It starts the night after their final in Contracts--after Foggy spent a good two hours goading Matt into doing shots that neither of them can really afford at some obscenely expensive bar. Marci had invited them to come along to celebrate their last exam as first year law students, only to ditch them halfway into the evening to go clubbing with some sleazy wall street types who had come uptown specifically to pick up girls still young and new enough to New York City to overlook what total douchebags they really were. ("I'll look after them," Marci had told Foggy with a wicked smile, slinging her jacket over her shoulder and blowing them as kiss as she left the bar to follow her friends out.)
"You should have gone with them," Matt tells Foggy's shoulder as he's got his arm slung around Foggy's neck. Foggy's leading the way at this point--Matt's cane held limply in his hand halfheartedly tapping at the sidewalk but most of his weight on Foggy's side.
"And miss you taking a shot of squid ink?" Foggy asks, "You are such a fucking lightweight, Murdock."
Matt makes a face--which, from the angle that Foggy's looking at him, is totally adorable. Not that Foggy spends any conscious thought on how adorable Foggy finds some of Matt's expressions or anything, hahaha. That would be ludicrous. Totally the alcohol talking.
"The cow's blood thing," Matt says, "That has to be breaking some sort of FDA regulation."
"Do you know," Foggy says seriously as they reach the front door of their apartment complex, "I bet if you vomited right now we could use the contents of your stomach to summon the devil."
Matt leans against the wall as Foggy fishes out his keys, tilting his head against the brick. Foggy misses the keyhole twice because he's definitely not distracted by the line of Matt's throat in the light of the landing--must be the alcohol again. All three shots of the bourbon served in ice shot glasses that cost more than his entire weekly food budget.
"Don't talk about vomiting," Matt tells him.
"Dude, you are plastered," Foggy says, delighted.
Matt hits him with his cane.
"Abuse," Foggy complains, pushing the door open.
"Oh sorry," Matt says, "Was that you? I can't see very well."
"Because you're plastered," Foggy says triumphantly, looping his arm in Matt's as he pulls Matt away from the wall. Matt leans on him again as they make their way up the stairs.
"Do you think the devil copies and pastes all the contracts he uses to get people to sign their souls away?" Matt asks as they reach their apartment. Their massively upgraded (a burst pipe had flooded their original room at the end of first semester) but still shitty Columbia-subsidized matchbox-sized apartment hasn't been cleaned since before they started cramming a week ago. Or rather, just since Foggy starting cramming since Matt had spent months listening and relistening to the recorded lectures like the huge nerd he was. Point being, there were probably ants feasting on the stale box of Dunkin Donuts in the kitchenette and Foggy really really wasn't looking forward to clearing away nine days worth of dishes with a hangover in the morning.
"Aren't you supposed to be a nice Catholic boy?" Foggy asks, flicking on the lights. "Doesn't speculating about the devil fall under some rule of blasphemy or whatever?"
Matt laughs. Foggy notices the way that the corners of his eyes crinkle up behind his glasses and oh come on, that just wasn't fair. When Matt smiled--like, really really smiled--Foggy always wanted to--
Well. He wasn't really sure what he wanted to do but he sure as hell couldn't help but smile back.
"I think we should drink water," Foggy whispers.
"Why are you whispering?" Matt whispers back.
"Don't want the devil to get any ideas for how he's going to customize my version of his mad libs contract," Foggy whispers. Matt, honest to god, actually giggles.
"You are so plastered," Foggy points out for the millionth time.
"Soberer one has to pour water," Matt says solemnly.
"That's just pure laziness, that's what that is," Foggy says, but he's already trying to find clean cups in the mess on the table. One of them seems fairly clean but the other one has orange juice bits down at the bottom. Foggy has to angle his cup weirdly to get any water into it since there are approximately nine million unwashed dishes in the sink.
By the time he's got two glasses of (reasonably clean) water, Matt's already disappeared into his room. Foggy crosses the tiny common space to peer into the neatly organized room, only to realize that Matt's lying on the floor in the dark.
"Bed's over there," Foggy says, but takes a seat down next to Matt and sets Matt's water down on the floor next to his head. Matt turns his head towards Foggy, the light filtering in from the kitchenette hitting the lower half of his face just right to illuminate the tiny smile that he gives Foggy.
"I'm glad we don't have any exams left," Matt says.
"Me too buddy," Foggy says. The tiny smile is still on Matt's face. Foggy kind of wants to touch Matt's mouth but that would probably be weird. So instead he asks, "Mind if I take your glasses off?" before he even knows the words are coming out of his mouth.
Matt makes a humming sound and just keeps smiling so Foggy figures it's sort of like permission, right? He gently pulls the darkened lenses from Matt's face. Matt opens his eyes, looking somewhere over Foggy's left shoulder. It's not all that often that he gets to see Matt with his glasses off--sometimes in the morning when they're both standing around the tiny kitchen table eating cereal before lecture, sometimes late at night when Matt makes the short trip between the bathroom and his own room, towel around his waist and Foggy suddenly has to concentrate on arranging the pizza rolls he's heating up for a study break snack. Matt puts on his glasses even when it's just the two of them sitting at home staring at books and Foggy doesn't know if he does it because it's just a force of habit by now or if it's because Foggy's there.
Foggy really likes looking at Matt with his glasses off. Not that he's doesn't have experience reading Matt's body language after two years of alternating between following him to the library and dragging him out to a bar but it's nice to see the way his smile reaches the corners of his eyes.
And this was definitely still the alcohol talking. Obviously.
"How are you even comfortable down there?" Foggy asks.
"The floor is cold. It's nice," Matt says and stops as if that was explanation enough. He pats the floor next to him as if to invite Foggy to lie down too.
"I think I'm okay, pal," Foggy says, "You sure you don't want to sleep in bed where you won't complain about fucking up your neck tomorrow morning?"
"I never complain," Matt insists.
"Yeah but you get that pinched look, like you want to complain but the bible forbids you--ow!"
Matt doesn't look sorry at all for punching Foggy in the leg. He pushes himself up into a sitting position, still facing Foggy.
