An anonymous tip sends them out to the docks. It's a drug bust, and these are common as dirt around this city. This one's about a potential dealer, though, someone fencing all over Hell's Kitchen, which is different. The department's been after this guy – Mezzano, he's called – for nearly a year. It's his boss they really want, but he's a step in the right direction.
The three of them are outside a foreclosed fishery with high windows, and nothing can be seen of the interior. Rega, one of the other officers, exchanges an unreadable look with his partner before turning to Brett. “You cover us Mahoney, yeah? Watch the exit, we'll head in first.”
Brett just nods and doesn't bother feeling slighted because cops are cops everywhere, and a cop always feels best with his own partner at his side. Someone has to stay at the door. “I'll keep my eyes open,” he says.
Brett's holding his gun up as Rega and Faherty disappear inside. He can hear water lapping at the edge of Manhattan's coastline. The scent of salt on the wind clogs his throat. He shifts his grip and scans the silent harbor. It would be too easy to become relaxed here.
Inside, someone screams.
Brett shoves the door open before he can think, moving one hand to his radio. “Units to Carnell's Fishery off Pier 86, we need backup - “
He only realizes how true this is as his mind catches up with what he's seeing.
“ - The Devil's here,” he says, because there's no code for this. “The Devil's after our officers.”
And he is. Daredevil's suit glows dull red as reflected moonlight shines through the open door. He slams Rega against the far wall, then elbows Faherty in the chest before socking him in the jaw. A crunching blow to the solar plexus leaves the officer gasping for breath.
Brett raises his gun as the Devil turns around, hands wrapping around his billy clubs. He can't think, but anger is derailing everything coherent in his mind. When the Devil pulls back his arm, he shouts, “Stop!”
And, miraculously, the Devil does.
Which is too bad for him, because Brett's already shooting.
The bullet hits with the sort of horrible, anticlimactic thump that means it's lodged in solid wet flesh. The Devil hisses and stumbles. His shoulder, Brett thinks, it hit his shoulder.
And then, as though this slows him down not at all, the vigilante is running for the far wall and vaulting himself up and out of a window. Brett can't hope to catch him; he doesn't even try.
He tends to Faherty, instead, trying to help the winded man breathe. Rega is dazed and half-conscious on the ground, only just groaning awake. There are sirens in the distance and Brett wonders where the night went wrong.
After Rega and Faherty are taken away the place is searched. It was being used as a front after all, so the tip was real. It's a cold comfort.
Some of the others in the department take him out for drinks a week later. A congratulations, they say. His immediate superior, Deputy Chief Jerkin, pays for the first round. “To the man who made the Devil bleed,” he toasts, and the whole crowd laughs.
At the bar, Josie watches them coldly.
Brett doesn't feel particularly triumphant about anything, but he accepts the approval of his coworkers with forced brevity.
He's always been ambivalent about Daredevil. The police knew about him before anyone else. At first the man was just a rumor and people weren't sure he existed at all. But there are a lot of vigilantes these days, and soon enough the stories of a masked man taking down rapists, muggers, and kidnappers started to be taken more seriously. Those were the early stories.
Then Daredevil started to be known to more than just those he saved. He started targeting organized crime – and that was another kettle of fish entirely. Even more shocking, he was good at it. A nuisance, some of the police called him. Like he was an errant child. If so, he was an errant child who had some of the most problematic crime-bosses in Hell's Kitchen running scared.
As far as Brett knows, Daredevil doesn't kill and he only hurts criminals. He's not sure why the guy does what he does. He's not sure he can call the guy 'good' because he has, in fact, seen some of Daredevil's victims. One would-be rapist by the name of Derrin McCormick had both his legs broken, his right arm shattered, his windpipe crushed, and his testicles burst after a run-in with Daredevil.
Not that Brett has any sympathy for rapists, but. Shit.
Daredevil's methods are harsh, and he can't imagine what sort of man can warrant meting out the sort of 'justice' that makes 'eye for an eye' look soft-hearted while also possessing the will and ability to go out and beat down gun-bearing crooks with his bare hands.
