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.