Matt had to work July 2nd and 5th. It wasn’t an unusual schedule, of course, perfectly typical pattern of 24 on, 48 off, 24 on, so on. It meant that there was no point in going down to Fowlerton, though, since the fireworks there were scheduled for the 4th itself, and Matt had to work too early the next morning for Sylvie to feel comfortable asking him to make the drive, and she was still too tired herself. Something about breastfeeding or maybe just Jack’s schedule or recovering from giving birth, whatever it was, she was exhausted most of the time. Matt was getting no more sleep than she was, though he joked that he slept more on shift when his son wasn’t waking them for breakfast at 5 am. She knew better. She still had spies at 51 and Matt was as unsubtle as ever: the whole of second shift knew he wasn’t sleeping on shift. He wasn’t sleeping well at home, either. Even when Jack wasn’t waking her, Matt was waking her accidentally – nightmares, she suspected, but he wouldn’t admit it. All in all, she had decided that they were staying in Chicago for the holiday (Matt had been willing to make the drive, but they’d really just been to Indiana days ago for Leo’s wedding). In response, Mom and Dad were coming up to Chicago. Matt just shook his head and said that’s why he put in a guest suite – he’d had a feeling grandparents wouldn’t stay away.
Matt’s appointments with Dr. Sandlin were once a week, around his schedule at the firehouse. Sylvie couldn’t tell if it was helping at all. His sleeping patterns were getting worse, not better. His mood after an appointment was usually pretty low, and he barely slept the night after an appointment. He insisted he was fine, but she worried about him anyway. He came home from therapy on July 1 and looked anxious, nervous in a way that she didn’t think he should ever be in his own home. Still, she didn’t say anything to him, not even sure what to say. It was only after they were already in bed, and she was curled into Matt’s side, that Matt opened up about what was apparently bothering him.
“Sylvie, you know I love you. Right?”
“I’m as certain of it as I am that you love Jack.” She looked up at his face, surprised by the question. “Matt, what’s wrong? Why do you ask?”
“I just can’t stand the thought that maybe you wouldn’t know. Know how important you are to me. You and Jack.”
“Matt, no one could miss how important to you Jack is, or I am.”
“Dr. Sandlin thinks…it’d be…will you come to therapy with me? Not next week, maybe the one after that.”
“Of course I will, but I didn’t think this was couple’s counseling.”
“It’s not. What would we need counseling about? We’re good, aren’t we?”
“Yes. Of course. That’s why I was surprised.” Sylvie reassured him, brushing her hand over his chest lightly. He liked being petted, it always seemed to reassure him.
“We’re exploring some of my issues. We, uh, starting hitting on my issues with relationships. Well, I guess, right now, it’s more my perception of relationships. Something like that. I’m not sure I totally get it myself just yet.” Matt admitted softly. “But Dr. Sandlin thinks that we can better assess my goals and things like that, with you in the room. I’m okay with it. You don’t have to-“
“Matt, of course I’ll come. I’ll do anything to support you.”
“You might hear some things that’ll upset you. Not about you.” Matt reassured quickly. “You are perfect. You are the best thing in my life, well, right behind Jack, but I wouldn’t have Jack without you, so…let’s just put you and Jack tied, I guess.”
“So, old stuff?”
“Yeah. Some of it…Gabby was your friend. Which makes this more complicated. And other stuff, from farther back.”
“I’m happy to come, Matt. No matter what. And whatever I felt for Gabby, what I feel for you is so far beyond it, that you can’t measure it on the same scale anymore.”
“Okay. Good.” Matt held her tighter against him. “I know I’m a bit of a mess right now. Dr. Sandlin says there’s often a period when you start when things seems worse. Sort of like I’m cleaning out my mental closet and I’m kind of at the point where…it’s all out of the closet and spread all over the room so you can start assessing the crap to keep, better organized, and the crap to get rid of.”
