Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia

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A Conspiracy of Ravens - Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Title: Angel
Author: Kairos
Fandom: Netflix MCU mashup
Wordcount: This part, 2286
Rating: Mature*
Summary: Frank and Karen take shelter for the night.

“You’re okay,” Frank was murmuring, still so close that Karen could feel his lips forming each word against her cheek. She realized that his hands, even while embracing her, were searching her for injuries and finding none. “You’re okay. You’re okay. Oh, God, Karen.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, not knowing what she was apologizing for. Guilt was streaming out of her eyes, and she was trembling. She didn’t know what would happen to her if he let go. “I couldn’t -- I couldn’t--”

He pulled her closer, cradling her head in his big rough hand. “Shh-shh. It’s gonna be okay. I’ma get you outta here, a’right? Time to go. You and me.”

Karen reigned in her sobbing with a deep breath. “Frank, are you okay?”

“You kiddin’ me?” He smiled with such warmth that the war zone around them seemed to disappear. I’m good. Real good. But we gotta go.”

Frank wouldn’t let them take her car, saying there was too much of a chance they were being watched. On foot, he led her through back alleys and empty buildings, not any great distance although it seemed lengthened by the twists and turns he chose in his efforts to shake off any potential pursuers.

Neither of them spoke as they rushed through the city. Finally Frank stopped behind the fence of an open lot and stood completely still. Karen was reminded of his movements on the yacht, and she mimicked him to the best of her ability just as she had done then. After a long stretch of silence, his shoulders relaxed and he turned to look at her. “Nobody here. We can get inside.”

“Get inside where?”

Frank lifted an arm to point at a building half a block away. “My place.”

His place. His apartment. Of course he had one. Karen had just never thought that she would see the inside of it, and she had no idea what to expect.

It was just an apartment, she soon saw, albeit one that was on the fourth floor of an old-fashioned complex with grandiose marble stairs but no elevator. Karen barely felt winded when they reached his door, and she wondered wryly if that was the final piece of evidence to prove that she had become a true New Yorker.

Frank used just one key in just one lock to get in, which seemed like a rather trusting way to live until she realized that he probably stored nothing of value here and was his own security when he was at home. He held the door open for her and she walked in without looking back, instead committing herself immediately to a self-guided tour.

She wasn’t surprised to see that the space was tiny, austere, and fastidiously clean. The only thing that set it apart from any other studio apartment in this neighborhood was an unfinished narrow doorway cut into the wall; evidently Frank was building himself a broom closet. The kitchenette looked well-stocked, and there was a guitar case propped up in the corner, but no other signs of how he kept himself occupied when he had time on his hands.

The only object here that could be called decorative was the framed picture on the nightstand, and Karen was drawn to it even before she had finished circling the studio to reach it. She knew who would be in the photograph, and she no longer thought of them as strangers. Maria, regal and authoritative in her casual clothing against the mundane background. Frank Jr., taking after his father from the shape of his face to the wildness hidden in his eyes. Lisa, her smile angelic, infinite.

Karen didn’t recall picking the picture up, but it was in her hands now. She tore her eyes away from it with a start, half expecting Frank to be giving her an accusatory stare, but he was in the bathroom with its door open and the sound of water running in the sink. Slowly, Karen put the family picture back in its place, and if she deliberately turned it to face away from the bed, well, that was the least of what she had added to her conscience tonight.

Frank stepped back into sight, his face and hair dampened and body armor removed along with a layer of clothes, leaving him in his black cargo pants and a white tank top. From the way he was looking at her, she thought for a moment that he must have forgotten she was here, until she saw that what she had taken for surprise was amazement.

It perturbed her, but instead of lowering her eyes like she intended, she found herself taking a step closer. The contours of his muscles were so clearly defined, the scars so brazen. How could a man like this appear so vulnerable?

He broke eye contact suddenly, as if coming out of a stupor. “You should, uh, get some rest,” he muttered. “I’ll take the couch.”

Karen shook her head, exasperated by his refusal to acknowledge what they both knew was about to happen, what was happening already. The couch wasn’t even a couch, just a loveseat that wouldn’t comfortably accommodate anyone over four feet tall. “Frank…”

“I can’t take you back to your place right now. We don’t know if some of them are still--”

“Frank.” She pushed a hand through her hair and sighed. “It’s okay. I texted Jessica so she knows I’m safe and I won’t be back tonight. Please, just relax. Just sit down. Just…” She swallowed, catching herself just before asking him to hold her, but it came with a surge of emotion that killed her control over her words and before she knew it they came out anyway: “Just hold me.”

Instantly she was enclosed in his arms. Gratified but not sated, she sought his lips and was rewarded with a kiss deeper than the one after the battle, at once more complete and more inceptive. He hesitated again as soon as it ended, but she took his face between her hands and brought him back to her, and then she felt the warmth of his palms at the base of her neck and the small of her back.

Once he overcame that last vestige of reluctance, it seemed he couldn’t stop if he had tried. Karen broke away to shrug out of her jacket, and he yanked off his undershirt and then clutched at her again as if that half a second apart had been intolerable. She pressed her face against his chest, inhaling, pleased beyond measure to feel him reaching up under her shirt to unhook her bra.

