Karen stifled laughter as Foggy headed out the door, extravagant promises of good pastries, better coffee, and wealthy, innocent clients still echoing in his wake. She’d made the same amused huff a half-dozen times this week, so Matt felt safe leaning one shoulder against the door frame and asking, “What’s so funny?”
She laughed properly, if briefly, and said, “It’s nothing, really, just - does he always do that?”
“Do… what, exactly?”
She made a waving gesture with one hand in the direction of the door. “The whole… shuffle-hop, almost dancing thing… which I’ve just realized probably doesn’t sound any different from normal walking.”
Not true, but Matt understood why Karen might think so. “No, I… I think I know what you mean. His walking gets a rhythm to it sometimes, a little…” He shuffled his feet, scuffed a toe against the floor. “Like that?”
“Yes, just like that!” Karen sounded delighted. “So he does do that a lot?”
“When he’s got a song stuck in his head, yeah.” Matt thought back. “Have you noticed any humming lately?”
Karen hmmed. “Now that you mention it… I guess you could call those sounds he was making last week humming.”
Matt snorted. “Yeah, his - his singing isn’t any better.”
“I know,” Karen faux-whispered conspiratorially. “I was in the office late, ages ago, and I overheard him, and it was - ” She failed to find the words.
Matt couldn’t keep from smiling. “That’s Foggy for you - the world’s only theater kid to always be off-key.”
“So it's musical-specific?”
“Usually. For him to be stuck on a song this long… it’s probably a new show he’s fallen in love with.” But Foggy hadn't… Matt frowned. “Hm.”
Karen tilted her head, hair following the motion a half-second later in a quiet swish. “Something wrong about that?” Something changed, almost imperceptibly, in her breathing. “Don’t tell me you’re jealous of a musical, Matt.”
Matt laughed, shaking his head. “Foggy falls in and out of love with shows all the time. It’s just, he always… well.”
“What?” She rose from her chair, leaning with her whole body towards Matt. “You’ve aroused my curiosity, Mr. Murdock. Don’t think you can get away with a ‘hm’ or a ‘well’ now.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Ms. Page. It’s just…” Matt licked his lips, tried to figure out where to start. They'd explained odder Matt-and-Foggy things to Karen before, he could manage this. “When Foggy finds a new show he has a… a pattern. He, uh, gets obsessed with it, like he is now. Then he gets a CD of the original cast recording, and he makes me listen to it. Between songs he explains the plot and the stage design. It’s been like that ever since we were roommates.”
Karen made a soft, encouraging sound, a nonverbal go on…
Matt fiddled with the top of his cane. “The first time he had invited me to come along to the show, but I, ah, couldn’t exactly appreciate it.” Karen stifled a laugh, and Matt grinned. “So he brought the CD back to make up for the dumb offer, and after that it just… kept happening.” Matt shrugged.
Until now seemed to hover in the air, weighing heavier the longer it went unsaid.
“Maybe he thinks you wouldn’t like this one?” Karen offered.
Matt shrugged again. “Maybe,” he said, his conviction as weak as Karen's.
Now that Karen had brought it to his attention, Matt couldn’t not notice the signs. Absentminded humming, drumming his fingers against his desk in an unfamiliar but distinct pattern, scuffing his shoes against the ground in a not-quite-tap motion everywhere they went… it was obvious, in retrospect.
And the signs unsettled Matt more and more, as days passed and Foggy continued to not press this show onto him.
Matt had known - he’d agreed - that things would have to be different between them, now. That moving forward would require changes.
He didn’t want losing this to be one of them.
The problem was, he didn't know how to start the conversation he wanted to have - “Hey Foggy, what's that song you hum when you're alone in your office?” didn't seem like it would get them off on the right foot, and most of his other ideas boiled down to “Why haven't you shared this with me?”, which was a question he didn't have the right to ask anymore.
So he didn’t ask. He sat in his office, a room away from Foggy, and listened.
Foggy was coming into the office earlier, and leaving early to match. Strange, potentially unrelated… but Matt trusted his instincts. One evening, as Foggy was getting his things together, Matt hovered in his doorway. He was aiming for casual and suspected he was missing it by a mile, given the feeling of being watched coming from Karen’s direction. It didn’t take long for Foggy to notice his presence.
“Hey.” Matt cleared his throat. “Mind if I head out with you tonight?”
Foggy stopped arranging papers for a moment. “No, I don’t mind,” he said eventually. “It’s a little out of your way, though.”
“I don’t mind,” Matt assured him. “Leaving in five?”
Foggy startled, then laughed. “Yeah, I guess I’ve been getting pretty regular about it, huh?” He tapped his fingers against his desk in a pattern Matt recognized from his footsteps, then nodded. “I just - mm. This is good timing, actually. I’m kind of glad you brought it up.”
