Belle Vista 
Following the events of this thread, and the threads before it.
All have been current dated.

By the time Yana had left with Maeve, the sun had started to climb in the sky. Mathis was incredibly exhausted, but feeling better than he had when he dragged himself up to Frank’s door hours prior. He’d eaten, downed three cups of coffee, and now it was really settling in how disgusting he felt. He needed a shower. Dirt and blood smeared his skin, beneath his nails, in his beard, and he was certain he could feel his scalp crawling with how dirty his hair was.

There was a heavy quiet that lay on Frank’s home with just the pair of them there. A pregnant silence that needed words spoken into it. But he needed a shower, and rest, and if he was being perfectly honest, speaking really didn’t feel like something he had the energy to muster right now. So he would move from where he was at the bar, toward Frank as he packed away the supplies he’d used on Maeve. He paused behind him, and sighed as he wrapped his arms around Frank’s waist and pressed his cheek into the slope of his neck and shoulder. ” ‘M going to shower.” But didn’t move. Standing here, pressed into Frank, it was just. What he needed. His eyes shut, and he took in another deep breath. He felt heavy and light all at once, suspended out on a precarious ledge and teetering, but anchored down by what was either sheer willpower or the man he clung to now.

@Frank Beringer

They’d bid the two well after everything had been wrapped up. He’d called work finally to inform them of needing to take off for a personal emergency as Mathis ate. Now though, he was busying himself, trying to clean up. There were a variety of thoughts and emotions they’d all been riding and now there was an emptiness where a flurry had been before. Anything used during the morning would have to be sanitized or burned or something. He needed to check in with Yana later about Maeve. And for all Mathis had been patched up, he needed to be kept an eye on. All of this and Frank hadn’t had an opportunity to really digest anything, to learn what had happened besides the fact there had been a car accident and Maeve was most likely a cheetah now.

Arms wrapped around him as Mathis leaned forward into his back, causing Frank to pause mid roll of wrapping the gauze back up. He set it down on the countertop again before lightly holding the arms around him, offering a kiss to the side of Mathis’ head after a moment once it was realized he wasn’t going off to clean up just yet as had been said. Frank turned around, a hand coming up to cup Mathis’ face while a thumb wiped his cheek. All the while Frank took him in as concern still etched his features. There were questions he had, but they were on hold for now, more worried about making sure Mathis was cared for. ”You also need to rest,” he said quietly, letting go in favor to lightly push against the good arm in a prompt to turn and get moving. ”C’mon, let’s go.”

The kiss was met with a small smile that managed to find its way to his lips. The cat stiffened at the touch, hurt and exhausted, but not entirely unwelcoming. Tolerating. It didn’t deter him from pressing his chin a bit more forcefully into Frank’s shoulder. He did pull back when Frank turned, his eyes falling shut at the cupping of his cheek. He could stand there and be pet and stroked for hours, but Frank was suggesting other things to do.

Mayhis’ blinked open to meet Frank’s worried gaze, and he furrowed his brows at that look. His chest tightened, but he tried to push away the urge to... he didn’t know. Reach in and take that away. He hated this. That once again, he’d ended up in a situation that caused those around him worry and fear. That once again, he proved to be a burden. Things he wanted to talk about, maybe, if he found the words. But they’d have to wait, since Frank was turning him around and marching him off.

Mathis sighed, and allowed himself to turn. His feet moved in a shuffle, but he relied on Frank to keep him moving forward. “You didn’t have to miss work...” He said, but there wasn’t a lot of commitment there. He would have felt... wrong, alone.

And he went without complaint unless a sigh could be counted. Mathis began with a shuffling gait that Frank met with a slow one on the side, hand coming up to press against the small of his back to keep him going.

At the words, he rubbed his hand up and down a few inches briefly. ”I needed to, I’m not going to leave you here.” The felt entirely too wrong to do after the events of the morning.

"Mmph," Was a good composition of his feelings at that. He didn't need to. He didn't need to do any of what he'd done for Mathis. And yet, he never failed to step up to it. There weren't words enough to describe how grateful he was of it. Just the sense of disbelief that Frank still found the patience for it all. It was a feeling similar to what he felt for Yana. Though there was more there than with the Queen. Frank was more than patient.

