Foggy calls sometimes, and Matt hates the way it makes everything uncertain and in-between, but when he's in his apartment, he picks up. Foggy deserves that from him, anyway, a reassurance that Matt is alive and breathing. Usually, Foggy calls every other week or so, and they talk for an awkward twenty minutes, Foggy talking about everything but his job and Matt talking about everything but Daredevil.
Matt can't talk about much at all.
Those calls are for evenings and weekends, though, so Matt is instantly on edge when his phone tells him Foggy is calling late one afternoon when they'd only talked three days before. “What's the matter?” he asks, forgoing pleasantries. “Is it Karen?”
Foggy's breath sounds wrong down the line, too thick, and Matt stands, already prepared to go find him if he's been hurt. “Shit, I don't even know why I called,” he says, and he's been crying.
“No, you—something's wrong. What is it?”
“Not your kind of thing,” Foggy says, sharp, meant to hurt.
If Foggy weren't crying, Matt might snarl at him. He feels the urge. He swallows it down. “As your friend, Foggy. You called me. Something's wrong.”
Matt was already halfway into his closet, ready to put on his armor and take care of whatever had hurt Foggy, but this isn't a problem he can fix. He only met Peggy Carter once, but he's heard so much more about her, and he knows that Angie must be devastated. “I'm sorry,” he says into the awkward silence, and knows it's not enough because that's never enough to say to anyone. “Are you with Angie?”
“No. I'm packing. We've got a flight to catch in a few hours, to the funeral. She asked me to come with her.”
“London, actually. Good thing I've got my passport up to date, God knows why she wanted to have the funeral there.” Foggy sighs. He sounds a little steadier now that he's said it, but Matt feels less steady. Foggy has left the city a few times since he's known Matt, mostly to go to DC with Angie, but this will be the farthest he's been, and Matt can't expect regular phone calls like he used to get, and he can't expect to catch Foggy talking or just his heartbeat while he's on patrol, which he's been allowing himself to do. “She left Angie something out there, I guess, and Angie wants company.”
“Of course. Give her my condolences.” Angie knows more than the rest of Foggy's family does about everything. He doesn't know what she knows about why Foggy left for a different law firm, but she hasn't called to check on him on a while, so she probably knows enough. She might not want to receive his condolences.
“She'll appreciate that,” says Foggy anyway. “I should probably go. I don't …. I shouldn't have bothered you.”
“You're not bothering me.” Matt swallows. “You can … you can call, if you'd like. If you need to. I'll pick up if I'm here.”
Foggy sighs, the sigh Matt recognizes from nights when he's discouraged and tired and sad, in need of comfort. It's more rare than the crying, and worse for it. “I can't trust that. If nothing else, it's a big 'if.'”
Matt winces, all the more stung because Foggy isn't saying it to hurt him, just to be honest. “Fine. I'm … I'm sorry, again. About English. Have a safe flight.”
“You be safe too,” says Foggy after a long pause where Matt could only barely hear his breath. “The UN oversight for the Avengers is all over the news, it's not going to be long till someone starts calling that legal precedent and you have a whole new host of problems.”
“You would be on their side, wouldn't you?” Matt asks, and he means the words but not quite how they come out, too angry, not under control.
“That doesn't really matter anymore, does it?” Foggy shoots back, with a courtroom lawyer's killer instinct. “You've made it clear that what I want doesn't matter much to you at all.”
After five seconds of gaping fury and hurt, Matt's phone informs him that the call has been disconnected.
It's early for it, early enough that putting on his armor and going out the window is a risk, but Matt can't stay still, not after that. There's always something in the city that needs his help.
He calls Foggy and is glad when it goes to voicemail, since Foggy is probably still on the plane. “I'm sorry too. I know you—lost someone. I shouldn't have ...” He doesn't know what he shouldn't have. That's probably the problem. “I'm sorry, Foggy.”
He doesn't know what he's apologizing for either, but it's worth saying.
“SHIELD agents know how to throw a wake,” Foggy says, sounding more than a little drunk an ocean away. “Angie is drinking them all under the table and I am pretty sure there are at least three people I was told were dead here.”
“Are you okay?” Matt asks.
“Oh, I—you are not Marci.”
Marci, his new co-worker, who he meant to call when he's drunk and sad, and Matt sounds insane even to himself, being jealous that she gets to deal with Foggy when he's a mess now. “I'm not. Are you—how was the funeral?”
“Captain America was a pallbearer, which explains why I didn't get asked. Yours truly could not stand up to those muscles. He looked ...” Foggy trails off. “Sad. He looked really sad, and really tired. Saving the world is a shitty job. I thought about telling him that I kind of get it, but that probably would have been weird.”
Foggy has always admired Steve Rogers. Sometimes, on his worse days, Matt is angry that Foggy doesn't question his right to fight for what he believes when he questions Matt's, but he knows who Foggy grew up with, and a little about their relation to the story. Today, he can swallow down the bile and forgive it. “Did you meet him?”
“No. He was kind of busy. Rumblings about the Sokovia Accords.” Foggy sounds more sober by the second, and more tired along with it, like the drunkenness was just a veneer over how sad he is. “Sharon gave a eulogy. He seemed to take it to heart. I am never telling you what she said. You'd take it to heart too, and you're stubborn enough already.”
There's affection there, a flicker of it, but not enough to keep Matt from frowning. “How is Sharon?”
“Sad. I mean … we all knew it was coming. She's been fading pretty fast the past couple years. But she pretty much raised Sharon when she wasn't pretty much raising me or saving the world, and Sharon always wanted to be her when she grew up, so it's. You know. It's not great.”
Matt's seen too much death, but none of it has been the inevitable result of age and illness. He doesn't know if it would be better or worse, seeing someone fade by inches. “How's Angie?”
“Devastated. Drinking several secret agents and possibly a superhero under the table.” Matt laughs, startled, and Foggy sounds like he's smiling when he continues. “She says thanks, by the way. For your thoughts.”
“That's … thank you for passing them on. You didn't have to.”
“If I didn't, she'd be calling you next week asking where your manners are.”
There isn't quite enough energy behind that to make it a joke. Matt laughs anyway. “I'm glad she doesn't have to.” There's laughter in the background of Foggy's call, someone shouting something his phone can't pick up no matter how Matt strains to hear it. “How long are you there?”
“A few more days anyway. English left Angie an apartment in London and everything in it, and I guess they lived there for a few years on and off in the sixties when Angie had a TV thing over here. Angie didn't know she kept it.”
“That was good of her,” Matt says, mostly for something to say. As long as he can keep Foggy on the phone, he feels steadier.
Foggy sighs. “I don't know. That's up for debate. There's this whole box of letters and notes they wrote to each other whenever one of them was away from the apartment. Just stupid stuff about remembering to pick up milk and jokes about breaking legs versus breaking other people's legs. Angie can't even look at it.” Matt can imagine the difficulties in rummaging through the remains of a life left behind. He's been through Elektra's apartment. He was the last one in Nelson and Murdock's old office, taking down the braille plastic labels Foggy and Karen made as a joke and taking the plastic dinosaurs out of his desk drawer. Foggy's thoughts must be running on similar lines, because he says “Remind me to die before everyone else, okay? I don't want to have to sift through things like this. It sucks.”
Matt feels queasy just thinking about it, thinking about Foggy's funeral, about trying to walk into his apartment knowing Foggy would never cook in it again, or toss his stupid baseball around, or try on a new suit and laugh through asking Matt what he thinks. Matt doesn't get to experience that now anyway, but it would be worse, knowing it isn't happening at all. “Please don't.”
“Probably won't happen anyway,” says Foggy. “Not now. I'm gonna have to do it for you.”
Matt could be cruel. He could say that Foggy has walked away twice now, so he doesn't have to, but he knows that he didn't walk the second time without being pushed, and he doesn't want to hear Foggy say that when he's drunk and too honest. “I'm sorry,” he says instead, because he can give Foggy this. “I can't say for sure that's not true.”
“The hell of it is you know I'm going to have to do this for you and you still won't stop.”
“You don't have to. That's why we're not … that's why we're not.”
“That's why you think we're not. I wouldn't have let you do that noble bullshit if I weren't so tired of all the lying. I stuck around until you started lying again, didn't I?”
“You stuck around until things got hard,” Matt snaps, because Foggy is pushing, and he'll push back if he has to.
“Things were already hard. Shit, Matt. I stuck around until it was pretty clear that our friendship was never going to be as important as that mask.” A muffled sound from his end of the line. “I've got to go. Sorry for calling drunk. Marci's going to laugh at me.”
Matt's not sure if what he wants to say next is an apology or anger, but it doesn't matter, because he's left inhaling to the sound of the click on the line as Foggy hangs up.
It doesn't have anything to do with Foggy, or if it does, it's through so many layers of connection that it might as well not, but Matt is still struck with panic when he hears the news report, hears that it's Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, who did it. Hears that world leaders are dead, and the talks for the Sokovia Accords are in disarray, that everything is going wrong at once.
Matt calls Foggy, because he can't call Karen or Marci or Foggy's parents or anyone else about this.
To his surprise, Foggy picks up the phone. “What's up?” he says, sharp and quick, no greeting.
“Are you safe?” Matt asks. Foggy will at least answer that before he hangs up.
“Yeah.” That's less wary, but it only serves to make Foggy sound exhausted the way he is near the end of a hard case. “Stuck on this side of the ocean, though.”
Matt clenches a fist, even though he knows there's nothing he can do about any problems from all the way in New York. “Have they grounded flights?”
“Maybe, but it's irrelevant. I think they want to keep an eye on Angie because they want to keep an eye on everyone Captain America has ever met. We're using English's London apartment as a safehouse right now, and Angie is not happy about it. She's discussing faking a heart attack, but I'm thinking that's probably a bad plan.”
“Are you under arrest?” Foggy and Angie are both residents of New York, and it's almost certainly American forces keeping them where they are. Matt would need to look into the legality, but he might be able to get them out somehow.
“No. They're calling it protective custody. Something's up with Steve Rogers and a few of the other Avengers and the Sokovia Accords, I think they're trying to cut off all the people he might contact to go to ground or to bring the Winter Soldier in to go to ground. Not that I'd let an assassin anywhere near Aunt Angie.”
“You don't need me to try to get you out?”
“You can't punch the whole American military.”
Matt pauses, stung. “I was going to try to use the law.”
“Good to know you at least sometimes remember you're qualified to do that.”
