Matt Murdock is the devil.
Foggy glowers at him as the jury files back in. Murdock doesn’t even look worried, and why should he? Even before they’ve read the verdict, it’s obvious he’s won.
No, he’s coolly sipping a glass of water, elegant and sharp in a suit that probably cost a month’s worth of Foggy’s salary. Not a hair on that flaming-red head out of place; eyes hidden away behind crimson glasses. His client sits beside him, an oil slick of a man in a cheap suit, and he has the courtesy to look nervous, but Murdock doesn’t bother to calm him. He just puts the glass down, tilts his head slightly - and then turns his head right in Foggy’s direction, as if he knows Foggy’s looking.
Foggy digs his nails into his palm. This has happened more times than he can count. He knows the Kingpin is still running the lion’s share of organized crime in the city, even if everyone at Riker’s swears up and down he’s been a model prisoner. If Foggy can chip away at Fisk’s organization, lean on the right people hard enough, Fisk will have nothing left to run.
But every time he’s got someone on trial who he thinks will actually make a difference, Matt Fucking Murdock shows up, dapper and cool, and slips through all of Foggy’s carefully structured arguments with loopholes and technicalities and sheer charm, and pulls his client through with him. Foggy has never won a case against Murdock, not once, and he’s about ready to pull his hair out over it.
Kirsten puts a soothing hand on his arm. “Easy, boss. Remember what the dentist said about grinding your teeth.”
“He’s smirking at me, Kirsten,” Foggy murmurs, and Kirsten glances over.
“Coincidence,” she says. “He’s blind, Foggy. I’m sure he only has a vague sense of where you even are.”
“Oh, come on,” Foggy says. “Surely he can feel the scorching flames of my hatred at least a little bit.”
“Now, now, don’t take it personally, Mr. District Attorney,” she says. “You’re just doing your job, and he’s just doing his. It’s just that his job happens to be putting known criminals back on the streets, because at some point he traded in his soul for those cheekbones.” Foggy gives her a betrayed look and she rolls her eyes. “Come on, he’s right out of GQ and everyone knows it. I’m just stating a fact.”
“He’s a dick,” Foggy retorts.
“And you are also stating a fact.” She pats his arm again. “Listen, they’re reading the verdict.”
Foggy turns his attention to the forewoman, although he already knows what she’s going to say. “On the charge of murder in the first degree, we find the defendant...not guilty.”
Kirsten lets out a stream of very quiet and very colorful profanity. Foggy just slumps. He can’t help looking over towards the defendant, who is pumping his fist in the air and probably planning his next murder right now.
Murdock stays very cool, shaking his client’s hand and packing up his briefcase, but as he picks up his cane and stands, he turns back in Foggy’s direction - unerringly, creepily, like he’s not really blind at all. Foggy wouldn’t put it past him to be lying about that, soulless dickbag that he is.
He smirks again, right at Foggy, and Foggy’s nails dig back into his palms, painfully hard.
He’s going to see Murdock fry.
Foggy snaps his briefcase shut, a little too loud. It’s another day, another case; another loss to Murdock. Another criminal back on the streets, this time an arsonist. Foggy wonders how many days it’ll be before another small business goes up in flames, clearing the way for Wilson Fisk’s ever-growing empire, and is mildly glad Kirsten’s got another case today. He’s in the mood for an afternoon alone with the bottle of good bourbon hidden in his desk drawer.
He turns - and nearly crashes into Murdock, standing quietly next to his chair. “What the f - !”
Murdock must hear how startled he is, but he doesn’t move, just lets Foggy windmill his arms and try not to fall into him. “Mr. Nelson. That was a very valiant effort.”
For a minute Foggy thinks he’s talking about not falling down, and then he remembers the case. “Yes, well, crazy as it sounds, I’d prefer not to have half the city burned down by a lunatic. Excuse me.”
Murdock steps aside, but only so he can walk up the aisle with Foggy, cane tapping ahead of them. Peachy. “My client was acquitted, Mr. Nelson.”
“You and I both know that doesn’t prove anything, Murdock.” Foggy doesn’t respect him enough to bother with a title.
“Only in the eyes of the law,” Murdock says lightly. “Which we are both sworn to uphold, of course.”
“Yeah. That keeping you up at night at all?”
He glances sidelong at Murdock and is surprised by the slow smile creeping over his face. Each perfect tooth gleams like a fang. “No,” he says, his voice low and amused. “That’s not keeping me up at night.”
For some reason Foggy feels a prickle of heat along the back of his neck. “Well, I wish you joy of your peaceful slumber. Unfortunately, some of us have a little too much work for that.”
They’re on the street now. Murdock holds his hand out for a cab and one stops immediately - thank God for small favors.
Murdock opens the door and pauses before climbing in. His fingers curl over the edge of the door - pale fingers, a ginger’s complexion. His knuckles are startlingly red. “I look forward to the next round, Mr. Nelson.”
Foggy scowls. “It’s not a game.”
Murdock shrugs. “Daddy was a boxer. It’s in the blood.” He smiles again. Fangs, again. “Goodbye, Mr. Nelson.”
He slips into the cab; the door closes and the cab pulls away. Foggy breathes out.
What was that?
“Matt Murdock is the devil.”
Karen pats Foggy’s shoulder sympathetically as he slumps in his chair. “I had him. I had him right here, and…” He clenches his hands into fists. “Fucking Murdock.”
Another case. Another criminal acquitted. Foggy’s starting to develop a complex.
“I’m gonna get him disbarred,” he says. “That’s it. I’ll get him disbarred and he’ll have to leave the state and I’ll never have to watch him set a good arrest free again.”
Kirsten perches on the side of his desk and reaches over to open the drawer and snag the bourbon. Maybe Foggy hadn’t hidden it as well as he thought. “On what grounds? If he’s done anything illegal, he’s hidden it well.”
“On...on the grounds of being a stupid jerkface!” Foggy splutters. “And...and...being a discredit to our alma mater.”
Karen has already fetched three paper cups and is holding one out for Kirsten to pour into. Yeah, he definitely didn’t hide the bourbon well enough. “He went to Columbia?”
Foggy nods. “Undergrad and law. Same year as me, too.”
“Really?” Kirsten looks genuinely surprised. “You never said.”
“We were passing acquaintances at best.” Foggy shrugs and accepts the cup Karen hands him. “He kept to himself. Didn’t even live in the regular dorms; he got one of the senior singles all four years of undergrad. Probably an ADA compliance thing.” He takes a sip; it doesn’t really help. “But yeah, we had a few classes together. Big lecture halls, but everyone knew the super-hot blind guy who kept wrecking the grade curve.”
It takes him a minute to realize what he’s said, even as identical grins spread over Kirsten and Karen’s faces. “What? ...Oh, come on, you’ve both said it like a million times!”
“But you haven’t,” Karen singsongs. “You think he’s ho-ot.”
“This is sexual harassment. You’re fired.”
“No I’m not.” She looks way too amused. They both do, actually. “So all that glowering at each other across the courtroom is just unresolved desire?”
“Sure, if it’s a desire to punch him right in his stupid smug face,” Foggy says.
“With...kisses?” Kirsten suggests.
Foggy snatches the bottle out of her hands. “You’re both fired. Give me my booze back.”
“But then how will we toast to your future together?” Kirsten asks innocently.
“Our future is me finally getting some evidence against that jackass and nailing his ass to the - shit, okay, you know what I meant,” Foggy says, catching himself. “Look, yeah, he’s handsome. Acknowledged. But he also makes a living putting murderers back on the streets, so forgive me if I don’t find the idea of ogling him while he does it to be all that hilarious.”