Frank lead him through to the master bath, and Mathis eyed the bed briefly. It looked heavenly, but would have to join the list of things that would need to wait. A shower was next on what needed to be ticked off. The closer they got, the more warm water sounded more appealing than the bed. When they reached it, Mathis would stop by the shower, and start easing his shirt over his head. Frank was left to deal with the water, if he would. Turning on other people's showers was always something he had mild anxiety about. Plus, the shirt was a process. One arm was fine to reach back, but the lifting of his injured arm was tedious and painful despite Yana's help. His ribs were the worst of it; bruised and sore; but in the very least it did not hurt as badly to breathe.

He'd removed his shoes earlier, and given he was in post-shift clothing, the only layer he had left was a pair of joggers. He paused there, and glanced up to Frank before he had the chance to make his way out. "You can stay, if you'd like." In other words, I'd like it if you stayed. For reasons not exclusive to seeing him naked. Being left alone in the shower, likely being waited on just outside the door... felt sad. A little pitiful. Left alone to soak in misery. Frank joining him was the preferable option. He offered a small, slightly painful shrug. Only if Frank was comfortable with it.

Eventually, they made it to the bathroom and he let his arm drop. As Mathis tried to take his shirt off, Frank went to start the hot water. He turned the necessary knobs and as the water began cascading down, the temperature was adjusted. Happy with where it was, he wiped his hands on pants. ”There we go.”

Turning around, his gaze danced over the sight of bruises now that he could see them again and it pulled a frown. After all was said and done he really needed to just hold him again to confirm that he was there. But for now, Mathis needed to get clean.

With the intention to grab towels, he went to cabinet where they were stored. Taking out what was needed, Frank placed them on the sink counter, patting them. He was about to step away to head out to give privacy and grab some comfortable sleepwear Mathis could use, when what had been said had him stopping. Looking over to him, Frank slightly shook his head at the request. He understood the want to not be left alone and truth be told he didn’t want Mathis out of his sight right now either. But, Frank would take the in between option.

“I’ll be right here.”

Leaning against the counter, with palms tapping the edges, ready to help with anything needed.

“Let me know if you’re having trouble though.”

In which case he’d go from there. But for now this was a good medium.

Well, it was better than being left alone. Mathis didn't argue, both because there was no reason to and the fact he had absolutely no energy to attempt to. The addition didn't help the feeling of being something like something fragile that Frank needed to hover over, but he did appreciate the gesture. Without much else aside from a small hum and a nod of his head, Mathis turned to shimmy and step out of his pants and kick them to the side. The shower being already on, he was quick to open the door and step inside to avoid getting the floor wet. The hot water rained down against him, and for a breif moment he grimaced and pulled away from the stark contrast to the air outside, but his body acclimated quickly.

Mathis sighed heavily as he stepped directly into the spray, his head tilted up to let the water spill over his face and down his neck. His shoulders, which had been tensed and bunched, fell into a slump. It was painful in the area Yana had set the arm back into the socket, but it felt a lot like having worked out too hard the day prior. The warm water did help to ease the pain, and there were several moments he let himself stand there with a slightly sway. Blood and dirt and forest debris pooled at his feet before being swept to the drain, but he wouldn't look. The cat grumbled contently, but eventually he tucked his head back down and turned to let the water wash over his back as he sought for soap. Finding it, he moved to start on lathering his chest. As he did, he eyed the blurred figure of Frank through the steamed panes of glass.

His jaw clenched. It was almost as if the water was washing away all of the flurry and stress of the night, and leaving him with just stark, naked truth. He'd infected a girl. A helpless, stupid, unsuspecting human girl. And once again, called upon Yana to come aide him with a disaster in the dead of night. And, once again, exploited Frank's skills and willingness to help in all of it. There was more that he'd given up this time around. He'd called in to work, he was letting him stay here and use his shower, eat his food, seek his comfort despite being the soul cause of all of this. If he'd only been more aware, if he'd only not been so foolish in shifting alone, if he'd not let the stress of the past few months bite at his composure. None of this would be happening. Mathis took in a deep, shaky breath as he brushed soap over his bruised and achey ribs. "I'm sorry." He said over the din of the falling water.

There was a hum of agreement from Mathis and he offered a small smile before looking to the floor. He’d at least give him privacy there. As he stepped in, Frank kept a careful ear for anything different to sound that would clue him in on if Mathis needed help. Not that Frank didn’t think he’d say something, but again, sometimes people could be stubborn.

