"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
When the Rest of the World Walks Out
Driving back to his apartment, Foggy couldn’t help thinking that he could have done more; that there was some obvious argument or precedent that he and Matt had both overlooked that would have changed the outcome. Because despite the evidence against him, Foggy knew that there was no way that Matt had bribed a witness to perjure himself on the stand. There had to have been some way to refute the charges.
A memory washed over him and with it, a cold sweat. There had been a case that Matt had taken on months ago, a childhood... well, not a childhood friend. More of a tormentor. And Matt had subconsciously planned a poor defense and eschewed plea bargains that a first-year law student would have realized were in the client’s best interest. Foggy believed Matt when he said that he hadn’t known just how badly Stymie’s actions had wounded him years earlier. He hadn’t realized that his resentment was influencing the way that he chose to argue Stymie’s defense. Now Foggy wondered whether, without realizing it, he could been harboring some resentment toward Matt which could have similarly impacted his own arguments.
Their friendship and their working relationship had suffered their ups and downs over the years, and Foggy knew that he’d blamed Matt, at least partly, for the bankruptcy of their former practice. After all, while he’d been struggling to keep the firm afloat, Matt had gone gallivanting off to Arizona, to Venice, to who knew where else... but he hadn’t been holding up his share of the partnership. And on the personal front, Foggy hadn’t been impressed with the way Matt had treated Heather either.
As he stopped the car at a red light, he had to ask himself whether he might not have been guilty of the same sort of self-sabotage of which he’d accused Matt. He closed his eyes, shook his head and let out a long breath. True, he’d scored a partial victory and managed to keep Matt out of prison, but being disbarred was no joke.
The grand jury inquest hadn’t been Matt’s only problem these last few months. They hadn’t really discussed anything but the case in detail, but from a few comments dropped in passing, Foggy knew that Matt’s assets had been frozen, that two mortgage payments on his home had somehow gone missing, his phone was disconnected, his accountant had dropped him. His girlfriend... Foggy winced. Glorianna O’Breen had dumped Matt not long ago. Now, while Foggy wasn’t exactly dating her, it was fair to say that he was seeing her. She’d picked up the phone in his apartment when Matt had called to ask for his help. Matt had never asked about it, but he had to have wondered.
A car behind him honked, startling him into realizing that the light had changed. He quickly started across the intersection, but his thoughts were still on Matt. There had to be something they’d overlooked and they were going to find it. In fact, he was going to drive over there right now and reassure him that, as far as he was concerned, this wasn't over. He didn’t know if Matt would be up for planning a course of action tonight; with the verdict and the disbarment only hours old, he might want a breather. But the two men hadn’t just been business partners. They were best friends. And there was no way that Foggy could turn his back on his best friend after a day like this.
He nodded to himself as he turned east. He could pick up some pizza on the way to Matt’s. It would almost be like old times...
He was less than fifteen blocks from Matt’s house (though in this traffic, it was taking longer than it should to get there) and stopped at another red light when he felt himself shaking. He frowned, wondering whether he was really that nervous about showing up at Matt's unannounced, when he realized that it wasn’t just him. The Styrofoam cup of coffee he’d picked up in the pizza place was trembling in the holder. The two flat boxes of pizza seemed to twitch. On the sidewalks, the lamp posts and trees were vibrating. Then there came a roar, which Foggy heard even though his car windows were fully closed. Ahead of him, he saw a corona of fire rise up toward the sky. It almost looked like a volcano erupting. What the hell...? His heart lurched. That had to be right around...
The light changed and Foggy continued to his destination as swiftly as he dared, all the while praying that the blast hadn’t come from Matt’s place.
The only other time that Foggy had ever seen Matt cry had been when they’d come back from the morgue after identifying Jack Murdock’s body. It had been the first time that Foggy had seen a dead body. He’d gone with Matt, not only for moral support, but because neither he, nor the police officers who’d come to notify them, had been sure how Matt would be able to identify a face he couldn’t see. Matt’s hand had barely trembled as he’d traced the battered contours of his father’s visage, but Foggy had seen him pale, even as his too-controlled voice had confirmed, “Yes. That’s him.”
Foggy wondered how Matt could be so sure. It looked like someone had worked over “Battlin’ Jack” Murdock with a baseball bat before shooting him. He forced himself to look at the ugly wounds and the waxen shell that had been a living, breathing human being so very recently and managed a strangled nod. He started to put his arm around Matt, but Matt was already striding quickly away.
“We can drive you back,” one of the officers started to say.
“I’ll walk,” Matt cut him off politely but firmly and headed out of the building.
Foggy hesitated for only the barest instant before running after his best friend. Matt kept his collar up and his shoulders hunched as he hurried along the dark New York streets, holding his white cane before him, but hardly touching its tip to the pavement and never once pausing to get his bearings. At first, Foggy thought that Matt didn’t realize that he was following him, but when he had to stop to catch his breath, Matt stopped as well, waiting for him to catch up, before continuing at a somewhat slower pace. Matt didn’t say a single word on the way to the dormitory and, once back inside their room, he flung himself face-down on his bed and buried his face in the pillow.
Foggy looked on helplessly, not knowing what to say or do, but knowing that he couldn’t just turn his back on a friend. Finally, he sat down on the edge of Matt’s bed and awkwardly rested a hand on his shoulder. A strangled sound came from the pillow, too loud for a whimper, too soft for a sob. With his free hand, Foggy reached for the tissue box on the night table and placed it on the pillow. Matt took one with a muffled 'thank you'.