Kirsten purses her lips. “Touche.” She holds up her cup. “To putting that son of a bitch in jail where he belongs.”
Foggy and Karen tap their cups against hers. “Here, here,” Foggy says. “And the sooner the better.”
Foggy checks his watch and groans as he walks out of his office building. No wonder he went well past hungry and into nauseous hours ago - it’s later than he thought. Leftover pizza and then bed, as soon as he gets home.
“Burning the midnight oil, Mr. Nelson?”
Foggy practically jumps out of his skin. Matt Murdock melts out of the darkness, the nearest streetlight glinting off his glasses. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too. I mean, I assume,” Murdock says, touching his glasses. “I had some business at the courthouse.” He gestures across the street, in the vague direction of said courthouse.
“At eleven-thirty at night?” Foggy asks skeptically. He wonders if Murdock was waiting for him, or if he’s being paranoid. He wonders how bad it would be for him if the Kingpin’s pet lawyer was waiting for him.
He wonders how Murdock even knew it was him.
Murdock smiles and steps closer. The knuckles of the hand that’s not holding his cane brush against Foggy’s sleeve and Foggy jumps again, smaller this time, but Murdock must just have been using that to gauge Foggy’s position, because he drops his hand and falls seamlessly into step beside him. “Just call me a night owl. So how go things in the world of truth and justice?”
Foggy gapes at him, then belatedly realizes Murdock can’t see his expression. “You’re kidding, right?”
“By asking about your day?”
“We’re not friends, Murdock,” Foggy says. “We are in fact enemies.”
Murdock’s smile widens. “Well, that’s very dramatic. Just because we’ve had one or two teensy disagreements in court...”
“Disagreements...!” Foggy stops short and levels a finger in Murdock’s stupid handsome face. “You are literally everything I hate. I became a lawyer specifically to help people, not to leverage it to help myself. You abuse the system, you put my city in danger, and now you want to make small talk? Go to hell.”
Something like alarm suddenly cracks Murdock’s smug demeanor, but Foggy doesn’t care. He turns and steps off the curb. “Wait…!” Murdock says, but it’s drowned out in a sudden rev of engines, white lights, a taxi barreling down towards Foggy and Murdock’s reaching for him -
- and yoink! something grabs him from behind, knocking the breath out of him, pulling him back to safety as the cab screeches past -
- and he falls on his ass on the sidewalk, looking up to see a concerned Murdock bending over him, and Spider-Woman hanging upside down from the streetlight on a thread.
“Evening, Mr. District Attorney. Sorry I had to web ya like that. Pretty sure it’ll wash out.” She sounds young, maybe high school or college. It’d explain the hoodie.
Murdock steps back and straightens his tie. “Well, aren’t you just always in the right place at the right time?” he asks, and there’s a sour tinge to his words.
Foggy climbs to his feet, a little dazed. “Uh...thanks, Spider-Woman.” He’s still not sure what to make of her. He’s not the type to unthinkingly swallow whatever bullshit Jameson’s spewing this week, and there are plenty of reports of her saving lives across the city. Still, some eyewitnesses swear she put Ben Grimm in traction, and the Parker kid is dead, there’s no mistaking that. Even George Stacy can’t seem to settle on an opinion, and that man has never had trouble making up his mind.
But she did just save his life, and that has to count for something.
She tilts her head in Murdock’s direction. “Can’t say much for your choice of company, Mr. Nelson.”
Murdock settles his glasses more evenly on his perfect nose. “I might say the same. Aren’t you wanted for murder, Spider-Woman?”
“You’re one to talk, butthole.” Yeah, she’s definitely a student. She twists and scampers up the streetlight, which is honestly pretty freaky to watch, and turns that mostly-blank face towards Foggy. “Any time you want to put someone in a mask on the stand, sir, I’d be happy to testify against Murderdock here. More than happy.”
Foggy doesn’t laugh out loud at “Murderdock,” but it’s a close thing. “Believe me, once I’ve got enough on him to bring charges, I’ll be lighting up the Spider Signal.”
“And on that note, I think it’s time to make my exit.” Murdock actually sounds disgruntled, which is music to Foggy’s ears. He’s never been able to rattle Murdock’s cage before. Score one for Spider-Woman. “Mr. Nelson, a pleasure as always. Spider-Woman.” He gives them each a little nod and then walks off, cane tapping away in front of him, a spark of red in the darkness. For a moment Foggy wonders if it’s safe for a blind man to be walking around New York City late at night by himself, and then he thinks about what Fisk would do to anyone who touched his pet lawyer. No, Murdock’s fine.
Spider-Woman watches him go. “That guy is slime on wheels.” She tilts her head back in Foggy’s direction. “You okay to get home, Mr. Nelson?”
He can’t help bristling a little. She can’t be more than twenty, and he may not have amazing spider powers or the protection of the city’s most feared criminal, but he’s a grown man. “I’ll be fine.”
“Sure,” she says easily. “Only, my d-- uh. That is, I’ve heard that you’re very good at your job. And a lot of people don’t like that.” She stretches out, clinging to the side of the streetlight with one foot and a couple of fingers. Foggy’s not even really sure how she’s doing that. “I wouldn’t take any midnight strolls with people like Matt Murdock if I were you. Is all I’m saying.”
“Trust me, it wasn’t by choice,” Foggy assures her. “I knew it was a dangerous job when I took it, Ms…uh, Woman. I can take care of myself.”
“Good.” She cocks her head at him. “The city needs people like you, Mr. Nelson.”
Before he can answer, she shoots out a web from her wrist - weird, kind of cool, very gross - and then she’s gone, swinging off through the buildings, a bright point of light. If Murdock was an ember against the night, she’s a star.
Foggy doesn’t think she’s a murderer.
“You too,” he says to no one, and heads for home.
"What the fuck did I tell you?" The voice is low, and vaguely familiar, and extremely dangerous. Of course, Foggy’s sitting on the floor with his hands tied behind his back and a burlap sack over his head, so everyone sounds dangerous to him. Mickey Mouse would probably sound dangerous right now. "Nelson is off limits."
"How'd you even know it was Nelson?" That voice, Foggy knows. He's been stuck with Patilio and Day for hours now, ever since they kidnapped him.
"I know everything, Patilio," the dangerous voice says. "Including how to make you regret not listening to me in the future."
"Fisk never said Nelson was off limits," Day says sulkily. "This coming from him?"
"Mr. Fisk is concerned with big picture matters, not dealing with pathetic losers like you two," the dangerous voice says. Very familiar. Foggy frowns, trying to place it. It’s hot and close under the sack and it makes it hard to think. "He trusts me to handle the day-to-day, and I say everyone in the D.A.'s office is off-limits. You do not touch Page. You do not touch McDuffie. And you do not, under any circumstances, touch Nelson - or I will touch you, and trust me when I say that you won't like it."
There’s a tap on the floor, and the hair on the back of Foggy's neck lifts. He knows that tap. He heard it on the courtroom floor just yesterday, over and over - along with that voice.
"...How are we going to get him back?" Patilio asks, and Foggy can hear his voice shake a little.
"I'll take care of it."
"But - "
"He already knows who I am," the dangerous voice says. "Don't you, Mr. Nelson?"
There’s some more mumbled arguing; then two sets of footsteps cross the floor, and a door opens and closes. A minute later, the sack comes off of Foggy's head. He sucks in a breath of fresh air, blinking against the sudden change in the light. It’s dim in the small room, but still brighter than it was under a burlap sack.
As his vision clears, he makes out Matt Murdock, squatting in front of him. "Fancy meeting you here, Mr. Nelson," Murdock says, and, predictably, smirks. "Come here often?"