As he waited, Frank found himself closing his eyes as he leaned on the counter, finding some moment of reprieve after a busy morning in the sound of water falling close by as the room got more warm and humid, the cat grumbling happily. Eyes opened though at the intake of breath coming from the shower. Looking towards the blurred outline of Mathis, he blinked at the apology. Frank opened and closed his hands on the edge of the counter a few times, furrowing his brows some. Apologies needed to be given to the girl, but not to him. ”You don’t need to say that to me,” he said delicately, before taking a quiet breath. ”But, I’d like to know what happened whenever you're up to it.” Whether it be now or after, just sometime today, truly.

That, of course, did not make it any better. Mathis frowned as he did what he could to reach for his back, but his mobility was limited to small degrees of twisting or lifting. Frank did prompt for an explanation to everything, whenever he was up for it. Mathis doubted he would feel up to it at all, but it was unfair to make Frank wait until he'd slept for what was sure to be hours. Mathis took in a shaky sigh as he set aside the soap and let the water wash over him as he sought shampoo. He would find a two-in-one bottle, and frown distantly at it. Something to note, but not something he could scold Frank for right now. He took a handful of it and would try to remember to do a deep condition at home.

"I decided to shift alone. I don't know why." He'd had his reasons going into it, but looking back, they hadn't been justifiable. He rubbed his scalp one-handed, and did his best to scrub what he could. It wasn't thorough, and after a few moments, he let his hand drop and closed his eyes as he ducked back under the water. There was a beat of silence as he held his breath and let the soap wash away, when he pulled back and ran his hand through his hair to ring out the water, he continued. "I was hunting, chasing something, and crossed a road. I must have looked like a blur to Maeve, but she ended up hitting me." There was just a brief memory of it, the almost slow-motion moments of flying in the air.

He stopped then, and reached back to turn off the faucet. He would have liked to stay there for hours, but standing was becoming less and less appealing. The shower head screeched once, and the water fell into a dribble. It was immediately colder, and he gritted his teeth some. "Could you hand me a towel?" He asked, peering through the glass at Frank.

An answering sigh and Frank’s eyes roved the glass panels, noting the accumulating water drops before dropping his gaze to the tile floor. He’d have to wait it would seem.

But surprisingly, Mathis spoke up again and his brows furrowed at what he heard. Shifting alone wasn’t something he’d personally done since that first full moon here and it’d been enough to deter him. It wasn’t safe. Mathis was a lot more comfortable in that second skin though so he could see him doing it. What wasn’t making sense was the reasoning behind it. There was seemingly very little, or least none, that was for his ears.

And then more and it had Frank looking back towards the shower, seeing the scene flash in his mind as it was said. He got the rest. Maeve must’ve come out to see what’d she’d struck or something of the like. And then, a cheetah had attacked her, hurt and scared, and by some crazy miracle, not roadkill. His cat grumbled, riled up with the way his emotions kept falling into worry and relief in a never ending cascade back and forth all over again. The car hitting Mathis like that would’ve killed a normal person. That was a thought Frank chose to leap over once again as best as possible, something he’d been doing since the call this morning, but the edges of resolve were loose and worn and he could feel himself close to slipping.

The squeaking stop of the knob and accompanying decrescendo of water, had Frank stepping away from where he was propped against, already grabbing the towel that was needed and asked for.

”Here,” Frank said while opening the shower door. Holding the towel between his hands.

“I’ll get you some clothes in a moment.”

And if Mathis chose to step into the hold, he’d wrap him into the warm towel that ended up being a careful hug.

Opening the door was the worst of it, and Mathis found himself hunching some agains the cold breeze as he stepped onto the bath mat. Frank had the towel opened, and Mathis stepped into it with a breathy laugh through his nose. It was, thankfully, warm and the hug was comforting. Mathis pressed into it, his hands moving first to dry against the towel, then to wrap around Frank's waist. His head tilted down the short distance it needed to allow him to press his forehead into the slope of Frank's neck and shoulder, his eyes falling shut as he took in a heavy breath that caught at the tail end. He exhaled, and pressed a kiss to the side of Frank's jaw before pulling away. "Don't want to get you all wet." He said with a small smile, and would move to grab the towel from Frank and step away.