“Matt, if there’s anything at all I can do to help, just let me know.”
“You do it every day. Just…love me. Even when I’m a closed-mouth, stubborn, bastard.”
“Well, that is an easy assignment. Loving you is so easy. Because, sure, you’re stubborn, and proud, and sometimes getting two words out of you is hard work, and you’re sort of like a cat, who goes off to lick a broken leg in some hidey hole rather than let someone help you. You’re also the best man I’ve ever known, and you are the best daddy, and the best husband, and you are very, very easy to love, Matt Casey.”
Mom and Dad arrived while Matt was on shift. Because parking was a bit of a bear on a holiday weekend, Matt had gotten permission to leave his truck at 51 after shift – Kelly would drop him by the house afterwards and pick him up for shift on the fifth. That way, her parents’ car fit in their garage. Sylvie had to go let them into the garage, but that just gave her and Jack an excuse to greet Grandma and Grandpa right away. True to form, Sylvie lost her son to his grandparents’ arms pretty much immediately. It hadn’t been very long since she’d seen her parents, but she couldn’t complain about their company. For one thing, she truly enjoyed it. For the other thing, it would feel extremely ungrateful, given her husband was just starting what she suspected was a long struggle to maybe finally deal with the mess left behind by parents who didn’t care enough to visit. Nancy still hadn’t met her grandson. Though, Sylvie had to admit, that was largely due to Matt banning her until she got a DTAP booster (or Jack got his vaccinations) and for some reason, Nancy was refusing to do that. She helped Mom and Dad settle quickly into the guest room downstairs, then they all went upstairs. They didn’t really have anything planned, just time spent together. It was nice, just sort of hanging out with her parents, talking and watching television even together. Plus, getting to see her parents – for some reason especially Dad – so enthralled with Jack was both gratifying and itself enthralling.
“I hate to say it, Sylvie.” Dad spoke after a few minutes of just holding Jack and staring at him.
“I think he looks like Matt.” Dad chuckled.
“Why would you hate to say that?” Sylvie asked, while she chuckled a bit herself.
“Because I imagine a boy that looked like that must’ve given his parents, or whoever was responsible for him, quite a bit of concern when he was a teenager.”
“Matt says he was horribly awkward looking until he was about a senior in high school.”
“He must have pictures around somewhere.” Mom looked confused. “Haven’t you seen a baby picture or anything?”
“A few, from when he was pretty young, that Christie has. Somehow, if there ever were family photo albums, no one seems to know what happened to them after Nancy went to prison for killing Greg. Christie doesn’t have them, and Matt doesn’t either. His foster parents – you remember the Gallaghers, from the wedding? – they have some from when he was living with them, but that was senior year. And he was not awkward looking at all.” Sylvie rolled her eyes, annoyed at how stupidly adorable he’d been. She would’ve had the hugest crush on him if they’d gone to high school together. “I guess all I can do is hope that he has Matt’s temperament as well as his looks.”
“Did he get to keep anything, after his parents, well, after?” Mom asked.
“He’s never said exactly. He lived with an aunt and uncle for a while, then some foster parents, and another set of aunt and uncle, all during his sophomore and junior years. Then there was a couple group homes in there somewhere.” Sylvie had to shrug. “Somewhere in all those moves, I get the impression his belongings got pared down to a single duffle bag of clothes, plus a book bag with some other odds and ends.”
“Matt didn’t say anything, but his Aintin Jo – I think I said that right – Mrs. Gallagher, she told me he showed up at their house with a single pair of shoes, two pairs of pants, five shirts – total, only one with long-sleeves, four pairs of socks and six pairs of underwear. Oh, and a baseball hat. That’s it.” Sylvie felt herself tear up a little bit, just as she had when she’d first been told.
“That was it?”
“All his worldly possessions.” Sylvie nodded. “She said the note from his previous group home said he’d outgrown everything else and there wasn’t any money to get him new clothes. I think that’s why he really never wants anything.”
