way he writhed and groaned, tilting his head to open his neck up.
Kelly let his lower half connect with Matt’s, grinding against his hips and using his hands to travel up the length of his torso. Matt was getting into it too, his arms wrapping around Kelly’s lower back in order to pull him closer.
“Wait.” Kelly murmured, pulling away and trying to find Matt’s eyes under the cool moon’s glow. “Can we have a safeword? Just something to say if it gets too much and we need to stop, even if it’s for a second.”
Matt nodded slowly. “Rust.”
“Rust.” Kelly nodded, repeating the word.
He yanked Kelly’s shirt up and over his head, then Matt flipped them over so he was sitting on top. He started kissing down Kelly’s front, sucking along his collarbone, leaving a trail of kisses along his ribs, nuzzling his clearly toned abs and passed his navel. Matt only pulled away to unbuckle Kelly’s jeans so he could go further.
Kelly lifted his hips as Matt ripped off his jeans and threw them to the other side of the room. He pulled Matt back up and kissed him fiercely, rolling on top of him so he could rid the full dressed man of some clothing. He switched himself to a more gentle state as he ran hands from Matt’s hips up toward his chest, taking his shirt along with it. Matt’s breath hitched when Kelly attacked his neck with his mouth, sucking his earlobe as hot breaths tickled his ear.
“You good?” he mumbled, reaching down with one hand to undo the button on Matt’s pants.
Matt nodded, desperately reaching for another kiss, hands threading through Kelly’s dark hair. “Do you always talk this much?” he asked a moment later.
Kelly grinned into Matt’s lips for a moment. “Sometimes. Only if I’m with someone I give a shit about.”
“What a romantic,” Matt breathed out in a huff, taking control and shedding his own pants and underwear. The only thing separating them was Kelly’s briefs, but those were quickly out of the question too.
The air was hot and sticky as things began heating up. Kelly was preparing Matt a few long-awaited minutes later, watching him moan and move in time with his fingers. He was clearly enjoying it and soon begging for more. Begging looked good on Matt, Kelly had initially thought, until his mind drifted to young Matt, begging for the priests to stop, begging for anyone who would listen, to help him.
He was glad Matt wasn’t touching him, because the man might wonder why he started going soft. But a second later, Matt moaned loudly as Kelly hit the right spot inside him, and then all Kelly could see was here and now. All he could think about was the beautiful body below him, the way the moonlight caught all the perfect angles of Matt’s well toned body.
“Kel—” Matt’s eyes fluttered open, a breathy gasp escaping his lax lips.
Kelly stopped what he was doing and reached into the nightstand drawer, grabbing the necessities. He rolled on a condom and coated himself and Matt generously with lube.
“Ready—?” Kelly began, lining himself up.
“Oh just fuck me already.” Matt muttered through a shutter, staring up at the other man through dazed, dilated eyes.
“You dirty boy.” Kelly shook his head incredulously, a shiver of anticipation quickly passing through him.
Matt smirked. “You might be surprised to know you’re not the first person that’s called me that.”
“Oh, not surprised in the slightest, Matty.” Kelly grinned, leaning down to capture Matt’s lips, tongue brushing against the man’s bottom lip. He carefully started sliding into Matt, his head dropping down onto the man’s chest as pleasure immediately coursed through his whole body. He had to stop from slamming into Matt, letting him slowly adjust to his thickness as he gradually moved his hips forward.
Matt’s face was blank as he stared up at Kelly, trying to internalize the burning pain that reminded him of too many horrible things in his life. Soon, it transitioned into pleasure, but he continued to ground himself in Kelly’s eyes, the safety of his embrace. Matt’s eyes fluttered closed as Kelly bottomed out and started pulling back out. As Kelly found a steady rhythm, pounding into Matt faster and harder with every passing moment, the air became thick with heavy breaths and words that weren’t coherent enough to make out. Eventually, they each found their climax and collapsed into each other, their sweaty skin sticking along with the drying mess between them. Kelly brought Matt into the shower after they’d regained their breaths and languidly washed them both off, hoping to end their evening gently. Add some kind of comforting aspect after he’d ravaged the other man so viciously, he wanted to make Matt feel safe and normal and wanted.
Later on after the shower, they both crawled into Kelly’s bed shirtless.
“Mind me asking where you learned how to do that thing? With your—” Kelly attempted to make hand motions in order to convey his sentiments.
“The—” Matt watched him peculiarly, tilting his head as if it could help him understand. “Oh. That .” Matt chuckled softly, his voice tinged with uncertainty. “A priest.”
