Karen Page was drunk.

Sirens wailed in the distance, the noise ratcheting through the towers of glass and cement buildings to create a long wolf-like howl. Cars honked sharply down below, scuttling along the brown ruts made in the snow. It always surprised her how bright the rooftops of New York were, lit from below and sometimes from above by the moon. Tonight, the half-moon was hiding behind the clouds and she was strictly seeing by ambient city magic.

She poured more spiced rum into the short glass that she'd brought up and took another sip, enjoying the flavour and the warm sensation that spread below her diaphragm after she swallowed. The wind was sharp and bitter but her cheeks were pinked with blood and she barely felt the cold, perching calmly on the low cement wall that lined the roof of her apartment building. Past the wall was a tiled ledge half a foot wide before the drop to the street, so she dangled her feet on the ledge and admired her quaint bravery. If only Daredevil could see her smiled bitterly to herself, seeming as she caught her own pun and had no one to make the terrible joke to.

There had to be an end to everything she felt, but every day she woke up feeling different about every angle of the situation. Her subconscious mind tackled things while she fitfully had night sweats and yelled in her sleep. She'd taken to drinking herself into slumber, either not having any nightmares or not being in a place where she could remember them. She'd been sleeping through longer and longer periods but somehow was having a harder and harder time functioning while she was awake.

Karen felt caught, almost suspended or trapped. She felt angry and betrayed and lied to and worthless and like an idiot. A stupid, stupid idiot. Often, she visualized a fence - Frank/Punisher on one side and Matt/Daredevil on the other. She was currently balanced on said fence, not talking to either of them. She and Frank had not exchanged words since she had screamed at him outside of that little murder shack he took the General into. Her departure from Nelson and Murdock's barren offices was similar after Matt's revelation that he had basically been lying to her from the second he met her and was basically as mental as Frank. How did she come to know these two men by themselves before coming to intimately know their vigilante alter egos? How was she, out of all the goddamn women in New York, the one who manages to get shackled to not one law-disregarding lunatic but two? Her third grade teacher had said she'd get led down the wrong path one day unless she figured out whom to properly put her trust in and Karen was reasoning that she had failed to learn that particular skill. Now she was paying for it, moping around for weeks since Christmas, drinking herself to sleep, crying in the shower, producing zombified opinion columns and constantly fielding phone calls to The Bulletin about Daredevil.

Her parents had helped her get set up in a less shot-up apartment. The new job with steady pay made the bills easier. She hadn't seen much of Foggy following Christmas, surmising his meteoric climb at his new firm required his full attention.

Karen drank again, blinking at the sight of an airplane cruising alongside the underbelly of the clouds bullying the skyline. An errant thought flit through her mind, wondering if Matt was out doing Spiderman shit in Hell's Kitchen instead of being at home contributing to a brilliant law career. Of course he was, she knew it. Every day they got more reports, more phone calls requesting an interview - everyone wanted to tell the story of their encounter with Daredevil. Ellison wanted her to head all vigilante news related to Daredevil. Karen's heart hammered painfully listening to recounts of his endless heroism and she often wondered when she would get told the story of him being murdered. The thought made her chest hurt.

Matt Murdock had been everything from the start - extraordinarily intelligent, a sense of humor, loyal and understanding and reassuring. His blindness seemed to somehow make him more intimidating and attractive. He was an upstanding, stalwart, handsome, self-righteous lying piece of shit. He'd appeared in one of her darkest hours, protected her from the traumas of the first attempts on her life. He'd given her employment, friendship and what she thought had been a place in his heart. Their short time together was tentative and innocent at the beginning but very quickly became a torrential downpour of lust and emotional attachment. He made her feel safe and stable and when he kissed her, it was with the intensity of someone memorizing every cell of her lips. He would cup her jaw, pull her against his surprisingly firm chest, and thread his fingers through her hair. He was responsive with his guttural throb-inducing moans, and endlessly creative with his ever-gentle fingers. She could float for days on five minutes in Matt Murdock's arms.

