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Say You'll Still Be By My Side

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The worst thing is, the only penance Foggy asks for is answers.

Matt is used to confessing, the ritual of it, telling his sins and receiving advice and a way of making up for what he's done. He's not used to the confession being the penance. There's nothing Foggy could ask him to do that would hurt more than telling him everything he can about his senses, about being the Daredevil, but it's all Foggy seems to want from him.

“Jesus, don't apologize,” he says the one time Matt tries, sharp and cut-off and angry, air shifting and cloth rustling, some aimless gesture to stop the conversation. “Just don't lie again, that's all I'm asking. It's not a lot.”

“It's ...” Matt swallows. It's a lot. It's years of sensory data, all the gaps in stories he's told Foggy about his life, all the things he's left out that he knows and experiences. Foggy deserves an apology, and it would be so much easier if he would take one. “You won't let me apologize. What can I do?”

“I just told you. Don't lie to me.” Foggy pauses, sighs. It's hot in the office today, summer coming on and no way to afford an air conditioner. Karen is out for lunch with Doris, and it's just Matt and Foggy and the hum of their overworked fan keeping out the noises from outside. “And maybe don't do the creepy heartbeat thing. So illegal, Matt, I cannot begin to tell you how illegal it is to just constantly polygraph the world, and also creepy.”

“I can try to not make judgments based on what I hear here in the office, but I can't turn my ears off. You can tell things from context with your eyes—you can tell I'm unhappy from my face, or the way I move. I can tell from your heartbeat, or if you've been eating your comfort foods. I can avoid telling you what I figure out, but I can't stop.”

Foggy isn't good at stillness or silence, and Matt can't help but feel like he's been using it as a weapon since he found out what Matt can do. His heartbeat is fast and his face is hot, but his breathing is even and he isn't talking, isn't moving. “I told you I wanted you to be honest,” he finally says, and Matt can hear every drop of regret he has for it, but he doesn't take it back.

“I don't know how to make you happy right now,” says Matt, and that's the most honest he can be and the most horrible thing he can imagine. As long as he and Foggy have been around each other, he's been able to make Foggy smile or laugh, to bask in it, all the warmth of it something so different than he'd had for years. He's adrift without it, but he can't demand Foggy's happiness, not right now.

“Yeah,” says Foggy, the word scratching out of his throat. He isn't crying, but he sounds upset, and tired, and Matt wants to reach out. “We'll figure it out.”

They have to. “I'll buy lunch,” he offers. “Karen won't be back for half an hour, and we're name partners in our firm, that means we can take long lunches, right?”

“Seems like your business sense is the only one that wasn't enhanced.” It's a weak joke, but Matt laughs anyway, relieved. “Yeah, fine, let's follow your nose to the finest dive diner in Hell's Kitchen.”

Matt grabs Foggy's sleeve on their way out of the office, and hopes Foggy writes it off as instinct or camouflage. He doesn't mention it, anyway, even though Matt is clutching the jacket fabric so tight that there will be creases for Foggy to iron out later, just leads the way down the stairs and out into the city like he's done a hundred times before.

*

“So you knew every single lie I ever told you?”

“Impossible to tell.”

“Matt.” Don't be a dick, his tone says, but a lot sharper than Foggy usually says it. He's been sharp all day, ever since Matt came in in the morning with a bruised cheekbone Karen covered in foundation before their scheduled client meeting. He didn't shake Matt off when Matt tried to follow him home, though, and now he's making enough dinner for the two of them, some familiar-smelling chicken dish he thinks he recognizes from the dinner table at Foggy's parents' house when he went home with him for spring break once.

“In general, people's heartbeats change, usually speed up, when they're lying. That's enough to give me a pretty good idea, the same way you could get it from if they looked away, if they're shifty or something like that, especially when I combine it with other factors.”

“And in specific?”

“I've had years to learn your cues. I know when you're lying, yes.” Foggy breathes out, shaky, like this surprises him after weeks of knowing. “Doesn't mean I know what the exact truth is, but I know when you aren't telling the truth.”

“Can't really test it. At this point, you know everything about me.”

“Now that's a lie,” says Matt, immediately, and he doesn't know if he hopes Foggy never knows how much that hurts him, knowing that, or if he hopes he can see it because it's one more piece of the apology Foggy won't allow him.