“Kidnapping,” Foggy says when he finds his tongue. “Kidnapping and assault and trust me, I will be asking for the maximum sentence.”
Murdock’s smile widens. “I’m not kidnapping you, Mr. Nelson. I’m rescuing you.” He stands up and moves to Foggy’s back, and Foggy goes even tenser when he feels Murdock’s hands on his wrists, untying the ropes. “Don’t worry, you’re very welcome.”
“You’re working with…”
“I have no professional affiliation with either of those gentlemen,” Murdock says, which is undoubtedly true, on paper. Aside from that…
The ropes fall away and Foggy brings his hands in front of him, rolling his shoulders to work out the kinks. Murdock holds out a hand but Foggy ignores it, pushing himself to his feet on his own despite the stiffness in his arms and back.
Then he takes a swing at Murdock.
Even as he’s doing it, he knows he’s being a dick - punching a blind man, Nelson? Really?
But Murdock ducks easily out of range, as smoothly as if he’d seen the punch - as smoothly as if he knew it was coming before Foggy moved. “There’s the fightin’ D.A. from the ad campaign! Gotta move faster than that, though, sorry.”
Foggy stares. “How’d…?”
Murdock is still smiling. Foggy really wishes that punch had connected. “My little secret, I’m afraid. Do you want to try again, or shall I walk you home?”
“Walk…what?” Foggy stammers, wishing Murdock didn’t always set him so far back on his heels. He is, actually, very good with words.
“It’s a dicey neighborhood,” Murdock says pleasantly. “And even Patilio’s not enough of an idiot to leave your cell phone on you, which means no calling for a ride. Do you even have your wallet?” He doesn’t even wait for an answer, just walks over to the door of the shabby little room - confidently, without holding his hands out to feel for the door, or even using the cane - and holds it open. “Shall we?”
And so Foggy finds himself walking the streets with Matt Murdock at three in the morning. They’re quiet, but not deserted - “the city that never sleeps” is an accurate nickname, something that Foggy’s always found endearing. He’s slightly surprised to find that they’re not far from his apartment - maybe a fifteen minute walk. He’d gotten completely disoriented after they’d thrown him in the van.
Murdock holds the cane in his right hand and tucks his left hand into the curve of Foggy’s elbow. Foggy nearly jumps out of his skin at the touch. “What the fuck, Murdock?”
“No sense being conspicuous,” Murdock says, fingers tightening. He’s way too cheerful considering that Foggy’s not entirely sure he’s not still in the middle of being abducted - though Murdock’s grip isn’t so tight Foggy couldn’t pull away if he really tried. “You’re a good samaritan leading a blind man home. It’s very kind of you.”
“Language, Mr. Nelson.”
Foggy rolls his eyes. “You don’t need me to guide you,” he points out. “Are you even blind? Or is that just another sick little joke?”
“Oh, I’m completely blind,” Murdock says easily. “I was in an accident as a boy. Had some extremely unpleasant chemicals splashed in my eyes. Very tragic, made all the papers.”
“But you knew I was going to hit you,” Foggy says. “And last month, when that cab almost hit me - you knew it was coming before I did, didn’t you? And Fisk’s goons are terrified of you.” Which is yet another reason he should not be here with Murdock, alone. This was exactly what Spider-Woman warned him about. Whatever Murdock can see or not see, he’s dangerous, and not just in the courtroom.
Foggy’s arm prickles under Murdock’s touch and he wonders what kind of damage the hand resting lightly on his sleeve has done. Maybe when they finally find Foggy’s body in the river Kirsten can find a way to pin it on Murdock.
Murdock looks thoughtful for minute. “You know how they say when you lose one sense, the others get stronger to compensate?”
“It’s a myth,” Murdock says flatly, then pauses again. “Unless, of course, some extremely unpleasant chemicals are involved. Then there might possibly be...side effects.”
“Side effects,” Foggy says, then has an unhappy thought. “Mind-reading?”
Murdock laughs. “No, unfortunately I can’t quite see inside your head, Mr. Nelson.” Foggy frowns a little, wondering what Murdock is hoping to see. All of his legal arguments before he makes them, he supposes. “Enhanced senses come close, though.”
Foggy squints at him. “Like...super-hearing? Good enough to know when someone’s about to punch you?” Murdock’s eyebrows lift but he doesn’t deny it. “Why are you telling me this?” If Murdock wanted this to be public knowledge he wouldn’t be walking around with a cane.
Well. Unless he wanted a weapon.
Murdock gives him a lazy cheshire smile. “Telling? I’m not telling you anything. We’re speculating about what might happen in the aftermath of the kind of accident that could blind a child. With no eyewitness to corroborate anything I might say, I should add. And I know you’re not wearing a wire.” The smile widens. “I’d hear it.”
Foggy licks his lips. He can’t tell if he’s being threatened or...well. He’s not sure what else this might be. “What else could you hear?” he asks. “Hypothetically, of course.”
Murdock tilts his head slightly. “Your breathing’s a little heavy. You’re still getting over that cold you had last week. Broke in those new wingtips, though - I can barely hear them squeak anymore. Your watch is a little slow - I’d say you’re losing a second every twelve minutes or so. You should get that fixed, it sounds like an heirloom. Worth the upkeep.”
He pauses, but Foggy, stunned, isn’t about to interrupt this. “Your hair’s getting long again,” Murdock continues. “I can hear it brush against your shirt collar when you turn your head. Very rock and roll, Mr. District Attorney.” He’s still smiling. “Your heart is racing. It was fastest when you were tied up and now, since I’ve been telling you this, but it hasn’t been at your normal resting rate all night.”
Foggy chokes a little. He’d meant the city; what else could Murdock hear in the city. But no, Murdock focused on him. And it’s not even the specific sounds Murdock just listed that have sent Foggy reeling, as eerie as that shit is. It’s the things he knows about Foggy. Like the cold. And the shoes. And his heart.
He knows what Foggy’s heartbeat sounds like when it’s calm.
How much attention has he been paying?
“I.” Foggy’s mouth opens and closes a few times. “I. Uh.”
“Do you want me to do the other ones?” Murdock asks, and Foggy has no idea what he means until he rubs his thumb against the inside of Foggy’s upper arm. It makes the hairs on the back of Foggy’s neck stand up. “Wool-polyester blend. Probably more polyester than it claims on the tag. Also, your dry cleaner uses too much solvent.”
Then he takes a deep breath and Foggy only has an instant to realize Murdock’s smelling him before he’s speaking again. “You had Chipotle for lunch, the carnitas, but no dinner - you probably didn’t have time before they grabbed you. A lot of coffee. Potatoes, a little bit, with the dirt still on them - probably from the sack they had on you. Dried sweat, the scared kind. It’s sour,” he explains, even though Foggy didn’t ask. “It smells different from sweat from heat, or working out. Or sex.” His smile curves around the word like he’s tasting it. “Under that, though, you just smell like you.”
“What does that mean?” Foggy asks. He doesn’t think he’ll like the answer.
Murdock’s still smiling. He’s always smiling. “Clean. Cheap shampoo, expensive aftershave. Too many chocolate chip cookies from the commissary, and good bourbon - both very naughty, Mr. Nelson. A little bit of exhaust. The courtroom. Ink.” He adjusts his glasses minutely. “I’m afraid we’ll have to leave taste out of the equation, but I assure you: I’m very good.”
Foggy’s mouth is dry.
“Here we are.” Murdock comes to a stop, swinging them around to face the nearest building - Foggy’s building. Foggy didn’t even realize they’d arrived.
He never told Murdock where he lived.
“Good night, Mr. Nelson, and I hope you haven’t been too inconvenienced by your little misadventure,” Murdock says, releasing his arm and stepping back. “I had a very pleasant walk.”