For once, he doesn't want to fight, or at least it's not the first thing he wants to do. He's angry at Foggy for not understanding Matt when he seems to understand the Avengers, for not even trying to understand, but today he's worried. He can set the anger aside. “I'm glad you're safe. If you got hurt again, I don't know—”
“You'd feel guilty and decide that punching something about it was more important than coming to visit me, like you did last time. And the time before that.”
“That's not fair. Just because you didn't see me at the hospital when you were shot doesn't mean I wasn't there. I was listening from the roof, making sure you were safe.”
There's a long, long pause, and then Foggy breathes in. It's shaky. “I don't have supersenses, Matt. You get that, right? That normal people don't?”
“Of course I do.”
“So that means I didn't know you were there.”
“You didn't need to. I was keeping you safe.”
“Yeah, I did. I can't smell you from a hundred yards or hear your heartbeat from a hospital roof, Jesus. I don't know when you're there unless you tell me. And I was waiting to hear … I was waiting for you to show that our partnership mattered to you a little. That's what I needed. And a visit would have been better, but if you'd just said you were keeping silent watch on the roof like a fucking gargoyle or something, I would have taken that. It would have been nice to know.”
Matt can give Foggy honesty about this. “I didn't deserve that.”
“What? Fuck what you deserved, I deserved that. You don't visit someone in the hospital for you, you do it for them.” Foggy sighs. “But I guess by then you'd already decided you didn't want to get my hopes up about being friends and partners again.”
“You were already halfway out the door.”
“So were you! You dumped Frank Castle in my lap and washed your hands of all of it just because Elektra was back in town.”
Sometimes the grief takes Matt's legs out from under him. He's glad he's already sitting. “Please don't bring Elektra into this.”
“Okay.” Something is rustling on Foggy's end of the phone. Matt wonders if he's tipped his head back, if he's slumped on a couch like he likes to be in the evenings, if he was scared when he was told he can't come home, that he and Angie are stuck in an apartment that's breaking Angie's heart until the government says otherwise. “Okay.”
Matt lets himself breathe. “I trusted you with the Castle case. I knew you'd do well. That's the reason I could walk away and do what needed to be done about the Hand.”
“I know you think you're complimenting me,” Foggy says. “We'll call this a good note to end the conversation on, since I don't even want to address the 'needed to be done' thing right now. I've got to go check on Angie.”
“But it's not a good note,” Matt says, too fast. “Of course it's a compliment. You're an amazing lawyer.” He can ignore Foggy's needling about whether Matt needed to take on the Hand or not if Foggy can. They don't need to have another argument right now.
“For a case I never once wanted to take on. You were all about defending the innocent when we started this firm, and you talked me around on it, and then you dumped a mass murderer in my lap and walked away. Sure, the case made my reputation, but I got shot because of it. I'd rather be poor and un-shot and still with you.”
“With me as long as I'm not Daredevil. As long as I'm who I was when I wasn't telling the whole truth, and that's why I never did. You say you want honesty, but when I'm honest, you hate me.”
“Jesus, is that what you think?”
“Can you tell me any different?”
The silence is long enough that the sounds of New York seep into Matt's awareness again, his neighbors moving around their apartments, an argument down on the street. “I guess I have faith that yeah, maybe you were lying, but that it was lies of omission and not you pretending to be a completely different person. You're still Matt. So no, I don't hate you.”
“But you hate Daredevil.”
“Same way you'd hate me taking up … I don't know. Smoking. Something that was going to inevitably kill me that you couldn't see the appeal of in the first place. I'm trying … I'm trying to remember that Daredevil and Matt Murdock are the same person.”
Matt isn't always sure of that. Isn't always sure that the Matt Murdock Foggy has known for so long is him, when he feels so much more real and himself when he can let his senses loose and make real change as Daredevil. “It's not some bad habit. If you could hear everyone screaming, every night, all the people in the city screaming and crying, and you could stop it, would it feel like a bad habit?”
“If the impulse to fix things was the problem, Matt, I wouldn't have left L and Z. The problem is the violence, and the fact that if you get caught I'm going down with you, new job or not.” Foggy hums a little. “And the lying. Honestly, buddy, you shot yourself in the foot there. It's the whole boiling-frog problem. If you'd told me about the senses and punching ability in school, before you put it into practice, I would have thought it was cool and hooked you up with Aunt Peggy and her people when you decided you wanted to be Batman and then none of this would be a problem.”
“You don't think that's a little hypocritical?” Matt asks, honestly curious. Foggy is starting to sound a little ragged at the edges. It's not very late in England, but it must be evening, and he must have had to reassure his parents that he's safe, maybe Karen. He must be tired, but he's thinking through this with Matt, talking through it.
“Probably it is. But it kind of works out for you, doesn't it? If you want it to. It's always been the lying that's the biggest problem. The feeling like I don't know you. I've told you that. I don't relish the prospect of going to jail for aiding and abetting your numerous crimes, but I'm trying to handle that. I just can't handle it if you're lying all the time.”
Matt doesn't know how to promise honesty. Since the accident, nobody's known all of him. Maybe Elektra, though she never understood that the parts of himself that try desperately to be a good friend to Foggy, the parts that smile and solve problems in the daylight and enjoy family holidays, aren't wholly an act. Maybe Stick, who understood that they're real parts of Matt but thought Matt was weak because of it. “The truth is going to make you unhappy.”
“Yeah, because I'm so happy now, with all the lies.”
“You were happy before. Before you found out.”
Foggy takes a long time to consider that. “Yes,” he finally says. “If this was my perfect world, you would just be my friend and law partner, lady-killer extraordinaire, the guy who bought me four kinds of juice whenever I was sick because you knew I like variety, and there would be no more to the story. Or maybe you'd have your superpowers, because I don't want to take that away from you, but you would have told me about them when we decided we were actually friends for real. But it's years too late for that, and the cat is out of the bag, so what you're really saying is you think I'll be happy if I just stick my head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend it's not happening, which is definitely not true.”
“You're safer if you know less. You're safer when I'm not around you.”
“No, I'm not,” says Foggy, and it's gentle, but there's steel behind it. “I'm not safe right now, for instance, for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Keeping me safe is a bullshit excuse.”
Matt could argue. If Foggy cut all ties now, he would be safe. If Matt gets caught, and there's nothing between them, Foggy won't be arrested or disbarred, won't have his life ruined by Matt's choices. But Foggy has walked out twice and come back once and now he's talking like he wants Matt around him somehow again. The trouble is that Foggy has the right to demand a few things from him—honesty, which Matt can try to be better at, and his own safety, which Matt can't promise as long as he's Daredevil—and Matt doesn't know how to reconcile that with what he needs to do. “I don't know what to do,” he finally admits.
“Well, what do you want?”
A hundred contradictory things. “I don't know.”
“So figure it out. I've got to go. Angie is making a lot of noise in the kitchen, so I think she wants to complain again that nobody has respect for the elderly and also that British coffee is terrible, and then probably she'll mutter dire things about my Uncle Nick again.”
“Okay. Let me know if you need anything.” Matt swallows. “Thank you for talking.”
There's a long pause. “Night, Matt.”
Matt waits a long time before he goes out to patrol the city, just thinking about what he wants, what he can ask, chasing his thoughts around in circles until he needs to go out to where he always feels like he knows what he needs to do next.
WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN? reads the headline of the post Karen writes for the Bulletin blog when all its writers are doing opinion pieces on the Sokovia Accords. Matt listens to the whole article, the closest he can get to asking for Karen's advice when she's still not speaking to him no matter how many stories he gives her.
“Maybe without oversight, the Avengers are only vigilantes,” she writes. “But New York has vigilantes who aren't Tony Stark, and while their methods aren't always right, they're the ones watching over the city, finding corruption, finding the people who hurt others, and stopping them. If people with such a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong, don't have the right to make their own decisions, who could possibly have the right to oversee them?”
The Bugle's editor thinks that even the Sokovia Accords are too kind, that the Avengers should be shut down for good and locked up and that New York's vigilantes are no better.
A politician says smugly in a speech that all the Avengers besides the worst of them are American citizens and he thinks the UN should stay out of American affairs.
A talk radio host, her voice low and fierce, says that there are things that politicians can never understand, that no one who isn't right there on the ground could understand or believe, and that oversight is a nice dream but not one that can ever work out in reality, not with the world the way it is.
Matt wonders sometimes if he should let someone hold him back and let him go, let someone else make the decisions about the battles he fights with him. He's wondered if he should make that offer to Foggy, to Karen, to Claire. Foggy would try to hold him back too much, he thinks, and Karen doesn't fight the same way he does. Claire could do it, but she won't want to, and he wouldn't dare ask, in the end. More than that, he doesn't want to ask any of them. Matt isn't making these decisions without thought. Foggy would scoff, but Matt knows every law and ordinance and commandment he breaks as Daredevil. He chooses to break them every time, because they're less important than the people he helps.
Captain America, always Matt's best chance of making Foggy understand what he's doing and why, is on the run because he's choosing a friend over the laws and ideals he's upheld for so long.
Matt doesn't know what it means for him, if it means anything. Like the rest of the world, he waits avidly for any scrap of news he can get about the way the Avengers are tearing themselves and each other apart.
“He's napping,” says Angie when she picks up the phone. “Hello, Matthew.”
Matt freezes, but Angie has always seemed to like him. There's no reason to assume she's angry with him. At least not more angry than he deserves. “Ms. Martinelli. I'm sorry for your loss.”
“I've been losing her for years. It's almost a relief. This is as lost as she's going to get for me, unless my memory starts going too.”
He can't begin to think of what to say to that. “Are the two of you okay there? Is Foggy okay? He doesn't usually nap.”
“He doesn't usually yell at covert operatives either,” Angie says, dry and no doubt knowing that Matt's heart is suddenly in triple drive. “He's not arrested or injured, just pissed off, and by napping I mostly mean he's sulking in the bedroom. If he hears me talking too long, he'll probably come out and take the phone.”
“From what they're saying, the threat is over. Are they going to let you come back to the States soon?”
“Captain America is still in the wind, but I think at this point they're pretty sure I'm not colluding with him.” She snorts. “Unless he wants stage makeup as a disguise, I don't think he'd get much good out of me, and I don't think he knows who Foggy is to ask for his help.”
“Do you think Foggy would do it?” Matt asks, and hates himself for asking.
Angie knows. She hasn't said it in so many words, but she's made it clear enough that she didn't have to. “Defend him if he asked? Yes. Probably mostly as practice for you.”
Matt winces. Angie's always been kind to him, but she's on Foggy's side, and not afraid to let him know it. “I would never ask him to do that.”
“That's probably pissing him off more than you asking him to would,” she points out, like he doesn't already know that.