“Yeah.” Foggy turns up the heat on the stove, the chicken sizzling, and when the pop of the oil has stopped stealing Matt's attention, he's calmer again. “I feel like I should apologize for all the times I wore the same clothes two days in a row in law school because I figured you wouldn't notice,” he says, an olive branch.

“You don't owe me any apologies,” Matt says, too earnest.

“Take the out, buddy,” says Foggy, and goes back to talking about scents again, how it's no surprise Matt got contact high every time Foggy even looked sideways at marijuana and how he feels bad for every single ill-fated culinary experiment he's ever made with Matt around.

“I'll tell you when I'm home safe,” Matt says after dinner, making his excuses as soon as Foggy bites down his third yawn. Normally he doesn't offer, but saying it himself is worse than worrying that Foggy won't say it.

“Don't fall down a manhole,” says Foggy, and it's by rote, but it's something.

*

Matt has, over the years, allowed himself a few tentative fantasies of what his life could be like if he told Foggy about his senses, about Stick and the training he had. Most of them involved casting off habits, letting himself lead Foggy around instead of the opposite, talking casually about what he can overhear and smell, asking Foggy if he's okay the second he comes in smelling like his grandmother's casserole recipe instead of waiting for how tired his voice sounds when he's upset. A few shameful ones had Foggy angry about the loss of Matt's childhood, an anger even Matt doesn't feel most days. Even fewer had Foggy holding him close and telling him he's a hero.

None of it comes true, of course, but it's not just Foggy and his lingering anger and hurt. Most of it is Matt clinging to their traditions, really. He still holds Foggy's arm while they walk, never stops Foggy from narrating the world as they pass through it, because he's never needed it, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want it.

“You probably knew that already,” Foggy says once, stopping short in the middle of talking about a woman attempting to keep her dog's nose away from a stranger's lunch bag.

“I like the way you talk about these things.” Too honest, but that's what Foggy asks for. Matt's still keeping a secret or two back, but he can do this.

“Okay.” Foggy doesn't continue the story, but half a block later he says “So, there's a woman in the gelato shop who's definitely staring longingly at the girl behind the counter, there's some kind of Romeo and Juliet thing going on here.”

Matt doesn't know what he's done to deserve this much loyalty from Foggy, but he'll never stop being grateful for it.

*

“I don't know how to do penance for something outside of confession.”

Father Lantom pauses. His stillness is still hard to read, but Matt's starting to know him well enough that he expects the “Would you like a latte?” that comes next.

Matt waits for Father Lantom to serve him the coffee before he explains. “I told a friend of mine about everything,” he says when it's in front of him, warm sweet steam drifting up to his nose. “He's angry, of course. And worried about me. He says he doesn't want an apology, but I can't say a rosary and expect his forgiveness.”

“No, you can't, because your friend isn't God,” says Father Lantom, just a touch of amusement in his voice. “What are you doing to try to earn his forgiveness?”

“He doesn't want apologies. I'm trying to be as honest as I can.”

“This friend. He's known you a while?”

“Yes. Years.”

“And you were close. Are close.”

Matt swallows. “He's closer to me than anyone else.”

“If it were me,” says Father Lantom in the gentle voice that means he's saying something Matt should pay attention to, “I might consider that a friend who was lying to me for that long didn't care about me as much as he pretended, that our relationship wasn't valued, or that I simply wasn't needed when I thought I was. There might be moral considerations as well, but that would be the heart of it.”

“I … if that's what it is, how can I possibly fix it?” He hates the thought of Foggy feeling like their friendship is a lie on top of everything else, but he knows at the center of everything, that's what they're still dancing around.

“You tell him, Matthew.”

“As simple as that?”

“Drink your latte,” says Father Lantom, and Matt knows it's an answer, even if it's not an answer he wants.

*

“I brought us a client,” says Matt, bursting through Foggy's office door with a grin.

“Like a cat with a dead mouse,” Foggy grumbles, already standing up, no doubt hearing the low sound of voices out in the reception room, where Karen is offering their client a cup of tea. “What's the story?”

“Small business owner being threatened out of business by trumped-up health code violations.”

“So you mean you brought you a client, damn crusader with your pro bono cases,” says Foggy, but he doesn't sound too unhappy about it.