He straightens his tie again and walks off down the street, cane tapping a rhythm on the sidewalk in front of him. Foggy watches him go. He can’t hear it, but he knows his heart is racing.
“That was a close one.”
Foggy jumps at the sound of Murdock’s voice and drops the stack of papers he was about to put in his briefcase. “Ah! Shit! Uh...sorry.” He’s not supposed to curse in court. Luckily, Judge Wu isn’t paying attention.
Kirsten helps Foggy gather up the scattered papers. Murdock doesn’t move. He’d be playing the role of “oblivious blind man” to a T if he didn’t look so amused.
“What do you want, Murdock?” Kirsten asks. Bless her heart. Handsome as she may find Murdock, she sounds like she wants to crush his balls with a sledgehammer.
She sticks to her guns better than Foggy does. He doesn’t know what he wants to do to Murdock.
“Just to congratulate you on a noble fight, Ms. McDuffie,” Murdock replies. “I really thought you had us after you cross-examined the doctor. And that closing, Mr. Nelson?” He gives a low whistle. “One of your best, truly. I hung on every word.”
He probably did. Every word, every breath, every heartbeat. He could probably hear what color tie Foggy was wearing and smell every time he made eye contact with someone on the jury. Or every time he avoided looking directly at Murdock.
He definitely knows Foggy’s heart is racing right now.
“Thanks,” Foggy says. It seems safest. He’s been completely at a loss for what to say to Murdock every since that truly, truly bizarre night. He didn’t even report the kidnapping, since he has no idea how to explain to the police how he got away. He’s not even sure Murdock rescued him, really; for all he knows, this could be some sick, elaborate joke meant to throw Foggy off his game. Or hell, just for fun. Murdock seems like the type.
“And yet somehow you still managed to put one of your cronies back in the game,” Kirsten says, handing Foggy the last of his papers. “How do you live with yourself, Murdock?”
His smile widens. “Hard to say, really,” he says. “It does get a bit lonely. The money’s nice, though.”
“I’ll just bet it is,” she grumbles. Foggy’s still useless, so she snaps the briefcase shut and shoves it into his hands. “Foggy, you coming? I think we still have some cases that haven’t been turned into mockeries of justice yet.”
“Uh, yeah. Yeah, sorry.” He’s stammering. He’s good with words - Murdock was right, it was a brilliant closing statement - but he’s stammering now.
Murdock steps aside to let them pass, inclining his head slightly in farewell. “A pleasure, Ms. McDuffie. And Mr. Nelson - I look forward to our next encounter.” His eyes are inscrutable behind the glasses. “You have no idea how much.”
Foggy stumbles into action. “Yep. Sounds good. Kirsten?” He practically drags her up the aisle. He knows his face is flaming, which is just fantastic; Murdock would’ve already been able to tell how flustered he is, but now Kirsten will know, too.
“Jesus,” she murmurs as they’re halfway to the door. “What a creep. I could hardly tell if he was threatening you or flirting with you.”
Foggy blanches, both because she’s entirely too close to the truth, and because Murdock can hear her. “Uh.”
“Oh God, your face!” she laughs. “Foggy, I was kidding, he’s just trying to intimidate - wait.” She peers at him, then glances back over her shoulder. “No way. He was actually flirting? Is...is there something going on between you two?”
“No!” Foggy says a little too quickly, and then makes himself slow down. “No,” he says again, and he knows Murdock will hear this too, “and he wasn’t flirting. You need a soul for that, right?”
He has no idea if he means it.
“Fancy meeting you up here.”
Foggy inhales a little soda as Spider-Woman drops into a crouch beside him. It’s not his most dignified moment, but in his defense, he didn’t expect company on the roof.
“Sorry,” she says, and hands him a napkin from his takeout bag so that he can dab at the soda he’s spilled on his tie. “Didn’t meant to scare you.”
“Then maybe you should try not sneaking up on people dressed like some kind of weird ghost spider while they’re trying to commune with their Shackburger in peace,” he points out. It comes out more snappishly than he intended, and she pulls back a little.
“Sorry,” she says again. “I’ll just…” She stretches out a hand, pulse-point forward to shoot a web out, and Foggy sighs.
“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Here.” He pats the concrete beneath him. “Pull up some roof.”
She settles next to him, knees drawn up to her chin. “Any particular reason you’re knocking on my roof?” he asks when she doesn’t say anything. He’s no good at talking to kids - he wasn’t even good at it when he was a kid - but he knows brooding when he sees it. He’s been doing a lot of it himself lately.
“Not your roof,” she says. “I mean, I was just, you know,” she circles a finger in the air, “spidering, and I saw you, so I thought I’d come say hi.” She shrugs a shoulder. “What’re you doing up here?”
He imitates her one-shouldered shrug. “I come up here sometimes when work’s been particularly frustrating. It’s not the freshest air in the world, but it helps me clear my head.” He pops a fry in his mouth. “Plus my secretary always goes into a whole tear about Shake Shack being overrated when she sees me with it.”
“She’s crazy,” Spider-Woman says, and steals a French fry.
“She’s not from here.”
“That explains it.” She pulls up the bottom half of her mask to pop the fry in her mouth. She’s fair-skinned, Foggy notes, which narrows it down a bit. Not that he’s really trying to figure out her identity - he’d probably have to bring charges against her if he did - but it might be helpful to have a general idea. “Why’s work frustrating?”
“Uh.” Foggy didn’t actually intend to spend his lunch having a heart-to-heart with a masked vigilante who’s probably skipping Sociology 101 right now. “Just a heavy caseload.”
“Going up against Murderdock again?” she asks.
And there it is, the real reason he’s been fleeing the office on lunch breaks and staring at the ceiling instead of sleeping. He’s only got one case against Murdock in the pipeline, but from the way his brain’s been chewing on the guy like a dog with a bone, it’s like Murdock’s the only other lawyer in New York. “Yeah,” he says. “...Listen, why do you call him that?”
It’s not that he doesn’t have his own suspicions about Murdock. What he doesn’t have is evidence, or even a name.
“I only know about one for sure,” she says. “You know Felicia Hardy and the Black Cats? The band?” He gives her a blank look and she tches. “Jeez, you’re worse than my dad. She’s a singer who...you know what, it doesn’t matter. But he killed her dad. In France, I think, so I doubt there’s anything you can do about it.” She shrugs again. “But he’s a hitman, so...pretty safe to say there have been others.”
Foggy swallows. “Hitman? He’s a lawyer.”
“He’s also a professional dick. Look at that, triple threat.” She turns those empty eyes on him, and he has the uncomfortable feeling of being scrutinized by a ghost. “Come on, you had to at least suspect.”
Of course he did. Foggy’s been trying to build a case against Murdock since the first time they crossed paths. The why is obvious - Kingpin’s orders - and Foggy’s got a long list of possible whos. Thanks to Murdock himself, he’s got the how now as well.
He trusts his instincts. He has no reason to hope they’re wrong. He meant it when he said that Murdock is everything he hates, and a pain in the ass to boot. And if Foggy can pin a murder charge on him, not only will he take out a killer, he’ll do some serious damage to the Kingpin’s operations.
He pushes the rest of the fries over to Spider-Woman. He doesn’t have the stomach for them anymore.
“So why were you…” He imitates her gesture. “Spidering?”
She takes a fry but doesn’t eat it, just breaks it apart. “...Just a heavy caseload,” she says finally, and he ghosts a smile at her as he recognizes his words.
He thinks she’s just going to sit there, picking the fry to its constituent starchy molecules, when she finally speaks. “Mr. Nelson?” she asks, and she’s never sounded so young. “How do you know when you’re doing the right thing? I mean, know for sure.”