Recently, Daredevil has also been the sort of man to beat up cops.
And that's different, too. And confusing. Sometimes Daredevil helps cops, protects them, even drops off criminals right on the precinct doorstep. Other times he has no compunctions with turning around and clocking a cop in the jaw – and it would be one thing if he only hit cops who went after him or got in his way, but that's not how it happens. Sometimes he runs from cops who shoot at him. Sometimes he seems to go after cops who are in the area.
Deputy Chief Jerkin opines that Daredevil is just crazy. This is, in fairness, a possibility.
But Brett remembers a dark alley and the words whispered in his ear. He looks around him at too many fresh young faces, unknown and new. Most people at the precinct are transfers or newbies fresh out of the Police Academy these days. Too many old-timers were arrested when Fisk went down. Dirty cops, all of them.
He wonders how many remain – how many were missed during the arrests. The law isn't perfect; he knows that better than anyone.
He wonders why, of all the people at the precinct, he's the one good cop Daredevil trusts. Sometimes, when he's alone at night, he faces the terrifying thought that it's because he's the only honest one left – and no one but Daredevil knows it. Brett is honest and the rest of Hell's Kitchen's protectors have gone rotten without it being noticed...
But that's just a nightmare, a bad dream.
Brett's nursing a hangover when the second interesting event of the week happens.
“I need to speak with Brett Mahoney.”
From behind the counter, Brett frowns down at the man before him. He's middle-aged, white, maybe just under six feet. Heavy. His fists are clenched tight at his sides and there are scars around his jaw. His clothes are frayed and loose, his hair ruffled. This would all be a lot less alarming if not for the splatter of blood crusting on the man's nose, or the way he's holding his left arm tight to his ribs.
“I'm Brett Mahoney,” he says at length. “What do you need?”
The man grimaces and looks around. Clenches his teeth. Finally, he licks his lips and looks somewhere over Brett's shoulder.
The next words are completely unexpected:
“I'm here to turn myself in for murder.”
After the chaos this statement causes has settled down (including a clap on his back and a 'well done' from Jerkins, as though Brett has done something significant by standing still while a man spontaneously confesses a capital crime) it finally occurs to Brett to approach the guy ask, “Why me? Why did you come to me, specifically, to make your confession?”
The man frowns. “Because Daredevil told me to,” he says.
That's a problem.
The basic conclusion around the department is that it's a message. “A threat,” says Lieutenant Alena Zidek. “You shot him, and he's still healing. But he's coming for you.”
“You always know how to make me feel better, Alena,” Brett sighs.
“He's playing the long-game,” Alena continues, morbidly warming to the subject. “He'll impress you with his skills, first. Terrify the kinds of criminals we would normally be cautious about, you know, really fuck with them. Just as a precursor to what he'll do to you.”
“Jesus, Alena, you do kid's parties too?”
Rega – still sporting a purplish bruise on his jaw from the encounter more than a week ago – snorts at Brett's dismay. “She's probably right, though. It's the style of these costumed freaks, yeah? The drama.”
“None of you are helpful, not at all,” Brett grumps.
And then the whole thing could blow over - except it keeps happening.
A man comes in cradling a broken wrist and weeping, and everyone is very alarmed and worried until he confesses that he tried to rape a woman (and the Devil stopped him). Two men come in sporting between them a broken jaw, a dislocated shoulder, two cracked ribs, and a dozen bruises. They apparently tried to kill an old man and stage it to look like an accident (and the Devil stopped them). A woman with eyes like pits comes in bleeding from the mouth, her arm crooked, and spits out that yes, she's been luring in battered women and pushing them into prostitution, do they want the names of her accomplices?
(Oh, yeah. The Devil stopped her, too).
It's very useful. It's also fucking eerie, especially since they always, always confess directly to Brett.