“He can pay,” says Matt, the best for last. “It's a popular business, the customers would never shut him down, his competitors are just trying to get the city to do it for them.”

“The cat that got the canary, then,” says Foggy, but he sounds like he's smiling, and Karen sounds happy talking to Mr. Pagonis in the reception room, so Matt allows himself the luxury of a few seconds standing in Foggy's door, waiting for him to pick up a notebook and pencil to take notes with, since that's Karen's job but he still does his own notes anyway, though half of them are doodles and shorthand of his own making from what he's described in the past. “Come on,” he finally says. “Show me this supposed paying client.”

Just like Matt knew he would, Mr. Pagonis gets Foggy on his side immediately, talking about the internet business his grandkids set up for him and how he just wants to keep on making his spices and dressings.

By the time he leaves, Mr. Pagonis has some initial paperwork for his case, Foggy has a promise for partial payment in spanakopita and baklava, and Matt has the knowledge that Foggy is, for once, content and pleased instead of vibrating with barely repressed stress.

It isn't quite the same thing as telling him how much he means to Matt, but everyone always says that showing is better than telling anyway.

*

They settle Mr. Pagonis's case out of court, they win it, and they make steady business from Mr. Pagonis's friends after that. They're defense attorneys, but they end up writing wills and pre-nups and contracts and looking over deeds and titles.

It's a relief, after Fisk, to deal with the day-to-day details of Hell's Kitchen. Matt still goes out at night, but Foggy and Karen are out of the line of fire, not looking at anything more dangerous than the collection of antique firearms Mrs. Jennings is willing to her great-niece.

Even Foggy seems to be unbending. Sometimes he'll ask Matt what he can feel or hear without the edge in his voice, and Matt is so grateful he could cry every time he does it.

Summer is heating up, Hell's Kitchen moving slow, heat radiating from every surface, when Foggy goes missing.

He goes to get lunch on his own, because the temperature is giving Matt a headache and he knows it and because Karen is the genius who came up with the idea to put a bowl of ice in front of the fan to cool the office down so she's exempted from going out into the heat, and he doesn't come back, as simple as that.

After half an hour, Matt asks Karen to text him, not too worried because Foggy knows someone everywhere he goes and he probably ran into one of them. After an hour, he calls Foggy himself, and there's no answer.

Matt and Karen alternate calls for the next hour and a half before Matt stands up and says “I'm going to look for him. Karen, look after the office?”

“Matt,” she says, so gentle and sweet, “how are you going to find him? I'll go. You stay here, he'll probably call in ten minutes with some wild story, or maybe he ran into Marci. You could call her.”

There's no conceivable way that he can just stay here if Foggy is missing, but there's no way to explain that to Karen. Not now, not like this. “Take me with you. We can call her on the way. No one will mind if we're closed for the afternoon, it's too hot to give legal aid.”

“Sure, Matt. I'll write a note and tape it to the door in case his phone died and he's worried about it.” A few seconds later there's the sound of ballpoint against paper, Karen doing what she said, ending whatever the message is with a few exclamation points, the dots digging in against the paper.

The two of them walk all over Hell's Kitchen, Matt holding Karen's arm when he wants to run on ahead, take to the roofs and move until he can find the whisper of a trail, Foggy's name or voice or scent, and by five, they haven't found him, and Matt says he'll wait at home just so Karen will leave him be and Daredevil can go out. Even if Foggy is angry at them for something, he wouldn't ignore as many calls as they've made, and Marci hasn't heard from him either, and they checked his apartment halfway through the afternoon and there was no sign of him.

Back in his apartment, Matt tries calling Foggy one last time.

Amazingly, after two rings Foggy picks up with a jovial “Matty, buddy!”

Lie, say Matt's senses immediately, even if he can't pick up Foggy's heartbeat through the phone line. Foggy wouldn't be this happy, even drunk, after making Matt worry, and he's talking loud and clear like he's in a bar, but there's only silence echoing back from behind his voice, some kind of large space. A warehouse, probably. “Foggy, where are you?”

“Yeah, sorry, ran into Marci, we're out with some of those sharks from her office, meant to call you back but it was kind of loud for a while.”

Matt can't even ask if whoever is holding Foggy is listening, because Foggy's voice is tinny enough that he must be on speakerphone and that answers that question, even if Foggy's manic cheer didn't. “We missed you at work this afternoon,” he says, calm as he can. “Karen and I were out searching, guess we'll have to call it off, we should have guessed it was Marci. How drunk are you, buddy?”

