Matt should have known not to trust a quiet night.
He’d been floating around Hell’s Kitchen for a couple of hours, and the worst crime he’d encountered was a couple of tourists deciding to go to Pizza Hut when San Antonio’s was right there, making the whole block smell like oregano. He was just about to head back to his apartment and get a whole six hours of sleep for once when he heard a familiar voice.
“...just reaching for my wallet, okay? No need to get jumpy.”
Foggy, his brain told him helpfully, and then a mugging, and then Foggy being mugged, and then he stopped breathing.
Apparently his body had decided that oxygen was unnecessary, though, because he was moving anyway, hightailing it over the rooftops probably faster than was strictly safe, but that didn’t matter because Foggy was in danger. As he honed in on him he could hear the mugger responding.
“Get your hands where I can see them! I said get your fucking hands where I can see them!”
“Well, how am I supposed to give you my wallet if I can’t take it out of my pocket?” Foggy said, his tone pleasant and reasonable. Only Matt, who knew him better than anyone, would’ve been able to detect the tremble of fear in it.
Only Matt could hear his heartbeat as he got closer, pounding like a drum.
“Don’t you fuck with me, man!”
“Buddy, I can think of few things that sound less appealing. Trust.”
Jesus. Of course Foggy was going to antagonize the guy. If the mugger didn’t kill him, Matt might.
But the mugger wasn’t going to kill him, because Matt was at the alley, and ricocheting down the fire escape, and dropping into a crouch between the two men. Foggy gave a startled yelp, and the mugger yelled “Shit!” and jumped back.
“You want to back away,” Matt told the mugger, his voice low and dangerous. “Right now.”
“Ma--Daredevil,” Foggy said quickly. Matt could hear his heartbeat, rabbit-quick; his sweat was sour in the air. “He’s got a gun.”
Of course. Because why would Foggy take the trouble to piss off a mugger armed with just a knife when he could really risk his life? Matt tilted his head, taking in the unmistakable scents of oil and gunpowder. He’d missed them before, too focused on Foggy. “He’s not going to get the chance to use it,” he said.
“Daredevil. I knew it,” the mugger said, which made no sense, but people tended to babble nonsense when they encountered Matt in dark alleys - if they could muster up the ability to speak at all. “I fucking knew it! You’re done, shithead.”
He cocked the gun, loud as a church bell in Matt’s ears, but Matt was already moving. He snapped a roundhouse kick into the mugger’s wrist. The gun went flying. Matt turned into his spin and leapt, his left heel slamming into the mugger’s chin.
Thud. The asshole and his glass jaw dropped. Matt swallowed his disappointment; anyone who went after Foggy deserved worse than being kicked twice.
“Holy shit,” said Foggy.
Matt froze. Foggy’s heart was still jackhammering, and Matt suddenly remembered that he’d never seen Matt fight before, not in person. What if he was pissed again? What if he was afraid of Matt?
“That was.” He heard Foggy swallow. “That was pretty fucking cool.”
Matt let out the breath he’d been holding. “Uh...thanks?” he said, turning to face Foggy.
“No, I mean, I knew you could, you know…” There was a blur of movement; Matt knew Foggy well enough to guess he was probably karate chopping the air. “...but that was. Wow. Like. Really fast? And. Shit. I don’t know.” He was babbling; his heart still racing, his body temperature spiking. Probably the adrenaline, although Matt couldn’t taste the particularly sour tang of fear in the air anymore. “Maybe I should get mugged more often.”
“What? Are you insane?” Matt snapped. The fury that had bled out of him when the mugger dropped blazed up again, roaring in his ears.
“Whoa, Matt, I was kidding…”
Matt stepped into his space. “It’s not funny. Do you know what I thought, when I heard your voice and…” He cut himself off with an angry noise. “And what is wrong with you, mouthing off to someone with a gun? Did you want him to shoot you?”
“I was nervous, I…”
“Why are you even out here this late?” Matt demanded. “You know better than anyone that it’s not safe. What if I hadn’t been close enough to hear?”
“I was just coming from the subway,” Foggy protested. Matt heard him swallow again. “I had dinner at my mom’s, you know that...”
Matt took another step closer, close enough to feel the heat radiating off of Foggy’s skin. Maybe if he got right up in Foggy’s face, Foggy would understand that Matt needed him safe. “Then you take a cab, Foggy. You don’t wander around Hell’s Kitchen in the middle of the night and practically get yourself killed! You can’t...I need you to…”
“Matt, come on...” Foggy said weakly, and put his hand on the leather over Matt’s chest. The air was thick with that smell, the one that wasn’t fear.
The mugger groaned.
Matt and Foggy froze. “Do you think he heard me say your name?” Foggy whispered.
Matt stepped back. “Call the police,” he said. “I’ll wait until they come, and you better have them escort you home.”
“Yes, Mom,” Foggy said, reaching into his pocket for his phone.
“Please. Your mom’s way scarier than me.”
“Ain’t that the truth.”
They waited in silence once Foggy was off the phone, just in case the mugger was playing possum. Even with one ear tuned to their new friend, Matt could tell that Foggy’s heartbeat was settling back down to normal. Which was good - even if Foggy wasn’t scared of him, Matt could do with his best friend never having a reason to be scared at all.
When he heard sirens approaching, Matt cocked his head at Foggy. “Cops are almost here,” he said, and headed for the fire escape.
“Okay,” Foggy said. “Hey, listen, M--Daredevil? Uh...thanks.”
Matt paused in reaching for the ladder. “Any time,” he said softly, and was glad that Foggy couldn’t hear his heartbeat.
Then he sprang onto the ladder and up over the fire escape until he reached the roof.
The cops got to the alley a minute later; Matt waited out of sight, listening, as they roused the punch-drunk mugger and listened to Foggy’s story.
“...and then Daredevil came out of nowhere and saved my sorry butt,” Foggy said.
“Yeah, you guys are tight, right?” one of the cops asked.
Matt could hear Foggy’s panic ratchet up. “What? Me and Daredevil? No! I don’t know who he is!”
“No, I mean...didn’t he help Nelson and Murdock on that Fisk case?” the cop said, confusion clear in her voice. “I should know. Because of you guys, a third of my precinct is doing time now.”
“Oh! Ha ha! Right! Yes!” Foggy’s voice was too high, too fast. Matt resisted the urge to groan out loud. “Yes, yes, he’s been very helpful! With. That. Yep. But I don’t know who he is.”
“Not a clue. Toootal stranger. Heck, he could be you!”
“Well, I just got here, so…probably not,” the cop pointed out. “Also, I’m a woman.”
Matt dropped his face into his gloves.
“Right, right, I know you’re a woman. Obviously you’re a woman. You’re a very attractive woman!”
Foggy must’ve finally registered Matt telepathically beaming SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP at him, because he gulped and said, “You know what, I’ve just got a lot of adrenaline in my system right now, so I’m gonna go ahead and stop talking. Please don’t arrest me.”
And that was Matt’s cue to exit; Foggy was safe, and as long as Foggy kept his promise to stop talking, so was Matt’s secret identity. With a final rueful headshake - of fondness or exasperation, he wasn’t sure - he took off back across the rooftops, headed for home. It was time to call it a night.
“I’m just saying, you could have been more circumspect,” Matt said.
“I was caught off guard!” Foggy protested. “I wasn’t at my best! So sue me.”
“Don’t sue him,” Karen said quickly. “We can’t afford ourselves.”
They were in Foggy’s office, going over some paperwork for the Gomez case and squabbling over the still-warm muffins Foggy had picked up at the Little Pie Company. Karen had gleefully claimed the lion’s share of the cinnamon crumb muffin and was savoring each morsel of streusel as Foggy regaled them with his version of the previous night’s events. Factually, it was accurate, but he didn’t seem too concerned with the part where he had almost gotten shot, so Matt was having trouble being as amused as Karen was.
“I’m not gonna sue him,” Matt said. “I need him to defend me when they arrest me for being Daredevil. You think you could’ve used my name a little bit more last night, Foggy?”
Foggy pshawed around a mouthful of banana nut muffin. “The guy was unconscious. Probably.”
“And what about the ‘Oh, no, Officer, I definitely don’t know Daredevil, he definitely doesn’t work with me and have the spare key to my apartment’ bit?”
Karen chuckled. “Smooth.”
Foggy made an offended little noise. “Excuse you, I am an attorney, professionally trained in the art of misdirection. She has no idea who you are.” A touch of smugness crept into his tone. “Plus, I got her number.”
“Oh, smooth!” Karen said again, this time sounding much more impressed - though no less entertained.
Matt scowled into his coffee cup. “Could we get back to work, please?”
There was a moment of silence, and Matt knew he was mildly paranoid, but he was also pretty sure Karen and Foggy were exchanging glances. “Okay, sure,” Karen said, and the office fell silent except for the rustle of turning pages. It wasn’t that complicated of a case - a landlord trying to oust a local bodega owner from his building on the basis of some trumped-up health code violations - but for some reason they were having trouble getting enough material to make a solid case for their client.
Karen tsked to herself as she read through the various statements they’d collected. “Let’s hope they don’t put Mrs. Gomez on the stand. She’s all over the place in here.”
“They can’t,” Matt said. “At least, not if she doesn’t want to testify.”
“Why not?” Karen asked.
“Spousal privilege,” Foggy said.
Oh, right. Karen caught on to everything so quickly that Matt often forgot she had no actual legal background. “It means you can’t force someone to testify against their spouse,” he explained. “At least, not about things that have happened during the course of their marriage.”
“What?” Foggy asked. “You’re smiling. Matt, she’s smiling.”
“No, it’s nothing,” Karen said, and now Matt could hear the smile in the warmth of her voice. “I was just thinking it’s too bad you guys aren’t married, in case Daredevil does get caught. Or that there’s no, I don’t know. Partner privilege. College roommate privilege. There’s not, right?”
Foggy laughed. “Considering that Matt totally narced on me about having a hot plate in our room sophomore year, no, there’s not.”
“I did not narc on you! The RA just figured it out.”
“Because you have no poker face.” Matt heard the swish of hair against Foggy’s collar as he shook his head. “I guess I can’t expect you to keep me in the lifestyle to which I’d like to become accustomed on the competitive card sharp circuit.”
Matt found himself smiling despite himself. “Are you saying you won’t marry me, Foggy?”
“Not unless you can smell aces, buddy.”
Foggy gave a gusty sigh. “Then I remain tragically single, and doomed to sell you up the river the minute they put me on the witness stand, Murdock.”
Matt snorted. “Keep your mouth shut around your new cop girlfriend and you won’t end up on the witness stand at all, Nelson.”
He felt Foggy’s foot connect with his ankle, not hard enough to hurt. He rolled his eyes behind his glasses, but didn’t bother to try to hide his smile. Okay, so they should be more careful in the future. Fine. For now, Foggy was safe, business was good, and he had a freshly-baked blueberry muffin wafting the scent of butter and lemon zest up towards his nose.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.
“Congratulate me, Matty, for I am become the latest hipster food sensation,” Foggy declared grandly, hoisting the bottle of scotch aloft. The little liquid that remained sloshed against the glass.
“How so?” Matt asked, tipping his face up towards Foggy from where he sat slumped on the couch. Any more movement than that was really asking too much right now.
“I,” Foggy proclaimed, “am a pickled avocado. El Grande Avocado Pickleoso!”
Matt snorted a laugh. “How have you managed to live nearly three decades in New York and learn this little Spanish?”
“Talent, mi amigo. Ha!” Foggy crashed down onto the couch and waved the bottle in Matt’s face. “You just got Spanished.”
“That I did.” Matt plucked the bottle from Foggy’s hand and put it safely on the floor. “And I think you’ve had enough.”
“You’ve had enough. You’re drunker than I am.”
“Oh yeah? How many fingers am I holding up?” Foggy waggled a hand in his face.
Matt grinned. “You’re changing them, you filthy cheater.”
“Ah, nuts.” Foggy flopped over. His head landed in Matt’s lap, a warm, heavy weight. “Thought you’d be too drunk to tell.”
“Never.” Not when Matt’s senses were full of Foggy; his relaxed heartbeat and slightly sluggish breathing; faded aftershave and fabric softener and breath that was admittedly probably flammable right now; the flushed-drunk heat of him and the way each shift on the couch cushions moved Matt too. He’d know if Foggy so much as winked.
He should be sober right now, he knew, and out keeping watch over the city. But Foggy had turned up on his doorstep with mouth-wateringly aromatic falafel and his most plaintive voice, and Matt had been talked into skipping a night. Right now, full and warm and well into the spins, he couldn’t bring himself to feel more than thirty percent guilty about it.
Foggy suddenly groaned into Matt’s thigh, and Matt snorted again as the vibration tickled through his pants. “What?”
“I’m too tired to walk all the way home.”
“You live four blocks away.”
“That’s so many. Carry me, Daredevil.”
“No.” Matt prodded Foggy’s cheek idly. “You can have the couch.”
“Couch sucks. I can see that billboard even if you can’t. I want the bed.”
“No way. I paid a lot of money for those sheets.”
“You’re the worst. I’m so glad we’re not married. Silly Karen.” Foggy wiggled, getting comfortable. It hurt a little, actually, as his head bore down into Matt’s thigh for a minute, but Matt didn’t bother saying anything. “Although if we were, I’d already be home.”
Foggy laughed again. “Would we have to change the name of the firm? Nelson-Murdock and Murdock-Nelson?”
Matt grinned. “Who says I’m gonna hyphenate?”
“That’s right. You just take my name, baby.” Foggy paused. “You know, my mom would be thrilled.”
“Are you kidding? She loves you. You as a son-in-law would be the next best thing to straight up trading me for you.”
Matt had apparently started petting Foggy’s hair at some point. It was soft. “Your mom’s the best.”
“See? That’s why she wants to trade.” Foggy snickered. “You know what we should do? Just, just get the marriage license and see how long Karen believes that we’re actually gonna do it.”
“Haha, yes,” Matt said, picturing her reaction. “Just leave it on her desk and don’t say anything about it.”
“Exactly! Wait, no, I’m doing this. We’re doing this. We’re.” Foggy took a deep breath, then heaved himself up out of Matt’s lap. Matt’s thigh was cold where Foggy’s head had rested. “Where’s your laptop?”
“Over…” Matt pointed vaguely at his dining table.
The couch cushions shifted as Foggy sprang up. “Whoa. Spins.” His footsteps tottered away and then back, and the cushions shifted again. “Okay. City clerk dot NYC dot gov. Doo doo doo...marriage license application. Spouse A. I get to be Spouse A because I’m typing.”
“That seems fair.” Matt angled his head at Foggy. “Wait. Are you really filling it out?”
“Hell yeah I’m really filling it out!” Foggy’s fingers clattered over the keys. “Nelson...Franklin...yadda yadda yadda...no, I will not have a new surname. Nice try, Murdock.”
“You don’t think ‘Franklin Murdock’ has a nice ring to it?” Matt asked. “‘Foggy Murdock.’ Perfect.” He knew he was pretty drunk, but the name suddenly sounded great to him. Or maybe it was just how amused Foggy’s voice was as he typed. Foggy sounded tired and stressed so often these days, especially since he’d found out about Matt’s vigilantism. Matt liked him sounding like this better.
“‘Foggy Murdock’ sounds like the name of a swamp in a children’s book,” Foggy said. “Occupation…avocado.”
Matt snorted. “Don’t put that.” Distantly he thought maybe he should stop Foggy, but playing along was more fun.
“You know I know all these answers for you, Spouse B?” Foggy said, nudging Matt’s foot with his own. He was warm. Matt kind of wanted to put his head on Foggy’s shoulder and go to sleep. “Parents’ info and everything. This is probably a sign that we spend too much time together.”
“Or that our marriage is blessed by the patron saints of New York.”
“Are there patron saints of New York? Wait, Daredevil, duh.”
Matt elbowed Foggy in the side, touched. Foggy squeaked and arched away, still typing. “This is easy. Marriage is fun!”
“Well, we’re not actually getting married,” Matt pointed out. He meant for it to be funny, but he just sounded tired to his own ears. Maybe he was getting too old to be drinking this much. There was a headache building behind his right eye and he kind of wanted Foggy to stop making such loud typing sounds.
“True.” Foggy hummed low in his throat. “Pranking Karen is fun!”
“You’re not wrong there.” Matt settled back on the couch and closed his eyes. Foggy was having fun. Matt wasn’t going to stop him.
“If you fall asleep, I get the bed.”
“No you don’t.”
“You’re the worst spouse ever.”
“I can live with that.”
Matt snuggled into the couch, sliding down on the cushion until he was leaning against Foggy’s side. At some point he was going to have to kick Foggy out and go to bed, but right now he was drunk, and Foggy was warm and soft, and the bed was very far away. Even the typing didn’t hurt so much anymore, not with his temple pressed to Foggy’s shoulder like this. For now, as he listened to Foggy’s breathing and felt Foggy’s arms shifting beneath him as he told the city clerk’s office Matt’s life story, Matt was content.
Matt was miserable.
He’d thought that sometime after college he’d learned not to give himself a hangover this bad, but apparently not. Somehow he dragged himself in and out of the shower and into a set of clothes, and tried his best to tune out the cacophony of sounds turning his brain to jelly as he made his way to work.
“Yikes,” Karen said when he walked in the door.
“Somehow I don’t detect all that much sympathy in your voice, Ms. Page,” he said, and even managed to pitch it above a whisper, like a hero.
“You go drinking without me, you deserve the consequences,” she replied. “Anyway, the other jerk brought you coffee, it’s on your desk.” Foggy gave a low groan of protest from his office and the vague Karen shape in front of Matt did something that was probably a shrug. “I call ‘em like I see ‘em, Nelson.”
“I brought you coffee too,” Foggy mumbled.
“And that’s why I’ll forgive you before I forgive Matt.”
“This favoritism is outrageous,” Matt said as he made his way into his office. Now that he was paying attention, the smell was unmistakable. “Is this Blue Bottle?” he called, then winced.
“It’s weird that you can tell that,” Foggy said, not bothering to raise his voice. Matt heard it anyway.
He sank into his chair and curled his hands around the warm paper cup, breathing in the smell of it - their darkest roast, one sugar, no milk, just the way he liked it. As he sipped it slowly - it was still bracingly hot, so Foggy couldn’t’ve gotten in much earlier than he had - he felt himself gradually come back to life.
Eventually he made his way back across the office to Foggy’s door, considerably more human than he’d been when he’d walked in. “Thanks for the coffee,” he said, leaning against the doorframe.
“I figured if I felt like shit this morning, you probably felt worse, with your mutant powers.”
“They’re not mutant powers.”
“Sure.” Foggy leaned back in his chair. “So, uh, I got something interesting in my inbox this morning.”
Matt waited. “I hope you’re not turning your screen around for me to look at, for obvious reasons.”
“No, no. It, uh.” Foggy clicked something on the computer and lowered his voice to read out loud: “Dear Franklin Nelson and Matthew Murdock: Your marriage application has been approved. Please report to the Office of the City Clerk at 141 Worth Street to receive your marriage license.”
Matt blinked slowly.
“How drunk were we last night?” Foggy asked.
“Uh.” Matt screwed up his face, thinking. He remembered Foggy digging the scotch out of his liquor cabinet, and Foggy stumbling sleepily out the door...and somewhere in between, Foggy typing something and giggling. “I think we were...pranking Karen, maybe?”
“Did I just hear my name?” Karen called.
“No,” Foggy said. “Matt, close the door?”
Matt slipped in and shut the door against Karen’s annoyed noise, then took the seat across from Foggy’s desk. “I…” He started, and shook his head. “What…” He stopped again. “Are we on the hook for anything? Do we need to send in a cancellation? Did you pay for anything?”
“Thankfully, no,” Foggy said. “I’m pretty sure we can just ignore this. Even if we’d actually gotten the license, it’d expire in sixty days if we didn’t, you know.”
“Get married,” Matt supplied. The words felt weird on his tongue. It had been funny last night, and even yesterday when Karen had suggested it; now he wondered why they’d ever thought it was something to joke about. “Okay, good. So as long as we don’t do anything with this, we’re in the clear.”
“Right.” Foggy’s hand moved in front of his face, probably pinching the bridge of his nose. “Also we should probably drink less.”
“That, too.” Matt tapped his finger on the side of his coffee cup. “So we’re good.”
“Good.” And then Matt’s voice said, entirely without permission from him: “Unless you think we should just do it.”
Foggy went impossibly still, which was impressive considering how fast his heartbeat had gotten. “What?”
“I mean, it’s not like Karen didn’t have a point yesterday,” Matt’s voice said. Matt wasn’t sure how to wrangle control of it back again. “You know more about...what I do than anyone. Even Claire, now. If I ever...if I get arrested, or...I mean, you said it yourself. Everyone will know that you know. You’re the first person they’re putting on the stand.”
“I would perjure myself,” Foggy said quietly, and though his heart was racing, Matt didn’t hear a lie. “If it helped. You know that, right?”
“I don’t want you to have to,” Matt said. He knew what lying under oath would cost Foggy. “I don’t want you to have to make that choice at all. Why not just eliminate it from consideration entirely?”
“By getting married.” Foggy’s voice was still very quiet.