With him guiding her it took just a few steps backward until she felt the bed against the back of her legs. He lifted her effortlessly to lay her down on it, triggering an unexpected thrill: Nobody had picked Karen up since she was a child. She wanted more of it, wanted to be carried and sheltered in those powerful arms, but when she tried to sit up and climb into his lap, he knelt over her and kept her on her back with a secure hold on her wrists.

The position forced her thoughts to slow down and her senses to take in the moment. Frank hovering above her in the dim light, his eyes dark and kind, no longer uncertain. His bed firm beneath her, the place where he slept just as any real person sleeps. The lingering scent of sawdust from his carpentry project. None of it was familiar, but she felt like she was at home, and a long-held tautness released itself from her body.

As if that was what he had been waiting for, Frank let go and sat up on her thighs to unbutton her shirt as she traced lines on him with her fingertips until she was free to toss both shirt and bra onto the floor. The exposure of her breasts sparked another unforeseen reaction inside her -- she felt like a teenager, a virgin, diffident under the eyes of someone she couldn’t control but wanted desperately to please.

“Beautiful,” Frank murmured, looking at her face and not her chest. “So beautiful. My Karen.” He kissed her first on her lips and moved slowly down her neck until he reached a nipple and took it into his mouth with the lightest touch of teeth.

Karen closed her eyes and laid her hand on his bare shoulder, ready to believe anything he said. She was beautiful. She was his Karen. If there were any words of praise worthy of him, she would have gladly spoken them in return, but all she thought to say was “God, that feels good.”

He seemed to like that anyway, judging from the thrumming sound of contentment he made in response. When he switched to her right breast, his thumb and forefinger with their rocky callouses took over at the left, and with timing so damned perfect it might as well have been born of precognition, his other hand slipped into her skirt and stroked between her legs.

Her need for him was gathering from every part of her body, pooling at her center, but she was unable to reach his fly at the moment and unwilling to leave the sweetness of his mouth to get to it. She arched her back to rub her hips against his in spite of the layers of fabric between them. Frank chuckled deep in his chest and rolled onto his side, propped up on one elbow, to handle his zipper himself, but before she had seen more than a bulge in his boxers, he took the blanket from the foot of the bed and threw it over both of them.

Being contained in this little tent of bedding with him brought back some of Karen’s confidence. She pulled her skirt off, leaving her panties for him to remove, then wrapped her arms around him, guided him back on top of her, and pushed her tongue into his mouth.

He moaned, an animalistic and intoxicating sound. Her last remaining scrap of clothing was snatched from her hips with one eager hand, and then she could feel his erection against her belly, skin to skin, full of heat and energy.

When he entered her she let out a cry of ecstasy. She felt unprepared for such a sensation, and undeserving of it, but there was a righteousness in it too, an assurance that her lover would never allow her to be wronged even by herself.

She gasped out his name; he whispered hers. The words One shot, one kill flew into her mind. That wasn’t wrong either, in spite of its grim incongruity. It was even comforting, in a way. The precision of Frank’s undulating movements, the mindfulness for how his every touch would affect her, all of it was simply another aspect of his nature. Whether he was ending the life of a criminal or making love to a sinner, Frank Castle’s body did exactly what he meant it to do.

Karen opened her eyes wide and found that his were already open, gazing straight into her soul. The fingertip that he wound around a lock of her hair felt as electrifying as the member thrusting into her slick center. His breath was a windstorm in her ears, his body like an avalanche, but she was secure in her indestructibility, and when she climaxed, it felt like justice.

Within seconds, he came inside her and collapsed while covering her in kisses. The first thing she thought to do once they were two people again was throw off the blanket, and only then did they get a good look at each other naked. There was no need to discuss it or limit it. Karen memorized the patterns of more scars she had never seen before. Frank smiled as his eyes swept back and forth over her for the longest stretch of time she had ever seen him looking content.

In the long silence afterward, Karen felt so peaceful that she thought she might fall asleep, but it turned out to be a different kind of peace. Frank held her in a spoon, keeping her back pressed close to him, constantly stroking her hair or rubbing her arm. Several times she wondered if she had a duty to begin the conversation they probably needed to have, and each time she dismissed the idea as ridiculous. If there was a future, it didn’t belong here.

Eventually he yawned and rolled onto his back to stretch, and Karen sat up and suggested they take a shower. Halfway through it, both of them lathered and slippery, she began nibbling at his neck and he began fondling her breasts and then they had to go back to the bed to finish. Her wet hair soaked through the only pillow, but it was worth it to have him carry her the eight steps it took to get across the room.

The time shown on Frank’s digital alarm clock had lost all meaning, but the night had surely deepened, and now she was truly weary. “We should...I should…”

“Shhhh,” came Frank’s voice, again close behind her. “Sleep, angel.”

“I’m not…” Her eyes fluttered but couldn’t stay open, and she couldn’t complete a sentence without a yawn. “I’m not…”

He laughed softly. “Not tired?”

“Not an angel.”

“How would you know?” Frank kissed her temple and squeezed her hand. “That’s up to God, right? Let him decide.”

Already halfway inside a dream, she let out a giggle. “You’re talking to me about God?”

“Sure,” he said easily. “Anything’s possible. Time to rest, Karen. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

*It's been teen/general so far, yes. Now it's mature.

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Tags: conspiracy of ravens

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