He could never love her the way she loved him and she knew that right away. Matt was married to being Daredevil more than he would ever commit to anything else - whatever was going on there, he obviously didn't want her to be part of it and considering it took precedence over saving his firm, his and Foggy's reputations and Frank's life, it was important. He didn't want her to be in a majority of his life, then she wouldn't be. She couldn't sit around at home waiting for the morning that he doesn't come back, wondering if she'd ever find his body or who did it or if it had hurt. She wouldn't watch him abandon Foggy and ruin Foggy's well-deserved career and she had tried to convince him to stop fighting crime. That had not gone at all well. She felt with Matt she would forever be the damsel in distress falling off a building - being the center of his entire world until it's time for her to be safe on the ground and him to run off again. A background character in his little superhero comic that he somehow thinks he's the star of. He'd lied about it from the start and the betrayal had cut deep when she realized she'd never had an honest conversation with Matt from the moment she met him; he was so frighteningly logical and faithful to a system that fails its people. Karen herself had almost been crushed beneath the wheels of the ever-turning American justice system because Fisk wanted her to be quiet. Throwing people in jail where they can network and fester resentment isn't the proper treatment. They come out branded as criminals and end up being unable to scrape a semblance of a life together and have no choice but to wind up being a criminal again. It's become part of the culture of New York City, from the tagging on the walls of the Hell's Kitchen to the beating on the walls at Rikers.
Then, more innocent people die.

But who are truly innocent? She herself, Karen Page, is one of the faceless many that Matt Murdock was trying to save but she was also one of the faceless many that Frank Castle would have no problem killing.

That was the fence; she wasn't innocent. The more time she spent here, working in this city and living the Hell that it's named after, shadowed her soul. No one knew it but she was a killer. She thought she'd hidden it well, even though she still had nightmares about the look of shock on Wesley's face when she'd repeatedly pulled the trigger, fearing for her life and the lives of everyone she knew. Wesley was a bad person and she had killed him the way Frank would and so she became more like Frank Castle than she ever knew she could be and the thought terrified her. She still valued human life and believed in the prevalence of human society; the inherent good that always seemed to seep like pus out of the wounds of hatred. She wanted to bring light and justice to the world like Daredevil but couldn't imagine it actually happening unless the evil was snuffed out completely. So, on the other side of the fence was Frank Castle, the Punisher.

Karen drank a large cheek-puffing swig of rum, closing her eyes and exhaling loudly as she thought back to the first time she met Frank. He had been a big man, tied into a little bed with an angry red perimeter around him. Inside an empty, barren room with no window guarded by a squad of armed policemen. His face had been a night sky painting - blossoms of purple and blues with dark black rings beneath his eye sockets. She remembered how he hadn't been convinced and she'd watched with despair as he remained stoic and unresponsive to Matt and Foggy. As they turned to leave, she'd panicked. She had seen what this man was, before the world had turned on him and she knew with almost painful clarity that he was not born evil. He deserved to be understood as well as remanded for his actions. He couldn't be above the rest of society because then society as a concept no longer exists and there is nothing but chaos and raw power.
Society also had to answer for what it had done to make its own Boogeyman. What had happened to him and his family? She'd tried to convey all that, everything she felt when she stepped out of bounds and begged him to let them represent him - to fight this trial and this execution that Reyes was trying to hang around his neck. Somehow then, Frank Castle saw her. It was like watching the locks on an intricate door unlatch themselves and the fog of mistrust in his eyes parted and she knew that he looked at her and he saw everything she was trying to offer. Her hand, her mind, her heart - whatever he needed to have his justice, for himself, his family and every person who'd ever been wronged by the corruption this city was riddled with. He'd taken it upon himself to absorb the evil that the city needed to dispose of the criminal element that plagued it, he accepted his rage and the monster within him. He felt he deserved no attention, no redemption and Karen could see the confusion darken his face every time she expressed how much she believed in him.

Karen was only ever the center of Matt's universe when he needed to save her but she felt the moment she entered Frank Castle's radar no one would even get an opportunity to harm her ever again. Frank had held her eyes when he told her honestly when he shot at her when she was fleeing with Grotto, she was in no danger. Karen smiled to herself, finishing was left in the glass and shaking the bottle. There was still about a quarter left, so she poured a splash more and cradled it in her hands. It was hysterical to be told you're in no danger when someone shoots at you but she also know the extreme caliber of skill Frank had and a part of her knew he willed her no ill-intent. He had a mission and she wasn't it, simple as that. She knew that she was never in any danger with him, in fact the opposite. She was the safest with him because he was the most dangerous person in the entire state and somehow she had managed to wrangle the only immunity card. There was pain in his eyes when he told her he knew she loved Matt. Karen originally assumed it was because of his following lost love speech but when she went over it in her memory she swore she sensed a pang of jealousy. Like her feelings for Matt made her unreachable or somehow more distant from him.

Then, in the forest, she'd screamed at him the only words that she knew how to convey how deeply she cared for him. She wanted him to forget it, to give up, to come back to her. Don't go do the unthinkable. She'd flashed through the shooting at her apartment, him shielding her body with his, to their conversation in the diner and his bid for her to get away, especially from him. He saw her darkness, knew that she'd killed someone because he saw it in her eyes, saw it in her soul. He saw enough of himself in her just as she saw herself in him and it scared her that she still felt like she was about to lose him.