“I don't know, man, probably half a dozen drinks in, there were shots.” It's an obvious code, and a risk, but Matt is grateful anyway. “Anyway, I should get back to it, she looks like the cat that caught the canary. Might be late to work tomorrow, if you know what I mean. Have a good night, buddy!”

Silence. It's an awful silence, like the second before or after a gunshot. “Don't fall down a manhole on your way home,” says Matt, even though he knows Foggy has already hung up, or his captors have.

Foggy gave him information. At least six people, guns. The sharks from Marci's office, which could mean that he's by the docks or by Landman and Zack, or which could mean that lawyers are involved. The cat that got the canary, bringing Mr. Pagonis to mind. It's information to start with, anyway, and Matt has helped people on less.

*

Thirty-two sleepless hours later, the Daredevil walks into a warehouse.

There are eight heartbeats inside, but only one person exhales, shaky and relieved, when Matt appears instead of the man they were expecting, a hired gun who's bleeding in an alley six blocks away after finally, finally giving Matt the information he needed.

“Leave them alive enough to prosecute,” says Foggy in the silence before the fight, and he sounds exhausted and hoarse and breathless and it's the best sound Matt has ever heard. He wants to tell Foggy to keep talking, but these men have Foggy because Mr. Pagonis's enemies were more powerful than previously assumed, not because he knows the city's newest masked man. He can't risk them finding out.

“I'll do my best, counselor,” he says, because he can't resist that much.

They're all between he and Foggy, and it's never been this hard to leave people alive when he's finished with them. They're talking to each other, grunting, fighting, guns cocking, moving into position, and Matt moves in the noise easier than he ever has before, dropping them one by one, listening to Foggy as he inhales and exhales and sometimes whispers “Duck” or “To your left” or “Knife,” painting the room with the sounds bouncing off the walls and narrating the world just like he always does.

When he drops the last one, Matt takes a few seconds to breathe, to try to stretch out some of the pain. Nothing is broken, or even fractured. He's lucky. “Are you tied down?” he asks. “We should get out of here.”

“No, I'm sitting in this chair and not getting out of the line of fire for my health.”

Matt laughs, and he knows it sounds shaky and hysterical and he can't help it, just goes over to Foggy and fumbles the knots apart, rubbing Foggy's wrists and ankles as they come free, helping him to his feet when he isn't tied down anymore. He must have been there nearly the whole time, from how stiff he is. He reeks of blood close to the surface of his skin, he's hungry and dirty and when he's upright Matt clings to him for at least ten seconds, because he's the best thing Matt has felt in his life.

“Hey.” Foggy's hand lands on his shoulder, clumsy. “I'm okay. I'm good. Let's get out of here before they start waking up, okay? I'm really not excited to watch more punching.”

It's easier to calm himself down with Foggy talking to him, Foggy solid next to him, Foggy's arm around his shoulders while Matt holds him up. Matt doesn't know what to say, though, so he helps Foggy outside instead and makes sure they're out of range of the men in the warehouse before he says “Okay, I'm going to—”

“I'm going to call Brett,” Foggy says, firm. “This isn't his jurisdiction, but he's great about listening to my bullshit and also he's not going to come over here with sirens blaring looking for you instead of them. I'm going to play pitiful and you're going to go home once you know I'm safe and be really surprised when I call you from the hospital. Okay?”

No, it isn't, I'll call Claire and take you to my apartment if you want, I'm not leaving you on the street for Brett to pick up like a taxi—”

“Matt.” Matt can't help pulling Foggy closer, because the thought of letting go of him right now is horrifying. “I wasn't kidnapped because of you, I was kidnapped because we won a case, which is actually kind of awesome, we're going to get so much good press out of this, and most importantly it means I can go to the hospital and get nice prescription drugs. So I'm going to call Brett and you're going to wait with me and then run away when the cops come.”

“Foggy.”

“You can sit by my bedside at the hospital if you want, but it's just some bruises and a dislocated shoulder that they popped back in, the painkillers probably aren't even going to be that good.”