"You know, you're a lot more violent than you look," Foggy jokes.
Matt's smile dims a little and he turns his head away from Foggy. "Must be all the Murdock in me."
"Aw, hey," Foggy says leaning forward to put his hand on Matt's shoulder. "I didn't mean to make you sad. We're celebrating, remember? No more exams! Two years left to go!"
Matt puts his hand on Foggy's knee, turning his face back towards Foggy. Foggy momentarily forgets to breathe, all of his attention suddenly focused on Matt's hand, his heartbeat suddenly rushing in his ears because holy shit, there was casual and there was deliberate and Foggy might be drunk but he wasn't drunk enough to be oblivious--
"Foggy," Matt says quietly, "Would it be weird if I kissed you right now?"
Foggy's brain stops working for a few moments because he never in his entire fucking life expected Matt (!!) to ask him (!!) whether or not he could kiss him (!!!!). Maybe Foggy had moments when he'd noticed that Matt was really really good looking and maybe he had that one recurring dream where he and Matt made out--but hey, didn't everyone have weird dreams about their closest friends? And he's definitely overthinking this because Matt's smile slips off his face and he pulls his hand away and he opens his mouth, probably about to tell Foggy to forget about it--
Foggy kisses him in a rush. It's awful because he basically smacks his face against Matt's in effort to get his mouth on Matt's before Matt can rescind the question. Matt yelps a little against Foggy's face and Foggy draws back, tasting blood from where his teeth had made a shallow cut into the back of his lip and says, "Oh my god, I'm so sorry--Matt, are you okay?" while Matt laughs his fucking ass off as if they totally hadn't been having a moment that Foggy just ruined.
"We're going to have to work on your technique," Matt manages to say in between his laughter which okay--Foggy totally had game when it came to kissing and it wasn't fair for Matt to just spring this shit on him and expect him to react normally.
"I swear to god, Murdock," Foggy says, and kisses him properly this time, his hands sliding into the soft hair at the back of Matt's head. Matt makes a soft pleased noise that goes straight to the lizard part of Foggy's brain.
He's uh. Really really turned on.
He tries to pull away because maybe they should like, communicate about this? But Matt just follows him, his thumb stroking Foggy's cheekbone and well.
Foggy's only human after all.
Foggy's not at all a morning person (morning being a relative term since his cell phone tells him that it's half past twelve) and the entire situation (naked except for his socks (??), kind of still covered in dried jizz, in bed with MATT MURDOCK) demands more than the two living brain cells Foggy still has left in his skull. He pushes at Matt's legs so that he's not half falling off the bed and can close his eyes to go back to sleep. Except then Matt's eyes slowly open, his eyelashes a dark curve against his cheek in the dim light filtering through the closed blinds and Foggy's suddenly wide awake and staring at Matt's face because--
"Hey," Matt says softly, "You awake?"
"Unfortunately," Foggy whispers back, "I can't believe we blew a hundred and fifty bucks on this awful hangover."
Matt laughs quietly and scoots back a bit to give Foggy more space. Foggy rolls onto his back and closes his eyes.
"That was fun," Matt says, touching Foggy's hand. Foggy uncurls his fingers and Matt slides his palm along Foggy's wrist. "We should do it again sometime."
Foggy turns his head so that he's looking at Matt's face. Matt's smiling, still touching Foggy's hand. "Like a friends with benefits thing?" Foggy asks.
Matt keeps smiling. "Sure."
Looking at Matt's face, Foggy doesn't have to think about it long at all. There's really only one answer he can give, really. "Yeah," he says, smiling, "Yeah, I'd like that."
Not that Matt was cheerfully optimistic by any means--just that he seemed to have a very positive outlook on what justice was and how it could be achieved in a way that Foggy was still struggling to really understand. It was probably the reason that he was doing an internship with the ACLU, heading out to take the 1 down to the financial district every morning before Foggy had even finished his morning coffee. Foggy has an internship too, doing paralegal work for one of his still-practicing professors.
Marci works at a firm a block down and they get together for lunch more often than not, sometimes to talk about cases, other times to gossip about their classmates. "I hear the case that Matt's working on is going up against Schultz," she says, halfway into June, picking apart her falafel gyro to eat the falafel first as they sit on a park bench. Foggy mixes more white sauce into his chicken and rice and tries to remember Schultz--a big blond dude who spent more time lifting than going over caselaw. He'd graduated last year and ended up at some big prestigious firm, probably because his daddy had the old school New England connections.
"Dude, Matt's going to wipe the floor with him," Foggy says, grinning, "I don't even have to hear the case, I just know this for a fact."
"They'll probably settle out of court," Marci says, "Bad for publicity."
"Marci," Foggy says seriously, "Don't get my hopes up just to dash them."
"I'm sorry you can't control your raging boner for your boyfriend's public speaking skills," Marci says, slanting a look at him.
"Oh my god," Foggy says stabbing at the chicken with his plastic fork, "There are so many things wrong with that sentence, I don't even know where to start. First of all, Matt is not my boyfriend." Forget the fact that he'd spent thirty minutes last night giving Matt the longest blowjob anyone had probably ever given anyone in the history of ever because Foggy's jaw was still hating him for it now. "Secondly, I do not have a raging boner. I just have a small boner. One of collegial respect."
"Are you and Matt really not...?" Marci asks because obviously that was the most important part of what Foggy said. "Because your facebook status says it's complicated and unless you're hiding some girlfriend from college, we couldn't figure out who else it could be."
"Oh my god," Foggy says, fighting the urge to run away and hide somewhere, "That was a joke. From high school."
"Hey, you can't blame me for assuming when you've been incredibly misleading," Marci points out.
"Is it the hair?" Foggy asks, "Do I like girly drinks too much? Should I drink more beer? You know I like football right? It's just that the Giants have been on such a losing streak."
Marci throws a balled up napkin at his face. "You can be gay and like football too, dumbass."
"I don't want to get a haircut," Foggy says mournfully.