“Just legally,” Matt said. “I’m not saying we should pick out china patterns or anything. I’m just saying we go down to the City Clerk’s office for a couple hours, pay the twenty-five dollars or whatever it is, and keep you from having to testify.” He let the corner of his mouth quirk up a little, barely a smile. “I mean, hell, we already share debts.”
He waited. He might be a relatively new lawyer, but he knew how to use the power of silence when addressing a jury; to make his point as if there was no other way to look at the issue and let them convince themselves. Of course, he knew that Foggy knew perfectly well what he was doing - but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t work.
He wondered why it was so important to him that it did work.
Finally he heard the hitch in Foggy’s breathing that meant he was about to talk. Matt pressed his fingers against his coffee cup.
“I suppose it would be good to be able to visit you in the hospital, if you ever actually let someone take you there,” Foggy said. His heart was still racing, but his tone was even.
Matt made himself smile as if all this didn’t matter very much. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll get bronchitis or something.”
“Ah, yes, my fondest dream,” Foggy said. Suddenly he laughed. The familiar sound broke the tension in the room and filled its empty spaces with a feeling like home. “Are we really doing this?”
“It just makes sense,” Matt said. He felt like he was floating, weightless; there was probably too much caffeine in his coffee or something. “Spousal privilege, like we said. And the hospital thing.”
“I have time.” If they didn’t do it now, they never would. “Do we need a witness?”
“I’m sure they can provide one downtown,” Foggy said, standing up and moving past Matt to open the door. “But I’m also pretty sure I just figured out how to make Karen stop being mad at us.”
The wait wasn’t as long as Matt would’ve expected, only about an hour or so. Apparently not that many people applied for marriage licenses on a Wednesday morning. He sat in an uncomfortable plastic chair and tuned out the angry sounds and stale smells of a government building, focusing in on Karen and Foggy instead.
“You sure you don’t want me to run out and get flowers or something?” Karen asked, her voice sharp with teasing. “I mean, this is a festive occasion, after all.”
“It’s not a real wedding, Karen,” Foggy said, voice low. “Besides, you bring flowers and Matt’ll just make his wrinkly too-many-smells face all the way through.”
“Excuse me, my what face?” Matt asked.
“It’s a face, you make it,” Foggy said as if that explained anything. “It’s like…” He paused, presumably demonstrating the face, because Karen burst out laughing. “Right?”
“Sorry, Matt, he’s right. It’s definitely a face you make,” she agreed.
"Well, you..." Matt said, and stopped. Somehow he didn't think "You breathe funny when you're trying not to laugh at the joke you're about to tell" would go over well. "Never mind."
Foggy patted his knee. "Don't worry, Matty. It's still ludicrously handsome, just like all your other faces. Your milkshake will still bring all the girls to the yard."
"Huh. That's a question," Karen said. Matt tilted his head towards her, and sensed Foggy doing the same. "What if one of you wants to get married to someone else? For real, I mean?"
Foggy scoffed playfully. "For that, Matt'd have to date a girl long enough to learn her last name."
"I know their last names! Most of them, at least," Matt protested. Not that Foggy didn't have a point - he couldn't actually picture himself married to anyone. For starters, they'd have to know his secret - well, secrets, plural - and that circle was already too wide for comfort.
But Foggy…that was easy to picture. Foggy was a charming, intelligent lawyer with his own practice, rinky-dink though it might be. He was gentle and funny and honest, and he loved children and dogs. He'd make some lucky girl an amazing husband someday, and Matt could only hope that whoever she was, she'd put up with Matt circling somewhere in the outer orbit of Foggy's life.
Matt suddenly felt the headache that had been pushed at bay by the coffee starting to creep back.
“Anyway, don’t worry,” he said. “When Foggy finds his one and only, we’ll just get a quiet divorce and that’ll be that.”
“You’re not too Catholic for divorce?” Foggy asked.
“Considering I’m not too Catholic for a sham gay marriage for the purposes of protecting testimony, no,” Matt murmured back.
“Darn,” Foggy said. “And here I thought I could leave my dirty socks any old place and you’d still be stuck with me.”
“I mean, you probably can, since you live in different apartments,” Karen pointed out.
“Hmm,” Matt said.
“Oh no, what’s that face for?” Foggy asked.
“Now what face am I making?”
“The ‘I’ve got an idea and Foggy’s not going to like it’ face.”
“Do you name all my faces?”
“Spill it, Murdock.”
Matt took a breath. Foggy probably wasn’t going to like this. “I was just thinking...maybe we should move in together.”
And there it went - Foggy’s heartbeat, off to the races. Matt knew he wouldn’t like it. “I...why?”
“Well, look at it this way,” Matt said. “You’re trying a case against...against Karen, let’s say, and you think her best friend knows some incriminating secrets. But a month ago, she and that totally platonic friend got married. But they didn’t have a ceremony, they don’t live together, they haven’t changed their lives in any way. Now, you can’t put that friend on the stand - but are you telling me that you’re not going to point out to a jury that the timing of this apparently platonic marriage looks very suspicious?”
“Who exactly am I marrying in this scenario?” Karen asked. “Are we all marrying Foggy?”
Foggy didn’t speak for a minute, but his heartbeat was as loud as a drum. “You make a solid argument, counselor,” he said finally, and Matt tried not to look too relieved. He didn’t want to put Foggy through all the trouble of marrying him as a favor to Matt if it would only make the hypothetical case against Matt stronger.
Plus, if they moved in together, Matt would always know where Foggy was. There’d be no more sending him home late at night; no more risk of Foggy being held at gunpoint without Matt there to protect him. He could keep Foggy safe.
“So what you’re really saying is, we should make it look convincing,” Foggy went on. Matt was usually good at interpreting people’s tones of voice, especially Foggy’s, but right now he couldn’t tell what Foggy was thinking.
“Just for show,” he said quickly. “At least for a few months.”
He sensed Foggy’s nod, and heard him take a breath. “All right,” Foggy said - and then he startled Matt by picking up his hand and laced their fingers together. “Your place or mine, snookums?”
Karen laughed. “Okay, ‘snookums’ is definitely grounds for divorce.”
Matt let himself grin. This was going to be okay. He opened his mouth to say something -
“Nelson and Murdock?” the woman at the front desk called. “Nelson and Murdock, you’re up.”
Foggy’s hand tightened on Matt’s, and Matt’s mouth snapped shut. This was going to be okay. It was.
The process of getting the actual license was relatively painless, after spending over an hour in uncomfortable plastic chairs - they just handed their photo IDs over to the clerk and signed a piece of paper. The worst part of it was trying not to laugh as Foggy extra-carefully guided his hand to where he was supposed to sign and said, “Right here, lambkin.”
There was supposed to be a twenty-four hour waiting period between getting the physical license in their hands and the actual marriage ceremony, but they could get a judicial waiver to circumvent that. Luckily, they knew a lot of judges.
“Got it!” Foggy announced triumphantly, trotting back down the hall and waving a piece of paper. “Judge Schwartz says congratulations, and, uh.”
“What?” Matt asked.
“She always knew someday we’d work it out.” Matt sensed Foggy’s shrug. “I guess we won’t have to worry about convincing people.”
“Yeah, you guys know you’re going to get a lot of that, right?” Karen asked.
Foggy gave a breezy sigh. “The burden of being irresistible, I’m afraid. Everyone speculates about my love life. Enough, you gossip harpies! Get your pound of flesh elsewhere!”
Matt laughed. “It’s tough to be you, huh, Fogs?”
“You have no idea, buddy.”
“Nelson-Murdock?” a clerk called.
Matt found Foggy’s arm. “Right here,” he said as they headed towards the clerk’s voice.
“License?” the clerk asked.
Foggy presented it. “Here!”
“Here!” Karen chimed in.
“Okay,” the clerk said, sounding unimpressed by their enthusiasm or preparedness. “Let’s get this over with.”
Matt hadn’t been to many weddings - one of the minor consequences of being an orphan whose acquaintances were mainly coworkers, criminals, and nuns - but when he thought of weddings, he thought of church: of organ music and incense, of kneeling in pews and of his memories of the way stained glass cast patterns of colored light along the floor. He thought of something important and holy, even after the disastrous divorce cases he’d sat in on as an intern - something heavy with significance in God’s eyes.
This wasn’t that.
The clerk mumbled his way through the rote and very brief civil ceremony; Matt could tell he was staring straight at the book in front of him, though he’d probably read the words a thousand times before. They didn’t have rings, so they skipped that part. Karen fidgeted behind them.
“Franklin Nelson, do you take Matthew Murdock to be your lawfully wedded husband?” the clerk droned.
Matt heard Foggy take a breath. His heart was racing, which was fair enough. If they got caught with this sham of a marriage, not to mention the reason behind it, Foggy was probably protected from being charged as an accessory - but his career would be in the toilet.
“I do,” Foggy said, and Matt swallowed around a sudden inexplicable lump in his throat.
“Matthew Murdock, do you take Franklin Nelson to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
There was a feeling Matt got sometimes, when he went leaping off rooftops into the darkness of Hell’s Kitchen. He knew his trajectory, knew there was a flagpole or fire escape waiting for his outstretched hands, knew what his body could do. He always knew, deep down, where he would land.
But for a moment, before gravity seized his body, he hovered weightless in uncertainty, in the possibility that this time, he might fall to his death. There was fear in that possibility, and a fierce, reckless joy. Sometimes Matt thought the only reason he did any of this was to chase that high.
He felt that way now.
“I do,” he said, and felt Foggy’s hand tighten in his. His safe landing.
“Hooray!” Karen cheered behind them, and Matt couldn’t help smiling.
“Ahem,” said the clerk, and Karen quickly shut up. “By the power vested in me by the State of New York, I pronounce you legally married. You may kiss.”
“Uh,” Matt said, but Foggy was already moving, wrapping an arm around his neck and laying a loud smacker on his cheek.
“Can you believe it, pumpkin?” Foggy asked as Karen moved to sign the form the clerk held out for her. “We’re married! Till death do we part, just like we always said.”
“Um,” Matt said. “Yep.”
They were married. Legally. And had to pretend to be in love for the foreseeable future, just in case.
And Foggy was pressed up against Matt’s side, his arm a heavy weight around Matt’s neck. His conditioner and aftershave itched in Matt’s nose and his heartbeat was a steady - if speedy - counterpoint to Matt’s own, racing like it was out to win the Triple Crown. His kiss was still warm on Matt’s cheek.
Matt swallowed hard and thought that maybe he hadn’t reached a safe landing after all.
This will come into play a bit more in the next chapter, but as far as the history/timing of Matt and Foggy's friendship goes, I'm assuming they actually met at the beginning of undergrad, because that makes way more sense with the dialogue in that scene. Also, all of the restaurants mentioned can be found in Hell's Kitchen (though some, like Blue Bottle, aren't originally based there). Come to my beautiful New York, eat our food! Please don't go to Pizza Hut.
They decided on Matt’s apartment, since it was bigger and slightly closer to the office, and Foggy’s didn’t have the roof access door that was so convenient for what he called Matt’s “professional skulking.” Plus, Foggy’s lease was up for renewal in two months anyway. They didn’t discuss what they’d do at that point.
Work was a lost cause, so Matt went home and spend the next hour or so consolidating his clothes into fewer drawers so that Foggy would have room in the dresser. After he caught himself spending twenty minutes moving his workout clothes back and forth between drawers while trying to figure out if Foggy would prefer the top or bottom, he made a disgusted noise at himself and moved on to clearing out the medicine cabinet.
Foggy showed up while Matt was flipping all his light switches and checking for the telltale smell of burning filaments to figure out if the bulbs were actually still good. He had a duffel slung over his shoulder and was pulling a rolling suitcase behind him.
“I figure this’ll do me for the immediate future,” he said. “I can bring over a few things at a time after work, and...I guess we’ll figure out the furniture issue later? It’s all our old IKEA crap, so if we have to leave it out on the sidewalk for the scavengers I won’t shed a tear.” He dropped the duffel on the floor with a thud. “Well, except over the memories of 136th Street. Our beautiful shithole.”
“That place was the worst,” Matt said, although when he thought about the tiny walk-up they’d shared during law school, with a screen up in the single bedroom to give them the illusion of privacy, he mostly remembered feeling very independent and grownup and cool. Even with the five flights of stairs and the leaky bathroom and the roach problem. He’d been with Foggy, and that had made it an adventure instead of a hardship.
When they’d started interning at Landman and Zack and could afford to live separately, Matt had insisted Foggy keep the IKEA furniture, since Matt tended to live more sparsely anyway and would have fewer things to buy. He’d still slept badly his first few weeks on a bed made of real wood and not wood laminate, unused to a bedroom without the steady rumble of Foggy’s light snores to drown out the more distant noises of the city.
Foggy did a slow turn in the middle of the living room, his hands on his hips. “You need some color in here. I’m gonna decorate.”
Matt grinned. “You didn’t bring your blacklight posters from college, did you?”
“They were not blacklight posters! They were very tasteful!” Foggy protested. “Anyway I was thinking more like a lot of little Hummel figurines, so that you could appreciate them too. Or some ceramic clowns.” He got more animated as Matt laughed, sketching out his plans in the air. “Alternately, and I’m just spitballing here: we hang a tire swing right in the middle of the living room. Awesome, right?”
“It would not be the weirdest thing to happen in this apartment,” Matt conceded, feeling some of the tension bleed out of him. This was just Foggy. He knew how to live with Foggy; he’d done it for seven years.
“Exactly! Throw ‘em off the scent. ‘Oh, Matt Murdock, is that the guy who’s always sneaking out of the roof access door to beat up mobsters? No, that’s the weirdo with the tire swing and the clowns who’s always playing the banjo in the wee hours of the morning.’”
Foggy nodded. “Yeah, I figure I’ll start playing the banjo at random times and when the neighbors knock on the door to complain I’ll look over my shoulder and yell, ‘Hey, Matt! Keep it down!’ Boom. Secret identity locked up tight.”
“A brilliant alibi, counselor.”
“Hey.” Foggy shrugged. “I gotta earn my keep somehow, right?”
“Oh, you’ll be earning it by doing all the cleaning, didn’t I mention?” Matt asked innocently.
“Keep dreaming, Murdock.” Foggy hefted his suitcase. “All right, where am I putting my clowns?”
Foggy spent the afternoon putting his things away and auditing Matt’s belongings as he went, from his clothes (“Why do you have so many pairs of bright orange underwear?” “I do not. Nice try.”) to his kitchen (“All your food is way too healthy. I’m tripling the amount of Twinkies on the Fresh Direct order.” “Three times nothing is still nothing.”) to his bathroom (“Man Beauty Spray in a Can! I knew it!” “Put down the shampoo bottle, Foggy.”). Matt made dinner, because Foggy’s idea of cooking was to befriend every delivery guy in the neighborhood, and as they cleaned up the kitchen together, the air still rich with the smell of chicken and rice, Matt thought this might actually work.
Until the sun went down.
The fourth time Matt turned his head towards the closet where he kept his costume, Foggy sighed. “Just go, okay? You look like a dog waiting for someone to say the world ‘walk.’”
Matt hesitated. “Are you…” He knew Foggy still didn’t love the idea of Daredevil. Things between them were almost back to normal - maybe better, now that Matt didn’t have to lie to Foggy anymore - but that didn’t mean that Foggy had given Matt’s nighttime activities his blessing.
“I’m fine,” Foggy said. “I mean, no, I don’t like that you’re risking your life, but me not liking it isn’t going to stop you, so...go. Keep the streets safe. I’ll just...” He picked up his laptop. “Netflix, or something.”
Matt nodded. He could feel Foggy’s focus on him as he got up, as he got the key from its hiding place and took his costume into the bedroom. He was halfway into it when he realized something.
“I’ll probably be back pretty late,” he said, moving to stand in the doorway, his shirt in his hands. “You should take the bed.”
Foggy looked up from his computer and Matt heard his heartbeat pick up. Matt bit back a sigh; Foggy must’ve really hated the idea of Daredevil if seeing Matt in just the pants made him that upset. “I thought you said I don’t get the bed. You and your fancy sheets.”
“That was a one-night thing. You can’t sleep on the couch indefinitely. You’ll never get any rest.” Matt gestured vaguely towards the billboard.
“What, so it’s better for you to sleep on the couch indefinitely?”
“It’s a pretty comfortable couch.”
“For sitting, Matt! What if you’re injured? Which, by the way, happens like once a week,” Foggy pointed out. “You come in here with three concussions and a ruptured spleen, you don’t need to make it worse by spraining your entire skeleton sleeping on a couch.”
“We’ll get a pull-out couch,” Matt suggested.
“What, right now? At nine p.m. on a Wednesday?” Foggy paused, and his breathing hitched a little. “Look, why don’t we just share the bed?”
“Uh.” Matt’s brain blanked out on him. “Uh. Um.”
“Just for now,” Foggy said quickly. “Until we get that pull-out couch. It’s a big bed, we’ll leave some space in the middle, it’ll be fine.” His heart was still pounding, as loud and fast as it had when he was being mugged. “Come on, Matt. You know this way makes the most sense.”
“I. Um.” Matt swallowed. “Okay.”
“...Okay?” Foggy repeated, and let out a surprised little laugh. “Wow. Thought you were gonna fight me on that one.”
“No. No, you’re right,” Matt said. He tugged the shirt on over his head; for some reason he suddenly felt like he needed some kevlar on him. “It makes the most sense.”
“Right. Good.” Foggy nodded. “So we’ll just...do that.”
Matt picked up his cowl and turned it over in his hands. “So I should, uh…”
“Yeah, you go,” Foggy said. “I’ll just...be here. Netflixing.”
“Right.” Matt tugged on the cowl and squared his shoulders. “How do I look?”
“Like a dork,” Foggy said, but his voice was warm. “A very scary, badass dork.”
Matt felt Daredevil’s wicked grin slice across his face. “That’ll work.” He headed up the stairs, pulling on his gloves as he went.
“Hey, Matt?” Foggy said as he reached for the doorknob. “Be careful out there, okay?”
Matt paused, tilting his head back towards Foggy. “Yeah,” he said softly. “Okay.”
And he went out the door.
He stayed out later than usual, even though it was relatively quiet - just a couple of low-level drug busts and one fight where the participants scattered the moment they saw him. Every time he thought about heading home, though, he remembered Foggy, probably asleep by now, and made one more circuit.
Finally, when he knew he’d be lucky to eke out three hours of sleep, he made his way back over the rooftops towards home. As he slipped in as silently as possible through the roof access door, he stretched out his senses - and there was Foggy, curled up on his side in Matt’s bed.
Matt took a deep, meditative breath in through his nose and counted to ten as he let it out. Then he crept down the stairs and into the bedroom.
Foggy’s breathing, low and even, filled his ears as he pulled off the costume, moving slowly to keep the various buckles and zippers from jangling and waking him. He piled the costume pieces on the nightstand and pulled on the old Columbia t-shirt he wore to bed.
Then he paused. He should take the couch. It wasn’t that big of a bed, and he’d slept on the couch before. He didn’t want to disturb Foggy.
He slunk towards the door.
“Don’t even think about it,” Foggy said, and shifted slightly. “Get in here.”
“You’re awake.” He should have known - Foggy wasn’t snoring, his breathing had been too quick for sleep, Matt knew what he sounded like when he was asleep. What was wrong with him?
“Wanted to make sure you got home in one piece,” Foggy said, his voice scratchy with not-quite-sleep. Guilt gnawed at Matt’s heart. It was practically dawn. Foggy had lain awake this whole time for him?
“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.
“Yeah, I did.” Foggy rolled over onto his back. Matt wasn’t sure how dark it was or how much Foggy could see, but he had the distinct sensation he was being assessed. “You hurt?”
“No. It was quiet,” Matt said. Foggy made a suspicious noise. “I swear! No one even landed a punch.”
“Well, good,” Foggy said. “Now come on, I’m tired and it’s ass o’clock already.”
Matt hesitated. “Maybe I should…”
“We already discussed why you sleeping on the couch is a dumb idea, Murdock,” Foggy said. Matt recognized that fed-up tone; he could talk Foggy out of it, but not in anything like a short amount of time. “You want to have this argument, we’ll have it in the morning. For now, come here so I can go to sleep.”
He slipped under the sheets and curled up on the side of the bed, careful to put as much distance between himself and Foggy as possible. “Good night,” he said.
He felt the mattress shift as Foggy got comfortable. “Night.”
Foggy’s breathing gradually slowed, and after a few minutes the low drone of his snoring kicked in. But Matt lay there, twisting the edge of the sheet in his fingers, biting the inside of his lip until it hurt. It was warm under the covers, Foggy’s body heat seeping into the fabric and radiating out. He could hear Foggy’s heartbeat under his breathing, a steady drum vibrating through the mattress. And he could smell him: soap, deodorant, a hint of the chicken they’d had for dinner; a faint hint of sweat and the bracing coolness of toothpaste.
He took another meditative breath, and another, and a third. It did nothing but draw the smell of Foggy deeper into his lungs.
Muffling a sigh against his pillow, he closed his eyes and told himself to sleep. He’d shared a room with Foggy before, and this was barely different. All he had to do was stay on his side of the bed, and everything would be fine.
He knew he had only a few hours to sleep, but morning couldn’t come soon enough.
A car alarm blaring ten blocks away woke Matt out of a sound sleep. He groaned and pushed his face into the soft warmth in front of him, willing the noise to stop.
Then his brain put together the familiar sounds and smells of that warmth, and he froze.
