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a house you grew up in

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It starts when Foggy loses control of his life.

Ok, sure, it’s not like it was an overnight thing, but he could feel it slipping away bit by bit, until there was nothing left in his hands and everything was spiralling out of control and his blind best friend was out there fighting crime and people were dying on the streets and he could actually see his life flashing before his eyes.

It starts when Foggy wakes up in a hospital bed after the fourth kidnapping.

He doesn’t blame Matt; he never does. He kinda blames the Daredevil but not really, because the Daredevil is Matt, even if Matt isn’t (just) the Daredevil. He places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the people in this fucking city who think it's okay to kidnap people out of their beds and beat them half to death for a name. He’s always been good at compartmentalizing, but there’s a time when all the distinctions dissolve in his own head. He’s lost control over everything.

It’s not like there’s a conscious decision to do anything different. It’s just that one day he’s not hungry and Matt and Karen go out for lunch and forget to bring something back. It’s okay, it was a simple mistake. He wasn’t hungry anyway.

He works till three in the morning, goes home, and falls asleep, blissfully light and empty. Not weighed down. It’s not too bad a feeling.

-

Of course, he wakes up in the morning feeling like he’s two steps from death’s door, but there’s nothing to binge on, so he eats two bananas and the last slice of bread (after picking out the mouldy bits). It’s okay, he’ll pick up some groceries on his way home after work. It’s fine.

-

He’s not stupid. Foggy Nelson is many things but he’s not stupid. It doesn’t take him very long to figure out what his body is doing, and how his mind is reacting. He knows this intimately because they used to give talks about this stuff in the fancy school he went to when he was a kid. He has sisters and he was told to look out for the signs. It was probably a warning in itself that he was quiet and thoughtful when all his friends couldn’t stop exclaiming how crazy it was that anyone would do that to themselves, or how insane it would be to give up pizza oh my god!

But he could kind of understand. It was the resort of the desperate. If all else fails, you control yourself. In hindsight, it sounded a lot like the Catholic Guilt he ribbed Matt about all the time, but the clarity in his head let him think for once. And he was just a regular guy. Just an average Joe; not a supervillain or a superhero.

(or a vigilante).

His mind was all he had.

And when the fear fogged it up, and the panic made him slow and shocky, the hunger cleared his thoughts and made everything better.

He knows he’s not a teenager who’s been peer-pressured into losing weight. That’s not what this is about. He’s thinking this through and doing it properly. He knows what his limits are, and he’s not going to be unhealthy. Or at least, too unhealthy.

If he loses a couple of pounds, well. It won’t be a tragedy.

-

One time he has to skip lunch, not because he wants to, but because he’s seeing black spots and his vision is swaying, and Karen won’t be able to guide two blind people to lunch on her own. He’s more careful after that, because everyone’s got their own issues. This is his business. No one else seems to care anyway, which is just the way he wants it.

Okay, maybe he cares a little bit, that no one’s noticed. But he’s not a child. He’s not looking for attention.

-

No really, he’s not.

Attention is the last thing he wants.

-

He throws a mini-celebration when he gets himself fitted for a new suit. Everyone thinks it’s because he can afford a new suit, which, yes, but it’s actually because it’s three sizes smaller than his old one. And yes, okay, that’s not what he did this for, but it’s hardly an unwanted side effect.

It might be nice to look like someone.

Maybe he doesn’t not want to be noticed. Maybe he’s tired of being invisible, next to Matt and Karen. It’s not their fault they’re beautiful and incredible and just, wow, of course. But he’s tired of being invisible.

It might be nice to have someone look at him and see.

-

No one notices anything until he gets his hair cut (and he knew his floppy hair had been turning people off – only his mother thought it was “cute”).

Karen’s not in when he walks into the office the next morning, but Matt is. He walks into Foggy’s room and pauses just as Foggy sits down, head tilted in that adorable way he has, like a cocker spaniel. (Matt had hit him the last time Foggy had said that, which just made him want to say it again).

“You’ve lost weight,” is not what Foggy expects him to say.

(He’s blind; Foggy actually hadn’t been expecting him to say anything)

Foggy grins. “Yeah I have.” Matt doesn’t look appeased, though he can surely hear the grin in Foggy’s face. (Foggy’s not entirely sure how Matt knew, but he has a sinking feeling it’s because the chair doesn’t creak quite as much when Foggy sits down).

“May I touch your face?” Matt asks, though by this point it’s a given. Foggy may have lied a little bit to Karen when she’d asked that last time, in Mrs. Cardenas’ kitchen. Matt has touched Foggy’s face loads of times, because he said he wanted to make sure he could tell how Foggy was changing. Foggy has never minded because Matt – because nothing about his relationship with Matt is weird, no matter what Marci said.