“Every option I have would piss him off except the one I can't do. Am I supposed to spend my life picking the option that will make him the least angry at me?” Matt can't do that. Won't do it. Foggy is important to him, and Matt would do a lot for him, but he can't spend his life second-guessing. “I'm trying to make sure he's safe. You must appreciate that.”
To his surprise, Angie laughs. “Peg tried to pull that shit with me a few times. Worried I'd be in trouble if anyone figured out what she did for a living, told me I should take more jobs away from her, said it was all about my career, but I knew.”
Matt isn't stupid enough to think she's just telling this story because she wants to. This is advice or a warning, and he just has to figure out which. “What did you do?”
“Laughed at her when she was just worrying about it. Yelled at her when she actually tried to do something about it.” She sighs. “Left her for a while. In the fifties. Lost about six months filming on location in Canada when we argued about whether me being famous could hurt her if she ended up in a paparazzi shot.”
“I don't know what you're trying to tell me,” he admits. Sometimes it's best just to say that.
“That it's hard. That we fought all the time about it and that I resented the hell out of her job for taking over our lives when mine was important too and that she resented me for liking the public eye when she wanted to be out of it, but that I ...” Her voice creaks, gives out, and Matt bows his head. Angie loves Foggy so much that she's talking about this now, just days after the death of her partner. The least he can do is listen. “I always loved her, and she always loved me, and we decided that mattered more over and over again, so we fixed it.”
Matt wants to say it's not as easy as that, but he's a lawyer. She's framed a neat argument. If he says it's not so easy to fix things with Foggy, he's saying that their differences matter more than their friendship, and he doesn't want to believe that, even if its how it feels right now. “It doesn't fit that neatly. There's no way to make both of us happy. We've been talking, and I don't know how to do it.”
“Not everyone gets to be happy all the time.”
“He'll be miserable because I'm doing things he doesn't approve of, and I'll never feel comfortable around my best friend.”
“And of course, right now he's not miserable and you're completely comfortable.” That's pointed enough to make Matt flinch. “I'm not going to tell you what to do. Hell, he might be happier if he moves on sometime, gives up the way you want him to. And maybe you'll be happier without anyone to pull you back.”
No matter how much he tries (and he tries, Matt won't pretend otherwise), he can't imagine being happier in the long-term without Foggy. He'd be happiest with Foggy supporting him and not asking too many questions, but even the wary truce they'd reached with Matt sharing bare details before Frank Castle declared war was better than this, being awkward acquaintances with someone he loves. “I don't know if happiness is the most important thing,” Matt finally says.
“Kid, I am over ninety years old. It's not the only important thing, but it's more important than you think it is right now.”
Before he has to try to answer that, there are noises on her end of the phone, Foggy's voice, muffled through the phone line—Angie's voice, when she speaks, is muffled too, probably by her hand on the receiver, and he catches a bit of it: his own name, her voice tilting into a question at the end, and a much clearer “Fine” that's the last thing he hears before Foggy takes the phone. “Matt, sorry, I left my phone out here when I went to nap. Everything okay?”
“Yes, I—I heard that most of the Avengers are in custody. Not Captain Rogers, but the others who refused to sign the Accords and fought on his side. Does that mean you're coming home soon?”
“Probably later this week, from what it sounds like. How are things there? Marci's been briefing me on my cases but not on much else, and Karen called and ranted about the Accords, but again, not much information.”
“I don't know what kind of information you want. It's been … people have been stressed. Not everyone thought the Avengers were heroes, but now there's even less trust, when they've been fighting each other.”
Foggy hums. “Can't blame them. I think Angie is ready to give Captain America a piece of her mind if he ever shows up looking for her.” He raises his voice. “Not that he will, creepy people who are inevitably spying on us.”
That's a joke. Hopefully. Matt doesn't want to think about all the incriminating things he and Foggy have said over the phone. “Has she ever really met him?”
“Briefly. He kind of knows who she was to English, but he's been pretty busy. Angie will probably try to summon him when he's not a fugitive anymore—hey, abuse! A guy could get a paper cut, getting swatted with a magazine.” Foggy's relaxed around all his family, but there's something singular about his tone when he's with Angie that shows just how close they were for all of Foggy's childhood. “Hold on, Matt, she's a shameless eavesdropper, I'm going into my bedroom.”
There are a few more muffled noises, and then the decisive sound of a door shutting and laughter from both sides of it, Angie's loud and a little scratchy, Foggy's quiet, directly into the phone speaker. “When I was asking about the city I was mostly making sure you aren't on some new punching crusade.”
It's too light, misses the mark the same way Foggy's attempts at understanding Daredevil have for almost a year now, but Matt will take it. It means he's trying, and Matt has to try in return. “No,” he says, and forces himself to keep going. “There's something going on with people who have been released from the prison lately, but it's not hurting anyone yet, so I haven't looked much. I've caught a few criminals talking about other people like me, keeping an eye on things in New York.”
“Funny you should mention that. I'd tell you something about that, but unfortunately for you I still have something resembling legal ethics and you are no longer part of my attorney client privilege.”
Matt grits his teeth. Foggy is still trying to keep it light. He doesn't want to have another protracted argument about secrets and ethics and all the ways they've disappointed each other recently, and Matt doesn't have the right to bring it up until he knows what he wants. “Just tell me you're safe.”
“As safe as I've ever been,” says Foggy, which isn't comforting and isn't meant to be.
They don't talk for long. They're both tired, and they don't have much to say, stumbling around the gaps they're leaving to keep the peace.
When they hang up, Matt sits on his couch for longer than he'd like to admit, thinking about what would make him happy, what would make Foggy happy, and wondering if there's ever going to be a way to reconcile the two.
“I'm glad you're coming home. Work must be happy.”
“Yeah. One of our regular clients is a little bit arrested right now and she's on my roster, so Hogarth will be glad to hand her back off to me.”
Matt wants to ask, but he doesn't want to fight either. Foggy will protect his client list, and Matt can't blame him for that even if he's heard about every single one of Foggy's cases, theoretical and real, since they've been in law school. “Thank you for letting me know,” he says instead.
“Matt.” Foggy sighs. “I know you've been worried. I'm not enough of a dick to let you think I'm in London for the next five years. Or find out I didn't bother to tell you when you eavesdrop on my heartbeat by accident and get all hurt about it. I'm being the bigger man, here. Volunteering information.”
“I miss you,” Matt snaps, because that isn't fair. “Is that volunteering enough information for you?”
“You don't have to be missing me. That's the problem. You're missing me because you want to be.”
“I don't want to be. I never wanted to be. But you're safer, and even if you weren't ...” Matt swallows. Foggy says he wants honesty. “Even if you weren't, I don't know if I can be around you if you're always telling me what I'm doing is illegal and that it's going to hurt me. I know that. I still think what I'm doing is right.”
That's the bridge they can't cross, the stalemate Matt can't imagine breaking, because Matt will always think that he's doing the right thing and Foggy will always think he's doing the wrong one. “Maybe in a vacuum, yeah,” Foggy says, shocking him into sitting up straight. “If you divorce it from the rest of your life and the law, it makes sense. And even the law … I don't know. I don't think it's right, but the law sure isn't right all the time. We know that. The problems start coming with the fact that you've still got a life to live. Friends who could be hurt by this. If someone figures out who you are, Karen and I are going to be in danger. Maybe my family too. Probably Claire. That's just the truth.”
“I'll protect you. You know I would.”
“No, I don't,” says Foggy, and it hurts worse because it's gentle. “You can't sense everything coming, and if it's between one of us and the city … I never want to know the answer to that question. And you probably don't either.”
Matt has had nightmares about that very thing. He's not sure if he wakes up unhappier after the ones where he lets Foggy and Karen die or the ones where he lets Hell's Kitchen burn. “This is why I said you deserve better.”
“I probably do. But so did Angie. It's not … it's not a perfect analogy. English had a support system behind her. She wasn't trying to protect her family on her own. And she wasn't as flashy as you are.”
“And we're something different to each other than they were.”
“I don't think you matter any less to me than English matters to Angie. The rest is just semantics.”
Matt could double over with the pain of that, and he thinks Foggy didn't even mean it to hurt. “If you didn't matter to me I wouldn't worry about you.”
“We'll ignore how much bullshit that is. You try to rescue people you've never met and people you don't really like all the time.”
“But I don't spend years with them. I … you can accuse me of whatever you want. Some of it is even fair. But you should at least believe that you matter to me more than almost anyone else.” That makes his sins against Foggy worse, in some ways, but Matt needs to say it anyway. His attempts to be selfless only go so far.
“That says a lot of sad things about how much you must lie to people you don't care about, but I know you mean that well, so, you know. Thanks.”
Matt grits his teeth. “Haven't you ever not known how to tell the truth to someone about something big, even when you knew they deserved it? There's no good point between not trusting them enough and trusting them completely, no moment that won't hurt them.”
“We keep having this argument. It's possible we'll have it until one of us dies.”
“Do you think it's even possible to fix this?” Matt asks, and he hates how small his voice sounds, how it seems to shake on the line all the way across the Atlantic. “I still don't know if I should try. No matter how much we care about each other, you deserve better. I'm always going to be this.”
He doesn't want to spend his life making Foggy sound tired and resigned the way he sounds when he answers. “And I'm always going to think that you're hurting more than you're helping with this. Yourself, your friends. Even the city. Where does that leave us?”
This is the longest Matt has gone without hearing Foggy's heartbeat since they met. Even the past few months, when they've barely been acquaintances, Hell's Kitchen is small enough that Matt hears him on patrol at least once a week. Foggy knows and believes in all the lightest and happiest parts of Matt, and it's an addictive feeling when Matt spends most of his time feeling close to drowning in his own anger and frustration. Even losing Foggy as much as he's already lost him feels like he's ripped his own heart out. He thinks of that and takes a breath. “Is there a way I could do it that wouldn't make you feel like that?”
“I don't know. But I'll think about it.”
That seems like there's all to be said for right now. Matt starts making excuses, and they're off the phone in less than a minute.
Matt braces himself. “What's the question?”
“Why didn't you go into prosecution?” Matt pauses, thrown, and Foggy continues. “We're defense lawyers, but it seems to me that you're more about punishing the guilty than giving the innocent a fair shot these days. I know you like your noble causes, but you'd be a vicious DA someday. You wouldn't let yourself be bought off, you'd be able to put away the people you're angry with. It seems like an option to me. One I'm surprised you didn't take.”