Matt hugs him, because they're in an alley and no one's coming for them yet and he has to. Foggy was gone for almost two days and they hurt him and he's bossing Matt around and making stupid jokes and if he'd died Matt would have—and he didn't die. “I'm sorry I didn't find you sooner,” he says into Foggy's shoulder.

“You found me in the end, though. You get at least twenty-four hours of free pass on me being freaked out by the superpowers.” Foggy is shaking, just a small tremble that Matt can only feel because he's holding him so close. “I really need to call Brett. But they took my phone.”

“I took a phone off someone after the fight,” says Matt, digging it out of his pocket. It's not Foggy's, the wrong shape and size, probably a cheap burner phone, but it will make a call. “Call him.”

Foggy pulls himself away from Matt to make the call, and Matt can't help listing a little after the heat of him, wanting him back within touching distance. Hearing him, knowing he's there, that isn't enough tonight, and he knows it's giving away too much but he still shuffles after Foggy to put a hand on his back while the phone rings. “Brett!” says Foggy when the phone picks up and there's a mumbled “This had better be good” on the other end of the line. He must not be on shift tonight. “Great news, you can close the missing persons reports on me, because I am fine. Sort of fine. Got rescued by a masked vigilante and possibly need a police escort to a hospital, but I'm good.”

“Foggy, are you—Jesus, three different missing persons reports, and of course you get rescued by the goddamn Daredevil, I am never letting you talk to my mother again.”

“She would pine without me, you know it. Anyway, part one of the daring rescue is over, can I get a part two?” Foggy sounds a lot steadier now that he's trading wisecracks with Brett, his heartbeat settling down, and Matt relaxes just listening to it.

“Give me a location, I'll tell them to send a squad car. Daredevil's involved, I'm assuming there are some unconscious folks to pick up too?”

Matt tunes out Foggy giving locations for where the warehouse is and where they are now, or the nearest intersection where they can easily reach. Brett has things in hand, and Matt can concentrate on Foggy, on how he no doubt hasn't eaten since he was taken, from the rumbling of his stomach, and how he smells like sweat and blood and someone else's strong aftershave.

“He says there can be a squad car to me in ten,” says Foggy when he hangs up. “I mean, you probably heard that, but that was a thinly veiled way of saying that we need to get moving.”

“I wasn't listening.” Foggy snorts, shakes his head, but he doesn't say anything, so Matt just takes his elbow, as normal as if it's daytime and they're on their way to the office. “You know where we are?”

“Got some idea, anyway. You want to lead?”

Matt nods and keeps holding on, ducking through the network of alleys and quiet streets until they reach the nearest main corner. “I'll wait in earshot until the police come,” he says when they get there and he can't put off letting Foggy go anymore. “Call me as soon as you can. I'm your emergency contact, right?”

“You know you are.” Foggy turns to put an awkward arm around his shoulder, hissing like it pulls at a bruise or a cut. “I'm okay, Matt. Thank you for coming for me.”

There's no adequate answer for that. Matt moves his hand to Foggy's face instead, because he can't resist it even if it's not something they usually do. He wants to feel solid again, tethered, and even Foggy's voice and heartbeat can't help. He needs to be touching him. “Always will,” he says when the silence stretches out too far and Foggy has almost stopped breathing with Matt's hand still resting on his cheek.

“Yeah, I'm starting to get that,” says Foggy, and Matt hears the sound of a police siren slowing down and coming closer.

“Call me as soon as you can. And Karen, she's been worried.”

“I will. You gonna let me go so I can tell the police how I was heroically saved by a mysterious man?”

Matt finally drops his hand, and instantly regrets it. “Be safe.”

“Try not to beat anyone up on your way home.”

Foggy walks away, then—limps away, he's still stiff and sore from being tied up, and Matt can hear the pained noises he's keeping behind his teeth. Matt focuses on his heartbeat until it disappears into the sounds of the city, and then he runs for home, so he can be beside his phone and ready when Foggy calls.

*

Karen is the one who convinces Foggy to take the rest of the week off when he would have come into Nelson and Murdock as soon as the hospital released him, sometime around noon.

Matt takes him home and then goes to work, because they have two meetings about wills and one about a court date for a wrongfully arrested teenager who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Foggy tells him the cases aren't going to take care of themselves.

He stops by Foggy's again after work, though, letting himself in quietly in case Foggy is napping, since his breathing is heavy on the couch, somewhere between asleep and awake.