Not understanding any of those sentences, Matt smiled, and went off to get his own things together.
Leaving a concerned-sounding Karen to lock up, Matt took Foggy’s arm and let him take the lead, silently counting the streets as they walked. A few blocks south, a couple more east - he stopped counting once they hit Eighth and it was clear that they were headed for the Theater District.
Foggy came to a stop at the edge of a crowd, got someone's attention and filled out a form. A ticket lottery, then. Matt kept to one side, the presence of his cane creating all the distance he needed, and did his best to ignore the sounds of performers warming up in the theaters around him.
Someone with a microphone introduced what followed as a "ham for ham" performance, to raucous cheers. Three performers came out, to similar excitement from the crowd, and, after convincing the crowd to act as their background music, performed a fast-paced tap routine to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
Matt ducked his head to hide a smile. Only on Broadway.
After the song ended, the performers went back inside and names were drawn for the lottery. Foggy didn't win, but he didn't seem surprised - given the number of people standing around who must have entered the lottery too, Matt wasn't surprised either. Foggy ducked into the theater for a minute and returned with a square package that he handed over to Matt. A CD, by the thin rattle of plastic inside the package.
"They only just started selling the hard copies last week," Foggy said as they headed back towards home. A warm feeling sunk into Matt’s chest, unraveling tension he'd been carrying for days. CDs hadn’t been available yet, it wasn’t because of… well, what did it matter what it wasn't because of. He’d been wrong, and was glad to be.
That said… “Hard copies of… Ham, the Musical?” he said doubtfully, fiddling with the CD.
Foggy snorted. “That sounds like a show about the struggles of running a kosher deli in a world full of treif. I would so watch that. Hell, I'd watch it twice.” Then, seeing whatever expression was on Matt's face: “Wait, you don't know this one already? I was sure I must be driving you crazy humming it all the time.”
“Well, yes, but.” Matt tapped his cane thoughtfully. “Humming isn't words?”
Foggy's breathing stuttered on an almost-laugh. “A fair point,” he said. “So you know the tunes, but nothing about the actual show?”
Something in Foggy’s breathing changed - Matt was reminded of the triumphant intake of breath right before Foggy revealed a game-changing precedent or piece of evidence for a case. “You know, I think that might make for a better listening experience this time.” He turned on the spot and gave Matt two quick pats on the shoulder. “Go on, I'm gonna get a cab from here. Let me know what you think.”
Matt stayed where he was for a minute, listening until Foggy was safely in his cab and away. At the same corner, a woman was singing under her breath a tune Foggy had devoted a full week to last month.
Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.
On the back of the receipt, which Foggy had wedged inside the CD case, Foggy had written I think you could use a GW of your own in the deep-pressed block letters he always used with Matt. Matt didn't think anything of it - there was always a character or two in a show Foggy was sure he was like, or needed in his life, something to that effect - until maybe eighty seconds into the first song.
That was when he realized "Ham" was short for "Hamilton". As in, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, guy on the ten dollar bill Alexander Hamilton. Which made GW George Washington, which was something Matt would definitely have to react to at some point. He paused the song so he could somewhat tediously craft a text consisting of a full line of question marks. Foggy responded with a text Matt eventually deciphered as “lolololol”, proving that Foggy was, in fact, a dick, followed by a more comprehensible one that read “keep listening”.
Which he did.
He knew the bare bones of Hamilton's story going into the show - he'd read up on the Levi Weeks case when he was a kid, investigating the history of American criminal law, and, well, the opening number as good as told you what else was coming. But parts of it hit Matt harder than he'd expected.
Washington's songs had, unexpectedly, reminded Matt of Claire, of her warnings against martyrdom, and how she'd stepped back when Matt started to rely on her too much. Claire being Washington made Matt himself Hamilton, which - well. Poor orphaned lawyer with a desire to fight, to make a difference… it wasn't a big leap to make.
He called Foggy at the end of the first act with this piece of insight, to which Foggy responded, “Obviously you're Hamilton” and “I know you won't enjoy this as much as I will, but I'm gonna photoshop you and Claire into a painting of the founding fathers. Please identify the Jefferson and/or Lafayette in your life for me ASAP.”
“You can’t photoshop,” Matt scoffed. “And I haven't heard Jefferson yet, he's in act two?”
“A) My photoshop skills are amazing, you are just inherently unappreciative of them. B) You haven't listened to act two yet? No wonder you sound like there's still joy in your life.” Matt stayed quiet to see if Foggy would realize what he'd said. Sure enough: “Uh. I mean.”
“I can guess how it's going to end, Foggy,” Matt said. “It's kind of right there in the first song.”
“Y…eah,” Foggy said, not very convincingly. “Well. Just, uh, call me when you're done?”