There hadn’t been any complaint to the action and the laugh had him smiling a tad. Eyes flicked over the new injuries that painted his body adding to the the already existing scars seen before, before they were covered up by the towel. Frank wrapped arms around Mathis after wrapping him ini it, the cloth quickly becoming damp. Eventually arms returned the favor, encircling his waist. If he could just keep him here safe Frank wouldn’t leave the moment for anything. The unsteady end to an inhale had his chest tightening, and he lightly rubbed Mathis’ back to comfort however possible, if it even was considering the circumstances. Still, he’d try however was needed.

Blinking at the kiss to his jaw, he reluctantly let go as Mathis pulled away, nodding. Frank give a quick amused exhale with a smile at the comment.

”Uh, clothes, let’s get you warm.” Turning around towards the bathroom door, he took a breath, making the way into the bedroom. Heading to drawers, he opened the bottom one with the sound of sliding wood. Bending down, he took out sweats before opening the one above and rummaging to find an oversized shirt. Closing both, he stood again and would make his way to wherever Mathis had ended up with the clothing.

Clothes sounded great because it was the last step before bed. Frank moved away, and Mathis busied himself with patting dry and rubbing the towel over his hair. He would have liked to avoid the mirror, reluctant to see the damage, but he did peer up as he ran his fingers through his hair to try and comb it into decency. It was rough and still somewhat wet, but it would do. His lips turned downward at the sight of himself. Bruising along his entire right side, purple, pink, blue. He felt better than he had before the shower, and certain better than he had on the way over, but there was still a gross amount of pain involved that left him feeling drained.

Mathis looked away when Frank approached with the clothes, and the next few minutes were spent precariously pulling them on, and leaving the towel on a hook to dry. He'd try to remember to grab his dirty clothes, but he wasn't entirely confident in that. With that, clothed and cleaned, he would shuffle through toward the bed, beckoning with a tug on his hand for Frank to follow. He'd ease himself down first on a knee, then crawl forward to settle down on the side that wasn't a watercolor of bruising. He let out a heavy sigh as he sunk into the cushion, and already his eyes fell a bit. He'd try and keep awake, since there was more to say. But he probably wouldn't last long. "I feel so bad for her. It must have been terrifying." Waking up injured in the woods with a naked man. Not the most pleasant thing. "I'm.... not nervous for her, though. I do think she's in good hands. If I stop making dumb choices like shifting alone. At least Yana and the Coalition can help, if she wants it." There was a good chance she might just flee. Which was a terrifying thing to consider. A newly infected were, going it alone. He supposed thats what he had done.

As Mathis got dressed, he gave him space once more, leaning against the wall. It was a delicate balance of not wanting to be an oppressive hovering presence, but also wanting to keep a watchful gaze on him just in case. Soon enough, he was done getting dressed and there was a tug to his hand that had Frank following without need of further prompting. Stepping back into the bedroom, he made his way over to the bed to to fold back the comforter and sheets so it’d be easier for Mathis to get in. As the man began to figure out how best to settle in without too much pain, Frank grimacing slightly while watching. Once settled, he drew the covers back over him. Shuffling off to the other side, he sat and then inched his way over, before moving the covers over himself too as Mathis began to speak up. The man needed to sleep, not to worry about this just now, but it seemed someone being an ear to talk to was needed, which he was more than fine with being at the moment. Frank would do anything to help him work through this.

Leaning his back against the pillows, he listened to him with stitched brows. Maeve was going to have a very crazy couple of months to come, a life even, and he felt for her. Frank nodded slowly at the points made all pointing to the fact she’d be okay. In the end, she was in very capable hands, that was true.

Considering his words, he answered. ”You're right, it probably was scary and it definitely wasn't a smart choice, but you brought both of you back here to get help and now what she does is up to her. She knows you, knows where to turn to. I’m not saying everything’s okay, but you couldn’t plan for any of this and the way the aftermath was handled is more than enough for now,” Frank said softly. It was more than he'd had. Shuffling closer, he lightly wrapped an arm up and around, pressing him against his side. There was relief there, that he was able to do that. "It'll work out somehow."

The fact Mathis was even putting the girl’s fear first spoke a lot. Not that Frank wanted to think about it, but he couldn’t help but wonder what he would’ve done in the same position. The cat would’ve probably mauled her as things were now, especially with how interested it had been with just the bite marks to tell the tale. Mathis had not let the cheetah do that and instead, had taken her to get checked out as soon as possible, even while in a world of pain. It was impressive and spoke to his kindness on how it had been handled. Maybe, even experience?