Foggy shrugs, but before he can narrate his own actions, Matt is touching him. His fingers have always been nimble and sure, curving around his jawline and his ears, thumbs brushing across his eyebrows and then gently across his lips. Matt’s fingers go to touch his hair, and his fingers falter for the first time when they can’t feel it brushing the nape of his neck anymore. His face staggers through a series of expressions, landing on dismay. “Your hair?” he asks, voice quiet and still.

Foggy feels inexplicably guilty, though he has no reason to be. “You and my mom might have been the only people on the planet who liked it that way,” he says with a laugh. He knows he looks good today, and not even Matt’s weirdness is going to take that away from him.

Matt sinks his fingers into the golden hair curling around Foggy's ears and sighs. “I always like everything about you Foggy, just as you are,” he says before retreating to his own office.

Foggy sighs and says, below his breath though he knows Matt can hear anyway, “you might be the only one.” Matt freezes, and then carries on and they pretend nothing had happened.

But something has.

(Karen squeals over his new look and gasps at his cheekbones and it’s so fucking gratifying that he can’t help but resent Matt a little for harshing his buzz. Matt, who has always been so gorgeous that it takes his breath away— but no. Matt’s his best friend. He must have had something else on his mind. People tend to, these days.)

-

It’s not easy.

(Nothing good ever is)

His body doesn’t like not having what it’s used to. His body’s lazy. Foggy’s seen what people eat. Tiny plates of brilliantly green leaves and glasses of burgundy red wine. Small handfuls of nuts and raisins and bites of granola. If they can do it, then so can he.

His body can damn well get used to it.

But it’s not easy. That's why it feels real.

-

Foggy feels himself melting away. He starts exercising a little, the way he used to when he was younger. He listens to music while running up and down the flight of stairs in his building. Okay, so it’s not exactly voluntary exercise, the lift has been out-of-order for the past decade, but he runs instead of crawling up the stairs, and rarely feels like dying when he reaches the top.

It’s good. It feels good. It’s not about being thin. It’s about being in control of his life. It’s about being in control of his body. He’s not punishing himself; he’s just being firm, no matter what Matt says. And what does Matt know? He’s the King of punishing himself. He doesn’t understand why his mother cries when she sees him. There’s nothing to cry about. Well, okay, there’s a lot to cry about in the world, but nothing to cry about over him. He’s fine. It’s all okay.

He starts blaming law school. He goes for lunch with people, with clients, and when he doesn’t order anything he explains by saying that his hunger signals have died from all those days spent in the library. Everyone laughs, except Matt. It’s okay. He’s fine. He’s in control. It’s not a problem.

-

It becomes a problem.

When Foggy wakes up one morning and can’t remember the last time he wasn’t tired, he knows it’s become a problem. But it’s all in his head, so he tries to salvage it. Surely he can do that, right?

He starts eating regular meals. Small but regular. Crunching on bits of fruits and nuts in the office and indulging in disgustingly sweet coffees. It's enough. It will work.

-

It doesn’t work. He can’t make himself eat. He physically cannot bring the food to his mouth. The cheesy pasta he makes sits on his fork, looking as forlorn as he feels, and it’s right there. But he can’t. And when he forces himself to eat, it comes up and that makes him feel even worse.

He has as many sugary drinks as he can handle because at least that helps with the tiredness, but nothing much else seems to go down and stay down. Matt notices, as he always does, but now Foggy feels inferior, tired, and just pathetic. Because he thought there could be even one thing he’d be able to manage, and he failed even that.

Seems like he can’t manage much of anything these days.

-

He has a fight with his mother about his weight.

She’s worried. Matt’s worried. Everyone’s always worried.

Foggy shouts at his mother for the first time in fifteen years, and walks out of her front door.

-

He feels so guilty he doesn’t eat for three days.

(He doesn’t deserve it.)

-

He calls his mother and tells her he’s sorry, which is true.

He tells her he’ll try harder next time, which is not.

That she shouldn’t worry about him (lie) and that he’s going to be fine (lie), he’s just a little stressed (lie).

Matt’s climbing through the window behind him, and he’s not even breathing hard (Foggy lives on the fifth floor and he doesn’t have a fire escape). He opens his mouth and Foggy does not want to hear it—

“You’re hardly in a position to be talking about lies, Matt. Let’s not do the thing with glass houses and stones. Leave it alone.”

Matt’s jaw snaps shut and Foggy imagines he can hear the click of his teeth against each other. Foggy thinks about all the times he’d wanted to kiss Matt, just to explore his perfect teeth.