“You learned that from—” Kelly began, quickly trailing off when he realized exactly what that meant. He immediately became full of guilt for enjoying it, for moaning and letting it turn him on. He remained silent as he tried to swallow all the apologies and questions that kept threatening to bubble over.
“You didn’t make me do it.” Matt said calmly, watching a dozen completely different emotions sweep over Kelly’s face.
“No, but I—” Kelly began, sighing in disappointment at himself.
Matt travelled from his side of the bed towards Kelly’s, laying his head on the man’s abdomen and creating a ‘T’ with their bodies. Kelly pushed himself up against the headboard a little so he could have a better view of Matt.
“You’re ok then? You’re not gonna… you know…”
“I’m good right here,” Matt’s gaze moved to the ceiling, “You’re pretty good at keeping the demons out of my head.”
Kelly smiled, gently tracing a finger along Matt’s hairline and around his ear. “I try.”
Matt’s eyes moved to meet Kelly’s, “I know you do. I don’t know why, but you do.”
“Because you deserve to have someone that cares. And I want to be that person.”
“Why though?” Matt asked curiously, “You could, so easily, have a perfect, put together, sane person. But you’re choosing to fight for me…?”
“I don’t think I could love a perfect person the way I love you.”
Matt’s eyes narrowed at Kelly’s casual confession, “You love me?” Voices floated in his head, those of his parents and the priests, saying ‘no one will ever love you, homosexual relationships are built on sinning and the devil, not love’.
“Yeah.” Kelly nodded, pausing briefly while he weighed the consequences of those simple words. “How does that make you feel? Are you okay?”
Matt let out a long breath, debated and thought about his own feelings. “Think I’m okay with that.”
Kelly grinned, brushing a hand over Matt’s forehead, he watched as Matt’s lips parted and he began to speak, “You really think we can make this work?”
“I think we can. Never gonna be rainbows and sunshine, but that shit’s gay anyways.”
Matt chuckled, “Well I might be gay, so don’t speak too soon.”
“Are you finally past the whole ‘denying your sexuality’ thing?” Kelly raised his brows.
“I don’t really want a label. But it feels good to be–” Matt motioned between them. “It feels good to have someone. And I don’t know why everyone thinks it’s wrong, I don’t know why people think a certain type of love is so bad that they brainwash kids and fucking try to beat it out of them... Why is that? Because love isn’t bad. It shouldn’t be… It’s not. Love doesn’t hurt anyone, why is it so bad? Why can’t they brainwash the murderers or the pedophiles or the abusive parents? Focus on the people who are actually doing A-level scumbag shit.” Matt asked, voice calm if not slightly annoyed, holding himself together with ease. “I just want everything, I want everything from a relationship. But there’s these invisible barriers inside me. Ones that a lotta different people put up, ones that I don’t know how to break down. It’s like that itch I can’t scratch, that one thing holding me back from opening my heart.”
“It’s not right.” Kelly agreed wholeheartedly, shaking his head with sadness. “It’s really not right.”
Matt sighed, closing his eyes. “I wish the world was different.”
“Me too.” Kelly gave Matt a small smile, brushing his damp blonde hair back.
“Do you wish I was different?” Matt asked apprehensively, leaning into Kelly’s touch.
“Not in the slightest,” Kelly answered honestly. “Do I wish some of the shit you’ve been through didn’t happen? Yeah. But I don’t wish you were different.”
“You like all my issues?” Matt teased with the slightest of smirks.
“Yeah, it’s like life’s given me a free puzzle for life,” Kelly teased back, watching a smile pop onto Matt’s lips.
Matt popped open one eye. “Free? Don’t you know how expensive therapy is?”
“Didn’t know I had to help pay for that.” He grinned, switching to a more serious tone a second later. “I would–though. You know. I’d do anything for you… You thinking of seeing someone?”
“I had a court appointed therapist when I was in foster care that I seen a few times. Didn’t help much. But maybe I should try again. I really want this to work—you and me—I want to give it my all and if that means I gotta see a therapist, I’ll do it.”
“Whatever you need from me, I’m in this.” Kelly replied, cupping one side of Matt’s face with a gentle hand, thumb brushing along his cheekbone.
“Still feels—weird. Feel like my mom is going to walk in any second and start yelling at me.”
“I won’t run if she does.” Kelly awkwardly leaned down and brushed a kiss along Matt’s forehead, “I’m here to protect you now.”
“Thanks.” Matt grinned sheepishly, open both eyes fully. He yawned softly and buried his face against Kelly.
“Well I did do most of the work.” Matt teased with a soft smirk.