And for a minute, Foggy wishes he was young enough to get away with drawing his knees up to his chin like she is, and maybe hiding his face in them until the world makes sense again.
“When I find out, I’ll let you know.”
“To Foggy Nelson, the Fightin’ D.A.!” Karen crows, hoisting her champagne flute aloft.
“Hear, hear!” Kirsten chimes in, clinking her glass.
“Now, now, ladies,” Foggy says modestly. “Let’s not oversell the fact that I totally wiped the floor with Matt Murdock!” His attempt at false humility crumbles completely when he can’t stop grinning, and Karen and Kirsten cheer loudly and clink his upheld glass. He can’t remember why he was so torn-up over Murdock last week; tonight, he’s flush with triumph and the validation of a noble battle well fought. Tonight, he’s done good.
“The look on his stupid smug face when you got that priest to crack on the stand?” Kirsten says. “God, I wish I’d taken a picture.”
“Yeah, maybe then I’d have gotten to see it,” Karen says, mock-sulky.
“Hey, I texted you! You got to see the closing and the verdict,” Kirsten points out. Karen had had to book it to the courthouse after Kirsten’s text, but she swore it had been worth it.
“That was pretty good,” Karen agreed. “He looked like you’d hit him with a two-by-four. Foggy Nelson, you’re my hero.”
“Okay, okay,” Foggy says sternly, but he’s still smiling, which can’t help. “Remember, it’s not about beating our opponents. It’s about keeping New York just a little bit safer.” And he cracks. “Which we did by kicking Murdock’s ass!”
Karen and Kirsten hoot again, and they all chug the remainder of their glasses. Foggy’s happy and floaty, and it’s only a little bit because of the champagne. He’s truly relieved to have kept a killer behind bars...but yeah, there had also been some truly spectacular Murdock faces on display during the trial. He’d looked genuinely annoyed when Foggy’d pulled threads out of the defendant’s fraying alibi, surprised by the priest’s meltdown, and utterly floored in the aftermath of Foggy’s closing; his own, immediately after, had lacked its usual teeth.
But it was his expression after the verdict was read that had lodged itself into Foggy’s mind. As Foggy hugged Kirsten, he’d spotted Murdock over her shoulder, staring in their general direction. His cane was loose in his hand, and for one his mouth wasn’t set in a smirk or a shark’s smile - it was loose, hanging open. Gulping at the air, really, and he was breathing as hard as if he’d just run a mile. Wrecked.
Foggy had done that.
It’s a very good night.
Once the champagne is gone, Foggy sends Karen and Kirsten home. He has a few things to wrap up, a few emails to send, but there’s no reason they should have to stay late tonight. It’s been a long, hard-fought case and they deserve some time out of the office.
Foggy’s head snaps up. Murdock is leaning in the doorway of his office.
“Uh. Thanks,” he says, wondering why Murdock is here. He couldn’t possibly have crossed the street just to congratulate Foggy. “You did some, uh…” He almost says “nice work,” but nothing about Murdock’s work is nice. “It was close. You made some good points.”
Murdock shakes his head. “No, no. That was your courtroom from the minute you stepped into it.” There’s something off about his smirk, something Foggy can’t put his finger on. Maybe he just doesn’t like losing. “It’s a pleasure doing battle with a worthy opponent.”
Foggy raises an eyebrow - trust Murdock to make it melodramatic. “Thanks,” he says again. “I’ve got some work to finish up, though, so…”
Murdock uncurls himself from the doorframe, but he doesn’t walk away; he steps inside the office and closes the door behind him.
And locks it.
Foggy’s heart leaps into his throat as he remembers just who Murdock works for, and Spider-Woman’s warnings. Murdock doesn’t seem angry, but then Murdock has never shown Foggy an honest emotion. Maybe he doesn’t even have them. Or maybe he’s just under orders from Fisk to get Foggy out of the way, now that Foggy’s actually scored a victory against them. Killing Foggy here, in his office, in a building full of security cameras and guards, seems too clumsy for someone as professional as Murdock, but maybe he’s just that pissed.
Foggy pushes back from his desk and stands up. Where’s his phone, why doesn’t he have his phone, why isn’t it in his pocket? “What are you doing?”
Murdock leans his cane against the locked door. So he’s gonna use his hands. That’ll probably hurt more. “Do you have any idea what you smell like when you’re winning?” he asks, moving closer. His voice is low and dangerous.
“I. Uh.” That’s a weird opening to a hit. “No?”
There’s the familiar smirk. “Sweat. Adrenalin. Too much coffee, again. You really should lay off.” He moves closer. Foggy’s back hits the wall. “Testosterone. You knew there was blood in the water, didn’t you, Mr. Nelson?”
Foggy licks his lips. He wonders what he smells like to Murdock right now. “Just...just doing my job.”
“And you did it magnificently.” Murdock’s hands hit the wall on either side of Foggy’s head, boxing him in. Foggy stares at him, heart so rabbit-fast even he can hear it.
“What are you doing?” he asks again. It’s barely a whisper.
Murdock dips his head right into the space between Foggy’s loosened collar and his throat and just inhales. “It’s like a drug,” he says. Foggy can feel Murdock’s exhalations on his skin. “You have no idea. It’s unfair. How am I supposed to do my job when you smell like this?”
Oh. Oh. Foggy swallows and realizes that he’s hard. He’s still not positive he’s not about to be killed, but he’s hard. He’s not totally sure when that happened. It might have been when Murdock sniffed him, but he thinks it might have been sooner. It might have been when Murdock locked the door.
It might have been when Murdock first spoke.
“Sorry?” he offers, because he doesn’t know what else to say.
Murdock shivers; he sees it ripple through Murdock’s body, like a cat stretching itself awake.
“Me too,” Murdock says.
And he drops to his knees.
“Oh,” Foggy says softly, but he doesn’t move. He can’t move.
Murdock inhales again, a visible breath, and his mouth goes a little slack. Foggy wants to touch it, but his palms are locked flat against the wall behind him. All he can do is watch as Murdock undoes his belt; as he pops the button on Foggy’s pants; as he drags the zipper down.
This is wrong. He shouldn’t be doing this on government property, and he shouldn’t be doing this with opposing counsel, and he really shouldn’t be doing this with a suspected criminal. This is an ethical clusterfuck on any number of levels.
But he lets Murdock shove his pants and boxers down around his thighs, and he lets Murdock push his shirt out of the way, and he lets Murdock put his mouth on him.
And it scorches him; Murdock’s lips, his tongue, searing Foggy to his core. He rasps out a shaky breath as Murdock works his way down, then pulls off slow, a long wet suck that wrings a muffled shout out of Foggy. He drags his tongue up Foggy’s shaft, rubs his cheek against Foggy’s hip and breathes in deep at the crease of his thigh; one hand is flat on Foggy’s stomach, holding his shirt up, holding him in place; the other is moving, between his legs, behind them, pale hot fingers touching him everywhere. Murdock may be the one on his knees, but Foggy can’t help feeling like he’s being marked, tagged with something only Murdock can smell; like he’s being claimed. He remembers Murdock snarling that he was off limits and wonders if he was claimed long ago.
When Murdock’s teeth sink into his inner thigh, he finds his voice again. “Fuck,” he hisses, hips twitching forward.
Murdock bares those teeth at him, a smile like a knife. “There you are,” he says, and then he’s on Foggy’s dick again, mouth stretching to take him, wet and hot.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Foggy pants, like a heartbeat. Murdock is merciless, as devastating here as he is in the courtroom, sniffing out Foggy’s weaknesses and exploiting them. When pressing the flat of his tongue under the head of Foggy’s cock makes him bite out a strangled “please,” Murdock does it again until he’s begging. When an approving hum sends a shockwave up Foggy’s spine and buckles his knees, Murdock digs blunt nails into his hip to keep him standing and hums louder.