Slowly, he pieced together where he was. In his bed; that part wasn’t a problem.
Curled up against Foggy’s side, clinging to him like a baby opossum with his face buried in the curve of Foggy’s neck; that part kind of was.
He pulled his head back carefully, and took stock. Judging by the warmth of the light on his cheek, it was well past sunrise. They were way over on Foggy’s side of the bed; Foggy was on his back, and Matt was...well. Being friendly.
He shifted away from Foggy a little bit more and realized that he was hard against Foggy’s hip. Make that very friendly.
Okay. This was fine. Foggy was still asleep. All Matt had to do was untangle himself without waking him, and this awkward nightmare would go away.
He unwound his right arm from across Foggy’s chest and wriggled the left one loose from under his back. His right leg, tangled between both of Foggy’s, was trickier, but he managed to pull it free without jarring Foggy too much. Then he inched back across the mattress, holding his breath until he was safely over on his own side.
Foggy didn’t move, and Matt let out a relieved breath. Okay. This was fine.
This was not fine. He needed to get out of this bed.
He sat up, pushing the covers back. The morning air was sharp and something primal in him ached to curl back under the warmth of the blanket, but Matt buried the momentary weakness and swung his legs off the side of the bed. As his feet hit the floor, his alarm went off.
Foggy stirred. “Mmmrph,” he mumbled. “Matt?”
Matt dug his fingers into the mattress at the sound of his name in Foggy’s sleep-blurred voice. “Morning,” he said, and was proud of how steady his own voice sounded. “Mind if I take the first shower?”
“Nnnrph,” Foggy said, and burrowed deeper under the covers.
Matt fled into the bathroom.
It was only when he was testing the water to see if it was hot enough that he realized that Foggy’s heartbeat had been light and quick again when Matt had woken up wrapped around him - far too quick for sleep.
Matt could deal with this.
So he had woken up hard. That was completely normal; even a boy raised by nuns knew that. It was an ordinary physiological reaction.
So he had woken up hard next to Foggy. Well, maybe Foggy hadn’t noticed. And if he had, he seemed completely willing to pretend that he hadn’t, which was essentially just as good.
So he - maybe, just possibly, just ever so slightly - had the barest smidgen of a hint of non-platonic feelings for his best friend.
That was a bit more difficult.
It wasn’t Foggy’s gender that bothered him; even in the heady days of puberty, clasping a rosary in palms he was pretty sure were about to sprout hair, the fact that he liked boys and girls had never seemed all that noteworthy compared to the fact that he could smell blood from three blocks away and hear mice inside the walls of the next building.
But this was Foggy. Foggy, who knew nearly everything about him and liked him anyway. Foggy, who’d burst into Matt’s life in a whirlwind of nervous laughter and talking too much and unshakeable, unearned loyalty. Foggy, who’d found an orphan and become his family.
Foggy, who Matt couldn’t risk losing.
Matt knew that Foggy had had a bit of a crush on him when they’d first met. It was obvious in his fumbling compliments about Matt’s looks, or the way his heart rate picked up when they touched. Matt still remembered Foggy sounding like he might actually keel over the day Matt first asked Foggy to guide him to class.
But after a few weeks that had all just...faded. Foggy’s nerves, so palpable Matt could practically taste them in the air, had mellowed into an easy familiarity, and Matt had been nothing but grateful. He liked Foggy, liked him a lot, and it was easier if Foggy just...liked him back.
Matt had had enough people tell him he was good-looking to believe it. It made sense that Foggy would’ve been attracted to him at first. It made less sense that Foggy would still want to stick around after he’d gotten to know Matt, but Matt wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Better to leave all that in the past, and keep a tight lid on any stray thoughts that might cross his mind about what else they could be in the future.
In light of that, it had probably been a bad idea to marry the guy, but it was a little late for regrets now.
By the time Matt got out of the shower, he had managed to calm himself down. Foggy was already out of the bedroom, and Matt could smell coffee brewing - a little too strong, but they both probably needed the kick today.
Matt exchanged his towel for underwear and grabbed a clean shirt. “Thanks for making coffee,” he said as he walked out of the bedroom.
“Ugh,” Foggy said. He was hunched over the counter, his face propped up on his elbows inches from the coffee pot as if that would make it brew faster. “Do you stay out that late every night? How do you function?”
“Poorly,” Matt said, shrugging into his shirt. He probably shouldn’t add that he’d stayed out extra late on purpose. “You really didn’t have to wait up.”
“Yeah, I…” Foggy turned to face him and cut off mid-sentence. His heartbeat ramped up, and Matt realized belatedly that if he didn’t want to make Foggy any more uncomfortable than he already had, he should probably stay fully dressed around him instead of parading around in nothing but underwear and an open Oxford. It wasn’t something he thought about much, usually. Nudity didn’t have that much effect on him unless he was touching it.
He felt the phantom sensation of Foggy’s neck against his cheek, his calves against Matt’s, and pushed it away. Not now.
“I.” Foggy shook his head as Matt quickly did up the buttons on his shirt. “Sorry, I’m not awake yet. I’m going to go shower.”
He slipped past Matt and disappeared into the bathroom. Matt made himself get mugs out of the cabinet and poured himself a cup of coffee before the pot quite finished brewing. The last few drops hissed and spattered on the burner as he removed the carafe, and he breathed in the burnt smell and tried to let it drown out the smell of Foggy still lingering in the air.
It didn’t work at all.
“Do you need to smell everything?”
“I ask myself the same question every garbage day.”
“People are staring.”
“People are staring because you won’t stop whispering in my ear. I can hear you whisper from a normal distance.”
“Yes, because it’ll look so much better if they think I’m just muttering to myself,” Foggy said, but he pulled back. Matt swallowed a twinge of disappointment. It did look weird to have Foggy so close, and his hair had been tickling Matt’s face.
He focused on the peach in his hand. Grocery stores weren’t his favorite places in the world; they were crowded and distractingly noisy, and the smells could be overwhelming. Plus it was nearly impossible for him to tell what was in any given box without putting his nose right up to it, and canned goods were right out. He usually ordered online and got his groceries delivered, but they’d finished the last of the cereal and milk that morning, and they needed a few things to tide them over until the weekend delivery.
He was probably getting ahead of himself, but the weirdest thing about being married to Foggy so far might have been how weird it wasn’t, awkward bed-sharing aside. Work had been the same, save for Karen’s insistence on referring to them only collectively and only as “the newlyweds.” And now they’d fallen back into their grocery shopping habits from school, squabbling cheerfully over Matt’s pickiness and Foggy’s habit of putting anything he’d never tried before in the shopping cart “for science.”
The biggest difference was that now that Matt didn’t have to hide his senses, he didn’t have to come up with some excuse to keep Foggy from putting less-than-perfect groceries in the cart. “This one’s all watery, it’s going to taste horrible,” he said, putting the peach back. Foggy handed him another; he inhaled and smelled tart summer sunshine. “This one’s good. Get more from this bin.”
“You’re so bossy,” Foggy said, and Matt heard the plastic produce bag rustle as Foggy dropped the peach into it. “Is this how you’re gonna treat me now that we’re married? Spend a decade reeling me in and now that I’m legally bound to you, it’s No More Mr. Nice Murdock?”
Matt grinned, started to reply - and froze. He’d been focusing on Foggy and the peaches to avoid being overwhelmed by the sensory input from the rest of the store, but that was definitely a familiar heartbeat and collection of smells approaching from behind Foggy.
“Married?” Brett asked, and Foggy jumped. “Don’t tell me I finally won the pool.”
“Oh, it’s Brett! Matt, it’s Brett!” Foggy said quickly for Matt’s benefit. Well, really for Brett’s benefit, since Foggy knew that Matt could recognize someone he knew before they spoke, but best to keep up appearances. “Hi, Brett!”
“Counselors,” Brett said, in his familiar pretending-not-to-like-them tone. “What’s this about you two being married?”
“Uh,” said Foggy.
“Um,” said Matt.
Matt could sense Brett looking back and forth between them. “Wait. You weren’t kidding? You really got married?”
Matt turned his head towards Foggy, waiting for him to answer. Brett was his childhood frenemy, after all. He was also an officer of the law and one of the people they’d come up with this whole marriage scheme to protect themselves from, but considering how long Brett and Foggy had known each other, Matt figured he’d let Foggy force a laugh and stammer something about how it was all a joke.
Foggy’s heartbeat picked up, like a lie.
“Yep!” Foggy said, and slid his arm around Matt’s waist, startling Matt so much he nearly dropped his cane. “Finally stopped denying the inevitable and tied the knot. Didn’t we, Matty?”
For some reason, a real nickname lodged in Matt’s throat the way “snookums” and “lambkin” hadn’t. “Uh...yes,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound too strangled. Foggy’s heartbeat vibrated through him. “Nelson and Murdock, together at last.”
“You guys aren’t wearing rings,” Brett pointed out, and Matt remembered that Brett was a very good cop.
“It was an impulse decision, just a courthouse wedding,” Foggy said. “We’re going ring shopping this weekend. If we get out of bed at all.” He gave Matt a squeeze, and Matt felt his face heat up.
Brett made an annoyed sound. “I didn’t need to hear to that, Foggy. Look at Murdock, he’s gonna kill you.”
“That might be truer than you know, Officer,” Matt muttered. Good to know his blush was obvious to everyone.
“Oh, Matt’s fine,” Foggy said quickly. “Just aflame with love for me, aren’t you, sweetheart?” He leaned in and kissed Matt’s temple, and Matt froze.
“Uh.” Matt cleared his throat. “Foggy…”
He could tell Brett was shaking his head. “Okay, well...congratulations, I guess? I'll tell my mom, she'll send over a casserole or something."
"Thanks, Brett!" Foggy said brightly. "Sorry we didn't invite you to the wedding. Golden anniversary for sure!"
“Oh, Murdock’ll strangle you long before then,” Brett said. “See you guys around.”
“Bye,” Matt said weakly as Brett’s heartbeat and footsteps moved away. When he knew Brett had moved into another aisle, he shook Foggy’s arm off. “Okay, what was that?”
Foggy shrugged. His heartbeat was still racing. “Hey, we had to make it convincing, didn’t we? Great job at playing the blushing bride, by the way.”
Foggy sighed. “Okay, you’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have sprung that on you without checking, and I wouldn’t have - but Brett is like the second most suspicious person I know after you, and you didn’t see the look on his face when we asked why we didn’t have rings.” He shrugged. “He’s a good guy, but he gets kind of squirrelly about guy-on-guy affection, so I figured it was the quickest way to get him to stop asking questions. It worked, didn’t it?”
“...I guess,” Matt conceded.
“So there you go. Come on, let’s grab some milk.” Foggy put the bag of peaches in the cart and waited for Matt to latch on to his arm, then started pushing the cart down the aisle. “He really should chill with the no homo stuff, though. He always got super weird whenever we hooked up in high school, but come on. We’re not seventeen anymore, right?”
Matt stopped short, making Foggy yank the cart sideways; the wheels squealed against the linoleum. “What?”
“Oh, did I never tell you?” Foggy said. “I mean, not a lot and we never dated or anything, but yeah, Brett and I got drunk and made out at a few parties. You know,” he said, as if it didn’t mean anything. “High school.”
“Oh,” Matt said. His fingers tightened around his cane. “No, I didn’t...you never...I didn’t know.”
“There’s not really anything to know, it was a long time ago,” Foggy said. “Come on, it’s getting late and I got about five minutes of sleep last night.”
He started walking again, and Matt kept pace, feeling Foggy’s pulse beat through his sleeve. “We should get rings,” Matt said after a minute. “You know. So people know.”
He could sense Foggy looking at him, but all he said was, “Okay. We’ll get rings.”
Matt’s fingers pressed into Foggy’s arm, and they kept walking.
Matt cringed as the door to the freezer squeaked. It was an old fridge unit, given to groaning; he could hear its little protests better than most, but if Foggy was still awake…
Sure enough, Foggy came padding out of the bedroom as Matt was pressing the bag of peas to his eye. He’d moved in four days ago and he was still waiting up for Matt every night. “Well, at least it’s not four a.m. this - wait, are you hurt?”
Matt winced at the way Foggy’s heartbeat picked up in alarm. “I’m fine.”
“So you just felt the need to stick your face in a bag of peas for, what, some Vitamin A?”
Matt sighed. “It’s just a black eye, Foggy. Or it will be. It probably won’t even be that bad, I’m getting the ice on it so fast.”
“And where else are you hurt?” Foggy asked.
Matt shrugged. “Just a few bruises, maybe. Nothing broken, including skin.”
“Let me see.”
“I’m fine - ”
Oh. Foggy was really upset, then. Matt put the peas down on the counter, tugged off his gloves, and pulled off the top of his costume. It barely hurt to raise his arms, which meant that he was basically totally healthy, but somehow he felt that saying that wouldn’t go over well with Foggy.
Foggy crossed the living room and Matt heard the click of the light switch. He moved into the faint heat of the light bulb and held out his arms, peas clutched in one hand. “See? Nothing’s bleeding.”
He could sense Foggy moving slowly around him, inspecting him. The air currents shifted as Foggy reached out to touch a spot on Matt’s lower back, then pulled back before he made contact. Matt’s skin goose pimpled where Foggy’s fingers had almost been. “You have a really hideous bruise on your back.”
Oh, Matt was well aware - it twinged every time he sat back in a chair. “I know. That’s from a few nights ago, though. Crowbar.”
Foggy inhaled sharply and Matt bit his lip. Why had he said that? “Jesus, Matt.”
“I knew how to take the crowbar away from him,” he said. “The woman he was going to hit with it didn’t.” He shrugged a little. “Anyway, that’s the worst of it. You believe me or are you going to make me take my pants off too?” Christ, and why had he said that? He hoped the light wasn’t bright enough for Foggy to see the hot flush creeping up the back of his neck.
“No.” Foggy took a step back. “No. You have...” Matt heard him swallow. “There’s so many scars, Matt.”
Matt shrugged one shoulder. The peas were thawing slowly; he could hear the drip of water on the floorboards. “I don’t get cut as often as I used to. The new costume helps.” He lifted the peas a few inches. “Can I put this back on my eye now?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sorry.” Foggy stepped out of the way and Matt sank onto the couch, the peas back on his cheekbone, water dripping down the side of his face. He was tired, bone tired, and the weight of Foggy’s scrutiny was heavy.
He didn’t pay much attention to Foggy’s footsteps as they moved away and back, but then Foggy was taking the peas out of his hand. Warm fingers on his chin tilted Matt’s face towards him. “Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark. Don’t worry, you’ll still be pretty.” He felt Foggy’s fingers sweep his hair away from his forehead, and then the peas were back, now wrapped in a paper towel to catch the dampness. “You should get a real ice pack.”
“I have some,” Matt said, closing his good eye. Foggy’s hand was still in his hair, and it was soothing. “Peas fit into the eye socket better.”
“I hate that you know that,” Foggy said, but he didn’t take his hand away. Matt felt him lean against the arm of the couch. “What happened tonight?”
“Break-in. The antique store by the post office,” Matt said. “There were three of them, amateurs. The police have them in custody now.”
“So you didn’t…”
“I’m not gonna kill some kids robbing a store out of desperation, Foggy,” Matt snapped, and then wished he hadn’t, because Foggy might take his hand away, and Matt didn’t want him to.
But Foggy just carded his fingers through Matt’s hair again. “Sometimes I don’t know what you’ll do, Murdock.”
Why did that hurt? “You know me better than anyone.”
“So what does that tell you?”
That Matt couldn’t afford to lose him. “I’m sorry I kept you up,” Matt said, changing the subject.
He heard Foggy sigh. “Don’t worry about it,” he said, and his thumb smoothed along Matt’s forehead. “I’m just glad you’re home.”
Matt sank into the touch, into the warm, familiar smells of Foggy. “You too,” he whispered, and if Foggy heard, he didn’t say anything in response.
“Did you eat the last of the Pop-Tarts?” Foggy called from the kitchen.
“No, you did last night, remember?” Matt called back from the bedroom, toweling his hair dry.
“Lies and slander!”
Matt grinned beneath the towel. “I’ll make eggs, give me a minute.” He didn’t normally eat breakfast, but Foggy got cranky without it, so he’d found himself throwing something together nearly every morning this week to keep Foggy from grabbing a danish at the coffee cart outside their office and dealing with the resultant sugar high and crash over the next two hours. Actually having breakfast turned out to have a pretty good effect on Matt’s energy levels, too - or maybe it was just having someone to have breakfast with.
He tossed the towel onto the bed and opened the closet. “Where’d you put my shirts?”
“Exactly where you always keep them. And you’re welcome for doing the laundry, by the way.”
Matt frowned, and took a hanger off the rack. There was a shirt on there, but it was definitely Foggy’s. He started to put the hanger back, then paused and rubbed the material between his thumb and forefinger. It was soft, the material that what Foggy called his “ungodly expensive” shirts were made of; Foggy’s were a normal cotton broadcloth.
He put the shirt up to his nose and inhaled. It was the detergent that had thrown him off; Foggy had done their laundry and all of their clothes smelled the same.
All of their clothes smelled like Foggy.
He must’ve been distracted, because he was still standing there, breathing in the scent, when Foggy came into the bedroom. “I’m waiting on those eggs, Murdock, I - oh no, don’t tell me I used the wrong detergent and you’re going to be complaining about everything smelling like artificial freesia or something all day.”
His heartbeat was up, and Matt hastily lowered the shirt to reassure him. “No, no, it’s fine. It smells good.” He forced a smile. “Thanks.”
Foggy gave him a gentle slug on the shoulder. “Pay me back with breakfast. And comb your hair before we leave, it looks insane.”
“Yeah,” Matt said, as Foggy disappeared into the bathroom. “Yeah, I’ll do that.”
He pulled the shirt on and let the Foggy smell envelop him. Okay. He could get used to this. His nose would adjust.
Matt closed the roof access door and sank gratefully down at the top of the stairs. It was cool in the apartment, blessedly cool, and he could smell Foggy, hear his heartbeat. He tugged the cowl off and leaned his head against the wall. In a minute he would move, but for now he just wanted to sit, right here, at home.
Foggy. Foggy was at the bottom of the stairs, radiating worry up at him. “Matt, what are you doing? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Matt said automatically. He was fine, really. He’d made it home, hadn’t he?
“Then why are you sitting up there?” Foggy asked.
“Yeah?” Matt sensed Foggy’s head tilt. “Why don’t you rest down here, buddy?”
With a sigh, Matt pushed himself to his feet - and had to clutch the bannister as the stairs suddenly wobbled beneath him.
Foggy clattered up the stairs and slipped his arm around Matt, steadying him. He smelled like fabric softener and good whiskey. Matt smelled like soot. “Matt, what the hell happened - are you bleeding?”
Matt shook his head. “No. I mean, yes, but it’s fine. I’m fine, Foggy.”
“Someday you and I are going to have a nice little sit-down with the dictionary definition of ‘fine,’” Foggy muttered as he helped Matt down the stairs. “How bad is it? Do you need a hospital?”
Matt shook his head again, more decisively this time. “No hospitals. I can talk you through the stitches.”
“It’s just a couple!”
They’d reached the lower level. Matt couldn’t help the noise that escaped him as he sank into the couch. “Jesus. I’m calling Claire,” Foggy said. “Where’s your stupid burner?”
“And you’re leaking.” Foggy held his hand out. “I’m holding my hand out for the phone, Matt. Impatiently, I might add.”
“I know.” Matt fished into his belt and pulled out the burner. Foggy took it and walked away. Matt eased his cowl off and let his head flop back against the couch.
“Hi, Claire? This is...uh, Daredevil’s friend. We met once before…?” Matt heard a cabinet open and the sink turn on. “Yeah. I’m sorry, I know it’s late, but…No, no, it’s not as bad as that time. But he needs stitches and...Yeah, his place. Thank you. Bye.” The phone snapped shut, and Foggy pressed a glass into Matt’s hand. “Drink.”
Matt drank. He hadn’t known he was thirsty, but the water was cool and sweet, and he drained the glass before pushing it back into Foggy’s hand. “Thanks.”
Foggy put the glass on the coffee table. “Can you take your shirt off for me?”
“Always trying to get me shirtless,” Matt said, trying for a roguish smile, but it felt broken somehow, like it didn’t fit in his jaw.
Foggy’s heartbeat didn’t shift from its worried cadence, and Matt sighed and started plucking at his gloves. His fingers wouldn’t cooperate, and Foggy had to help him tug them off, had to help him ease his shirt over his head. The wound in his side pulled as he lifted his arms and the smell of blood thickened in the air. Foggy swore.
“Here,” he said, and pressed something - a dish towel, Matt thought - against the wound. “You’re filthy, by the way. What happened? I thought knives couldn’t get through this material.”
“It wasn’t a knife,” Matt said, and braced himself. Foggy wasn’t going to like this. “There may have been a…small explosion.”
And there it was, the rank smell of fear. Matt’s side throbbed. “An explosion,” Foggy said, voice flat.
“Yeah, it was...I heard some suspicious noises over in - you know the empty building next to the Gomez bodega? There,” Matt said, and shifted, trying to get more comfortable. Everything ached. “There were six of them. Working for the Calabreses, I think. They must’ve been using the building for storage, there was all sorts of contraband there. I figured they’d scatter when they saw me, but they started shooting and...well, there were explosives.”