Kelly’s laugh came from deep in his stomach. “Yeah at the end, after I’d exhausted all of my stamina trying to get you off.”
“Yeah my dick never did work quite the same after they electrocuted it.” Matt let out a soft chuckle.
“Matt!” Kelly exclaimed in surprise, “Although I can respect this positive new outlook you’ve taken, uh— you can’t just say stuff like that. I don’t even know how to respond. Like what do I even say?”
Matt grinned. “You say, ‘oh fuck, he could have ended up with a super-cock, but now he has a half-working dud.’”
“What am I going to do with you?” Kelly shook his head incredulously, a warm expression of pride and love on his face.
“Sleep.” Matt looked at him with a drowsy gaze, his smile taking up half his face.
“Good idea.” Kelly nodded.
He admired Matt’s adorable expression before slipping away to grab the covers from where they’d been discarded on the floor during their earlier activity.
“Why rust?” Kelly asked a while later, after they’d turned the lights off and their subdued chatting was winding down. Matt’s back was against his front, each of their curves matching as they fit perfectly into one another.
“Hmm?” Matt was almost asleep and he nearly didn’t hear what Kelly had said.
“The safeword. What made you pick rust?”
“Oh.” Matt smiled, “That’s what my truck was in the shop for, the leaf springs in the front started to rust out. Rust moves slow, but if you don’t do anything about it, it eventually takes over and ruins your life—err vehicle.”
Kelly thought for a moment. “Am I like rust?”
“Do I take over and ruin your life?” he asked.
Matt shook his head and felt Kelly tension float away. “You’re like the opposite of rust. You move fast but I know you try not to control me, and you make my life a lot better.”
He grinned. “You’re pretty poetic after a good bang.”
Matt laughed at that, causing Kelly to smile and hold Matt tighter. “That was a good bang. Haven’t been done that hard since the priests had their way with me.”
Kelly was silent in the moments following.
“Relax, that was a joke.” Matt snorted. “Well, it’s technically the truth, but it was supposed to be a joke.”
“It’s going to take me a really long time to get used to priest rape jokes.” Kelly spoke incredulously.
Matt chuckled softly, “Just be happy I’m not a sobbing mess on the floor like last time.”
“You’re beautiful when you cry.” Kelly replied in a quiet tone, his legs intertwining with Matt’s.
“That’s probably not what you were thinking at the time.”
“No I was just hoping you’d stop so we could fuck again.” Kelly teased, earning a sarcastic gasp and elbow to his stomach.
“Dick.” Matt muttered with a smile.
“Will you be here in the morning?” Kelly asked softly, pressing a kiss against the back of Matt’s head while he curled an arm around Matt’s front, tugging him that little bit closer.
“Yeah.” Matt nodded. “As long you make me breakfast,” He smiled to the air in front of him.
“I’d love to.” Kelly smiled, leaving another kiss, this time at the nape of his neck.
For a moment, warm and safe, just as sleep was taking Matt, a thought crossed his mind.
Maybe he could be gay, maybe the world as he knew it wouldn’t come to an end.
Because he’d been moving ahead with Kelly, albeit very slowly, but still moving ahead, and none of the things that the priests had said would happen to him actually happened.
Matt couldn’t deny that he was in love, that he loved Kelly. And he knew Kelly loved him too. It kept making him question, now that he was actually experiencing it, what was so wrong with it. Why everything he’d been told during those formative years of his life, was turning out to be a lie. He wasn’t hurting anyone, so how could this be so wrong that he was tortured for it? Matt felt like, if anything, he was becoming a better person. With so many questions floating in his head, he had trouble falling asleep. His thoughts plagued him until the early hours when he could simply stay awake no longer.
Chapter 8: I'm Not Good For You
Matt took to staying at Kelly’s apartment a lot more than he used to, he felt at ease around Kelly, and was soon becoming happy out in public with him, because as far as anyone else knew they were just friends, they didn’t have a big flashing neon sign on their heads announcing their sexual preferences. Despite Kelly reassuring him that he was normal to feel whatever he felt towards anyone, he couldn’t help but wish he was in Kelly’s shoes, he was so much more confident, Kelly was bringing out a certain confidence in him though. Sitting in the small diner down the block from Kelly’s apartment, Matt would be happy to stand up and announce how much he loved the man sitting with him, or maybe he was still slightly hungover from the night before.
“This is nice,” Severide said, starting on his breakfast of bacon and eggs.
Matt nodded, looking down at his blueberry pancakes.
“Something wrong with yours?” Kelly asked him.
“No, nothing,” he said, eyes glancing at him.
“It’s not gonna eat itself,” Kelly responded, grinning as he shovelled a forkful of bacon into his mouth.