A level of her felt broken that he didn't see enough of her in himself to bother saving and she began to question truly whether or not she was a monster. Was she one of them now? Is she now destined to kill as her only defense mechanism? Once you take that leap, once you cross that line you can't go back. You can't uncross it, raise the dead, dust them off and say sorry. The subsequent destruction of his family home and appearance at the warehouse where she was held hostage, shooting to help Matt - Daredevil - fight the Hand was his way of leaving Frank Castle behind. He was done being the victim and was ready to embrace being the Punisher, just as Matt was leaving behind his career and relationships to chase bad guys to jail in the night.

Frank's rejection of her was different from Matt's; almost worse on a separate level. Karen and Frank had a level of understanding and trust that went beyond the bond of misunderstood souls. Matt and Karen had a relationship built on painful lies, Frank and Karen had a relationship built on painful truths. She lived in a place in Frank Castle's world that was far more important than Matt Murdock's but almost to the point where she was angelically untouchable like a piece of glass.
So with both of them, she wound up being a delicate mirror neither wanted to break for fear of bad luck. She was just a bad luck charm for herself. Karen tossed back the rest of her drink and cautiously got up, clambering over the low wall and making carefree strides to the door that led down to the elevator.

The elevator let her out three floors below the rooftop and she scraped a key through the lock with little resistance. Karen almost fell into her new closet-sized apartment when the door gave way. Giggling to herself, she shut the door and locked and dead bolted it before sashaying into the kitchen to empty the last of the bottle into her glass. She dropped the glass on the counter and went to the sink to rinse the rum bottle, carelessly toeing off her shoes and socks at the sink. When she turned around, she started when she realized the glass was gone.

Two heartbeats later, her skin broke out in clammy sweat. Her stomach churned and climbed up under her sternum as she started to breathe shallowly. She stepped into the hallway, listening intently for any sound of anything in the apartment. Her purse was hung on a post and she slipped her hand into it, fingertips feeling the heavy textured butt of her Ruger LCP .380. She'd gotten her hands on a new, matte black one that lurked in the cell pocket of her purse. Heart thundering, Karen flicked the safety off and pressed her shoulder blades against the drywall. A small part of her brain wondered if it was Matt or Frank and a larger, screaming part of her brain wondered if it was someone there to finally finish the job. Her finger trembled as she extended it and placed it very carefully in position and just when she thought she heard the soft sigh of tread on carpet she swung around the corner.

The shadow moved a lot faster than she thought and she shrieked drunkenly as the gun was wrenched from her grasp and her wrists were caught and yanked behind her back. Chest thrust against the wall, the air in Karen's lungs exited with a breathy hunfh.

"Stop hesitating," Frank Castle growled over her shoulder, sounding angrier than she thought appropriate considering he was breaking and entering. "Let me go! What are you doing here? Let me, seriously, let me go," She hissed as she struggled against his weight and freed her arms from his grasp. He'd restrained her with one hand and as soon as he released her she felt annoyed at his lack of need for more action to subdue her. Karen spun around to face him, her face coming within inches of his before he moved his head back, pursing his lips slightly. She shoved his chest ineffectively with both hands while he scowled down at her temper tantrum. "What are you doing in my apartment? What are you doing here at one in the morning? And, actually, what did you do with my rum?" She demanded, adding the last question as an afterthought and craning her neck to get a look into the living room for said beverage. Frank stepped away but only as far as the hallway allowed, which was not a lot. "You've had enough to drink, I think. I've been sitting here waiting for you to come back, wondering when you weren't at Josie's," He explained finally, stepping into the living room. Karen flicked the light switch and ignored his grimace and glare in her direction. She spied the rum on her side table and picked it up, flopping inelegantly onto the overstuffed gray couch.

Frank stood in her small living room, taking up most of the space with his sheer size and intimidating presence. He wore his routine all black ensemble, which only served to make him look like a massive shadow attempting to eclipse the room. He certainly took all the air out of her lungs when he was around, making her feel both like she would never breathe again and partially like she might never want to. She shook her head, trying to sort through her murky thoughts as she absently swirled the drink.
"SO, why are you breaking and entering?" Karen burst out conversationally, sitting back and meeting his stone-faced disapproval of her application of humor.