“You thought six armed mafiosos would just…run away when they saw you?” Foggy asked. “Christ, Matt.”
“Hey, the costume is scary!” Matt protested. “You saw.”
“Yeah,” Foggy said, and his heartbeat hitched a little, but Matt didn’t have it in him to puzzle out why. “Okay, so there was an explosion, and…?”
“It was just a little bit of shrapnel,” Matt said.
“Matt.” Foggy sounded strangled, and Matt couldn’t help reaching for his face. He could feel the worry there, the furrow between his brows, the downward turn of his lips.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” he insisted, pushing gently at the corner of Foggy’s mouth. It was stupid, but he wanted Foggy to smile. “I pulled it out, I knocked out the guys who were still awake, and I left before the police got there. It’s a few stitches. And maybe a light concussion.”
“A light - !” Foggy spluttered, but Claire’s footsteps were in the hall, and then her knock saved Matt from a lecture for at least a few minutes. “Hold this,” Foggy said, taking Matt’s hand off his face and placing it firmly on top of the dishtowel, and then he took his warmth away and answered the door.
“Hi,” said Claire. “Foggy, right?”
“Yeah. Thanks for coming.” Matt heard their footsteps move closer, and Claire’s familiar scent of jasmine and cardamom and antiseptic joined Foggy’s. “He says it’s just a few stitches and a light concussion, so really, it’s a banner night. We’re gonna enter a dance marathon later, maybe move some furniture around.”
Matt tilted his head towards Claire. “Hi, Claire. Thanks for coming.”
She set the first aid kit down on the floor and nudged him until he was stretched out properly on the couch, then perched on the coffee table. “What’d you do to yourself this time?”
“Explosion. Not like the ones a few months back, a little one. Pulled some shrapnel out of my side.” Matt paused. “Also there may have been a few blows to the head.”
There was a pause. “Thank you,” Foggy said. “Matt, you can’t see it, but I want you to know that Claire is looking as fed up with you as I feel.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s just Claire’s default expression when it comes to me,” Matt said.
“Yeah?” Claire asked. Matt heard a snap of gloves and then her strong hands were gently prodding him, checking for injuries, the vinyl smooth and cool. “Whose fault is that?” She lifted the dish towel. “You were right, this is going to need stitches. Three or four. Why didn’t you come to me?”
“Ah.” Dazed and hurting, Matt had thought only of Foggy, of home, like a wounded animal seeking its burrow. He didn’t think either of them would like that answer, though. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”
Their sighs were so similar Matt had to bite the inside of his cheek not to laugh. “You’re hopeless,” Claire said, and pressed the dish towel back in place. “Hold this while I get set up.”
“Can you, uh, show me what you’re doing?” Foggy asked. “I figure it’s probably best if I have some rudimentary first aid skills too. You know, just in case he comes home with his head chopped off or something and we can’t raise you.”
“Sure, I guess,” Claire said, and Matt heard the clink of forceps. “Probably good for him to have someone else to call. You live around here?”
“Uh…” Foggy said. “Yeah, pretty...pretty close?”
Matt closed his eyes. Better to get this over with. “He lives here,” he said. “We got married last week.”
Claire went very still. “Oh,” she said. “I didn’t realize you two were...oh.”
“It’s not like that,” Matt said. “If I...if certain activities of mine ever come to light, Foggy’s the first person they’ll want to put on the witness stand. If we’re married, he’s protected from having to testify against me.”
“...Oh,” Claire said again.
“We’re just friends,” Foggy added quickly. “Total sham marriage. If, you know. I mean. I’m just saying. Matt’s, uh, available. For...whatever. Might happen. Between...uh. People who aren’t him and me.”
“Wow,” said Claire.
Matt sighed. “Thanks for making it awkward, Foggy.”
He could feel the heat of Foggy’s blush. “Quiet, Shrapnel Sides. Claire needs to stitch you up, and I need to watch.”
Claire took out the thread; the chemical smell of the polymer itched in Matt’s nose. “Okay. You’ll want to get tools for this: gloves, antibacterial soap, forceps...you know what, I’ll make you a list.”
“Thanks,” Foggy said.
“It’s not hard,” Matt assured him. He didn’t like Foggy sounding so nervous. “I used to do it all the time when I was a kid.”
Claire froze again. “What?”
Matt could practically hear Foggy’s eyeroll. “Oh, has Matt never regaled you with stories of his father’s amazing decision-making skills?”
“Let Battlin’ Jack Murdock be a lesson about taking too many blows to the head, Matt.” Foggy turned to Claire. “And then giving your nine-year-old a swig of scotch and telling him to stitch up your face.”
Claire hissed in a breath. “Jesus.”
“Explains a lot, doesn’t it?”
Matt frowned at the unexpected current of bitterness in Foggy’s voice. “You have a problem with my dad?”
Foggy snorted. “Just one?”
Matt’s frown deepened. “What the hell, Foggy? You didn’t even know him.”
“I know enough.”
“He was a good man - ”
“He left you, Matt!” Foggy snapped.
“I. He.” Matt tried again, taken aback. “He didn’t...he was killed, Foggy, you can’t…”
“He made a choice,” Foggy said. “I know you think it was your fault because you think everything is your fault, but he picked his stupid pride over being there for his recently-blinded child, and I never said anything because I know how much you loved him, but Christ, Matt, you’re lying there thinking getting stitched up every week isn’t a big deal because of him, and he left you.” He shook his head. “Don’t ask me to forgive him for that.”
Matt opened and closed his mouth a few times, but he couldn’t think of a thing to say.
“Uh...should I…?” Claire asked.
“Yeah. Show me,” Foggy said, leaning forward, and Matt recognized his studying voice, his courtroom voice, the one he used when he’d given himself a task he was determined to accomplish.
Matt lay there and did his best not to flinch as Claire pulled the stitches through his skin, explaining to Foggy what she was doing the whole time. Foggy nodded and asked questions, but Matt could tell that though Claire’s heartbeat was steady, Foggy’s was racing.
When Claire was done, Foggy thanked her very calmly, helped her clean up, and fetched glasses of water for her and for Matt. Then he excused himself.
A minute later Matt heard him throwing up in the bathroom.
“So,” Claire said awkwardly, and Matt wondered if the sound was loud enough for her to hear. “This all seems...complicated.”
“He’s my best friend,” Matt said. It didn’t seem sufficient. “He’s been my best friend forever.”
“Yeah.” He could hear Claire packing up her supplies. “It’s nice to meet him not, you know. Drunk and hysterical with you dying on the floor.”
“Sorry.” Matt wished he had his glasses on.
“I’m not sure I’m the one you should be apologizing to.” She reached up and smoothed the hair off his forehead. “Be careful out there, okay? I don’t think that guy’s looking to be widowed any time soon.”
“It’s not like that,” Matt said. “It’s a legal thing. Like we said.”
“Sure.” Claire reached down and snapped her first aid kit shut. “Be careful anyway.”
Matt tried on another smile. “I always am.”
“No, you’re not,” she said, and Matt could sense her looking towards the bathroom. “But maybe you will be now.”
“And then the Indestructible Man here is like, ‘Put me back in, Coach! I’m good to go!’ while his eyes are rolling back in his head,” Foggy said. “And Claire is like, ‘Matt, stop moving, your intestines are on the floor.’”
Matt rolled his eyes behind his glasses. “That is not even a little bit close to what happened.”
“But it is disgustingly graphic, so thanks for that,” Karen added, though she kept picking at her pad thai, so she couldn’t have been too put off.
“You’re not the one who has to watch Netflix on a couch that’s like seventy-three percent dried blood,” Foggy said. “We need a wet vac. And you’re paying, Murdock.”
“Okay,” Matt said easily. He could handle being teased if it meant Foggy wasn’t still pissed at him. Even his side barely hurt, though the location of his injury had kept him from wrapping himself around Foggy for the first time since they’d started sharing a bed. Which was probably another mark in his favor, really.
“Do you think the guys you found in there had anything to do with the Gomez case? I mean, our Gomez case,” Karen asked. “You did say it was right next door.”
Matt pursed his lips, thinking. “I don’t think so. I mean, ours is just a little health code squabble. These guys had an extensive operation. Tonight I should...”
“...stay home and let the hole in your side heal?” Foggy interrupted. “Is that what you were going to say? I’m sure that’s what you were going to say.”
“I can poke around without getting into any fights, Foggy.”
“Claire said at least three days before you put the suit on again. You’re not even giving it twenty-four hours.”
“I’m - ”
“If you say ‘fine,’ I will bean you with a chopstick, Matt.” Foggy held a spare pack of chopsticks up warningly.
Matt couldn’t help his smirk. “ - fine.”
Foggy let the chopsticks fly. Matt snagged them out of the air an inch away from his face. “See?”
“Doesn’t count. You knew those were coming.”
“Does so.” Matt caught the plastic spoon Foggy threw at him without bothering to turn his head in the right direction. “You’re not gonna hit me, Nelson.”
He could hear Karen snickering. “How exactly did you two pass law school?”
“Well, I’m a genius, and Matt made all the professors fall in love with him using his boyish good looks,” Foggy said, and chucked a stress ball that had been sitting on his desk at Matt.
Matt laughed as he caught it, and the pen that followed. “Or, I studied, and you fast-talked your way into handing every single paper in late.”
“It’s law school. Fast-talking is what you’re there to learn,” Foggy said, and chucked his phone at Matt.
It rang as Matt caught it, and he jumped a little, startled. Foggy cracked up. “Your face!”
“Just for that, I’m answering it,” Matt said, and swiped his finger across the screen. “Foggy Nelson’s phone, Matt Murdock speaking.”
“Oh my God, that is the lamest thing either of you have ever done, and that is a high bar,” said a familiar voice.
“Marci?” Matt asked.
Across the table, Karen gasped in amused delight, and Foggy reached for the phone. “Psst, Matt, hand it over.”
Matt put up a hand to hold him off. “Foggy’s indisposed at the moment. Can I take a message?”
“Yeah, you can tell him this is a booty call,” Marci said, and Matt’s fingers tightened on the phone so hard the casing squeaked.
“What?” Foggy hissed, getting up and grabbing for the phone. “What did she say?”
Matt leaned back, out of reach. “Come again?”
“That’s the idea, yes,” Marci said. “Look, would you just tell him to call me?”
Matt felt whatever bizarre impulse had prompted him to suggest to Foggy that they actually get married taking over his mouth again. "You want me to tell my husband that you'd like to sleep with him?" he asked.
Karen let out a startled squeak, and Foggy's heartbeat ratcheted into overdrive. "Give me the phone, Matthew!" he hissed. Matt batted his hands away.
There was a surprised pause on the other end of the line. "Well, darn," Marci said finally. "After that fight you two had I figured I had a good six months of getting the milk for free before you finally bought the cow. What was it, an Atlantic City trip? Never mind, I don't actually care."
Foggy had stopped trying to wrestle the phone away from Matt and was sitting defeatedly against the desk. "I'm gonna smother you in your sleep, Murdock. You know that, right?"
"So nice to hear you're happy for us, Marci," Matt said. He hadn't expected much better; he and Marci had never really gotten along, though he respected the hell out of both her legal skills and her ability to recognize what a catch Foggy was.
"Yeah, yeah," Marci said. "Tell Foggy I'll be sending over a ridiculously expensive wedding present, and you two had better display it somewhere prominent or else. Oh, and Matt?" Her voice went dangerously soft. "Break his heart and I will break you."
Matt had been fighting crime long enough to recognize a very real threat when he heard one.
"I wouldn't dream of it," he said, and that was real, too.
"Whatever," she said. "Toodles!" And the line went dead.
Matt handed the phone back to Foggy, who put it down on the desk. "What did she say," he said, very quietly.
"Not to break your heart." Matt bit his lip. "Foggy, I'm sorry, I should've let you handle that, or told her you'd call her back so we could figure out..." He trailed off.
“Annnd I suddenly need to go do something at my desk and let you two discuss this privately,” Karen said, and ducked out of Foggy’s office, closing the door behind her.
“It’s fine,” Foggy said.
“No, it’s not. I got carried away,” Matt said. “Call her back. You can tell her...tell her we’re in an open relationship or something. It’s not fair for you to have to take a vow of chastity just because you’re doing me a favor.”
“No, I mean…” Foggy sighed. “Look, I like Marci, but we were always just fooling around. Even if you and I said we had an open relationship, anyone who got close enough would probably figure out that something was going on. Maybe even that you’re...you know.” He shrugged. “I trust Marci, but I don’t want to drag her into this. And someone else...it’s not worth it for a handful of dates or casual sex or whatever. I’m not going to risk your secret until I find someone I love as much as - ”
Matt swallowed. “What?”
Foggy shook his head. “Forget it.” He moved back around the desk to his chair and sat down. “We’re good, Matt. Seriously. Finish your lunch.”
Matt nodded. “Okay,” he said, but his appetite was gone. It might not be Marci, but someday someone was going to come along who Foggy wasn’t just fooling around with, and they’d take Foggy away from him.
He’d always known that, really. He just wished he knew how long he had left.
The warmth of sunrise was beating against Matt’s neck by the time he let himself in through the roof access door. He breathed in deep, letting the smell of home and Foggy fill his lungs, letting it stretch out along his nerves to the tips of his fingers and toes.
And there was Foggy’s heartbeat, sleepy and slow on the couch. “Matt,” he mumbled, sitting up. “You okay? It’s so late…” Matt sensed him turning towards the window. “Or early, I guess.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, Foggy,” Matt said, and heard Foggy’s breathing shift as he started to speak. “Actually fine, I swear. Just tired. I wish you wouldn’t wait up for me.”
Foggy shrugged. “I try not to, some nights,” he said. “I can’t sleep until I know you’re back. So sue me.”
“No deal, counselor.” Matt tugged his cowl off and dragged a hand through his hair, then sank heavily onto the couch next to Foggy. “What a night.”
“What happened?” Foggy asked.
“Kidnapping,” Matt said. “A six-year-old girl. I overheard the cops. They figured she was still in Hell’s Kitchen, but they didn’t know where. So I listened.” He pulled his gloves off, finger by finger, then his boots. “I listened for hours, Foggy. I must’ve been up the avenues twenty times, I couldn’t figure out where...and then I heard her crying.”
Foggy’s heart was steady beside him, his concern so warm Matt could practically wrap it around himself like a blanket. “You found her.”
“She was in a crawl space. One of those really old buildings by the river, the pre-war ones with all the weird little passages and stuff?” Matt closed his eyes. “When I got close enough I could hear what she was saying. I can’t see. Help, Mommy, I can’t see.”
“Jesus,” Foggy whispered. “They didn’t…”
“No,” Matt said. “No, but I thought they had, and I…” The bile rose up in his throat. “It was just dark. She was just...it was just dark, and she was scared.”
“But you saved her.” Foggy’s voice was sure.
“Yeah.” Matt was so tired. He sank further down on the couch, let his head drop onto Foggy’s shoulder. Foggy didn’t move away. “There were a lot of them, but they were scared. Amateurs. They kept getting up, but they didn’t know how to do any real damage. Not to me, at least.”
“And the girl?” Foggy’s arm was around Matt’s shoulders and his hand was in Matt’s hair. Matt leaned into the touch.
“She’ll be all right,” Matt said. “They thought no one would be able to find her, but I could hear her…” He trailed off. I can’t see.
“You got her out,” Foggy said.
“Yeah,” Matt said. “Yeah, she...I got her out of the dark.”
No one had been able to turn the lights on for Matt, not even his dad. And he’d tried, God, had his dad tried. Foggy might not believe that Jack had done his best, but Matt knew. His dad had left, but it hadn’t been on purpose. His dad would never have left him on purpose.
But Foggy had been so angry the other night, just because he thought someone had done Matt wrong. Matt still didn’t know what to do with that.
After a long moment of silence, Foggy shifted away, and Matt had to fight not to cling to him. “Okay,” Foggy said. “I’m going to email Karen and tell her we’ll be in around lunchtime. Go lie down.”
Matt sat up and shook his head. “No, I can...you can sleep if you want, but I should go into the office.”
“Matt. After the night you’ve had, I think you’ve earned a half day.” Foggy stood up and tugged on Matt’s hand. “Come on, hero. Come to bed.”
And Matt was tired, and Matt was sad, and Matt had had a really bad night.
He let Foggy tug him towards the bedroom, let Foggy scold him into changing out of his costume as he tapped out an email to Karen on his phone. Matt crawled into bed and listened to Foggy putter around the bedroom, plugging in his phone to charge and shoving Matt’s costume in a corner so no one would trip over it.
When he leaned over to shut off the lamp on Matt’s nightstand - that made no sense, they should move it to Foggy’s side, Matt didn’t need the light, it was dark all the time for Matt but Foggy was here so it was okay - Matt's hand closed around Foggy’s wrist. His dad hadn’t left on purpose, he wanted to say, but what came out instead was, “Don’t leave me.”
Foggy leaned in and kissed Matt’s temple. “Never,” he promised, and the light clicked off.
Matt woke up to the full sun of midday warm across his shoulders. He stretched, sweeping his arm across the mattress - and paused. There was no other heartbeat, no other breathing. He was alone in the bed.
Well, fair enough - it was well into the day and Foggy wasn’t tired from jumping around rooftops last night. Matt couldn’t hear him in the apartment, so he was probably out running errands or something.
He rolled over, reaching for his phone to check the time, and found a piece of paper folded around it. Curious, he unfolded the paper and skimmed his fingers across it. His eyebrows went up when he felt the familiar raised dots on it, pushed into the heavy paper with a Braille stylus:
“Hope this online translator is accurate. Went out for donuts, back in a bit. Text if you want a particular kind. F.”
Matt fell back against the sheets, the paper clutched in his hand, running his thumb over the last letter. Foggy had translated a note into Braille, found Matt’s paper and stylus, painstakingly marked out a note, and left it where he knew Matt would find it. It couldn't have taken less than half an hour, and all over something as silly as donuts.
But he’d done it for Matt.
The paper smelled like ordinary processed wood pulp, and the coffee Foggy must’ve been drinking when he’d written the note, and Foggy. Everything in the apartment smelled like Foggy now, from the cabinets to the baseboards, but here, here in the bed it was worst. The pillows, the sheets; Foggy was tangled around every fiber. Even when he wasn’t there it was like Matt was waking up wrapped up in him.
Matt pushed his face into a pillow steeped in the base notes of Foggy’s shampoo. Not that Matt didn’t wake up wrapped in him nearly every morning, nearly three weeks into...whatever this was that they were doing. No matter what he told himself before he fell into bed, no matter how far away on the mattress he fell asleep or what kind of meditative control he put himself under before he did, he still woke up curled against Foggy, pressed into his warmth - and hard more often than not.
Foggy was usually still asleep; there were the occasional mornings when his breathing betrayed him with its speed, but he never said anything about it, and so neither did Matt. It wasn’t something either of them could help, not without reopening the argument about Matt sleeping on the couch. Hell, Foggy probably had his own awkward mornings.
...And that had been a bad thought to let cross his mind, because now he couldn’t shake it: the idea of Foggy, warm and close and hard. He tried to push it away, but it wasn’t easy to banish thoughts of Foggy on sheets that reeked of him.
Foggy was his best friend, he reminded himself. But even that was tangled up in too many confusing memories; Foggy’s soft mouth on his temple and his gentle hands cool against Matt’s skin and the way his heartbeat sounded when he was sleepy and content and oh, Matt was so hard.
He slid a hand into his boxers even as he added this to the long list of things that were sending him straight to hell the minute some mook with a gun got lucky. But it had been so long and everything smelled like Foggy, Foggy who knew Matt could trace the imprint of regular writing but had taken the time to write in Braille for Matt anyway, and Matt’s mind was full of what ifs. What if he’d turned into Foggy’s kiss the other night? What if all of Foggy’s jokes about his looks weren’t jokes? What if this wasn’t a stupid sham marriage Matt had guilted his too-accommodating best friend into, but the real thing?
What if Matt could admit out loud what he really wanted?
He palmed himself, pushing his hips up into his own touch. His hands were rough, callused, and he imagined Foggy’s would be softer. He’d be gentle, almost too gentle...and then Matt thought about the way Foggy sank his teeth into cases and the steel in his voice when he got angry enough to call Matt Matthew, and he thought that maybe he wouldn’t be gentle at all, and he couldn’t decide which Foggy he wanted more.
He pulled his hand out to drag his tongue across his palm before sliding it back into his boxers to fold around himself, and imagined it was Foggy's tongue, Foggy's hot breath on his skin. Foggy's mouth was so clever shaping itself around a joke or a legal argument; Matt knew, he knew that it would be good other ways too. He remembered Marci, back in college, and others, before and since; the moans Matt could hear as he studied in the common room, no matter how hard he tried to drown them out; the dazed sound of their voices when Matt risked returning home; the whispered giggles and overheard gossip that Matt would never tell Foggy about. Yeah, Murdock's hot, but Foggy Nelson will make you scream.
Matt wanted to make Foggy scream. Foggy never thought about himself; he deserved to have someone take care of him, to have someone else make him feel good.
He pulled at his dick, too fast, too rough, and bit his lip to keep the sound in. Foggy would be noisy, he knew, as surely as he knew the sound of Foggy's laugh and the way he got handsy and affectionate when he was drunk. Foggy would curse, Foggy would beg, Foggy would say Matt’s name like a benediction, over and over again. Matt. Matt. Please, Matty.