“I just uh… I just wanted to say thanks,” he went on.
“I thought you were paying,” Kelly teased, earning him a playful shove.
“You know what I mean,” he responded, smiling at Kelly because he looked so damn cute when he teased.
“Honestly, don’t worry about it… it’s been nice, by the way, spending all this time with you,” Kelly told him in earnest.
“You’re not just saying that… I don’t want you tread on eggshells around me, if I do something wrong, if I’m annoying you or…”
“I’ll call you out on it,” Kelly said.
He frowned a little, looking at Kelly. “Not sure you would.”
“You’re just too nice,” Matt told him.
Kelly just smiled at him, knowing how few people had shown Matt real care in his life, he knew it was going to take some time for him to stop thinking of Kelly as such a saint, ironic when it was the priests who should have been viewed like that. Kelly could still remember the look on Matt’s face all those years ago when he’d been promoted to lieutenant and transferred to 51, he’d broken his arm only a few months at the new house and everyone had wanted to make sure he was all right, he’d not even broken it at work, it had happened out on a construction job. Kelly would never forget the bewildered but appreciative look in his eyes.
Their brunch spot became a tradition, Kelly would go through the menu and have a different breakfast each time, Matt would choose blueberry pancakes but he’d always take food from Kelly’s plate. They would walk there, and walk back, no matter the weather, Kelly always said that his mom told him it was best to walk off a large meal, Matt smiled whenever Kelly recalled memories from his youth, if only he could replace his own memories with them.
On this particular day the sun was shining, but something was very different, and it wasn’t the way that Matt let Kelly hold his hand in public as they strolled along the sidewalk back to Kelly's’ apartment, which Matt had all but officially moved into.
“Staying at mine again?” Kelly asked him.
“I mean, I just wondered, I’m not sick of you or anything,” Kelly explained, seeing the expression on Matt’s face. “I was thinking, maybe, if you wanted… I mean, your place… well, it’s a shithole…”
Matt stopped on the sidewalk, letting go of his hand. “Are you asking me to move in with you?” he asked, biting his lower lip, eyes smiling.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” Kelly responded sheepishly.
Matt didn’t respond right away.
“You don’t have to…” he went on, swallowing nervously now, feeling like a teenager asking someone to the school dance again, afraid of rejection.
“I’m not great to live with,” he replied, thinking about how much he’d been resented growing up.
“I know what I’m getting into,” Kelly said firmly.
“You don’t, Kel.”
“You’re practically living with me now,” Kelly pointed out.
“I’ve only ever lived with my parents, or in foster homes. And none of that ended well,” he added.
“Bit of a difference between me and them; I love you, Matt.”
Matt’s heart caught in his throat, expressions of care, never mind love, sent his brain into overdrive, he knew Kelly was genuine but his thoughts couldn’t help but race.
“You gotta stop freezing when you realise someone cares,” Kelly said, chuckling, pulling Matt’s hand into his.
Just then they heard noise, loud voices and cheers started coming from around the block. Matt and Kelly both turned to look at the source. Crowds had started walking through the street. Many people carrying signs and banners began were marching together, obviously for a cause.
Kelly guessed that they were part of some sort of peaceful protest, probably heading toward the city hall, only a few yards from where Matt and Kelly had paused on the sidewalk. He pulled Matt to the side as to not get trampled by the marchers. It was only when the people started getting closer, that his entire being started to fill with dread.
The protesters carried signs that expressed their hatred against gay individuals.
He was still holding Matt’s hand and he could feel the moment that Matt also realized what was happening. Matt let out a shaky breath as he and Kelly shared a look. Kelly instinctively moved in front of Matt, his hand not loosening its grip on Matt’s.
A few of the protestors on the edge of the group had spotted them. Kelly had seen them veering away from the rest of them, he almost let go of Matt’s hand but he knew it was too late and he knew if he let go of Matt’s hand now he would lose every ounce of trust he had in him. Kelly rubbed his thumb across the back of Matt’s hand, hoping to help, do something, be something, for Matt. He knew if Matt was strong enough to get through everything life had already thrown at him, he could get through whatever was about to happen now. But Kelly worried about the cost.
“We don’t want any trouble.” Kelly grumbled in a low voice once the four protesters were in earshot.
“This is sin!” an older middle-aged man yelled, roughly motioning at the two of them.
“The bible clearly says, a man shall not lie with a man,” a woman chimed in, looking at the two of them in disgust.
“What we do behind closed doors is our business.” Kelly retorted with a harsh look.