Sometimes Matt wonders that, and then he and Foggy go up against yet another ambitious DA and he sees all the compromises they have to make, how many people go free because they have the money for it and how many people spend their lives in jail because someone needed to take the blame or for even worse reasons than that. “I want to do both. Help the good and punish the bad. The good, I can help them by keeping them out of jail for something that shouldn't be a crime. The bad … sometimes the law can't reach them.”
“And that's your decision to make?”
“Not every police officer is Brett. Not every judge upholds the ideals of the justice system in our nation.”
“I know that. Look, there are problems in the city the law can't solve, but in the long term, fists aren't going to solve them either. You want to know how to make me more comfortable with this? For everyone you put in the hospital, you do something, in or out of the mask, to try to make someone less likely to commit a crime in the first place. Convince a kid out making trouble to call his parents, ask a mugger why he's doing it instead of breaking his nose, I don't know.”
It's a tempting proposition, but “I'm not built for that,” Matt admits, forcing the words out. “I get so angry, and it's all there, I'm hearing it all, I just have to make it stop sometimes.”
“I'm not expecting immediate change. And of course you're built for it, Matt.”
“That's you. I told you.”
“It's really not.” Foggy sounds like he's smiling, somehow. “I'm extremely mercenary. I like helping the helpless, but I also really like not starving. You would live like a Catholic martyr if you could take on yet another hopeless cause.”
Matt is too raw to explain how much Foggy's warmth means to Matt and to everyone he meets, how Matt may have a fierce need to do good but Foggy seems to do it naturally, even when he can be occasionally selfish like anyone is. “I don't know if I can do things the way you want.”
“I'm not expecting a complete turn-around or a miracle. I know how slow fixing things for real goes. Cities or friendships. But I want it to be an option.”
“I'll think about it,” says Matt, and thinks that he really will. He doesn't know if he'll be able to do it in reality, but he won't dismiss Foggy's idea when Foggy is trying.
“You do that,” says Foggy, and changes the subject to how mad Angie is at everyone on the Avengers except Thor, who isn't involved in the in-fighting and apparently seems like a nice boy and also has a nice ass.
He forces himself past it and wonders if he could ever bear to do that on a regular basis now that he's been Daredevil for so long.
Tonight, he listens for something he can stop before it starts. Something that will make a lasting difference, not just one night of it.
There's a woman crying while a man screams at her only a few buildings away, and when the man goes out on the fire escape Matt goes and sits above him and describes all the ways Daredevil could hurt him if he ever thinks about laying a finger on his girlfriend. “Learn to control your temper or stop dating anyone until you do,” he snaps over the bluster he gets in return. “I know about being angry. Only I'm more likely to get angry at you. Aren't you glad I didn't lose my temper?”
It's not what Foggy really meant, he knows that. Still, when he goes home and finds a voicemail from Foggy telling him that Captain America has resurfaced in Wakanda and that he's finally coming home, it feels like a reward for making an effort.
For a few seconds, Matt is angry, upset that Foggy didn't call him as soon as he got home the way he would have a year ago. That's not fair, though, and he knows it. They may be trying to be friends again, but Foggy has work to catch up on, and just because Angie is at home again doesn't mean she won't need Foggy's support and attention.
He wants to shake Foggy awake and tell him that he's missed him, that he's glad he's home and sorry about Peggy's death. He wants to say that he can hear a lot but he can't hear a tipping point, a moment when he could make a real difference, and that the guesswork is already a hundred times harder than what he was doing before. He wants to stay on the roof and listen to Foggy's heartbeat for the rest of the night.
Instead, when he gets home, he dictates a text, since Foggy's always had it set that Matt's calls will ring and he doesn't want to either wake him or find out that Foggy took him off that list. Heard you tonight. Welcome home. Call me if you'd like to.
He wakes up to a voicemail received before six in the morning. “Hey, thanks for the message. Sorry I'm still incommunicado. Catching up on way too much work right now, and the rest of the family wants to see me and Angie is … things are tough for her. Maybe we can catch up this weekend? Breakfast or something.”
It's more than Matt has a right to.
“Thank you,” says Matt when he makes it over and into an empty chair at the right table, and hopes Foggy knows that it's for lying for him, and for being willing to see him, and for a hundred other reasons.
There's a pause. “You're welcome,” says Foggy, and it's not the “Anytime, buddy” Foggy usually responds to him with, but Matt can't blame him for withholding that implied promise. “There's a braille menu right in front of you.” He makes a thoughtful noise. “Do you ever order by smell?”
Matt grins. “All the time. I wouldn't try the home fries, but the bread for their toast is good, and the vegetables for their omelets are fresh.”
It might be too much. He kept his observations to himself as much as he could after Foggy found out, because everything that reminded Foggy of how long he'd lied made him upset. This time, there's a beat of unhappiness Matt can put together from heartbeat and Foggy's awkward shifting, and then, like a miracle, it evens out. “Okay, good to know I should just make you order for me every time we eat together.”
The waitress comes over then, and Matt makes a show out of feeling the menu and asking about specials. Both of them order omelets, and Matt tries not to read too much into it.
He waits until she's out of the way, off telling one of her co-workers that the men in the corner seem to be having an awkward date. Matt can shrug that off. It's not the first time he's heard that assumption about the two of them, usually when Foggy is leading him. “How's Angie?” he asks, before the silence between them can stretch out.
Foggy sighs. “Not great, honestly. Mom is visiting her a lot now that we're back in the city, and the rest of the Martinelli side of the family is taking shifts too, but that's mostly just pissing her off. She keeps saying that English is probably glad to be in whatever kind of afterlife there is, where she can be herself again, but, well. She misses her.”
“Of course.” Matt clears his throat. “I can go visit her. If she wants to see me.”
“She'll like that. She said you guys had a good talk, that one night you called.”
“She wants you to be happy.” She thinks Matt makes him happy, or that he could. Matt doesn't know how to say that when it's so untrue lately. “I'll stop by sometime.”
Foggy sounds like he's smiling. That's a relief. “Fair warning, it's an assisted living home and it smells like it even to me. You're going to want to go in there with a gas mask.”
Institutional smells are some of the worst. They always make him think of the hospital after his accident, his father whispering with the doctors about insurance and not knowing Matt could hear every word of his worries. They make him think of miserable years in school when he could hear and smell more than he ever wanted to know, and dining halls he only ever really learned to navigate with Foggy's help because the smells were too piled on top of each other. He hasn't spent much time in senior citizens' homes, but he already knows Foggy is right. “I'll keep it in mind.”
“Great. Go on Bingo night, I shouldn't be the only one constantly getting his ass pinched there.” Foggy pauses to consider that. “Well, Angie sometimes defends my honor, she probably wouldn't defend yours. So maybe not on Bingo night.”
Foggy is trying. He's trying so hard to be light and conciliatory, and all Matt can do is clumsily blurt “I've been trying what you said I should. Trying to stop things before they start. It's not … I don't know if I've managed it. But I want you to know I tried.”
Foggy sits back in his chair. Matt listens to it creaking, listens to their waitress taking bets with her co-worker about whether they're exes or a new relationship and whether one of them is going to leave before their food is delivered. “Okay,” he finally says. There's an edge of tears in his voice, but not the kind that Matt is coming to be terrified of. More the kind of tears Foggy pretends aren't welling when something good happens to him. “Thank you. If you … if you keep trying, I'd like that. Is there anything I can do to try and make this less likely to happen again?”
Matt frowns, a little startled. “You're already trying. You're … I don't agree with what you think of what I'm doing, but I acknowledge that you're already giving me a lot of ground not cutting me off while I do this.”
“If this is you doing penance and me changing nothing for the rest of our lives, I'm going to get really uncomfortable with it. I'm going to ask you for a lot. Like you promising not to lie to me about important things anymore, for real this time. And like you taking a night off once in a while. You can ask for something.”
That's a harder question than Matt was expecting. “I don't know what I can ask you for except your understanding, and you can't force that.”
“And I don't know if it's something I can reasonably offer you.” Matt wants to snap a little, to say he's not sure if he can reasonably offer nights off or unalloyed honesty, but that's not going to help. “Look, you don't have to say anything right now. But if there's anything I can do to make you safer, to give us a prayer of getting out of this with our lives and careers intact … let me know.”
Matt pulls his napkin into his lap so Foggy won't see him fidgeting with it under the table, and ducks his head so he doesn't have to bother wondering what his face is giving away. They both know that he could tell if Foggy were lying about this, the way he would be lying if he said that he understands and approves of Daredevil. This isn't just an offer to make him feel less guilty. Matt swallows. “Sometimes, I might … I might need an alibi. I'm sorry.”
“Practical,” says Foggy after a deep breath. “Okay. We'll work out the details on that one in private.”
Before they can lapse into awkward silence, the waitress comes with their food, and when she leaves, Foggy changes the subject, talks about Karen's latest investigation (Matt knows a little about it, but Karen is really only letting him see her when he has information for her right now, and he knows he wants to mend things with her someday too, but for now Foggy is the priority) and how he's settling back in at work and how his family is doing. Matt follows his lead, and it doesn't feel like their usual conversations (this is the most they've had to catch up on since they first became roommates), but it feels good. He feels steadier, like the pavement beneath him had been swaying a little without him realizing and now it's firmed up.
They don't linger long after they finish eating. Foggy says he needs to visit Angie and Matt doesn't offer to go along. They aren't ready for that.
“Thank you for meeting me,” Foggy says when they get outside after a comfortingly familiar argument over the bill (Foggy ended up paying, because Matt didn't have the heart to pull out his financial trump card, the inheritance from Elektra. That wound is raw, and may be that way for a long time).
“Thank you. We'll … I'll think. If there's anything else.”
“And so will I.”
Matt stays where he is and listens to Foggy's steps retreat after they say goodbye, and Foggy doesn't take out his phone and call someone, doesn't say anything to himself, just walks slowly away until he melts into the crowd as Matt loses track of him.
“Definitely a date,” the waitress is saying to her friend inside. “Look at the smile on the blind guy's face out there, he just got another one. Kind of surprising, it didn't seem like it was going that well.”
Matt has been hearing the assumptions for years. He's been shrugging them off for years. It doesn't matter more this time than it did any of the other times.
The comforting and rhythmic thump of a softball against skin, off-beat with footsteps on a floor. Foggy's familiar voice. “The Sokovia Accords have set a dangerous—the Sokovia Accords have been on the minds of the whole world.” Matt pauses on Foggy's roof, when he'd meant just to pass over on his way across the city. “They're born of years of thinking. It's thinking we had to start doing when a hole opened up in the sky and changed everything. It's thinking we should have been doing the second Tony Stark held his historic press conference, or maybe before that, when Iron Man showed up in the first place.” A dramatic pause. “We all want heroes. We want the world to be like a comic book, where one person is good and another person is evil, and where there's always someone to stand up for justice for the people who don't get it in courtrooms like these.”