He thrust into his fist and thought about spreading Foggy out in this bed that smelled like him, of Foggy’s head tipped back so that the thrum of the pulse in his throat beat loud in Matt’s ears, and what Matt could do to make Foggy beg like that. He thought about nipping at Foggy’s inner thighs and feeling the tremble in his muscles; he thought about yanking on Foggy’s hair until he gasped and then kissing the surprise from his mouth.
He thought about sinking into Foggy, about how hot he would be, how tight, and the way Foggy’s moan would reverberate through every single one of Matt’s nerve endings.
“Fff. Foggy.” He jammed the heel of his hand into his mouth, sinking his teeth into the pad of it to muffle himself; it was too sad, too shameful to be saying his name when he wasn’t here, and Matt couldn’t bear it.
He thought about Foggy’s voice instead; Foggy breathing hard and ragged into his ear, coaxing him, urging him on. Matty. Matt. Please. He’d be so eager, so responsive as Matt fucked him long and slow, kissing him everywhere he could reach, and when Matt finally reached for his dick he’d beg so pretty, arching up and up and up, Matt’s name spilling from his mouth like a waterfall, louder and louder until -
Matt sank back against the mattress, nerves jangled and tired in the aftermath of his release. He closed his eyes - not that it made any difference - and wondered what the hell was wrong with him. Jerking off to thoughts of his best friend had to be crossing some kind of line. Even if they were married.
But Foggy wasn’t here, and would never know. All Matt had to do was...never do it again. And maybe get himself to confession sooner rather than later.
He heard Foggy’s step in the hall outside their front door, and fled into the bathroom to shower the evidence away. Yeah. Definitely sooner.
ETA: So Foggy's note for Matt, while a sweet gesture, turns out to be fairly implausible. (Do more thorough research next time, self.) Check out this awesome comment for more likely ways to leave a note in Braille!
Matt wasn’t really paying attention when Foggy’s phone rang. Distantly, he heard Foggy say “Hello?” and the low buzz of someone else’s voice on the other end of the line.
Then Foggy breathed in sharp, his heartbeat ratcheted up, and Matt started paying attention.
“Mom!” he said, his voice tight with anxiety. “Mom, calm down...would you just let me..? Mom!”
Matt was focusing in on the other end of the conversation before he could stop himself. He usually didn’t, because it was rude and invasive, but Foggy sounded really alarmed. Matt knew the Nelsons, he liked the Nelsons, and if one of them was in trouble…
“...and I have to find out from Bess Mahoney? I swear, Franklin, you’re lucky I can’t still ground you. I’m tempted to try.”
Franklin. So Foggy was the one in trouble. Matt grinned and listened to Foggy try to dig his way out of whatever hole he’d dug.
“Mom, you don’t understand, it was a spur-of-the-moment...I was going to tell you, Mom, I swear, but…”
“Oh, wonderful, he was going to tell me. Well, that’s just lovely,” Mrs. Nelson said. “You finally get that beautiful boy of yours to put a ring on it and you don’t invite your family, but you do your mother the great courtesy of telling her about it a month after the fact!”
...Oh. Matt was why Foggy was in trouble. Oops.
“Uh...Matt didn’t want a big fuss,” Foggy said, an edge of desperation in his voice. “You know how he is. If we made it into a whole…thing he’d beat himself up the whole time about the money you spent on it.”
Mrs. Nelson scoffed. “Nonsense. He’s family. He was already family.”
Guilt twisted in Matt’s belly, and he quickly shifted his focus away from the phone call. He couldn’t block out Foggy’s voice when he was right here in the office, but it was easy to tune out kindness he didn’t deserve from Mrs. Nelson, at least.
He was concentrating very hard on his refreshable Braille display when Foggy leaned against the doorway of his office. “How much of that did you hear?” Foggy asked.
Matt tilted his head up. “Are you written out of the will for good?”
“Worse,” Foggy said. “She’s throwing a reception-ish thing for us this weekend, and I had better come show you off, or else. That’s a direct quote, by the way, so make sure you look pretty.”
“I always look pretty,” Matt said, smiling to show that he was kidding.
“Ain’t that the truth,” Foggy muttered. “Anyway, get ready to go to Queens on Sunday. I’ll let you know the time.” He started to move away, then came back. “Listen...I’m sorry, this is totally weird, but you know how my family is. We’re going to have to make it look convincing, or…” He sighed. “I hate to ask you this, I really do, but...they can’t suspect, Matt. I can’t...this is my family, I can’t let them get caught up in this…”
“Foggy,” Matt said. “You don’t have anything to apologize for. I get it.” He turned up the corner of his mouth. “We’ll make it look good.”
“...Yeah,” Foggy said, and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Thanks.”
“Hey,” Matt said. “No problem.”
He heard Foggy’s swallow. “Yeah,” he said again, and walked away.
Foggy was nervous.
There were only three other people in the subway car, clacking its leisurely way above the streets of Astoria, where Foggy’s parents had moved when rising rents drove them out of Manhattan. Matt hated the subway - the noise and stench were bad enough for normal people, but for him they were nearly intolerable - and he avoided it whenever possible, but a round trip cab ride from Hell’s Kitchen to Queens was expensive. Better to save the money for the return fare.
Besides, the subway wasn’t as bad on weekends, especially on a line like this that ran aboveground part of the way and pulled some blessed fresh air into the car. He couldn’t see the sunlight, but he could feel it falling over his face in shifting patterns as they passed between the taller buildings.
Foggy drummed his fingers on his knee; Matt could hear the muffled patpatpat of them against his jeans, not to mention the speed of his heartbeat and his breath. “I think they’re all gonna be there,” he said. “My sisters, the kids, most of my cousins...I think, yeah, both sets of grandparents, some neighbors that I’ve never even met…”
“It’ll be fine,” Matt said.
“It’ll be a disaster.”
Matt put his hand on Foggy’s, stilling his fingers against his knee. “It’ll be fine,” he said.
“...Sure,” said Foggy. But his heartbeat didn’t slow, so Matt left his hand there. Just in case it helped.
“So,” Foggy said after a minute. “I got us something.”
“Is it team T-shirts?” Matt asked, trying to keep his tone light. Foggy was still jumpy. “Because I already told you, I’m not joining an office softball team even if I can sense where the ball is.”
“Ah, heh, no.” Foggy reached into his pocket and pulled out…
...a small, hinged box. Matt knew without touching it that it was velvet. His mouth went dry.
“Brett had a point,” Foggy said. “And you don’t have to wear it all the time, or ever, really, but you know...my mom was gonna ask, so…”
He handed the box to Matt, who flipped it open and ran his fingers lightly over the two plain bands sitting on the little pillow inside. “...These are real gold,” he said.
“Can you...you can smell that. Good lord,” Foggy said. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, they’re real gold. You know, I had a little money saved, and…” He shrugged.
Matt picked up one of the rings and let it sit cool and heavy in his palm. He didn’t have to hear Foggy’s heartbeat to know he was lying about having money saved; neither of them did, between student loans and their chronic lack of clients.
But Foggy had gone out and gotten them rings anyway.
He needed to say something, to turn it into a joke, because this was too much. “Well? Are you going to put it on me or what?” he asked, but it came out all wrong; it wasn’t funny at all.
“...Okay,” Foggy said, very soft. He took the ring out of Matt’s palm and turned his left hand over, then slid the ring up over his finger. “Too loose?”
Matt used the thumb of his right hand to push at the ring; it moved, but not too much. “No, it’s good,” he said. He picked up the other ring and held out his hand. “Um…?”
Foggy put his hand in Matt’s. Matt felt his way over Foggy’s fingers - even though he really didn’t need to - until he reached his ring finger, then pushed the gold band over it. He could feel Foggy’s pulse through the soft skin of his wrist, hummingbird-fast. “How do they look?” he asked. Whispered.
“Real,” Foggy said, just as quietly, then took a breath. “Matt, I…”
Sudden applause made them both jump back. Foggy turned around and Matt tilted his head to triangulate the sound. The homeless woman at the other end of the car was watching them. “Mazel tov!” she cried.
Foggy laughed nervously and pulled his hand out of Matt’s. “Thank you, ma’am,” he said, inclining his head towards her, and Matt gave her a little wave.
“Well, there you go,” Foggy said. “Our union is officially blessed.” He slid over a little so that he wasn’t touching Matt at all, and Matt felt suddenly, irrationally chilled.
“There you go,” he said, and twisted the ring around his finger again.
“There he is,” Mrs. Nelson crowed as she opened the door. She seized Matt’s face in both hands and gave him a loud, smacking kiss on either cheek. “My beautiful son-in-law! Welcome to the family, baby.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Nelson,” Matt said. He could sense a crowd of people inside the relatively small apartment behind her, and only a few of the voices were familiar. He knew Foggy’s immediate family well - he’d spent the past nine Christmases with them - but he’d only met the extended brood a few times, and never all at once. This would be interesting.
“Oh please, you call me Mom now,” Mrs. Nelson said. She must have misinterpreted the look on Matt’s face, because she backpedaled immediately. “Only if you want to, sweetheart. I don’t want to disrespect your mother, God rest her soul.”
“No, I,” Matt said, and swallowed hard. He deserved Mrs. Nelson almost as little as he deserved Foggy. “I would love to. It might just...take me a while. Is that okay?”
She squeezed his hands. “Of course it is.”
Foggy poked him in the side, making him jump. “Budge over, would you? Mom, are you going to stop throwing Matt into emotional turmoil long enough to let us into the house or what?”
“Oh, it’s you,” Mrs. Nelson sniffed, but she let go of Matt’s hands and let Foggy kiss her on the cheek. “Matt can come in, but I don’t know if I should let you, after you deprived me of a wedding.”
“You’ve already thrown two, Mom. And isn’t Julie getting serious about whats-his-name, the preppy one?”
“You’re my only boy!”
“That just means you’ve escaped all those stereotypes about mothers of the groom and Oedipal complexes and whatnot. I’m your hero,” Foggy insisted, and grabbed Matt’s hand. “Come on, Matty, let’s see what there is to eat.”
He tugged Matt into the apartment, but the moment they hit the living room they were surrounded by Nelsons and assorted friends and neighbors. Matt clutched Foggy’s hand and tried to make sense of the cacophony:
“Foggy! I can’t believe you got sneak-married, you jerk!” That was Foggy’s middle sister, Tammy.
“Matt! Good to see you again, son.” Foggy’s dad.
“Uncle Foggy, Uncle Foggy, pick me up!” Connie’s oldest girl; Matt couldn’t remember her name.
“Did we know Franklin was a homosexual?” One of Foggy’s grandmothers, and whispered.
“You can’t say that anymore! Say ‘a gay.’” Whispered back. A great-aunt, maybe?
“Matt, I can’t believe you let this loser finally tie you down.” Julie.
“Heard about what you boys did on that Fisk case. Pretty impressive work.” An uncle. Probably.
“Is he really blind?” Matt had no idea who that one was.
Foggy’s fingers tightened around Matt’s, a solid presence in the chaos. “Okay, enough!” Foggy hollered. “Everyone, this is Matt Murdock. If you haven’t met him before, he’s my best friend, law partner, and yes, as of about a month ago, husband. I like him a lot, so please don’t be weird at him, okay?” Matt felt Foggy turn his head. “And Gran, the word you’re looking for with me is bisexual.”
The room went silent. Matt tilted his head. “Well, I hope you’re not expecting me to follow that speech with one of my own, because I don’t think I can top that.”
That broke the tension; everyone laughed, and Foggy was able to walk Matt around the room, introducing him to his more distant relatives. Once they’d made the rounds, Foggy made a beeline for the food, describing everything he was piling onto a way-too-full plate for Matt before making his own to match. They were given seats of honor on the couch, and Matt did his best to politely answer questions about their law practice and where he went to church and how long he’d known Foggy while tucking into cold ham and briny olives and the best hummus he’d ever tasted.
When he was so full he couldn’t move, Foggy stood up. “I’m getting you dessert.”
Matt pawed weakly at Foggy’s side, tugging at his shirt to keep him from moving towards the table. “Nooo, Foggy, I’ll die.”
“If I don’t get you dessert, Mom will, and you know she thinks you’re too skinny. She’ll make you eat an entire pie,” Foggy pointed out. “I’m saving you, Matt.”
Matt let go of him, resigned, and heard Foggy get five whole steps before being drawn into an argument about politics with his uncles. He smiled to himself, and then jumped a little as Foggy’s oldest sister Connie plopped down on the couch next to him.
“Hey, little brother,” she said. “It’s Connie.”
“Hi, Connie,” Matt said, and tilted his head as someone else perched on the armrest next to him. A third person sat on the coffee table across from him. “And…?”
“Julie,” said the person on the armrest.
“Tammy,” said the one on the coffee table.
Matt smiled. “Are you here to beat me up for compromising your little brother’s virtue?”
“No, we just want to know how it happened,” Julie said. “We have a bet going.”
“Foggy finally confessed his undying love for you, right?” Tammy asked. “I knew he’d crack eventually.”
“Nah, Matt makes all the decisions,” Connie said. “It was you, right?”
“I still say they’ve been secretly dating this whole time,” Julie said. “You’ve seen the way Foggy looks at him! I mean, you haven’t, Matt, sorry,” she amended. “But trust me, it’s moonstruck.”
“That’s, uh, poetic,” Matt said, because it seemed like the safest thing to say. All three Nelson sisters talked as quickly and irreverently as Foggy, and the combined effect was a little overwhelming.
“Come on, Matt, spill,” Tammy said, poking Matt in the knee. “You’re a Nelson now. No secrets!”
“Yeah, we’ve been waiting for years,” Julie said. “The stakes of this bet are astronomical by now. You have no idea.”
Matt blinked. “Years?”
Julie tsked. “You should have heard Foggy the first weekend he came home from college.”
“Well, I didn’t,” Connie said. “I was moved out by then. But I heard about it.”
“‘My roommate? Matt? Is so cool,’” Julie said in overexaggerated but still completely recognizable imitation of Foggy’s voice.
“‘My roommate? Matt? Is so smart,’” Tammy added in the same voice. “‘I think he might be, like, the smartest person at Columbia.’”
“‘My roommate? Matt? Is so funny. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just, like, he’s really dry and cool, like…wow.’”
“‘My roommate? Matt? Says that Thurgood Marshall says that...’ something something, blah blah blah, I don’t remember it but you better believe Foggy did.”
“‘My roommate? Matt? I’m saying this totally platonically, but he’s, like, the best-looking guy I’ve ever seen in real life. Like it’s ridiculous.’”
“We all called you ‘My roommate? Matt?’ until we met you that Christmas,” Connie added.
“And you were just as adorable as advertised,” Tammy said, patting his shoulder. “A more than acceptable brother-in-law.”
“So you guys have been dating since, like, the second week of school, right?” Julie asked. “I mean, Brother Franklin is many things, but subtle is not one of them.”
Matt wondered if the party would be totally ruined if he just threw himself through the bay window behind him and took off down the street. “I...uh…”
“Okay, what did you do to him?” Oh, thank God, Foggy was back. “Disperse, vultures, before Matt decides he wants nothing to do with the Nelson clan.”
“Please, he’s settling for the least of us,” Tammy said. “If he can put up with you, he must have infinite stores of patience.”
“Foggy’s the one who’s settling,” Matt said, and it was supposed to be a joke but it cracked in his voice on the way out.
“Awww,” said all three of Foggy’s sisters at once, and Matt wondered if he could protect Foggy from the broken glass if he took Foggy out the window with him.
“Ugh,” Foggy said, putting two plates redolent with chocolate and cinnamon and warm blueberries down on the coffee table next to Julie. “Shoo, Con, give me my seat back.”
“Don’t give me that lip, Frankfurter,” Connie said, and laughed when Foggy groaned at the nickname. “You’re still the baby.”
“I am a grown-ass man with my own law practice! And a grown-ass husband!” Foggy protested. Matt nodded, not trying very hard to hide his smile. “Don’t encourage them, Matt.”
Before one of Foggy’s sisters could retort, there was a loud pop! that made everyone jump. Mrs. Nelson stood in the center of the living room and brandished the champagne bottle she’d just opened. “We’re toasting, everyone! Matt, honey, stand up, please.”
Matt obeyed, edging his way around the coffee table to stand next to Foggy as Connie went to help her father distribute glasses and open more bottles. Mrs. Nelson pressed a champagne flute into Matt’s hand. Matt latched on to Foggy’s elbow with the other hand, aware that everyone in the room was looking at them.
“To Foggy and Matt,” Mrs. Nelson said. “Even though they didn’t actually bother to tell us that they’d gotten married - and don’t think you two are going to hear the end of that any time soon - we’ve all adored Matt since the first time Foggy brought him home, and I know I speak for everyone here when I say how thrilled I am to have him officially part of the family.”
Matt’s fingers tightened on Foggy’s arm, swallowing hard around the sudden lump in his throat. Foggy gave him a gentle hip check.
“To Foggy and Matt!” Mrs. Nelson said again, and there was a general cheer of agreement and the sound of assorted glass-clinking around the room. Matt held his glass up and let Foggy clink it, then took a sip. The champagne wasn’t expensive, but it was light and sweet - and most importantly, for Matt, and that was the part that he already knew was going to go straight to his head.
Maybe it already had, because he slid his hand up Foggy’s arm, skimmed it over his shoulder and neck until he was cupping Foggy’s cheek. He felt Foggy turn to him, felt the air move as Foggy took in a surprised breath, felt the pulse beneath his palm start to race.
And he leaned in and kissed Foggy, right on that soft and startled mouth.
There was another cheer. Matt smiled as he pulled back. “You told me to make it look good,” he murmured, low enough that only Foggy could hear.
“That I did,” Foggy said, and his voice was so low Matt couldn’t make out whether he was smiling or not.
But he kissed Matt back, and it was light and sweet and for Matt.
And it went straight to Matt’s head.
Matt lost track of the champagne after that, of the well-wishes and the great-aunts kissing his cheek, the uncles shaking his hand and at least two of Foggy’s nieces stealing his cane to use as a sword. Cane-less, he kept his hand on the small of Foggy’s back to navigate the crowd, and the warmth of Foggy beneath his palm was grounding and dizzying all at once.
It was after dark when Mrs. Nelson pushed them into a cab, their arms laden with more leftovers than they could possibly finish between the two of them. Foggy insisted on giving the nearly-untouched chocolate peanut butter pie a place of honor in the seat by the window, which left him him and Matt squished together on the other side of the bench seat. Matt didn’t exactly mind. His head was full of bubbles and the cabbie took the corners sharp, sending Matt’s senses spinning - or maybe that was just the comfortable weight of Foggy thrown into him by every bank to the right.
By the time the cab had deposited them back in Hell’s Kitchen, most of the bubbles had dissipated, but Matt still felt light and happy - happier than he could remember since maybe college, when he and Foggy had been bright and brave and ready to face the world’s injustices. They carted the leftovers upstairs and tried to find room in the fridge for all of them, shoving at each other to get access to the shelves. Foggy was warm and radiating happiness and Matt couldn’t seem to keep his hands off him.
“You can just eat all the deviled eggs now, then we won’t have to try to fit them,” Foggy teased, pushing the tupperware towards Matt.
Matt pushed it back. “Get those away from me. Deviled eggs are disgusting.”
“What if…” Foggy began, and then started laughing so hard he couldn’t speak for a full minute. “What if they were daredeviled eggs?” he finally wheezed, hanging on to Matt for balance, and Matt couldn’t muster up the disdainful expression that pun deserved because he was laughing too.
"You," Foggy gasped. "You have to eat them now, Matt, it's your...hff...your destiny."
He pushed the eggs at Matt again, crowding him against the counter. Matt grinned, then grabbed his wrist, digging his thumb into a pressure point so that the Tupperware fell from Foggy's nerveless fingers. He caught it before it hit the ground and shot it into the one empty spot in the open fridge so hard the door swung closed.
Then he pulled, turned sharp, and it was Foggy pinned up against the counter, Foggy with both of his wrists held in place by Matt's hands. "Not even if they were wearing little red costumes," Matt said, low and amused.
And froze, because Foggy had gone rigid, his chest heaving against Matt's and his pulse beating a wild jazz solo beneath Matt's fingers.
He'd scared him. He'd thought it would be funny, but he'd scared Foggy, he'd ruined it... "Shit, Foggy, I'm sorry - " he started to say, started to pull back - and Foggy lunged forward and kissed him.
Matt was so surprised he let go of Foggy's wrists. Immediately Foggy's hands were cupping his face, pulling him closer, pulling him down. He kissed Matt breathless before letting him go, and for all his heightened senses Matt couldn't hear anything in the world just then but Foggy's heartbeat.
"Foggy," he said, and when he leaned in to kiss him back, Foggy met him halfway.
Matt’s head was spinning again, but this was so much better than champagne. Foggy kissed him like he was trying to memorize Matt from the lips down, all thoughtfulness and tenderness and brilliant focus. Matt wanted to cooperate, he really did, but he couldn’t seem to make himself slow down because this was Foggy, this was finally Foggy, and Matt wanted everything. He kissed Foggy fiercely, desperately, hands on Foggy’s chest, his arms, his hips, everywhere, until Foggy put his hands on Matt’s shoulders and pushed him back, firm but laughing.