They looked a little taken aback. “Don’t force your disgusting acts upon us.” the woman continued, motioning to their close proximity.
“Like you’re doing to us?” Kelly shook his head incredulously, tightening his grasp on Matt. “The bible also says you shall not hate. And you should treat your neighbour like you want to be treated, and a hell of a lot of things about love, if I recall correctly.”
“How dare you criticize the bible?” A third protester guffawed,
“I didn’t?—” Kelly began, getting cut short when one of the bigger men gave him a punch right to his gut. Now, Matt was supporting him. Holding him by his hips, not letting him collapse. Knowing Matt was there, knowing that he was also getting attacked, gave Kelly all the energy he needed to recover quickly and let out all the rage he’d been trying to contain. All he could see was fucking red when he returned upright.
Kelly turned back to Matt for a split second, giving him a soft smile. “Gotta let go of your hand now, babe.”
Matt nodded, eyes wide.
He zeroed in on the man that had hit him, and he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen fear like that in a man’s eyes before. He took a deep breath, pulled his fist back and slung it forward with enough force that he knocked the man out like a light, sending him to the pavement a second later.
The man that had been standing behind the guy looked up at Kelly with a mix of surprise and anger. When he came running at Kelly, Kelly didn’t hesitate as he headbutted him in the face, the crack of cartilage distinctly reverberating back to him. The man stumbled back, holding his profusely bleeding nose, Kelly, adrenaline now taking over, gave him a swift kick to the stomach and sent him straight on his ass.
A few of the other protesters had seen what had happened and came rushing over.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Your friends attacked me for being bisexual and having a boyfriend ,” Kelly uttered angrily. “Are you going to try to hurt us too?”
The man holding a flashy sign that said ‘homosexuals are possessed by demons’ shook his head, while the other man with him, a biker looking guy started storming toward Kelly.
Kelly braced himself as he was laid with an unavoidable left hook. He would have ducked, but Matt was still right behind him and he didn’t want that sweet blonde’s face to get scratched up.
Kelly charged ahead and gave the big man a knee to the groin, taking sick pleasure when the man let out a grunt of pain. As the guy fell to his knees, Kelly pulled him by his ponytail and rammed his big head right into the knee he kicked forward. As the biker fell backwards, the first douchebag was getting up again, going for round two. Now, normally Kelly liked to give anyone as good a round two as round one, in bed and out, so when the idiot started stumbling toward him, uncoordinated arms flailing, he powered up for a big hit. He grabbed the guy by the shoulder and back of the shirt, hands digging into his flesh and the fabric above it, and swung him headfirst into the telephone pole that stood not four feet away.
As soon as he was done with that guy, Kelly spun to evade the fist of another angry participant. He was glad for the boxing skills he’d gained throughout his days in highschool, because he was nailing anyone who dared to approach. Kelly, now a couple of yards away from Matt, turned quickly when he heard Matt let out a surprised gasp. One of the women that had been from the original group to come over, was now coming back and she was angry as hell. She was rushing towards the Matt, determination drenching her wrinkled features.
Kelly’s heart sank at the sight of Matt, so terrified and worried. Kelly rushed over to him and got in front of him just as the woman swung at the pair with a wooden stake that Kelly guessed used to be part of a sign.
Kelly took the full force of the impact, no hesitation in his mind as he punched her in the stomach a moment later. While she was subdued, Kelly turned to Matt. “Let’s get out of here.”
Matt was focused on Kelly’s arm, nodding numbly as he stared at the wooden splinters embedded in his bicep, oozing blood through his t-shirt. He looked at Kelly’s encouraging smile and let Kelly take his hand as they snuck away down a small back alley.
He led Matt through a few unnamed streets and eventually came to a large fence. Kelly hopped up onto a dumpster and reached down to help Matt up. They climbed over the fence with a small amount of ease and carefully got back down. As careful as Kelly was though, he still managed to twist his ankle as he fell from the top. But there were still a couple of people after them and he knew they had no time to stop.
He hid the limp pretty well as the finally popped back onto the main road, just a couple hundred feet away from the apartment.
Matt wasn’t stupid. He’d hidden injuries enough to know when someone was in pain. “Ankle?” Matt murmured softly as they slowed to a walk.
Kelly looked up in surprise. “Yeah.”
“You need help?”
Kelly shook his head. “Doesn’t hurt bad.”
“We’re almost home,” Matt spoke softly, placing a gentle hand on Kelly’s hip.
They finally reached Kelly’s apartment building, he’d not missed the way Matt had called it home. They took the elevator up to their floor, both of them leant heavily on its walls as it glided upwards. In the apartment Matt fetched Kelly’s first aid kit and follow him into the bathroom, wanting to clean him up, it was the very least he could do.