"All I'm saying is that I always got that sort of vibe off you two," Marci says, "And I know it's not just me. Jacob and I talked about you guys last month and he thought you were dating too."
"Well," Foggy says, "I can tell you that we are definitely not dating."
"Okay," she says, looking at him and tilting her head. She smiles. "Okay."
"Holy fuck," Foggy says, touching the top of Matt's head. "Holy Jesus," he says, which earns him a reproving sound from Matt but if he meant it to be a deterrent, it completely and utterly failed because Foggy's head hits his pillow at the vibration, the image of Matt's mouth stretched obscenely at the base of his cock imprinted on his brain forever.
He comes with a groan, half arching off the bed. Matt swallows him down, stubble scratching lightly at the inside of Foggy's thighs. He keeps Foggy in his mouth for a few moments longer, tongue sweeping gently over the oversensitive head and Foggy makes a totally embarrassing whining sound.
Matt crawls up the length of his body and smiles against Foggy's mouth. "That was payback," he tells Foggy's chin, "For last week."
Oh yeah--when Foggy had found an uncharacteristic well of self control and stamina and fucked Matt so slowly that Matt was begging incoherently by the end.
"What is this?" Foggy asks, sliding his hands down Matt's ridiculously flat stomach to push past the soft waistband of his sweatpants. Matt's breath hitches in Foggy's ear every single damn time Foggy puts his hands on him and Foggy will never be tired of the sound. "Competitive sex?" he asks, squeezing lightly.
Matt's forehead drops on his shoulder, his laugh morphing into a low groan. Foggy grins because he's totally going to fucking win.
By the time they actually get out of bed to shut the windows, it's nearly noon and their room is already unbearable. "I can't believe we have to go squat in a coffeeshop like homeless English majors," Foggy complains as he finishes packing up his laptop and the binder of material he'd brought home to review.
"I was an English major," Matt says mildly, looking totally and unfairly put together as he somehow manages to pull off a blazer with a pair of old shorts. He's holding the door open for Foggy, glasses on, cane in one hand.
"I know," Foggy says, "You're not yet homeless though, buddy. I'm very proud of you."
"I don't think--" Matt says, but Foggy interrupts him with a last kiss before they leave the apartment.
Matt just shakes his head as Foggy locks the door behind them, but at least he's still grinning.
Foggy slaps his hands down on the table where Matt's spread his shit out in haphazard piles before falling asleep on his binder with his glasses askew. Matt jumps and sits up, adjusting his glasses and pulling his headphones off.
"It's me," Foggy says, "Here to drag you to one of the many fine eating establishments still open at one in the morning."
"Is it really one already?" Matt says, sounding worried and immediately reaching for his printed lecture sheets because of course he would.
"No," Foggy says, picking up the papers that Matt's looking for and holding it out of reach, "No, you're going to eat something and you're going to go to sleep in a bed like a normal human being instead of falling asleep on your desk for the five billionth time because it's Friday and there's no lecture to preread tomorrow and we don't have an exam for two weeks so please please just chill for five seconds and we can go eat our weight in pizza or something."
Matt seems to consider this for a moment. "That's a very convincing argument," he says, unplugging his iPod and wrapping up his headphone cord, "Are you a lawyer or something?"
"Pizza wins every argument," Foggy assures him, helping to gather up his scattered papers, hoping that he's not messing up the order. It was hard to tell when the page numbers were in braille.
"Is that official legal advice you're giving me?"
"You bet your ass," Foggy says, "I'll invoice you later for this conversation."
Matt laughs in the quiet library--like, really laughs--and even as Foggy's shushing him, he can't help but grin, affection for Matt blooming in his chest.
In early November, he and Marci are assigned to the same group in their Antitrust Law course. "It's been a while since I've seen you out," she says, tapping her nails against the table as he sits in the seat next to her in the lecture hall.
"I went out like, two weeks ago," Foggy protests.
"That bar you and Murdock frequent absolutely does not count," Marci says, "I've seen the inside of that place. Whoever's running that place is definitely bribing some health official."
"For the sake of our friendship, I will pretend you never said that," Foggy says, setting up his laptop and touching his chest in mock offense. Marci rolls her eyes but she's smiling as she looks back at her own laptop where she's been browsing Facebook.
"Foggy," she says after a few minutes of listening to the other students around them chatter before the professor arrives. "What are you doing this Friday?"
"I don't know," Foggy says, "Nothing, probably. Why?"
She flips her hair over her shoulder as she looks at him. "Come get drinks with me."
"Sure, I'll see if I can drag--" Foggy starts as he looks from his laptop to her face but then he catches the way that she narrows her eyes--oh. Oh! His teeth click as he stops himself from finishing the sentence, and then he says, "You mean. Us. Alone."
"Yes," she says slowly.
"As in a date," Foggy clarifies.
"Oh my god," Marci says like he's the biggest dumbass she's ever met in her life--which, okay, fair enough.
Foggy grins and she's fighting it but she smiles back at him.
"Okay," Foggy says, "You're going to kill me for this but can I get back to you in like--" He checks the clock at the front of the hall. "--Eight hours?"
Marci just stares at him for a long moment before she says, "You're serious."
"I really really want to say yes but I just have to check something."
"Oh my god," she says, "Do you actually have a secret college girlfriend?"
"Marci," he pleads.
"I cannot believe I'm agreeing to this," she says and turns back towards her laptop, "I cannot believe how much self respect I must not have for myself by agreeing to this."
"Hey," Foggy says, nudging her knee under the table. He flashes a grin. "I promise there's no secret college girlfriend."
Foggy's digging into a bowl of hand pulled noodles at their favorite ramen place in the west village when he says, very casually, "So Marci asked me out for drinks on Friday."
Matt's chopsticks still. He doesn't raise his head so Foggy has no idea what expression is on his face but everything suddenly feels very tense, like Foggy's broken bad news. Foggy's suddenly unsure about what to say next, which is a fucking rarity when it comes to talking to Matt.
"I think a congratulations is in order," Matt says, and actually looks up this time. He's smiling. "You've been after her since orientation, haven't you?"