“Jeez, Matt, take it easy, would you?” he said.
Matt shook his head. “I can’t,” he said, and he hadn’t meant for it to come out so low and dark, but it made Foggy shiver so he was glad for it.
Foggy tilted his head and Matt honed in on the exposed pulse point at his throat. He wanted to taste it; he wanted to feel it quicken under his tongue. Foggy moaned softly, fingers carding through Matt’s hair, and Matt got a leg between Foggy’s thighs and just. Ground.
“Fuck. Fuck,” Foggy said, tugging on Matt’s hair hard enough to hurt, and the dull pain went straight to Matt’s dick. “Matt.”
Matt smiled against Foggy’s throat. “Good?”
Foggy answered by letting go of Matt’s hair and grabbing his ass, using the grip to pull Matt even closer. “More.”
Matt could do more. Matt could do whatever Foggy asked for, anything that would keep him here, warm and happy and hard against Matt’s thigh. He thrust against Foggy’s hip and Foggy moaned again, digging his fingers into the soft flesh of his ass. “Matty,” he mouthed against Matt’s ear, and Matt had to kiss him then, had to know how his name felt in Foggy’s mouth.
Foggy’s shirt was too rough; Matt didn’t know how Foggy could stand to wear it. He wanted to touch Foggy’s skin, bare against his hands, and he skimmed his fingers under the hem of Foggy’s t-shirt, skated them up a few inches to palm the softness of Foggy’s sides. “Hey. Hey,” Foggy said, his breath coming damp and hot against Matt’s chin. “No, no, no.”
“You don’t undress me in here,” Foggy said. “You don’t have any damn curtains, Murdock. You want a piece of this, you’ll take it in the bedroom like a gentleman.”
The relief made Matt’s laughter too loud. “You want me to take it in the bedroom?” he asked, going low and dark on purpose this time, and yeah, Foggy’s shiver was everything. “I can take it in the bedroom.”
And then he was pulling Foggy towards the bedroom, skirting around furniture, fast, fast, before this went away, dissolved like soap bubbles like everything else good. They tumbled onto the bed, the bed that already smelled like Foggy and now would smell like Foggy and sex and maybe Matt would just never leave this bed again.
Foggy was laughing and Matt straddled him and kissed him like he could swallow that laugh, like he could keep that brightness inside of him forever. He tugged at the hem of Foggy’s shirt and Foggy sat up enough to let Matt help him wriggle out of it. And yeah, that was better, Foggy’s bare skin beneath his hands. Matt skimmed his hands over everywhere he could reach, loving the way Foggy sighed and arched into his touch. He didn’t know what Foggy looked like, not really, but he knew well enough to know that Foggy’s self-confidence was more of the “fake it ‘til you make it” variety. But everything Matt touched was beautiful.
“Hey,” Foggy said, pulling at Matt’s shirt. “Come on, take this off. It’ll be a nice change to get to deal with your incorrigible shirtlessness when you’re not bleeding out on the floor.”
Matt scoffed but sat up and pulled his shirt off anyway. “I’m almost never bleeding out on the floor.”
“When you can get the ‘almost’ out of that sentence you’ll have earned the right to sound so huffy,” Foggy said, and then, “Jesus Christ, you’re hot.” Matt grinned. “All right, all right, don’t look so smug. Come here.”
Matt let Foggy tug him back down, back into one of those dizzying kisses; let Foggy drag blunt nails up his back until he was gasping and writhing above him. Everything felt electric; everywhere they touched set sparks off in Matt’s brain. “Fuh. Foggy,” he mumbled, mouthing at Foggy’s jaw. “God.”
Foggy flicked him in the side, making him laugh and lean away from his hand. “Bad Catholic,” Foggy scolded. “What would the nuns say?”
Matt gave Foggy his wickedest grin and loved the way it made Foggy’s breath hitch. “Nothing good. So you’d better not tell them what I’m about to do.”
He slid down Foggy’s body, and Foggy’s heartbeat told him the exact second that Foggy realized where he was going. “Oh, yes,” Foggy said. “Forget what I said. Great Catholic. Exemplary Catholic. You’re an angel. Dareangel.” Matt muffled his laugh against the bulge in Foggy’s pants and Foggy gasped and clutched at his hair. “Fuck, Matt, are you seriously going to…”
“I’m seriously going to,” Matt said without lifting his mouth, just so he could feel Foggy tremble. He almost said - but didn’t - how much he wanted to. He almost said - but didn’t - how much he’d always wanted to. But that was more than Foggy had signed up for, so Matt just undid his fly and tugged Foggy’s jeans down and off.
It hit him then - the smell of Foggy’s arousal, thick and dizzying. It had been building...really since Matt had pinned him against the counter, when Matt thought about it, but now the air was redolent with it.
Matt could live on that smell.
He mouthed Foggy through his boxers - cotton, how could Foggy stand it there, Matt wanted to wrap him in silk - and was rewarded with a low moan. And there it was, sound and scent and taste and touch, Foggy filled all of Matt’s senses and it almost made up for the fact that he couldn’t see him, sprawled flushed and breathless in Matt’s bed. He wanted to hear what other noises he could wring out of Foggy, to find out what he sounded like when Matt teased him, but the moment still felt tentative, barely his to keep, and Matt didn’t have time to waste. He yanked Foggy’s boxers down.
The noise that Foggy made when Matt’s mouth wrapped around him was so delicious that Matt didn’t mind not waiting. “Matt,” Foggy gasped, sounding strangled. His hands were in Matt’s hair, but petting, not pulling. Matt liked it. Matt would’ve liked pulling, too. “Matt, holy shit, don’t stop.”
Matt had no intention of stopping, not with Foggy heavy and hard on his tongue, not with Foggy’s soft hips pushing up under his hands. He sucked a little harder, went a little deeper, and Foggy gave a startled yelp.
“Whoa, Matt, oh Christ…” Foggy’s hands were on his face, back in his hair, everywhere. “Fuck, buddy, you gotta slow down, I can’t…I’m gonna...”
Matt knew. Matt wanted. He hummed happily around Foggy and kept going. Foggy had apparently given up trying to get Matt to put the brakes on, because all he was saying now was “yes” and “fuck” and “please Matty, please, please,” and who was Matt to say no to such a prettily-worded request?
So he didn’t stop, and he didn’t stop, and Foggy gasped and begged and shook apart in Matt’s hands, in Matt’s mouth, and Matt swallowed him down, rutting against the mattress shamelessly because Foggy’s taste was everywhere and Matt wanted. He pulled off when Foggy whined, dragged the back of his hand across his mouth, and Foggy laughed and swore and told him he looked filthy.
Matt grinned. “Yeah? If only you could smell yourself right now.”
“That is definitely the weirdest compliment I have ever received,” Foggy said. “That was a compliment, right?” Matt nodded. “Good. Come here. Christ, look at you.”
“Sorry, you’ll have to do it for me,” Matt said, crawling back up over Foggy and touching his mouth to feel his smile.
“Deal,” Foggy said, and reached up to skate his hands over Matt’s chest. Matt shivered, eyes half-closing. He could feel the ring on Foggy’s finger, warm from his hand. “Whoa,” Foggy said. “Okay, you like that. Is this a super senses thing?”
Half super senses, half Foggy, but Matt just nodded and pushed into Foggy’s touch. Foggy’s thumb skittered across Matt’s nipple and Matt whimpered, rocking against him. “Fuck,” Foggy said wonderingly, and did it again.
Matt let out a low whine. “Foggy,” he said - not begged, not quite - and Foggy laughed and let his hand drop down past Matt’s waist.
“Are you trying to tell me something?” he asked, squeezing Matt gently through his pants, and Matt gasped, digging his nails into Foggy’s sides probably harder than he should have.
“Foggy,” he managed, hunching over. He sent up a frantic prayer to God, even though he knew God would probably disapprove of all of this, that he wouldn’t come in his pants, that he’d at least let Foggy get his hands on him… “Fuh-Foggy, I need. I need.” He couldn’t make a sentence.
“Shhh, I got you,” Foggy said, and then Foggy’s clever fingers were unzipping Matt’s fly, pushing Matt’s jeans and boxers down, and everything was on fire. “I got you, Matty,” and that was Foggy’s hand on him, oh, “beautiful,” and Matt was gone.
“Suh. Sorry,” he said a moment later, when he could breathe.
Foggy’s laugh was a bright thing hanging in the air. “Yes, Matt, how dare you be the most gorgeous person I’ve ever seen naked.” He shifted under Matt, reaching up, and then Matt felt the softness of a tissue on his skin. “Well, mostly naked. You gonna sit there all night? Because I’m about to fall asleep.”
“I. No.” Foggy sounded normal. Matt felt dazed, but Foggy sounded like the ground beneath them hadn’t shifted entirely, turned into something Matt didn’t know how to walk on yet. “I’ll just…”
Matt climbed off of Foggy and kicked his pants and boxers the rest of the way off. Then he lay down - heart rate slowing, sweat cooling on his skin, stiff and uncomfortable against the mattress. What happened now, now that Matt had broken all of his rules?
He felt the heavy weight of Foggy’s arm drape over his stomach. “We put all the leftovers away, right, Super Nose? Nothing’s rotting in the kitchen?”
“No,” Matt said. Foggy was acting like...well, like Foggy. Like nothing had changed. Like this didn’t mean anything.
Like everything was okay.
“Everything’s fine,” he said, and Foggy snuggled closer.
“Good,” Foggy said, and Matt knew, he just knew Foggy had closed his eyes.
Matt didn’t close his.
Matt stared into darkness. Foggy was warm against his side, his breath soft on Matt’s face. The bed smelled of Foggy and sex. Matt smelled of Foggy and sex.
So Foggy was still attracted to him, like he’d been in college. Maybe he’d gotten better at hiding it, or maybe Matt just hadn’t been paying attention. Still, he wanted Matt, that much had just been made abundantly clear.
But want wasn’t need.
Foggy’d fallen asleep untroubled and happy, and why shouldn’t he? He’d gotten a very nice party and a very nice blowjob. He wasn’t dragging his best friend down into a world of violence and danger and endless nights waiting up worrying because he couldn’t do the right thing and let go. Foggy was brilliant and kind and the shining light of his beautiful family; Foggy had everything.
Matt only had Foggy. He only had Foggy, and sometimes, like now, he felt that yawning need so much it terrified him. Foggy had already walked out the door once, when Matt had fucked things up almost beyond repair. Matt didn’t have any illusions: he was going to fuck it up again. He’d let Foggy see too much of the rage, too much of the devil in him. Or he’d let Foggy see the need, and that would be worse, because that kind of desperation just drove people away no matter how much they liked you. Matt knew.
He had to get out.
He slid out from under Foggy’s arm, holding his breath. Foggy made a soft noise of protest, but his sleepy, contented heartbeat didn’t change. Matt changed in the living room, silent and quick, and was still pulling on his gloves as he slipped out the roof access door.
He needed to hit something. And Hell’s Kitchen, God bless her, gave him what he needed.
A mugging. He broke the mugger’s leg, snapped the mugger’s knife in half as it sank into the flesh of his upper arm, and didn’t think about Foggy.
A gang skirmish. He laid out nine of them, ignored the protest from his ribs when one of them got him from behind with a baseball bat, and didn’t think about Foggy.
An arsonist. He knocked out four of the guy’s teeth, found out the hard way that his costume wasn’t very flame retardant, and didn’t think about Foggy.
Didn’t think about Foggy’s mouth on him, his hands, his body. Didn’t think about Foggy, asleep and alone in his bed. Didn’t think about Foggy stretching his hand across the sheets as he woke and found Matt gone.
Didn’t think about Foggy leaving the way he inevitably would, when he finally decided he’d had enough of endlessly forgiving Matt Murdock.
He only went home when the sun on his skin told him that there were no more shadows to skulk in. Maybe Foggy was gone already. Maybe he’d gotten dressed and gone to the office. Maybe he’d greet Matt in an hour with a smile and a cup of coffee, like nothing had changed.
He was two blocks away from his apartment when a familiar heartbeat told him what a false hope that was.
He knew before he opened the door that Foggy was in the living room, awake and unhappy. He took a deep breath and let himself in.
“Well, at least you’re alive,” Foggy said, and his voice was as flat and cold as it had been that terrible day when he’d asked if he really knew Matt Murdock at all. “That’s something.”
“I’m - ” Fine would just make Foggy angrier. “I’m okay, Foggy.”
The fact that he stumbled on the stairs probably didn’t help sell his story.
“Get down here,” Foggy said. “How badly are you hurt?”
“Uh…” But Matt had made it to the lower level and Foggy could see for himself.
“Jesus, Matt…” he hissed. “Strip. And if you turn that into a joke I swear to God I will deck you.”
Matt hadn’t been about to - despite what Foggy and Claire thought, he did have some self-preservation instincts - but he kept silent and peeled off his costume. He was perversely grateful he didn’t have to see Foggy’s expression when he winced removing his shirt.
“Is that a bullet wound.” Flat. Furious.
“Oh.” Matt tilted his head towards his right calf. There’d been shooting when he’d been fighting the gang members but he’d thought he’d dodged all the bullets. “Just a graze, I think.”
“Come here.” He did and Foggy circled him, appraising. He felt a finger on his bicep, just below the hot line of pain across it. “Knife?”
“I don’t think it needs stitches.”
“I don’t think that’s what I asked.” But Foggy didn’t wait for an answer. “Your back’s starting to bruise. Broken ribs?”
“Probably just cracked.”
“There are burns on your face and your forearms.” Matt didn’t answer - nothing he could say could make this better - and he heard the whispery sound of Foggy raking his fingers through his hair. “Christ, Matt, were you trying to get yourself killed?”
Not really. He just hadn’t wanted to think anymore. “You’re probably tired,” he said. “I can…”
"You're damn fucking right I'm tired," Foggy snapped, and Matt flinched. "But I clearly can't trust you to take care of yourself either, so sit."
Matt obeyed. Foggy patched him up in silence, a silence so thick Matt thought he might choke on it. He cleaned Matt’s wounds; bandaged them; dressed Matt’s forearms and bandaged them too. Matt’s ribs ached every time he took a breath but there was nothing Foggy could do for those, so he didn’t say anything - or maybe it was just that every inhalation brought in a fresh wave of Foggy. He didn’t smell like sex anymore; he smelled like worry and anger and the lingering, metallic tang of fear.
Foggy’s hands shook the whole time, and Matt kept opening his mouth and closing it again, because nothing he could say would fix this, nothing he could say would make up for the wreck he'd made of Foggy's life.
"You'd better get some rest," Foggy said when he was done, and Matt realized belatedly that Foggy was dressed for the office.
"No, I can..." Matt started. "I'll come with you, we have work..."
“You need sleep,” Foggy said. Not his usual playful nagging tone, but the unyielding voice he used with clients he didn’t particularly like but had to defend anyway. “Go to bed.”
“I’m not debating this with you, Matt!” Foggy snapped, temper finally overflowing. “You have cracked ribs and a bullet wound and you haven’t had more than four hours of sleep in the last forty-eight hours, and quite frankly, you look like fucking hell. God, Matt, what is wrong with you?”
Matt shrank into himself, a little. He had the devil in him; that was what was wrong with him. Didn’t Foggy know that by now? “I’m...I’m sorry.”
“For which part, Matt?” Foggy asked. “Because you’re no good to me at the office right now? Because you let every two-bit hood from here to the river carve a piece out of you? Because you let me spend yesterday lying to my family’s faces about their beloved new son-in-law so that I could aid and abet your criminal activities?”
“Or maybe you’re sorry about the part where I woke up alone, with no idea whether you were coming back to me or bleeding to death in an alley somewhere!” Foggy snapped. “No, you couldn’t possibly be sorry about that. Isn’t that your M.O.? Fuck someone, hop off, and you’re out the door before the bed is cool? I mean, I’m not a beautiful woman but I guess I was convenient, right?”
Matt reared back like he’d been slapped. “What? No, Foggy, I...that’s not it at all, I…”
“Save it, Matt.” All the fight seemed to have gone out of Foggy with that last accusation; he sounded so weary Matt wanted to weep. “I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore.”
Panic gripped Matt’s heart. Couldn’t do what anymore? The fight, the marriage, Daredevil? Matt? “Stay home,” he said. “We can both stay home, we’ll sleep, we’ll talk about this…”
He felt Foggy move away, heard his footsteps recede and the soft rustle as he picked up his bag. “No. I’m going to the office.” His voice was so tired. “I don’t want to be around you right now.”
And he was gone.
Matt stood there, numb, listening to Foggy’s heartbeat get further and further away, until he couldn’t hear it anymore. His breathing was coming short, and it wasn’t because of his ribs.
You’re no good to me.
I can’t do this anymore.
I don’t want to be around you right now.
Bed. Foggy wanted Matt to go to bed.
He stumbled towards the bedroom and crawled his way over the mattress, not bothering to get under the covers. It smelled like Foggy but also Matt, the scents bleeding into each other until Matt couldn’t pick out the separate notes anymore. He twisted the sheets around his fists, ignoring the way it stung his burned hands, and wondered how long it would take for the Foggy smell to wash out of the bedding, to fade and fade and fade until there was nothing left but Matt.
He closed his eyes, but sleep was a long time coming.
Foggy's show background doesn't match his comics background at all, so I went ahead and made up a family for him. He strikes me as the kind of guy who'd have a bunch of sisters. And yes, they are all named after Mighty Ducks characters. ;)
Matt jerked awake at the sound of his phone. He was scrambling over the mattress, reaching for it, when his brain parsed the name it was saying: Karen. Karen. Karen.
Swallowing his disappointment, he answered. “Hi, Karen.”
“Matt, what the hell happened?” she whispered. “Are you okay?”
No. No, he was not remotely close to okay. “Yeah. What’s...where’s Foggy? Why are you whispering?”
“I’m in the bathroom,” she said. “I didn’t want him to hear me.”
“Is.” Matt swallowed. “How is he?”
“Do you mean when he’s staring into space with a look on his face like someone just shot his dog, or when he’s yelling at me for asking what’s wrong?”
Jesus. Matt scrubbed a hand over his face. “I...what did he say? About...” Us. Everything. “...me?”
“That you were hurt but you’d be okay, you were sleeping it off, you’ll probably be in tomorrow, now would you please leave me alone for three seconds, Karen, Christ, this isn’t twenty fucking questions!” She chuffed something like a quiet, bitter laugh. “I made him apologize for that one.”
“You didn’t say it.” She sighed. “Do you still have all your limbs, at least?”
“Fingers and toes?”
“Yes. I just...I’m a little dinged up, but I’m. I’m fine. I just needed to catch up on some sleep.” Matt listened hard, but a phone connection wasn’t like being in the same room, and he couldn’t hear Foggy on the other end. “Listen, just...I’ll talk to him, okay? When he comes home. I’ll...I’ll fix this.” How, he had no idea, but maybe Foggy would. Matt would do whatever Foggy wanted.
“You’d better,” Karen said. “I’m so tired of this, Matt. Every time you two fight I want to ask if I’m gonna have to go live with Grandma.”
I’m so tired of this.
I can’t do this anymore.
“I’ll. No. I’ll fix it, Karen, I promise. Tell him…” He swallowed. “If he asks. Tell him I’m gonna fix it.”
“Yeah. I will.” Karen sighed again. “Get some rest, Matt.”
She hung up.
There was no chance of falling back asleep, so Matt got up. He showered carefully and changed his bandages, pulled on the softest clothing he owned and padded into the living room. He wasn’t hungry, but Foggy would want him to eat, so he ate, and a few hours later, he ate again. In between, he curled up on the couch, twisting the ring on his left hand with the fingers of his right, and thought about nothing at all.
At five, he started listening for Foggy’s footsteps on the sidewalk outside. At six, he figured Foggy must be working late.
At eight, he figured Foggy must be working very late.
At eleven, he remembered that Foggy still had his own apartment, with more than enough of his belongings there to make it through a night or three.
He could suit up, he thought. Sure, his ribs were cracked, but he’d fought with worse injuries before. And there was no one to know; no one who would be mad at him for going out injured. No one to wait up and make sure he came home in one piece.
At midnight, he drained the last of the scotch and went to bed.
If any part of Matt had hoped that he’d wake up to find Foggy back in bed with him where he belonged, that hope was dashed when his alarm going off was the only sound in the room. Everything ached and his mouth tasted like something had died in it, but he made himself get up anyway, because Foggy would be at the office. He’d make Foggy listen.
But he could only hear one heartbeat when he reached the office. Forcing on a neutral face, he took a deep breath and opened the door.
“Morning,” Karen said cheerfully. “You look like hell. Where’s Foggy?” Her tone changed. “You two made up, didn’t you?”
“He didn’t come…” Home. “...back to my place last night,” Matt said. “I figured I’d talk to him here. I didn’t want to push it.”
Now Karen’s voice was quizzical. “He said he was going to your apartment.”
Matt blinked. “He did?”
“Well, yeah, after I threw a calculator at his head and told him to stop being such a stubborn prick. If he lied to me, I swear to God I’ll...” Matt heard a rustle and then the sound of Karen’s fingers tapping out a number on her phone, then a distant ring. “He’s not answering. Foggy, it’s Karen. Where are you? Call me or Matt, please.” She put her phone down on the desk. “Maybe you should try.”
