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Ifs, Ands, and Butts

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Steve liked to keep an eye on all the new vigilantes that emerged around Manhattan. He thought of it as part of his duty. He kept people safe, and sometimes that included keeping them safe from themselves or from vigilantes who took things too far. So far he hadn't had to do much. There was a young woman who started shooting rapists in the kneecaps with arrows, but Clint took her under his wing. He thought she had potential, and Steve didn't disagree. There was also a weird human spider in Queens that Tony was keeping his eye on, and Steve checked in every week or so just to make sure he hadn't forgotten.

 

The most recent one had come out of Hell's Kitchen. At first there were just reports of a man in black, or men in black, since there didn't seem to be any unifying descriptions. But Jarvis gathered the few video clips he was able to access, however he did it (Steve learned not to ask), and it was indeed the same person. There'd been a bit of confusion a while back as to whether he was linked to bombings, but that was cleared up. The guy had been framed, which made sense.

But now he'd returned in a new costume with a new name. Daredevil.

 

Steve didn't really like that the guy was taking the devil thing pretty seriously, with the red outfit, tendency to crouch on rooftops, the horns, and now the name. What kind of name was Daredevil?

 

Steve rewound the video slightly, zooming in to get a better view of Daredevil taking down a drug dealer. It was something pretty minor, not something the Avengers would even concern themselves with, but it needed to be done, and Steve was glad there was someone to do it.

Even if he had a ridiculous name.

 

“Don't really get to choose your name though, do you Jarvis?” Steve asked, taking a sip of his coffee.

“I suppose not,” Jarvis agreed.

“Let's keep an eye on him, but I'd think for now, we could leave him be. Any more footage of his fighting style pops up, let me know, but for now, I'm okay with him continuing.”

“I will be sure to inform you if any more footage emerges. Also, I'd like to remind you that you have Stark Foundation for Accessibility Banquet next week.”

“Right,” Steve said, scratching his chin. “I probably need a new suit. Or a suit, period. Last time I wore a suit, Tony nearly cried. Can you put that on my to do list?”

“I'm sure as soon as Sir discovers you need a new suit, he'll take it upon himself to ensure you receive one of the highest quality. Should I fail to notify him?”

Steve considered it. “Nah, I'll probably survive the experience.”

 

 


 

 

Steve did survive the experience, but just barely.

 

He did have to admit, while putting the suit on and getting ready for the gala, that it did look fantastic. Tony was good at spending ridiculous amounts of money.

 

Steve nearly passed out at the price tag, but Tony waved off his complaints with a promise to donate the same amount of money to the foundation.

Steve appreciated that.

 

Tony popped his head in the room. “Ready to go?” He whistled. “Damn, looking good.”

Steve blushed. “You think?”

“The right suit can make all the difference. Of course, your figure honestly could look good in anything, but...” he shrugged.

Steve rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I'm ready.”

 

Tony of course looked dazzling in a suit that probably cost twice as much as Steve's did, and Steve's needed alterations to fit properly. Still, when the man had enough money that he could buy a suit, donate to charity, and afford to house the Avengers, Steve couldn't argue, even if he was still startled by inflation every time he went shopping.

 

They made a compromise between showing up on time (Steve's idea) and showing up fashionably late (Tony's idea), which still resulted in them showing up when the gala was in full swing.

 

The sea of cameras started flashing before they were even out of the car, and Tony plastered on a dazzling smile. Steve just hoped he managed to not look angry as they made their way through the crowd.

“Do they not have anything better to do?” Steve asked him through gritted teeth, still smiling. “You can damn well bet that none of them care at all about the foundation.”

“Yeah, but it's a Stark gala, which means they are out in full force. Plus, I like to send them bills for ridiculous things, like property usage, and force them to pay it to the charity.”

Steve looked at him with admiration. “You know, I'm glad you're on our side.”

Tony flashed him a real smile, not the fake one he had plastered on for the cameras.

 

They finally entered the hall, and Tony immediately began mingling, shaking hands and chatting with people who he seemed to know. On the drive over, Tony ensured that Steve wouldn't embarrass him, and Steve assured him that this was the singular gala that he actually enjoyed going to, unlike any of the others that he had to go to for Avengers duties or because Tony whined.

 

All too often, people forgot that he was a sickly, multiply-disabled child, and then young adult, before being injected with the serum that turned him into Captain America. He sure as hell didn't.

And while the future was a hell of a lot nicer for people with various disabilities, it still wasn't always great. But that he could do something about.