He hasn’t thought about kisses in a long time.

He hasn’t thought about Matt in a long time.

That’s strange.

Matt’s was always on his mind.

Matt always was on his mind.

-

After Matt leaves, Foggy throws out all his food. Even the stuff that’s not mouldy.

He doesn’t know why he does it, but he regrets it almost the moment he’s done.

(It’s because he’s giving up – this is not a thing he’s going to win).

-

That’s the first thing they taught him in law school.

You can’t win every fight.

This is not a fight he’s going to win.

-

It ends when Foggy loses control of his life.

It’s not like it was an overnight thing, but he could feel it slipping away bit by bit, until there was nothing left in his hands and everything was spiralling out of control, and he could actually see his life flashing before his eyes.

It ends when Foggy wakes up in a hospital bed, with no recollection of what had happened to get him there.

“You passed out,” a voice says from beside him; Foggy knows it’s Matt, can tell without even opening his eyes (Matt would totally get a kick out of that).

Foggy sighs. It figures that his life would be so undignified.

Matt looks horrible, all pale and wan and drawn. Foggy makes sure to let him know.

For a second, Matt looks terribly offended behind his dark red glasses, and slightly taken aback. Foggy realises it’s been a while since they’ve had a bit of banter. He’s not sure where it went, or when it stopped.

Maybe they stopped having time between Foggy working overtime to keep the firm running, and Matt working overtime to keep the city running. Maybe they just stopped seeing each other in the interim. He suddenly feels overwhelmingly guilty about this whole mess.

He’s always been worried about Matt, because the city is full of psychos and it’s dangerous for everyone, even when they’re not blind. But Matt should never worry about him, because he’s fine. Foggy’s never anything but fine, and that’s how he’ll always be.

Especially because Foggy brought this on himself. Because he had the gall to think that he was in charge of anything, even his own body.

He should have known he didn’t stand a chance. He couldn’t even stop his traitorous heart from beating overtime for Matt. He should never have been so stupid to think this would be any different.

The ward is stiflingly quiet, and the only sounds around them are the whir and beep of machines, watching his traitorous heart work furiously to keep his body alive.

It seems that despite everything, his heart beats on.

-

Matt doesn’t say anything in the hospital ward.

They get Foggy home, and Matt still doesn’t say anything.

Foggy’s just waiting for it; the tirade, the screaming, the accusations. He’s just waiting for the other shoe to drop and for glasses and plates to go flying.

He’d deserve it.

Matt still doesn’t say anything.

Foggy crawls into his own bed, feeling a little woozy, and a lot relieved to be home. He’s kinda tired of hospitals.

Matt waits for him and turns off the lights when he’s tucked underneath the duvet. Foggy expects that he’ll leave and they’ll meet up in the office tomorrow and pretend nothing had ever happened, because they're good at that.

Instead, Matt crawls into bed beside him, because Matt's never been good at doing what he was supposed to do.

(Foggy’s heart goes into overtime)

His eyes are squeezed shut and he hears the click of Matt’s glasses on the bedside table. Matt moves like he’s made of air and thoughts (Foggy can’t tell whether good or dark). There’s hardly an indentation on the bed, and if Foggy hadn’t been wide awake and fully alert, he doesn’t think he’d have noticed it.

There’s a soft exhalation of air beside his ear, and a shiver runs down his spine. He knows Matt can feel it.

He’s waiting for the questions now, because Matt wouldn’t shout at him like this. Matt would shout at him from across the room, maybe, like they used to in college. But now, it’s going to be a tell-all, and it’s going to shred Foggy from the inside.

(He deserves this.)

“May I touch you?” Matt asks instead, and it’s – it’s unexpected, to say the least.

Foggy nods and knows Matt can feel/hear it. He doesn’t speak because he’s not sure he can find any words in his throat, worth saying.

But instead of warm fingers landing on his face, there’s a gentle palm on his belly, and he almost flinches away. Matt didn’t specify where he was going to touch. Foggy doesn’t have the right to flinch away now.

It’s not much of a belly anymore, he thinks, as Matt’s thumbs skim his navel and bellybutton.

Foggy’s not as much as he used to be. He takes up less space in a bed, in a room, in his own life.

(He used to love curling up in that spot on the bed that remembered his weight. Now-a-days it was hard to get warm, and even his mattress had forsaken him.)

Matt’s fingers skim up his sides, and he’s momentarily thankful he’s not ticklish. Foggy knows immediately what Matt is doing; he’s counting ribs, the way Foggy himself had done so many times. His fingers are gentle and thorough, as if they’re looking for the fat and meat that used to sit on Foggy's bones and shield his heart from the world (without the armour, Foggy feels soft and vulnerable, and he doesn't like it). A second hand gently explores the nubs of his vertebrae along his spine. It hurts a little, but it’s nothing Foggy hasn’t done to himself. At least he’s wearing a t-shirt, and there’s a something to shield Matt from the ruin Foggy’s body has become.