“I doubt he’ll answer,” Matt said, but he took his phone out and told it, “Call Foggy.” Four rings later, he was sent to voicemail. “Foggy, it’s Matt. Could you…could you call me back? Please?”
“Okay, no way he’s ignoring that,” Karen said. “You sounded like the saddest, smallest kitten in the world begging for a saucer of milk.”
“...Thanks?” Matt said. “Look, he probably just decided to sleep at his old place last night and is on his way in now. I’m going to get to work.” He would be useless until they heard from Foggy, but there was no point in admitting that to Karen.
An hour later there was still no word from Foggy, and Matt thought he might throw up. Was Foggy so angry he couldn't even be in the same room as Matt anymore?
Karen gave an annoyed huff from her desk and picked up her phone. "I'm calling him again, this is ridiculous, you have a court date on Thursday..."
Matt listened to the phone ringing, praying Foggy would pick up - and then tilted his head and listened harder. Was that a strange echo on the line or...
"Pick up, you bastard, pick - " Karen said and Matt stood up and held up a hand to shush her. There was definitely a ringing coming from outside.
"You've reached Foggy Nelson, idol of millions. I can't answer the phone right now, but - "
"Hang up," Matt said, coming out of his office. "Call him again, and keep calling every time you get voicemail."
"What - "
Karen's heartbeat was quickening, picking up on his alarm, but he heard the brush of her hair against her back as she nodded. She dialed again, and Matt listened hard for the sound that wasn't coming from Karen's phone.
Definitely outside. He yanked the door open and clattered down the stairs, not bothering with his cane. Karen followed behind, silent and curious.
The sound was louder on the street, but also swallowed up in the noises of the city. Matt had to concentrate harder to pick it out as Karen dialed a third time. There, heading back in the direction of Matt's apartment - but there was no familiar heartbeat, no familiar smell. Foggy's phone was nearby, but Foggy wasn't.
He hurried down the street, forcing himself not to run, Karen trotting after him. One block, two, and he stopped at an alley. Walked in.
Picked up Foggy's phone from where it was lying on the ground, scuffed on one corner like it had been dropped.
"Is that Foggy's phone?" Karen asked. "What does that, what does that mean, why would he..."
Matt stood up. If Foggy had just dropped his phone, he would have looked for it. He would have stopped by so Karen wouldn't worry, no matter how angry he was at Matt. And why would he have dropped his phone in an alley, anyway?
"Someone took him," Matt said. Took, because there was no scent of blood, no body. Took, because no other alternative was acceptable.
"Who? Why?" Karen asked. She smelled like fear, sour and hot.
Or maybe that was Matt, maybe that was the stench crawling under his skin. They'd taken Foggy, hours ago, and Matt hadn’t known, Matt hadn’t known because he wasn’t with Foggy. He should have been with him, they’d never had gotten to Foggy if Matt was there, they wouldn’t have dared, Matt would have -
“Matt?” Karen said. Her hand brushed his shoulder and he flinched hard, he nearly threw the phone against the wall but it was their only lead, there was nothing to throw, there was nothing to break and Matt wanted to scream -
“Matt!” Karen snapped. “Matt, dammit, listen to me!”
“I need to find him,” Matt said, marching towards the mouth of the alley, and Karen grabbed his arm and hauled on it because Karen wasn’t afraid of wild animals.
“You need to stop,” she said. “Stop and think. Who took him, Matt? And why? Is this a Daredevil thing or a Nelson and Murdock thing?”
“What does it matter?” he snapped, trying to shake her off without hurting her.
“Because if it’s a Nelson and Murdock thing we can call the police!” she said. “You don’t have to do this alone, Matt.”
“I...it…” Every second he argued with her was another second Foggy wasn’t safe. “It hasn’t been twenty-four hours. We can’t file a missing persons report until then.”
“Then call Brett!” she said. “He’s Foggy’s friend and we know he’s clean. He’ll help.” Matt pulled towards the street again and she held him in place. “What are you gonna do, Matt? Run around Hell’s Kitchen in your good suit hitting people with your cane until Foggy falls out? We need to figure this out, not run off in a blind rage because - shit. Shit, I’m sorry.”
Matt forced himself to exhale. “No,” he said. “No, you’re right. We need to...you’re right. We’ll call Brett.”
He took a deep breath, but too many hours had passed, too many people walking by. There was no trace of Foggy in the air, or whoever had taken him.
But as soon as the sun went down, the devil would be on their trail.
There wasn’t much Brett could do. Karen said Foggy had left the office at about seven p.m. the night before, which meant that, as Matt had suspected, they couldn’t file a missing persons report for hours; Brett put the word out on the police band to keep an eye out for Foggy, but in a city of eight million people one stray lawyer could go unspotted for...well, too long.
Just in case things were less dire than he feared, Matt called Marci and, careful not to alarm them, Foggy’s parents and sisters, but no one had heard from him. Karen checked Josie’s; no luck. Matt went to Foggy’s apartment, but the air was stale, the smells old; Foggy hadn’t been back here in at least a week.
He was definitely gone.
Matt went back to the office and proceeded to prowl like a caged tiger, claws barely sheathed. He’d exhausted all of Matt Murdock’s options, and it was hours yet until Daredevil could utilize his.
They could be doing anything to Foggy right now. Beating him. Torturing him. God, what if they’d taken him because they’d figured out the connection to Daredevil? Foggy would never give him up, Matt knew that; no matter what they did, no matter how angry Foggy was at Matt, he’d never give him up.
He’d let them kill him first.
“When did you get rings?” Karen asked softly, and Matt jumped. He hadn’t realized he was twisting the gold band around his finger. He hadn’t realized Karen was in the room.
“Sunday,” he said, dully. It seemed like a lifetime ago. “Foggy got them. For when we went to see his family. He knew they’d ask, so we needed them. For the act.”
It hadn’t felt like an act, when Foggy put the ring on Matt’s finger. It hadn’t felt like an act in a long time.
Karen took his hand so she could get a closer look. “It’s nice,” she said. “Must have been expensive. That’s a lot of money for a fake marriage.”
“I don’t...Foggy got them,” Matt repeated. “I don’t know how much they cost.” He hadn’t asked. He hadn’t offered to pay Foggy back. God, he’d been so selfish.
“Matt,” Karen said, like she was calling him back to himself. “You’ll find him. Foggy’s smart, and he’s tough - tougher than you think. He’ll hold out, and you’ll find him.”
“What if I don’t?” Matt whispered.
“You will,” she insisted. “I believe in you, Matt, and more importantly, Foggy believes in you.”
Matt snorted. “Foggy can barely stand Daredevil.” If he’d never been Daredevil, Foggy wouldn’t have gotten angry, Foggy wouldn’t have left...
“I was talking about Matt Murdock,” she said softly. “Wherever he is, Foggy knows you’re coming for him.”
Matt shook his head. “No. I’m the reason Foggy’s even in trouble.”
“You don’t know that - ”
“It was my fault!” Matt snapped. “We fought, and it was my fault, and Foggy left, and if he hadn’t been alone, they would never have taken him, they would never have dared. I would have killed them first. I would have died first, I would have, I would - ” and then he was sobbing, ugly sounds that hurt his throat, and Karen pulled him in and held him and let him cry.
“I can’t lose him,” he said when he could breathe again, hoarse and weak.
Her hand smoothed over his hair, and he should have felt embarrassed but he just felt empty. “I know,” she said. “Make sure you tell him that when you find him, okay?”
Before the sun had finished sinking over New Jersey, Daredevil was on the roofs.
He’d tried, during the day, to find Foggy this way; walking through the streets as nonchalantly as he could, listening for a familiar heartbeat. Praying Foggy was still in Hell’s Kitchen. He’d found nothing, but Daredevil could go further and faster than Matt Murdock could; he could listen at odd angles and skulk in strange shadows.
Now, two hours later, he had no leads, though he’d terrorized a few low-level mob goons and broken a few fingers. He’d gone straight for the families; an abduction like this required at least a few people working together, and somewhere to hide their vic-- to hide Foggy. But no one knew anything - or at least, they swore they didn’t, and Matt didn’t hear a lie.
He could feel it, just under his skin, like ants crawling over him, like little flashes of heat. The fear. That he wouldn’t find Foggy in time, that he wouldn’t find him ever, that he’d never know -
He clenched his fists and forced himself to breathe.
And paused, because that was a familiar voice. Not the one he was listening for, but - he’d heard it before, somewhere. Something to do with Foggy. He tilted his head and tried to place it.
“...this lawyer, man, so I was like, I know that shit’s gonna pay good.”
Get your hands where I can see them!
The mugger. The mugger who’d pulled a gun on Foggy, weeks ago, ages ago. Matt had practically forgotten it, figured it was just a random crime of opportunity, but what if it wasn’t?
He should take him, now; jump down to the street, send the friend running, and beat the shithead until he couldn’t walk, until he was begging to tell Matt everything he knew...but he thought of Foggy and held back. Maybe there was an easier way.
He followed over the roofs, until the friend split off, leaving the mugger - Sal, his friend called him Sal - alone. Matt’s smile sliced the night in two. Yes, this was easier.
He let Sal hear him, then - just a scrape of sound above him. Sal’s heart rate hitched up as he craned his neck, but Matt was well-hidden. Sal shook his head and kept walking.
Half a block and Matt made another sound. Two blocks, and Matt let his shadow fall across Sal before slipping out of sight again. By the time they were past 11th Avenue, nearly at the river, Sal was practically jumping out of his skin, his fear sharp in Matt’s nose, his hand brushing the piece tucked into the back of his pants.
When Matt jumped down to land in front of him, Sal’s fear spiked so hard Matt was mildly surprised not to smell urine in the air. Matt smiled again, and let it be as dangerous as he felt. “Where is he, Sal?”
Sal fumbled for the gun so slowly it was like he was narrating all his actions to Matt. Matt kicked it out of his hand. “Where is he, Sal?”
“Fuck off! How do you know my name?” Sal asked, backing away. Shaking.
“Where is he, Sal?” Matt took a step forward and Sal tried to bolt. Matt was on him in an instant, knocking him to the ground, hard. He hauled him up, wrenched an arm behind his back, and slammed him into the nearest wall. “You’ve made me ask three times, Sal. I don’t like that.”
“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!” Sal said. Oh, lie, lie, lie.
Matt tightened his grip and Sal cried out in pain. “I don’t like being lied to, either. Where is he?”
“Ah, shit, shit!” Sal hissed. “I can’t, I can’t…”
“You know, I’ve had my shoulder dislocated before,” Matt said, his voice very low. “Hurts like hell, but they can usually pop in back in and it’s as good as new.” He twisted his grip. “I know how to make it so they can’t pop it back in. Want to find out?”
“No, no, I can’t, they’ll kill me…” Sal begged, scrabbling at the wall with his free hand.
“The...the…” Matt tightened his grip again. “Shit! Shit, the Calabreses, okay, the Calabreses have him, I swear, oh fuck, I swear to God!”
Truth, but it made no sense. Why would the Calabreses want Foggy? “Why’d they take him?” Matt asked, releasing his grip slightly. If he twisted any more, Sal wouldn’t be able to use that arm for months. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as far as Matt was concerned, but if he was in too much pain to talk Matt would be back to square one.
“I don’t know.” Matt slammed him forward again so that his face scraped the brick. “Fuck! I don’t - I’m just, I’m nothing, okay? They don’t tell me shit!” His heartbeat, already going a mile a minute, faltered - not a lie, but not the whole truth, either.
“Why do you think?” Matt asked. Sal knew something, he was sure of it. And he was going to tell Matt, or he wasn’t walking out of here.
“I...fuck, I heard something,” Sal said. “Something about killing two birds with one stone. They said we go after Nelson and Murdock, we get Gomez out of the building so we can tear it down.”
Matt was glad Sal couldn’t see his expression, because he was pretty sure he looked more like a stunned goldfish than a devil. The Gomez case? A stupid health code violation? That’s what this was about?
“What’s the other bird?” he asked. Sal didn’t say anything and he pushed warningly on his shoulder, hearing the slight creak of bone.
“Shit! Shit, it’s you, okay? It’s you!” Sal said. “No one wants to go down like Fisk and everyone knows you helped Nelson and Murdock on that. That’s why they sent me after Nelson the other time. Go after the fat one and the Devil will come running - ahhh! Ah, shit, fuck!”
Matt hurled Sal to the ground where he lay cradling his arm and sobbing. Then he stepped over him and hauled him up by his collar. “It’ll heal,” he said unsympathetically, and let Sal see his teeth. “Now here’s the million dollar question, Sal, and I want you to think very carefully about your answer: Where. Is. Nelson?”
The sub-basement was several levels down, actually dug into the riverbed. Matt would never have known it was there, but now that he was inside he could hear the heartbeats, eight of them. One very familiar. Weak and tired, but praise God, still beating.
“Aren’t you tired?” a voice said as Matt worked his way down, keeping to the shadows. They were deep underground but he could hear the sizzle of electricity and smell burning filaments. He’d have to take out the lights. “Don’t you want the pain to end? Give us a name and it’ll all be over.”
They’d hurt Foggy. They’d hurt Foggy. Matt forced back the bile in his throat and made himself wait.
“How about Assface?” Foggy’s voice. Foggy’s voice. Matt wanted to drown in it. “That seems like a good name for you.”
“The Devil’s name, Mr. Nelson.”
“Hmm, well, I punked out of Sunday school pretty early on, but...Lucifer, right?” Foggy sounded weak, and hoarse, and tired. He’d been here more than twenty-four hours; had he eaten? Had he slept? “The Morning Star? Asmodeus? Beelzebub, I always liked that one, sounds like a cartoon bug or someth--urk!”
“Tell us where to find him, Mr. Nelson. Now.”
Matt crept closer, until his senses could paint him a clear picture of what was happening in the room. Two at the door, rifles out. One sitting on a table, one in a chair, two standing in the corner smoking. All armed.
Foggy tied to a chair. A seventh man - a Calabrese? hired muscle? - grabbing his face.
The smell of blood.
“He’s...he’s not here,” Foggy gasped out. Pain. The man was hurting him. Matt counted the seconds it would take him to cross the room, to snap the Calabrese’s neck before he even knew Matt was there. “He went...he went…”
“Where, Mr. Nelson?”
Foggy dragged in a ragged, rattling breath. “Down to Georgia.”
The Calabrese sighed. Straightened up.
Hit Foggy in the stomach, hard.
Foggy cried out. And Matt set the devil free.
He burst into the room, yanked the rifle out of the hands of the guard by the door. Shot out the light even as his foot snapped the other guard’s head back on his neck. And then they were in his world, his darkness, and the devil didn’t play well with others.
He tore through the basement, bouncing off walls, off furniture, making sure he made enough noise to keep the guns trained in his direction and not Foggy’s. But he was always one step ahead of the bullets, dropping one man with a wet thud, another, a third. Bones snapping, screaming, the devil taking his due.
Someone got in a lucky punch and Matt only knew he was bleeding from the taste filling his mouth, because it didn’t hurt at all. He spat blood, kicked out, how many left? How many more had to pay?
Crack! A shot rang out, hot pain lanced across his shoulder, and Foggy shouted and lurched forward, still tied to a chair, charging into the last of them, knocking him to the ground and the gun out of his hands. The Calabrese lunged for Foggy but Matt got there first, slammed the Calabrese to the ground and he didn’t get up again.
And then it was over and he was pulling Foggy’s chair back up, pulling him upright, and Foggy’s heartbeat was still there, Foggy’s beautiful heartbeat was still there. “Foggy,” he said, voice cracking, and he could feel the heat through his gloves, the swelling, Foggy’s lip was split and his eye was blackened but his heartbeat was strong and he was warm and solid and alive. “Foggy, Foggy,” because there were no other words that mattered.
“I knew you’d come,” Foggy said. “I knew you’d find me, I didn’t give them anything, they’d have to kill me first but I knew you’d save me,” and Matt gave a strangled sob and kissed Foggy’s beautiful, bruised face, every inch of it, everywhere he could reach.
“You didn’t kill them, did you?” Foggy asked, leaning into Matt’s touch.
“No,” Matt said. He hated to let go of Foggy but he could sense a knife tucked into the sock of the nearest mook, and he had to get those ropes off. “I knew you wouldn’t want me to.”
There was salt in the air, suddenly. Foggy hadn’t cried until now. “Thank you,” he whispered, and Matt pressed his lips to the curve of Foggy’s shoulder as knelt behind him to cut him free.
When he’d sliced through the last of the ropes, he helped Foggy to his feet and then just - held him for a minute, feeling Foggy’s heartbeat against his chest. Foggy pushed his face into Matt’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” Matt murmured into his hair. It wasn’t enough.
“Take me home,” was all Foggy said, and Matt nodded and helped him towards the door.
He didn’t take Foggy home, after all, but to the corner, where he used the burner to call 911. He hated to leave Foggy, but it wouldn’t do Foggy any good for Daredevil to get into an altercation with the cops, so he slipped away when the sirens drew near, and followed Foggy’s heartbeat inside the ambulance all the way to the hospital. Then Daredevil slipped into the darkness; half an hour later, a frantic Matt Murdock was led into the waiting room by his secretary, a hastily bandaged bullet wound hidden under his clothes courtesy of Claire.
Besides the black eye and split lip, Foggy had rope burns on his wrists, a wrenched shoulder, a mild concussion, and a whole cocktail of scrapes and bruises, not to mention a moderate case of dehydration - but that was all. Nothing broken, nothing that wouldn’t heal. Matt tightened his grip on Karen’s arm when the doctor told them the diagnosis, and locked his knees so they wouldn’t buckle with relief. Foggy hadn’t seemed too badly hurt when Matt had found him, but there could have been something internal, something Matt couldn’t sense...
He was dozing when Matt let himself into the room, but Matt heard his heartbeat speed up to a lazy waking state when he heard the click of Matt’s cane against the linoleum. “Hey. I guess this whole being married thing paid off quicker than we thought, huh? You get to visit your husband at his sickbed and everything.”
Matt tried to smile but he was pretty sure it came out funny. “Foggy, this is all my…”
“No,” Foggy said, cutting him off.
“I’m tired, Matt,” Foggy said. I’m so tired of this. “I’m tired and I hurt in all sorts of places I’ve never hurt before, and I know we have to talk about this eventually, but right now I just want you to sit in that chair and hold my hand and politely not say anything about it if I drool on the pillow when I fall asleep. Can you do that?”
Matt leaned his cane against the nightstand, drew up the chair by the bed, and picked up Foggy’s hand. It was warm and dry, Foggy’s pulse threading steadily through it. “Can I make fun of you if you snore?”
He heard Foggy’s soft exhale, the relief in it. “I’ll allow it, counselor.”
Foggy settled down into the bed again, and Matt sank down lower in his chair so that he could rest his head against the back of it. Foggy was right; they would have to talk about this eventually.
But not now.
They didn’t talk about it the two days that Foggy was in the hospital for observation, or after he came back home to Matt’s apartment. They didn’t talk about it while they secured the dismissal of the Gomez case, since it was clear the the Calabrese family had trumped up the health code violations to clear the last tenant out of the building they wanted to demolish, or while Foggy filed charges of kidnapping and assault against the men who’d taken him. They didn’t talk about it for over a week, as Matt’s ribs knit back together; as Foggy stopped letting out little gasps of pain when he sat or stretched, as he stopped waking up in a cold sweat with a tremble that shook the mattress until Matt soothed him back to sleep. They slept in the same bed and walked to work together and teased each other and Matt tried to memorize every minute of it, every single second before he had to give it all up.
And then, one lazy morning when they were picking at pistachio croissants Foggy had bought at Amy’s Bread, last sips of coffee growing cool in their cups, Matt cleared his throat. “I, uh, I got something.”
“Please tell me it’s not more food, because I’m stuffed,” Foggy said. “...Well, actually, do we have any more of that sticky bun? Because that would be worth the pain.”
“Uh, no, sorry. Or, you’re welcome, maybe. Hang on.” Matt got up and went over to where his briefcase was leaning against the wall by the door, next to his cane. Now, he had to do it now, before he could talk himself out of it.
He took the papers out of the briefcase, brought them back to the table, and laid them in front of Foggy. “You’ll have to fill them out, I’m afraid. They don’t have have a Braille version.”
Foggy was silent for a very long time, as Matt returned to his seat, picked up his coffee cup, and put it down without drinking anything from it. “These are divorce papers.”
“Matt.” He heard Foggy swallow. “Matt, why are these divorce papers?”
“You know why.”
“No, I really don’t.” Foggy didn’t sound relieved, or angry, or...or anything, really. “Enlighten me. Please.”
Matt dug his nails into his palm. Foggy had to know all the reasons as well as Matt did; why was he making Matt go through them? “It was a stupid idea in the first place. We only did it to protect you from having to testify against me.”
“Are you giving up being Daredevil?” Foggy asked.
“What?” Matt said, shocked. “No!”
“Then I might still have to testify against you,” Foggy pointed out.
Matt shook his head. He wished he had his glasses on, but they were on the kitchen counter, out of reach. He never wore them when he and Foggy were home alone. “It’s not worth the risk on that off-chance, Foggy. You were kidnapped.”
“Because of a case, Matt,” Foggy said. “Not because Foggy Nelson is married to Matt Murdock.”
“They were torturing you for information on me!” Matt couldn’t just sit there anymore; he got up and paced. How was Foggy not getting this? “Even that two-bit mafia hood who tried to mug you knew it! Touch you, and Daredevil comes running.”