“This must be a palace for him.” Dad agreed. “If that’s what he comes from.”
“I try to be understanding, but sometimes, when he wears socks until there’s more than one hole in them, and jeans until they disintegrate, and insists that he can get a few more years out of his truck, when there’s money to replace things, it annoys me sometimes.” Sylvie admitted.
“He’s frugal.” Mom summed up.
“No, he’s so tight he squeaks.” Sylvie paused, looking around their home. “Well, about some things. Things for me, for Jack, he’s fine, he just can’t spend anything on himself.”
“That’s fatherhood.” Dad sounded approving. “He’s a good man, Sylvie. He’ll put himself last – and feel the greatest reward when he gets something nice for you or for Jack here, not anything for himself.”
“He is pretty great.” Sylvie grinned. “I’m so glad you guys like him. I know he is too.”
“I told you when we first met him, if he’s good to you and he makes you happy, I’ll like him well enough.” Dad paused, looking back down at Jack. “Now, it’s you and Jack he has to be good to and make happy.”
“Well, he does.”
“That’s why I like him.”
They spent much of the day and the evening of the Fourth of July at Navy Pier, getting ready for or watching the fireworks. Sylvie had insisted that they bring protection for Jack’s ears. The baby did just fine, actually, and they had a wonderful time. Chief, Donna, and Terrence had joined them earlier, before taking the boat out to be on the lake for the fireworks. Matt had taken Terrence off for a walk or something (Sylvie hadn’t asked much), coming back quite a bit later with Terrence looking a little sad and uncomfortable, but telling his parents that they’d ended up running into some of his friends from school and playing for a while. Matt had shrugged at Chief’s unasked question, and looked a little hurt at Terrence’s pretty lackluster goodbye. Nonetheless, they’d still had a great evening. Jack had seemed to watch the bright colors in the sky, though maybe he was just enjoying his spot on Matt’s chest as they lay down on the blanket they’d managed to hold down all day on a pretty good spot in the park near the pier.
By the time they got back to Bucktown, it was late and everyone was pretty tired. Jack was ready for his ‘bedtime’ meal, and her parents both insisted they were going straight downstairs to bed. They would head back to Fowlerton tomorrow sometime after Matt went to shift.
Matt was late back from shift on the fifth. Not really late, just late enough that she was finishing up Jack’s nine o’clock meal when he got home. He leaned down to kiss her, and she couldn’t help wrinkling her nose and pulling back just a little. She knew it wasn’t just her when Jack – normally completely unable to be distracted from his eating – pulled off her nipple and made sounds of distaste (well, she was pretty sure he was complaining).
“Matt, you smell…that is actually disgusting.”
“You would not believe the call we had.”
“You smell like rotting corpses. Please tell me there weren’t actual corpses.”
“Not human.” Matt nicely stepped a few feet back. “Suspicious smell call. Police needed help for forcible entry. I already put in for new turnouts, I don’t think that smell is ever coming out. Cats. Lots of dead, nearly dead, and…not gonna lie, I may have nightmares.”
“Well, go shower. You’ve managed to put Jack off his feed, let alone me.”
“Sorry.” Matt held up his hands in surrender, backing towards the master bath. “I’m going to go scrub for maybe an hour. I already took two showers at work, hoping third time is the charm.”
Jack contentedly finished his meal, then went down for a nap. He was sleeping a lot, but apparently that was normal given how fast he was growing. She made sure he was completely settled in his bassinet, then decided that she wanted to talk to Matt. She missed him when he was on shift. Plus, her libido was really starting to kick back in. She stripped her clothes, and walked into the master bath. She stopped for a moment, looking in the mirror. All she could see is how her body had changed. She at least didn’t look pregnant anymore (no one on tv and movies ever showed the woman as still looking pregnant even after the baby – the actress just magically looked perfect again right after, nope, not at all real). She just didn’t quite look like her anymore either. She got nervous suddenly. Matt hadn’t seen her naked since she was still pregnant. Heck, she hadn’t seen him naked hardly since then, either. But he hadn’t changed, she could see that, through the glass door of the shower. Oh, well, best to just get it over with, however it went, this trying to be attractive and sexy for her husband again. She tried her best to be silent, but his eyes opened as she opened the door to the shower – probably letting in a bit of a draft relative to the steamy heat of the shower.