On Sunday a kid wanders into the station. Brett sees her enter from his place at the desk. She pushes the door open with difficulty, using both her hands, and looks around uncertainly for a moment before tapping the arm of Lieutenant Reed. The woman turns and bends down so the girl can whisper something in her ear.
Reed straightens and points unerringly at Brett. He sighs.
The girl brightens with relief and darts over to him, her dark curls bouncing in the air. Brett moves along the desk.
“I need to find my mommy, Mr. Brett Mahoney,” she tells him cheerfully.
“Uh-huh,” he says. “Sure, sweetheart. Can you tell me how you got separated from her?”
“There were some people who put me in a car but Daredevil beat them up!” she says happily. “He walked me here.”
Lieutenant Reed facepalms. She watches but doesn't intervene when Brett bends down beside the girl.
“Did Daredevil say why he wanted you to talk to me?” he asks her.
The girl looks up at him with dark, earnest eyes. “He said you could be trusted.”
Brett stares down at her. He exchanges looks with Lieutenant Reed.
“You can be trusted, right?” she asks.
“ - Sure,” Brett says. “You always want to go to the police when you're in trouble. That's what he meant.”
“He said to go to you,” she tells him. “Only you. 'Go to Brett Mahoney, he's a good cop, he'll help you.'”
Brett licks his lips. “...Okay. Okay. Thanks for, uh, letting me know.”
They get the girl home and Lieutenant Reed takes him aside afterward. “The hell did that mean?” She asks.
And he says honestly, “I have no idea.”
Foggy Nelson stops by the station not long after. He stomps up to where Brett is manning the desk – and Brett is just getting all the interesting faces lately, isn't he? - and places himself solidly in front of the officer, arms crossed over his chest in a glower.
“No cigars, Nelson?” Brett asks.
“Nope.” And Foggy goes back to his glowering.
Brett waits, but when Foggy doesn't seem inclined to say anything else he asks, “You need something?”
Foggy scowls at him. It doesn't look very threatening. “Matt's a liar who lies and doesn't like telling me things,” he says.
“Isn't your prettier half normally the one who comes down here?”
“And he's a little banged up. Because I guess he had a bit of an accident last week, which he didn't mention. And he kept working. And hurt himself more. You wouldn't know anything about that, Brett, would you? Huh? Anything at all?”
Brett stares at Foggy, baffled.
Foggy makes a sound like an offended cat. “Of course not!” He spits.
Then he turns on heel and stalks out of the station, grumbling.
Slowly, Brett lifts his head and makes eye-contact with a baffled Alena. He shrugs helplessly.
New theories crop up sometimes. It's almost a game, now, the speculation about Daredevil's apparent obsession with one Sergeant Brett Mahoney. “Maybe shooting him was like passing a test,” says Sergeant Denever. “Maybe in his psycho mind that means you're a step above the rest of us, because you managed to hurt him.”
“Maybe he's not trying to kill you after all,” says Alena. “Maybe you impressed him, and this is the vigilante version of bringing dead mice to your door. Kinda sweet, right?”
“Sweet,” Brett says. “Sure. I got to listen to a rapist tell me all about his last three crimes in vivid detail yesterday. If this is his idea of a gift the guy needs some advice.”
“Maybe he decided you're allies, in the great fight against evil,” Alena muses, apparently having dropped her first disturbing theory for a second disturbing theory. "Hey, I got it - he wants to make you his sidekick!"
“I mean, there are worse things,” she points out. “He could have arbitrarily decided you were his arch-nemesis or something. You did shoot the guy.”
Brett grimaces, because, point. Who knows how the mind of some masked weirdo works, anyway?
Deputy Chief Jerkin is of the opinion that they should all stop gossiping like little girls and do some fucking work.
A cop tends to look like a cop wherever he goes, and Brett is no exception. A lot of people might disagree with this statement; a lot of people are not criminals. Those who have reasons to be wary of law enforcement are always cautious, though, and know the signs.
Criminals tend not to like cops.