"Orientation?" Foggy demands, "Please."
"You facebook friended her like, fifteen minutes after you met her," Matt points out and he's still grinning as he adds, "I mean, I always thought you'd be the one to finally get your act together enough to ask her out but I guess we already all know who the better person is in this relationship."
"Hey!" Foggy says, jabbing his chopsticks at Matt even if he couldn't see them. "I am very offended by your accusations. I am not a coward, sir."
Matt just snorts and eats another mouthful of noodles and pork. Foggy picks at his bowl for a few silent moments before saying, "Look, Matt, I just wanted to check in with you because I know we had this uh, arrangement. And I didn't want to make any decisions without, you know." He swallows. "Checking to see if we were going to be okay."
Matt nudges his ankle against Foggy's under the table. "Yeah buddy," he says, "We're going to be okay."
Afterwards, when they're both lying on her bed with his arm around her shoulders and her hair against his chest, she runs a hand over his stomach and says, "I might just have to keep you."
But it's just.
He remembers Matt too--the way he'd shake under Foggy's fingers when the sensations overwhelmed him, the way he'd take to sucking Foggy's cock like he was looking for a challenge rather than doing Foggy a favor. And it's kind of hard--not to mention it makes him feel like a truly shitty person--to be comparing the two of them so much because they're different. Different people, different wants, different ways to play their bodies.
It's just that everything with Matt was just so much more intense, down to the moment when Foggy woke up first in the morning and waited for Matt to wake up like a giant creeper--just to see the slow few moments when Matt opened his eyes and came into awareness, the softness of sleep giving way to a faint smile. Which you know--probably kind of weird and dumb since they were just having sex half for stress relief and half to one-up each other and Foggy probably wasn't supposed to develop like, feelings along the way.
But anyway, he was dating Marci now and nothing much had changed in his relationship with Matt except that they'd stopped crawling into each other's beds at night--so it didn't really matter. Right?
"I'm sorry," Foggy says. Matt's head turns in his direction, eyes hidden behind his glasses.
"Good morning," Matt says, "What for?"
"It was my turn to pay, wasn't it?" Foggy says, "For groceries. And you had to carry it all the way back here without any help."
Matt shrugs and smiles which is probably the reaction guaranteed to make Foggy feel most like shit. "No problem, no harm done," he says, "You can pick up the next tab."
The thing about being friends again that Foggy never ever expected is how hard it would be to look at Matt and not want to touch him. Foggy keeps standing in the doorway of his room, just staring and feeling shitty.
"Lecture starts in twenty minutes," Matt says after a few moments of silence. "You might want to get dressed, buddy."
"Right," Foggy says, and turns around.
In the morning, Foggy wakes up alone in bed with the sound of muffled voices coming from behind the closed door. He slips out of bed and pulls on a pair of sweatpants before reconsidering and putting on a shirt too. Marci looks over at him when he opens the door, mug of coffee cradled in her hands, sitting across from Matt who's dressed for the day already.
"Hello Foggy-bear," Marci says, smirking, "We were just talking about you."
"Nothing Matt said was true," Foggy says automatically.
"Incriminating," Marci says, smiling wider and setting her coffee mug on the table. She gets to her feet. "I'm going to take a shower. We should all go to brunch afterwards."
After she closes the bathroom door, Matt lifts his own cup of coffee to his lips with barely restrained laughter and says, "Foggy-bear."
"Oh my god," Foggy says and shuts the door.
(Later, when it's just him and Marci having lunch after Antitrust Law, Marci looks at him and says, "You know, Matt said you're a really great guy. You guys are really good friends, aren't you?")
"We should be quiet," Foggy tells her, "Matt's probably sleeping."
"Yeah,"she says breathily, pushing him onto his own bed. And even though she does make an effort--she can be kind of a screamer at times.
In the morning, Marci rides him into the mattress, before climbing off his him and sauntering naked from his room into the bathroom. He's half about to tell her to maybe put some clothes on but he can't muster the energy. He doesn't hear Matt say anything from beyond the door though, so maybe he's not up yet.
"Breakfast?" Marci asks as she slips back into her dress and pulls her still wet hair over her shoulder to reveal the zip in back. Foggy zips it for her.
"Sure," he says, kissing her shoulder. She smiles at him.
When they leave, Matt's door is still closed and there's no empty coffee mug in the sink. Foggy checks his watch before he shuts the door after himself. It's nearly ten and Matt wasn't the type to sleep in if he hadn't been out drinking the night before. He half considers knocking on Matt's door to ask if he wanted a breakfast burrito or something.
"Come on," Marci says. Foggy shuts the door.
Foggy finds him in his usual carrel in the law library, head pillowed against his arms, his iPod on low battery still running yesterday's law lectures on a loop. He hesitates for a moment, looking down at the top of Matt's head and can't decide if he's annoyed with Matt for working himself half to death, if he's annoyed with himself because he should have known better than to take Marci home, or if he's just heartsick and sad for Matt.
"Hey," he says, shaking at Matt's shoulder. Matt opens his eyes slowly. "It's me. It's Foggy."
Matt sits up and smiles tiredly. His voice is still raspy from sleep. "Hey Foggy."
"Spent the night in the library, huh?" Foggy asks.
Matt rubs at the back of his neck before rolling it to get rid of the cricks. "Yeah, I guess I did."
"You should take better care of yourself," Foggy whispers--the old familiar argument, probably in this exact spot at least ten times in the last half year.
"What can I say?" Matt says with a weak laugh, "I lead a truly thrilling life."
Foggy ignores it. "You know you have a bed, Matt. Where normal human beings sleep? Instead of on ridiculously uncomfortable textbooks?"
"I couldn't--" Matt starts before pausing. He reaches out for his glasses and absently puts them on. When he speaks again, he sounds more awake. "I couldn't go home."
Foggy doesn't know how to reply because this has to be about--
"I can't lie there and listen to you fu--" Matt's voice wavers uncharacteristically for a moment, "--fuck Marci, alright? So I came here because I haven't had the chance to ask you beforehand."