He let that sit for a moment or so before he was speaking again. “Have you ever infected someone before,” he asked carefully, studying his face, not quite sure what to expect at the question, not sure he wanted to know.

Mathis scooted in some to sort of press along the length of Frank's body, his cheek finding a place at his shoulder. His eyes focused on the bookshelf on the opposite wall as Frank spoke, but he listened with a hint of a smile. Frank, despite it all, was overwhelmingly reassuring. Not so much that it felt like coddling. He'd made a mistake, and Frank was aware of it, and yet he still sought to reassure him that it hadn't entirely been his doing. Wether or not Mathis agreed with that did not dispute the fact that he was inexplicably grateful for the patience and understanding.

If it had been left at that, he might have thanked Frank and settled int to let himself sleep. If Frank hadn't posed his question, Mathis' smile might not have turned into a hard line as he pulled his head away from Frank and looked downward at his hands. Of course, Frank wouldn't know how sore of a subject that was. He hadn't told him. He'd only just barely brushed over his relationship with his family before. So how could he know. Mathis swallowed a tightness in his throat and looked back to Frank. "My sister, yes." He said, working to keep the edge from his tone. It helped that he was exhausted.

"The year before last. I visited home after hearing she was ill, and-" Mathis moved to shift onto his back some, and scooted so he was sitting more upright against the pillows, but still leaning on his uninjured elbow. "Well, she needed a kidney. So I gave her mine." After months of sitting on it and working through it, the fact still stung. How could he not have thought that through? "It infected her." He supposed it was good for Frank to know, considering he was a doctor. Perhaps he would need the information one day.

As Mathis pulled away he inhaled, forehead wrinkling as his stomach dropped. Frank hadn’t realized asking would’ve caused such a reaction and he stroked his fingers down Mathis’ side in apology.

When attention was turned back, Frank had confirmation that, yeah, he definitely shouldn’t have asked anything as the look tore through him. Out of everyone that could’ve been turned it was someone in his family—his sister. He soaked in the provided information and it was increasingly concerning as it continued to be given. He saw where this was leading before it had to be said and he just took it in in buffeting waves, a bit in shock still hitting him at the end. To be kind and selfless just to have the world push back so roughly, so harshly, in retaliation was unfair. There was nothing for Frank to personally get hung up on besides just the outpouring of wanting to piece this together somehow. He didn’t really know what to do to make it right, but the need was there.

”That’s… I’m so sorry, Mathis.”

It was really awful. And then where was she then? Not in the coalition, so perhaps back in Italy? Frank wasn’t about to ask anything else at the moment though, not wanting to evoke more pain.

The touch was nice, and Mathis moved to grab at Frank’s fingers and sort of just hold them for a second. His thumb ran over the tips of them, and Mathis offered a somewhat grim smile. “It’s rough, but it’s something I’ve just sort of had to accept. She’s a large part of why I don’t speak to my family at all. It did not end well.” A small shrug. He really didn’t have the energy to delve too far into the details of it. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t comfortable sharing it with Frank... it was just a lot. As if this night or... morning, now, needed anything else.

“So I’m going to try and do right by Maeve, but I’m not going to force her into anything. That’s sort of where I went wrong.” Allegra had been a large part of it, as well. She’d been resentful and in denial, which were understandable. He’d been heavy handed. Forced her to leave her home to come live with him in an entirely new life. While she had agreed at first, things had taken a turn the more she struggled with the cat. He could not entirely blame her for wanting some sense of normalcy back. He just wished she hadn’t been so spiteful. Making him into a monster to his family had been a step too far.

Mathis let out a heavy sigh that pained his ribs, and sunk back into the pillows. His head rolled so that he could press his cheek and nose into the crook of Frank’s neck, and he place a small kiss to the skin there. “Thank you. For being here, after everything you’ve done and gone through yourself.” Mathis was, as he was beginning to realize, incredibly lucky to have met Frank.

As his fingers were held, he set his jaw some at the further explanation, wishing for an alternative to the facts laid bare. It was a no win situation then and not easily fixable, something he’d no idea the depth of a few months prior. Ultimately, Frank nodded at the shrug to show he understood, no further iteration was needed.

A mission to try to do right by Maeve was said and put down, causing Frank to have a hesitant smile. ”I think that’s a good start,” he agreed. How she reacted would be based on small actions that compounded so hopefully this case would be a lot different for Mathis and end positively. However, just from the few interactions he’d had with her, she was very quick to jump to conclusions and accusations, something he hoped was just the adrenaline, shock, and exhaustion playing into things.