Danger emanated off of Frank Castle in waves, his hair cut close to the scalp and his face healed up save for a few stray bruises here and there. His cheeks had come down from swelling and were sharp and chiselled, framing a nose that had been broken many times. He had the same manly and plush lips that were permanently pulled into a scowl, shadowed by two day old scruff. "What's wrong with you?" He demanded brusquely, brushing aside her query. Karen swallowed a sip of rum and shrugged her shoulders forward, lifting an eyebrow and looking around aimlessly.
"I'm drunk, probably."
"I can see that. Why're you drunk? Don't answer me with some line about having consumed alcohol 'cause I don't have time for that shit," Frank grunted as he leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. His voice was gravelly, annoyed and authoritative. Karen was feeling reckless and invaded, both wanting to spurn him for thinking he had a right to demand intimate details about her life like they were old non-murderous chums and because she was angry at him for acting like he hadn't literally slammed a door on their relationship. She shook her head, standing up and approaching his place against the wall, stumbling slightly and catching herself. She waved off the hands that suddenly went out to catch her, scoffing at him audibly.
"Can't you tell? Since you know everything about me," Karen added with a blithe smirk as she approached his personal space. She could smell him, gun polish and musk and painfully clean clothes; almost garish in its normalcy. He steadied her invasion of his personal space with his hands on her upper arms, stopping her an arm's breadth away. She looked at him and found him studying her, eyes unwavering and clear. His familiar black irises were carefully blank and his face was devoid of any real expression like a carefully composed mask aside from the one twitching muscle in his jaw.
"You're not in love, innit? That's your big problem, your blind boyfriend don't love you no more or you just decided, what -," He said, riling himself into a small rant as his voice picked up, his fingers tightening on her arm. Karen smiled widely, suddenly happy to have effected some sort of emotion out of him. She liked being the only person alive to make Frank Castle feel anything other than murderous rage.
"He's Daredevil," Karen blurted dreamily, cutting off Frank's irritated diatribe.
"What?"
"You heard m-me," Karen said, stuttering as she caught her balance when he dropped his hands. "He told me, right on Christmas like an asshole. Just spat it out, handed me the goddamn helmet, the whole thing," She rushed out, her voice wavering and hinting at the verge of tears she was on. Karen immediately hated herself and her wobbly countenance, jamming her lips shut and looking at the floor for a moment before forcing herself to look at him again. Frank was watching her, like he waiting for something she was unsure of.

"Matt Murdock is Daredevil, I knew it," Frank repeated blankly. Karen scoffed suddenly, slamming the drink down on the coffee table. "You knew that? YOU KNEW THAT? How did YOU know that? He tell you on your midnight crime fighting sprees? You know what, no, I can't deal with this. I'm not being humiliated by realizing he'd been lying to me all along and then have you come in here and tell me you KNEW, I just -," Karen moved away from him, storming towards her bedroom and slipping her wrist out of the last second swipe Frank made for it. He stuck his foot in the door, preventing it from slamming closed and locked between them and she faced him angrily, chest heaving and mottling in rage.

"Look, if you're worried about Red killing himself with all the fighting let me tell you, blind or not the man has skills. He has a set of skills that I am impressed with and he thinks he's doing the right thing," He explained, approaching her with his gloved hands up. She stared at them, then suddenly nodded her head at them. "Don't defend him. Take them off," Karen demanded, nodding at him. Frank stared at her before narrowing his eyes slightly in confusion, looking at his gloves. Karen's breath was coming almost in pants and her thoughts were wild and erratic. Her wild escape into her bedroom hadn't afforded her the distance she needed from him when she was feeling so many things raging through her mind.

"I need to know you're not here to kill me, take the gloves off."
"I can just wipe the surfaces after I leave -,"
"TAKE THEM OFF!"

He waved at her to be quiet, her scream echoing around the small bedroom. He yanked the gloves off unceremoniously, dropping them on the bed and brandishing his strong hands with long, squared fingers. He suddenly shrugged out of the black military grade jacket, revealing he was wearing no Kevlar and only one gun slung across his chest. He took it out, showing it to her and putting it on her bedside table.

"There we go, sugar, look I'll even stay a while," Frank said reassuringly, staring at her with intensity. Karen stared back, transfixed by how he seemed to peer into her soul, see all of her and her thoughts. Like undergoing an x-ray, she immediately wanted to know what he saw in the results. She suddenly sat on the bed, dropping on top of his heavy jacket. Almost comically, Frank sat beside her as she fought to control her breathing. Her heart was beating and the room was spinning slightly and she was trying to ignore the way the skin on her arms seemed to crackle with electric proximity to the bare skin of Frank's forearms.
Karen took a deep breath, staring at anywhere but him.