 

Steve made the rounds, helping himself to some wine and assorted snacks. He met a few people, had some awful conversations, and some nice ones too. The highlight was probably a discussion about how the transfer between youth and adult services was failing a lot of young people. Steve only realized afterwards that the man he'd been speaking to was on the city council.

Well, they had an HR department for a reason. He wasn't going to back down on any of his beliefs because people might disagree. The same thing happened a month or so back when he went on a tirade about vaccinations. Apparently the internet was in a tizzy over that.

 

Steve surveyed the room. He liked how many of the people were actually invested in the causes that the Foundation supported, whether directly or indirectly. Many of the people he'd spoken to were also disabled, as well as committed to providing support for others.

He'd even had a brief conversation in ASL, having learned the basics from Clint. He always picked up things like that quickly. It must be because it was so visual. He seemed to have a near photographic memory even before everything happened, which was only enhanced by the serum.

 

Tony seemed to be in the middle of a lively conversation, gesturing with both hands while he spoke.

For all his fame, Steve didn't actually recognize many of the people in the room. There was Tony, of course, and a few others that he'd met the previous year or during smaller events, and the people he'd only met that evening. There was maybe two dozen that he could name.

 

He tired of looking for familiar faces and instead focused on looking at clothing.

The men didn't dress very differently, which was by virtue of not having many variation on the suit and tie combination, but the women had a wider variety of dresses, skirts, pants, and assorted other articles of clothing that Steve didn't have names for.

He'd just spotted a dress that he knew Natasha would love, so many places to hide weapons, when he saw a man who he knew. Not his face, because Steve had never seen it before, but everything else, the curve of his spine, the way he walked, how he held himself, even his jaw- Steve knew that.

That body belonged to Daredevil. Steve had watched hours of video, had Jarvis zoom in so he could examine fighting styles and patterns. He knew, perhaps too intimately, what Daredevil looked like, and this man matched perfectly.

 

Steve just had to figure out how a blind man could be Daredevil, and then he'd be set, but as it was, he only had more questions than answers.

 

Maybe a twin? he mused. Of course, Steve supposed the man could be faking his blindness, or wasn't completely blind, since that would be the perfect cover, but he didn't want to jump to any conclusions. He needed more information.

 

Steve found Tony, blessedly free of any clingers on, and sidled up to him.

“Hey, do you know who that is?” he asked, attempting to point non-discretely. “The man with the dark glasses over there.”

Tony squinted at the person Steve was referring to. “Oh, yeah actually. I met him and his partner earlier. Can't remember his first name, but I know they run a law firm together in Hell's Kitchen, Nelson and Murdock. I think he's Murdock. Why, you know him from somewhere?”

“I might,” Steve said, but didn't expand.

Tony shrugged and was swept away shortly after by another small crowd of people.

 

Steve found a quiet spot in the corner and began doing some googling. After initially spelling the name incorrectly, not Murdoch like the Canadian show about the detective, he found their website and a handful of newspaper articles about them. Apparently they'd only set up shop a little while ago, and yet had managed one of the biggest cases to come out of Hell's Kitchen in recent years. Coincidentally, it was also a case that Daredevil had been involved in- Wilson Fisk. After a little more digging, Steve found an article about Matthew. He'd apparently been blinded in an accident at the age of nine, and was something of a local hero.

 

Steve just had to figure out how a blind lawyer could be Daredevil, since he was fairly certain he was. He had an eye for things like that.

 

“Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but we just wanted to say hi.”

 

Steve looked up to find a man with blond hair that ended just above his shoulders, and the man he'd just been googling standing in front of him. He shoved his phone in his pocket and hoped the one who could see didn't notice it.

 

He held his hand out. “Sure thing. Steve Rogers.”

“Foggy Nelson,” the blond one said, shaking his hand. Steve was fairly certain that was not the name on the website. “And this is Matt Murdock.”

Murdock didn't offer his hand to shake, or perhaps didn't know Steve was holding his out. His head was tilted, like he was examining Steve through his dark glasses. Now that he was closer, Steve could tell they were dark red, and not just black like he'd thought.

The guy sure had a thing for red.

“I heard about you. Lawyers, right?” Steve asked.

Nelson laughed nervously. “Yep that's us. I can't believe Captain America knows who we are. Matt, we've hit the big time,” he said, poking his friend in the side.

“Well, maybe not quite,” his friend said easily.

And that was Daredevil's voice. Daredevil usually pitched his lower, and with a more gravelly tone, kind of like Batman in the movies they'd watched, but there was no mistaking it.

“Are you enjoying yourselves tonight?” Steve asked.

“Oh yeah. We don't often get invited to events as nice as this one.”