Foggy presses into the wall until he’s practically one with it, until his shoulder blades ache with the pressure. It’s either that or let himself move where he really wants, forward into that hot mouth, and Foggy is a gentleman - to say nothing of the fact that if he tries that with Murdock he might just find himself with blue balls and maybe a broken kneecap or two. Even like this, Murdock looks dangerous, in-control: hair barely mussed, suit impeccable, mouth red and obscene but then, his mouth has always dragged Foggy’s thoughts down to hell.
It’s the eyes, really, that might show something less than self-possessed. Even if they can’t meet Foggy’s. Even if they could never meet Foggy’s. But Murdock’s got his glasses on, and Foggy can’t ask him to remove them. That’s not what this is.
“Yeah,” he says again, as low as he can because shit, they are still in his office. “Fuck, that’s...please...I can’t…fuck!” He thinks he sees the corner of Murdock’s mouth twist into the barest smile, and then he makes it faster, harder, deeper, digs his nails in harder, and Foggy can’t hold on.
“I’m gonna,” he manages. “Murdock, I’m gonna, you gotta,” but he thinks he knows Murdock well enough by now - and sure enough, Murdock doesn’t pull off, he swallows Foggy down, wet pulses around him as he trembles through his orgasm, and Foggy’s nails have got to be leaving marks on the wall behind him.
When he’s done, Murdock sits back on his heels and tilts his head like he’s contemplating Foggy. He’s flushed, Foggy notes with a distant sense of triumph, and breathing heavily. He’s also obviously hard.
“Taste,” Murdock says finally. “That’s four.”
It takes Foggy a minute to place it, and then he remembers Murdock walking him home, and his promise - I’m very good. It may be the only thing Murdock’s never lied about.
He drags in enough breath to speak. “How...how’d it rate?” he asks, because hell, if Murdock can be flippant so can he.
Murdock actually runs his fucking tongue along the edge of his teeth, thoughtful. “I can’t complain,” he says, and smiles sharp.
Foggy takes another breath, maybe to offer - God, he doesn’t know, something - but Murdock leans forward and tugs Foggy’s boxers back up, tucking him away. He doesn’t quite put Foggy entirely back together, but he gets him decent before he stands up and dusts off his knees.
“Congratulations, Mr. Nelson,” he says. “It was a hell of a case.”
And before Foggy can say anything, he’s across the room, taking his cane. The lock on the door clicks open, and Murdock throws one knowing smile his way before he’s gone.
Foggy wonders how far Murdock will have to get from Foggy’s office before he can’t hear Foggy’s heart pounding anymore.
“What’s with you?”
Foggy blinks, staring at George Stacy across the table. “Huh?”
“You’ve picked up your empty coffee cup nine times, and you keep getting a look in your eyes like you’re flashing back to landing at Normandy,” George says. “When I asked you to grab lunch I thought you might at least attempt to make polite conversation.”
Foggy scrubs a hand over his face. “Sorry. I...sorry, George, really. I’ve had...a lot on my plate lately.”
He has had no more on his plate than he ever does, and he knows it. What he does have is the memory of Matt Murdock on his knees, burned into his brain apparently, because he hasn’t been able to shake it all week no matter how hard he works or how drunk he gets. What he does have is the vague sense that he should resign, because he doesn’t know how he’ll face Murdock in court again, and the sneaking suspicion that that’s why Murdock did it in the first place. What he does have is a question for every word Murdock’s ever said to him: did he mean it, or was it all part of a con that’s going to smack Foggy between the eyes when he least expects it?
What he does have is an aching need for Murdock to touch him again, a need so thick sometimes he thinks he’ll choke on it.
“Yeah,” George says, as if Foggy has given him a real answer. For a man who spent decades as a detective, George isn’t one to pry. Foggy’s never appreciated that more. “You and me both. Gwen is…” He looks away. “Ah, you know how kids are. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
“Sure,” Foggy says, although he has no real idea how kids are, even if he is closer to George’s daughter’s age than George’s. Not that you’d know from his hairline. “Everything okay?” he remembers to add, because he’s not totally self-involved, and there’s worry in George’s eyes.
“Yeah,” George says again. “Yeah, no, it’s fine. She’s just...having some identity issues lately.”
“Ah.” She probably brought a girl home and old school George is struggling with it. Just one more reason Foggy shouldn’t mention last week’s illicit encounter with Murdock. Not that he was going to, anyway. “Well, I wouldn’t worry too much. She’s a good kid, George.” He’s met her maybe twice, but she’s George Stacy’s daughter, so she’s gonna be a good kid. “She’ll land on her feet.”
George nods. “I know. You’re right. Thanks.” He picks at the crust of his reuben. “But anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Foggy braces himself. George is still looking uncomfortable; he probably wants Foggy to talk to the mayor about getting him put back on the Spider-Woman case. He’d probably be furious if he knew Foggy was having rooftop heart-to-hearts with her.
Oh God, what if he wants to talk about Fisk? Or Murdock? Foggy will have to set his club sandwich on fire as a distraction and flee.
“There’s this new detective at the precinct,” George says. “Just transferred in. She’s smart, very good at her job, about your age. You’d like her.”
“Oh?” Foggy says. This doesn’t sound like the opening to a plea for Foggy to try to bring the mayor around, but he’s not sure what it is instead.
“You seeing anyone right now?” George asks, and Foggy blinks, and then blinks again. Oh.
No, he’s not seeing anyone right now. He hasn’t been seeing anyone since Debbie, and that was ages ago, so far back it doesn’t even hurt anymore.
He opens his mouth to say no, and thinks about Murdock’s teeth sinking into his thigh.
“Uh, kind of?” he says. “It’s...it’s not exactly a real, uh, thing yet, but...yeah.” He rubs the back of his neck. “Yeah, I’m sort of taken right now.”
George doesn’t seem to notice that he’s gone bright red. “Well, it was worth a shot,” he says, and finishes the last bit of crust on his plate.
“Yeah,” Foggy says, and pushes his plate away. He’s lost his appetite again.
Foggy blows out a tired exhale as he walks into the men’s room. Today’s case wasn’t the gauntlet of emotions and hormones a Murdock case is, but it was long, and tiring, and he’s ready to go home and pass out with his face in a plate full of Chinese takeout.
Spotting Murdock heading into a different courtroom an hour ago didn’t help. Murdock didn’t glance his way, but Foggy figures if Murdock can hear his heartbeat and smell what he had for lunch twelve hours later, he knows when Foggy’s around.
Not that it matters. Murdock hasn’t spoken to him in two weeks.
Foggy does his business and is washing his hands when the door opens and a janitor comes in, pushing a mop bucket on wheels. Foggy gives him a friendly nod, because hey, he likes a clean bathroom. “Hey there.”
“Hello, Mr. Nelson,” the janitor says, and meets his eyes.
Foggy’s heart drops to somewhere around his ankles. Benjamin Poindexter. The most dangerous criminal Foggy’s ever put away, and even that was a struggle. Foggy had him up on thirty-seven separate counts of murder, but thanks to a technicality - a malignant brain tumor Poindexter’s doctors swore had affected Poindexter’s ability to distinguish right from wrong - he could only hold him to two years for aggravated assault.
George had warned Foggy at the time that Poindexter was vindictive. He prided himself on never having served time, and Foggy had taken that away from him. He’d be out for revenge.
Why hadn’t Foggy paid attention to when Poindexter’s time was up?