With that, Mathis was settling back in and he was happy to find him placing his head back, but was surprised by the addition of a kiss. A sincere thank you was spoken that had his heart swelling. It was sweet. Frank took both Mathis’ hands in his, clasping them firmly in his palms. ”Of course. I’ll always be here for you.” A squeeze of the hands before lifting the one nearest to him up to his lips to kiss the back of before moving it back over Mathis to keep holding there for now.

An unsure amused huff escaped as he began an addition, a point fully serious. ”But, please, don’t get hit by anymore cars. Even if its impossible, you’re going to give me a heart attack.”

Mathis watched their hands as Frank spoke, a soft smile finding a home once more on his lips. Yes, incredibly, incredibly lucky. It was one of the very few things lately that had gone right with him. Despite the fight with Margaux, the incident at the pawn shop, the vampire in Belle Vista, the run in with Beauregard, what had happened tonight... he still had a friend (or more than that) in Frank. At the request, Mathis managed a chuckle. "Sure thing. I'll jump off a cliff next." He said in mock reassurance. In the back of his mind, he hope that was not some twisted foreshadowing.

He sent a small smile, squeezing the hands in his hold. ”Y’know what I mean,” he replied, face becoming more serious. Letting go of one hand to free up his own, he pushed back damp hair from Mathis’ forehead. “I just want you safe.” And not at someone’s doorstep broken and bloody.

Alright, probably not the best joke to make. Mathis tilted his chin some at the touch to his forehead, his eyelids fluttering some as his hair was pushed back. His lips pressed into a somewhat saddened smile at that. "I'll try. I promise." He said earnestly. His gaze moved from Frank's eyes, across his face, to his lips, then back up. "And you do the same." Frank had done so well these past few months. There had been very few instances where he'd had to worry about his safety. Physically, at least. Mathis did not want a taste of what he'd already put Frank through so many times before.

Promising that he’d try was all that could be asked for in the end even though it would be better if such things could be concrete. He continued to run his hand through hair, fingers going along the scalp until he just held his head, and watched the way eyes traveled all the while. The reciprocation of the ask of him doing the same had Frank sending a tired grin over, nodding with an approving hum, setting his hand down.

“You strike up a hard bargain.” Frank had promised similar before, granted without ever thinking about these scenarios. Except last time fate had given him a huge hit, he’d effectively run away to here, pushing away those closest to him in Springs regardless of promises. He didn’t want to repeat that. He would try on all aspects, it was only fair.

“But, deal.” Leaning, he gave a soft kiss to his forehead.

The stroking of his hair was something even the cheetah could get behind, relaxing some at the touch and allowing the tension that he'd been forcing all night to ease up some. With the promise that he'd do the same, Mathis was satisfied. The kiss to his forehead had his cheeks flushing some, and he moved a hand to grasp his chin gently to guide it down. He met his lips with a kiss, though it was softened some by just really not having the energy to put too much into it. But it was sweet, and it brought him that same sense of warmth that it always did.

Frank was full intending on just letting Mathis settle in after that, but a hold on his chin and he followed it down to lips, a bit of surprise rippling through him at the kiss. Welcoming it wholeheartedly as he returned it, relief seemed to ebb into him further and he appreciated the affection, that Mathis was feeling well enough to do so. Adding another slow one back while shifting the comforter higher up till it was under Mathis’ chin, he started to pull away.

While he might have liked to prolong it, it was hard to ignore the fact that once his eyes were closed, Mathis struggled with the idea of opening them. Exhaustion pressed down from all sides, so he didn’t do more than move his hand to rest at Frank’s neck as he pulled away. A heavy sigh stung his bruised ribs, and he shifted a bit to get comfortable under the blankets. If Frank would settle in beside him, he would move to drape an arm across his chest as rest his cheek against the nearest shoulder.

”Goodni- well, morning.” He chuckled heavily, considering it was pushing five thirty AM. Frank would likely not sleep as long as Mathis would, but he did appreciate him being here for now. It wouldn’t take long for sleep to grasp him and pull him under.

A hand to his neck was sweet and he watched as Mathis struggled to keep his eyes open. He needed to rest. Thankfully, it looked as if that wasn’t going to be needed to be said as Mathis shifted a bit under the covers, settling in.