His searching fingers become more and more hesitant, with each bump and knobbly bone, and each patch of bruised skin. Foggy’s not sure where this is going, or how it’s going to end, but he stays quiet because his mental dictionary is still not online.

He’s just waiting for Matt to open his mouth and say something, but instead he feels something wet on his shoulder. A drop, and another one, against the thin fabric of his t-shirt.

It takes longer than it should for Foggy to realise that Matt’s crying, he’s crying.

His tears are heavy and hot against Foggy’s skin in the cool night; Matt’s crying silently in the way children do when they know no one’s there to help or listen. But he’s sobbing, because Foggy can feel Matt shuddering, and he’s completely shut down; he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know how to make this better.

He reaches over to maybe hug Matt, maybe to pat him on the shoulder; comfort’s never been his strongest suit but he’s got sisters, he’s done this before (but he's never been the one to make someone cry, and this sucks).

But before he can make contact, Matt is moving and he’s curled around Foggy like an octopus, and his right hand is still running over his vertebrae, obsessively like he’s counting each bump and marking it as a personal enemy.

Matt’s fingers are gentle and firm, and they feel like they’re singeing marks into his skin. Foggy has never let himself – Foggy has always wanted – He’ll never forget this. Now, Matt has marked Foggy completely, both inside and out. He’ll never survive this.

Matt’s still crying, face pressed into Foggy’s neck, and even Foggy can hear the sound Matt’s tears make when they drip against his crisp bedsheets.

The world around them is muffled and still, like a fluffy blanket has been draped around the room, and his best friend is sobbing like his heart’s been broken. And maybe it has.

(There’s been a lot of that going around these days.)

Foggy’s still numb when Matt eventually stops crying. His head is ringing like a big, empty ringing thing, and it feels like the night will never end.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers.

And it’s wrong, wrong, wrong, but –

He knows it's the wrong thing to say the moment he says it. Matt’s shaking his head and it takes Foggy a second to decide whether Matt’s doing it deliberately or whether he’s shaking from fear, anger, sorrow, or something else. But no, he’s shaking his head decisively into the crook of Foggy’s neck. Foggy doesn’t know what else to say.

But Matt doesn’t get up. He doesn’t put on his glasses and walk out of the house and out of Foggy’s life forever. He just shakes his head and his fingers press into Foggy’s side like they’ll leave bruises (maybe they will) and he hunkers down and doesn’t move.

Foggy’s warm, and he’s got a cramp somewhere, and Matt’s hand is heavier than an anvil across his ribs, and he maybe needs to pee, and it’s really too warm to be cuddl – to be sharing space like this (Matt’s like a miniature space heater blanket thing – Foggy has always known this).

Foggy has never felt so safe in his life.

-

Foggy doesn’t remember having fallen asleep, but he does wake up in a blanket burrito, which he’s sharing with Matt. Matt’s already awake but he’s not moving. Matt’s hair is pretty epic, and Foggy guesses his is too. He has to wriggle a little so his pyjama bottoms don’t slide off, tangled in the cocoon of warmth and fabric, and he can see the second everything clicks back into place Matt’s mind; the moment he remembers everything that had happened.

Matt seems to shut down, to become smaller than he actually is. His face, once soft and sleep-worn, becomes drawn and tired. The sorrow for having caused that is an ache in Foggy’s bones and he wonders if it will ever go away; wonders if he will ever feel as warm again as he feels now.

They don’t say much, because there’s not much to say. They’ve known each other for too long for there to be words now.

But when Matt makes scrambled eggs, like he used to in college, he makes three eggs for each of them. Foggy pours each of them a mug of coffee, when the machine makes the death rattle indicating that its job is done. Foggy slides the salt into Matt’s right hand and the pepper into his left, like he used to, even though Matt probably doesn’t need it.

And Foggy eats, because he’s tired, and he’s tired of being tired, and because Matt’s the blind one, but Foggy’s the one who hadn’t seen how Matt’s face pinched with every skipped meal and every lost ounce. And with every forkful of perfectly scrambled egg, something in Matt’s face eases, and he stops looking so much like a clockwork doll wound too tight.

And because it’s a day of minor miracles, Foggy’s able to keep his breakfast down, and after everything is done, Matt kisses him.

Foggy’s not sure, but he thinks the eggs and coffee and the certainty of Matt on his lips tastes like victory to him.

(And it is.)