“You okay?” Kelly asked softly as he sat on the bathroom floor, Matt carefully removing his shirt.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Matt raised an eyebrow, beginning to wipe away Kelly’s blood.
“Nah.” Kelly shook his head. “Bodies heal.”
“Sometimes,” Matt murmured softly. “Have any tweezers?”
“Yeah, top drawer.” Kelly motioned to the vanity.
Matt retrieved them and then straddled Kelly’s lap, pulling wooden splinters from his upper arm.
“Doesn’t look so bad… I should get some ice for your ankle…”
“Help me to the couch first,” Kelly responded.
“Painkillers, I’ll get you painkillers as well,” he said, nodding to himself.
Kelly was smiling at the thoughtful expression on his face. “Help me up?”
“Oh, yeah, course…”
Once Kelly was resting on the couch, bruised but looking better now the blood had been cleared away, Matt had strapped a bag of frozen peas to his ankle and made sure he took some painkillers even though Kelly insisted they weren’t needed.
“C’mere…” Kelly said, opening his arm, wanting Matt to join him on the couch.
“I’m fine, there’s nothing more you can do, honest,” Kelly assured him.
Matt nodded, letting out a breath before joining him on the couch.
“You’re not hurt are you?” Kelly asked him, touching his chin.
Matt shook his head.
“That’s never happened to me before,” he commented, running a hand through Matt’s hair.
“You’re lucky,” Matt responded.
“Shouldn’t happen to anyone,” he said.
Matt gave a small shrug. “It does though, and it always will,”
“I don’t believe that, if most people are accepting then all the hate has gotta die down eventually…”
Matt smiled. “You really are too good, Kelly Severide.”
“You’ve had too many bad experiences…”
“So I see the world differently?” Matt questioned him.
“Stuff like today shouldn’t happen, it’s so rare though.”
“It isn’t though, it happens every day, everywhere… because it’s not normal…”
Kelly sat up suddenly, wincing as his sore body, Matt slipped from his position lying with him. He gazed into Matt’s eyes. “I wish you wouldn’t say that…”
“I’m sorry… I shouldn't say it… sorry…”
“No I’m sorry, I’m the one who should be sorry.” Kelly shook his head. “That came out wrong, I meant—”
“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said it I don’t know what I was thinking I just—I just—“ Matt took a deep breath, trying to calm the stormy quells that threatened to stop his lungs.
“It’s okay.” Kelly soothed, “I only meant that I wished you wouldn’t indirectly put yourself down like that.”
“I’m sorry.” Matt replied in a whisper, his heart whizzing in his chest.
Kelly lay back down on the couch, putting an arm around Matt so that he would follow suit. It didn’t take him long to drift off to sleep listening to the sounds of Matt’s steady breaths. But when he woke a while later he was alone, for a moment he hoped Matt was just in the bathroom but after a few moments it became obvious that the apartment was empty. He probably should have expected this, disappointment crept through his veins despite telling himself that he was going to have to accept this could happen given Matt’s past, it didn’t make waking up alone any easier though.
He pushed himself up onto his elbows, then sat up on the couch, his whole body was aching, gone were the days he could get into a fight and not feel the aftereffects. Testing his ankle, he spotted a quickly written note on the coffee table, well, that was something, he thought. Matt had never vanished and left him a note before. Reading it didn’t make him feel any better though.
‘I’m not good for you. Sorry.’
Matt had arrived early to his shift. He'd not spoken to Kelly since the other day when he'd been an absolute idiot and left him whilst he'd slept, after everything Kelly had done to protect him, he couldn't get those protestors out his head though, they had a point no matter what Kelly told him, and he couldn't see past it. He was a mess and now he'd gone and fucked up the only good thing he had, because things had been going so well over the past few weeks, he could hear his father in his head, telling him that this was all inevitable.
He stood up when Kelly entered the common room just before roll call, but his feet seemed glued to the spot, all he could do was watch as Kelly poured himself a fresh mug of coffee from the pot.
Kelly's eyes met his as everyone started to leave the common room. "Is…" Matt started.
He stopped and waited for Matt to finish.
"Your ankle… is your ankle all right?"
"It's fine," Kelly responded with a singular nod.
Their shift ended with barely another word spoken between the two of them.
It wasn't for another week that they had more than a short conversation, and only then had it been related to work.
Kelly was lying awake, it was late, he'd been out with Shay and some of his other friends, he'd wanted to go home so badly with the blond he'd met, but there was another blond on his mind so he went straight back to his own apartment. He was almost asleep when his phone rang.