"My connection...relationship, with Matt was almost perfect for the one date and couple weeks therein," Karen said almost bitterly. Frank stiffened slightly. "Then, the lies started. Specifically, the lies about the cuts and the bruises and the bruised ribs. He was the world's clumsiest blind man outside of work but somehow around me he never showed any problem ever. In fact it seemed almost too good. Taxi hit him, fell down the subway stairs, taking jiu-jitsu? I felt like an idiot because I trusted him and he never came clean, not once. He almost ruined your trial because he was so obsessed with this Elektra woman and that cult, The Hand? What even was that? Never mind. Either way, he's not going to be giving it up and he doesn't think I should know anyway but apparently he didn't see any way around it," Karen said dramatically, punctuating her story with a hard look at Frank.

"So that's it, you're giving up?" Frank asked incredulously. Karen laughed derisively and tossed her head in exasperation. "Of course, he needs to focus on being almost killed every day, sacrificing himself for the betterment of justice, fighting with his fists. It's so puritanical it's suicidal and I just...I can't live through losing him the way he seems to want me to," Karen explained, summing up the entirety of their argument at the remains of Nelson and Murdock.

"You can't live without him though, look at all this," Frank intoned with a tease and Karen rolled her eyes in response. "I feel like with him, he's a safety net for me to fall into," Karen said sadly. "He doesn't want me around but he won't have me harmed by anyone but him, unintentionally of course."

"What about me?" Frank asked suddenly. Karen's brain went blank for a second and then into hyper-drive. Her brain was flooded with images of him talking to her, him on trial, him crying over a family photo, him haunted on his way to prison, his coy smile that he gave her in the diner he shot up. She laughed again.

"If Daredevil's my safety net, you're the ground," Karen said boldly and caught the look of hurt that flashed over his eyes for a split second. She absently put her hand on his forearm, the skin of her palm connecting with the hard flesh of his forearm, roped with sinew. He was always generally muscled and warm, a primal and comforting feeling. "You're required for everyone to live and you're hard hitting but...there's more to you? I'm sorry, I'm comparing you to dirt. I'm just...knowing Frank Castle all of a sudden was like falling out of a tree," Karen surmised, looking up at him from beneath her eyelashes, her cheeks suddenly staining. His hard face allowed his lips to twitch a bemused smile for a second and he seemed to relax slightly as she smiled at him, suddenly feeling awkward. Karen suddenly stood up, smoothing her hands over the thighs of her ensemble from her work day. Her hands shook slightly as her brain tried to process its confused and fogged thoughts and she shook her head slightly as Frank watched her with a slight frown. Her drunken instincts were starting to spin into good ideas and she felt her place on the fence wobble. In two easy steps, Karen was in front of Frank and her right knee sunk into the bed halfway up his thigh.

Frank's dark eyebrows knitted together and then shot up as she invaded his space completely and swung her left leg over both his, settling into his lap facing him. Before she had the chance to get shy over the erotic position, Karen pressed her lips against his. She kissed him, moving her lips against his earnestly before noting that they hadn't twitched at all from their scowl, and were unyielding under hers. Karen froze up, pulling away with a gentle smack. Frank said nothing and she slid off his lap, covering her mouth with her hands and facing the door.

"Look, you're drunk and I'm not exactly-," He began to explain and she held a single hand up in the stop position. She took a few breaths, eyes screwed tight before turning around and lowering the hands covering her lips. "I-I'm sorry, I know you're grieving and I'm not sure where tha-," Karen began just as he started speaking, stopping both of them as Frank said, "I'll never be able to give you want you want."

"You don't know what I want, hell, I don't know what I want," Karen rebuked. Frank shook his head shortly before saying, "You don't want me."
"You don't know that!" She said loudly, again causing him to wince at the volume. He stood up, looming above her and staring down at her with a stormy, complicated expression. His breath seemed to be harsher, whistling slightly through his nostrils.
"Is that what we're doing?"
"I'm doing what feels right, I am going with the flow, rolling with the punches," She answered, gesturing with her hand as she came up with another expression and fixed him with a helpless look. "Does it feel wrong to you? You - you chose me, remember? Why else would you...I dunno. See me? Pick me out of crowd?"
"Crowd? There were three of you in the room," Frank answered and she had to look at the twitching lips to see the joke in her distress.
"Don't patronize me, Frank. I'd tell myself I was making everything I feel that you feel up if you weren't standing here in front of me!" Karen snapped, wheeling away from him. She didn't feel him approach her, didn't feel him invade her space and didn't sense him until she turned around and found him behind her. She stopped short, her steam in her tirade being doused in cold water at the peculiar expression on his face.