Silence. Foggy figures this must be what it feels like to have his heart break--at least a little.
"I'm sorry," Foggy says, "I should have known better."
"It's okay," Matt says immediately.
"No, it's not okay," Foggy says, "Can't you at least get mad about this? You have every right to be mad at me."
"I don't want to get mad," Matt says.
Foggy lets out a breath. Matt's head is half turned towards him. The lectures are still playing on repeat, quiet and tinny sounding in Matt's hand. There's no one in their row of carrels--most of the library cleared out for a Saturday morning.
"Are we okay?" Foggy asks, touching Matt's shoulder.
He's not sure if he's just imagining it but Matt half leans into his hand. "We're okay," he says, even if Foggy's half convinced Matt's just lying to himself.
He gets a tiny Christmas tree from CVS and actually makes a trip halfway out to Queens to specifically buy the gingerbread-smelling candle that his mom used to light around their house around Christmas time. They weren't really religious--not like Matt who went to Mass three times on Christmas (Foggy drove him all three times since there wasn't any reliable public transit in East Brunswick where Foggy's folks lived and slept through two of them because he was a terrible lapsed Christian)--just had strong family traditions that began with decorations and ended with copious amounts of food.
Marci leaves immediately after finals to join her parents at their second (third?) house down in Miami. "Skype me," she tells Foggy before taking her luggage from him. She blows him a kiss from the TSA line and then disappears into the crowd of holiday travellers.
Matt's cooking pasta on the stove by the time that Foggy gets back. The water hasn't started boiling yet but Matt's head turns as Foggy comes in. "Hey," he says, "What's the new candle for?"
"I'm gonna light it," Foggy says, digging through one of the drawers for their long lighter. "You mind?"
"Go for it," Matt says, "I'll just keep my door shut so I can get away if I need to."
Foggy opens the candle and lights it. It takes a few moments but it's not long before their apartment smells like gingerbread. Not too cloyingly sweet like the other baked goods candles Foggy had suffered through the years, but lighter.
"Not the worst thing I've ever smelled," Matt says.
"Wow," Foggy says, "A truly ringing endorsement. They should get you to film infomercials." He steps a little closer to ruffle Matt's hair only to be batted away with the wooden spatula.
The water starts to boil and Matt turns away to pay attention to it. Foggy goes to dig through their fridge for the wine Marci had forgotten there two weeks ago. "Do you want pasta?" Matt asks, shaking the box.
"Sure," Foggy says and shakes the wine so that Matt can hear it swish. "You want some wine?"
"What a fancy dinner," Matt says, grinning.
Foggy can't help but laugh as he digs around for two clean cups. It almost feels normal again.
It's snowing lightly outside, and half the sidewalks are still covered in ice from the overnight freeze. "Careful," he tells Matt, pulling him a little closer to avoid the patch of ice that had collected in a puddle that covered half the steps. Matt holds on to Foggy's arm a little tighter and exhales in a cloud, cane tapping out and skittering against the edges of the stairs.
They've walked arm in arm so many times that Foggy barely has to say anything out loud to guide Matt around the slippery patches on the ground. Snowflakes collect on Matt's shoulders before melting away, momentarily bright against the dark wool. Foggy wants to keep looking at Matt but the way is a little difficult to traverse.
"Slush puddle," Foggy says when they get to an intersection and Matt tests the space before them with his cane.
"Worst part about living in New York as a blind guy," Matt says, stepping over the puddle.
"Worst part about living in New York, period," Foggy says, "I love the ones that look shallow but are actually a foot deep."
Matt hums in agreement or something like it. Foggy looks at Matt again. He's got his chin tucked in to his scarf, nose peeking out over the red yarn, the sweep of his cane like a metronome against the backdrop of city noise.
Matt lifts his mouth from his scarf. "What are you thinking about?" he asks, because Foggy's pretty sure the motherfucker totally has a sixth sense for mind reading.
"I'm wondering if it'd be totally insensitive of me to ask if we can go to Rockefeller Plaza," Foggy says--which is true because he had been thinking about that when they'd left the apartment complex. But really at that moment, he was mostly thinking about how adorable Matt looked and feeling warm with affection.
"Not insensitive," Matt says, "Totally cheesy though."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Foggy says, "Excuse me. Is this coming from the same guy who asked a girl to prom via singing telegram?"
"That was in high school," Matt says, unable to hold back a laugh.
"I remember everything you tell me," Foggy says, "I remember every last bit of potential blackmail."
"Just remember," Matt says, tightening his grip on Foggy's arm as Foggy pulls him around another puddle. "I know the names of every single one of the stuffed animals you wouldn't let your mom throw away last Christmas."
"Ouch," Foggy says. He'd forgotten about that actually. "Wow. Low blow."
Matt just smiles. The snow settles in his hair. Foggy has to stop looking at him or he's going to get them killed on some patch of ice. He forces himself to look at the ground in front of them.
"Yeah Foggy," Matt says after a few moments, "We can go to Rockefeller Plaza."
"The Christmas ham," Foggy says as they head up 5th Ave, "When it comes right out of the oven and the glaze is still caramelizing on the outside."
"We just ate," Matt says, "You're literally holding the bag of leftovers in your hand."
"When you get the perfect proportion of fat to ham," Foggy says, gesticulating with the bag of leftovers, "Oh my god Matt, you have no idea."
"I do," Matt says, half laughing, "I was over for Christmas last year."
"So good," Foggy says, wistful. "Man, I hope sightseeing in Greece is worth depriving us of perfectly cooked ham."
Matt just smiles into his scarf.
"Nintendo store!" Foggy says, suddenly remembering its existence and proximity to Rockefeller Plaza.
"Ah. The real motivation comes out."
"It's closed," Foggy says, more sadly.
"Maybe another time," Matt agrees just as they round the corner of the building and Foggy spots the Christmas tree lit up in all its glory.
"We used to come here at least once every year," Foggy says, "Not on Christmas but on some other day. This was before I turned twelve and into a little jerk and stopped coming with my mom. I haven't really seen it since, except by accident."