"Hey… wasn't sure you'd answer…"
"Thought about dismissing it… for less than a second… you sound… upset?" Kelly responded.
"Well, I'm lying here, covered in my own piss because apparently I can't act like a normal adult, and for some reason I thought I'd call you before getting up and stripping the bed and… I don't want to do this… and now I'm dragging you into it… I want to stop… I want it all to stop, but I don't want it to stop… what if what you say is true… I know it's true, I believe you, but then I don't…"
Kelly was struggling to understand every word Matt was saying, he was crying, sniffling into the receiver.
"Matt, listen to me," he began firmly. "Don't do anything stupid, ok? I'm coming over…"
"No… and I'm not, I won't, I promise, nothing stupid, I don't want to hurt you… I already have… but not again… I'm going to leave, I think that's the solution… I'll leave… transfer…"
"I'm not gonna let that happen," Kelly said.
"You know too much… I'm sorry… sorry… sorry, shouldn't have called, I… everyone was right… I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…"
The line went dead.
Kelly was already grabbing his car keys and rushing out the door.
He hit no traffic on the way over to Matt's apartment, and he had probably broken a few speeding laws. He quickly unlocked the door to the apartment with the spare key he had, not bothering to knock because he knew he wouldn't get an answer.
"Matty?" he began, walking over to the small round table he was sitting at, head in his hands.
He looked up, surprised to see Kelly in his apartment. His eyes were watery and he looked defeated by the world.
"I don't know what to do, Matt, I don't know how to fix all this… you don't need fixing, that implies that you're broken, but you're just… you… I was so happy that you felt you could open up to me, and these past few weeks, they've been great… mostly… talking about what happened, I think, has maybe opened up old wounds… I don't want you to leave without talking to me, can we make that a rule?"
"I left a note," Matt responded, sniffling.
"You did… but knowing what I know now… it's kinda scary…"
"Let me finish, don't apologize," Kelly spoke up. "I would love it if you would move in with me, this apartment is horrible, Matt. And you're great to be around, I want to be with you. When I say scary, I mean, it's just hard to think of all the crap you went through, I wish you hadn't had to suffer through it all… I'm not going to try and fix you, but I'm gonna be there and I'm gonna hold you after you have one of your nightmares, I'm not going to hurt you or laugh at you if you have an accident, I'm going to make love to you and afterwards we're gonna lie together. I'm gonna cuddle you in the mornings before we get out of bed. I'm gonna kiss your scars and I'm never going to judge you."
"You'll grow to resent me…"
"Please don't do this, Matt, please don't say what I will think or do, you don't know that… I know you have been let down and hurt by everyone around you, but have I ever hurt you?"
Matt shook his head. "You will though… and I'll hurt you…"
"So, this is it then? Because it can't be," Kelly said, shaking his head. He couldn't let Matt get away from him.
Matt stood up, slamming his fist down on the small table. "I am damaged. I am no good. I am weak and emotional. No one wants me. No one. You're lying. You're lying… you must be. You're lying," he screamed, raw and vulnerable. His clenched hands trembling.
He remained still in stunned silence, tears quietly trickling down his face. He nodded slowly after short while. "Ok… I'll stop then… I'll stop… but I can't stop how I feel about you."
Swallowing down his emotions Matt looked away. "You should go."
"I don't think I can," Kelly responded.
Matt's face crumpled as he began to sob. Kelly caught him and they went down to the floor together. He was apologizing incoherently between sobs.
Kelly held him tightly until he grew too tired and his sobs became muffled noises.
"I don't know why I do this…"
"You've had a tough few days," Kelly sympathised. His chin resting on Matt's head.
"I'm too much…"
"You've been told you were too much. You're not, not to me, I don't care if I have to tell you that a thousand times every single day," Kelly said, smiling.
"You really want me to move in with you? Me?" he asked, unable to hide the surprise from his tone.
"Yes, you, no one else, never anyone else… now, how about you jump in the shower, your hot water's working, right?"
Matt nodded, even though it wasn't. He silently walked to the bathroom, not bothering to get clothes for after. He just needed to clear his head, have a moment to process. He took off his clothes before going to step beneath the faucet. He took a deep breath as he turned on the water, flinching as the low-pressure, ice cold spray started crawling over his skin. Sometimes if he was lucky, the water warmed to lukewarm for a few seconds, a large mercy against what felt like ice pellets the rest of the time.
As he stood there under the water in the shower, he thought deeply about everything that had just happened. He thought about what his father would think about him if he could see him now. He wondered where things were at with Kelly, he wondered how many more times Kelly could excuse his behaviour before he'd send him packing too.