“Well, you didn’t exactly prove them wrong, did you?”
Matt didn’t gasp, but it was a close thing. “What, did you not want me to come get you? They would have killed you, Foggy, they - ”
“I know,” Foggy said, cutting him off. “I know, and yes, obviously I wanted you to save me from the criminals who were torturing me. I’m not a complete lunatic. I didn’t…” There was a shadow in his voice and it tore at Matt’s heart. Foggy always covered up any talk of what he’d been through with a joke, but Matt was there for the nightmares. He knew. “I didn’t like any of it, and I don’t want it to happen again. Sign me up for one of those pepper spray keychains, right?” He shrugged. “That doesn’t change the fact that I’m your Achilles heel, and if anyone looking to take out Daredevil didn’t know that already, they do now.” Matt opened his mouth to speak, but Foggy pushed ahead. “But that has nothing to do with us being married.”
Why wasn’t Foggy getting this? “What if someone finds out that...that I’m…”
“What difference would it make?” Foggy asked. “Do you think they still wouldn’t come after me first? I’m your emergency contact. You’re in my will, Matt! Do you think some criminal mastermind is gonna go, ‘Oh, well, they’re business partners and best friends, but they got divorced after only a month and a half so there’s probably no love lost there’?” His voice got a little softer. “You know that doesn’t make sense, Matt. What’s this really about?”
“I don’t, I don’t…” Matt couldn’t understand why Foggy’s heart was so calm. “I don’t want to lose you.”
“So you’re kicking me out of your apartment.”
“No! I…” Matt raked a hand through his hair. “We fought, before. After we...after your parents threw us the party. And I don’t…” Foggy’s heartbeat was still so steady. “I think this is too complicated. It’s better if we’re just...friends. Simpler.”
“You might be right,” Foggy said, as calmly as if Matt had suggested it was raining outside. “But you’re overlooking the part where I’m in love with you.”
The floor beneath Matt’s feet lurched.
“Whoa! Okay, hang on.” Foggy. Foggy was there, warm and solid, leading him to the couch. “Easy, buddy. Deep breaths.”
“I.” This didn’t make any sense. Matt pressed his palms flat against the couch and tried to ground himself. “No. You’re not.”
“Yikes.” Foggy hissed in a playful breath. “I thought my finally saying it out loud would be a bit of a shock, but I didn’t think you’d be this opposed to it.”
“No! I mean, I’m not.” Oh God, was he not. “But you’re...Foggy, I can hear your heart. You’re not…” He swallowed. “You’re not in love with me.”
“And you would know that better than I would.” Foggy actually sounded amused.
“I know, I know you had a crush on me, back in college. When we first met,” Matt said. “Your heart would race when I talked to you, you got all sweaty…”
“Oh, that’s fantastic,” Foggy muttered. “Hang on, my eighteen-year-old self has to go die of humiliation now.”
“...but it went away.” Matt pushed doggedly on. “It went away, you were just...normal, around me. I figured, you know, you got to know me and you just, you didn’t…”
“What, you thought I liked you until I got to know you better?” Foggy asked incredulously. Matt shrugged miserably. “No, seriously? You thought I was hot for you, but then I found out you weren’t just gorgeous but also funny and smart and stupidly noble, so I was like, ‘Never mind, forget it, that totally kills my boner’? And then I went on to live with you for three more years, and quit my job because you asked me to, and open a law practice with you, and marry you, and let you put my dick in your mouth, just...because?”
“I…” Foggy was twisting it, somehow; it had made sense before.
“God, Murdock.” Foggy pushed Matt’s hair off his forehead and he couldn’t help leaning into the touch, just a little. “For such a vain little peacock you really do have the worst self-esteem of anyone I’ve ever met.”
“But...your heart…” Matt protested.
“Yeah.” Foggy took Matt’s hand and placed it on his chest. It wasn’t necessary - Matt could’ve heard his heartbeat from the street - but now he could feel it, steady and firm. “Matt, do you really expect me to be going into cardiac arrest whenever I’m around you? I’m around you all the time. Trust me when I say that means that loving you is my resting state.”
His heartbeat remained steady.
“I thought you knew,” Foggy said, and his voice was serious now, the gentle teasing tone gone. “I thought you had to suspect, everyone else did...and when I found out you knew when I was lying, I thought then, then, you had to have known all this time and you were just...too polite to say anything about it.”
Matt shook his head, remembering the betrayal in Foggy’s voice at that revelation, the sad contempt that he was now realizing had been directed at Foggy, not Matt. “You thought I knew that you…” He couldn’t say it, not yet. “...and I asked you to marry me anyway? And you said yes?” God, how cruel had Foggy thought he was?
Foggy shrugged. “Well, yeah. You asked me to.”
But Matt was still shaking his head, reframing everything in this strange new reality where Foggy loved him. “And then when we, we slept together…”
“I admit I could have reacted better, but waking up with you gone wasn’t my happiest moment, no,” Foggy said.
He must have thought that Matt was just using him, that Matt didn’t care. “Oh, Foggy, no,” Matt breathed.
But Foggy just shrugged again, easily. “I was in that basement for...what, about twenty-eight hours? Give or take? And, you know, they didn’t start hitting me right away. They wanted me hungry and thirsty, first. Scared.”
“Foggy,” Matt said, aching for him, but Foggy shook his head, cutting him off.
“It gave me a lot of time to think, you know?” he said. “About you, and us, and how really incredibly bad you are at normal human interactions. About why you do the things you do.” He took a breath. “So I’ll go over to that table and I’ll fill out those divorce papers. I’ll do it right now, Matt. All you have to do is tell me you don’t love me too.”
Matt lunged across the couch and kissed him.
Foggy let out a squeak of surprise, and then his arms were around Matt and he was kissing him back, warm and happy and finally, finally his heart was starting to race. Matt pulled back just far enough to pant against his mouth. “Throw out the divorce papers,” he said. “Burn them.”
“I’ll do it later,” Foggy promised. “After.” His hands slid under Matt’s shirt, smoothing up his back, and oh. After sounded pretty good to Matt.
“Foggy,” Matt breathed between kisses. “Foggy, I want...I need…”
“Yes,” Foggy told him. He kissed Matt’s mouth, his cheekbones, his eyelids. “Yes. Yes.”
“Bed,” Matt suggested, and Foggy nodded vehemently.
“Definitely yes. A world of yes.” He paused. “You have to get off me first, Matt.”
Matt laughed and climbed off the couch, drew Foggy to his feet and then stole another kiss, and then two more, and then he lost count. It took them a while to make it to the bedroom like that, but they made it eventually, considerably more naked than when they’d started.
Matt let himself drop back onto the bed, sprawled against the sheets. From the hitch in Foggy’s breathing, it was as effective as he’d hoped. “Jesus, Matt,” Foggy said. “Do you have any idea how hot you are?
Matt shook his head. “I’m blind, remember?” he said. “You’ll just have to tell me.”
Foggy snorted, and Matt felt the mattress give as Foggy knelt on it, edged forward to straddle Matt’s thighs. “Subtle.”
“Weren’t you just saying I have low self-esteem?” Matt said. He was trying for plaintive, but he couldn’t stop smiling. “Help me, Foggy. Guide me towards self-actualization.”
“You’re full of shit, Murdock,” Foggy said, but he cupped Matt’s face and kissed him anyway. “Fuck. All right, fine.” His fingers carded through Matt’s hair, sweeping it off his forehead. “Your hair’s a mess half the time, so let’s skip that part. I mean, it’s a nice color and all, but seriously, buy a comb already.”
“I have a comb.”
“Shhh, I’m waxing rhapsodic here,” Foggy said, putting a finger on Matt’s lips. Matt kissed it. “Bone structure is straight-up ridiculous. Did you beat up a model and take his cheekbones? Did you win a bet with a Greek god? There’s something sketchy going on here, no one just wakes up looking like you do.”
“Clean living,” Matt said, grinning as Foggy’s fingers trailed over his cheekbones, his jaw, the bridge of his nose.
“Bullshit.” Foggy’s fingers traced his lips again. “Your mouth is so red, Matt, you have no idea,” he said, and his voice had dropped from teasing to something darker. “It’s so fucking distracting. You’ll be talking and I’m trying to listen, but instead I’m just thinking about all the things I want to do to your mouth. All the ways I could make it even redder.” His voice hitched as Matt pushed up enough to take the tip of his finger in his mouth, and again when Matt let his bottom teeth scrape against the pad of it. “God, Matt,” and then Foggy’s finger was gone and his lips were there instead and Matt pulled Foggy down to him and did his level best to kiss him breathless.
“Keep going?” Foggy murmured after a long moment. His hand skated up Matt’s side and Matt arched into the touch.
“No. Yes,” he said, pushing up. “I mean, you can, you can if you want, just don’t stop touching me, Foggy.”
“Yeah, I remember,” Foggy said. “You’re big into touch, aren’t you?” His hands smoothed down Matt’s chest, his stomach, over his arms. Matt tried not to push up into the warmth of it too much, tried to keep his face neutral. “No, no, I want to see you,” Foggy said, dragging a thumb over Matt’s nipple, and Matt couldn’t help his shudder. “Gorgeous,” Foggy breathed, and followed the path of his hands with his mouth, warm and wet, like cleansing fire on Matt’s skin. He kissed Matt everywhere; kissed his hard, angry mouth and his raw, swollen knuckles and his scars; he kissed all the terrible parts of Matt like they were beautiful.
“Foggy,” Matt breathed and reached for him, but Foggy ducked out of the circle of his arms with a chuckle.
“Sorry, Murdock,” he said, and planted a kiss on the worst scar, raised and sensitive, the one that had been a gaping wound when he’d found Matt on the floor. “I’ve got places to be.”
And then he was nuzzling up the inside of Matt’s thigh, and Matt sighed and let his legs fall open, let his hands fall into Foggy’s hair. “Foggy,” he warned, even though he wanted this, he wanted Foggy’s mouth on him so badly. “I won’t...I won’t last, if you…”
“That’s all right, buddy,” Foggy said, and kissed the crease of Matt’s thigh, and Matt couldn’t stop shaking. “We’ve got all the time in the world.”
He dragged his tongue up Matt’s length then, a lazy exploration, and Matt turned his head and muffled his shout in the pillow. “Gorgeous,” Foggy said again, lips still touching him, and then he was wrapping his lips around Matt, and everything was hot and wet and sucking, and Matt was begging, so soon and so helplessly.
“Foggy,” he sobbed, hands tangled in Foggy’s hair, his soft hair. His mouth was perfect, even better than Matt’s guilty fantasies had imagined, and his hands were everywhere, sweeping up his thighs, brushing over his balls, one thumb pushing further back still. Matt whined and spread his legs and fought not to push his hips up, up into that welcoming heat.
“So good, so fucking good,” he managed, “Foggy, please, I can’t,” and Foggy sucked harder and Matt writhed and swore, “I’m gonna, please, Foggy,” and spilled down Foggy’s throat, sobbing out his name like a prayer. Foggy took all of him, running a gentling hand up his thigh, and pressed a tender kiss to his hipbone after he pulled off.
When Matt could make sense of the world again, Foggy was stretched out next to him, head propped up on his hand. His heartbeat was going like a hummingbird’s and the scent of his arousal was heavy and intoxicating, but his free hand, trailing lightly up Matt’s torso, was gentle. “Well, that was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said conversationally.
Matt gave a tired laugh. “Yeah, I kind of liked it too,” he said, and grinned wider when Foggy chuckled. “C’mere.”
Foggy leaned in and kissed him, long and slow. He tasted like Matt, and Matt decided to make it his personal mission to make Foggy taste like him as often as possible. “You feeling up to returning the favor, or you need a few minutes?” Foggy asked.
“Uh. Well. Actually.” Matt bit his lip. He could already feel a flush rising in his cheeks, but he could also feel Foggy, hard and hot against his hip, and that decided him. “How would you feel about. Uh. Fucking me?”
He felt Foggy’s involuntary thrust against his hip and couldn’t help grinning. “Oh, wipe that smirk off your face, Murdock,” Foggy said. “I mean...you sure?”
Matt wiggled against the mattress, getting comfy - and not incidentally grinding against Foggy’s hard-on. “Lube’s in the nightstand,” he said, then raised an eyebrow. “Unless you’d rather not…?”
Foggy got to his knees, and yeah, every sign his body was giving off was saying he was one hundred percent in favor of this, but he still hesitated. Matt adored him for it. “But you already…”
“I can go again,” Matt assured him, and tilted his head so that he was looking at least close to Foggy’s direction. “Please, Foggy.”
He heard the hiccup in Foggy’s breath and tried not to look too smug about it. “Well, okay,” Foggy said. “But only because you said please.”
He reached over Matt, and Matt heard the nightstand drawer scrape open. “Do you seriously keep a bible in here next to your lube, Matt? That’s gotta be a mortal sin right there.”
Matt laughed. “Venial at best. If my immortal soul is damned, it’s not because of my apartment’s lack of storage options.”
“Well, sure,” Foggy said, settling between Matt’s legs. Matt drew up his knees, planting his feet on the mattress on either side of Foggy’s hips. “There’s all the sodomy.”
“Not unless you hurry up, there’s not,” Matt said, poking Foggy in the side with his toes.
Foggy laughed, and Matt heard the click of the lube opening. “Nag, nag, nag.” Then his finger was stroking over Matt’s entrance, cool and slick, and Matt’s breath caught in his throat. “Okay?” Foggy asked.
Matt tried not to nod too frantically. “Yes. Very okay. Full speed ahead, Fog.”
“Well, maybe not full speed,” Foggy said.
“No, I like - ” Matt’s voice cut off in a gasp as Foggy pressed his finger in. “Hh. I like it fast.”
Desire rolled off Foggy like a wave, so thick Matt could practically drink it. “Well. There’s a fun fact to add to the list.” He pushed in deeper, up to the last knuckle. Matt pushed back on his finger, eager and wanting. “But you’re still recovering from broken ribs, so we’ll have to save that for a later date.”
“They’re just cracked, Foggy - ”
Matt’s dick twitched and he swallowed hard. “Luh. Later date. Yeah.” He nodded. “That works.”
Foggy bent and kissed Matt’s knee, then crooked his finger. Matt let out a little sigh. “Besides, you’re, like, ridiculously tight.” He pulled out and pushed in again, wringing another sigh out of Matt. “Fuck, you’re gonna feel so good.”
“Foggy…” Matt breathed, hips arching into Foggy’s touch. Foggy was maddeningly gentle, moving with long slow strokes until Matt was relaxed around him. Matt was half-hard again by the time he added a second finger, and aching by the third.
“Boy, you weren’t kidding,” Foggy murmured, lips grazing Matt’s knee again.
Matt shook his head, then cried out as Foggy’s fingers brushed against his prostate. “Ah! Foggy...Fog, please.”
“God, you’re gorgeous,” Foggy said, twisting his fingers. “I can’t believe I didn’t get below the neck in my earlier appraisal. I could write a sonnet about your abs. Or your ass. Or your dick.” He pushed in again and Matt’s eyes practically rolled back in his head. “You even have nice toes, did you know that?”
Matt hooked a leg around Foggy’s waist; Foggy let out a startled sound as Matt pulled him closer. “Hh...you...you can tell me all about my toes in great detail, Shakespeare, and I will be happy to hear it. But later.”
Foggy snickered. “My mistress’s toes are nothing like the sun…” he started, and Matt gave him a gentle kick with his heel, just hard enough enough to show his impatience. “Okay, okay. Sheesh, everyone’s a critic. Lemme go, hang on.”
Matt unwound his leg, and Foggy pulled his fingers out - still gentle, still careful. Matt smelled the lube again, heard the slick sounds of Foggy prepping himself...and then the mattress shifted under him again, and Foggy was kneeling closer, hitching Matt’s thighs up around his hips, and Matt bit his lip, eager and restless.
“Foggy, I swear to God…”
“Okay, okay…” And then he felt Foggy’s broad palm curve against his hip, holding him in place, and Foggy was pushing in, slowly, thick and hot, and nothing in Matt’s life had ever been more worth waiting for.
His world narrowed to Foggy: his ragged breathing, his hands, the way his head dropped to Matt’s shoulder when he was finally seated. The taste of his sweat on the back of Matt’s tongue; his pulse beating inside Matt. “Fuck, Matty,” he panted, wet against Matt’s shoulder. “You okay?”
Matt nodded and turned to press a kiss over Foggy’s ear. “Yeah. It’s good, it’s...you feel so good, Foggy.” The words were laughably pathetic, but Matt didn’t have anything better. “I’m okay. You can...you can move. Please?”
Foggy rolled his hips a little, just a gentle push into Matt, and Matt gasped and clutched him tighter. “Yeah,” he gasped. “Yeah, like that, Foggy, please, just like that.”
“Matty,” Foggy rumbled, kissing his jaw, pulling out further this time before pushing in. His heartbeat was a symphony. “Oh God, Matty, beautiful, so fucking good.”
“Foggy,” Matt said, voice breaking on the word, and Foggy gathered him up and kissed him hard and gave him what he wanted. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t hard, but it was deep and steady and Matt had been right about the noise, Foggy moaned and swore and showered him with praise on every thrust, and every word out of his mouth was beautiful.
“Don’t stop,” Matt begged, was begging again for the second time that night, heels digging into Foggy’s back. “Foggy, Foggy, please…”
“I won’t, Matty, I won’t,” Foggy said, kissing him, always kissing him. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Matt, I love you so damn much, you’re so…” He shuddered, hands tightening on Matt’s hips. “So good, Matt, I can’t...Matty, are you close, buddy? I need…I need…”
“Yeah,” Matt said, arching up, pulling Foggy down, trying to get closer, deeper. “Yeah, fuck...I just…touch me, Foggy, please, I can…”
Foggy groaned and slipped a hand between them and oh, that was it, Matt’s brain lighting up like distant memories of fireworks, and he clenched and shuddered around Foggy and came with a hoarse cry.
“Fuck, fuck, Matt,” Foggy moaned, still rocking into him, each thrust an aftershock rippling through Matt’s nerves.
“Please,” Matt begged one last time, “please,” and Foggy gasped and followed him over the edge.
Long, long moments later, when Matt was able to sort out any sounds other than his own pulse echoing in his head, he untangled his arms from around Foggy and huffed a tired laugh. “What?” Foggy asked, nuzzling his cheek.
Matt turned into the touch, smiling. “I was just thinking...we definitely can’t get an annulment now.” Foggy snorted and Matt’s grin widened. “And I think I might just be too Catholic for divorce after all.”
“Is that so?” Foggy asked. He shifted, easing out gently, and reached for a tissue. “Sounds like I’d better not renew my lease, then.”
“Think of how much money we’ll save on rent,” Matt pointed out.
“We can finally buy that tire swing.” Foggy wiped them clean - well, clean-ish, but Matt was too worn-out and happy to split hairs - and flopped back down onto the mattress. Matt curled into him, fingers tapping out Foggy’s heartbeat in the center of his chest. “So are you gonna say it, or what?”
“Say…? Oh.” Matt grinned. “Come on. I conned you into marrying me, didn’t I?”
“You’re an asshole.”
“All the ‘oh, Foggy, please, Foggy, more, Foggy’ didn’t tip you off?”
“Such an asshole,” Foggy said fondly. “A Grade A asshole with an amazing ass and stupid little red horns.”
“I love you,” Matt said, and leaned up to kiss Foggy properly. “I do.”
He felt Foggy’s smile against his lips. “I know,” Foggy said, and the sheer smug happiness in his voice made Matt want to laugh and cry all at once. He’d made Foggy that happy. If he’d done nothing else good in the world, he’d done this. “I love you too.”
“Little red horns and all?”
Foggy paused. “Well, actually…”
Matt stiffened. That was stupid, he knew Foggy didn’t like that he was Daredevil, why had he brought it up? “Yeah?”
“The horns are stupid,” Foggy said. “But the rest of the look? Might. Uh. Really work for me.”
It took Matt several dazed eyeblinks to process that. “You...what?”
“I mean, it helps that Daredevil saved my life. Twice,” Foggy said. “But, uh, even before that, the, um. The red? And the mask, it. I.” He squirmed a little under Matt. “Look, it’s very tight, Matt, okay?”
Matt felt a slow grin spreading over his face as he remembered the sound of Foggy’s heartbeat when Matt had stopped him from being mugged, and even Foggy’s reaction the night after the party, when Matt had pinned him up against the counter. “Oh, really.”
“No, I’m sorry, I feel like we should discuss this at length,” Matt said, trying not to laugh. “You’re hot for Daredevil.”
“Only because I know who he is,” Foggy protested, which just delighted Matt further.
“So if I went and put the costume on…” Matt raised his eyebrows suggestively.
“Oh my God, you’re insatiable.”
“Well, now that I know you’ve been harboring a secret passion for our local vigilante…”
“No deal,” Matt said, then pursed his lips. “Although if you wanted to renew our vows, I do kind of think we should have a church wedding.”
“I’ll take it under advisement, counselor.” Foggy let out a sigh and Matt could feel him relax further into the mattress. “Nap first. You can dream of telling Karen she’s double best maid of honor. And then…”
Foggy cleared his throat. “Then maybe put the costume on.”
Matt beamed and kissed his shoulder. This marriage might just work out after all. “Deal.”