Matt's breathing is shaky. He's crouched to obscure his shape on the roof and his hands are clenched so hard on his knees he's afraid he'll leave bruises even through the armor.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Foggy is thinking, reasoning this out. “Vigilantism is illegal. It's written in our law books and now there's a UN resolution saying the same thing. No one person can be allowed to make decisions about what's right and wrong unless they've been duly appointed for that purpose. That's the law. We have our heroes, and they're the policemen who make arrests, the firefighters who keep our city safe, the men and women of the armed forces who keep our country safe.”
Matt's heart is in his throat. He knows this tone, knows Foggy is going to turn this around somehow. He just doesn't know what he's doing, in his apartment alone, saying all of this.
“But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that world is more of a fiction than the comic books that seem increasingly like reality. I'm not here today to say that the man in front of you hasn't broken the law. I'm saying that this is a man who has stood in courtrooms like this for years, hearing how little he can do to help the people who really need it, and who rose up and did his best to become a hero, because we need one.”
He's putting together a defense. Not for one of his cases, not for work, but for Matt. Maybe it's in preparation for the day Matt is arrested. Maybe he's judge and jury himself, as well as defense and prosecution.
Matt stays and listens, but Foggy doesn't continue with his opening statement. After ten minutes of pacing and throwing his softball, Foggy sits down on his couch with a sigh. “Shit,” he says, and doesn't say anything else until Matt leaves.
“Hello,” she says with some surprise once he's been delivered. “Bethany on duty down there said I have some handsome company, but they say that about every man under the age of fifty who's not Foggy.”
“Don't they think Foggy's handsome?”
“Mostly they think he's a pain in the ass, he brings me contraband. Come on in, kid, sit down. Forgive me if I don't get up, I'm still recovering from all the traveling and stress. Also, watch yourself, I'm pretty sure one of the new orderlies is spying on me to make sure Captain America doesn't come to say hello.”
Matt smiles. “I'm sure no one could mistake me for Captain America.”
“Maybe it's a clever disguise. Sit down, I could hurt my neck looking at you.” Matt does, feeling his way to the chair she doesn't direct him to, and listens as she lets out a shallow sigh. Everything about her sounds thin and fragile, from her breath to her heartbeat to the creak of a joint as she settles into her rocking chair. “Getting old is for the birds, Matthew. I don't recommend it.”
Matt thinks about his father, and thinks about how sometimes after a rough night, Matt wakes up and every single painful breath feels like a blessing because he wasn't sure he would get another one when he fell asleep. “The alternative isn't very good either.”
He doesn't know what Angie is thinking about in the ten quiet seconds that follow, but she breaks the silence with “You're right.” Before he can apologize for being macabre, she speaks again, tone brisk, the way he's used to hearing it. “So, to what do I owe the honor?”
“I wanted to check in on you, and to give you my condolences in person. I know how much she meant to you.”
“People here keep asking where I was like they thought maybe I was visiting my grandkids in Florida, and I have to keep telling them my wife died. And she wasn't even really my wife.” Matt has no idea what to say to that, and some of his helplessness must show on his face, because when she speaks again, her tone is dry. “You don't have to comfort me, kid. At my age, I'm used to it.”
Matt lets a little time pass in silence. “Foggy and I are trying to fix things,” he finally says. “I don't know if he would have told you, and I think you would want to know.”
“You'd be right about that. With Peg gone … he's probably the person I love most. Don't tell his mother that. I just want him happy. You understand?”
“No one can make each other happy all the time.” Matt swallows. “I can't promise that. But I'm trying.”
“Is he trying?” She laughs at him when he rears back a little at that, surprised. “I may like him better, but that means I expect him to behave like an adult. Is he trying?”
Matt thinks about the defense he heard, and about Foggy's grudging offer of an alibi, the concessions and effort he's making even as he demands more from Matt than Matt thinks he can give. “He's trying.”
Angie grunts a little, shifting until she can lean forward and catch Matt's hand between hers. He can feel the pulse through her fragile, papery skin, and it makes him freeze the same way he froze when someone put a Nelson baby in his arms for the first time. “Then you'll be fine.”
They sit there without talking for a long time. The smell is overwhelming enough to give Matt the beginnings of a headache, and all throughout the building people are living their lives, but Matt sits there and lets Angie hold his hand and hopes he's comforting her at least half as much as she's comforting him.
For once, Foggy talks about work. Not about cases, but about his fellow lawyers, watercooler stories like he used to tell at L and Z, when Matt always stayed in their closet for lunch and Foggy went out and met people. He talks about a private investigator who usually ends up making their work harder (Matt can almost hear the omissions, the places where Foggy is leaving things out to make for a better story, but he ignores them), about Marci and the flirtation she seems to be having with someone who works in the office building next door (he doesn't seem to have much regret about it, but Matt carefully doesn't ask), about the receptionist and the epic love affair she's having with one of the IT workers.
“Do you ever miss Nelson and Murdock?” Matt asks, and winces as soon as he's said it.
“All the time,” says Foggy, like it's easy to say. “But I know we can't do it again.”
Of course they can't. There are a hundred reasons, and Matt can list them all. “I'm sorry.”
“Do you miss it?” Foggy sounds honestly curious, and that stings.
“Of course I do.” He could leave it there, but he's trying to tell as much truth as he can, and Foggy deserves this. “I know you think I abandoned you on Frank's case. Maybe I did. But what we did, helping people, even if we weren't making enough money … that was what I wanted. If … if the city were safe, if Daredevil's job were over, that's the life I would want to live. With you, helping everyone we can.”
He can almost, almost picture how it could be, if he didn't feel the pull of the city, the need for direct action, if he didn't have the devil inside him, sometimes barely on a leash. He can picture hanging up the armor in some distant future and having Foggy and a normal life. Morning coffees and client meetings and evenings spent together, sometimes with friends. Some things that he persists in imagining won't happen—Karen won't come back to being their secretary, not with the career she has ahead of her—but it could be a good future.
“Maybe someday when I've made all my filthy defending-shitty-people money, I'll retire young and open up Nelson and Murdock again,” Foggy says, like he's thinking about the same thing.
Matt usually doesn't think about the future in the same careful superstitious way people don't talk about wishes they make on birthday candles or a hundred other things. Tonight, though, he's letting himself, and he's having trouble thinking of a future that doesn't have Foggy in it. Not a good one, anyway. “I'll be there. I don't know what I'll do in the meantime, but when you want to open our doors again, I'll be there.”
“Probably sell your hot body for money,” says Foggy. It's a half-hearted joke, like he's testing the waters to see if Matt is done with the conversation.
“That would probably get me disbarred faster than the vigilantism.”
Foggy laughs and taps his beer bottle against Matt's before he sobers again. “You're okay for money, though? I know you're not really working right now.”
“Ah. Say no more.” They'll have to talk about Elektra sometime, probably, but Matt is glad for the reprieve tonight. He doesn't know how much about the end of things Foggy knows or has figured out, but the death of a diplomat's daughter under suspicious circumstances made a few papers.
“I might try to find a job in public defense or legal aid soon. For something to do during daylight hours,” Matt makes himself say. “Can't pick and choose the innocent ones there, but it's something to do.”
He can almost hear all the comments Foggy bites down about how Matt's next co-workers won't be as understanding as he was about all the times Matt will be late, will show up with bruises or cuts he can't quite cover with his suits. “It's good for you. Maybe sometime you'll get reminded that just because someone's making some shitty choices right now doesn't mean they're always horrible.”
“I know that. When I get my choice, it's people like Fisk I take on. The people who are choosing to hurt people, who are hurting a lot of people.”
“And I know that. You're pretty much the definition of punching above your weight.” Foggy turns a little on his couch. It doesn't creak like the old one. Matt is still getting used to the absence of sound, the different cues he has to pick up on. “I respect that. If I thought all you did was punch people down on their luck or otherwise likely to get picked up by the cops, I would be less terrified and more annoyed.”
“It doesn't seem like you know. Sometimes.”
“Yeah, because sometimes it's hard to reason things out when I'm dealing with shit this big.” Foggy sighs. “I know the law doesn't cover everything. I went to law school. But—the UN isn't totally wrong to try to come up with measures of regulation, either, even if they're going about it in sketchy ways. The fight may be the right fight, but the problem has always been the way you go about it.”
“I don't know how to do it any other way, until the law changes.”
There's a heavy silence, but they both breathe through it, and Foggy's answer is lighter than he's expecting. “I can see it now. No way we're opening up Nelson and Murdock again, you're going to be in Washington on the Supreme Court.”
Matt wrinkles his nose in the way that always makes Foggy laugh. “Leave New York? No, maybe that's you, but I don't think I could.”
“You're missing out. The amount of terrible headlines the press would make about blind justice alone would be worth it.”
“I'd—I'd rather have a future with you in it.”
“You'll get one,” says Foggy after a minute, with the edge of tears in his voice. “I know things are still weird. They're gonna be weird for a long time. But I don't know if I'm ever going to stop missing you, so I'd rather just … not miss you, as long as we can manage that. Angie and English, I think they had it right. Stick together as long as you can.”
It goes against everything Matt's been taught since his father died. He can't help caring about people, never has, but he's always known they're better off without him, and that he's supposed to be stronger on his own. He takes a deep breath and lets that go as much as he can. Alone hasn't done him any good yet. “I'd like that.”
He's had ten years with Foggy. He would have let go after that and counted himself lucky for the time they had, but that's not going to happen, it seems. He's going to have another ten years, ten years after that, a whole lifetime. As long as Matt lives. It could fall apart again, and Daredevil could cut that life short, but Foggy wants them to be like Angie and Peggy Carter. Matt wants to imagine that future.
“Then that's what we'll do,” says Foggy. “But for now, do you need to head out? Catch a nap before you go do the vigilante thing?”
Matt should. This isn't a job where he can take a night off, but that's one of Foggy's problems with it all, and there are rumors now that he's not the only one keeping New York safe. For the sake of Foggy, and the future they want to build, Matt shakes his head and relaxes back into the couch. “No. I can stick around for a while, if you don't mind.”
“Why would I mind?” says Foggy, heart tripping, smile in his voice. “You can stick around as long as you like.”
Honesty. Matt called tonight of all nights so he could practice that, and see how Foggy reacts. “I'm okay. Strained my shoulder badly last night, but it's not a sprain, just sore.”