It was hard to imagine though, almost impossible to see a version of Kelly that would treat him that way. He'd only ever known Kelly to be a strong, kind, passionate guy. Sure, when they'd first known each other, he'd thought him a bit immature and short tempered. But then again, they'd been through a lot since then. Kelly had seen and received Matt's worst before, and Matt had gotten to know Kelly's bad side too.
The water went from cold to freezing, and Matt couldn't help but wonder where this water was when he was looking for a cold glass of it after a run. It seemed that whatever came from the kitchen tap had a slightly brown tinge and was usually lukewarm at best.
There was a knock on the bathroom door, the sound drifting above the soft pattering on the shower floor.
Matt sighed, scrubbing a hand over his face to clear the water away. "Come in."
Kelly did just that, intentionally averting his eyes from the shower in order to give Matt the privacy he probably wanted. "Just came to drop off some clean clothes."
"Thanks." Matt said tiredly, a soft smile creeping onto his face even though he knew Kelly wasn't looking.
Kelly was, however, looking at the mirror. Now, the mirror wasn't reflecting the shower or anything, but it definitely let Kelly in on something.
"Thought you said the hot water was fixed." He mumbled, absentmindedly tightening the sink's faucet.
"Yeah. And?" Matt shut off the water and grabbed the towel from the hook outside the shower.
"And there's no condensation on the mirror plus I can practically hear you shivering."
"Sherlock." Matt smiled tiredly.
Kelly grinned, turning around when he hear Matt slip on his pants. "The only thing I can't deduce, is if your hot water doesn't actually work or if it does and you're showering in cold water for a personal reason."
"Doesn't work." Matt yawned a second later.
"Hmm." Kelly smiled, watching Matt slip on a shirt. "Mine works."
Matt nodded, pulling a zip up hoodie on and shivering against the fabric.
"I packed you a bag."
"A bag?" Matt repeated, clueless.
"I'm taking you home."
Matt nodded, his mind still trying to figure out what was happening. He knew that at this point, he really didn't have much to lose. He was either losing Kelly now or later, and there was some part of him that wanted to enjoy every moment of not being alone that he could before he was cut loose.
He wordlessly followed behind Kelly, not bothering to lock the door behind him. He had nothing of value anyways, there was nothing to steal in there. Kelly insisted on carrying his bag, to which Matt could only scratch his head in confusion. He, and maybe it was a common nature for the late hour, still couldn't quite comprehend what Kelly was doing for him. He wanted to cry some more, he wanted to be alone, but he wanted to be with Kelly. He wanted to sleep, he wanted to be awake, he wanted to get warm, he wanted to maybe stay cold forever. Matt was a helpless mixed bag of emotions, wishing with each passing second that his foggy mind would clear and he'd be able to find some sort of clarity amongst the raging shadows around him.
Kelly had an arm around him as he lead him from the car to the apartment. It put Matt on edge to be doing any sort of public affection, so it was only adding to his struggle of feeling overwhelmed. When they got to Kelly's bedroom, he was still shaking from his cold shower and the raw emotions were causing him to tremble on top of that.
Kelly carefully unzipped Matt's hoodie, gingerly sliding it off the man's arms. "It's ok, you know."
"Hmm?" Matt murmured, lost in his own mind, his own thoughts.
"It's ok that you had a bit of a set back. It's okay that we didn't talk for a bit, and it's okay that you're not ok."
Matt looked up at him then, a single tear cascading down his cheek and hitting Kelly's wrist as the man worked to undo Matt's belt and zipper.
"It's ok," Kelly murmured. "You can cry."
Matt shook his head. He'd never been told that before, he'd never been allowed to think that was ok.
"It's just you and me." Kelly seemed to read his thoughts and he helped Matt sit down on the edge of the bed. "If you need to cry, you know I won't judge you. If you don't, that's alright too."
Kelly carefully pulled Matt's pants the rest of the way down his legs and set them aside. He cradled the back of Matt's neck and helped him lie down, watching as more tears gathered in his eyes and dropped down the sides of his head and into his damp hair.
After taking some of his own clothes off, Kelly got into bed beside him. He got close and pulled Matt into him, letting Matt bury his head against his neck. He was by no means crying, his body was still and his breathing was mostly even, but the tears didn't stop. They came quickly and they continued for what felt life quite a long time. All the while, Kelly brushed Matt's hair back, gently, whispering. "I got you. It's going to be alright."
He stayed awake until Matt fell asleep, whispering probably every sweet thing under the sun to the perfect angel in his arms.