"I might be dead to you but you're sure as hell not dead to me," Frank said and before she processed his words his lips crashed upon hers and she felt like she was spinning, wheeling through the sensation of kissing Frank Castle. She was bent back, snared into tilting her head for him to plunder her mouth merely because of his advantageous bulk. Karen was a tall, willowy woman but was still dwarfed by the general mass of the gifted sniper. His right hand gathered the silky strands of her impossibly slippery hair, and his left hand snaked down the top of her hip to cup her backside and easing into a relishing squeeze. Karen's fingers bunched the shirt covering his pectorals and she kissed him back fiercely. The room was silent as they held each other, faces melded as they explored each others mouths. Karen didn't feel her back rest gently against the bedroom wall and didn't remember when she'd hitched her leg up against his hip, pressing their clothed groins together intimately. Passion was flooding her body and her mind and she felt the raging urge to kiss him harder, deeper. She felt the urge to bite at his skin, sink her teeth into his flesh and cause some sort of erotic noise. She felt herself clutching the back of his skull, barely keeping pace with his demanding, questing mouth. She felt like he was pouring every second of aggression and agony and pent up sexual tension and thankfulness he had for her presence in his life into her mouth. As she broke free of the kiss she felt an urge to damage him, permanently mark him and she tested him with a gentle bite to his jaw . As her canine pinched him, a strangled groan came from his throat and Karen noticed he was holding back. His body was tense, almost like it was pulsing with barely contained electricity and his brow was drawn into a very intense expression as his eyes searched her dazed ones before falling to her now swollen mouth.
Karen lifted her jaw, presenting her lips to him in a smirk and catching his eyes as she wiggled and arched in his grasp. The crests of her breasts peeked from behind the lapels of her business shirt, bulging against his chest and her pelvis bumped the bunch of the zipper of his jeans. Frank's expression was almost pained, animalistic in painful lust and a tainted with a hint of sadness. He looked her in the eye and seemed to be fading through to a mind change before she raised an eyebrow and used his own preaching against him.

"Stop hesitating," She challenged him and he shook his head and awarded her with the coy smile that bled out the left side of his face. "Cheeky," Frank observed as he reached out and hooked his finger into the top button between her breasts. Karen watched with a held breath as the button struggled against the force he exerted into the one finger until it pulled through the cinch of the buttonhole with a stitched pop. His finger dropped to the next button and the material again strained before it popped again. Karen watched Frank's eyes follow his own progress all the way to the waistband of her slacks around her navel, where he paused as his finger brushed her belly button and smooth skin. Her head was echoing the thudding in her ears and as he looked at her face again she pulled the shirt free of her shoulders, undoing the bottom two her and shrugging it down. Karen smiled shyly, savouring the sharp intake of his breath as she bared her cupped flesh to him.

"Now you," Karen reminded him as she helpfully pulled at the bottom of his shirt. Frank locked eyes with her as she side stepped him and backed towards the bed. His face was a mask of smugness and lust and he seemed totally unaware of the way her breath fell out of her mouth when he wordlessly raised his arms and tugged at the nape of the shirt's neck and the fabric flowed up his torso and over his head. Karen sat weakly as he dropped the forgotten shirt, staring at the proudly crafted human this man was. She'd been with boys who thought they were men followed by a few real men; Frank Castle was an Adonis. His chest was a plate of muscle, furred gently over the pecs and down his stomach before the dark hair tapered sharply into a point. The path of hair meandered past abs body builders would be jealous of and his cut lines jutted, shadowed and deep. His arms were thick and lined with veins, roped with bulging muscle and this seemed to apply to the rest of his bodily aesthetic. Even his nipples, pebbled in the air, were a darker and duskier pink than she expected for a man so surprisingly fair. He was watching her like a wolf surveying a cautious deer. They looked at each other a moment before he jerked his head at her and gruffly said; "Now you."