“Did you think someone else might be here to make sure you get scrubbed properly?”
“I just…didn’t think.” Matt shrugged.
“You already smell better.” Sylvie was glad of that. He might look incredibly sexy, but he did not smell sexy a few minutes ago. “But, I need a closer study.”
“Closer, huh?” He pulled her against him, and there was a bit of lingering funk, but also the shower gel and shampoo and a bit of ‘wet Matt’ (she didn’t know what else to call it). The feel of his firm toned naked body along hers was like the most amazing (sexy) homecoming. “Can I kiss you now?”
“You may.” Sylvie agreed, as regally as she could. Matt obliged, sweeping in to kiss her hard and fast and she opened to his tongue immediately. In what felt like a second, she was pinned against the tiles, her husband pressed against her as tightly as possible, his hands running up and down her back, clutching her ass, sliding along her hips, up her thighs. She grabbed his ass with both hands, content to just hang on for the ride for now. One of his hands slid up between her legs, and she blushed brightly as she came with just a few very knowledgeable strokes of her clit and the feel of his mouth on hers. She hadn’t realized she was that wound up, but apparently she was. Matt pulled back, looking a little surprised, but very pleased with himself as well.
“Don’t be smug. It’s been a while.”
“Trust me. I know exactly how long it’s been.” Matt was still grinning though.
“Don’t.” She grabbed his wrist, stopping his hand from any further exploring, or more accurately, from any fingers sliding up into her pussy. “It’s still kind of sore down there. Just…my libido is back but I don’t think I’m ready for anything up there. Not even just your fingers.”
“I can work with that.” Matt managed, somehow, to gracefully drop to his knees in the shower. He kissed her stomach softly, trailing kisses and tongue and little nips along her lower abdomen, gradually lower and lower, and then he made it to his ultimate goal. She leaned back against the wall as he shifted her right leg over his shoulder. She’d been dreaming, lately, of having his mouth on her again. Both good and bad dreams – good in that he was fantastic at oral sex, bad in that her brain conjured up images of him being grossed out by some change down there. He didn’t seem to be, though he was more tentative than she was used to. When she didn’t protest, he got more confident and she ended up clutching his head to her as he got her off again, just his tongue and teeth against her clit. When he stood up again, he did so gradually, sliding his mouth up her body. She realized they still had hot water, and as random as the thought was, she was grateful that he had put in apparently a really great water heater. His lips and tongue trailed up between her breasts, and she almost flinched. One hand cupped her left breast firmly, while his tongue swiped across to suck her right nipple into her mouth. She kind of slapped him, though she was really just trying to grab his face or hair or something.
“Stop! No!” She didn’t realize until a second later that she had pretty much yelled that. Matt looked stricken, literally and figuratively, she could see a red mark on the side of his face where she’d accidentally smacked him. He also backed away as far as the shower stall would let him.
“Sorry. I’m sorry.” Matt wouldn’t meet her eyes, and she physically barred the shower door because she was not letting him escape, though he clearly wanted to suddenly.
“Matt, it’s okay.”
“Clearly it’s not.”
“Look at me.” She waited. Okay, she was impatient. “Matt, look at me. Now. Eyes on me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to…did I hurt you or something?” She smiled, gently, as his eyes met hers and of course, more apologies fell from his lips. He apologized so readily, for everything. It was almost charming, except when she considered what might’ve caused his instinctive reaction to always be that he screwed up.