“Mr. Poindexter. You, uh.” Foggy swallows and tries to discreetly pat his hip, checking for his phone, before remembering it’s back with Kirsten, in his briefcase and turned off for the trial. Not that he thinks he could get a call off before Poindexter makes his move. “You’re working as a janitor now?”
Poindexter smiles. If Murdock’s a shark, Poindexter’s a piranha - too many teeth and half a heartbeat away from a feeding frenzy. “No.”
“Just, uh.” Don’t show fear. Fear’s what he’s after. “Just wanted to chat, then?”
“Something like that.” And Jesus, that’s a knife Poindexter’s pulling out of his jumpsuit. How did he even get it through the metal detectors?
“Don’t be stupid,” Foggy says. He’s addressed enough juries on enough high-stakes cases that his voice doesn’t tremble, so thank God for small favors. “This building’s full of cameras. You’re not wearing gloves. Touch me and they’ll pin it on you inside of an hour.”
“Does it look like I give a shit?” Poindexter asks. He runs the flat of the blade along his hand, smiling that cold piranha smile. “You cost me my rep, Nelson. Now you’re gonna pay me back.”
Okay, enough bravado. Foggy takes a step back, even though there's nowhere for him to go. Poindexter’s between him and the door, and he’s not stupid enough to think that he can get past him before Poindexter’s on him. He could scream before Poindexter reaches him, but what good will that do if he gets his throat slit for it? And still, no phone. No way to reach anyone outside, especially not anyone tough enough to take Poindexter down.
Well, there might be one way.
“Murdock,” he murmurs, as low as he can, barely moving his lips.
“What?” Poindexter asks.
"Murdock," Foggy murmurs again. No sense wasting time answering Poindexter - the man's here to kill him either way. "I don't know if you're still here, but I could really use an assist."
Even as he's saying it, he knows it's a Hail Mary pass. The odds that Murdock can not only hear him, but get here in time to keep Poindexter from carving him up are frankly astronomical, and that's if he bothers to come at all. Foggy has no real reason to believe he matters that much to Murdock.
But it's his only chance.
"Talking to yourself, Nelson?" Poindexter asks. He looks delighted by the idea. "Sounds like you're even crazier than they said I was."
Foggy takes another stumbling step back as Poindexter advances. "Come on, Murdock," he hisses. “If you can hear me, I know you can hear him. I’m about thirty seconds away from getting skewered here.”
Poindexter cocks his head. He’s close enough to touch Foggy now. “Or are you praying?” he asks. “It’s not gonna save you.”
Considering he’s praying to a devil, no, probably not.
Foggy flinches away from the knife and finds the wall at his back. Nowhere to go, and Murdock’s not coming. He can stand here and let himself get stuck like a pig, or he can at least go down fighting. At least if he screams loud enough to bring a security guard or someone in they might catch Poindexter before he can hurt anyone else.
“I’m gonna enjoy this,” Poindexter says. “Ready?”
“Not quite,” Foggy says, and charges him.
He takes Poindexter by surprise, slamming into his shoulder and spinning him around. He’s past him, sprinting for the bathroom door, but he’s too slow. Poindexter grabs his wrist, hauling him back.
“MATT!” he screams, one last-ditch hope. The knife plunges into his side, ice-cold and burning, and his next scream isn’t in words.
“You little shit,” Poindexter growls. “I wanted to make this last.” He pulls the knife out - Foggy howls with pain - and raises it for the killing blow.
The door slams back on its hinges and Murdock’s there, red and sharp and trembling with fury.
Foggy only has an instant to process how purely terrifying Murdock is before Murdock’s moving, skirting Foggy before slamming Poindexter to the floor. Poindexter rolls with it, throws Murdock back and jumps up. Murdock lands as light on his feet as a cat, snarling.
Foggy staggers back towards the door, hands clasped to his side. They’re wet and sticky and he should run for help, but it’s getting harder to stand.
“Stay out of this, Murdock,” Poindexter says as they face off. He’s still holding the knife, dripping with Foggy’s blood. “This doesn’t concern Fisk.”
“You’re right,” Murdock says, showing his teeth. “This has nothing to do with Fisk. Franklin Nelson is under my protection. Mine.”
Foggy decides to sit down.
Poindexter rolls his head to the side with an audible joint pop. “Well, that’ll make killing him just that little bit sweeter, won’t it?”
Murdock makes a sound that raises the hairs on the back of Foggy’s neck and charges, a quick-darting flame. Poindexter goes at him with the knife and Murdock blocks it with his cane. Poindexter’s foot snaps out, catching Murdock in the side; Murdock swings the cane and Poindexter jumps wide to avoid it.
Foggy clutches his side, huddled against the bathroom door, watching the flurry of blows and trying not to pass out. He suspected Murdock could fight, suspected he could fight scary good, but this is unlike anything he ever expected to see outside of a movie. As Murdock backflips over Poindexter’s head to avoid the knife, Foggy wonders if blood loss can cause hallucinations. But this is all too real: the cold tile beneath him, the pain in his side, the smell of blood heavy in the air. He wonders how strong the smell is to Murdock.
Poindexter slices the knife across Murdock’s cheekbone; Murdock hisses and strikes and there’s a sickening crunch as Poindexter’s arm breaks. The knife clatters to the floor. Poindexter reels back but Murdock’s on him, behind him, dragging him back and pulling the cane tight across his throat.
Poindexter chokes and scrabbles at Murdock with his good hand, clawing at his arm, his face. Murdock pulls the cane tighter. “You like pain, you pathetic sack of shit?” Murdock growls. “You wanted this to last? You’re gonna die slowly, and I’m gonna laugh.”
“No!” Foggy says. His own voice sounds strange to his ears, hoarse and distant. “Don’t kill him.”
Murdock tilts his head in Foggy’s direction. “He hurt you,” he says, like that’s the only argument that needs to be made. Poindexter kicks back futilely, his face red.
“I know,” Foggy says as blood seeps between his fingers. God does he know. “And believe me, I’ll be pressing charges. But you’re a lawyer, Murdock, not judge and jury.”
“He’s scum,” Murdock says. “He’s killed dozens. He tried to kill you.” He looks wild like this: hair mussed, suit torn, face streaked with blood and twisted with hate. “He deserves to die.”
“Maybe,” Foggy says. “But that’s not for you to decide.”
Murdock just glowers at him. Poindexter’s turning purple and his eyes are starting to bulge.
Foggy’s head is swimming. His side aches, and he doesn’t want to watch Murdock kill someone, and he doesn’t want that black mark added to Murdock’s soul on his account. Not to mention that this isn’t even close to self-defense anymore. If Foggy watches Murdock murder Poindexter, he’ll have to charge him with it. He’ll have to, and he’ll hate himself every minute.
“Please,” he says, “don’t kill him.” And then, on instinct, he adds, “For me, Matt.”
Murdock pulls the cane even tighter, knuckles whitening around it, and Poindexter lets out a very final-sounding gurgle. Foggy’s throat clenches.
Then Murdock lets go, and Poindexter drops to the floor in a heap. “He’s still alive,” Murdock says, stepping away, and even though Poindexter’s not moving, Foggy decides to believe him. Maybe if his vision wasn’t going black around the edges he’d be able to see Poindexter moving.
“Thank you,” he tells Murdock, and passes out.
The first time Foggy wakes up, he’s on a gurney and everyone’s talking very fast but not about anything that makes sense, and he can’t feel his side, and there’s a bright light shining in his face.