Matt didn't call. He knocked at Foggy's front door about two hours later instead, and Foggy let him inside without a word. He didn't seem surprised to see Matt.
“After you asked for my Jefferson or Lafayette I tried to find a role that would fit you. I thought Laurens or Lafayette at first, but... Laurens dies young, and I, uh.”
“Don't want to jinx me?”
Matt huffed out a breath, a not quite laugh, since it was not quite funny. “Basically.” Get back on track, Matt. “And Hamilton ignores Lafayette when he asks for help later. I - that's not me, not with you.”
“Um. Glad to hear it?”
“And it couldn't be Jefferson or Burr. We - we don't fight like that.” With one significant exception, a brief silence seemed to say. “And then I got to the last song.”
Foggy said nothing. His breathing and heart beat were steady. Frustratingly so. Matt couldn’t read a thing off him right now, and he needed to. He couldn’t go into this blind - ugh, pun not intended.
“And…?” Foggy said leadingly.
“And…” Matt sighed. “It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, but. You're my Eliza, aren't you?”
“Am I?” Hair shifted against cloth as Foggy shrugged. “Am I someone who loves you and supports you? Someone who fought with you and almost left you over secrets you kept from me, but who ultimately forgave you?”
Somewhere during that sentence a weight settled in Matt's throat, strangling his voice. “Foggy…”
Foggy continued, picking up speed, “Am I your confidante, but not your priority? Do you keep going places I can't follow? Am I someone you're almost certainly going to die on some day? Am I someone who’s probably gonna spend the rest of my life making sure your legacy is one to be proud of? I don't know Matt, what do you think?”
Matt couldn't breathe for a dizzying moment. Then he realized he had shoved his face into Foggy's shoulder, which was probably not helping things.
A hand landed in his hair, another on his back. “Hey, hey, it's okay.” Foggy. Well, who else would it be? “Sorry for putting all that on you at once. But seriously, we're doing pretty good by those standards. No children, metaphoric or literal, have died on us, and I'm pretty sure you aren't going to literally go off to your death without telling me. Plus, you know, I know who I married.” Matt winced; that had been just a little out of Foggy’s range. Foggy coughed. “Or, at least, I do now.”
“How can a born-and-raised theater kid be as bad a singer as you are?”
“It's my one flaw, making me interesting instead of perfect and boring.”
Matt snorted. “Yeah? What's mine?”
Foggy carded a hand through Matt’s hair. “Hate to be the one to break it to you, buddy, but you're too handsome and charming to get just the one flaw.”
“No, I know.” Matt let his attention drift to Foggy's heartbeat, much easier to hear with his ear flat against the side of Foggy's neck. It was comforting, the way his voice was. The sound of his breathing. Foggy in general. “You're too good for me.”
Foggy sighed, rubbing a hand down Matt's back one last time before pulling away. “Really not the conclusion I was hoping you'd reach here, Matt.”
“You are,” Matt insisted, “and so was Eliza for Hamilton.”
“I'll agree with you on that,” Foggy conceded. “But she chose Hamilton anyway, same as I chose you.”
“I… don't know that it's quite the same…” Matt started to say, a smile inching across his face. Foggy's breathing stuttered, and his heart… oh. “Wait, is it?”
“A little bit, yeah,” Foggy admitted.
“Huh.” Matt considered this.
“Don't tell me this is news.”
“A little bit, yeah,” Matt admitted.
“Seriously?” Foggy made a broad gesture with one hand; Matt couldn't tell what he was gesturing at, and couldn't bring himself to care. “I was literally flirting with you on day one.”
“You also immediately retracted it, and never repeated it,” Matt said absently, still adjusting to the paradigm shift. The heat in the face and racing heartbeat related to certain outfits (or an absence of clothing) he'd noticed, but... okay, maybe that should've been all the evidence he needed to start with. “I'm a bit of an idiot, aren't I?”
“What?” Foggy made a disgusted kind of noise. “Oh, yeah, Matt, how dare you not notice me trying my hardest not to be in love with you.”
“Trying not to be?” That hurt. Why did that hurt? “Why?”
“Pining only looks like fun in the movies. It's actually a giant pain when you can't skip over most of it using a montage sequence.”
Matt thought about it. “Makes sense.”
Matt thought about other things. Hamilton things. Foggy things. Matt-and-Foggy things. “So, was the conclusion you were hoping I'd reach about how married we are?”
“Eh, something like that.”
“Because that's not news to me,” Matt said. “You've recited wedding vows at me, Foggy.”
“And probably will again.”
Matt quirked an eyebrow in what he hoped was Foggy's general direction. “Why Mr. Nelson, was that a proposal?”
Foggy snorted. “Give me some credit, buddy. If I was proposing, you'd know it.”
Matt snapped his fingers in fake disappointment. “Darn.”
Something very interesting happened to Foggy’s heart rate. “Darn?”