Karen felt her face flush as she reached for the button of her slacks and remembered an important detail about her life – she hadn't done laundry in a bit. As a result, she lacked the proper underwear and was suddenly looking at being completely bare to him in under two pieces of clothing. Buying time, Karen got up on her knees onto the bed, shifting into the middle of it as her inebriated mind tried to sort out the best course of action. Improvisation had been a skill of hers in highschool drama and Karen called on those chops as she turned away from him and leaned forwards on her hands after fully undoing the slacks. Hiding her nervousness behind a knowing look, she looked over her shoulder at Frank and found him not watching her, but the hands that were pulling the smart black pants down over her voluptuous bottom, exposing the skin completely without bending far enough over to expose herself to him. Before she could even bunch the material around her knees a large, calloused hand roughly clapped and squeezed one cheek and his full weight bowled her over. Karen found herself trapped underneath him, diagonally across the bed. Her skin was ice cold, numbed in the air and his skin was hot and flushed and they both shivered against each other as their chests pressed together. He still wore dog tags, heated by the proximity to his body and they clinked and gathered in the dip of her clavicles as Frank tenderly claimed her mouth again. He kissed her gently as his fingers roved like a hungry man finding a feast in the desert. They ran up the sides of her thighs, over the swell of her hips and almost completely encapsulated the bottom of her ribcage. His left hand hand slid under her, fussing with the clasp of her bra while the other hand completed its circuit over her collarbones and began to descend, rounding over her breast and his palm held flat against her stomach. The south-facing tips of his fingers encountered the short, rough hair of her mons pubis and seemed to bend with her body as he boldly dove two fingers into her soft lips. Her bra loosened suddenly with his success and he barely had time to extract his hand before Karen shrugged it off. Frank moaned hoarsely, either at the budded tips of her now exposed breasts or because he'd found the trove of wetness gathering at her opening. Karen arched her hips at the sound, replying with her own moan as he unabashedly dipped two fingers into her. Absently, she kicked her legs and struggled free of the cumbersome pants. His belt was digging into the skin on her hip bone, reminding her of the barrier between them. Frank had started a unique movement, pumping his hand in a motion that allowed the butt of his palm to mash against her clitoris while his fingers slipped over and around the flesh of her g-spot, mouthing her nipples and laving the flesh of her breasts. It was causing her legs to spasm and for her breath to come in ragged gasps between their long, burning kisses. He helpfully lifted his hips and she managed to unknot the thick military leather of his belt, finding a simple plastic button and zip protecting him further. Karen made quick work of it before eagerly pulling open the groin of his pants. The commando was a fan of commando like herself and his thick erection fell freely into her hand. Frank hissed between his teeth, barely breaking from her lips as she used the pad of her thumb to spread around the fluid that had beaded at her touch. Frank pulled away from her suddenly, grasping her wrists and pulling her towards him as he stood. His eyes were burning and he seemed to shiver as Karen wordlessly allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. His pants free-fell with a noise that made her smile against his lips as she kissed him again, hands running up his chest and around his neck to graze the shorn tips of the hairs on his neck.

Karen found her legs trembling, the knees almost knocking from feeling weak with anticipation. Her chest was flushed and hot, her nipples hard and wanton and she relished in the feel of them being tickled by his chest hair. They pressed against each other, joint for joint until the sheer size discrepancy failed. Then, she almost shrieked as Frank's forearm secured her against him from under her bottom and she was lifted. Her legs automatically came up, wrapping loosely over his hips. Frank bent and she felt the world tilt before the carpet of her bedroom floor was digging into her spine with a generous amount of his weight on top of her.

"Say hello to the ground," Frank muttered almost indistinctly before taking a nipple in his mouth and causing Karen to swear and pull his head against her. His tongue was swirling, teasing, poking and edging and she found herself spreading her legs wider and allowing his erection to tease her folds as she ground her hips. He moved his hips back and away from her, sitting back on his haunches and seeming to drink her position in. Karen watched him, allowing him to have the moment he needed before she started to feel exposed. Her legs were spread and her core was hot in the cooler air of the room. She could smell how badly she wanted him and knew he could probably smell it too, especially as he reached out and fondly ran a thumb over her clit. Karen sat up, reaching forward and grasping his erection as it bobbed against his stomach. A rumble climbed through his chest and he seemed to lean back, presenting himself to her deft ministrations. He watched her work for a few seconds, his dark eyes glittering beneath half-closed lids. He was thickest in the middle, with a plump purple head and he felt like a hot steel bar wrapped in the softest velvet.

Karen was beyond this, her body wound tighter than she thought possible. She ached, almost painful with the instinctive urge to be filled. She wanted what she wanted and she moved to take it from him, surprising him into opening his eyes when she suddenly released him and he heard her move. Karen shoved him as hard as she could, hoping to catch him off guard and smiling when he confusedly sat on his butt. His hands were roaming again, sliding and feeling every inch of her skin as she slung her left leg over his lap again and resumed their earlier position, playfully dragging her nipples down his face, over his eyes and cheeks. Frank nuzzled the soft globes, the scruff on his face feeling like sandpaper and the heat of his mouth feeling like an oven and Karen punished him for being off target by reaching between them and anchoring her fingers around the base of his shaft. Her hips were up and she was suddenly where she wanted to be, swallowing Frank's loudest noise yet in an open mouthed kiss as she sunk down on to him, merging their hungry bodies together.