Matt nods. "We didn't really leave Hell's Kitchen much back then," he says, "But I've probably seen it before, at least once. Can't remember what it looks like."
They come to a stop next to a building, out of the way for other passing pedestrians. Foggy looks from the tree back to Matt and says, "I'm sorry man, I really shouldn't have insisted--"
"I can hear the kids on the skating rink yelling at each other," Matt cuts in, "People passing by us and laughing. A group singing Christmas carols halfway down the block. The music being played in the building behind us every time someone opens the door. There's a bakery nearby because it smells kind of like pastries and people are drinking cinnamon spiced lattes and apple cider." Matt nudges him in the shoulder. "Everyone's having a good time here. Really Foggy, you could have done a lot worse."
"Yeah dude, I could have taken you down to the warehouse docks," Foggy says darkly.
Matt laughs, turning his face in the direction of the tree. "Okay," he says, "Your turn."
Foggy looks back at the tree. "Well," he says, "It's really big. Like, ten stories tall. There's a ton of lights on it--like, it probably eats up enough electricity to power half this block sort of lit up. There's a huge star on the top. When I was a kid, I used to wonder if the star and I were like, pretty much the same size. I think the lights on the tree are all different colors, but the yellow ones are definitely the brightest." He looks out at the street, where people are still milling about. "You were right by the way. There's a bakery here. Lots of families. Ooh, some kid playing a game on his phone--his mom just got pissed at him for having his phone out."
Matt grins at him. "That was totally you with your gameboy, wasn't it?"
"The transformation from baby Foggy into twelve year old jerk Foggy was not as sudden as I might have misled you to believe," Foggy admits.
Matt laughs and Foggy's looking at him now. Matt's smiling face in the light of the streetlamp--the crinkles barely visible at the edge of his eyes from behind the glasses--the shape of his mouth as he grins. Foggy wishes he could describe this to Matt--how his smile is the brightest thing in this entire damn square. He wishes he could step into the circle of Matt's warmth and kiss him.
The best time to discover you're in love with your best friend? Not when you've given him up to date someone else.
"Foggy?" Matt asks, touching his shoulder, "Something wrong?"
"Nah man," Foggy says, trying to smile even though Matt can't see it. "Think we should start heading back?"
"I'm not that hungover," Foggy says, trying to burrow more into his blankets so that the light from his window won't touch him any more.
"Your loss," she says, "Your spring break is still the second week of March, right?"
"I don't know," Foggy says, "I also don't want to look at a computer in the next three hours."
"I thought you said you weren't hungover."
"I lied," Foggy says, "And your voice is really loud and I want this conversation to be over."
"Remember to RSVP," she says, "And if you don't bring a plus one, mom's going to try to set you up with literally every single one of my single friends so for both of our sakes, bring someone."
"Oh my god," Foggy says, "Mom wouldn't do that, would she?"
Ellie just laughs at him. Then she hangs up.
"I wrote most of my cover letters half drunk on the beach," she tells him as they take the train back into the city, "I've got an interview next week and I haven't started researching their firm at all. And I've already missed three days of classes so this semester is off to a great start."
"The first lectures are mostly just fluff anyway," Foggy says.
She kisses his cheek. "Come over and help me catch up," she says, winking.
The part of Foggy that had been grimly determined to sit down and have a serious conversation wants him to say no. But Foggy has never been the serious conversation type and it's so so much harder to want to break up with someone when they were smiling and holding his hand. "Yeah," he says, "I can come over."
And if Foggy was going to commit to this lame weather metaphor, he thought that maybe Matt was a cloudy day. Not because of his quiet nature or his seriousness. But because sometimes when Foggy looked at him, when Matt was smiling or laughing or even just sitting quietly across from the table studying from his printouts--sometimes it felt like the sun pouring out between parting clouds, all of the easy warmth blooming in his chest. And sometimes, when he was really caught off guard, it felt like he had to catch his breath.
Because what Foggy really meant to say is that Matt was the sun itself.
Foggy straightens a bit in his seat--what the hell? "We're best friends," he says, not sure how to respond, "He's my roommate."
"I mean, I barely talk about Pratima," Marci says, "And she's been my best friend since high school. I'm just saying that you talk about him way more than normal people talk about their best friends."
"What do you mean normal people?" Foggy says, eyes narrowing.
Marci stabs at her salad and looks around them at the other diners. "Forget it," she says, "Never mind. I'm sorry I brought it up. Let's drop it."
Foggy watches her push around her salad for nearly half a minute in tense silence. He says, "I have a feeling you don't actually want to drop this."
"Foggy," she says, more quietly this time, "Please."
"Okay," Foggy says, raising his hands, "I'll stop talking about Matt."
"Thank you," Marci says. Foggy looks down at his own half eaten dinner and realizes that he's not particularly hungry any more.
They don't say anything at all for the rest of the dinner. When the waiter comes by with the dessert menu, Foggy just asks for the check. Marci watches him pay for their dinner in silence.
"Thanks for dinner," she says after he walks her home. She kisses his cheek--a clear invitation to go home--and disappears into her apartment building.
"Well fuck," Foggy says to the empty street.
So why does he feel so shitty about it?
"You forgot," Marci says flatly over the phone on Sunday night, the day before Valentine's which they had both agreed would be the better day for reserving a romantic dinner at one of the fancier restaurants on the upper east side. "I'm still sitting here, looking like a complete and utter idiot because my date decided not to show up."
"I'm so sorry Marci," Foggy says because he really really didn't actually mean to forget--it was just all the reading he had to catch up with that he'd neglected in favor of preparing for his interviews. He's digging through his closet, trying to find his nicest pair of still-clean pants. "I'm on my way right now."
"No, don't bother," she says, and hangs up.
Ordering flowers for Valentine's day on the day before Valentine's day costs him approximately a billion dollars. It's not even a good investment since half of him wants to break up with Marci anyway but he feels really really bad for standing her up.