Shifting down a bit so his head was against pillows, Frank’s chest warmed as Mathis laid his head and arm on him. Keeping his own arm around him, Frank held Mathis’ back. At the chuckle, he smiled. ”Good morning to you too.” Watching him for a few minutes, it didn’t take long till the familiar sound of a slow steady rhythm of breathing could be heard. Frank had originally intended to leave once Mathis did fall asleep, but his own tiredness was catching up. Closing eyes, he took comfort in the fact the man next to him would be better soon. It was still difficult to wrap his head around the fact that if Mathis had been a normal human they’d be at the hospital right now, everything a lot worse. It was a scary thought last time he’d been hurt and now. Trying to calm his thoughts, eventually sleep took hold.

Frank would wake around eight, staring at the time for a few minutes, before turning to the warmth next to him. The morning came back to him in a flood and he drew a hand over his face. He’d thought maybe it had been a bad dream.

Leaning over to place a kiss to the top of his head, Frank did his best to get out of the bed without waking Mathis, before drawing the blankets back over him. Successful, Frank made his way quietly to the bathroom to freshen up before heading out into the hallway, closing the door softly. From there, he’d taken Mathis’ clothes and started laundry. As that began, he picked up where he had left off, putting everything back into its place before sanitizing counters thoroughly. Time would tick by and eventually he found himself on the couch, reading, the tv on more for a low background noise than anything, all the while keeping an ear out for movement from the bedroom.

Sleep was blessedly peaceful. Desolate, restless, blankness. He slept hard, to the point where the shifting of Frank and the kiss on his forehead went entirely unnoticed. It would not be for some hours later that he would wake. In that time, he had pushed away the covers from his body, and somehow pulled his shirt off. If he had been awake for it, there was no recollection of it. That was not to say that there was any recollection of anything for a few long moments after he pulled open his eyes to peer blearily into the dim bedroom.

There was a moment of stunned stillness, the cat stiffening some at this tension. Where was he... Frank's room. Though he was alone. Why... he had come here last night. Or early this morning. Mathis sighed heavily as he pushed himself up to sit. The bone-deep ache at his ribs and upper arm recalled everything else. The accident, the attack, the drive back, Yana and Frank helping to aide their injuries. Mathis had stayed with Frank, and the early hours became clearer as he shifted to put his feet on the ground. His back hunched some against the ache as he stood and shuffled toward the bathroom. There, he reached to turn the light on and peer into the mirror blearily. His hair was an absolute train wreck. He'd gone to sleep with it wet, and it had dried in awkward angles. Poofy from the combination shampoo and conditioner. Mathis frowned and glanced further down. The bruising had yellowed in large calicoes, though there were still splotches of deep blues and bright purples. He moved to probe gently, which stung and brought a grimace to his lips. Still, it was clear there was already substantial improvement. There was a lot less pain. Or rather, a different kind of pain that was more akin to an ache.

It would be a few more minutes before he reemerged from the bathroom. When he did, his face was washed and his hair was dampened again from where he had run wet hands through it in attempt to tame it. He moved out and passed the bed, not really worried about finding his shirt in the midst of the mess he had made of the bed clothes. He was used to sleeping nude, so a lot of blankets plus clothing just had not worked out well. Out and into the hallway, then, off to find where Frank had gone.

There was some movement that had Frank pausing. Looking up and towards the direction of the bedroom, he wasn’t quite sure if that was the sound of waking or just restlessness. A few beats and then more movement and water running. Sitting up, he folded the corner of the page before setting it down on the coffee table. Rolling to his feet, he stood and began to make the way through the house, pausing in the hallway for a second to listen and confirm before continuing towards the kitchen. For all intents and purposes it sounded like Mathis was awake and so, food probably, maybe was needed.

Not sure what he’d be up to, Frank set a couple of soup cans out before beginning to rummage around for items to make grilled cheese in the fridge. The sound of approaching footsteps was nearing and he began to close a fridge drawer.

“Good afternoon, Sleeping Beauty,” he greeted while turning with a warm smile. The fridge door shut and then Frank was able to properly get a look at him, gaze landing on the frenzied damp hair first. “I mean, Mop Head,” he teased.

Setting down the items in his hand, he beamed at him nonetheless. ”How’re you feeling?”