Foggy closed his eyes and shook his head, hating the situation, hating the helplessness, hating seeing Matt this broken. “I’m here for you, buddy,” he said softly. Under his hand, Matt’s shoulder tensed. Now what had he...? Right. Matt had a hard time accepting help, even when it was warranted. Two of their professors had a habit of writing supplemental notes on the whiteboards without reading them aloud. Matt never let on that it was a problem for him. Instead, he found ways around it—reviewing the lessons with Foggy and filling in the gaps that way. Foggy hadn’t realized that Matt was doing it, until he’d found his friend groaning over a failed quiz in Critical Legal Thought. He hadn’t been able to find a study partner for that class and Foggy wasn’t taking it, having chosen a different elective instead. Convincing Matt that he needed to talk to the professor about it had been like pulling teeth. He hated admitting that he needed help. Foggy just hadn’t realized how much he also hated accepting help, even if it was offered instead of requested.
Foggy shook his head again. “Matty,” he said, trying to find something he could say that wouldn’t backfire, “I...” he took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” If there’s anything I can do, just let me know... only you won’t, because you never do and I don’t know if offering now will hurt more, so I’m just going to sit here, for as long as you don’t seem to mind. “I only met your dad once, but once was all it took to see that he was a great guy and he didn’t deserve this.” He opened his eyes again and looked down at Matt.
Matt rolled over onto his side and gripped Foggy’s forearm wordlessly. His face was red, creased from pressing into the wrinkles in the pillow case, and he looked lost without his glasses (they’d remained on the pillow when he rolled over).
“I can take notes for both of us tomorrow, if you need time to get your head together.”
Matt nodded. “You’re staying in tonight?” He sounded tired.
“I was planning to,” Foggy nodded back automatically. “But if you need some time alone, I could...”
“No!” It came out louder than either of them expected. “No,” Matt repeated a bit more softly. “I’d rather not be alone right now.”
Matt closed his eyes. “Thanks.”
Foggy was thinking about that night now, as he practically bolted out of his car, racing to the rubble that had been Matt’s brownstone. Matt was kneeling at the edge of the debris, tears leaking out from under his glasses, pouring down his cheeks as he clutched a ragged piece of red fabric tightly in both hands.
“Matt! I saw the explosion from ten blocks away! What happened?”
Matt didn’t respond.
Foggy took a good look at the fabric and froze when he saw the double-D insignia. How had Matt...? “You kept Mike’s costume all these years?” he exclaimed.
Matt tilted his head then. “Mike...?” he asked in seeming puzzlement.
Foggy blinked. Matt’s twin brother Mike had been the original Daredevil, or so Matt had told them ages ago, when they were just starting their practice. Following Mike’s death in a plane crash, the mantle had passed to someone else. Matt hadn’t seemed as broken up as one might have expected upon the loss of a sibling, but for him to have held on to the costume all these years... His eyes widened. Unless... He pushed the thought away. There would be time to deal with that idea later.
Still on his knees Matt shifted marginally closer. “Foggy?” he asked hoarsely.
“I’m right here, pal,” he said, kneeling next to him. He would have put a hand on his shoulder, but Matt recoiled.
“Why?” His voice was harsh, almost accusing, but the anger was gone in an instant. "Why did you come here?" he nearly whispered.
Foggy blinked, taken aback by the initial hostility. “Because your phone’s been disconnected and I wanted to tell you in person that I wasn’t going to rest until we get today’s ruling overturned and you get your license back,” he said simply.
It took a moment for the words to sink in, but when they did, Matt seemed to retreat into his quilted jacket. “Thanks. I...” His voice trailed off. "I..."
What did you say to a guy who'd lost his career, his reputation, and his home on the same day? Foggy reached for Matt's shoulder again. This time, Matt let him. When several long minutes passed and Matt didn't say anything further, Foggy took a deep breath and asked, “What are you going to do now?”
Matt considered. “I guess I can get a...” He shook his head miserably. “No. I can’t get a room at the Plaza until the IRS unfreezes my accounts. I...”
“You can stay at my place,” Foggy said firmly.
A surprised smile flashed across his face, but it vanished almost instantly. “I couldn’t impose on—”
“It’s not an imposition,” Foggy cut him off.
Matt frowned. “Don’t you and Glori need your space?”
Now it was Matt who seemed taken aback. “When I called you about taking my case,” he said, “she answered your phone at seven a.m. I thought...”
“Matt,” Foggy sighed, “I wish you’d asked. She’d had a burglary at her place the day before and she was afraid to be alone. She did spend the night with me, but I slept on the sofa. Since then, she’s been around. I mean, she’s Debbie’s niece and I didn’t stop being friendly to her just because Debbie and I separated, but believe me, we aren’t dating and we aren’t sleeping together.”
He sighed. “Look, you can’t stay here. I’ve got two pizzas in the car. We’ll go back to my apartment and reheat them and after that,” he sighed, “if you really don’t want to stay over, I’ll pay for the Plaza and you can reimburse me when the IRS gets its act together.”
Foggy draped his arm across his shoulders, gratified that Matt neither resisted nor protested. “Come on,” he said, rising to his feet and pulling Matt after him. “It’s snowing again. Weatherman predicts another six inches by morning. You really want to freeze out here just so you can prove a point?”
For the barest instant, another smile flickered across Matt’s lips. “No,” he admitted. “And... if you’re sure you’re okay with it, maybe I will stay at your place. I... I’d rather not be alone right now.”
Foggy tightened his grip on Matt’s sleeve. “I’m here.”
“Thanks.” Matt took a deep breath. “But I’m taking the sofa.”