“Help, I'm being burgled,” says Foggy almost as soon as the door shuts behind him, so clearly it isn't too bad. “Come over here, I'm too tired to get up, the doctors said something about exhaustion and also how I should eat food, but my leftovers from last weekend went bad and I don't have the energy to cook.”

“We'll order in. Something with soup.” He hesitates and then finds his way to the chair next to Foggy's couch. His instincts make him want to shove at Foggy's feet until he moves them and share the couch with him, but he doesn't want to push. “You seem better.”

“Tell me.”

Matt leans back in his chair, bemused, but he tries to break down the sensory picture that added up to knowing that Foggy's okay, to put it into pieces Foggy can understand. “Your breathing and heartbeat are more even. You were almost asleep when I came in, and you sound tired in the way you do right when you wake up, so you probably did get some sleep earlier, and Karen gave you lunch, I can smell the sandwich. You smell more like you.”

“Are you saying I smell, Murdock?”

“Everyone does.” Today, Foggy smells like his shower products layered over the chemical smell of hospital, a trace of Karen's favorite perfume, and the faint whisper of his personal scent under it, the unidentifiable hormone and chemical combinations that are as easy to identify as a fingerprint. Sometimes, he smells a little like nothing at all, which are the best days, because Matt knows “nothing at all” means he just smells like Matt, that they've been in each other's space that much. That hasn't happened much lately, not since Foggy found out about Daredevil. “I can smell your shower gel and your shampoo and other things, and the combination helps me identify you. Scent is connected to memory, there have been studies about it.”

“Yeah. I guess that makes sense.”

“Are you still angry at me?” Matt asks, because it seems like all of this has lasted forever and he's so tired of missing Foggy, of telling him things he knows will make them both unhappy.

“Fairly sure I'm always going to be a little—no, that's not fair.” Foggy makes a quiet, sad noise. Matt clenches his fists in his lap. “I just feel like I missed out on this huge part of what you are, like maybe I don't know Matt Murdock as well as I thought I did.”

“I didn't keep it from you because I don't trust you,” Matt offers, because it's really all he can say. “You're my best friend, you're my partner, and even when I was keeping secrets that was true. I've always needed you around, and that doesn't change even if I can perceive more than I told you. I was scared.”

Foggy is silent for a few seconds before he sighs. “Doesn't really help to know you were scared of trusting me.”

“Scared it would make you … well, scared it would make you react like this, that you would be angry and hate me for it.”

“Screw your pity party, this is my pity party. I don't hate you, Matt. I thought our relationship was one thing and it's not that thing and I'm readjusting.” The couch creaks and Foggy groans as he sits up. “Look, this makes me sound like an asshole, which I own, but we're working on an honesty policy right now. But I thought you needed me a lot more than you do.”

Matt makes a frustrated noise and taps against the arm of the chair for a few seconds while he formulates an answer. “I need you, Foggy, I just told you that. I need your support, and I need you around to bounce ideas off, and I need you to remind me that Daredevil isn't the only way of doing things.”

“People are a lot less kind to vigilantes who aren't the Avengers.” Foggy is sitting up all the way now. “I know you still need me to be your friend. Like I said, readjusting.”

“Sometimes I still need to be guided around, I'm not just indulging you or using you as camouflage. Sometimes I don't know someone's context, or the data I'm getting doesn't make sense, or the city is loud and I need to be guided around—and even when I don't need it, I like it. It frees up my attention for more important things.”

“Like fighting crime.”

“Or listening to what you're saying.” He still hasn't said it in so many words, and it seems like he needs to after all. “You're important, Foggy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” says Foggy, but he doesn't sound like he disbelieves it. It's a start. “Now, are we or are we not going to order takeout? My treat, for rescuing me.”

“My treat, because you're hurt,” says Matt, because he's supposed to and because he wants to. He never wanted to be a doctor instead of a lawyer, but with Foggy here and hurt he's regretting not finding a way to go to medical school. The least he can do is feed him.

“Well, you don't have to twist my arm.” Foggy already has his phone out, dialing wherever he wants to eat from.

Matt waits until he's finished and starts in on the stories from the office, how Karen's been invited to join a knitting group with a client and some of the women from her neighborhood and how Mr. Pagonis is planning to send Foggy a packet of his famous tzatziki spices for his recuperation.