There's a pause. “Nothing worse? You have a bad tendency to undersell your injuries and I feel like you mentioning an injury at all means that Fran is going to call your landlord to complain about your rotting corpse in a few days.”
“I'm not underselling it. That's exactly how injured I am. I'll be at full capacity in a couple days.” He swallows. “Honesty. I don't know how much to tell you, how much information you want to have. But I thought maybe you'd like to know.”
“Thank you. That's … a really weird gesture of affection to most people, probably, but I appreciate it. Though in the interests of reciprocal honesty it makes me really uncomfortable that you talk about being at full capacity like you're a computer.”
“Or an athlete,” Matt offers, because he's sure he's heard it on a sports broadcast or two across the years. It's not the sense he meant, but it could be. His body has always been a tool, ever since Stick trained him to use it. “Do you want me to tell you these things? Is there a level of injury that's worth mentioning?”
“I mean, I used to tell you pretty much every time I stubbed my toe, but I get that's not feasible unless I want to set aside an hour every morning for you to summarize your bruises. I guess … what would you want to hear if I was injured? Like, what level?”
Matt frowns, because he still has the too-recent memory of the sound of a bullet going through Foggy's flesh and the little hurt noises he kept behind his teeth waiting for the EMTs. He's never needed to wait for Foggy to tell him about injuries, because he's always been close enough to smell blood rushing to the surface of his skin when he bruises his shins, to know when he's got a rare migraine. “Anything out of the ordinary or day-to-day,” he finally says. It seems reasonable.
“And your level of ordinary and day-to-day injury is higher than mine, but I can accept that. I don't need to know about bumps and bruises and sore fists unless you feel like complaining about how sore you are. Sprains, broken bones, anything that requires stitches … I guess use your discretion, but I like to know about things like that. Gives me a focus for my worry.”
Matt knows Foggy well enough that he doesn't bother saying that he wishes Foggy wouldn't worry. He knows he'll never get that. “I'll try to remember that. As long as you trust me to know my own limits about how many injuries I can have and still go out and do what I need to do.” Negotiations. He can do this. He's trained for this.
“I'll let the 'what I need to do' part pass for now, and I'll agree to that as long as you promise to ask Claire if you ever think even a little bit that something might—no, I'm not going to phrase that way. Call Claire sometimes and listen to her. She has a medical degree and you do not.”
“I can't bother her.” Matt frowns. “She needs her own life.”
Foggy sighs. “And she'd rather be bothered and have you alive, I'm pretty sure. It's not ideal, but you need someone with medical expertise so I'm sticking to that. Call Claire if you have even the slightest suspicion that you can't fix whatever's wrong with you yourself.”
That rankles, but it shouldn't. Matt has enough to perspective to know that what he does to his body isn't healthy. He just doesn't think it matters as much as Foggy clearly does. “Claire didn't sign on for this.”
“At least ask her, Matt. Or seduce a new medical professional. Maybe one who can write you prescriptions for painkillers.”
“I don't take those. They cloud my head up too much.”
“Well then, your theoretical new squeeze can write me prescriptions for my blood pressure, which is no doubt through the roof these days.” That's light enough that Matt can choose to take it as a joke, which he's glad about. It's hard to think about anyone new, after Karen and Elektra, and when all his focus is on repairing things with Foggy as much as he can. “Are you okay with this arrangement?”
“I'm not always going to be comfortable calling Claire.”
“Then call me, and we'll figure out something. I don't want you trying to suffer through internal bleeding on ninja skills and Catholicism. And Claire would agree. Are we good here, Matt?”
“The only promise I can make is to try.”
Foggy sounds a little disappointed, but not as much as Matt was expecting. “Then promise that. And I promise not to dictate to you about when you can and can't go out, though I reserve the right to lobby.”
“I'll try to tell you when I'm hurt more than usual, and I'll try to get medical assistance if it's something worse than I can handle on my own. I promise.” The promise feels like a weight on his chest, but he trusts Foggy not to abuse it.
Every time he tells Foggy a secret, makes him a promise, trusts him with something else, Matt worries. It's been bad enough having Foggy walk out on him twice now. If he leaves again, knowing this much of Matt, or knowing even more …
“Thank you,” says Foggy, heartfelt, and Matt decides once again that the risk is worth it.
On the Bulletin blog, Karen is angry. “The loss of life that surrounds the Avengers is tragic, but they're the ones trying to prevent it. The last few years have shown that there are threats we need individuals to solve, rather than organizations. To put the Avengers under bureaucratic supervision is to make them less effective. And less heroic.”
“People are scared,” says Claire with a shrug, patching him up the way she always does, even when he's brought her nothing but harm. “They don't want to live in a world where people like you are necessary, much less people like the Avengers.”
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” says Foggy when he doesn't know Matt is listening, “most people only hear about superheroes, or read about them. Here in New York City, we live with them every day. We are uniquely qualified—more so than the UN—to decide whether what's right or what's legal is more important. I'm not saying that vigilante justice should be given free license, but I ask you to think hard about ends and means. Matthew Murdock has sacrificed his whole life for this city. How do you want to repay that?”
“Shit.” Foggy runs a hand over his face. “Of course you heard that. You have great timing.”
“Because you're going to get arrested someday, and like hell do I trust anyone else to build the case. I won't be able to try it, I pretty much have to recuse myself, but I can pass the materials on to Marci. She'll like the high-profile work.”
Matt frowns. He wasn't expecting that. “Marci doesn't like me.”
“No. But she respects you. And she very publicly doesn't like you, which can only be in your favor. Especially if I help on the background.” Foggy shifts a little on the couch. “I'm not just doing it for that. Partly I'm doing it to argue it out. Mock trial, you know?”
“I know. Have you found guilty or not guilty?”
“I keep revising my opening statement.” Foggy shifts again, until he can face Matt. Matt pauses in the middle of plating their meal and waits for Foggy to say whatever he's thinking. “I'm building one for myself too. I'm accessory after the fact to a lot of crimes these days. Though Marci would probably put more effort into my defense than yours.”
If Foggy said it with the venom Matt got used to in those last few weeks before everything fell apart, Matt could get angry. Instead, he just feels it like a slap in the face. “I'm sorry,” he manages, though the words suddenly feel inadequate.
“I can feel you building up to saying that this is why I'm better off without you, but believe me, I am fully aware of that and still want to be around you.”
Matt frowns, frustrated. “Then why bring it up?”
“It's one of those middle ground things. I know you're bad at those. Look, I'm not going to pretend you're not going to ruin my life. It's just one of those things you're going to have to accept, the way I have to accept that you're going to do it in the first place.”
Matt knows Foggy better than he knows anyone else in the world. He knows every variation in heartbeat and tone and scent, knows his every mood and for a while before Daredevil took all his nights, Matt played a game with himself to guess what Foggy would want to watch every evening based on his mood and what he wanted for dinner. He was right nine times out of ten. He saw the end of things, knew with painful certainty how Foggy would respond to his secrets before he walked out, either time.
Foggy shouldn't be doing this. Forgiving him. Matt's used up all his chances, and he's going to keep using them. Foggy has just said so straight out. Somehow Matt hadn't realized what a miracle any of this is before, until Foggy almost-casually explained everything he's giving up for it. For them.
“What did I do to make you l—care for me this much?” he blurts, and tries not to think about the word he avoided, and why it suddenly seemed necessary to avoid it.
“God knows. The sad puppy dog face, maybe.” Matt is still standing in the middle of his kitchen, letting their eggs go cold, because he can't quite move. He can hear Foggy twisting until he must be facing him. “Are you okay, buddy?”
Of course he loves Foggy. He's loved Foggy for a long time. He's Matt's constant, his best friend, the person who makes him happiest. He loves Foggy, but somehow he missed the way he loves him. Or maybe this is new, born of feeling like Foggy might finally know him and accept him despite every horrible thing Matt's done.
“I'm. I'm fine.”
Foggy snorts. “I thought we were trying not to do the lying thing. Just tell me you're not overhearing something earth-shattering. If Captain America is here to storm the UN, Angie is going to slap him into next week.”
“I'm not overhearing anything, no.” Though the earth-shattering part is more accurate than Foggy can know. “Nothing that bad, anyway,” he amends, because Foggy expects answers now. “I overheard something down the street that I didn't want to, that's all.”
“Okay. If you're sure. Now, are you going to serve up those eggs, or just make me stare at them all day?”
Matt takes that hint, and Foggy doesn't press even though Matt knows how obvious he's being while he finishes serving brunch.
Foggy talks through the meal, light conversation. He even mentions Karen a few times, which he's been avoiding as much as possible.
Matt doesn't listen as closely as he should. He thinks about Foggy, and everything he gives to Matt and how Matt can't promise any of it back, and hates himself for just how desperately he wants even more from him. He won't take it, won't ask for this when Foggy has already offered too much, but the wanting is an ache in the pit of his stomach, and he doesn't know how long it will take for it to go away.
Loving Foggy isn't quite the same thing.
Matt is rarely shy or coy. When he has feelings for someone, or when he wants to sleep with them, he acts on it. He can't do that this time. Foggy is already giving him too much. If Foggy ever comes to Matt on his own, he'll be more grateful than he'll ever be able to say, but he won't ask this of him.
“Foggy says you two are talking again,” says Karen when he arranges a meeting to give her some information he overheard on patrol. She's keeping an eye on a few of the same things he is, wondering if the ex-prisoners behaving with suspicious and specific purpose are part of something larger.
“We're trying. It's not the same, but we're trying.”
She fidgets a little, going through the papers he had printed for her (plausible deniability, so Brett doesn't start thinking that Daredevil has her ear—the fiction of an anonymous tipster is easily disproved, but it's a little bit of protection, and he owes her that). “Good. You two, you're—you're too important to each other to give that up.” Matt swallows. “Is he doing okay after the funeral? He says he is, but you know Foggy.”
“You don't think he's safer if I stay far away from him?”
“Of course he is.” She shrugs. “But I think he's got some say in that. I know you don't like that.” He flinches. There are rough edges with Karen too, even if there's less history with her to make things harder. “And you didn't answer my question.”
“He isn't talking about it with me much. He's visiting Angie a lot, though. Both of them took it hard, especially being stuck in England as long as they were.”
Karen isn't going through the papers anymore. If he had to guess, he would guess that she's looking at him. “You could always ask.”
“That's not how we work. How we've ever worked.” Matt's always known when something was wrong with Foggy, and if Foggy suspected, he was always just solicitous of Matt. He didn't ask about causes for it.
“From what Foggy tells me, you didn't work very well.”
“I know you're angry at me for lying too.”