“I overreacted.” She admitted. “But, Matt, my boobs are…they feel like food factories right now. Not sexy. At all.”
“They look sexy.” Matt found a half-smile.
“They feel sore and chewed on and like I’m going to leak milk on you. Those are Jack-land right now, okay? Not Matt-land.”
“Yeah, you told me that at Leo’s wedding, didn’t you? I, uh, forgot. Was a little distracted.” Matt looked suitably abashed still. “Will they…be Matt-land in the future?”
“I’m not saying you’re never going to get to touch my boobs again, Matt.” Sylvie almost laughed at his hopeful look. “Just not for a while. Maybe once I kind of mentally adjust, it’ll be easier.”
“Anything else? If we’re going to try a sex life again, which is totally up to you, it’s always your call when or if we have sex, I need the new rules.” Matt said earnestly. “Nothing in your pussy, no contact with your tits, but clearly fingers and mouth down there are still okay, and kissing is definitely okay. Any other new rules?”
“Just one.” Sylvie grinned at him, a sudden inspiration hitting her. “You’re not allowed to touch your dick.”
“That is mine. I’m pretty sure you promised me that when we got married. Mine, and only mine. Forsaking all others, right?”
“You seriously want me to…not take care of this?” He gestured down to the erection (flagging a bit) that he still had going. She surged forward, pinning him to the wall of the shower instead, and getting a faceful of water straight from the showerhead for a second before she shifted their position just slightly. Her hand wrapped around his dick, easily sliding along his length with the extra slick of the water.
“It’s mine. I’ll take care of it.” She promised him.
“Really?” He was grinning now, and before she could answer, he kissed her. Her hand moved firmly along his cock as they kissed, and soon he was back to full hardness.
“Promise me. I’m the only one who gets to touch you like this.”
“You know you are.”
“Matt.” She nipped along his jaw, up to his ear. “I know you’ve been jerking off, Matt.”
“I didn’t think that counted.”
“You’re a ‘one’. So, remember that. From now on, this is mine. Just for me. No one else. Not without my permission. Because sometimes, I like to watch you get yourself off for me. But that’s my decision. Not yours.”
“Promise me.” She insisted, tightening her grip on his cock, but her hand kept moving up and down, up and down.
“Please, Sylvie.” He was close, she knew it. He’d been nearly there, she suspected, from eating her out. Plus, it had been a while since they’d had any sort of sex life. She took a few minutes, bringing him right to the edge, then stopping. “Shit, Syl. Please.”
“Not until you promise. No one but me.”
“I can’t.” Matt’s hips moved with the effort of trying to get friction, but her hand stayed absolutely still on his cock. She let go entirely. He looked shocked. “Sylvie, I can’t. I won’t promise you something I can’t keep.”
“You can’t promise me that I’m the only person who gets to touch you like this?” She asked, wrapping her hand around his cock again, and giving him a few more strokes. She felt the familiar signs of his imminent orgasm, and she pulled her hand away again.
“Syl. Please. Please.” Matt arched, erection bobbing, but she shook her head. She loved teasing him like this. She wasn’t actually going to leave him without, but she might make him wait a while. He knew it. He just wasn’t very patient.
“Promise me.” She prompted, a few more strokes, then letting go again just before he could topple over the edge.
“I can’t. I’ll never break a promise to you.”
“So don’t ask this.”
“But I want it.” She replied, kissing him again, her hands wandering over his chest and abs. Finally, she trailed down, hand on his cock enough to bring him once again right back to that very edge of orgasm, then stopping cold.
“Okay.” She relented, because she sensed he was going to truly hold his ground on this for some reason. “Promise me that you’ll try to keep your hands off my property. It’s mine, and I want it. I’m possessive.”
“I can promise I’ll try.” Matt agreed. His voice was soft but strident. “Now, please, baby, please. It’s been way too long since, fuck, yes, fuck, fuck, Syl, fuck, FUCK!”