"I fucked up pretty bad," he tells Matt who's in the kitchen to get another cup of coffee at eight PM because Matt Murdock apparently only ever needed three hours of sleep on any given night. Foggy starts to type in his credit card information. "Now I'm paying a hundred dollars to deliver like, six roses."
Matt pats him on the shoulder. "That's rough, buddy."
He doesn't even know that he's doing it, half distracted by the caselaw flashcards that he's been putting together on her desk while she read on her bed. "Please stop talking about Matt," she says, sounding more bored than angry.
"I--" Foggy starts, and realizes that he can't even finish that sentence with wasn't because he'd totally gone off on some tangent about Matt's opinion on Scalia's recent decisions. "What's your problem with Matt anyway?"
Marci rolls over on to her side to look at him. "I don't have a problem with Matt. I like Matt."
"I don't get the issue then," Foggy says.
Marci sighs and closes the book she'd been reading, sitting up. She rubs at the nail polish on her big toe for a moment before she says, "This is embarrassing." She doesn't look at him as she stops for a moment before picking back up. "I just don't like being reminded all the time that Matt's obviously the most important person in your life."
"I--" Foggy says, feeling faintly like he's just been hit with a train. Was it that obvious? Had it been that obvious to everyone except him this whole time? "That's not true."
Marci rolls her eyes. "At least do me the service of not pretending that you didn't know this."
Foggy doesn't say anything to that.
"Yeah," Marci says, "That's what I figured."
She reaches behind her to pick up her phone. Foggy looks back at his flashcards and picks up the next one. He looks at the words on it, not reading a single one.
"Foggy," Marci says, "I don't think this is going to work out, do you?"
Matt's door opens after a few minutes. He stands in the doorway in soft sweatpants without his glasses on, backlit by the lamp on his desk. "Foggy?" he asks, "You alright?"
"Hey," Foggy says. He and Marci might have never worked out in the end and it was better to know now than two years down the road--but Foggy still felt sad.
Matt moves towards him--not too much space in this tiny tiny apartment--and touches his arm. "You gonna talk to me, buddy?"
Foggy takes a deep breath. "Marci and I broke up."
Matt keeps his hand on Foggy's arm. He's silent for a long moment before he says, "We're going to Josie's to get you hammered."
"It's a Tuesday," Foggy points out, "Don't you have a Poverty Law exam tomorrow?"
"I've studied enough," Matt says, disappearing into his room. When he comes back out, he's changed into a pair of jeans and has his glasses on. He grabs his coat off the kitchen chair. "Come on."
By the time they get back, Foggy's feeling slightly more sober. What he does remember is Matt putting him in bed. What he does remember is looking up at Matt as he leaned over the nightstand to put a glass of water there and being seized with the wish that they could turn back time--back to when Marci had asked him out that first Friday. He wished that he had known back then what he knew now--wished that he had said no. Wished that he had the courage now, to catch Matt by the wrist and ask him for a do over.
Matt's reading, papers spread out all over the table of the study room they've been occupying for the last five hours. Foggy's commandeered the whiteboard with lists of cases he'd been trying to read through but the sheer number of them means he mostly just ends up scanning them.
"Hm," Matt says to let Foggy know that he's listening.
"I kind of forgot to ask," Foggy says, "Do you want to be my plus-one?"
Matt's fingers still over the sentence that he's reading. "Your plus one," he repeats.
"Or you could just like, show up independently. My mom wants to see you anyway and my cousin keeps asking me how you're doing." He's beginning to realize that he really really wants Matt to come.
Matt just smiles, his fingers moving over the page again. "Will I have to find a tux?"
"Hi mom," he says as she wraps in him a hug.
"Matt," she says, letting go of Foggy and pulling Matt into a hug too. "Oh my goodness, you look handsomer and handsomer every time I see you."
"Hi Mrs. Nelson," Matt says, hugging her back.
"No comment about how handsome I look?" Foggy asks.
"I hope my son hasn't been a nuisance," his mom says to Matt.
"I am incredibly offended," Foggy points out.
"He's been alright," Matt says with a smile.
"Alright?" Foggy demands, "Just alright? Excuse you, I am the greatest roommate to have ever existed."
"Come on," Foggy's mom says and takes Matt's suitcase for him, "We can get some breakfast along the way."
It takes less than five minutes from when Foggy loads his duffel bag into the trunk of their old subaru to his mom turning around in her seat and asking, "So Foggy, no plus one this year?"
Foggy suddenly remembers Ellie saying, all of my single friends,--by which she really just means the middle school teacher who had hated Foggy on sight, and the yoga instructor who had spent the full five minutes of their interaction lecturing Foggy about veganism. He panics and laughs nervously before committing to the dumbest thing he probably could have come up with, which is, "What do you mean? Matt's my plus one."
Foggy's mom cranes her neck over her shoulder to look at Matt who is now suddenly very very still. "Oh my goodness. Really?" She's grinning though and punches his dad lightly on the arm. "I told you."
"Your mom always thought there was something there," Foggy's dad says, looking in the rearview mirror to catch Foggy's eye.
"Haha," Foggy says, "Yep."
"My deepest condolences, Matt," Foggy's mom says.
"Yes," Foggy says, "Still offended."
"Yeah," Matt says, looking at Foggy. Foggy suddenly finds the back of the driver's seat incredibly interesting.
"Do you boys still like NPR?" Foggy's mom asks as she starts to fiddle with the radio controls. Matt suddenly grabs his hand that had been lying on the seat between them and squeezes a little harder than was really absolutely necessary. Foggy looks over at him.
What the fuck, Matt mouths.
"Listen," Foggy says the moment that both his parents are out of the car, "I kind of panicked because I remembered my sister telling me that my mom was going to start setting me up with all of her horrible friends and I half meant it as a joke but then she took it really seriously and I can just tell them that it was just a joke when they get back, please don't be mad at me, I know it was wrong."
"Whoa," Matt says, "Calm down Foggy. It's okay."
"I'll just tell them that it was a really bad joke."
"When you say horrible friends, are you talking about your mom or your sister?"