“I'm angry at you for a lot of things, but everybody lies. Just maybe not to the extent you do.” There's always a roughness in Karen's heartbeat when she talks about lying, a worry. “But Foggy likes it when people don't lie to him. You know him, Matt. Some people could take the lying, maybe. Foggy couldn't.”
Because of Angie and Peggy Carter, and the trust they had in each other for so long, and how long it took for them to tell Foggy that secret. “Would you have trusted anyone, even your best friend, if you had secrets as big as mine?”
“No.” That surprises him with how fast it is. Maybe it shouldn't. “There's no way you could have told him, and there's no way you could have kept it secret forever, and there's no way he would have ever understood why you were lying. That's the bad thing about secrets.”
“You have a few.” It's easier to see that now, with a little distance between them.
“I don't know, Matt. Do I?”
She might not be angry with him about the lying, and maybe not even for endangering her the way Foggy always reminds him he's doing, but she doesn't trust him anymore. Not when she knows that he can tell when she's lying. “I know you have secrets. I don't know what they are, if that's what you're asking.”
There's a long silence. “Keep talking to Foggy,” she finally says. “He's too important to push away.”
He's too important to keep close, too. But that's not just Matt's choice anymore. “You're important too. I owed you better than I gave you.”
“Everyone deserved better than they were getting, those last couple months.” A sudden movement, Karen shuffling the papers into a neat stack. “Maybe even you. I've got to go. Thanks for the information, Matt.”
“Tell me if you find anything from it.”
“I will.” She sighs. “I'm—I'm really glad you two are talking. It feels wrong when you're not.”
“It does.” Matt can admit that. “He's important.” The most important person in Matt's life, but it's cruel to say that to Karen, when everything is so recent.
“Yeah,” says Karen, with enough sympathy in her voice that she may have understood more than he intended. “He is.”
“I'm not … there's nothing I'm really looking into right now.” That's a lie. “Nothing like that, anyway. Something is going on with released prisoners, but I'm only starting to learn anything about that. I'm not in any danger that I know about.”
Foggy sighs. “Any more than usual,” he corrects, but he almost sounds fond about it. “But you're still acting shifty, so I ask again: is there anything you want me to know?”
No. Yes. “Nothing related to Daredevil,” he finally compromises. “I know you don't want there to be secrets at all, but this one … it's just personal privacy. That's all.”
“I guess everybody has secrets,” Foggy says, and he sounds so exhausted that Matt almost blurts it out. Only the thought that it won't be a relief to Foggy, will just be another hard and horrible conversation to begin, keeps him from saying it.
“Even you?” Matt asks, thinking of Karen and her wariness about whatever secrets she doesn't want him to know.
“I don't know. I hope so. That kind of makes me a hypocrite, huh?”
“I think 'no secrets' is a good goal, but it's not really the way the world works. Or relationships. There are always some things better kept private.”
“Like how much I hate your taste in Thai takeout?” Foggy says, deliberately light.
Matt laughs and lets Foggy lead him into the safer waters of gentle teasing, but there's still something odd in the air by the time they get on the subway and then off it again, and when they arrive at Angie's home for Sunday dinner, Matt hasn't quite shaken it off.
It's a communal dinner, and the cafeteria is overwhelming. The food is good quality, and doesn't have the institutional smell of school lunches or what little he's smelled of airplane meals, but the room is stuffy and loud and smells of bleach and medicine the way the whole facility does. Angie is popular. She still sounds a little more frail than Matt is used to, but in between laughing with Foggy over stories about work and family and their past, it seems like half the residents stop by to say hello, make plans, pass on belated condolences for Peggy Carter's death.
“A lot of us are old actors,” she says when Foggy teases her about being Prom Queen, though Matt thinks she's addressing it to him. “I knew a few of them from auditions and shows for a long time, and most of us know each other by reputation, anyway.”
Matt asks if she's worked with any of them, and if they ever do theater together, and she and Foggy launch into what seems like a well-worn story about the difficulties she had on a movie set with one of the gentlemen who lives a few hallways away from her, who could remember whole Shakespearean soliloquies but couldn't get a cowboy accent right.
Someone starts playing a piano after a while, one just out of tune enough to make Matt wince, and soon after that there's rustling and laughing and shoes on the floor—dancing.
“You go ask Luella Johnston to dance,” Angie says once it's begun, and from the sound of it she's prodding Foggy's arm. “She'll get a kick out of it, and I'm still finishing dessert. Leave me to entertain Matt here.”
“Careful, Matt, she's up to something,” says Foggy, but he's getting up and moving a few tables over.
“Are you up to something?” Matt asks, curious. Luella Johnston is laughing and taking Foggy's arm, moving slow as they go to the dance floor.
Angie hums, considering. “I don't know. Let's see.”
She doesn't seem to have anything else to say, so Matt listens instead. Foggy is flirting with Luella Johnston, making her laugh as they shuffle through the steps. Foggy knows how to dance, always pulls out the steps at Nelson family gatherings, but they're not keeping rhythm much now, just joining the crowd. He says something serious and warm about the most beautiful woman in the room and Matt clenches his fists under the table just for something to do with his hands.
Maybe if Matt were in a movie, he would be realizing that he's loved Foggy all along, for years and years, and that he only realized it when Foggy walked out. This is new, though. He knows the startling swoop of tipping over the edge into being in love, the heart-in-his-throat thrill that's almost as good as a fight. He didn't love Foggy like this before. Maybe couldn't have, with all the lies and secrets. He doesn't regret not telling Foggy, wouldn't regret it if Foggy had never found out and they were still in an office with Karen and clients and bills hanging over their heads, but he wouldn't have felt this way. It's not fair to Foggy, but he's glad he gets this.
“Oh, kid,” says Angie, full of so much sympathy it hurts. “You can't ever let yourself have the good things, can you?”
The music changes to something vaguely familiar, and it must be familiar to Angie and Foggy too, because he hears both of them catch their breath, and Angie's uncomfortable focus leaves him just as Foggy excuses himself to his partner before coming back to their table. “Come on, Angie,” he says. “If we can't dance to it now, when can we?”
Matt sits at the table and listens. She's a more graceful dancer than Luella Johnston, but there's none of the laughing, none of the showy moves, shoes scraping across the floor in twirls and flourishes, that he's used to from them. By the end of it, when they come back, he can smell salt on both of them.
“Is everything okay?” he asks, even though he doesn't really expect an answer.
“I told you about how I got the nickname, right?” Foggy says. “That's the song. It was one of English's favorites.”
Sometimes Matt hears a song on someone's radio, or playing in their apartment, and he remembers his father singing along with it, tuneless but enthusiastic, doing the dishes or getting started on dinner. He reaches across the table and fumbles for Foggy's arm, missing more because he almost knocks over a glass of water in his haste than because a blind man shouldn't be able to find his friend's arm without help. “I'm sorry,” he says, and gives Foggy's arm a squeeze. It's all he knows how to do.
The three of them sit at the table in silence for the next song, and then Angie shoos Foggy off to ask another one of her friends to dance and taps Matt sharply on the arm. “Get up, we're dancing. I've never been a wallflower and I don't plan to start now, even if you're not quite the right partner.”
“I don't know how to dance.”
“You'll figure it out. I'll coach you through it.”
Matt lets her steer him around the clear part of the floor, and he keeps half his attention on the dance and half on Foggy, who's abandoned the dance floor to talk to a few of the men who are still finishing up dinner. He seems to be trying to convince them to help him get all the wallflowers on the floor.
They don't stay too much longer. They have a long ride and walk back to Hell's Kitchen, and Matt has to get on patrol. When they leave, Angie envelopes him in a firmer hug than he's expecting and whispers “Doesn't he get a say in it too?”
Matt frowns, startled, at the abrupt beginning to his phone call with Foggy. “Are you telling me—”
“I'm not telling you anything,” says Foggy, a little too sharp for the airy unconcern he's aiming for. “I'm just saying that gee, that Daredevil, he seems to overhear things. He must overhear all sorts of confidential shit on a day to day basis. Maybe sometimes he hears interesting things. At, say, ten o'clock sharp.”
Matt's heart is in his throat. “Foggy, I—”
“Just—don't. Okay? Really don't.” There are a hundred responses to that, apologies and gratitude and “I love you” and Foggy doesn't want to hear any of them right now, from how upset he sounds. It can't be good, if he's doing this, bending this far. “I've got to go back to work. I just thought it was an interesting thought experiment.”
“It is. I'll be sure to think about it,” Matt says around the lump in his throat.
“You do that,” says Foggy, and hangs up on him.
Matt worries away the hours until it's dark enough that he can put on his armor and slip out, go across the city to the roof of Foggy's building. He's fifteen minutes early, and he alternates between listening to the city and to the noises of Foggy going about his night. He seems to have made himself a cup of tea, and he's flipping through papers and swearing quietly to himself on occasion like he does when he's putting a case together.
Eventually, an alarm goes off on his phone, and he sighs, shuts it off. “Gee,” he says, rehearsed. “I sure hope nobody is listening.”
Matt could laugh or cry. He's not sure which.
“Seems like a whole bunch of released prisoners have recently found new direction in their lives. Parole officers everywhere think it's weird and kind of cool, all these lives getting turned around. Some kind of benefactor, or maybe they owe him favors.” It starts off rehearsed and moves into Foggy's usual conversational tone, like he's talking this out with Matt, not trying, in some awkward way, to bridge the gap between himself and the parts of Matt that he hates. “But judging from the visitor I had at the office today asking if I still do pro bono work, asking about my old partner, I'm kind of wondering if Wilson Fisk had something to do with it.”
If Matt weren't already crouching, his knees would go out from under him. Of course it's Fisk, finding a way to take influence and rebuild an empire from jail. Fisk, who threatened not only Matt but Foggy.
“Pretty suspicious,” says Foggy, all drama. “No idea what his plan is, of course. But he's probably not very happy with me, since I helped provide evidence to put him away. Forewarned is forearmed though, right? I should ask Brett if he knows anything about release dates. Nobody should be taken by surprise.”
Just like he doesn't want Matt taken by surprise. He's compromising his ethics for this, talking about someone who came into the office expecting confidentiality.
“That's it. That's all. I just … just wanted to talk that out a little bit. To myself.”
Matt stays on his roof for twenty more minutes, but Foggy doesn't say anything else. He doesn't even start listening to music or watching anything. From what Matt can tell, he sits on his couch, occasionally shifting, heartbeat just a little faster than what he's used to, until Matt's out of range and can't hear him anymore.
Thank you, he texts at four in the morning, when he's stayed out too late tracking the movements of some of the ex-convicts he's been keeping an ear on and started establishing patterns.