The second time Foggy wakes up, Kirsten’s in the chair next to his hospital bed, dark circles like bruises under her eyes. Seven stitches, she tells him. She called his parents and managed to convince them not to fly in unless Foggy specifically asks for them, which is why she’s his personal hero. Poindexter’s in custody; Kirsten says that Murdock gave them some cock-and-bull story about Poindexter tripping over his cane and falling while attacking them. She doesn’t know what happened but if Murdock hired Poindexter to stab Foggy, she’ll make sure he spends the rest of his misbegotten life in Riker’s. Foggy assures her that Murdock’s innocent - in this instance, at least - and falls back asleep to the sound of Kirsten listing Murdock’s many faults. He can’t argue with any of them.
The third time Foggy wakes up, it’s the middle of the night, and Murdock’s in his room.
“Pretty sure it’s not visiting hours,” Foggy says. His voice is low and raw.
Murdock doesn’t startle - he could probably smell that Foggy was waking up, or something. “Hospitals are easy to sneak into.”
“You realize that’s a creepy thing to say, right?” Foggy asks.
Murdock stiffens. “You’re right,” he says, and starts to rise. “I’ll go.”
"Did I say I wanted you to leave?" Foggy asks. Murdock freezes. "Apparently I like creepy."
"...Okay." Murdock settles back into his chair. As he does, Foggy realizes that he looks terrible. He's cleaned up since Foggy saw him last, and the cut on his cheek is just a thin, scabbed-over line, but he's paler than usual, obvious even in the darkened room, and his hair and suit are rumpled. “Pale and rumpled” is how Foggy usually rolls, but Murdock has always looked impeccable.
"I suppose thanks are in order," Foggy says finally, because his mother raised him right.
"I didn't kill him," Murdock says immediately.
"I know, and I'm grateful for that too," Foggy says. "But I meant for saving me."
Murdock's quiet for a minute, a muscle clenching in his chiseled jaw. "I tried to get away," he says. "I heard you, and I tried, but you were three floors away and there were so many people in the way..."
"You got there in time," Foggy reminds him, touched.
"He never should have gotten close enough to touch you," Murdock says. It's low, and vicious. "He should never have dared."
And this, this is probably the time to ask Murdock what exactly the parameters of being under his protection are, and exactly how many people have been warned away from him, and exactly what's supposed to happen to them if they don't listen. But all Foggy says is, again, "You got there in time."
Murdock shakes his head. "You should have let me kill him. He'll be out again, and now he hates us both. He'll go straight for you."
"Then we'll deal with that when it happens. If it happens," Foggy says, a little amused despite himself. Does he think Foggy's never made an enemy before? Non-corrupt district attorneys aren't exactly popular with the criminal element.
Murdock doesn’t look convinced. “It’ll happen. I know you believe in the system, but he’s not going to spend a few years in jail and see the error of his ways. He’s a killer.” He twists his cane his hands. There’s dried blood on it, still. “Not everyone is redeemable, Mr. Nelson.”
Foggy doesn’t think they’re talking about Poindexter. “That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance to find out.” He tilts his head. “And people who’ve saved my life get to call me Foggy. If they want.”
Murdock goes very still for a minute; then he sighs. “I don’t...this isn’t...we’re not friends,” he says, and pulls his glasses off to pinch the bridge of his nose like he’s getting a headache. When he lifts his head, he’s staring about two inches to the left of Foggy’s chin. It’s the first time Foggy’s seen his eyes.
“I never said we were,” Foggy says, and Murdock makes another noise, like a sigh but too angry. “Matt,” Foggy says, and that startles Murdock, makes him reorient his gaze closer to Foggy’s mouth. “Come here.”
Murdock - Matt, Foggy decides, Matt from now on - leans in warily, like he’s not entirely sure Foggy’s not about to throw the bed-adjusting remote in his face and cartwheel out of the room. Foggy hooks a finger into his collar and pulls him into a kiss.
Matt freezes, and Foggy’s not sure if he’s just stunned or if Foggy’s read this situation all wrong and is about to get his head kicked in for it. Then Matt makes a low sound deep in his throat, and suddenly he’s kissing Foggy back, his hands hot on Foggy’s face. He’s just as demanding at kissing as he is at everything else, and Foggy’s just starting to get into it when his stitches pull and he jerks back with a wince.
“Foggy?” Matt asks. He makes a face like he’s not sure how he feels about Foggy’s name in his mouth.
Foggy’s very sure.
“Just my side,” he says. “It’s fine.” Matt’s face is a sudden thundercloud. “Really. I’ll heal.”
Matt settles back into the chair. “Give me your hand,” Foggy says as he does.
“Why?” Matt asks suspiciously, and Foggy rolls his eyes.
“Because I want it,” he says. Matt offers it up, brow furrowed, and Foggy twines his fingers with Matt’s, resting their joined hands on his thigh.
Matt’s fingers twitch against Foggy’s. “I’m not taking you to prom,” he says, and it’s almost as scornful as Foggy thinks Matt wants it to be.
“Good. I’m a terrible dancer,” Foggy says. Matt snorts, and they lapse into silence.
A minute later, Foggy opens his mouth to speak, and feels Matt’s hand tense in his. That’s interesting. “So I’ve been thinking about my caseload,” he says. “It’s really too much for me and Kirsten to handle alone. I mean, we’ve got the grunts, but they’re mostly just out of a law school. I could use another experienced ADA.”
Matt doesn’t say anything.
So Foggy does. “Switch sides,” he says. “Come work for me. You’d be...” He smiles. “You’d be terrifying.”
“What do you think my life would be worth if I did?” Matt asks.
“I’d protect you.” Matt snorts again. “Yeah, I know I can’t backflip,” Foggy says. “But we can cut a deal. Give us enough names and we can clear yours. We’ll put a detail on you if we have to. And it’s not like you can’t defend yourself, if it comes to that.”
Matt raises an eyebrow. “In other words, you want me to sell out the most dangerous people in New York in exchange for...what, quartering my salary and quadrupling my caseload,” he drawls.
“Yes,” Foggy says.
“No one would ever trust me,” Matt points out. “Not even if I worked for the D.A.’s office for thirty years. Not even if I spilled everything I might allegedly know about alleged criminal activity. I’d be hated.”
“You’re not making a very good sales pitch,” Matt says. And smirks, but it’s emptier than usual. “Are you offering anything else?”
“Yes,” Foggy says again.
Matt’s quiet for a long time, and Foggy doesn’t push. He’s not stupid enough to think that Murdock’s anything like tamed, or that he doesn’t have secrets Foggy will be very sorry to learn. He doesn’t think Fisk will let Matt go easily; he’s not sure Matt even wants to go, no matter how he feels about Foggy. He likes Foggy enough to kill for him, and more importantly to not kill for him, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good person.
But Foggy knows what he himself wants. And he’s willing to wait for it.
“I can’t,” Matt says finally, very soft. “I...couldn’t.”
“Okay,” Foggy says. For now.
“I should go,” Matt says.
Foggy doesn’t hold Matt’s hand tighter. But he doesn’t let go either. “Only if you want to.”
“Well,” Matt says, and clears his throat. “Maybe I’ll stay for a little bit.”
“I’d like that,” Foggy says, and closes his eyes. He can’t hear everything Matt can, but over the soft beeps and whirs of the machinery around him, he can hear Matt’s steady breathing, and it’s enough.
He’s still not sure why Matt set his sights - so to speak - on him in the first place, or what Matt expected to happen when he did. Maybe he thought he was luring Foggy over to the dark side; maybe he wanted to see what he could get away with. Maybe he was just having fun.
Foggy doesn’t care. Somewhere along the way, he tricked the devil into giving a shit about him. He may not have enough of a hold on him to drag him back up to heaven yet, but for now the terror of the underworld is sitting here, by Foggy’s side, holding his hand.
And Foggy’s never letting him go.