This being said, most aren't stupid enough to actively attack them, but there's a first for everything.
Brett is licensed to carry a gun even when he's off-duty, so when three men step in front of him – all armed – his first instinct is to dive behind an empty bus nearby.
This is what he gets for taking shortcuts through parking lots -
A round of shots spark off the metal of the bus, and he grimaces. “Police!” he shouts, hoping that this is some sort of misunderstanding. Well, not a misunderstanding. But maybe they'll be smart enough to scram when they realize he's a cop.
Fine, then. He ducks around the corner of the bus, shoots, then scrambles back before his head can get blown off.
Brett doesn't really want to split his attention between calling for help and shooting at these idiots, but three-against-one isn't the kind of odds he likes. He takes out his phone with his left hand and curses password protection.
The shots are coming closer so he risks ducking around to fire off one more round of his own. Someone shouts. Brett pulls back and starts backtracking along the length of the bus.
The whole lot is full of empty buses and vans, all vibrantly colored and sporting mockingly-cheerful slogans like See the Sights! and Your first choice for travel! Brett keeps low and half-runs around one that declares, The best that suits your needs!
The call connects and he rattles out his location and call-number. “Sergeant Brett Mahoney. At least three shooters here. One might be injured.”
“They were injured in a shooting?” asks the dispatcher, who is either slow or very new.
“They're shooting at me!” he yells.
He ends the call, because fuck that, and has to hope that back-up will arrive soon.
Brett glances behind him just in time to see a black-haired man wearing an olive-green hoodie duck around the corner of a bus. Brett takes aim and shoots. The man jerks back – a hit? - but raises his own trembling arm.
That's when it happens.
A flash of red tears across the sky. There's a strangled scream as the hooded man falls. His gun skitters across the pavement, and two forms – mingled green and red – tumble over the ground. The form in red ends up on top. In the faint shadow offered by distant streetlight devilish horns arch toward the sky.
It's hard to tell what happens in the darkness, especially because Brett can't be sure he can trust his eyes. The way Daredevil seems to twist his body through the air before sending a kick toward the shooter's jaw looks like something out a movie. In the same movement he spins toward another man that comes running up, gun bared, and knocks away the weapon before slamming the guy across the jaw. This is followed by a sweep to the legs. When the shooter goes down, Daredevil follows him and starts punching. A distinctly wet sound fills the air; the man's legs flail limply for a minute before he goes still.
The third guy doesn't show up. Brett assumes that's the one he shot down. Well, at least when he tells this story later he won't feature as a complete damsel in distress.
Then Daredevil turns around.
The masked figure darts down the space between buses like a wraith, feet barely touching the ground. Brett flinches back and raises his gun, but the Devil doesn't even twitch.
“Sergeant,” the Devil rasps. His voice sounds low and rough – not quite like other people have described it when giving descriptions of the mysterious vigilante. “Are you alright?”
He sounds – concerned, almost. Which is almost more terrifying than anything else about this situation. Brett can feel his pulse hammering through the base of his neck.
The man starts swiveling his head around like a hound. Maybe he hears something?
“I'm fine,” Brett answers cautiously. “Thanks, I – I think.”
In response, the vigilante only says, “The one you shot isn't quite dead. You should get to him if you want to save him.”
“Wait,” Brett says. He has a hell of a lot of questions. He thinks back to the strange day in the alley – the Devil grinding Brett's face into the ground, hissing warnings about dirty cops. He wants to know why all the criminals turn themselves into him, of all poor schmucks.
And he might not want it, necessarily, but he should probably arrest Daredevil. There's probably a legal obligation, or something.
But as Brett steps forward Daredevil shifts into the space between two buses, vanishing from sight. By the time Brett has run forward to look, he's already gone.
When his useless back-up arrives, Brett has stabilized the man with gunshot wounds and is nearly resigned to the new stories that will follow from this night.
