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Blue and Red

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“Blue.”

Matt hears the whispered instruction from the roof of the building across the street, and he nearly curses.

He knew they were in trouble the moment he and Frank Castle had ended up meeting while chasing their joint target-- a man who had been setting bombs around the city for no apparent reason at all.

Following his trail had led them to a block of old shops with apartments above them.  Matt had immediately found someone on the street and ordered them to call the police, who had arrived not long after and begun clearing the buildings.  That left he and Frank to deal with the two bombs he had sensed, both stereotypically heard ticking quietly in buildings on opposite sides of the street.

Frank had apparently managed to disable his, but Matt was all too aware of the deficits not having his vision posed, at the moment.

“Red, pull the blue wire,” Frank orders again, and Matt knows the Punisher is looking through the scope of his gun, probably wondering why Daredevil isn’t listening.

It isn’t like he carries a phone while on patrol, so he can’t ask Frank which wire is the blue one.

Aware of the timer ticking down with ominous beeps, Matt prays silently, and yanks a wire near the center of the bundle, that carried a very faint lingering scent of sweat, slightly more than the other wires.  He hopes that meant it had been handled more than the rest.

He pulls the wire, and from his perspective, nothing happens.

Behind and above him, he hears Frank curse, and figures he must have guessed wrong.

A hypothesis that was disproved a moment later.

“He must have built yours differently,” Frank mutters, and Matt can hear the almost-apology in his voice.

Apparently, he’d guessed correctly , and been wrong anyway.

“Get out of there, Red, three minutes is barely enough to get out.”

Matt ignores the order, and grabs the bomb, running for the stairs, and begins counting down in his head, subtracting the time they've already spent talking.

The building doesn’t have a damn elevator, so he runs up the flights as quickly as he can, hoping to get the bomb as far from the street as possible.  Hopefully, the perimeter the police made in the street below will help prevent people from being hit by any shrapnel, but it won’t help if the bomb goes off too close to the ground floor.

Frank curses somewhere on the roof again, but Matt is focused on the timer.

When it hits (in his mental estimate) ten seconds, he throws it up the stairwell as high as he can, and it lands on one of the flights of stairs above him, as he takes the shortest route out of the blast radius-- and throws himself straight down the center of the stairwell.

He manages to catch himself painfully on a few of the handrails on the way down, slowing his fall slightly, but he still hits the tops of the vending machines on the basement level with a sickening crunch, just before the bomb explodes.

Matt isn’t sure if he hears Frank shout just before, again, or if he imagines it.

---

Matt wakes up again, still crumpled on his side on the vending machines, and he has no idea how long he’s been out.

Then the silence hits him, and he panics.

With no noise except the panicked beating of his own heart and the blood pumping in his veins, plus the loud ringing in his ears, he is effectively, actually blind.

In his shocked flailing, the elbow of his suit slams hard against the vending machine’s top, and the clang lets him get a better mental image of his surroundings.

The stairwell isn’t entirely filled with rubble and cement, but there is enough to turn at least a few floors into a dangerous jungle gym, and now that his heart is beginning to slow and the ringing lessens slightly, he can hear the muffled sounds of people on the street somewhere above him, too.

Relaxing slightly at the evidence that the bomb hadn’t taken out the street, Matt shifts into a seated position, and groans as a few possibly-fractured ribs make themselves known.

Gingerly, he begins to make his way up the stairwell, using his billy club to carefully tap the stairwell and wreckage before moving anything, not wanting to shift anything too important and cause a cave-in.

When he reaches the second floor, Matt carefully opens the stairwell door, and then walks slowly down the building’s hall to the fire escape, climbing out the window to step onto it.

He then slowly limps to the roof, trusting that the temperature and lack of warmth on his face means that it’s still night, and the dark colors of his suit should stay unnoticed.

He’s almost right.

“You accuse me of having a death-wish,” Frank says harshly, and Matt freezes, reevaluating how much the ringing must be effecting him for him not to have noticed the man’s heartbeat before.

“You do,” the Daredevil replies, straightening in a futile attempt to hide his injuries.

Honestly, he’s not sure why he bothers-- the pair of them have both bled in the presence of the other more often than not, and despite their continued disapproval of each other’s tactics, there’s a sort of grudging comradery between them now.

Despite the anger Matt thinks he can detect from the other man, his heartbeat-- which Matt finally registered-- also slowed slightly when he caught sight of the Daredevil, so Matt knows Frank had been worried.

Frank grumbles something in response, too quietly and slurred together for even him to hear, and he tilts his head.

“What?”  Matt asks.

He’s fairly certain Frank shoots him an ineffectual glare in reply, unwilling to repeat himself.

“I said , sorry about the wire,” Frank finally says, and behind his mask, Matt blinks.

He’s never heard the Punisher apologize before, and it sounds like it was almost physically painful for him to do it now.

In his still-disoriented state, Matt finds this unusually amusing, and he begins to laugh.

Frank steps back a few paces, apparently surprised by his reaction, and Matt staggers slightly as he moves too quickly for his still-ringing ears.

He really can’t hear all that well yet.

The way he staggers over nothing seems to alarm Frank, however, and suddenly there’s an arm under his, holding him up firmly.

“It’s not your fault,” Matt says, between barks of laughter.  “I could only have done worse alone.”

After a moment, Matt can stand on his own, but Frank doesn’t let go of his arm, despite Matt pointedly tilting his face towards the hand, and he hears Frank’s heart beat faster for a moment.

“You’re... blind,” Frank says slowly, and Matt stiffens.

Frank’s face is closer to his than it’s ever been before, except when they were fighting-- verbally or physically-- and it’s possible the man has realized how there’s no possible way anyone could see through the “eyes” in his mask.

Matt sighs, and steps back.

“Yeah.  Is that a problem?”

After a moment, he can tell Frank shakes his head.

“Only you, Red,” he says, and to Matt’s surprise, he turns to leave instead of asking more questions.

Matt heads home, traveling more carefully than normal until his hearing returns entirely, and wonders exactly how his life had become this-- and wondering if the other vigilante had figured out who was under the mask too, given how there was probably only one blind man he’d run into on a semi-regular basis.

He sighs and pushes aside the issue for later-- his methods aside, the Daredevil trusts the Punisher to keep his secrets.