He hardly listens to the words coming out of his mouth, just concentrates on Foggy's heartbeat a few feet away, steady and slow and relaxed.

*

“Jesus, Matt.”

Matt knows it's damning that he freezes, surprised, climbing through his own window at two in the morning, because he should have known Foggy was here, should have heard a heartbeat in his apartment from ground level. “Foggy, what are you doing here?”

“I couldn't sleep and I turned on the news and there was some kind of breaking broadcast that showed you getting stabbed at least four times.”

“Only one connected.”

“Only one, he says. Show me.”

They both know Foggy can't do anything about the blood, but it's a slice across his ribs, nothing vital hit, and he won't bleed out from it, so Matt lets Foggy clean him up because he knows he won't leave otherwise, and tells him to just bandage it together. Claire is out of the city, and he can't call her tonight. “I don't need stitches,” says Matt, once his skin feels like it will stay where it's supposed to.

“I really wish I thought you would stop if I asked you to,” Foggy says, and Matt flinches, because it's unexpected and almost as painful as the wound in his side. “Not—we're going to have to agree to disagree about the morality of this whole thing, but I mean that sometime, you're not going to come back. I'd really like to avoid that.”

“I'm sorry.” Matt wishes he could reassure Foggy that he'll always come back, but the best he can manage is “I'll always try to come back, Foggy. I'll do everything I can.”

They're sitting close, Foggy in his space still from patching him up, and their hearts are pounding, and Matt wonders if they're going to kiss, for one dizzy moment. He and Foggy have never crossed that line, even if they've joked about it. Even so, Matt knows he loves Foggy, that Foggy loves him. The question has always been, for Matt, where that blurs into being in love. He knows his answer, but for all the context he has for Foggy, after so long, he's never been able to figure it out.

Tonight doesn't seem like the time, though, when Foggy is scared for him and Matt is tired and sore, so Matt leans back just far enough to remove the temptation. “Why couldn't you sleep?” he asks. “You've been tired lately.”

“Yeah, yeah, I don't smell as much like fabric softener or whatever. Remember that whole thing where I got kidnapped last week? Still processing that.”

“I can sleep on the couch.” They crash on each other's couches sometimes, have since they stopped living together, but they haven't done it since Foggy found out about him.

“Sleep in your bed, I can steal one of your many sketchy black bandanas and use it as a sleep mask on the couch. May I remind you that only one person in this room has a stab wound and it's not me? You get the good sheets.”

Matt shakes his head. “I've recovered on the couch before, and you're already having trouble sleeping, you don't need to have any more trouble.”

“Just … okay, I'm not up for arguing and you look like you're going to collapse. We'll both go.” Foggy breathes in sharp after he says it, like he's surprised it came out at all, but he doesn't take it back. Matt can hear his heartbeat kick up.

“That works,” says Matt, and swallows because the words came out choked. “I'll get changed, and I think you have some sweatpants here.”

“Yeah, I do.”

They're tense while they get ready for bed, and Matt almost regrets agreeing to share, except that since Foggy was kidnapped it's hard to convince himself that he's okay, and maybe sleeping next to him for a night, letting his heartbeat seep into his rest, will help.

The bed is more than big enough for both of them, and Matt gets in first, turning his back to the middle of the bed so he isn't putting pressure on the wound that's still closing, and Foggy follows after a brief hesitation, settling himself in. “Night, Matt,” he finally says.

“Night, Foggy.”

It takes both of them at least twenty minutes to get to sleep, but they don't say another word. Matt wakes up in the morning with Foggy's face pressed between his shoulder blades, breath hot against his back, and feels steadier than he has in weeks.

*

They win a court case on the hottest day of the summer.

After the judge dismisses them and they've shaken hands and received grateful hugs and told their client to stop by the office to make sure everything is squared away tomorrow, Matt and Foggy take the long way back to the office, through the park.

Foggy buys them ice cream, gets Matt some ridiculous sundae and laughs when Matt makes a show out of wrinkling his nose and eating it anyway, describing how everyone in the park except the people with dogs are just collapsed in the shade, strewn around like so many dolls. Matt, more quietly, tells Foggy about what he can sense as well, how one woman walking by has a whole tray of ice cubes tucked in various places in her clothes and how a few teenage boys keep saying they're going to get the hacky sack out and play it and then never do it.