The new agreement in the department – and this is essentially a consensus, now, no debate needed – is that Daredevil is basically stalking Brett Mahoney. “Like a dark romance,” says Lieutenant Reed, with perhaps some excessive glee, and Brett tosses a phone-book at her because Hell no.
Sergeant Denever laughs his ass off.
Brett's own denials are ignored. He would like to think that he's professional enough to notice if he were being stalked. This being said, he's recently been jumped by three amateur gunmen, so his pride is wounded enough that he doesn't really feel able to argue.
Alena seems ready to take his side for once, except then she says, “Maybe it's not romance. Maybe it's part of his weird, dramatic superhero fantasy. Maybe you're the Jim Gordon to his Batman."
“The inside cop,” she says, which is definitely not a reputation Brett needs.
“I think he'd aim a little higher if that's was what he was going for,” Brett says.
“He could be planning to kill off your competition,” she offers.
“Romantically,” adds Reed.
Which is about when Jerkins makes them all change the subject. Possibly the guy doesn't enjoy speculations about his imminent demise. In this particular case, Brett is grateful.
(“Holy stalker tendencies, Daredevil,” Alena whispers. Brett sighs.)
Brett is only back-up this time. Almost all available units are being sent out to assist with a hostage situation. A man named Lanare has taken a passing student with him while running from the police and the precinct is on full alert.
Lanare's general location is known so the area is sectioned off, but officers are just combing the area when Brett gets a call that Lanare has been found.
It's only luck, really, that's Brett's literally two buildings down from the reported location. He takes off at a sprint.
Brett sees Alena's silhouette as he rounds the corner. She's standing over the hostage, gun out, and Lanare has his hands crossed behind his back. He looks calm. Brett relaxes infinitesimally, lowering his weapon.
Alena brings her gun up to the hostage's head.
A crash registers through his shock, and the blurred form of Daredevil rolls through a window by the standing pair. Lanare falls to the ground. Daredevil strikes Alena's gun from her hand and then hits her across the jaw. She staggers. When he moves in again, she feebly blocks an uppercut but is too slow to avoid a knee to the stomach. When he hits her shoulder it shifts with a sickening crack, and she screams.
Another punch to the face makes her fall silent. She slumps to the ground.
Brett's legs have carried him closer mostly without thought. His gun is raised. He registers, after a moment, that he's aiming the gun at the frozen form of Lanare. Not Daredevil. Not the largest threat in the room.
Daredevil turns his head. “ - Sergeant,” he says.
“I thought,” says Brett, “That with Fisk gone...”
“A dirty cop is a dirty cop,” the Devil replies. “They'll find one reason or another to stray from the law.”
Ridiculously, Brett wants to laugh. Daredevil, talking about lawlessness?
It's not really funny.
“You might want to keep an eye out for those two you were with a few weeks back,” the Devil advises.
It takes a moment for Brett to catch on. “Wait, wait, Rega and Faherty? You're kidding, right?”
“That's my advice. Take it or not.” The vigilante turns to go.
“Wait, dammit!” Brett takes a step forward, lowering his gun. “Just, just, tell me one thing before you vanish, will you?”
Miracle of miracles, the man actually halts. “...Well?”
“Why me? Why do you send them to me?”
The Devil actually huffs a small, quiet laugh. “Because I trust you,” he says simply.
And then he's gone.
In Daredevil's absence the building is ominously silent. Brett is suddenly aware of the inert bodies of Lanare and Alena, both unsecured and still on the floor. There will be time for thinking later.
Sighing, Brett runs a hand through his hair and looks around.
The hostage is staring at him, trembling. Brett sees a bullet-hole on the wall by the man's head. It was fired from Alena's gun.
“...Right. Yeah. Sorry.” Brett takes out his phone, dialing for an ambulance. “...You're not hurt, are you?”
So, Brett watches Rega and Faherty carefully for awhile. After a week, he tips off Jerkins, too. And then he sends the Hell's Kitchen Oversight Committee an anonymous hint, for good measure.