She rode him languidly at first, enjoying how he struggled to thrust back from a sitting position. She leaned back on her hands, following his gaze as it immediately dropped to his lap and he could watch himself being undulated in and out of her. Karen was forgetting herself, uttering a short cry with every enthusiastic snap of her hips. The fine downy hairs on her forehead stuck to her sweaty skin and they both panted on the edge of going faster.

"I need this, I need this. Please – please," Karen whispered through panted breaths, her lips moving against his as they breathed together. He seemed to be able to feel the warning tremor that shuddered through her legs and he took control back again, suddenly moving upwards and gathering her against him as he tucked his legs under him and stood. They pitched to the side, Karen's back slapping the wall again with Frank falling against her. He was still sheathed in her and she struggled to circle her hips like she was stirring him. Both his hands ran up her thighs before cupping her ass in a bruising grip and Karen almost whined when he pulled out of her. A split second later, he slammed back into her and started a savage pace that caused her to cling to his broad shoulder and her breath to escape in unladylike grunts. He seemed to hold her in place, part of her propped against the wall while he drove into her with the same power he broke necks with. Karen could see them in the reflection of her vanity mirror, in the corner. Her pale bare legs were only a few shades lighter than his, locked around his lower back and the back of his thighs. His ass cheeks bunched and flexed as he moved and his face was buried into her neck so she could barely hear the breathless grunts come from between his lips to answer her moans. She made a series of three short groans as his vicious pace pushed her farther than she thought possible faster than she thought possible and Karen's mind went blank as her body clamped around his in orgasm. She didn't feel her nails pierce his flesh or hear the yell he muffled by biting the join of her neck and shoulder sharply. Karen grunted when he thrashed, physically slamming them both back against the wall as he drove himself up into her while he came. They remained locked, squeezed together in their embrace. Karen tried to quietly suck in lungfuls of air as she fought to regain her bearings.

Eventually, Frank moved away from the wall, guiding her legs to the floor as he stepped back and slid out of her. Her hands remained splayed on his forearms, locked in support while she tested her shaky legs. His breathing was quickly returning to normal and she half expected him to immediately start dressing again. Instead, he stood by her even after she let him go and reached for a green silk robe that hung on the back of the bedroom door. He remained unabashedly nude as she slipped her robe on and tied the sash and approached him again, shyly looking at the window, the wall, the vanity. Anything but his eyes or exhausted cock.

"You should sleep, I'll leave water out for you," Frank murmured quietly, his voice unnaturally loud in the silence of the aftermath. He went and stepped into his pants, zipping and re-linking his belt with practiced ease before bowing to scoop up his shirt and snap it over his head. Karen fiddled with her fingers in the sash while he clipped his harness on and roughly holstered the forgotten gun. She wanted to say something, anything, that she meant but couldn't find the words for what had just happened between them. They had morphed into something else now, awakened something in each other. She was still dizzy from drink and from orgasm when he came to her again, heading towards the door of the room with his jacket in hand. Karen felt small and sensed his hesitation before she felt a warm hand cup the side of her face and force her to meet his eyes. Frank's face wasn't scowling or tense and it wasn't the painful blank canvas he'd been sporting around her since the shack, it was relaxed and there was a certain softness to his soot coloured eyes in the semi-darkness. It was still menacing, bruised, rogue-ish and complicated.
He looked at her mouth and his head moved forwards and then stopped. Then he shook it slightly as if he were warring with himself and pressed a soft, feathery kiss to her lips. It was so brief she barely had time to kiss him back before he broke away, kissed her forehead and moved to the doorway.
Karen figured it out as she watched him go.

"Frank?"

He stopped, outlined in the doorway as he put his heavy jacket back on.
"Come to me, you know. When you need me. For whatever," She finished lamely, mentally haranguing herself for her lack of intelligent communication. He didn't turn around, just turned his head to listen to her and he appeared to be considering her words before he shifted his weight and the full weight of his New Yorker drawl returned.
"I'll never be far then, will I?"

Karen blinked and he seemed to meld, morph and disappear into the shadow of the hall. She didn't move, listening intently for any clue of him. The gasp of a window being opened, the tread on a fire escape or the creak of the roof. Anything. She heard nothing but she knew that he was gone and for not the first time, wished he would come back.

So much for the fence.