Matt kisses Foggy when he laughs too hard and gets ice cream on his nose, because somehow after everything, after years of Foggy always being there in the back of his head, being his friend and his partner and his first call, that's what does it, a day when they've won and everything seems easy and honest between them, finally.

“Okay, wow, that happened,” says Foggy when Matt pulls away, heart in his throat, suddenly all flustered nerves, forgotten ice cream cone dripping onto his hand. “Tell me this isn't stage twelve of your plan to make me not mad at you. Because I'm not anymore. Am I lying about that?”

“Can't tell. Your heart is already racing.”

“You are such an asshole, I am reconsidering the mad thing.” Foggy stops, but Matt's mind is in overdrive, picking up everything about their surroundings and nothing about what he should say next. “Is it? To try to make me less mad, I mean? Because I refuse to be another manifestation of your Catholic guilt.”

“It's because I want to.”

“I … okay. I can accept that.”

“You want to too?” Matt asks, because Foggy hasn't said he didn't want Matt to kiss him, but he hasn't moved forward again either.

“Yeah, Matt.” Foggy does lean in then, presses his mouth against Matt's. His mouth is sweet and cold and his breathing is shaky and somehow both of them are still holding on to their ice cream, which somehow seems hilarious, in a back corner of his mind. “I want it too. Maybe not in public and after my ice cream has stopped melting all over my hand, but it's … yeah.”

“Okay.” Matt starts walking again, mostly because he can smell a trash can a few yards ahead and that gives him the chance to throw the remainder of his sundae away over Foggy's objecting noise and then rest his hand in the crook of Foggy's elbow, just like always. It isn't quite holding hands, but it's something.

Foggy, for once, doesn't seem to have anything much else to say. Matt lets him have the silence and the time to think, because he needs it himself, to think about just how much their relationship has changed in five minutes, and how other than in a few specific ways, it isn't going to change much at all. “I'm going to lick the ice cream off my hand like a six-year-old, fair warning,” Foggy finally says, and Matt laughs, relieved, because it probably means they're okay.

Foggy's heart is beating in time with their walking, in time with the beat of the city, and Matt listens. They can save the conversation for later.

*

“You want to know what made me forgive you?” Foggy asks later, when they've sent Karen off to dinner with a local widow who adopted her after they fixed her will up for her and it's just the two of them in the office with the ice from the bowl in front of the fan turned into lukewarm water because they're both too lazy to change it out.

“Yes.”

“I figured I know all sorts of creepy best friend things about you too. I mean, I don't phrase them in terms of heartbeats and breathing patterns, but I know you're happy right now, and it's not just because you're smiling, and I kind of knew you were going to kiss me earlier. And I guess … I know you that well even though you were lying, so I figure maybe I know the real Matt Murdock after all.”

“Better than anyone else.”

Foggy is happy, not a hint of anything else except tiredness, and Matt takes a moment to bask in that and then sticks his foot out and gently kicks Foggy in the leg. It's too hot to sit too close, even though Matt doesn't want to take his hands off him now that they're doing this, but he can have that much contact, anyway. “What? I'm not moving until it gets less hot, you can't make me.”

“I'm not making you move. I just want to thank you.”

“Don't do that, it's weird to thank people for making out with you, I have been told this.”

Matt shakes his head. “You know that's not what I mean.”

The sound of Foggy's chair rolling a little closer, and then Foggy's hand lands on his arm. It's hot on Matt's bare skin where he's rolled his sleeve up, but Matt relaxes with Foggy touching him anyway. “I know,” says Foggy. “Can I vote that for our first date, we go somewhere cheap and air conditioned?”

“This is why we're partners.” Matt shifts Foggy's hand, clumsy, until he can hold it. Their skin is clammy with sweat, but he holds on tight anyway.

“Because I have the best ideas?” Matt nods, and Foggy laughs. “I'm going to remind you about that later, when you try to drag me into something else white-knight-y. Just watch, you'll be asking for a sidekick next. Which, for the record, is not happening.”

“But you'll be waiting for me at the end of the night?”

“As long as you keep coming home, I'm there.”

“Then I'll do everything I can to keep coming back,” says Matt.

Foggy squeezes his hand, and it feels like the benediction Matt has been waiting for all along.