The two are caught embezzling and selling drugs within another week. Brett tries to convince himself they aren't guilty of anything more heinous. He almost manages to believe it.
Anyway, Rega and Faherty are gone. Hell's Kitchen is a little cleaner. But he's not so sure how he feels about helping Daredevil, even when their goals align.
Brett is a cop and Hell's Kitchen is far from perfect. He accepts this. But Daredevil seems to be someone who honestly, really cares. And he's not sure that's something he can turn away from.
“Oh, no. Get away with those cancer-sticks, Nelson. Ma hasn't even finished your last 'gift'. You're going to drive her to an early grave.”
“Bess will outlive Captain America,” Foggy swears. “Hey, listen, are you due for a break?”
Brett eyes Nelson suspiciously. Anything Foggy doesn't want to ask him within the halls of the station is probably not anything he wants to hear. “I suppose,” he answers slowly. “...Give me a minute.”
He follows Foggy outside a few minutes later. The lawyer seems a bit nervous for some reason. Brett sighs. “Man,” he says. “I'm not doing anything illegal for you, you got that? I have limits.” Not that he thinks Foggy would ask, but the nervous behavior is starting to make him twitchy.
“What?” Foggy looks startled. “I mean it's not – well, maybe technically a little, but - “
“Good illegal!” Foggy clarifies, like that's better.
“I'm out,” Brett decides, and turns around to go back inside.
“It's about Daredevil.”
There a brief, internal struggle. Then like the air expelling from a balloon Brett releases his breath and swings back around. “...I'm listening,” he grinds out.
Foggy looks startled but relieved. “Look,” he says. “Daredevil just – he wanted me to give you this,” he says, and hands something over.
It's a piece of paper with a number on it,
No. Two numbers.
“What are - “
“His cell-phone number. And a number for a... discrete nurse. Though I don't know why you would need one. Um. He's paranoid.” Foggy pauses a beat. “Both are untraceable. Anyway, apparently the vigilante is worried about your health. Which is – well, worrisome. The cops around here are kind of rotten.”
“I've noticed,” Brett says. He stares down at the paper. “...You're in contact with Daredevil?”
“I can neither confirm nor deny that, because I keep client confidentiality,” Foggy replies promptly. “Anyway, he could have given it to you himself. He thought about it. But he decided – um - “
“I've seen that mask enough lately.”
“Yeah, that. Anyway, you trust our judgment, right? We hoped it would help, a little, if this came from me and Matt.”
Brett snorts. “Well, I trust Murdock's judgment anyway.”
Foggy's face does something complicated. “...You've clearly never seen him around women then,” he finally says, laughing awkwardly.
“I'll take the damn number. But I don't want to hear anything about you and the – and that guy, okay? Christ, this is bad enough - “
“I hear you. Not a word, Brett.” Foggy grins. “Say hello to Bess for me, yeah?”
“Stay away from my mother, Nelson.”
He forgets about the phone number.
He forgets about the phone number right up until he's at home, washing a cucumber over his sink and listening to Frank Sinatra singing along on a particularly fuzzy station, and his phone rings and identifies the caller as just 'D'.
Brett had entered the number into his phone after retrieving it from Nelson and had then proceeded to ignore it. He never expected to actually receive a call.
He clicks the answering button almost aggressively, fumbling the phone with his wet hands. In lieu of a greeting he asks, “How did you even get this number?”
Instead of answering Daredevil tells him, “O'Henry and Jennings are dealing with the Ukrainian sex-trafficking ring. They're helping to divert attention from suspicious locations, stall judges, and falsify evidence to get off the people involved. I think they've even been directly involved in kidnapping people a few times. That's all I know right now.”
And the phone goes silent.
“Hello? You can't just – Did you hang up on me?”
A Ukrainian sex-trafficking ring. Brett wasn't aware one of those existed at all, so, great.
This is his life now.
“I am not his Jim Gordon,” Brett sighs at the sink.
A drop of water plops mournfully into the drain.
Yeah. He doesn't buy it, either.