“Not really helping us get clients, Foggy,” Murdock whispered.

Nelson shrugged. “Dude, it's Captain America. You know I get nervous.”

“Oh yeah. Earlier, when we met Tony Stark,” Murdock told him, “this guy nearly spilled a glass of wine on him.”

“You caught it.”

Murdock's expression changed briefly, into something Steve couldn't recognize, before shifting back to a blank expression. “Lucky break, for all those involved.”

Nelson went back to the question that Steve had asked, since it seemed Murdock wasn't going to speak. “I'm having a great time. We connected with some people who are going to refer clients to us. We kind of specialize in disability law. Actually, so far we specialize in whatever we get law, but ideally we'd like to specialize. We're kind of already known for taking clients pro-bono, which isn't actually a good business plan, but Matt here can't say no to them. And we've gotten a grant from the Foundation, which has been a huge help. It lets us take on clients who otherwise can't afford representation but also means we can keep the lights on.”

“Because some people need lights,” Murdock deadpanned.

“Shush. What do you think your laptop runs on? A little arc reactor? Nope. Electricity. Stop being so uppity.”

Nelson pulled a business card from his jacket pocket and handed it to Steve. “In case you ever need a lawyer, or know someone who does.”

Steve examined it. “I'll be sure to pass it on if I do. Thank you,” he told them. Murdock's head was still tilted to one side and he nodded slightly.

“It was nice to meet you,” Murdock said, pulling at his partner's arm slightly.

“Yes, thank you,” Nelson said, getting the hint.

“Have a good rest of your night,” Steve told them, watching them disappear back into the crowd. Murdock pulled Nelson closer to him and hissed something at him. Excitement over meeting him? Anger about something? He didn't know.

 

He saw them a few more times that night, but Nelson and Murdock managed to avoid running into Steve again, whether it was by design or purely accidental.

 

The rest of the gala was uneventful, although he and Tony stayed until the bitter last. It was in the small hours of the morning that they finally found themselves on their way back to the Tower, after Tony had met with some of the organizers of the events and thanked them for all their hard work. Tony seemed to genuinely care about their thoughts and opinions about how the event went, and listened to some of their suggestions for next year.

 

His energy seemed to flag in the car, and he slouched down in his seat, ruining the lines of the suit. Tony always did spread himself too thin.

 

He made sure Tony was on his way to bed before heading up to his own floor, where he changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt. He was tired, but not tired enough that he was ready for sleep. He had more important things on his mind.

 

“Jarvis, can we start a new file? Store it on a confidential server, no one else but me gets access.”

“Of course. What would you like me to pull up?”

“Everything on Matthew Murdock. Let's cross reference with everything we've got on Daredevil.”

 

Jarvis found even more than Steve did during his brief google search. Of course, he also probably had access to other places that Steve didn't.

 

“Let's start with comparing their bodies. Do you have footage of both? Great, let's create a wire frame of each and overlay it. Can I get that in a hologram form?”

“This room is not equipped with a hologram projector. If you proceed to your art studio, I can present those to you.”

Damn, Steve didn't even know that Tony had put that in. He just thought it was a traditional art studio, not like one of Tony's labs.

Well, it was serving him well now.

He resettled there and Jarvis resumed their work.

 

Steve manipulated the two forms that Jarvis produced for him and overlaid them. There were slight irregularities that were probably due to clothing.

“Can I get a probability?”

“99.43 percent likelihood that they are the same person.” Jarvis paused. “Might I ask how you recognized this?”

“I guess I've just got a really good memory. Always have. It helps with the art for sure, but apparently it can help with other things too. Can I get the data sheet up again? Thanks.”

Steve read through the rest of the information Jarvis had regarding Murdock, including some old reports from an orphanage. He'd learned during his earlier search that Murdock's father died when he was young, but he assumed there was a mother involved. Apparently not.

According to the reports, Murdock had a lot of trouble adjusting to living in the orphanage, and was prone to outbursts. Eventually some sort of mentor was brought in. There weren't any reports for a while after that, until one of them mentioned the mentor left. Murdock seemed better after that, but if it was related to whatever the man had taught him, Steve couldn't say.

He felt like he was invading the man's privacy. It felt wrong.

 

He skipped ahead, looking at the more public records, like the man's education. Columbia for law, a prestigious internship with a job offer that he turned down to open his own firm. For all he could tell, Matthew Murdock had a successful life as a lawyer, albeit with his own challenges.

 

So why would he do something like become a vigilante?

 

He went to bed, still mulling over the information as he fell asleep.