Frank was in the kitchen, which ultimately was the best place he could have possibly been. Mathis was endlessly appreciative of the fact that Frank understood both his love for and the necessity of food. He stopped at the open fridge door, and when he was greeted with a revised name, he pouted playfully.

”It’s only like this because you use combination shampoo and conditioner.” He complained. But it was a serious problem, Frank.

“I feel better.” He added, and would move to turn and display the bruising for Frank with a lift of his arm.

He gave an amused look at that, not seeing the problem with choice in soap originally. But apparently, it had fluffy consequences he was unaware of till now. “Well, it’s a good look,” he chuckled. Frank supposed that if Mathis was going to stay more in the future, the man would have to request exactly what was needed as this was kind of out of his element. The most he knew were the bottles his old girlfriend Elizabeth used to get and he was pretty confident Mathis wouldn’t want the same ones.

The response to his health had Mathis lifting his arm and Frank was happy to hear he was improving. Stepping closer, he furrowed his brows, taking in the bruising and confirming it was indeed better compared to earlier. Such fast healing was so unheard of months ago. Fingers ghosting ribs and bruises, Frank eventually touched the arm to guide it back down, offering a kiss to the shoulder as he did. “I’m glad, it definitely looks better.” So, so glad. And so, so glad he wasn’t currently in a hospital. He looked up, smiled, just taking him in for a moment before aiming for lips to his own.

How could it possibly be a good look? He'd take the compliment with a huff through his nose and a small roll of his eyes, but he would stay quiet as Frank moved to inspect him. The touch was tender, but it did not pain him enough to move away. Frank was always incredibly gentle, and briefly Mathis was reminded of the first time he'd had to stitch him together. How gentle he'd been, and how gentle he was now.

He watched Frank’s fingers move briefly over scarring, and he braced inwardly for a comment on it. When it didn’t come, he found a sense of relief. It was not as if he wanted to keep it from Frank, but discussing what had happened after a night of already so much turmoil... it would be tiring. Plus, he wanted to preserve this good moment as long as he could.

The kiss at his shoulder had him smirking, which was subsequently kissed away. He hummed at the back of his throat, and moved a hand to brush along Frank’s arm. There was an echo of that need last night, to press for more. But maybe after breakfast...lunch. He pulled away after a few moments, and fixed him with a warm cheeked smile before stepping away to examine the soup cans that had been set out. “But, really, Frank. You can’t keep using that shampoo. It’s going to make your hair fall out.” Mathis exaggerated as he grabbed a can of tomato basil. The best kind.

The hum, the touch, he soaked it in. As Mathis pulled away, Frank took in the smile like a breath of air with his own, and then watched as he picked up a can. The comment had him shaking his head, moving to open a cabinet below to grab a pot and pan.

“It hasn’t yet,” he said over a few clacks of metal against metal and wood before standing back up to put the items on the stove. “But, if you’re so invested, you should pick out what I should use, might buy me some more time before it all goes.” He gave a smile, offering a hand for the can.

'Yet' was the key word. Mathis was, now that he thought about it, not entirely sure if shifters could even go bald. Hair grew incredibly fast, especially after shifts. Still, it was important for Frank to take care of it, even if it was in abundance. He tossed the can in his hand and caught it twice as he waited with his lower back settled against the cool counter top, watching as Frank bent to collect the pans. "I will. It's your best feature, you know?" He said, despite the fact that his eyes traveled south just briefly as Frank was bent. When he stood, Mathis met him with a coy smirk, and offered the can to be taken. "Need anything else? As much as I'd like to stand here and watch you cook for me..." Frank had already done enough for him.

Frank just raised an eyebrow at that smirk. His hair, righttttt.

As the can was given he pulled on the tab to undo the lid. “If you’re feeling up to it, you can butter bread and get the ham and cheese ready and we can get this done pretty quick.”

Pouring the can into a pot, he made to add water.

He was, in fact, feeling up for it. The main motivation was getting the food made quicker, but he did like helping Frank. It was reminiscent of the cookies, but he did not feel so out of his element here. So he would go about it, buttering the bread and placing the slices on the pan when it was hot enough, and readying the cheese and ham for when it was time. He could not help himself but to sneak a few slices of ham alone, weak to the demand to be fed. Eventually, they had lunch made, and settled at the table. It was a quiet, comfortable sort of moment. Just, content. No discussion of the stressful events of the night before, no worry for what was to come. A moment he could, and would continue to, appreciate.

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