“We've already established that you're too good for me - ”
“ - okay, fine. I'll rephrase. Foggy, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me.” It was, Matt thought in the following silence, maybe the truest thing he'd ever said. “I'd have to be an unbelievable idiot to turn you down.”
Foggy said nothing for a long minute. His heartbeat was approaching double time, Matt noticed with not a small bit of pleasure. “Matt?”
“How much of this is joking? Ballpark figure, nearest ten percent?”
Matt hummed thoughtfully. “Forty, maybe fifty?” Foggy's breathing stuttered in a concerning way for a moment, then evened out as his pulse shot up again. “It has been, need I remind you, all of five minutes since I learned how you feel about me.”
“Yeah, no, I know. I'm - I'm taking that into account.” Foggy took a step towards Matt. A heartbeat was pounding in Matt's ears; he couldn't tell whose it was. “So. There is some interest here?”
“Maybe.” Matt took a step towards Foggy.
“Maybe?” Foggy was smiling; Matt could all but taste it. He wanted to taste it.
“I can't be sure until I try,” he said.
“So,” Foggy said, a little breathlessly, some time later. “Sure now?”
“I'm getting there,” Matt said, grinning wider at the jump in Foggy's heartbeat, racing underneath his fingertips. “Think I might need to try some more to be really sure, though.”
Foggy was smiling again, and this time Matt could feel it. He wanted to feel all of Foggy's expressions. “And while I would be more than happy to assist you with that, I do just want to confirm: you're interested? In me?”
“I've loved you for years, Foggy,” Matt said, just to listen to the way Foggy's breath hitched. Similar to, yet distinct from the ways it had hitched a minute ago. They were all good sounds, ones he'd have to get Foggy to replicate. “I didn't expect it to be like this, but… here we are.”
“Here we are,” Foggy repeated, slightly dumbfounded, as Matt leaned back in. With the certainty of mutual feelings, this kiss had a different quality to it, something that buzzed against Matt's lips, warm and - wait.
That wasn't metaphorical buzzing.
He pulled back, smacking Foggy's arm when he wouldn't stop laughing. “Seriously?”
“Sorry,” Foggy said, still laughing. “Really, I am, it's just…” He sighed, and it sounded how his smile had felt. “We are pretty lucky, aren't we?”
“Yeah,” Matt admitted, voice soft. Then: “But that doesn't call for humming a song from a musical while we're kissing.”
“Okay, okay, noted,” Foggy said, laughing as he pulled Matt in again. Matt went into it a little annoyed, but it turned out that kissing Foggy while he was laughing had its own kind of appeal.
“So,” Karen said a few days later, voice warm with expectation. Or was that barely restrained laughter?
Matt paused the TTS for the judicial opinion he’d been reviewing, then his CD player, which had been playing at a volume too low for most people to notice. Distractions taken care of, he gave Karen his full attention. Expectation, he thought it must have been. “Yes?”
“You’ve been… humming,” she said, almost phrasing it like a question.
Matt frowned. “Have I?”
“For a… generous definition of humming, yeah,” Karen said, amused. “You’re kind of just as bad as Foggy.”
Karen laughed. “You didn’t know?”
“That I’m not a good singer?” Matt almost laughed himself. “No, I - I picked up on that in Catholic school.”
“Oh, did they make you mouth along with the words in choir?”
“Wouldn’t even let me join.”
Karen tsked. “That’s a shame. But anyway… humming,” she said, returning to her original topic. “You’ve been doing that.”
“Apparently.” Matt tapped a finger against his desk, realizing a few seconds too late that he was drumming out a distinct pattern. I am not throwing away my -
“So,” Karen said again, expectantly. Matt fidgeted with one of his earbuds, not sure where Karen was going with this. “Everything back to normal with you two, then?”
Laughter caught in Matt’s throat - Karen was sometimes too quick for Matt's own good - and he grinned. “Not even remotely.” He handed the CD player to Karen and made his way towards Foggy’s office to take advantage of some of those changes. He received a very warm greeting from his partner, and was in the middle of returning it when Karen entered the room.
She had taken the offering of Matt’s ancient CD player, Hamilton inside, as the invitation to listen to the album that it was. And it turned that her amusement at their complete lack of singing ability was as far from hypocritical as you could get. Matt let his eyes flutter shut - unnecessary, obviously, but it improved the experience for him - and for a few minutes, just listened.
“Really, it’s for the best that neither of us can hold a tune,” Foggy said thoughtfully after she’d done “The Schuyler Sisters” twice and was starting on a run as Peggy. “Don’t want people accusing us of getting our clients via siren song.”
It turned out that Karen wobbling her way through a giggly greatest city in the wo-o-o-o-o-o-orld with Foggy practically cackling in the background was just about the best thing Matt had ever heard.