For what? Foggy texts back, the bland voice of Matt's phone reading the words aloud when he wakes up, and Matt knows better than to press, but he calls Foggy later on and insists on taking him to lunch, and knows his thanks have been accepted when Foggy doesn't complain about Matt paying for them both.
Foggy is quiet for a little too long. “I knew you would get it,” he says at last, and it's not the whole truth, Matt thinks, but it's a start. “I mean, it doesn't make a lot of sense to most people. My great-aunt's long-term partner who's been dying for years and who spent a lot of my childhood secretly saving the world all the time died. I never told Marci or Karen much about it, and the family … I don't know. Still reflex to count on you, I guess.”
“Thank you for doing it.”
“You don't regret getting back in touch? Trying to be friends again?” Foggy gets up and starts clearing bottles and food off the coffee table. Matt stays where he is. Foggy likes to be busy when he's thinking things through. “You wanted to be alone.”
“I still think it would be safer if you stayed away.” He thinks of Angie's words the other night, whispered in his ear. “But some of that is your choice. You seemed to want to talk about it. To make things better.”
Foggy goes to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator so his voice is muffled by the machinery hum when he answers. “Yeah. God knows why.”
“I wish I knew why.” Matt grimaces, but he's being as honest as he can without putting an impossible choice and the possibility of even more danger in front of Foggy. “I don't deserve it.”
“I love you.” That's a slap in the face, all the more so because Foggy isn't throwing it out like a weapon. He's saying it the right way and the wrong way all at once, and Matt is glad that they aren't facing each other because he knows he isn't keeping his face under control. Of course Foggy loves him. He says it, when he's drunk or sentimental. It only means something new to Matt. “I don't know if it's a good thing or not, but it kind of erases the question of you deserving it.”
“You shouldn't—I don't have the right to make you unhappy just because you love me.”
“Do you love me, Matt?”
Matt swallows. “Yes.” In almost every possible way, now.
“Did I make you unhappy when I walked out on you, or with the way I don't unconditionally accept your vigilante crusading?” This is Foggy at his sharpest, Foggy building an argument, the pieces slotting into place.
“Yes.” He's never been good at the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
“I talked to Angie a lot when we were in London,” Foggy says, veering off subject, letting Matt stew over the answers he just gave and exactly the argument Foggy was making with them. “Ranting a lot whenever we got off the phone at first, honestly. But she talked about English a lot, about the two of them. They couldn't make a big deal out of it when they were together. Homophobia, their jobs, Angie could have been in danger … it sucked for them. A lot. They fought. But they stuck together. Helped each other out. English took piano lessons to help Angie practice for Broadway, and Angie wined and dined diplomats and gave English information to use. They worked on it.”
Foggy is just standing in the kitchen now, heartbeat speeding up, and Matt stays where he is, twisting his hands in his lap. “It's not the same,” he says, because Foggy has trailed off and seems to expect Matt to have some kind of response.
“No. But it's pretty close.” Foggy comes back to the couch, sits down next to Matt. He's facing him this time, turned with his leg tucked under him, close enough that Matt could touch him if he cared to reach out. “Do you love me?” he asks again, and he means it different this time.
“I can't—please—” Matt starts, and fumbles himself into silence.
“Because it's kind of been killing me on a regular basis for a while now, honestly. I figured there was no chance and that was fine, but you're mending fences and being honest and trying to compromise, and those aren't really Matt Murdock traits, so you're trying. And it made me wonder why.”
“I didn't try to fix things with you because I love you,” says Matt, and saying it and Foggy knowing all the ways he means it makes him wonder if this is how the air feels at the top of a mountain, too thin to breathe and precious. “I love you because we're fixing things. It hasn't been long.”
“That's okay,” says Foggy, painfully gentle. He doesn't say that it's recent for him too, and someday Matt will ask Foggy how long he's loved him, why he didn't stop when Matt hurt him, but it's too much right now. He's still too conscious of every breath. “I guess the question is what you want to do about it.”
Matt jerks his head to face him, a reflex even after so long without sight. “When you brought it up, I thought that meant … that you want to try it.”
“It. Isn't that romantic? How many times do I have to say that I'm just sick of lying? We both know now. Go us. But you look really freaked out, buddy. We can put the cat back in the bag.”
They can't. It's always going to be there now, until one or both of them moves on, and they can ignore it and talk around it but things are going to be different now. People might notice. Might use it against them. Matt thinks about Angie and Peggy Carter, and wonders if it's selfish to get the good along with that danger. If it is, he can only care about that for so long. Foggy is offering with how close he's sitting, how nervous and happy he smells, and he has to know that Matt can tell.
When Matt kisses him, it's clumsy, too-fast, too-hard. His senses can only tell him so much about where Foggy's mouth is when he's not talking, and Foggy's surprise makes him nip Matt's lip and Matt gasps, opens his mouth, and pulls back, because that's too much for a first kiss.
“Okay, no cats, no bags, cool,” says Foggy, strangled, and then his hand is on Matt's shoulder, steadying them both. “I can already tell you're going to be weird about this. But if we're dating, kissing, whatever we're doing, you are not going to do the solitary Batman thing again. If we're doing this, we're doing it.”
Matt can't bring himself to believe that he'll get this for long, or without feeling selfish and like he's making trouble for Foggy, but he can ignore that for now. “I love you,” he says, because he knows just the way Foggy's heart will sing when he hears it.
“Convincing argument, counselor,” says Foggy, and kisses him again. It's better this time.
It's even better the time after that.
Matt doesn't stop counting them, and he hopes someday he'll lose track, but for now he's going to hoard every one.
“You've been talking to Foggy.”
“You must suck at poker. Come over for lunch, Matthew, it's meatloaf day in the cafeteria.”
Matt goes, because he's still not working and Angie deserves some of the credit for the dizzy whirl of happiness and anxiety he's in today.
She's in the cafeteria when he gets there, and another too-solicitous employee leads him over to her table after helping him through the lunch line. “I'm surprised you're alone,” Matt says when she's been convinced to leave them be. “You seem popular here.”
“I told them all my nephew-in-law was visiting so I can threaten him. They're filming it for YouTube.”
Matt laughs, mostly because he can't hear the movements and noises that filming requires. “Is that popular here?”
“For a bunch of old thespians? We're thinking about getting our own channel, staging the classics.”
“You seem happier,” Matt offers.
“My favorite great-nephew called this morning sounding like he was tapdancing on air. It helps.” She taps the table in front of his plate. “Eat. The meatloaf isn't terrible.”
Matt takes a few obedient bites. “It's new. Foggy and me. We're still … I still don't think it's as easy as it sounds when you talk about it.”
Angie snorts. “If it sounded easy, you weren't listening. But I'd say it's better than not trying. You actually look happy for once.”
“I'm trying to be. If this is going to go wrong, or put him in danger, I want to be happy as long as I can.”
“Fatalism,” she says, mildly disapproving, and eats something off her own plate. Despite her using the meatloaf as a temptation to get him to visit, she doesn't seem to be eating any herself. “You get him hurt, I'm going to call his Uncle Nick.”
Uncle Nick is one of the family members who isn't a family member, only spoken of in connection to Angie and Peggy Carter. Matt hasn't met him, and from what he hears, he doesn't want to. “You aren't going to threaten me yourself?”
“Oh no. I'm just letting you know that Nick and all his friends will be getting Foggy and helping him while I tell you just what you did wrong. Peg kept me from getting hurt all those years. You're going to have to learn.”
Matt swallows, and then takes a drink of water, stalling for time. “There's someone … even without knowing about this, he wants to hurt both of us. I'm prepared, as much as I can be, but I can't control everything. You knew it could be dangerous, but you encouraged this.”
“I was dealing with one problem at a time. Now we're dealing with this one, and I'm letting you know that Foggy's got people backing him up if someone connects you two and decides to use that.”
“And if I hurt him myself?”
She takes another few bites of her meal and lets him stew on that thought, the one he keeps circling back to, the one he thinks he'll circle back to as long as he and Foggy are together. “I think you'll feel bad enough that you won't really need me to lecture you. But maybe I'd call Sharon. Just to update her on her honorary cousin. She's got some interesting co-workers.”
The mild threat, something like serious behind the light tone, settles Matt. Those are consequences he can understand. And even approve of. “I can't make promises. I'll keep it in mind, though.”
“I don't want you making promises to me. Or any you don't mean to him.” She reaches across the table, rests her hand on top of his. “For what it's worth, I'm happy for you two. For you as well as him, Matt. And I told him to take care of you too.”
She squeezes his hand. “Anytime, kid. You're one of the family now.” She takes her hand back and takes a drink from her glass. “Did Foggy ever tell you about the time Peg taught his prom date how to cause him pain if he got fresh?”
Matt laughs. “Yes, but you should tell me again.”
“I hear you visited Angie today.”
“I'm unemployed, I had the time.” He hesitates. “She wanted to make sure you're going to be okay.”
Foggy laughs, thankfully more amused than annoyed. “I guess that's fair. She's had to listen to me complain a lot. Are you going to be okay? Any second-day regrets?”
Faint, down the street, Foggy's familiar step comes to his attention, voice just starting to double up. He's coming to visit Matt, to surprise him. They can have this again, and some things they never had before. “None yet.”
“That's all I'm asking.”
“Come up to the roof when you get here,” says Matt. “It's a nice night. You can tell me what you see, and I'll tell you what I hear, and then we can order delivery.”
Foggy laughs. “Of course you can hear me coming. Asshole. I'm never going to be able to surprise you.”
“You surprise me all the time,” says Matt, too earnest.
“You too, buddy. Sometimes even in a good way.” Foggy is getting closer—just coming from work, if Matt is reading the signs right. He usually is. “I'll be up in a few, hanging up now.”
“Okay. I'll be waiting. Let me know if you need me to buzz you in.”
Foggy sounds like he's smiling when they hang up, and Matt tips his head back, listens to the city. Somewhere out there, Wilson Fisk's men are carrying out his plans, preparing for some revenge Matt hasn't found yet. Karen is looking into them, grim and determined, ready for another written lambaste when she finds something that will stick. Tony Stark is in his tower, unnervingly quiet and withdrawn from the public since half his team left for Wakanda, fleeing the law. Somewhere out there, there are others like Matt, others he's only heard the edges of rumors about. There are problems to deal with. There always will be.
But closer than that, Foggy is approaching down the street, his heartbeat louder with every step, until he reaches Matt's building, climbs the stairs to the door.
“No one's around,” he says, conversational. “Come down and buzz me in, would you?”
Matt grins and gets up to do as he asks.