"My sister hangs out with the worst, most humorless group of hippies in the entire world," Foggy says, "One of them heard the phrase law school and decided that it was her personal mission in life to get me to understand how lawyers were single-handedly ruining the world."
"Wow," Matt says and Foggy actually cannot believe that he's actually smiling. What the hell. "I guess I could take one for the team and save you."
"What?" Foggy says, because what?
And before Foggy know what's happening, Matt's got his hand curved around his jaw, pressing a soft kiss to Foggy's mouth. It's nothing that they haven't done before--haven't done a million times worse before--but it's killing Foggy sweetly, now.
"Hey boys," Foggy's mom says as she opens the door. Matt pulls away and moves back to his side of the backseat. "I brought back donuts for you."
"Thanks Mrs. Nelson," Matt says, smiling and calm and not at all like Foggy with his wide eyed stare and shaking fingers.
It's a pretty small bed. Foggy drops his bag on the floor and looks at it for a few moments before saying, "I could probably sleep on the floor."
"Please Foggy," Matt says, reaching around the edges of the bed to figure out its size. "Not like we haven't shared smaller."
Yeah, Foggy wants to say, about that.
But then someone in the kitchen yells out, "Margaritas!" and that line of thought dissolves into the need to daydrink in hopes of gathering up the courage to say what he wanted to.
"Uh," Foggy says, spitting foam into the sink. "We broke up."
Ellie sits on the covered toilet, picking at her perfectly manicured nails for a moment before realizing that she's doing it and closing her hands into loose fists. "I thought you and Matt were close friends? Don't let him be your rebound."
"He's not," Foggy says, which is technically true because they're not dating at all.
"I like Matt," Ellie says--which is pretty rare considering she's disapproved of most of the people Foggy's ever made an effort to bring home.
"Yeah," Foggy says, "I like him too."
Foggy can feel his own heart beating in his chest, just staring at Matt's face. How could he have not known?
The door opens and one of his younger cousins looks in. "Breakfast!" he says, and shuts the door again.
When Foggy looks back, Matt's eyes are open and he's moved his hand away from Foggy's side. "Hey," Matt murmurs.
"Hi," Foggy says and fights the urge to pin Matt down on the mattress and kiss him.
"Breakfast?" Matt asks, slowly sitting up.
Foggy swallows. "Sounds like it."
Matt's holding his hand between their chairs and smiling. The breeze ruffles at his hair every once in a while and Foggy is too busy trying to get over how utterly amazing Matt looks in his tailored suit to be jealous of how perfectly windblown he manages to look with absolutely no effort.
"Oh, this is the first time I've seen Ellie in this dress," Foggy admits as she comes down the aisle. "Kind of modern looking. Like a mermaid."
"Don't go into fashion," Matt whispers back, the hint of a laugh in his voice.
"Don't crush my dreams, Murdock," Foggy says. "Aw, Patrick's smiling. I guess he really does like Ellie. I guess I won't have to pull the intimidating brother routine."
"You couldn't intimidate a three year old girl, Foggy," Matt says.
"I take offense," Foggy whispers back so loudly that the woman sitting in front of him turns around to glare at him.
"Sorry," he whispers at her. She turns back around.
"I'm pretty sure Ellie just picked the cutest cousin to be the ringbearer because mom wouldn't let her let Jessie do it," Foggy says--Jessie, of course, being Ellie's fourteen year old arthritic corgi.
"Good thing or we'd be subjected to all of his dog farts," Matt whispers with a completely straight face and Foggy has a really hard time not cracking up because so true.
They fall silent, listening to Ellie and Patrick exchange vows. Matt's thumb runs absently over the back of Foggy's hand. Foggy has no idea if Matt knows that he's doing it. It's kind of driving him crazy.
His sister and her new husband kiss and Foggy manages to say, "Patrick just dipped Ellie," before the entire audience is clapping and cheering and then Foggy's cheering too because it's a beautiful day, he loves his sister, and maybe love wasn't so far out of reach after all.
"Excuse me," he says, and gets up from the table. He checks the men's room first, but there's no one there. The house they've rented is ten minutes away by car so Matt probably didn't walk back. He scans the room again, wondering if Matt was actually crazy enough to try and walk back before stepping outside.
The lawn leading down to the docks is bordered with small lights--but there's nothing lighting anything beyond that except for the full moon that still looms pretty close to the horizon. Foggy catches sight of a familiar silhouette sitting at the edge of the dock--cane glinting in the moonlight.
"Hey," Foggy says as he gets closer. He takes a seat on the dock next to Matt. "How come you're all the way down here?"
Matt turns his face slightly so that Foggy can see the faint smile on his face. "You guys looked like you were getting along. Thought I'd give you some space."
"What?" Foggy says, "Oh, Melanie?"
"You know," Matt says and Foggy wishes that he would stop smiling, "Plausible deniability."
"Matt," Foggy says, "Shut up."
Matt's no longer smiling any more. There's a crease between his eyebrows and Foggy wants to pull the glasses off his face to really see him. But maybe he's also scared of what he'll see.
"You know why Marci and I broke up?" Foggy says, "It was kind of because of you. She said she didn't like being in a relationship where it was so obvious that you were the most important person in my life."
Matt doesn't say anything. He doesn't move.
"After that, she asked if we could be like, friends with benefits. You know, fuck while she went about finding a new boyfriend. Hell if I could do it." Foggy swallows. "I was already thinking about you."
"Foggy," Matt says.
"You wanna know what the biggest mistake of my life was?" Foggy asks and doesn't pause before answering. "Walking away from you. Not realizing that I was already in love."
"Foggy," Matt says again, reaching out.
"What a fucking dumbass, right?" Foggy says, and maybe he's crying a little bit. His voice is certainly shaking enough. "What I'm trying to say is, Matt, can we start over?"
Matt touches his face and kisses him.
"Are we okay?" Foggy asks, grinning.
Matt's smile is the brightest thing Foggy's ever seen. "Yeah, buddy," he says, "More than okay."